NORTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN CHAPTER ALPHABET CHALLENGES
Many of our monthly North American and European Chapter challenges are "alphabet" type challenges. In these challenges the goal is to use the letters and numbers from the callsigns that you have worked during the month to spell out specified lists of words or phrases. The specific rules for these challenges can be found on the General Rules page (Rule #5).
The record keeping that is needed for these alphabet challenges can be a little bit intimidating and we have a number of tools available to help you with the task. Simply choose the tool that is right for you and have some fun.
ALPHABET CHALLENGE WEB APPLICATION:
Robby Robson, WB5RVZ, #2646, has used his very considerable computer programming skills to create a web-based alphabet challenge tool that takes care of every bit of your record keeping and reporting for the alphabet challenges. Once you register with the application using your email address you will be all set to "subscribe" to our North American and European alphabet challenges. After that all you need to do is enter the callsigns that you work during the month and the app will take over from there. It will keep track of the letters that you have collected and those that you still need. It will assign callsigns to the challenge words and generate a perfectly formatted report that can be automatically submitted to the appropriate challenge manager.
This application is almost completely "plug & play" but it also includes a complete set of instructions and hints if you need any extra help. A complete tutorial on how to use the app is being planned for the September 2016 issue of the newsletter.
You can find the application here. Be sure to bookmark the page for speedy access.
ALPHABET CHALLENGE SPREADSHEETS:
If you do not want to always have to access the internet to work on your alphabet challenges one of our alphabet challenge spreadsheets might be of interest to you. They are not as automated as the web application described above but they do keep your work well organized by following the pencil & paper style described below but with a lot of the grind work done for you by your computer. A complete tutorial on how to use the spreadsheets can be found in the July 2016 issue of the club newsletter - Newsletter #217.
Numbers version for MAC computers running OSX: alpha_challenge.numbers.
Excel version (.xlsx) for computers running Windows: alpha_challenge.xlsx.
Older Excel version (.xls): alpha_challenge.xls.
You should save the original file as a template and use copies of it for your actual challenge work.
TRADITIONAL PENCIL-AND-PAPER METHOD:
If you enjoy working a good crossword puzzle from time to time a traditional pencil & paper method might be what you want to use for your alphabet challenge record keeping. Here is a tutorial on one such method that will keep your work organized and efficient.
First of all I set up a piece of paper as follows. The row of letters across the top are all the different letters contained in the words for the challenge.
When I work a station, I put his call in the lower right part of the paper somewhere as shown here after working W8BJO:
I look at the letters at the top, and see there is no B there, nor is there a J, so I cross out those letters in W8BJO . Then I put his call next to the letter W in MAYFLOWER, the letter O in SQUANTO and the O in MAYFLOWER (A letter from a call can be used twice). Since there is no other W, I cross out the W in the list of letters at the top of the page. Now my sheet looks like this:
My second QSO is with WB4FDT. There is no B or D in the challenge and the W is no longer useful so they get crossed out in his call. I put WB4FDT next to the appropriate letters (one F and two T's) in the words. Since the F is now finished, I cross out that letter at the top. I see both T's are finished also and cross out the T at the top and we have:
One more example, then you are on your own. Next worked is K9EEM. Then I fill in K9EEM next to the appropriate letters (2 K's, 4 E's, 2 M's). I made the most of that call! That finishes K, so out it goes at the top.
I hope this little tutorial has helped those of you who felt overly challenged by our NAQCC alphabet challenges. We have toyed with the alphabet challenge rules in the past, but they are now fixed so this example (with the words changed of course) will apply to all future alphabet challenges.
The above tutorial describes an excellent method for organizing your alphabet challenge record keeping but it is not an appropriate format for your challenge submission. Please submit your challenge in the form of a simple text file with each challenge word on a new line and with the callsigns that form that word listed horizontally in the line. For example:
WORD - K3WWP, N2OD, WA8REI, N2OD
NEXT - NF8M, W8REI, N8XMS, K9EYT
Also note that if one of the challenge words is actually a phrase, any spaces in the phrase should be ignored. For example, if the challenge phrase is "INVERTED V ANTENNA" you need to submit calls to make "INVERTEDVANTENNA" as if it were a single word.