DXing, Contests and Special Event Stations
Many hams get involved with DXing and Contesting. DXing is the contact with a long distance operator using simplex operation and not using a repeater or other method like Voice Over Internet Protocol (voip) to extend the range of the contact. DXing can be done on any amateur band and any mode. Most common modes are SSB for voice, CW or PSK31 digital mode. There are several awards you can earn for working DX as well as earning Certificates for contesting. This page provides links to some great sources for learning about DXing and Contesting as well as earning awards.
There are many special event stations that commemorate everything from something that happened on a special date in history to current events happening now. Most will only run for one or two days while some may run for a week. Some will have one or more stations working multiple bands from a single location to many different stations at multiple locations. Some event stations will offer a very nice colored picture QSL card while others will offer nice certificates. Special Event Stations can be found on HF through VHF/UHF bands and will often include using local HF/VHF/UHF repeaters to where they are located including repeaters linked with Echolink or IRLP.
Many hams become DX chasers looking to collect many DX awards, also called wallpaper. There are many different types of awards available for almost all amateur bands and modes of operation. To get an award, you will turn in a log of confirmed contacts to the group sponsoring the award and also pay a small fee to get a fancy certificate. These logs can be paper logs but more often these days is electronic. Two types of common electronic logs are Logbook of The World (LoTW) and eQSL. You will have to check the award sponsors site for the type of log they will accept for the award and the fees.
ARRL DXCC Award
ARRL WAS Worked All States Award
ARRL WAC Worked All Continents Award
ARRL VUCC VHF/UHF Century Club Award
CQ WAZ Worked All Zones Award
CQ DX Award
CQ WPX Worked Prefix Award
DX spotting is where amateurs and short wave listeners post the frequency and mode of long distance stations they hear on the radio waves. DX spotting can be done in different ways. One of the oldest ways is by using a DX Spotting packet bulletin board system. DX chasers access a local 2 meter packet BBS. As local users (aka spotters) post DX stations they hear, the DX chaser can change specifically to that DX spot frequency and mode. This is much faster than by just tuning up and down the bands which is very hit and miss finding where the activity is.
Another way is to access specific DX spotting servers on the internet using a Telnet terminal application.
The third way is to access specific DX spotting web sites using just a regular browser.
DXWatch - My favorite DX spotting site. Allows set up your own custom filters by band and mode. Has many options to custom design the filter. Also search spots for specific call sign. Great for looking where that rare DXpedition is on the air.
DXSummit - Another good DX spotting site. Allows selecting pre-defined filters by band and limited modes. Also search spots for specific call sign.
The Daily DX - DXpedition lists, news and DX Conventions.
AC6V's DXpedition and DX Contest links.
NG3K's Announced DX Operations.
The DX Zone A collection of links to Amateur Radio DX Resources.
There are a variety of software applications available to amateur radio to do just about everything except make your coffee. These applications can show DX spots, show propagation predictions, log the contacts you make and even control your radio and antenna rotators all usually within a few clicks of the mouse.
DXLab Suite A well rounded suite of 8 different software applications for Windows that all work extreamly well together. It took a little work to get everything configured and it does require a full time internet connection to take advantage of the many features. Best part, it is FREE!
The DX Zone A collection of links to Amateur Radio Software.
Contests occur almost every weekend of the year, sometimes several contests on the same weekend. Contests are where operators try to contact as many other operators on one or more bands as allowed under the rules of the contest. Contests may be sponsored by local amateur radio clubs, national groups like the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) or international groups like the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). The sponsor group will provide the rules and requirements on their web site. To get a certificate or card showing participation in the contest, you will need to send a paper or electronic log sheet to the contest sponsor. There are several different web sites and radio magazines that list contests, DXpeditions and special event stations.
Contesting.com - Contesting news and articles.
WA7BNM Contest Calendar - Contest lists and news.
ARRL Contest Calendar and Information
CQ Sponsored Contests
The DX Zone A collection of links to Amateur Radio Contesting Resources.
QSL's are the confirmation that you made a contact on the radio. QSL may be sent in paper postcard form or electronically using services like Logbook of The World (LoTW) and Electronic QSL (eQSL). Paper QSL cards are mailed and when sending out of country can be very expensive. For this reason QSL bureaus were formed by world wide IARU member societies. In the U.S. the card bureau is under the control of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). You do not have to be a member of the ARRL to receive QSL cards through the Incoming Bureau. You do have to be a member of the ARRL to send cards through the Outgoing Bureau.
Paper QSL cards can vary in size. You may receive cards ranging from 2-3/4 to 4-1/4 in. (70 to 110 mm) height by 4-3/4 to 6-1/4 in. (120 to 160 mm) width. The most generally accepted size of commercially printed QSL cards is 3-1/2 in. (90 mm) height by 5-1/2 in. (140 mm) width. I have not found any commercial card stock for inkjet printers of that size. You can use heavy paper stock that is a standard 8-1/2 by 11 in. to print multiple ones per sheet and then cut them apart with scissors. I'm not allowed to play with scissors (lol) so I use Avery 4 x 6 in. post card stock and a word processor to print my QSL cards.
Incoming 7th Call Area QSL Bureau. Hams living in the U.S. 7th Call District can receive QSL cards from outside the U.S. through the incoming QSL bureau. You do not have to be a ARRL member to receive cards through the incoming bureau.
Outgoing ARRL QSL Bureau Hams living anywhere in the U.S. can send cards to foreign countries through the outgoing QSL bureau. You must be a ARRL member to send cards through the outgoing QSL bureau.
LoTW - Logbook of The World by the ARRL Log your contacts in digital format instead of sending paper QSL cards. USA hams must be a ARRL member to use LoTW.
eQSL - The Electronic QSL Card Center Non ARRL service to log contacts in digital format.
A good resource for DX and Contesting information is to join a DX club.
Spokane DX Association