Amateur Radio Contests: What Exactly Are They

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Have you heard about radio sport?

If you’re a ham radio fanatic and haven’t heard Amateur radio contests, then my friend, you’re missing out on a lot of fun for sure.

Every year, ham radio enthusiasts get together and show their operating skills on it. So, how do you play the game on the radio?

You do what the radio got made for, contact other radios. That’s how the whole thing gets played out in the contest.

Sounds intriguing? Doesn’t it?

If you want to know more about this sporting event and how the entire thing pans out during the day, then you should stick around.

How the Amateur Radio contest works?

Amateur Radio Contests

The game is simple. Make contact with other Amateur radios. And the goal is to make as many contacts as possible. However, there is some pointing system, which I will talk about later. But first, take a look at the various categories on which people contest.

Let’s take a look at them.

1. Single operator category:

In this category, a single person does all the things from operating the radio to logging functions. In the contest where one can transmit one signal at any time. But you don’t have any limit when it comes to band changes.

However, you can categorize the single operator game into three parts:

  • High power (Power output does not exceed 1500 watts)
  • Low power (Power output does not exceed 100 watts)
  • QRP (Power output does not exceed 5 watts)

2. Single Operator Overlay category:

Anyone good to participate in the single categories above can also take part in any of the overlay categories mentioned below.

Tribander: In this category, the participant can use a tribander for a range of 10, 15, and 20 meters. And they will have single-element antennas placed on 40, 80, and 160 meters. But they can’t use a separate antenna for receiving signals.

Rookie: To participate in this category, you need to have an amateur radio license for at least 3 years. If you’ve any plaque won in previous CQ contests, then you can’t take part in the rookie category.

Classic: For this category, users will use one radio, and they will operate it for 24 hours within 36 hours limit. If you operate more than 24hrs, only the first 24 hrs get counted. And during the contest, you can’t use any QSO alerting assistance nor you can receive transmissions when you transmit.

3. Multi-operator categories:

As the name suggests, there can be more than one operator who can help in the final score in the contest. And like most of the others, there are several sub-categories in this list too.

Single-transmitter: You can transmit one signal at a given time. You can change bands, but within an hour, you can make only 10 band changes. Lets say, you’ve changed from 40 meters to 20 meters, then again went back to 20 to 40, you’ve made 2-band changes doing that.

Now, this category has two sub-categories too: High power (Not exceed 1500 watts) and Low power (Not exceed 100 watts).

Two-transmitter: You can use two signals in this division. And you can use transmitters for any station you like. For each transmitter, you can make eight changes max within the hour.

Multi-transmitter (Unlimited): For this one, you get six signals to transmit for one band each at a given time. You can use all six bands at once. But make sure to have the serial sequence separated for each of the bands. And the power level shouldn’t exceed 1500 watts.

Multi-transmitter (Distributed): It’s more of the same as the earlier category. The only difference is that the equipment all need to be located in the same place, even the ones that get controlled remotely.

4. Check log:

The last category to take part in is the check log one. Here, the work is to check the logs. But if you want to know more about the contest, you can check here.

Why should you take part in an Amateur radio contest?

What’s the reason to take part in such a radio contest? What will you gain from it is the question that many might have for sure?

I’ve got some answers.

  • It is a challenge. If you are someone who is genuinely in love with the Ham radio, having the chance to connect with many stations in a short period will give you a thrill like no other.
  • To compete. It is as simple as that. There are people with whom you love to go up against in the ham radio operation contest and find out who scores hire.
  • There is always a sense of knowing how good you’re in something. It might not be for a trophy. But just to see, whether you’re improving as an operator or not. And what better way to do that than take part in Amateur radio contests every year to see your progress report.
  • For some, it is all about getting the tag of the best operator is the fuel that they all need to get encouraged and take part in such contests. That’s all they need.


Why take part in contests?

There are various reasons to take part in Amateur radio contests. You can improve your operating skills, or try to compete with fellow amateur radio lovers to see who is better.

What bands can be used during contests?

It depends on the contest type. For example, there are contests like ARRL 10m where only a single band like 10m is allowed to use. Other contests are there where you can only use VHF bands. Then there are others where you can operate on various HF bands like 160m, 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m.

What are the “WARC” bands?

The WARC bands got named after the World Amateur Radio conference back in 1979. At that conference, three bands got allocated for amateurs’ use. Those are 30m, 17m, and 12m bands.

What category should I enter?

A Kilowatt liner is a must to compete in the high power category. If you don’t have one, then go with the single operator low power category. A QRP experienced operator should go for the QRP category.

Also read:

1. Will Amateur Radio Work After An EMP Attack Or Not?
2. Listen To Ham Radio Without License: Legal Or Illegal?


So, here we are, coming to an end after finding out some of the things about the Amateur radio contest. You might have not known about it before today. Or maybe you did but didn’t know how to take part in it.

Either way, there is something that you’ve got to find out here today that might help you to ignite your ham radio operating passion.

Don’t wait anymore.

Get on with practicing for the upcoming events and show your metal in those competitions. Or just have fun with your friends to find out which one of you is the best.

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