What's Contesting and why do I do it?

Contesting? What's that?!? (If you know the answer, skip this introduction!)

If you're new to contesting, perhaps the best way to describe it is as¨"making as many contacts as possible with as many different places as possible in a given time". You get given points for the number and sometimes the "difficulty" of the contacts, and those points are multiplied by the number of different "places" you contact, to give you a final score. Whoever scores the most, wins!

To give an example, the CQ Worldwide contests, held every year, give you one point per contact in your own continent, and three points for each contact on a different continent. Those points are then multiplied by the number of countries you were able to contact.

There's a pretty comprehensive guide to contesting for the newcomer at this dedicated contesting website

One of the mainstream reasons people operate HF is to excel in DXing, the end goal generally to speak to somebody in every single country in the world. Those who are able to do this are usually people who have a lot of time to dedicate to the hobby. One of the reasons I like contesting is that it's like DXing, but it's only over a weekend! I also like it because it provides a challenge, good contesters must dominate many different aspects of ham radio and I've learnt a great deal through contesting....and still have an awful lot more to learn if I want to win!

A bit of history

I participated in my first contest in 1990, a couple of months after getting my first HF licence. At the time, I liked contests because it was when I was able to get new countries in the log. It wasn't until in 1992 when I participated in my first multi-single contest with EA5DF as ED5WPX in the WPX phone contest, that I actually took active part in a 'test. Toni introduced me to beams, high power, computers in contesting, and terms like rate. I was hooked.

Although I continued to contest off and on with Toni, I soon met up with one of Spain's top contesters, José Miguel EA5DFV and for several years was able to participate in multi-op events from his well-appointed shack in the north of Alicante.

From 2001 until 2008, I did a lot of single op contests, either from home, from my mobile, and even a contest expedition to neighbouring Balearic Islands EA6. Writeups for all of these follow below.

My current contesting activity

In 2007 I joined back up with fellow EA5DFV operator Victor EA5KV and other members of URE Torrent to form the Torrent Contest Club and this is where I do most of my contesting from nowadays.

So if you hear me in a contest, either with my own call or using ED5T, please give me a call.



Arguably, the CQ Worldwide contests are the mother of all contests. I say contests plural because there is one for RTTY (Radioteletype) at the end of September, one for SSB (phone) at the end of October, and one for CW (morse) at the end of November. Full information can be had at their web,,

The "multiplier" in this contest is each country you work, and since it's inception, it has been a motivation for many people to travel to other rarer countries in order to hand out a rare multiplier and have fun (and maybe win a record) in the process.

The awards and records offered by this contest are also a great incentive, you can choose to work either monoband or multiband, mono operator or multi operator, high, low or very low power, and assisted or unassisted. There's something for everyone and most people are able to enjoy competing at some level, while all enjoying the same contest. This is a 48 hour contest, and my preference is to either work monoband and get some sleep, or, in a multi operator station.,..and get some sleep :)

I've managed a few category wins over the years, and currently am record holder in CQWW SSB 80 metres low power from the Balearic Islands, and in CW, 15M QRP assisted in mainland Spain. And planning to recover our Multi-Single title from mainland Spain after we were beaten in 2011:)

Although a lot of preparation and hard work needs to go into a contest, and therefore sometimes some frustration and disappointment, the contests themselves are always great fun! Click on the links below to read some of the stories of my CQWW operations over the years: (CQWW Phone 1999) (CQWW Phone 2001) (CQWW Phone 2002) (CQWW Phone 2003) (CQWW Phone 2004)
(No CQWW in 2005, I was moving house that weekend) (CQWW Phone 2006) and (CQWW phone 2007) (CQWW Phone 2008) (CQWW Phone 2009) (CQWW Phone 2010) (CQWW Phone 2011) (CQWW Phone 2013) (CQWW CW 2009) (CQWW CW 2010) (CQWW CW 2013)

The place where I operated from in 2001, with a wire dipole for 10m strung between the windmill blades!:


In the ARRL contests, the object of the exercise is to try to contact all the USA states and Canadian provinces. For us in Spain, the contest is nice because a) you don't have to move your directional antennas for the duration of the contest and b) there are a few hours each day when there is no propagation on any band to north america, so you can have a rest. This is my favourite springtime contest.

Rules and more can be found out (ARRL SSB 1999) (ARRL SSB 2000) (ARRL SSB 2002) (ARRL SSB 2003) (ARRL SSB 2004) (ARRL SSB 2005) (ARRL SSB 2006) (ARRL SSB 2008) (ARRL SSB 2009) (ARRL SSB 2010) (ARRL SSB 2011) (ARRL CW 2010)

Here's me and José María "Baby Joe" EC5CPL, now EC5EC, in the 1999 contest:


The IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) HF championship is a bit different from others. For one, it is only 24 hours. Also, it's mixed mode SSB and CW. And, it's the only important HF contest held in the (northern hemispshere) summer, when propagation is not optimum. It is also the only contest where national teams compete against each other in a separate category (although since 2010 they do not officially compete as such). And finally, the WRTC (world radio teamsport competition), considered by some as the olympics of contesting, runs concurrently with the IARU contest. The next WRTC is in 2014 and you can see details at .

I've been privileged to have been a member of the national team on three different occasions, in 2006, 2007, and 2011. This is an absolutely wonderful experience for anyone who is passionate about contesting! (IARU 2001) (IARU 2002) (IARU 2004) (IARU 2005) (IARU 2008) (IARU 2009)

Here's me in 2002 with Javi, EA5AER:


There are contests of some sort or another going on virtually every weekend. Getting involved in these would mean sacrificing too much time, and there is after all life apart from ham  radio. But sometimes I do participate in some of them and below are some of the writeups of past editions of other contests. (WPX SSB 2003) (WPX SSB 2004) (WPX SSB 2006) (WPX SSB 2007) (WPX SSB 2009) (EU SPRINT 2003) (EU SPRINT 2005) (EU SPRINT 2007) (ARRL 10m 2005) (ARRL 10m 2007) (ARRL 10m 2009) (ARRL 10m 2011) (King of Spain SSB 2009) (CQ160 SSB 2010)

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