Re: Encouraging Causal Participation in Contests

Gary Hinson

As an occasional contester, I’d like to acknowledge the ongoing global effort to discourage contesting on the 30, 17 and 12m bands, dating back to the WARC in 1979 - a remarkably long-standing gentleman’s agreement between contest organisers, not a law or regulation (as far as I know), much like our band plans with mode-specific segments. 


Access to the WARC bands would give HF contesters more QSOs and multipliers, drive up activity, encourage investment in stations and further our understanding of HF propagation, hence there is demand … but the contest community accepts that contesting is not for everyone, hence keeping the WARC bands contest-free is for the greater good.  [By the way, the WARC bands are also havens for ‘resting’ contesters between contests – a chance to relax, have ‘proper’ QSOs, swap genuine reports and maybe work some interesting weak signal DX without the barrage of QRM from fellow contesters!]


Many contests specify band limits in the rules, although some participants evidently don’t read or don’t abide by the rules: I suspect that’s true for some casual (naïve) and serious (if unethical) participants, respectively.  FWIW I encourage contest organisers to publish simplified plain-language rule summaries (aimed at casual participants) as well as the more detailed and explicit full rules (for entrants).  A few words of explanation about why we have contest-free bands and havens within contest bands might help.


Most contests are single-mode events, so multi-mode hams who don’t want to participate can use other modes.  Mono-mode hams may be out of luck though, unless they use contest-free bands or segments … or have the patience to wait until the contests are over.  FT4 is a novel approach: in effect, it moves contesting away from FT8 by adapting the mode itself to suit contest-style quick-fire contacts, and congregating activity on distinct frequencies.


All-in-all, the current arrangements work pretty well, on the whole.  There is always the potential for aggravation and conflict since we are all sharing a limited resource – the RF spectrum.  How we deal with the aggravation and conflict is down to us, individually and collectively.  Personally, I think we’ve got the balance about right.



Gary  ZL2iFB


From: ARRL-Contesting@... <ARRL-Contesting@...> On Behalf Of Stan K4SBZ
Sent: 03 April 2021 00:06
To: ARRL-Contesting@...
Subject: Re: [ARRL-Contesting] Encouraging Causal Participation in Contests


We have entire contest free bands. They are the WARC bands.


Stan, K4SBZ






On Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 4:28 PM Jack Spitznagel (KD4IZ) <kd4iz@...> wrote:

Dave (N2OA),


What you say is true *and* it seems to be a two way street. I have a foot in both camps here.


I have been on (or run) many a net that is “regular” and whose NCS (including myself) asked several times if the frequency was in use, then waited sufficient time to receive an answer and did not. No sooner than the net was in progress, 59+ contest stations moved on to the frequency and immediately started calling. Not a propagation shift there. Now, I do run an amp and rarely have trouble being heard (as do many of the other NCS’ I know). That being said, I have also been in the middle of a contest run and had a net start right up without asking if the frequency was in use.


Bottom line: Neither the rude contester nor the rude NCS ever asked if the frequency was in use, they just started transmitting.


We (Amateur Radio) have a respect problem… not good when the airways are crowded. “We” do not “own” any particular frequency, we only have been granted the privilege of operating on a range of frequencies we share with several hundred thousand or so other hams. “We” do owe it to each other to be civil, ask if a frequency is in use, and if it is, move off -or- politely ask the person to move so a net could begin on schedule…


It would be great if there were “contest free” and “net free” segments of the major classic bands, but that is asking too much of a community that has a history of “staking a claim” and be damned anyone who dare suggest that claim does not exist.


A bit of civility might help, but it may be just too much to ask.


Jack Spitznagel – KD4IZ





Jack Spitznagel - KD4IZ
Life Member

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