Get Ready for the Hamvention® QSO Party! A Guide to Upcoming Ham Radio Contests

As we all practice prudent social interaction in the days ahead, operating from our home stations can be a great way to ease the stress by reaching out to our fellow Hams through the airwaves. Here are a few of the many Ham Radio contests to put on your calendar for April and one very special May event:

Hamvention® QSO Party (May 16) 1200 UTC to 2400 UTC. While Dayton Hamvention® has been canceled for 2020, you can still get in the spirit of this much-beloved gathering of Hams from around the world (and pretty much the whole DX Engineering crew) by experiencing the fun of Hamvention® on the air. The objective is to work as many stations as possible on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters SSB and CW during the 12-hour period. The exchange should be the signal report and the first year you attended Hamvention (use “2020” if you’ve never attended).

The event is being organized by WWROF (World Wide Radio Operators Foundation) in cooperation with Hamvention® organizers. It’s being held in memory of Ron, W8ILC, who became a silent key just two days after the Hamvention® 2020 cancelation announcement. Ron had attended every Hamvention® since the beginning.

North American SSB Sprint Contest (April 5) 00000 UTC to 0359 UTC. This single-operator contest on 80, 40, and 20 meters provides a four-hour adrenaline rush for top operators and those looking to hone their skills during a frenzied window of activity. Three power level categories (up to 1,500W, up to 100W, and up to 5W) are available. If you’re used to making hay by planting yourself on a frequency and running stations at will, that won’t work here. The contest’s special QSY rule makes sure nimbleness ultimately wins the day:

If any station solicits a call (e.g., by sending “CQ,” “QRZ?” “going up 5 kHz” or any other means of soliciting a response, including completion of a contact where the frequency was inherited), that station is permitted to work only one station in response to that solicitation. The station must thereafter move at least 1 kHz before calling another station, or at least 5 kHz before soliciting other calls. Once a station is required to QSY, that station is not allowed to make another contact on the vacated frequency until or unless at least one subsequent contact is made on a new frequency.

While it’s only a single-ops contest, participants can combine separate scores to earn team awards. Sound like fun? It sure does to us! Click here for complete rules.

QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party (April 11) 0000Z to 2359Z. QRP American Radio Club International—a club for low-power enthusiasts worldwide—sponsors this annual spring event for Hams who strive to do more with less. The HF CW-only contest offers all-band, single band, high bands (20M, 15M, 10M) and low bands (80M, 40M) entrance categories. To participate: “Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies. Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself! You can work a station for credit once on each band,” per the QRP ARCI website. Get the complete rules here.

U.S. state—and one Canadian province—QSO parties:

  • Nebraska: April 4-5 (1300Z to 0100Z) and April 5 (1300Z to 2200Z)
  • Missouri: April 4-5 (1400Z to 0400Z) and April 5 (1400Z to 2000Z)
  • Mississippi: April 4-5 (1400Z to 0200Z)
  • Louisiana: April 4-5 (1400Z to 0200Z)
  • New Mexico: April 11-12 (1400Z to 0200Z)
  • Georgia: April 11-12 (1800Z to 0359Z) and April 12 (1400Z to 2359Z)
  • North Dakota: April 11-12 (1800Z to 1800Z)
  • Michigan: April 18-19 (1600Z to 0400Z)
  • Ontario: April 18-19 (1800Z to 0500Z) and April 19 (1200Z to 1800Z)
  • Florida: April 25-26 (1600Z to 0159Z) and April 26 (1200Z to 2159Z)

State Parks on the Air

  • Florida: April 4-5 (1400Z to 2200Z) and April 5 (1400Z to 2200Z)
  • Texas: April 18-19 (1400Z to 0200Z) and April 19 (1400Z to 2000Z)