Guide to July 2023 Ham Radio Contests

Create some July fireworks of your own by taking part in a full slate of contests as we ease into mid-summer, including the quadrennial Olympics of ham radio. Before you begin, be sure to read this timely article by Ward Silver, N0AX on HF summertime propagation. We’ve showcased a few activities below. Good luck!

World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) 2022, July 8-9, Bologna, Italy. Held roughly every four years, this invitation-only contest has been a ham radio highlight since the inaugural event in Seattle in 1990. The 2022 edition was postponed last year due to Covid travel restrictions but is set to commence in 2023 despite flooding that has forced organizers to relocate several of the operating sites.

The event features the world’s best contesters competing in two-person teams to score the most points over a nonstop, 24-hour operating period from comparable locations. DX Engineering is a proud sponsor of WRTC 2022. DX Engineering CEO Tim Duffy, K3LR, who will be attending but not participating in the event, has competed in five WRTCs (San Francisco 1996, Finland 2002, Brazil 2006, Russia 2010, and Germany 2018). Read about team selection criteria and check out all of this year’s participants here.

How can you get involved? Simply get on the air and work WRTC stations on 80/40/20/15/10M in CW or SSB. While you may not be one of the superstars of radiosport, you and your fellow hams make this event the exciting spectacle that it has become, so get busy and make some QSOs! Plus, you could earn the WRTC 2022 Competition Award for your efforts. Read about this new award—open to all hunters—here.

IARU HF World Championship: July 8, 1200Z to July 9, 1200Z. Open to all licensed amateurs, the International Amateur Radio Union’s HF World Championship encourages operators to make as many contacts as possible, especially with IARU member society HQ stations, on 160/80/40/20/15/10M. Read all about the IARU in this OnAllBands article.

QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint: July 9, 2000Z to 2300Z. This HF CW-only event sponsored by the QRP Amateur Radio Club International rewards stations with multipliers based on how little power you use, from 5W down to 55mW or less. Add big bonus points if operating a homebrew transmitter, receiver, or transceiver. “Homebrew” is defined as equipment that you build, kits included.

North American QSO Party, RTTY: July 15, 1800Z to July 16, 0559Z. Here’s a great opportunity for both RTTY aficionados and novices. Designed for contesting beginners and veterans, North American QSO Parties are low-power-only (no amplifiers allowed) contests that are fun and challenging.

Want to learn more about RTTY? Check out these OnAllBands articles from Ed Muns, W0YK:

CQ Worldwide VHF ContestJuly 15, 1800Z to July 16, 2100Z. Fans of 6M and 2M operating have this annual summer event marked on their calendars long in advance, anticipating the improved propagation and challenge of working the world while collecting VHF Maidenhead grid locations for award credits. The contest features single operator, hilltopper, rover, and multi-op categories. Get all the details here.

IARU Region 1 70 MHz CW/SSB Contest: July 15, 1400Z to July 16, 1400Z. Find all the rules here. From IARU Region 1, “The main objectives are to make as many contacts as possible and to have fun. Other objectives may include improving your operating skills, testing new equipment configurations and techniques, expanding your horizons by operating on the microwave bands, and exploring radio propagation.” IARU Region 1 covers Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and northern Asia.

Colorado QRP Club Great Colorado Gold Rush: July 16, 2000Z to 2159Z. Whether you’re certified at 8 WPM or 65, the Colorado QRP Club wants you to join in the fun of this 20M, CW two-hour sprint. You must run no more than 5W if you want to submit a log for scoring.

YOTA Contest: July 22, 1000Z to 2159Z. This is the second of three rounds of the annual Youngsters on the Air Contest. Per the YOTA website, the contest is designed to increase youth activity on the air, strengthen the reputation of the YOTA program, and demonstrate support for youngsters around the world.

RSGB IOTA Contest: July 29, 1200Z to July 30, 1200Z. Whether you’re a chaser or activator, the Radio Society of Great Britain’s Islands on the Air Contest is a welcome chance to celebrate the world’s well-known and lesser-traveled island groups (more than 1,200 of them) dotting the planet. The contest is based on the RSGB IOTA awards program, established in 1964 to promote amateur radio and draw attention to the “widespread mystique surrounding islands.”

If you’re new to the RSGB IOTA Contest, which has been around since 1993, click here to read a guide for novices who wish to operate from an official IOTA spot or those who seek to make contact with IOTA stations. Bands for the 24-hour contest are 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10M on CW and phone. Also for new island operators, check out this article by blogger Sean Kutzko, KX9X, “Your First Pileup, Techniques for Success.”

Adventure Radio Society (ARS) Flight of the Bumblebees: July 30, 1700Z to 2100Z. Held the last Sunday of July, this annual four-hour, 5W max power CW contest on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters (around standard QRP frequencies) is looking for “bumblebees,” defined as participants who operate portable from field locations. To qualify, you must get to your operating site principally under your own power “by walking, biking, boating, and so on,” per contest rules. The distance traveled to the site is at the bumblebee’s discretion. You’ll need to apply for your 2023 Bumblebee number to qualify as a bumblebee operator in the contest. Home-based stations may also participate.

Two-hour ARS Spartan Sprints are held the first Monday of every month, encouraging operators to make as many contacts as possible on 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters using five watts or less. How low can you go? The ARS wants you to see for yourself:

“We encourage you to experiment with 1 watt or less,” the ARS website reads. “You will be surprised at how effective these low levels can be, and how much fun QRP really is. Similarly, we encourage you to experiment with simple wire antennas. And we encourage Sprinters to use equipment they built from ‘scratch’—that is, equipment built from schematics.”

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