Guide to October 2020 Ham Radio Contests

October is always a huge month for Ham Radio contesters. This year is no different, so get ready to settle into a comfortable chair and buckle up for some long sessions of making QSOs. Here are a few highlights:

  • YLRL DX/NA YL Anniversary Contest (October 3-4) 1400Z to 0200Z. All licensed women operators worldwide are invited to participate in this 36-hour contest sponsored by the YLRL (Young Ladies’ Radio League), an 81-year-old organization for women with amateur radio licenses. In addition to sponsoring operating events like its annual Anniversary Contest, the group provides scholarships, YL nets, and other services. Click here to read an OnAllBands blog about the club.
  • QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party (October 10) 0000Z to 2359Z. The QRP Amateur Radio Club International kicks off autumn in their usual manner—by doing more with less! This club for low-power enthusiasts worldwide sponsors various contests and events that promote QRP operating and related activities, such as building minimalist radios, portable ops, and antenna experimentation. Like much of the club’s activities, its Fall QSO Party (HF CW only) is a test of ingenuity and skill, as operators make QSOs using anywhere from 55 mW or less to 5W. For QRPers, there’s nothing more thrilling than reaching across the world. Check out this article from OnAllBands blogger Sean, KX9X, about one of his most memorable QSOs on 55 milliwatts.
  • ARRL’s EME—50 to 1296 MHz (October 10-11) 0000Z to 2359Z. Work as many amateur stations as possible via the earth-moon-earth path on any authorized amateur frequency above 50 MHz.
  • Stew Perry Topband Challenge (October 17-18) 1500Z to 1500Z. Here’s a popular event 160M fans won’t want to miss. Point value of QSOs depends on the distance between the two stations. Participants are given one point plus another point for each 500km of distance. Points are also multiplied for lower power categories—for both the sending and receiving station.
  • Telephone Pioneers QSO Party (October 19-20) 1800Z to 1900Z, October 19 (Digital Only) and 1900Z, October 19 to 0300Z, October 20 (All Modes). This will mark the 56th annual running of the TPQSO Party. Find all the details here.
  • ARRL School Club Roundup (October 19-23) 1300Z to 2359Z. The bi-annual event is designed to foster contacts with and among school radio clubs. Participants can exchange QSO information with any Amateur Radio station, so non-school clubs and individuals are encouraged to participate as well. All amateur bands except 60, 30, 17, and 12 meters are permitted.
  • CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB (October 24-25) 0000Z to 2359Z. This is why they call this time of year Contest Season! The CQ Worldwide DX Contest is the largest Amateur Radio contest in the world with over 35,000 participants. The challenge is to make as many contacts with as many DXCC entities and CQ Zones as possible, while competing against the world’s elite contesters. Not into SSB? The CW portion of the contest is November 28-29.

In addition, look out for these state QSO parties:

  • California: October 3-4 (1600Z to 2200Z)
  • Nevada: October 10-11 (0300Z to 2100Z)
  • Arizona: October 10-11 (1500Z to 0500Z)
  • Pennsylvania: October 10-11 (1600Z, October 10 to 0500Z, October 11; 1300Z to 2200Z, October 11)
  • South Dakota: October 10-11 (1800Z to 1800Z)
  • New York: October 17-18 (1400Z to 0200Z)
  • Illinois: October 18-19 (1700Z to 0100Z)

Ready to upgrade your station for better results this year? Whether you’ll be working HF or VHF, contact DX Engineering at for expert advice on the gear you need to move up in the rankings. Or visit for antennas, transceivers, amplifiers, headsets, microphones, footswitches, keys, and contesting accessories like our RXSHARE Audio Switch.

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