K8ZT’s Contesting Companion
At the last meeting of my local radio club, the Cuyahoga Falls Amateur Radio Club (CFARC.org), 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- http://k8zt.blogspot.com, for future reference or to pass on to non-CFARC friends.
- 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 (email@example.com).
- Anecdotes and other miscellaneous contesting/award information.
Contesting Site Links
- Bruce Horn’s WA7BNM Contest Calendar- www.hornucopia.com/contestcal (probably the most comprehensive listing of contests anywhere).
- ARRL Contest Calendar (a.k.a. Contest Corral)- ww.arrl.org/contest-calendar
- Contesting.com - Contesting News, Articles, Surveys, Tips, Calendars & more!
SM3CER Contest Service- www.sk3bg.se/contest- 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).
- 3830.com- 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, www.ng3k.com, 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 www.ten-ten.org.
- Feb 11/12
- CQ WW RTTY WPX- A contest where everyone can work everyone and that recent KD8 or KE8 callsign is actually a rare multiplier. If you missed earlier RTTY Roundup give this a try. If you have an HF radio and a computer a simple interface and free software can get you on RTTY. Visit www.aa5au.com/rtty/getting-started-on-rtty and http://audiosystemsgroup.com/HamInterfacing.pdf to get going. And for those that want much more detail on RTTY (and like Dilbert) visit http://www.k9wx.net/downloads/RTTY2016Final.pptx. Oh, and by the way once you get setup for RTTY you can explore many other digital modes such as PSK with the same setup.
- Feb 18/19
- ARRL International DX CW- www.arrl.org/arrl-dx. 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 www.ng3k.com 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!