By Jon Suehiro NN5T
The rest of the year tends to be a busy time if you are into “Radiosport” or contesting. There are several of the better contest events that are coming up in late October, November and early December that you should prepare for. Here is a full list and Jon’s take on each.
CQ Worldwide DX Contest – SSB
When: 0000Z, Oct 30 to 2359Z, Oct 31 (Friday, Oct 29 19:00 CDT ~ Sunday, Oct 31 18:59 CDT)
Objective: For amateurs around the world to contact as many other amateurs in as many CQ zones and countries as possible.
The largest Amateur Radio competition in the world, especially when the sunspot number is improving, have a great fun operating SSB on high bands. Note: Addition of Youth Overlay category if you are 25 years old or younger (in addition to Rookie if you are licensed less than 3 years).
ARRL Sweepstakes Contest – CW
When: 2100Z, Nov 6 to 0300Z, Nov 8 (Saturday, Nov 6 16:00 CDT ~ Sunday, Nov 7 21:00 CST (remember summer time ends on Nov 7)
Objective: To support amateur self-training in radio communications, including improving amateur operating skills, conducting technical investigations, and intercommunicating with other amateurs.
The bottom line is this is U.S. / Canada contest and you can compete from city lot size restricted station, some people hates the long exchange, but perfect occasion to achieve 24 hour WAS (work all states) on 6 bands, and have a great fun. Even you don’t normally operate CW, other than Serial Number in the exchange, you can copy call sign, ‘Prec (Q/A/B/U/M/S)’, ‘Check (first year licensed)’ and ARRL/REC section first till the whole thing becomes comfortable to play. Use memory keyer (or PC keying through contest logging software) to reduce the stress and fatigue.
ARRL Sweepstakes Contest – SSB
When: 2100Z, Nov 20 to 0300Z, Nov 22 (Saturday, Nov 20 15:00 CST ~ Sunday, Nov 21 21:00 CST)
SSB version of ARRL SS, will be packed with all class licensees including school club stations. You cannot believe how much band can be busy, do CQ and/or Search@Pounce as you like. Toward the end of the contest (Sunday afternoon), all big stations will be begging for the fresh meat. Do you have a voice keyer set? This is a great tool to reduce the fatigue. Have fun.
CQ Worldwide DX Contest – CW
When: 0000Z, Nov 27 to 2400Z, Nov 28 (Friday, Nov 26 18:00 CST ~ Sunday, Nov 28 18:00 CST)
CW version of CQ WW, if you want to work DX on CW and feel the world, set Thanksgiving event so you can sit in your shack without interruption. Of course, you can schedule the break to watch the football games. Exchange is simple RST + CQ Zone, so concentrate to copy the call sign in the weak signal condition. Comfortable headsets are must.
ARRL 160-Meter Contest
When: 2200Z, Dec 3 to 1600Z, Dec 5 (Friday, Dec 3 16:00 CST ~ Sunday, Dec 5 10:00 CST)
Objective: For Amateurs worldwide to exchange information with W/VE amateurs on 160-meter CW.
Usually the 160 condition peaks around this contest. If you have never operated on 160, run any wire as long as, and as high as possible and drop the ground wire (120’ long if possible) within the back yard and see if antenna tuner accepts your setup. This is the CW world-wide event, but start to work North America stations first. Band will be packed and big guns have great years so you can try with your small pistol. Read about ‘gray line propagation’, you have to be experienced to know how low band is excited. If the condition is good, signals from Europe or JA will come up from nothing to S-9 level and disappeared in just the matter of 10 minutes. Be a fun of exited 160 meter.
ARRL 10-Meter Contest
When: 0000Z, Dec 11 to 2400Z, Dec 12 (Friday, Dec 10 16:00 CST ~ Sunday, Dec 12 16:00 CST)
Objective: For Amateurs worldwide to exchange QSO information with as many stations as possible on the 10 meter band
In last few years, this contest was to measure your patience. Now we can expect sunspot number near 100, worldwide communication is possible. With sporadic E opening and TEP (transequatorial propagation), band should be busy during day time. We need to wait for the higher solar activity for the 10 meter night time openings so you can go to bed in normal hour. All class operator should try 10 meter band (CW and SSB). If you like the antenna project, first get some 25 ~ 30’ tall pole and start with wire antennas like ‘rotary dipole (16.5’ long)’, or ‘loop antenna (5.97’ wide x 12.27’ high to obtain 50 Ohm without transformer)’. They will work great.