Monday, February 15, 2010

Rookie Rumblings

The ARRL's new Rookie Roundup Contest won't be run for another eight weeks, but it is already stirring up consternation among the contesteratti. The Rookie Roundup, aimed at enticing newcomers to the wonderful world of radio sports, is also an experiment in dragging the collective heels of the contesting community into the 21st century.

One of the innovative aspects of the Rookie Roundup is the requirement for pseudo-real time logging. Although the details are a bit murky on how it is supposed to work, all log entries are due at the ARRL score server within ten minutes of the end of the contest.

The Luddite contingent of the contesting peanut gallery has been in full attack mode over the quick reporting requirement. Using the straw-man argument of the dyslexic, back-woods rookie with Parkinson's disease and only a 300 baud dial-up internet connection, the Luddite's are decrying the discrimination of this fictitious rookie who will never be able to make the League's ten minute deadline.

There are, however, additional rules in the inaugural Rookie Roundup that have escaped the attention of the armchair contest lawyers.

The exchange for the contest includes the year licensed, referred to the as the "check" in the rules. This exactly parallels the ARRL November Sweepstakes exchange. In the Rookie Roundup, the focus group are the rookie competitors, defined as those licensed within the last three years, so obviously their "check" should either be 08, 09, or 10. However, the question of whether non-rookie participants are as free to be creative with their "checks" as they are in Sweepstakes has not been addressed by the armchair lawyers. For those wishing to argue either for or against a strict interpretation of the "check" definition, there are large numbers of messages on the CQ-Contest reflector from the October time frame that can be cut and pasted with little editing.

The definition of rookie may even be problematic. The rules only define a rookie as having a "check" from the current or preceding two calendar years, where "check" is defined as the "two-digit number of the year first licensed ".

The Contest Litigation branch of Howe, Dewy, Cheatham, and Wynn, LLC, is rumored to be investigating the possibility that the rookie class definition could be extended to a club station licensed within the defined time frame. If so, it is rumored that a contingent of Type-A Big Gun contesters may be preparing to apply for new club licenses.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sprint Warm-Up

It's only four days until the inaugural running of the Fat Tuesday Sprint. For those wanting to enter the LU class, this weekend offers numerous opportunities to hone your skills. Very fittingly, the Louisiana QSO Party is this weekend. I'm sure the Louisiana Contest Club will be well represented. You can train for the Fat Tuesday Sprint while helping our Cajun cousins to laissez les bons temps rouler in their QSO party.

Coincidentally, the good folks at National Contest Journal also scheduled a 'normal' sprint for this weekend as well in order to help you prepare for the Fat Tuesday Sprint. Fat Tuesday rules probably won't help your score in their sprint.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Facts Are...

The Fi-Ni Report's regular readers (although one can argue that anyone reading the Fi-Ni Report can not be call 'regular') understand the unique viewpoint promulgated by this site and the peculiar collection of individuals who comprise the Lost Island DX Society (LIDS). However, occasionally a member of mainstream amateur radio society will stumble upon one of our sporadic missives and incur intestinal distress at the erroneous and even slanderous content that typically comprises at least 80% of any individual Fi-Ni Report.

When one of our reports is taken as factual, this brings a collective smile to the faces of the 100 monkeys with Selectrics we employ in the back room writing copy. (Due to a limited budget for bananas, we can only employee 100 monkeys, which is why you ain't getting Shakespeare here)

For the uninitiated who mistake the Fi-Ni Report for or Amateur Radio Newsline, let us be clear:

The Fi-Ni Report is to factual reportage what talk radio is to rational discourse. We are as concerned with accuracy as the US congress is concerned with balancing the federal budget.

On the off chance we accidentally publish something factual, we hide behind our first amendment rights and back it up with our second amendment ones. That anyone reads these pages is a continual source of amazement and further proof of the failings of our educational system. That anyone would consider seriously the rambling of a know-it-all blowhard is unfathomable. But then again, 73 magazine did run for 43 years, so maybe we have a future after all.

- Cousin QRM, Chief of the LIDS

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fat Tuesday Sprint Contest

The Lost Island DX Society is sponsoring a new sprint style contest in celebration of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. The inaugural Fat Tuesday Sprint will take place on, when else, Fat Tuesday, February 16, 2010. The Fat Tuesday Sprint differs from the traditional Sprint rules in subtle but important ways, Read the rules carefully.

1. Eligibility: All licensed amateurs may enter, but only those of legal drinking age are eligible to compete in the LU category.
2. Object: To make as many contacts as possible during the contest period.
3. Contest Period: 0000Z-o400Z February 17, 2010 (ok, technically Ash Wednesday UTC)
4. Bands: 160m-10m, phone and cw.
5. Contest Exchange: Serial number, name and QTH (state, province or country), Blood Alcohol Level is optional
6. Entry Classification: LU - Liquored up. LU category contestants must consume one shot of liquor (your choice) upon completion of each QSO and before attempting to make another QSO. LU class entrants may work anyone for credit.
S - Sober class. S class entrants may not work other S-class entrants for contest credit, only LU class stations for credit. S class entrants should sign their call/S to identify themselves as such.
7. Use of spotting networks or other assistance. Sure, knock yourself out.
8. Scoring: 1 point per SSB QSO, 2 points per CW QSO; Each state, province, country counts as a multiplier. Multipliers count per band. Final score is total QSO points times total multipliers.
9. Logs are due whenever you sober up (LU class) or whenever you get around to it (S class). Send logs, summaries, and comments to

For LU class stations, we anticipate strategy will play a big part. Running stations will obviously lead to a potential early finish due to passing out. A careful balance between running and S&P operation will be necessary to survive the full four hours of the Fat Tuesday Sprint and maximizing your score.

