Event Basics or How-TO

Ohio QSO Party
A Guide for Ohio Stations

By Kenny Silverman, K2KW and Jim Stahl, K8MR – Revised August 2016

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Why join the party? To get on the air, have fun, and work a few (or many!) like-minded hams during the contest period. In the Ohio QSO Party (OhQP), Ohioans are the “DX” and are sought out. Simple antennas can easily generate pileups or work most anyone you can hear, so get on and join the fun!

The following gives some brief but important suggestions on how to participate and submit your log (possibly making you eligible for an award).

The Ohio QSO Party occurs on the fourth Saturday of August. The 2016 contest is on Saturday August 27th. The contest period extends from 1200 EDT [noon] to 2400 EDT [midnight] (1600Z Saturday until 0400Z Sunday). All stations may operate the full twelve hours.

While you can operate 10, 15, 20, 40 & 80m on SSB and CW, the bands with the most activity are 20, 40 and 75/80 meters. 15 and 10m can useful as the sunspots return, or if there is a sporadic E skip opening. And don’t wait till dark to check 75/80m, as the band is often abuzz with activity from the start of the contest.

The suggested frequencies are 3800, 7200, 14250, 21300, 28450 on SSB; and on CW, up 45 kHz from the bottom of the band. Most activity is +/- 20 kHz of those frequencies.

SSB or CW? Use both if you can! Also, use whatever antennas you have to get on. Even stealth antennas, verticals or low dipoles work great. In fact, most of the “big guns” find that low dipoles for 40 and 80 are often the best antennas for this contest!

If you’re operating from Ohio, you may work any station, anywhere in the world for point credit. During each QSO, give out his signal report (almost always 59 or 599, though it doesn’t have to be) and your county name. On CW use the 4 letter standard county abbreviations found on the OhQP website. On SSB simply saying “Tuscarawas County” may confuse someone not familiar with Ohio’s counties, so instead you might say “Tuscarawas – Tango Uniform Sierra Charlie”.

If you are a station outside of Ohio, you may only work stations inside Ohio for contest credit. During each QSO, give out your signal report and your state, Canadian province, or “DX” if outside US/VE.  On CW, please use standard 2-letter state/province abbreviations, or send “DX” if outside US/VE.  A list of 2 letter standard QTH abbreviations can be found on the OhQP website.

Ohio stations can work any station a total of ten times for point credit: once per band and mode (e.g. you can work a station on 10, 15, 20, 40, 80m on both SSB and CW). Non-Ohio stations can work Ohio stations for a total of 10 times following the same rules.

While Ohioans can work anyone, one way to boost your score is to work as many multipliers (mults) as you can. For Ohio stations, mults are the 88 Ohio counties, states outside Ohio (49) and Canadian provinces (11), and one for working a DX station outside the 50 U.S. states and Canada, for a total of 149 mults. Better yet, you can work the mults on both CW and SSB for credit, so there are a total of 2 x 149 = 298 mults. Since there are so many mults in this contest, to maximize your score you should balance working QSOs with maximizing your mult total.

The following band-by-band overview will help Ohio stations find the QSOs and mults they need to boost their score:

75/80m: For Ohioans to work other Ohioans (and nearby states), especially in years with low sunspot activity, the only reliable band may be 75/80m. Activity starts at the beginning of the contest, but late afternoon and on is very good for working much of the country as well as in-state QSOs. Being summer time, QRN levels may be challenging, so keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

40m: Historically it’s the best band for Ohio stations. During the day, you will work stations out to 500-700 miles, which contains much of the US population. As the sunspots creep up, there’s often short skip when Ohio stations can work all over Ohio as well as working stations 500-700 miles away. If you hear other Ohio stations on 40, it’s THE place to be! As the sun sets, you will start to work farther west, and if you are lucky, some Europeans will call in too. There’s always a lot of activity on this band.

20m: This is the easiest band to work the western stations and mults. While 20 is mostly a daytime band, you can often work stations on this band for most of the OhQP. Often there’s shorter skip on 20m, so you may be able to work stations in the 500 mile range at the same time as the western stations. Don’t forget to log the DX stations that call in, as they are good for QSO points.

