When will we get some sunspots? Whos knows?! We continue to live at or near the bottom of the sunspot cycle. zzzz....
ZF1A will be on the air for the ARRL DX contests this month. CW and SSB operators include John K6AM, Dan N6MJ, and Tim, N6WIN. K6AM, N6WIN & K6JO will be at ZF2AM for CQ 160 SSB.
The 2020 Dayton Contest Dinner (28th annual) has been announced. Master of Ceremonies will be Contest Hall of Famer and CQWW Contest Director John Dorr, K1AR. The 2020 Contest Hall of Fame inductees will be announced that evening, and the main prize is an Icom IC-7610 transceiver. More details can be found and ticket orders placed
. Also, the 32nd annual Contest Super Suite during Dayton weekend can be found
. Note that the past two years have had some amazing transceiver release announcements as well as some fantastic accessory news. As they often say, Dayton is the place to be!
The Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) announced on New Year's Day the addition of a new section, the Prince Edward Island Section. In addition, it was announced that the border between the Ontario South Section and the Ontario GTA Section has moved. These changes take effect on April 1, 2020 (no, this is not an early April Fool's joke). Thus, certain ARRL contests will now have 84 multipliers rather than 83 (U.S. states and Canadian provinces). More info here
. Note that your contest software will need to be updated once the author of said software makes the change.
ARRL has announced the availability of a new DVD that includes all 2019 issues of QST, QEX and of particular interest to us contesters, NCJ (The National Contest Journal). The DVD includes all text, photos and source code for project software. The DVD is for 2019 publications only. Wouldn't it be nice to have a new version will all NCJs from Issue 1 to now (hint, hint)? Maybe some day. More on the current offering can be found here
The January ARRL NAQP CW contest, hopefully the last or second to last of Cycle 24, had us mostly crammed into 80-20 meters. 15 was open a short time in the afternoon but not heartily, and everyone quickly moved down to 20 after working out 15. If you have a modern rig, one built in the past five years or so let's say, you no doubt are really appreciating it about now. Essentially, we're no longer able to spread our CW CQs above about .070 on the bands because the Digital Modes now reside there, and they are quite popular. FB on them having a slice of spectrum to have fun while we do our thing contesting. We need to all remain very active these days while the 5G companies (and others, including the FCC) are looking for spectrum to grow their businesses. They are not likely looking for spectrum in the HF bands but there may be others hiding under the rocks wanting our freqs. Those with more modern rigs are no doubt enjoying all of the modern features in the receivers, allowing them to pick out signals in the often crowded lower three bands (80, 40, and 20). Improved IF shift, IF width, contours, notches, APFs, incredible dynamic range and 3rd order intercepts, and all of the other things on SDRs and SDR hybrid radios. Mostly gone are the days of needing a 300 Hz CW filter to pick out the signals in crowded conditions. We can now tweak a few knobs quickly and pick out stations in crowded and/or noisy conditions. Gosh, for those of us that been at this for several decades, can you remember back before this time when we had things like Heathkits, Swans, Collins, Signal Ones, and yes, even Drake twins?! We've come a long way, baby!
Here are some commments from the January NAQP CW:
Marko, N5ZO hosted Larry, N6NC and Eric, NC6K, and did an M2 operation, their first from the station in the January event. A great start on 15 and 20 had them way out in front on the live contest scoreboard. The east coast, as expected, ran past them once 40m opened up. John, W6JBR was trying to crack 100 Q's but didn't quite get enough BIC time in. Dan, N6MJ operated from N6WIN's new station in Phoenix. The team there has been working hard on the new QTH and it played well. 282 Q's in the first hour! This station is going to be a major force from the Southwest in coming years! Bob, KF6I put in one of his more serious efforts in recent times, and was rewarded with 323 Q's. Axel, KI6RRN operated NO6T to a 308 QSO first hour and has a 310 60 minute best in the contest! Dana, K6NR reported good conditions and was happy to catch the 15m opening. Paul, WN6K reported somewhat better conditions but experienced noise on 40 from the storms in the Appalachia Mountains. Vlad, KM6Z also reported noise. Bruce, WA7BNM was only on for a short time at the start and end of the contest. Dave, W6ZL reported a lot of QSB, especially on 40m. Dennis, NE6I noticed the same on 40. Jim, W6KC made his first ever QSOs on 160. Ed, AI6O found conditions to be very good on 40-15. In fact, he had what he called a hot run on 15. He reported 80 being noisy. Barry, N6VOH worked the contest while also repairing an amplifier. Vic, KI6VC used the contest to improve his CW skills, and reported that it really helped. Dick, W6TK had a lot of fun the first couple of hours but had only limited time to operate. Like others, he enjoyed the 15m opening. Tim, N6GP used "YYZ" as his name, a tribute to the recently passed away drummer of the rock band "Rush." The band heard the Toronto Airport code YYZ on a navigation beacon on a flight returning home. They liked the rhythm of it, and wrote an instrumental song incorporating the CW at the beginning of the song. As one might expect, Tim did receive a lot of rquests for repeats. As an aside, he upgraded his shack PC from Win7 to Win10 on Friday and did not experience any issues with the rig or interfaces. Whew! Steve, AC6T cracked that the new sunspot must have helped 15m! On the other hand, the low bands were noisy for him. Bob, NC6Q created a term alternative to S&P. He called it S&C, Scrape and Claw. For him, the middle of the afternoon was full of high noise and weak signals. 20m died on him between 4 and 4:30. And a grayline boost did not come. He also qualified for the (fictitious) Worked All SCCC Teams award.
