CQ Logo

CQ World Wide WPX Contest

Rules FAQ

CQ WPX Contest Rules - Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this page is to answer some of the common questions about the rules of the CQ WPX SSB/CW contests and how some of the rules are interpreted by the CQ WPX Contest Committee. Please send any questions to the CQ WPX Contest Director at director@cqwpx.com.

The explanations here apply ONLY to the CQ WPX SSB and CW Contests!

General Questions | Single Operator | Multi-Operator | Overlay Category Questions |Logging and Scoring Questions | Club Entry

Click on the question to show the answer.

General Questions

Q: Is QSO alerting assistance allowed?

Yes, QSO alerting assistance is allowed for all categories except for entries in the Classic Overlay.

Q: The rules say to begin with serial number 001. Do I have to send or announce the leading zeros in every serial number?

No, you do not. It is only important that you give out a number that increases in sequence as you work stations. When you reach 1000, you should continue sending all 4 digits.

Q: Can I use different serial numbers on each band?

Single operators and multi-single stations must begin with serial number 001 and continue in sequence for all QSOs regardless of band.

Multi-two, Multi-unlimited and Multi-distributed stations must begin with serial number 001 on each band.

Q: Can USA stations use any prefix indicator when operating outside of the call area indicated by their callsign?

No, you may not make up your own prefix when operating portable within the USA. There is one exception to this. From rule VIII(a): "A station operating from a DXCC country different from that indicated by its call sign is required to sign portable. The portable prefix must be an authorized prefix of the country/call area of operation." For example, if your call is KH6XXX and you are in Florida, you must sign portable to indicate that you are operating from the W4 call area. You may choose any prefix for your portable designator (e.g., KH6XXX/KY4, KH6XXX/W4, etc.).

Some stations will enter the contest using just the portable for their call area (e.g., KH6XXX/4).  In this case the log checking software will assign the prefix KH4, but the country will count as USA.

Q: What is the story on unsportsmanlike conduct?

Radiosporting in general relies upon the practice of good sportsmanship. Because the competitors are widely dispersed around the world, continual monitoring of the all competitors is impossible. The results of the contest rely upon all entrants exhibiting the highest level of good sportsmanship. Section XIII. A. gives a few examples of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Because of the visibility of contesters, it is important that the competitors more than meet the minimal requirements set down by law. For example, while FCC limits may only require harmonic signals to be 43 dB below the fundamental signal, if your harmonic is able to be copied by DX stations, it is too b! Even though the FCC may only require identification every 10 minutes, best amateur practice would be to identify yourself each time you invite a new station to communicate with you. Good sportsmanship holds that the other station is as important as you are; after all, without the other station, the CQing station would have no one to work.

All operators from time to time may accidentally transmit on the wrong VFO while operating split frequency, or forget to identify frequently. However, the continued breach of the standards of good sportsmanship should not and will not be tolerated.

Single Operator Questions

Q: Single operators must take 12 hours off during the contest. How are off times calculated?

Single operator entries are permitted a maximum operating time of 36 hours. Breaks in operating time (also called 'off times') must be a minimum of 60 minutes. There must be 60 consecutive minutes which have no QSO. If your last QSO before an off time is at 09:00, you may not make another QSO until 10:01. The sixty consecuitve off minutes are 09:01, 09:02, ... 10:00. If you take a break that is less than 60 minutes, the entire 'break' time will count as operating time.

Off times can be of any length. For example, you can have breaks of 1 hour, 4 hours, and 7 hours. Or you can take all of your off time in one 12 hour break. Of course, you can take as much off time as you want. It is your choice to take more than 12 hours off, but you may give an advantage to your competition.

Operating time begins with the first QSO. Any QSOs in your log after 36 hours of operating time will be removed without penalty during the log checking. The rules no longer require you to submit the list of off time periods in your log. The log checking software will do the off time calculations.

Q: For a single-op single-band entry, is it allowed to be looking for multipliers on other bands to request a QSY, sked or even just asking if a multiplier is operating that band?

No, it is not. The rules state: "All entrants must operate within the limits of their chosen category when performing any activity that could affect their submitted score." Entering single band means that all activity to improve your score must be only on that band. You are permitted to work stations on other bands, but you are not allowed to ask them to QSY or make schedules.

Multi-Operator Questions

Q: How are the band changes counted for Multi-Single and Multi-Two entries?

These stations are permitted a specified number of band changes per hour. The hour is counted as minute 00 to 59. Log example:

1259  15m
1300  20m    <- band change from 15m to 20m
1310  15m    <- band change from 20m to 15m
1359  40m    <- band change from 15m to 40m
1400  10m

The band change occurs at the time the first QSO on the new band is logged. This counts as 3 band changes in the 13z hour.