15 & 10m: As the sunspots start to creek up, it’s worth checking these bands for activity. 15m often has strong signals, though the volume of QSOs may be lighter than on the lower bands. Also late-summer Sporadic-E skip propagation (which can happen regardless of sunspots) is a possibility which can bring these bands alive. Don’t forget your neighbors are easy to work on these bands! If you hear someone even a few counties away on 20-40-80m, you might ask them to QSY to 15 and 10 as it can be a quick and easy way to work 2 or 4 QSOs with the other station.

Mobiles & Rovers: Mobiles and rovers are an integral part of the success of the Ohio QSO Party, as a number of counties don’t have fixed-station activity and the mobiles and rovers are the only way to work that county. Every time an Ohio mobile or rover station changes county, they can be worked again for QSO and mult credit. A mobile station is typically in a county for just 15-30 minutes, so you need to be quick to catch them.

Mobiles are naturally going to be weaker than fixed stations. To help work around this, we try to keep 3545 kHz clear for use by mobile stations, especially during the day. That way, if you listen there and hear activity, it will usually be a mobile station, and usually it’s a rare county!

Calling CQ: Ohio stations – don’t be shy! Instead of just searching and pouncing for QSOs, try calling CQ and see what happens. Most out of state stations just tune the bands looking for Ohio stations, so if you don’t call some CQ’s, they will never find you. And it is frustrating for them to hear an Ohio county they need, who is only calling other stations.

SPOTTING HELP

Packet or internet spotting (DX clusters, DX Summit, County Hunter Spots (W6RK), etc.) is allowed for all categories to promote activity, and it’s a great way to find and catch the mobiles.

Another useful aid on CW is the Reverse Beacon Network, www.reversebeacon.net. This site collects spots from automated “skimmer” stations around the world, including signal strength (S/N) info. You can look for specific known calls (i.e. mobiles), or send a few CQ’s yourself to see where your signal is going. This includes bands such as 15 and 10 meters which are often open, but have no activity because nobody thinks there is activity there!

OTHER CONTESTS DURING OhQP

There are often other contests running at the same time as the OhQP, such as the Hawaii and Kansas QSO Parties. If you are an Ohioan, you’re free to work these stations too by sending a modified exchange of “59 OH Greene County” for example, and log them as your Hawaii (or Kansas) QSOs for multiplier credit!
LOGGING

For logging, using computers is by far the easiest during the contest, and especially for sending your logs. Free software and templates for several popular logging programs are available on the OhQP web site.

Before sending in your log, please check it over for some common mistakes: Do not include the /M or /XXXX (county abbreviation) as part of the call sign. Just put the county or state in the appropriate logging field. Our OhQP log checking computers will figure out if the station is a mobile or rover.

Check the date and time, use UTC, and remember that the UTC date changes in the late afternoon/early evening (depending on your time zone). Be sure your county (for Ohio stations) is shown in the QSO line, not “OH”. This is a common configuration problem we see with logs generated by the N1MM logging software.

Don’t worry about “duplicate” QSOs, or “dupes”. In the heat of battle we all lose track of who we have worked. Or we may copied the call wrong the first time. Or we lost somebody before we completed the QSO. Don’t worry about dupes, either working them or leaving them in your log. If what you thought was the first QSO was not in the other guy’s log, you won’t get credit for that QSO you thought you had. And if really is a “dupe”, although you won’t get credit for the second contact, you won’t be penalized either.

Even if you only make a few QSOs, please send in your log. Every submitted log, no matter how small, helps the contest sponsor. Even a small log may set a county record as some counties don’t have a lot of activity.

Nearly all computer-based logs export a Cabrillo format file (standard for contest logs), which is the preferred file format. The preferred method to submit your log is to upload it on the OhQP web site. This will ask for things such as your category, location, club affiliation (if you have one), and then when you upload your log file, it will be checked for being in proper form.

And we still will take paper logs via snail mail. Send to:

Ohio QSO Party c/o Jim Stahl, K8MR 30499 Jackson Road
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022-1730

Logs must be submitted or postmarked within 30 days of the contest. For the full and official rules, use the Rules link at http://www.ohqp.org

We hope this was helpful! If you have more questions, contact any of the contest organizers, or join the OhQP reflector.