The executive summary of the NAQP SSB, which was the weekend after the CW event, is that conditions were very poor. Participants reported relatively brief runs Saturday afternoon, and that it was pretty much a slog after that. The ARRL VHF January contest was the same weekend, and conditions there were poor as well. Even the big guns on the west coast were barely able to crack open the Sporadic-E nut.
The California QSO Party (CQP) results are out. Congrats to Ken who finished 2nd SOHP. George, W6AYC took top honors in SOLP with Eric, NC6K in 2nd. 3rd in the category was Levi, K6JO. Frank, WA6KHK finished 1st in SO(A)QRP. And ahem, with no other entries in the category, SCCC took top honors in the Medium California Club arena. The Mother Lode DX/Contest Club won in the Large California Club category with just 237k points more than us. Let's drum up a little more participation in 2020 and win that one. Full results can be found here
NCJ published several official contest results in their Jan/Feb 2020 issue. Let's take a look.
The January 2019 NAQP QSO Party CW is first up. SCCC took the top two spots overall! Marko, N5ZO took second and Axel, KI6RRN operating NO6T finshed 3rd overall. Congrats guys on a super finish! The SCCC #1 team, which of course included Marko and Axel, finished second in the team competition, a mere four percentage points behind the Arizona Outlaws - Bad Boys team. N2IC on that team turned in a super human effort that powered the Outlaws to the top spot.
In the NAQP CW August 2019 contest, conditions were not smiling on us, and we had no top ten finishers. Our SCCC #1 team finished 13th.
And then in the August NAQP SSB contest, Levi, K6JO piloted NT6Q to a 9th place finish. Our SCCC #1 team placed 3rd.
Lastly, in the NAQP RTTY July event, we didn't have any top ten finishers but SCCC #1 placed 10th. Not a bad showing because fall conditions are not sweet for us west coasters.
Joe, W6AYC has some interesting articles on his web site
. He recently posted on our reflector a blurb about a 2 element 160 meter receive array. How cool is that? He also has a number of other interesting articles there so be sure to check them out.
Speaking of which, we are happy to list SCCC member web sites so let us know if yours isn't listed. Those with broken links were removed in January. Click on "Member Links" on our top menu.
The ARRL has released a new book, Amateur Radio Contesting for Beginners
written by Doug Grant, K1DG. The book is said to describe equipment needed for contesting, typical contest formats, operating techniques and more. This might make a great gift or suggestion to hams you know that are interested in the great sport of radio contesting. The book is also available on Amazon Kindle for just $8.99.
For VHF contesters and aficionados, the ARRL VHF contests (January and June) provide opportunities to work a lot of stations. Activity is way up compared to normal, and we often experience Sporadic-E conditions, especially in June. One Southern California operator has been VHF contesting for a long, long, LONG time. Wayne, N6NB is well known in the VHF, UHF and microwave circles. His rover activities in these contests are legendary, and caused more than one rule change by contest officials. Wayne now has 63 years of amateur radio under his belt, and says that if his score holds up in the latest contest in January, he will have "won at least an ARRL division-leader certificate in a VHF contest in seven decades." It all started back in the 1960s. Crazy. Wayne did a write up about his VHF contesting in the November, 2018 SCCCORE. At the time, he stated that his roving days were winding down. You can find the writeup on the web site here under Past Feature Stories. He did say "winding down" though, not "over." And this past January, he was back at it and turned in a 293K+ score (before log checking)! He posted a great write up about it on 3830Scores.org, and you can read it here
The WRTC 2022 qualification standings were updated last month. A half dozen contest scores were added to the standings. Axel, KI6RRN is currently on top and the only USA operator in the top ten (as of Feb 1). Way to go, Axel! More info can be found here
Going to Dayton this year? The 2020 Contest University course outline has been posted along with the calls of the instructors. There will be some awfully good courses in there, so be sure to get a seat if you can. See the CTU web site for the course outline webpage
. Additional details along with the Registration page are also on the web site.
A team of contesters has put together The State QSO Party Challenge
, a year long event to stimulate participation in those contests. Sounds like a fun one!
Strange but true...
One car out of every 230 made was stolen in 2017.
73 for now,