Ham radio contests seem to be fun and ing to the ham operators. With these contests they can easily test their skills as well as improve their radio communication craft. Most of the licensed ham operators are constantly trying to increase their honor by collecting QSOs(contacts).
The licensed of amateur radio enthusiasts who are specialized in radio operation are called ham radio operators. They are experts in their field and some of them can even make their own radio with electronic circuits and are able to maximize the use of frequency. These operator use their radios only for non commercial purposes. Many of them use their ham radio only in emergency services and rescue operations.
Kinds of Contests: Most of the contests are sponsored by ARRL American Radio Relay League, the largest organization of ham radio. One of the most popular contest is RTTY where contestants use digital modes. RTTY is radio teletype is a communication system between 2 or more teleprinters at different locations connected by radio waves instead of wire.
Ham operators are allowed to use one band at a time with the power level more than 150 watts. There is no power limits QRP may be less than 5 watts for CW carrier wave and 10 watts power level for PEP for SSB single side band.
There are another type of contests known as DXCC distant century club awarded to the ham operators who can successfully make contacts with licensed operators in 100 countries away from the claimant. There are as many as 48 continental states and Canadian provinces. It is noted that ham radio station will transmit with 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 1nd 10 meter bands.
The winner of such contest is decided by the contacts of most locations. There is a another type of contest namely HF where the contestants will contact as many as possible ham radio location around the globe with 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. There are provisions of sub categories that include phones, CW carrier wave and mixed modes.
Ham radio operators can use high and low, above and below 150 watts and QRP power levels. The winner of this type contest will be decided who earns maximum number of QSO points. Distance contest above 222mhz is another type of contest that allows ham radio operators to connect 222mhz to 241 ghz using any mode.
It is noted that only one station on the grid will be allowed for each frequency band. The ham radio operator who can connect the maximum number of grid stations will be declared as winner. The EME contest is another type of contest which uses the moon bounce theory.
The ham radio operators will use the path of earth-moon-earth in order ro connect the stations in this contest. Only license holder ham operators can join this contest using 6 meter band above 50 MHz frequency. All modes phone, CW, digital and combinations are allowed in this contest. The maximum number of QSO ( quasi-stellar object ) point’s earner will be declared as the winner.
Contest Information: Every year there a number of contasts held and a calendar or schedule is available beforehand. There are some small contests as well as some big contests also held each year. For the beginners it is better to start with small contest first. The biggest contests that are held each year:
- ARRL DX Contest – For CW-3rd full weekend of February and For SSB-1st full weekend of March.
- CQ Worldwide contest – For CW-Last full weekend of November and For SSB-Last full weekend of October.
- CQ World wide WPX contest – For CW-May and For SSB-March.
- ARRL “Field Day” – The last weekend of june.
There are 4 state QSO parties (Georgia, Missouri, Montana and new Mexico). Also there are CW, RTTY and PSK-31 contests.
Contest Rules: There are some rules in ham contests. Before you start a contest you must know the rules that can be downloaded. For example Georgia QSO party does not contain 12m and 17m WARC band and a ham operator is allowed only one station once per band per mode.
In addition to these contest rules you must aide the FCC rules. Not only to know the rules is sufficient but also tou need to have good operating practice. It is noted that there is no dedicted frequencies in ham radio.
Hardware for contesting: Contest skill only cannot make you a winner in these contest but you need best quality ham radio equipments also. These contest will utilize the best feature of equipment in ham activity. Don’t worry if you no ICOM 7800 – simply by using any radio you can get fun and log many QSOs. Some important radio features shown below.
- Power – Select able power high and low is very important in the sense that with low power you can contest CW and PSK-31 while with high power you can contest SSB.
- Antenna – Though the power is great antenna gain can contribute more. A directional antenna or a hex beam antenna is very much helpful in this contest. Antenna boosts power and reduces QRM from stations.
- Filters – Major contests are “concerto of QRM”. You will never find a clear frequency and hear always 2 or more stations bleeding over. In such situation you must use tight filters along with stiff cutoff. The best radio has adjustable filter in order to tighten above and below to QRM.
- Audio Compression – It is an important feature for having a good listening from ham operators. There various levels of audio compression by which you can maximize your voice understanding.
- Handset – To use a hand microphone is the best way while you bare in contest.Boom and desk microphone are not suitable as because you cant move your head very easily. So you should buy a headset with microphone and earphone. There are so many headset available in present market, but one of the best headset is Heil Proset-6. These headset offer excellent cartridge that can generate full range audio sound.
- Footswitch – Footswitch plays an important role for rapid call and exchange to operate PTT push to talk switch. Heil FS-2 is a quality footswitch but better quality still available. MFJ and Linemaster also sell quality footswitches.