Finding interesting signals to listen to on the shortwave bands can sometimes be a long and time consuming business with much dial spinning producing very little results. Luckily for the SWL the amateur frequencies can yield transmissions from all over the world when they are extra busy during one of the many ham radio DX competitions held all year round.
The range of contests means that whether you like to listen to amateur data modes, phone or CW signals on your shortwave radio there is always a contest to match and with many events held over entire weekends the organizers try to give everybody plenty of opportunity to listen or take part.
Nearly all of the contests can be picked up on a modest shortwave radio setup equipped with the ability to received sideband and your choice of favorite data decoding software with the exception of the specialized contests called Moon Bounce or Earth-Moon-Earth (EME).
Moon Bounce is the method of long range communication by using the moon to reflect radio signals back to earth. Because of the distance and high transmitted power involved when attempting Moon Bounce the radio setup has to make use of large antenna arrays along with very sensitive receiving equipment to pick up the weak “bounced” transmissions.
Where to Find Amateur Contest Information
Some of the amateur contests will always attract more radio enthusiasts than others with the worldwide events being some of the most popular but every contest increases the use of the HF bands bringing the potential of more signals to listen to whichever part of being a SWL you enjoy.
Almost every country has their own amateur radio association for the promotion of the hobby and the websites are always a great source of news and information for amateurs and shortwave listeners alike.
Here are links to the contest calendar pages of some of the worlds biggest amateur radio associations.
The websites above have a good deal of contest information listed including the report logging and equipment rules for all the major contests but for a calendar containing many more of the smaller contests held every year you may want to visit the excellent contest calendar created by WA7BNM.
Contests really help to keep the spirit of ham radio alive all around the world with a bit of healthy competition for radio operators and wakes up huge sections of the HF bands for those of us who prefer just to listen.
HF Beam Antenna photo courtesy Wikipedia