Lantern Battery Challenge©
Operating Parameters September 2012

Call them rules

Entry Form

The fourth NVARC Lantern Battery Challenge will start in October. This year we are making some major changes to the event. So read on. We hope to make the event more interesting and get more people to take part. The main idea is to reduce the size of the battery and reduce the length of the event. The idea is to limit the battery capacity so more people run out of battery before they run out of enthusiasm for the event. A side benefit of this is that the battery costs will be lower so hopefully that will encourage more people with take part. Some people will be at a larger disadvantage due to the smaller battery. Rigs like the 817, and KX3, although they have internal battery holders are still rather large drain rigs compared to some of the low power and low drain QRP rigs. So to keep it interesting we will award positions for entries using identical rigs. IE if all your QSOs are on an FT 817 and in the same mode as another entry also using an FT 817 and the same mode we will recognize the fact. A contest in a contest. The battery this year will be made up of 9 AA alkaline cells. This should provide about 1.6 amp hours of operation. All cells will be provided by NVARC to guarantee as close to uniform cells as possible. Since there are rigs that have internal battery holders for AA cells, you can rotate the extra cell in and out to try and even the drain. Or you can request a “Battery Pack” and connect it externally to your radio. The exact form the battery packs may take is still under investigation. They may be welded together, or made up of AA cell holders. It looks like we should be able to get the fee down to $8.00. That is almost half the cost of the lantern batteries. But assembly of the battery packs is going to be a bigger job. So come on everybody and sign up so I’m kept busy.

Now they say the devil is in the details. So here are the revised Operating Parameters for the 2012/2013 NVARC Lantern Battery Challenge.

Activity Period
The 2012/2013 Lantern Battery Challenge will run from the end of the October meeting, on October 18th, till 0001 UTC January 22nd, 2013. Note this allows participation in the Straight Key Night on New Years Day and the January ARRL VHF contest.
All contacts must be made on the normal contest bands of 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, and 6 meters. Note, 6 meters has been added this year.
Modes of Operation
There are three modes of operation, CW, SSB (including AM), and Digital (This mode lumps all digital modes such as RTTY, PSK, JT-65, and any of the other sound card modes together.
Classes of Entry
There are really twelve.
  1. Mixed mode is operating more than one of the three primary modes, CW, SSB, and Digital.
  2. CW
  3. SSB includes AM
  4. Digital, note the computer and display do not need to run on the battery for this mode. Only the radio.
  5. Transmit only mode. This mode allows the use of a line powered receiver. Only the transmitter is required to be battery powered.
  6. Crystal controlled transmitter. This is the same as 5 above except the transmitter is crystal controlled. This is for radios like the Tuna Tin and Rock Mite transmitters. Pulling the frequency of the crystal is permitted. You can use as many crystals as you have.

Now in addition to these six operating modes there are two antenna classes as explained next. The modes of operation and the two antenna classes combine to provide 12 entry categories.

Antennas (Major change) - There are two classes of Antennas

General class
Any and all types of antennas with no part of any antenna used for operating in the Lantern Battery Challenge higher than 55 feet above average ground.
Unlimited class
The Unlimited class consists of all other antennas. The purpose of this is to try and level the field between competing stations.
Contacts may be made from anywhere in the United States. Fixed, portable, or mobile, just as long as the same battery must be used for all contacts.
Logs must be submitted with a contact summary sheet (form to be supplied later) at the end of the event. Logs can be readable paper, original or a copy. Electronic logs must be readable with available software in an easy and convenient form. If we can’t read it, the entry will be set aside. Logs must contain date and time of contact, station call, mode, frequency or band and contact information. If the contact is made in a contest the contest exchanges is required in the log. For just general QSOs the signal report, name, and state, or province are required. For DX QSOs only name and report are required. Logs are due at the end of the February club meeting. We will try and make arrangements for those that cannot attend the February club meeting to submit their log on line or via US mail.
The simple number of completed contacts will determine the score. For example ten (10) CW contacts on 80 meters, fifteen (15) digital contacts on 40 meters, twelve (12) SSB contacts and thirteen (13) digital contacts on 20 meters is a mixed mode score of fifty (50) points. The antennas used were all less than 55 ft high so the entry is 50 Mixed Mode points in the General class
Awards will be decided by the board upon review of the entries. We guarantee all the fame you can carry home. But we may come up with something like cups, CDs or books. Certainly certificates will be awarded. The idea that everybody that enters is a winner comes to mind. Awards will be made at the March 2013 or later club meeting.
Entrance Fee
The entrance fee is to cover the cost of the battery provided by the club. It is $8.00. This is just to cover the cost of the batteries and maybe have a little left over for awards. The fee along with a completed application form is payable at the September meeting and must be paid before the October meeting to receive a battery. Members that cannot make the September meeting should contact me or a board member to try and make arrangement to pay your fee. We will hold the entrance fee payment period open for a limited period (a few days) after the Sept meeting to give members that can’t make the meeting an opportunity to pay their fee.
Event Spirit
The spirit of the operating event (we are reluctant to call it a contest) is to work as many contacts as possible on the limited amount of energy in the battery. Working stations with another rig and asking them to stand by and work you with your QRP rig is not in the spirit of the event.
It should be obvious that trying to run any of the modern transceivers on the battery will be short indeed. It will require a low drain radio. There are of course many of this type of radios available. The FT 817 and KX3 are examples. But radios that in general have complicated modern receivers with displays require a lot of current in the receive mode. Even transceivers like the K2 that have a low current drain mode draw 120 to 150 mills of current and will eat up the energy in the battery in short order. With the smaller battery it is best to have a plan. Use headphones and keep the transmit power down. Turn off the receiver when you are not actively listening to save battery capacity. I suggest disconnecting the battery when not in use. The battery will probably start to fail in the transmit mode where the current required is higher. Giving the battery a rest to recover can stretch the capacity. Low power rigs with simple low drain receivers will probably have an advantage but that remains to be seen. A big part of this is experimental.

There are those that will say, “Well I don’t have a radio and I am not going to plunk down the Big Bucks for some fancy low power radio kit or radio. Well that is one reason for the Transmit only mode. Low power, low drain, simple CW transmitters are little more than a week end project, and they will get you in on the fun. A one watt crystal controlled transmitter only takes two transistors and can be built in an evening. I have a few boards and we can scrape up the parts for those that may be interested in building their own little transmitter to get in on the fun. (If you are interested, get in touch with me).

Operation with different equipment is encouraged. The only requirement is that any equipment must be powered by the battery supplied. So you are free to try as many different rigs as you like during the event. The same is true of antennas as long as they are in the same class. So it is a good time to experiment with antennas.
The board may modify or issue new event rules at any time it feels necessary to the conduct of the operating event.
Main Objective of the Lantern Battery Challenge - Have Fun!

Issued Sept. 17th 2009, revised Sept 2nd 2011, Sept 7th 2012, and Sept. 24 2012
Bob W1XP

"Lantern Battery Challenge" is copyright © 2010 Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club.
Change history
2012-09-24   Extended the Activity Period
Last changed: $Date: 2012-09-24 19:06:51 +0000 (Mon, 24 Sep 2012) $