My first activation...

You just need 4 valid QSOs to get the points - the other party doesn’t need to be a SOTA chaser. On 2m FM it’s sometimes necessary to break into an existing QSO and exchange reports with both parties just to get enough QSOs. Just make sure the other station is outside the activation zone and don’t use a repeater (although another tactic is to make initial contact on a repeater and then switch to simplex).

Fortunately, up here in G/NP land, it’s usually easy to get more than 4 contacts on 2m FM by just calling CQ on S20 but I know that in some parts of the country 2m is a desert.


Yes, but take a good look at the contest rules to see what the exchange is. Apart from serial numbers (001 upwards) there are some HF contests requiring your CQ Zone, ITU Zone, output power (approximate is ok) or even age (the recent All Asian - AA contest does that). In some ARRL contests the US and Canadian stations give you their state or province code and you reply with your power, like 59100 or 5950.

And on VHF and UHF, there will be contests asking you to give a serial number and/or your grid square to either 4 or 6 characters. Just look up all those codes in advance and make a note of them for when you may need them.

Contest signal reports are meaningless and are always 59 or 599, whatever you say will be recorded as that, so give in and comply with the new overlords… haha, resistance is futile. One day well into the future, they will drop that requirement and just copying a callsign will be enough. No purpose is served by the signal report in contests. Rarely, a contest will ask you to use “real” reports but it isn’t one of the big international contests.

And yes, a contest contact is still one you can record as one of your SOTA contacts. I’ve even made contacts with dxpeditions in the Pacific and included them in my SOTA log. They don’t care!

There is no “contest entry” process before the contest. You are “in the contest” when you send in a log. At all stages up to sending in a log, you can hand out reports and give people contacts without any further requirement on your part. You don’t even have to log the contacts if your country’s administration does not require you to log contacts.

Contests are also a way of making contact with new countries you have not worked before. All those countries in the Atlantic and Caribbean that are hardly ever heard suddenly come to life in contests because operators travel to them just to participate in the contests. For the non-contester, they provide excellent opportunities for you to make contact with those countries that you would otherwise never hear. You’d log those contacts and try to get confirmation, probably these days via LOTW or EQSL. (LOTW is recognised as a legitmate confirmation by many dx awards but EQSL is on its own as far as I know).


There are lots of contests (e.g. UKEICC) where the sending of RS(T) is either not required or optional but contesters send it anyway!


Wimp, the reply is obviously 59KW even when you are running a lot more power :slight_smile:


For me the most interesting part of the hobby has always been home brewing antennae; there’s something about throwing some bits of metal together and sending radio waves around the earth that just works for me! So I’ve never really been “into” contests and have just tuned away when I hear them on the bands. Now I’ll do a little research and incorporate them into my radio play – seems like a great way to test a new antenna when I want to! Many thanks for the very clear and succinct summary :slight_smile:

1 Like