Q: What are the differences between the Multi-Transmitter and Multi-Transmitter Distributed categories?

Both categories allow a maximum of six transmitted signals, one per band, at any given time, and six bands may be activated simultaneously. Operators may operate locally or remotely.

All transmitters, receivers, amplifiers and antennas must be at a single location in the Multi-Transmitter category. The use of remote transmitters or receivers is not permitted.

All transmitters, receivers, amplifiers and antennas must be located within the same DXCC entity and CQ Zone for the Multi-Transmitter Distributed category. Remote equipment is permitted, provided that it is also located in the same DXCC entity and CQ Zone.

Q: Can an operator of a multi-op station also work the contest from their home station and submit an entry?

Yes, it is permitted for an operator to work from home with his own callsign and then also from a multi-operator station.

Overlay Category Questions

Q: What are the Overlay categories and who can enter them?

The Overlay categories are treated as separate "Contests within a Contest" and have their own awards and score listings. Overlay category entrants are scored and ranked in the traditional category and then again in the overlay category. Separate awards are available for the overlay categories.

The overlay categories are only for single operator entrants. Multi-op entries are not eligible for the overlay categories.

All overlay category scores will be grouped in the results in either High power or Low power as all band.

To enter the overlay category, you MUST include the CATEGORY-OVERLAY: line in the header of your log file. Use CATEGORY-OVERLAY: CLASSIC, CATEGORY-OVERLAY: TB-WIRES, CATEGORY-OVERLAY: ROOKIE or CATEGORY-OVERLAY: YOUTH.

Q: What are the differences between the Single Op and Single Op Classic Overlay categories?

A Single Operator category entrant may operate up to 36 hours, employ multiple radios, and use QSO alerting systems. The Single Op entrant can select all band or single band and has the choice of operating as high power, low power or QRP.

An entrant in the Single Op Classic Overlay category may operate up to 24 hours, use only one radio, and is prohibited from using QSO alerting systems for the duration of the contest. Scores are grouped as all band, high power or low power; QRP is considered low power.

Q: Who is eligible for the Rookie category?

The Rookie category is only for operators who have had an amateur radio license for less than 3 years. If you ever had an amateur radio license before that time, you are NOT eligible for the Rookie category. The time limit applies to the operator, not the station. The date first licensed MUST be indicated in the SOAPBOX field. An operator who has won a plaque in any previously published CQ contest in not eligible for the Rookie category.

Q: Is my station eligible for the Tribander/Single Element category?

The purpose of this category is to enable competition by similarly equipped stations, thus the restrictions on the number and types of antennas.

The rule states: (a) Tribander/Single Element (TB-WIRES): During the contest an entrant shall use only one (1) tribander (any type, with a single feedline from the transmitter to the antenna) for 10, 15, and 20 meters and single-element antennas on 40, 80, and 160 meters.

This allows the use of up to 4 antennas:

  1. One tribander antenna for 10-20 meters
  2. One single element antenna for 40 meters
  3. One single element antenna for 80 meters
  4. One single element antenna for 160 meters

Of course, you could have a single element antenna that works on 40/80/160 (or any combination).

The tribander can be any type as long as it only has one feedline from the transmitter to the antenna.

The single-element antennas can be of the following:

  • A wire or aluminum dipole
  • An inverted vee
  • A wire loop antenna
  • A wire or aluminum vertical or ground plane (radials are OK as long as there is only one driven or radiating wire)
  • A shunt fed tower

If you are in doubt, ask these two questions.

  1. Is there a single feedline to the antenna used for 10-15-20m?
  2. Are there single element antennas used for 40m, 80m, 160m?

If you have a question about whether your antennas meet the rule, please contact the WPX Director at director@cqwpx.com.

Q: I entered as as a single band entry, how is my Overlay category score calculated?

All overlay category scores will be scored as all bands and grouped in the results in either High power or Low power.

If you submit a single band entry, the Overlay score will be calculated as all bands. This may include QSOs you made on other bands during the contest.

Logging and Scoring Questions

Q: What is the best way to submit my log?

Web upload is the only method of log submission. Web upload of logs is available at <cqwpx.com/logcheck>. All logs received will be confirmed via e-mail. A listing of logs received can be found at <www.cqwpx.com>. If you are not able to submit a CABRILLO format log, please contact the Contest Director for assistance with submitting another format.

Q: Should I submit the log in Cabrillo v2 or v3?

The Cabrillo log format standard has changed over time. v3 is the preferred format for log submissions. The WPX log robot will accept either v2 or v3 format and will automatically convert them to v3. View more information on log submission requirements here.

Q: Should I work and log duplicates? How are they scored by the log checking?

