Friday, January 13, 2017

K8ZT’s Contesting Companion
At the last meeting of my local radio club, the Cuyahoga Falls Amateur Radio Club (, I was asked if there were any upcoming contests, so this article is an attempt to answer that question. Hopefully, this will become a continuing column in CFARC’s Chattering Relay. Each month I will provide a list of featured upcoming contests, provide contesting tips and anecdotes. I will also post each month’s article to my Blog-, for future reference or to pass on to non-CFARC friends.

Before I get started with this month’s feature contests, here is the planned monthly format:
  • Links to sites listing contests (by the way, I really dislike underlined pale blue hyperlinks in articles so I usually will use a serifed font dark blue or maroon font, for all links.)
  • A link to a shared Google Calendar of featured contests you can subscribe to. Subscribing will automatically add my featured contests to your Google (Gmail) Calendar (coming soon).
  • My list of featured contests (in order to deal with newsletter deadlines and allow you to plan ahead, I will list contests 6 to 8 weeks out). Please let me know if you have any favorites that I did not feature (
  • Anecdotes and other miscellaneous contesting/award information.

Contesting Site Links

  • Bruce Horn’s WA7BNM Contest Calendar- (probably the most comprehensive listing of contests anywhere).
  • ARRL Contest Calendar (a.k.a. Contest Corral)-
  • - Contesting News, Articles, Surveys, Tips, Calendars & more!
  • SM3CER Contest Service- contests, propogation, DX spots and more.

  • DL2NBY’s Ham Radio Contest Calendars - A somewhat overwhelming but very thorough collection of subscribable Google Calendars (CW, Phone, Digital Contest & Mixed).
  • a place for rumors, bragging, and summaries of current contests. You can upload your claimed score here to share with the world
  • The CQ Magazine Contests- Worldwide DX- PH, CW, RTTY & 160M; WPX- PH, CW & RTTY and DX Marathon (some of the most popular/larger contests).
  • NG3K Amateur Radio Contest/DX Page,, the place to find Announced DX Operations (ADXO) Stations that will be on during Contests plus a wide variety of other tools for Contesters and/or DXers.

Upcoming Contests (a sampling of some of my favorites)

  • January & February 2016 (please note times are in UTC, which is currently 5 hours ahead of our local time so a Saturday contest may actually start on our Friday evening. See the above contest calendars for detailed time and rules)

    • Jan 7/8
      • ARRL RTTY Roundup- a chance to work both the US and DX stations
    • Jan 21/22
      • ARRL January VHF- Great for Technician licenses or those with only VHF/UHF FM equipment. The Portable or Rover categories are great if you do not have antennas up a home or live in a hole!
      • North American QSO Party, SSB. A 10-hour shorty with a friendly pace even for first timers. The exchange is Name and State (you must use your actual state, but the name is up to you, for example, I use AL because it is much shorter than Anthony, it is my initials and I hate being called Tony!)
    • Jan 27-29
      • CQ 160 Meter CW. A great chance to try a new band. A very friendly contest. Don’t worry if you only have a small yard and/or short antenna the stations on the other side of the QSO want the points and most have great receiving antennas (some even have ½ mile Beverages!). Not a CW operator? Then watch for the Phone version of this contest Feb 24-27.

    • Feb 3/4
      • Vermont QSO Party- a small, but fun contest for a small state maybe even one you have not worked for your WAS.
      • 10-10 Winter SSB- If 10 meters is open definitely try to work this one as 10 will be hibernating with upcoming low sunspot years. Primarily a daylight only contest so great for early to bed group. You do not need a 10-10# for exchange but it does make it more fun for details on getting one visit 10-10 International
    • Feb 11/12
    • Feb 18/19
      • ARRL International DX CW- A chance for US/Canadian stations to work stations around the world (remember because you are in the US you cannot contact US/Canadian stations). Lots of activity from around the world and a great chance to start, or complete your DXCC. Don’t forget to visit for announced DX stations that will be operating. If you are not a CW operator, the phone version of this contact is just a few weeks later on March 4-5, 2017 so march your calendars now.
    • Feb 24-27
      • CQ 160 Meter SSB. for those that passed on the CW version of this contest above, do miss this chance to try a new band. A very friendly contest. Don’t worry if you only have a small yard and/or short antenna the stations on the other side of the QSO want the points and most have great receiving antennas (some even have ½ mile Beverages!). Remember if you don’t even try to operate on 160 Meters you will never make contacts there!

