My friend Tim, KT8K, loves the CQ WPX contests. Why? Because with his prefix, he becomes a sought-after station. There just aren’t that many stations with the prefix KT8, and because every new prefix you work is a multiplier, they are anxious to work him when they hear his call.
Tim is not the only ham who loves the CQ WPX contests. The CQ WPX RTTY, SSB, and CW contests are some of the most popular contests in amateur radio. Last year, for example, 5,365 logs were submitted for the CQ WPX SSB contest and 4.323 logs for the CQ WPX CW contest.
As you can imagine, you’ll hear prefixes in the contest that you almost never hear on the air. How many are there? Well, in the CQ WPX SSB 2012 contest, 204 stations worked more than 1,000 prefixes! Often, even experienced operators don’t know where to point the antenna based on the callsign!
Aside from the way you earn multipliers, most of the standard rules apply. For example, the bands that you can operate include 160m, 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m, and there are three power classifications: QRP – 5W, Low Power – 100 W, and High Power = 1,500 W. The RTTY contest is held the second weekend of February, the SSB contest the last full weekend of March, and the CW contest is the last full weekend of May. This year, the CW contest will be May 25-26, Memorial Day weekend.
Rule Changes for 2013
There have been some rules for 2013. Here’s a summary of the changes:
- IV(c). The change to this rule clarifies that power is measured at the output of the transmitter or amplifier.
- IV(f). The change to this rule adds text that prohibits use of remote receivers away from the operating site. The text that was actually added reads, “Use of any IP network for remote receiving, including Web-controlled receivers, is not permitted.” This DOES NOT mean that you can’t operate a station remotely. Rather, it means that you cannot operate from one location and receive using a receiver at another location.
- IV(h). This is a new rule that requires stations using more than one transmitter on a band to have a mechanical lockout in order to prevent more than one transmitted signal at a time. If you use only one radio, then you’ll be fine.
- IV(i). This is a new rule that prohibits correction of call signs after the contest by using outside databases or other sources of information. This helps ensure that the contest is a test of one’s operating skills, not one’s database skills.
- VB(c). This new rule adds QRP Assisted category. Prior to this rule change, QRP stations that used assistance were put into the low power, assisted category. This gives those operators a category of their own.
- XI(b) and (c). The change to this rule clarifies how club scores will be counted for DXpeditions and multi-operator stations. Now, if a DXpedition includes members from more than one club, the points from that DXpedition will be allocated to the clubs on a percentage basis. For example, if a DXpedition has 3 members from Club A and two members of Club B, Club A will get 60% of the DXpedition points, while Club B gets 40%.
- XI(f) – Provides new address for mailing paper logs. That address is now CQ WPX Contest, P.O. Box 481, New Carlisle, OH 45344.
- XV – The log deadline is now 5 days after the end of the contest. The deadline for the upcoming CW contest is June 1, 2013. Logs will be accepted after this date, but the operators will not be eligible for an award.
Some general operating advice
If you do decide to participate, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Maximize QSO points. Unlike other contests, DX QSOs on 40m, 80m, and 160m, count for twice as many points as DX contacts on the other bands.
- The more contacts you make, the more prefixes you’ll work. Data from previous contests show that on average, contestants earn a new prefix for for every three QSOs.
- Cover all population centers. Most of the participants are from Europe and North America, but if the bands are open to Japan, work them, too.
- Copy the call AND the serial number. Don’t lose points by not logging the serial number.
Have fun, and listen for my friend, Tim. He’ll be more than happy to give you that KT8 multiplier.