Yes! Please log all contacts that you make even if they are duplicates.

For example... XX9XX works K5ZD but logs it as K5ZB. K5ZD logged XX9XX correctly. Later XX9XX works K5ZD again. This time he logs K5ZD correctly. K5ZD logs the second duplicate QSO and scores it as zero points. For this case, the log checking software assigns K5ZD with a good qso and a dupe (no penalty). XX9XX gets a busted callsign (K5ZB) and a good qso (K5ZD).

Q: A station sends me "cut numbers" on CW. What should I enter in the log?

The log checking software is expecting to see a log with sent and received serial numbers.  No matter what someone sends you, it is your responsibility to convert it into the number you thought they were trying to communicate.

Q: There are some very unusual calls in the WPX Contest! How do I determine what part of the call is the prefix?

One of the most interesting aspects of the WPX Contest is the unusual prefixes that are activated. The prefix includes everything up to the end of the first numbers in the call. Some examples showing the call and how the prefix is counted.

OL25LP = OL25
9A800VZ = 9A800
DR2006Q = DR2006
LY1000CW = LY1000

The prefixes will be calculated by the log checking software. All you need to do is make sure you log the calls correctly!

Q: Do same-country QSOs also receive double points on the low bands?

No, they do not. All QSOs made within your country count 1 point regardless of band.

Q: Our logging software caused us to give out duplicate serial numbers or to give numbers out of sequence. Is this a problem?

No, but only if your log shows the exchange that you actually sent. Each QSO line of the Cabrillo log contains the sent and received information for that QSO. As long as that line shows what you actually sent to the other station, the log checking software will score it correctly.

Q: I made a mistake in logging and do not want a QSO to count. Should I remove it from my log?

No, please do not remove any QSOs from your log! This will cause the other station that worked you to lose credit for the contact.

If you want to remove a QSO for any reason, use a text editor to add "X-" to the beginning of the QSO line in the Cabrillo file. For example:

X-QSO: 7023 CW 2009-05-31 0033 AK1W 599 2057 K1AR 599 609

The log checking software will not count this QSO for you, but will give credit to the other station. We reserve the right to remove this marker if we feel it is being used to bend the rules!

Q: I would like to work on several bands, but only submit a single band entry. Is this allowed? How should I submit my log?

Yes, you may work other bands and still submit your log as a single band entry. First, please make sure your log includes all QSOs made on all bands. This helps us with the log checking. Second, make sure the Cabrillo file header has your category set for the single band you want to enter. (e.g., CATEGORY-BAND: 20M) Only the QSOs on the single band will be used to compute your score.

Please enter only one log containing ALL QSOs!  Each log that you submit will overwrite the previously submitted log.

Q: What are the scoring penalties for errors detected during the log checking?

Incorrect callsign - loss of that QSO plus an additional penalty of the point value of the QSO

Not in Log - loss of that QSO plus an additional penalty of the point value of the QSO

Incorrect serial number (number in log does not match the number sent by the other station) - loss of that QSO

Duplicate QSO - contact is removed with no additional penalty

Band change error (multi-operator station that violates the band change rules) - loss of all QSOs on that transmitter until it is back in compliance with the band change rules.

Operation beyond 36 hours for single operators - Loss of all contacts after the 36 hours of operation (as calculated by the log checking software) has been reached.

Club Score Questions

Q: The club competition rule (VIII) mentions "limited to members residing in a local geographic area." How is the geographic area determined?

It is assumed that a club is a group of operators that are located in the same country or region. For example, a club in Arizona may have members throughout the state. A club in southern Germany may have members in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, but should not include members in distant countries such as Hungary, Denmark, or India. It is the decision of the Contest Director if a log is ineligible for the club competition.

The exception to this is operations by club members on DXpeditions to other countries organized specifically for the contest. I.e., one or more members travelled to the DX location to operate around and during the contest.

Former club members who have moved their permanent residence outside the club area do not count as DXpeditions.

If you have a question whether a member qualifies for the club competition, please contact the WPX Contest Director.

Q: Can a score be split between more than one club?

Single operator entries must indicate only ONE club that will receive their score.

Multi-operator entries may split their score among the clubs of the operators. It is the decision of the operators how they want to allocate their club score. The split is defined on the CLUB: line of the log file. Here are some examples of club splits:


Please spell out all club names according to the list of names at http://www.cqwpx.com/clubnames.htm.

Entering a split may cause the log submission robot to return a warning message that the club name does not match any on the list. You may ignore this message.

Q: What about...?

The web page http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Contest%20-%20General/HF-FAQ.pdf has some very helpful explanations about common situations encountered in HF contesting.


Copyright © 2000-2024 World Wide Radio Operators Foundation, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.