Contesting Tips & Anecdotes (Because this was the first month of the column it ran very long, so there is only time for a short anecdote).

Did you ever think about it- Amateur Radio Contesting is the only competition I can think of where you cannot score points unless you provide your competitors with points!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Monitoring Your JT65/JT6 Signal Around the World

Many of you are aware of the Reserve Beacon Network for gathering received CW signals from receiving stations around the world. This is then feed into spotting networks. This allows station that are not normally spotted to monitor their signal level from spots around the world.

PSK Reporter ( JT65/JT9 operators to do the same by displaying their received signal on a world map.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

JT65 Setup for Elecraft K3S

Elecraft K3S on JT65/JT9- Setting Up & Using
Link to this Doc-
Installing and Setting Up Software
  1. Using Elecraft’s instructions, get the K3S rig control working using the USB connection. Check it using Elecraft K3 Utility and note the Com #
  2. Download and install the free WSJT-X software-
  3. Setup the WSJT-X software
    1. From top menu select.File...Settings
    2. Settings screen dialog box will open
  4. Start with General Tab

Thursday, July 21, 2016

An Interface for Elecraft KX3 & KX2 to Use with N1MM

This interface will allow you to:

  • Read the Elecraft KX3/KX2 frequency in N1MM
  • Control the radio’s frequency
  • Send CW by keying the radio

What you will need:

  1. N1MM+ software (free) - download here
  2. The Elecraft ACC-1 KXSER (3.5mm to DB9-F) Serial Interface Cable
    1. You can request this in place of the USB ACC1 cable that ships with KX3 (the same one you use for Firmware updates).
    2. If you did not choose to substitute serial for USB you can either purchase one from Elecraft ($29 + shipping)
    3. If you would like to build your own for ~$10 or even less if you have an old RS-232 cable or connector laying around. See circuit below, which also includes ability to directly key the radio.
  3. An RS-232 Serial to USB Adapter (although you can find very inexpensive versions, I strongly suggest you spend a few extra dollars to get a quality one. I have had excellent success with the StarTech ICUSB2321F, it has added advantage that will retain same Com Port # and not change each time you plug it into computer)

Using Elecraft KX3/K3 KY Codes to Allow N1MM & RTTY-FSK

A Step-by-step Guide (assuming no previous experience)
Anthony Luscre- K8ZT
This guide has been written assuming you have had little or no experience with using KX3 USB Interface or N1MM operations. For those with previous knowledge fill free to skip ahead to needed configuration and sample Macros. There maybe other settings that work, but these worked for me.This setup should also work with K3 or K3S

  1. I wanted to use the KX3’s excellent FSK (not  AFSK) and KX3’s RTTY to Text Decoding
  2. I did not want to use a Signalink or other digi interface or use my computer’s sound card
  3. I was only interested in using RTTY for casual operation in a contest that required serial numbers and wanted to be able easily send reply with incrementing serial numbers
  4. A bonus is ability to also use this setup for SSB or CW (If you are interested in non-macro driven, direct keying CW see appendix)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

How You can Benefit from QRP Contesting

How You can Benefit from QRP Contesting  by K8ZT

No matter your favorite interests in Ham Radio, a little contesting may be just the way to enhance or rejuvenate your enjoyment.

Fall traditionally kicks off the heart of radio contesting season just as the baseball season is coming to a close. So there probably is no better time to give a few contesting tips while stretching a few baseball metaphors.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Web Resource Hoarder

I maintain a webpage for Educators, Students & Other Interested Surfers. Visit or use the shortened URL-

This site is for the curious, the data nerds and trivia freaks out there. There is so much here that you will just need to start poking around. Just don't blame me if you find that many hours have passed before you realize you have been exploring the site and its many links.