Friday, March 29, 2013

CQ WPX Contest This Weekend

I was just cruising around 20 Meters after dinner looking for some slow-scan TV, and all of a sudden I noticed the band get packed with wall-to-wall signals.

Turns it's the CQ Magazine "WPX" contest this weekend.

The object of the contest is to contact as many different "prefixes" as you can, and exchange a signal report and contact number.

A "prefix" refers to the first part of a callsign, which is where the station is located.

For example, I live in the FCC 6th Call District, so every callsign in Kaliforniastan has a number 6 in it.

A typical callsign would be W6XYZ. Or it could be K6XYZ, or WA6XYZ, and so on. The "W6", "K6", and "WA6" are the prefixes to the callsign, and each would count as a separte prefix.

Foreign callsigns, like "PY" for Brazil, "VK" for Australia, and "ZL" for New Zealand, also have unique prefixes, but also have an additional "multiplier" factored in to their point value in the process of determining your total score.

Contests like this are a good way to make contacts with new countries, but since it's so brief "Roger ZL2ABC, copy 5-9 #444. Please copy my 5-9 #675", and very artificial, many people almost don't consider it contacting whatever area of the world you just "worked".

I'm kind of benign about contests. I operate in them once in a while, but mostly go to the 17 Meter band where contests aren't allowed. I'd much rather TALK to somebody on the radio, as in having a real conversation with them, then just give them a signal report, and move on to the next one.

Sadly, it seems the art of conversation is becoming rare on the Amateur Radio frequencies, as some people just don't want to do anything other than swap reports and say "73".

And that's a shame, given our reputation as "Communicators".


  1. I returned to being active about a year ago and got on HF SSB for the first time. Noticed the same thing, especially europeans on 15. I was thinking about it and wonder if some of it may be due to language barriers? We are ok with the basics in a second or third language but can't get beyond signal reports. I know I can't.

    This was like reading Shin's blog. He isn't a fan of contests either. (JA1NUT)


  2. Most of the Hams I've met from foreign areas speak acceptable English, so I'm not sure that's part of the problem.

    I think it's more like the "Instant Gratification" mentality a lot of people seem to have today.

    I guess I'd have to say in contests you make contacts, but in day-to-day operation you actually make QSO's!

  3. Good points... And language IS an issue, much more so on voice than bugs...

  4. Well, it definitely CAN be an issue when it comes to things like air traffic control, but for Amateur radio we all just smile and muddle on through.

    What do you call a person who speaks two languages?

    What do you call a person who speaks three languages?

    (Get ready for it...)

    What do you call a person who speaks one language?


  5. Too bad I'm not on the air much. I think an AJ6 might be worth something in WPX. It was always good for about 6 db in a pileup in the old days after I first got it. HI.

  6. Yeah, when I first got my KQ6xxx call I caused a couple of pileups myself.

    People thought I was on some island in the South Pacific!


Keep it civil, please....