Log checking will be used to detect cheating among LU class entrants. Excessively low error rates, especially later in the contest, will be cause for suspicion and potential disqualification.

S class entrants are encouraged to have as much fun with inebriated LU class stations as legally and ethically possible. This may include, but is not limited to, asking distracting questions, excessive duping, and running extreme QRP. Other suggestions for S class operation welcome.

LU class entries should include a listing of the liquor of choice used. Bonus points will be awarded for submission of certified blood alcohol content results recorded at the end of the sprint. Highest score gets most bonus points. Point values to be decided by the contest committee.

All results of the contest committee final. Not valid in Minnesota or Utah. Your results may vary.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ARRL Elects First Female President, OOOT Is Apoplectic

At its 2010 Annual Meeting, the ARRL Board of Directors elected Kay Craigie, N3KN, as the League's 15th President to succeed Joel Harrison, W5ZN, whose chose not to seek re-election. Craigie is the first woman to hold the position of President of the ARRL.

Old, old, old timer Woodrow Fusseloot, 1OT, was apoplectic upon hearing the news that a woman had been elected to lead the ARRL. "Carn-sahrnit! What was they thinking electing a woman? Why, they can't even vote, can they? Old Hiram is probably spinning in his grave," said Fusseloot. 1OT , who is 98 years young, was licensed prior to the requirement for prefixes and has consistently refused to use one despite later regulations. He also refuses to give up his spark generator transmitter but continues to fiddle with his 'new-fangled' regen receiver.

Elsewhere, reaction to Craigie's election has been considerably warmer. Heads of national amateur radio societies around the world have sent notes of congratulations and well wishes to Craigie. She has even received a message from the head of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Radio Society (DPRKRS) who said, "We congratulate the imperialist running dog N3KN ascendancy to the throne of the ARRL. The DPRKRS is willing to accept declarations of surrender from the ARRL at our convenience."

League insiders say that Craigie has her work cut out for her in cleaning up the mess created by outgoing president W5ZN. "His office is a total disaster zone. There are coffee cups everywhere, stacks of paper. And there's a stain on the chair that I have no idea what it is or how it got there," said an HQ staffer who did not wish to be named.

Craigie, who is originally from Pennsylvania, now lives in Blacksburg, VA, home to the University of Virginia, also known as the Mountaineers. She is married to Carter Craigie, N3AO, who will assume duties as the ARRL's First Lady to President Craigie.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scientists Discover That SID Is Actually Caused By Man Named Sid

Scientists have discovered the HF radio propagation phenomenon called sudden ionospheric disturbance (SID) is actually caused by a man named Sid.

For decades scientists have claimed that the sudden, unexpected, short duration loss of ionospheric propagation referred to as SID was caused by a large influx of solar particles that saturated the ionosphere and dramatically increased D-layer absorption. The phenomenon occurs randomly and usually produces HF propagation outages that lasts from tens of minutes to perhaps several hours at a time. Previous studies have linked the occurrence of SID to high sunspot and solar flux activity. The onset of a SID is quite sudden and dramatic and often described as if someone flipped a switch on the ionosphere, turning propagation off. Now, it turns out that may be exactly what is happening.

Scientists now say that the ionosphere is actually controlled by a light switch in the basement of the home of Sid Bloomfield of Nimrod, Arkansas. Bloomfield, who has lived in the same house since 1949, says that when he moved into the house, he and his wife Shirley found a light switch in the basement that did seem to be connected to anything in the house.

"For years I tried to figure out what that switch was for. I'd flip it and try to find a light or outlet that it was hooked to, but never could," said Bloomfield, 73. "I'd eventually forget about it, but every couple of years or so, I'd remember it and flip it and look some more. Usually after a couple of minutes or an hour or so, I'd give up and flip it back, just in case it was hooked to something important."

Scientists discovered that the timing of Sid Bloomfield's flipping of the light switch corresponded to occurrences of sudden ionospheric disturbances in the western hemisphere. They concluded that somehow the light switch in Sid Bloomfield's basement is connected directly to the ionosphere and it has the capability to turn it off and on. The exact mechanism is unknown, but theories based on quantum particle entanglement have been advanced as the most likely explanation.

Meanwhile Bloomfield is happy just knowing what the switch does. "I don't really understand it all. They tried to explain to me about the iron-sphere up in the sky. That's all way beyond me. When they first told me about it, all I could think about was 'There's iron up there?' But I'm just glad someone figured out what that switch in my basement does. Now I know, I won't be touching it again. Of course, the grandkids sometimes play down there in the basement, an' you never know what they'll get into. But I'll keep an eye on that switch and try to make sure it stays on."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Geography Challenged Amateur Pursues WAS Award

Nelson Whizzhiemer, N1TWT, is doggedly pursuing the ARRL Worked All States (WAS) award. Nelson, 22, was licensed less than two years ago and has enthusiastically been enjoying the HF bands. The WAS award is often the first major operating award earned by amateurs. Whizzhiemer has been steadily working new states but is frustrated that he has not worked Puerto Rico yet.

“I haven't even heard a Puerto Rican station yet.” says Whizzheimer.

When informed that Puerto Rico is not one of the United States and thus not required for the WAS award, Whizzheimer expressed relief.

When asked if he had worked Hawaii yet, Whizzheimer replied, “You can't fool me, Hawaii ain't no state. Its overseas somewheres.”

Whizzheimer is a proud product of the public school system.