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Amateur Radio Contest Station 2020

What and how to develop at ham stations till 2020

Uniden Amateur Radio Contest transceiver 2020

The Good Old Days

Galaxy transceiver Ham Radio

Galaxy 550 product brief:

All bands
Second VFO – 2 knobs
550W pep

Now and up 5

Any 5 year improvement is available now
Technology is in use
Implementing to contesting takes time
Recognising the unused
Developing the existing
Keeping the good
Changing the inefficient

Concentrating at things that will develop


Better weather resistance - research projects

Phasing vs. parasitic element antennas

  • Currently no known gain / take off angle benefits
  • Opportunity in fast direction control
  • Difficult to make and tune = development needed

Tuneable element concepts

  • Possibility to tune for different beamwidths

Dedicated receiving antennas

  • Smaller than beverage, smaller than 4SQ
  • Performance currently comparable

Connectors, towers, switches

UHF connector not optimal

  • Braid connection development needed

Hot dip galvanized steel for towers – mature

  • Better corrosion resistance - research projects

Rotation control concepts developing

  • Log software controlled; N1MM command Alt-J

Antenna switching automated; N1MM configurer

  • Development towards pin diode switches for better mechanical properties


Receive only, 200W power and high power
Providing better multi-radio operating

Throughput loss, stopband attenuation, reliability

Triplexers now

  • Hexaplexer = All contesting bands by a single feedline



  • Many new users
  • New details in user interface
  • More screens, keyboards
  • SO2R on a single band for top scorers


  • n>2 radios spectrum + waterfall on other bands
  • One receiver for all bands - - simultaneously

Radios - receivers

Good Old radio was with 9MHz IF

  • 1980 – 2010 main stream 70MHz replaced by 9MHz
  • DSP walk-in for better receivers

Current spectrum performance focus on receiver

Band scopes, pan-adapters developing

Modern receivers can provide spectrum + waterfall for all bands on one screen

  • Feature is entering contest stations

Receivers can decode signals

  • RTTY existing, CW developing, SSB unused

Radios - transmitters

Good Old radio 550W pep

  • Current main stream 100W out – will develop

Development towards cleaner transmitter output

DSP for transmit audio equalisation

DSP for transmitter efficiency with linearisation

  • Smaller, less weight and less heat

Radios ....

Radios with full computer control

  • UI transformation from separate box to computer
  • Remote by duplicating computer UI over IP

Zeus Amateur Radio 2020 Screen

ZS - 1 Amateur Radio 2010 HF SSB Transceiver

Zeus ZS - 1 Amateur Radio Transceiver 2020 Rear Panel Interconnections


Zeus Amateur Radio 2020 Spectrum


Benchmark Good Old Radio had enough power
Current state 25+kg amplifier boxes
Auto-tune advertised, semi-automatic 2015 reality
Over power stations
Development towards Power Category Certified
Development towards integrating the amplifier into radio's physical box
Weight reduction through SMPS and linearisation
FT1000D level package at 1500W Certified output
Power dissipation from ~50% to less than 10%


SCP development potential

  • Currently supporting only calls
  • Pre-contest activity information
  • History information, when on what band
  • Automatic suggesting skeds for known all band stations

Integrating propagation forecasting to SCP

  • Agile propagation forecasting on real live QSO: data

DX Summit shares call/QRG/QTR information

  • Manual plus a frontrunner; W3LPL

Propagation services

  • VOACAP, K6TU and other – prediction services

Live data integration to propagation service

  • Currently top stations monitor RBN manually
  • Automatic own call S/N monitoring in target area
  • Huge development potential

Solar & geomagnetic data 2015 only source

  • GPS or other satellite signal fluctuation by 2020 ?


Currently logging with 1kHz QRG, 1min QTR
2020 Cabrillo logging to 1Hz, 1s
Decoding moving from operator to radio to software. Software wins.

CW Skimmer Ham Radio 2020 Contesting

In-station SDR with decoding and spotting

  • Real live call database for SCP
  • Real live information on who is where doing what

Decoding capability better than human on CW

  • Even RTTY decoding still improving
  • SSB decoding unused
  • SSB live translation unused

Software tells if it agrees with logged call & msg

Software 2020 can:

  • Suggest a a new Run frequency for more pts/h taking into account propagation status, forecasts and trend
  • Suggest S&P actions for more pts/h taking into account what the multiplier is doing and is likely to do
  • Suggest S&P fine tune TX frequency based on pileup
  • Monitor multiplier behavior and suggest actions
  • Bring in new contesters – copying not mandatory
  • Translate SSB for contest & DX communications


RTTY copying already machine based
CW changing to machine aided

Dayton 2009 pile up contest

Kansas City DX Club W0CW

Pileup 2009 Results

Software .....

2015 bandmap uses mainly external data

  • Few contest stations have own SDR + decoder

2020 bandmap improved with station's own decoder providing additional information

  • Multiplier Priority P = a*S/N + b*propagation status + c*propag. trend + d*likely future availability + e*rarity + f*...
  • Algorithm configurable
  • Sorted by Call, QRG, beam heading, Priority

SW purpose to help operator to make decisions

Plugging in the Operator

Focus to serve the operator

  • Add contest fun for those who want to have fun
  • Exploit the operator to full potential for top scorers

System guidance to:

  • CQ, S&P
  • Drink, eat, take a break
  • Exercise, rest
  • Skeds with family – dinner ?

Operator interface 2020

Information on screen, earphones
Main input device keyboard
Traditional mouse disappears

Computer Amateur Radio Contesting 2020

Radio controlling device

Radio Controlling device Amateur Radio Contesting 2020 Numark

Wetware improvements

Wetware is the human organ in the system
Operating, logging, deciding are cognitive actions
Operator physical condition
Best possible use of the station investment
Performance enhancements

  • Caffeine, other chemicals; 2020 DoctorDX pill ?

Sport Gainer 2020 Doctor DX pill

Computer gamers and athletes use in 2015 (web

Compete at Highest Level Amateur Radio Contesting 2020

Is this picture taken after 24 hours BIC in 2020 ?

New Headset Amateur Radio Contesting FOC US

tDCS Amateur Radio Contesting 2020

This 2014 computer gamer used two headsets

Computer Gamer 2 Headsets Amateur Radio Future Contesting 2020

Expedition 2020

Radio hardware can be in a container or two
Operators can be at a hotel or elsewhere
Two-three antennas to different directions
Hexaplexers to simplify station build-up

Container Amateur Radio Contest DX Pedition 2020
1500 watt certified with 6 band antenna 1 and 6 band antenna 2.

Thanks to contributors


Cruise Stockholm harbor, Viking Mariella 31st January 2015

Author - OH6LI Jukka Klemola

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  • Callsign: HA3IW
  • 2017-04-26 10:23:31