Guide to December 2021 Ham Radio Contests

As we reach the end of another unusual and socially-distanced year, operators everywhere have their collective digits crossed that 2022 will yield more up-close-and-personal encounters of the ham radio kind. If 2022 proves to be like 2020-21, though, we can all take solace in knowing that contesting from the solitude of our shacks is a perfect pursuit in a world where making other kinds of contacts often demands mask wearing, obsessive handwashing, and awkward elbow-bump-style howdy-dos.

December rounds out the ham radio contesting calendar in style with a number of excellent opportunities to get on the air, including a weekly primer for hams getting their feet wet with Morse code, ARRL’s Rookie Roundup, challenges for fans of the 160 and 10 meter bands, and a year-end YOTA event:

  • K1USN Slow Speed Test, December 6, 0000Z to 0100Z. Held every Monday, this CW contest is “for those who prefer a more leisurely CW pace or are new CW operators or contesters,” according to the K1USN SST website. If you copy under 25 words per minute and are looking for a welcoming place on the air to improve your CW speed, this might be just the ticket. The contest is the brainchild of members of the K1USN Radio Club, who are also members of the CW Operators Club.

Need keys, paddles, bugs, electronic keyers, code practice oscillator kits, pocket size Morse code tutors, paddle pads, and absolutely everything CW? You’ll find it at DXEngineering.com.

  • ARRL 10 Meter, CW, SSB, December 11, 0000Z to December 12, 2359Z. For amateurs worldwide to exchange QSO information with as many stations as possible on the 10 meter band.
  • QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint, December 12, 2000Z to 2300Z. This CW-only contest encourages hams to put their handcrafted equipment to the test, with bonus points awarded for use of homebrewed receivers, transmitters, and receivers, as well as operations from a portable location. And since this is a QRP event, power multipliers will certainly play a huge factor. Ho, ho, ho, how low can you go?
  • ARRL Rookie Roundup, CW, December 19, 1800Z to 2359Z. Rookies exchange information with as many other stations as possible on the 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands.

Interested in the Rookie Roundup or other contests for newbies? Read this OnAllBands article from blogger Sean Kutzko, KX9X, on contesting tips for Technicians.

  • DARC X-Mas Contest, December 26, 0830Z to 1059Z. This popular two-and-a-half hour SSB/CW sprint sponsored by DARC (Deutscher Amateur Radio Club) is the final competition which counts toward the German annual club championship. DARC invites all amateurs to join in the fun, noting that you’ll likely hear “Frohes Fest” (Merry Christmas) or “FF” in CW tacked onto more than a few QSOs.
  • YOTA Contest, December 30, 1200Z to 2359Z. This is the third round of the 2021 Youngsters on the Air Contest (previous rounds were held in May and July). Organized by the IARU R1 Youth Working Group in association with MRASZ (Hungarian Amateur Radio Society), the event is designed to increase youth activity on the air, strengthen the reputation of the YOTA program, and demonstrate support for young hams around the world. Sounds like a fine way to say farewell to 2021 and usher in the new year!

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