Episode #12 - The CW Op's Guide To Contesting 101


If you're a CW op looking for something new to do, contesting maybe just what you are looking for. There are literally hundreds of contests each year. Some are big and some are small. Either way, contests are a great way ops can take their CW skills to the next level and have a ton of fun at the same time. 

Anthony Luscre, K8ZT, holds an Amateur Extra license and is one of the best QRP contest ops on the air today. He was first licensed in 1983 as KA8NRC and has been a QRP operator from his very first QSO. Anthony has consistently finished in the top ten of a variety of major contests. He has finished first in the US multiple times in both the CQ Worldwide Phone and CW QRP categories. He has made more than 60,000+ QRP contacts and his QRP DXCC total recently topped the 320 mark.

Anthony lives with his wife Linda, KA8ODP near Akron, Ohio. His station is definitely not a super contest station. His small suburban lot is cramped with a modest array of antennas, proving that you can be competitive in contests without acres of aluminum.

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When you're running low-power and you like DX, you want to be on the air during contests.

During a contest, you're just as valuable to the DX station as it is to you.

You can achieve DXCC in one weekend participating in contests!

You can work 160M with a 60' wire.

Get to know other contest operators, you can count on them to pull you in for the exchange.

Operating in contests is going to be the easiest CW you will ever operate.

To be a successful contest operator you need to do three things:
    Be able to recognize your own call sign.
    Be able to pick out the other operator's call sign.
    Make sure you know what exchange the other station is expecting from you and send them   the required exchange.
When you begin participating in contests, your competition isn't the other operators in the contest. As a new CW contest operator it's all about achieving the goals you set for yourself.

Operating at a slow speed can be an advantage in a contest.

Always remember, in a contest the other station wants to contact you even more than you want to contact them.

Use a memory keyer as a backup in case you freeze up during an exchange.

If possible, find someone who will let you watch them operate during a contest.

State QSO Parties are highly recommended for beginning CW contest operators.

September kicks off the contest season! October, November, January and February are the four best contest months of the year.

And finally, remember most of all, have fun!


K8ZT.com, Anthony Luscre's excellent website

CQ World Wide DX Contest

Scandinavian Activity Contest


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Bruce Pea3 Comments