Guide to April 2024 Ham Radio Contests—Solar Eclipse Edition

While the OnAllBands contest guide traditionally features many events that come around year after year, we’re extra excited about an opportunity this April that folks in North America won’t see again for two decades.

The total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, will not only give sky-gazers in parts of North America a glimpse at this rare phenomenon, but also provide hams with the chance to contribute to serious scientific research being undertaken during the event. Sponsored by HamSCI, the Solar Eclipse QSO Party, 1400Z to 2400Z, is intended to “generate observations of propagation by the Reverse Beacon Network and PSKReporter event logs before, during, and after the eclipse on the amateur bands for the purpose of ionospheric sounding,” per HamSCI.

“The Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP) is unique among ham radio competitions as it awards points for two-way QSOs (ham to ham contacts via radio) and bonus points for reception reports from skimmers, RBN nodes and the like.” 

HamSCI notes that the SEQP is one of several events to be held during the HamSCI Festivals of Eclipse Ionospheric Science. They encourage hams to participate in as many as they can.  

For more details on the Solar Eclipse QSO Party and other ways to participate, read this OnAllBands article from Ward Silver, N0AX. Also enjoy this two-part interview with HamSCI founder Dr. Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF.

Where to See the Total Eclipse

NASA says the “total solar eclipse will be visible along a narrow track stretching from Texas to Maine on April 8. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout all 48 contiguous states.” It begins its path in Mazatlan, Mexico, enters the U.S. northwest of Laredo, Texas, and passes over parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also experience the total solar eclipse). Per NASA, the eclipse will enter Canada in southern Ontario and continue through Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward, and Cape Breton, exiting continental North America on the Atlantic Coast of Newfoundland at 5:16 p.m. NDT.

In Cleveland, only about 40 miles from DX Engineering headquarters near Akron, the partial eclipse will begin at 1:59 p.m., and totality will begin at 3:13 p.m., reaching its maximum at 3:15 p.m. and ending at 3:17 p.m. The partial eclipse will end in Cleveland at 4:29 p.m. Better not miss it—the next total eclipse visible in North America won’t happen until August 23, 2044.

While the Solar Eclipse QSO Party certainly “eclipses” all other events this month in terms of scientific significance, April offers other opportunities to get on the air and have some giant-size fun. Here are a few:

JIDX CW Contest, April 13, 0700Z to April 14, 1300Z. Visit the Japan International DX Contest page for complete details.

IG-RY Worldwide RTTY Contest, April 13, 1200Z to April 14, 1800Z. The Interest Group RTTY (IGRY) was founded in January 2017 to promote radioteletype. All amateur operators are invited to contact as many stations as possible using RTTY Baudot Mode (45, 45) on 3.5, 7, 14, 21, and 28 MHz.

QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party, April 13, 0000Z to 0600Z. QRP Amateur 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-band, and low-band 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. 

In addition, the EA-QRP CW Contest (sponsored by the EA-QRP Club) will be held April 20-21. Find details here.

For a comprehensive look at QRP operating, DX Engineering carries these reference books from the Radio Society of Great Britain:

  • QRP Scrapbook—a collection of articles from UK’s G-QRP Club’s journal, SPRAT, featuring the latest low-power techniques and loads of projects (paperback, 240 pages)
  • QRP Basics, 3rd Edition—solid advice on choosing QRP equipment, simple antennas and operating tips, and practical wisdom on building your own gear (paperback, 208 pages)
  • International QRP Collection—noted hams from around the globe explore everything QRP, including building your own devices, modifying equipment, reviews of gear, QRP theory, and operating (paperback, 173 pages)

Later this month OnAllBands will be running a product spotlight on Par EndFedz Monoband QRP End Fed Half Wave Antennas (EF-40QRP model below).

ARRL Rookie Roundup, SSB, April 21, 1800Z to 2359Z. Rookies exchange information with as many other stations as possible on the 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. If you’re new to the game, the ARRL recommends that you read the article, HF Contesting-Good Practices, Interpretations and Suggestions.

U.S. State and Canadian QSO Parties:

  • Missouri: April 6, 1400Z to April 7, 0400Z; April 7, 1400Z to 2000Z
  • Mississippi: April 6, 1400Z to April 7, 0200Z
  • Louisiana: April 6, 1400Z to April 7, 0200Z
  • New Mexico: April 13, 1400Z to April 14, 0200Z
  • Georgia: April 13, 1800Z to April 14, 0359Z; April 14, 1400Z to 2359Z
  • North Dakota: April 13, 1800Z to April 14, 1800Z
  • Nebraska: April 20, 1100Z to April 21, 2259Z
  • Michigan: April 20, 1600Z to April 21, 0400Z
  • Ontario: April 20, 1800Z to April 21, 0500Z; April 21, 1200Z to 1800Z
  • Quebec, April 21, 1200Z to 2200Z
  • Florida: April 27, 1600Z to April 28, 0159Z; April 28, 1200Z to 2159Z

State Parks on the Air

  • Georgia: April 6, 1200Z to April 7, 2359Z
  • Florida: April 6, 1400Z to 2200Z; April 7, 1400Z to 2200Z
  • Texas: April 20, 1400Z to April 21, 0200Z; April 21, 1400Z to 2000Z

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