Sunday, June 12, 2016

How You can Benefit from QRP Contesting

How You can Benefit from QRP Contesting  by K8ZT

No matter your favorite interests in Ham Radio, a little contesting may be just the way to enhance or rejuvenate your enjoyment.

Fall traditionally kicks off the heart of radio contesting season just as the baseball season is coming to a close. So there probably is no better time to give a few contesting tips while stretching a few baseball metaphors.
K8ZT’s Rules of thumb for QRP contesting (with apologies to sport metaphors everywhere)

  1. Step up to the plate. Make sure everything is ready to go at the beginning of the contest. Don’t forget your computer and logging software.
  2. Call them and they will come! It is remarkable how well your QRP signal can be heard when it means a point for the contester on the other end of the contact.
  3. You can’t score when you are on the bench. Try to operate as much as possible.
  4. Always swing for the fence! If you want to work DX there is no better time for your QRP signal to succeed than during a big worldwide contest (such as CQ WW).
  5. Know the weather, don’t get rained out. Know propogation so you can be on the right band at the right time to maximize QSOs and not miss Multipliers.
  6. Create your own home field advantage. Choose your own playing field- your favorite contest, mode, entry category, your location (home, portable, top of a summit or a DXpedition), time of day or season of year. (To find the contests to make your selections see contest listing links below)*.
  7. Play your best position. Choose the category to best match your skills to increase your chances of winning. Your power class (QRP of course), assisted or unassisted, single or multi op, QSO party rover, go portable to that rare state, county, grid or even DX entity.
  8. Cover all the bases. Knowing how to use your radio equipment effectively and efficiently will reap contesting rewards. Know how to work stations listening elsewhere, adjust your radio’s filters to block interfering stations, switch to and quickly  tune the other antenna, etc.
  9. Take full advantage of home field advantage. Pick contests that give you and your antennas a geographic advantage. Sprints are great if you cannot devout a lot of time, low band contests are great for night owls. Stuck in the middle of the USA, try domestic contests and state QSO parties.
  10. Padding your stats.  For the award chaser, contests can help fill in those missing contacts. The last state for WAS, that rare one for the county hunter, final provinces for a country award, Grid squares for the VHFers, new DXCC entities or even that last zones for WAZ.
  11. Steal a base. Grab extra multipliers by knowing DXCC prefixes, especially the atypical ones. Check to see the special stations you should expect to be on during the contest by visiting
  12. Batting a thousand. Give QRP contesting a chance and watch as your operating skills grow, your QSO totals soar and your fun hits a homerun. Don’t forget every contest is brand a new ballgame with a chance to improve on your previous contest.

*To find contests, dates, times and rules try WA7BMN’s Contest Calendar-, SM3CER’s Contest Service- and the
ARRL’s Online Contest Calendar- contests/ calendar.html.