Spend some quality time on the radio!
By the time you read this, October will be over and the California QSO party, the Oceania DX contests (both phone and CW versions), and the CQ Worldwide SSB DX contests will be part of contest history for 2019. I hope most of you gave at least a couple of these a try. We’re on the bottom of the sunspot cycle, so it could be “now or never” for DX contests for most of us.
Incidentally for those of you who haven’t already discovered them, the ARRL Propagation bulletins can be found archived here: http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive-propagation
And while we’re on the topic, the best propagation forecasting software I’m aware of (and free, at that) can be found here: http://www.voacap.com
Have a look at the site carefully so you don’t miss the point-to-point propagation predictions, the coverage area maps, and the Nordic-based HF propagation-monitoring cluster. Although the spots for the monitoring cluster are CW, they show where signals received at the monitoring cluster are originating from, in real-time, and the summary at the top of the page shows the number of spots per band, which gives a fair idea of which bands are open at the monitoring location.
November starts out fairly quietly as far as high-profile contests go, but
- CW: First full weekend in November (November 2-4, 2019).
- Phone: Third full weekend in November (November 16-18, 2019).
Contest Period: Begins 2100 UTC Saturday and runs through 0259 Monday. (all dates and times UTC). This contest has a wonderfully challenging exchange that is great for testing (or proving) your skills. Full information can be found here: http://www.arrl.org/sweepstakes
Be sure you read the exchange requirements carefully!
Between the two versions of the Sweepstakes we have the RTTY version of the Worked All Europe DX Contest. This could be challenging without a good antenna and an amplifier. An interesting feature of this contest is the QTC Traffic bonus points. If you find RTTY boring, or consider yourself an RTTY expert, this is the contest for you. Figuring out how to get your contest logging program to send QTCs to other stations will get your brain cells revved up, and actually managing the process will keep you on your toes in the contest.
If you aren’t up to sending the QTCs, note that they are optional, so you can still do the contest in a mindless, er, I mean simplified way.
For CW operators, November wraps up (November 23-24) with a biggie, and well worth the wait: the CQ Worldwide DX contest. Multipliers by the dozen (CQ zones and countries, per band), and suitable for all stations, big or small. While contacts with our own county don’t count for points (just multipliers), from our location it’s easy to get contacts with the US, for two points each. Starts 00:00:00 UTC Saturday Ends 23:59:59 UTC Sunday The exchange is simple (RST plus CQ zone), so if you love to pound brass, this one is for you! You can find the rules here: https://www.cqww.com/rules.htm
As always, for regular mid-week contest practice, CW contesters have the CWops Weekly Mini-CWT test (http://www.cwops.org/cwt.html) and SSB enthusiasts have the Phone Fray (http://www.perluma.com/Phone_Fray_Contest_Rules.pdf). The SEPAR Tuesday night 2-m net is now starting at 19:15 (PT), which makes it easier to check into the SEPAR net and then jump over to the HF bands for the Phone Fray. The Phone Fray is an easy contest for anyone with HF SSB capabilities, so be sure to give it a shot. (We need some more local action, hint, hint).
As always, you can find a list of most of the latest contests from the (customizable) WA7BNM contest calendar (http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html), and by checking the monthly ARRL “Contest Corral” lists (http://www.arrl.org/contest-calendar).
73 & GL in the contests!
On a weekend where there are multiple compatible contests running at once, here's a nice way to be able participate in a bunch of them, courtesy of the PVRC Newsletter:
N1MM Logger+ Hint for Multi-Contest Weekends
On many weekends there are more than one contest I might dink around in, like simultaneous QSO parties and the SAC or JA events. In N1MM you have always been able to start up multiple contest logs and go through the "Open Log in Database" menu entry to switch between them. But in version 1.0.5176 or later, N1MM+ now has a nice short cut: · With your cursor in the Entry window, hit ALT+F - that brings up "active" contest log list · Select the number in the list of the contest you want to switch to, type in that number and hit Enter · Voila - you are logging in the other contest.
~ John K3TN