Contest Update Issues

The December 2018 issue of QST includes the announcement of the 2019 ARRL RTTY Roundup. Though the contest is called the RTTY Roundup, since its first running in 1989, other digital modes have been allowed. Even at the time of the contest’s inception, RTTY wasn’t exactly cutting edge, and ASCII modes were on the upswing, so the contest rules showed some forethought. RTTY was and has remained the dominant mode for the RTTY Roundup, though "DG" as a mode has shown up in a few logs and has counted for points over the years.

• Explicitly selecting the ARRL RTTY Roundup contest in the WSJT-X program’s menu• NOT using Fox and Hound mode• Noting that WSJT-X is a "multi-channel decoder" and places the operator in the Single Operator Unlimited (SOU) or Multioperator, Single Transmitter category.

Fldigi and Digipan software also require the operator to enter as SOU or MS if configured to decode the signals present in the audio.• Making sure your submitted logs show "DG" or "RY" as the mode for digital contacts• Using alternative FT8 frequencies during the contest to avoid congestion. For example, in 2.x versions of WSJT-X , 14.078 is also suggested as an FT8 frequency.

In the upcoming Worked All Germany contest, be aware that portions of the band are set aside as "Contest Free" by the contest sponsors. "Contest traffic in sectors marked as contest-free will be penalised." according to rule 3 (5) of the " General Rules for DARC DX & HF Contests." The frequencies designated as "contest free" can change from year to year.

It’s not a contest, but the Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is an investment in the future of Amateur Radio and contesting. According to Jim, K5ND: "This year’s Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is 19 to 21 October. Last year the event saw 1.5 million Scouts and Girl Scouts on the air from 150 countries with nearly 17,000 Amateur Radio operators helping to make that possible. This is a superb way to introduce Scouts to the technology, fun, and magic of Amateur Radio. We hope you’re helping out with a nearby Scout or Girl Scout unit to get them on the air. But if not, you can help by making way for a few Scout stations operating around the frequencies outlined at You can also help them by answering their CQs and engaging Scouts in conversations. Finally, note that the Worked All Germany Contest happens that same weekend. They’ve designated contest free frequencies to avoid the JOTA frequencies."

MicroHAM has introduced a new version of their flagship product, the microKeyer. The MicroHam USB microKeyer III claims among its new features a 24-bit USB Audio interface and "includes a CAT radio control interface that supports all common standards (RS-232, CI-V, Kenwood and Yaesu TTL), a powerful CW memory keyer using K1EL’s WinKey, a Digital Voice Keyer for SSB, two channel audio processing for transceivers with dual receivers, automatic microphone selection, and a buffer/sequencer for amplifier or LNA control." The microKeyer III uses the same transceiver-specific DB-37 cabling scheme as previous versions of the interface, and is compatible with accessories made for the microKeyer II. (Jozef, OM7ZZ)

Apparent movement or oscillation of the moon, caused by changes in the physical distance between the Earth and Moon. In EME communications it is the cause of signal fading or Doppler shift. Libration fading was described and characterized by Joe Taylor, K1JT, in his paper " Frequency-Dependent Characteristics of the EME Path" presented at the 14th International EME conference.

Ka Kit Lam, KM6VGZ, published an article on using cloud services to decode snippets of human speech received over a UHF/VHF channel. His included code samples might be useful as the basis of progress toward an "SSB Skimmer." I asked him via email what his next steps might be, and he said: "To improve speech recognition for ham radio conversation at scale, I think data is the key. Collecting lots of data from ham radio conversation and training a machine learning (ML) model based on the collected data is a promising direction… Currently, I am occupied by other stuff. I need more time to figure out what the next steps are for this project."

Rod, WE7X, found that the Harbor Freight HFT 63422 magnetic LED light "to be very handy. The base is magnetic, so it will stick in most places on the outside of my van, and the head rotates and swivels so it makes a good general area work light, with a moderately broad beam for…setting up and taking down antennas after dark." (via PNWVHFS reflector)

In the SOTABeams October 2018 newsletter, Richard, G3CWI, wrote about an experience of trying to put a Summit On The Air by biking to the beginning of climb, then hiking to the summit with some QRP gear. After he made his climb, he turned on his 100 mW fixed-frequency radio to hear a number of stations calling CQ TEST. Despite his numerous CQs, he wasn’t rewarded with any contacts, so he made the best of his experience: he "kicked back in the heather and enjoyed the sunshine instead." Instead of having a "damned contesters!" experience, Richard understood the motivations of contesters, having been a self-described hardcore HF contester in the past. In his newsletter to his SOTA-inspired readers, he pointed out how contests can actually benefit a non-contester:

• More opportunity to pick up a "new one" whether that be a grid square, country, zone, or band slot. In general, more stations are on more bands during contests• Many contest stations are well equipped to copy QRP and antenna-disadvantaged stations under adverse conditions• Over time, many ‘bleeding edge" contest innovations have made it into mainstream gear for the general amateur population• Contesters limited by urban lots and high local noise levels develop effective solutions that benefit everyone