The radio competitions are a popular sub-area in the radio amateur hobby. The basic idea is usually the same, to get a maximum score, which is typically based on the number of contacts to different radio amateurs during the competition period, but can sometimes use a scoring based on the distance of each contact, and can sometimes include mutlipliers, such as for number of different countries worked.

There are several kinds of radio competitions. Some are domestic, some are continent-wide, some are world-wide. Some are on 'phone', some on telegraphy, and some using digital transmission techniques. Some make use of a single band, some allow operation on a number of bands.

There is a contest for each and everyone who is interested in competing using amateur radio.

The compeititions i.e. 'contests' duration ranges from a two hours to two full days but there are also contests that last a full year. Some contests are based on a single event, while some (often known as 'cumulatives' ) can be based on participating in a series of events. There are specific rules for each contest, defining contesting categories, contest score calculation criteria, the contest period and the contest message structure. The log sheets containing contacts and messages are sent to the contest organiser, who checks the contest exchanges and the scoring points are judged. Increasingly, logs can be submitted electronically, via email.

The contesting is independent from the entrant's actual location, although the location can influence the chances of winning. One can enter the contest at home, at the local radio club or at some other radio amateur's home, in case one does not have a station of his/her own. Some go to a rare location for a contest, to maximise the interest towards his/her station and so maximising the number of contacts they can make. The contesters can be located all over the world.

Text by Steve, G4KNZ and Jukka, OH6LI

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