Topband: Error in ARRL 160 contest rules?

W2RU - Bud Hippisley W2RU at
Wed Dec 7 11:53:23 EST 2005

KV4FZ wrote:
> My contest logging program will not even let me log the xero point
> ON4UN contact as it is considered a DX-DX contact and thus forbidden....The ARRL 160 is just a modified
> SS for 160.

The ARRL 160 contest is not -- and never was -- intended to be a DX 
contest.  It's a domestic contest.  In fact, in its first running in 
1970 and for some number of contests thereafter,  _all_ DX contacts 
counted as a _single_ multiplier.  Thus, the maximum multiplier in 1970 
was 76:  74 ARRL Sections, VE8, and "DX".   The fact that the Board 
and/or the ARRL Communications Department positioned the date of the 
contest right after a major CW DX contest weekend further attests to the 
fact that they did not originally intend it to be of particular interest 
to DXers, per se.

The ARRL Board of Directors authorized the contest at its May 1970 
meeting, "oriented to promote activity in this band of frequencies."  
That was a USA-driven concern at the time, amid a sea of competing uses, 
evolving LORAN activity, and changing frequency / power limits.  In 
later years,  pressure from certain participants "improved" the DX 
multiplier credit to its present structure.

Apparently some find the rules for the ARRL 160 contest posted on the 
ARRL web site unclear.  I don't -- but that's because I don't 
automatically tie this contest to the February / March ARRL DX contests, 
where KP2, KV4, KH6, and KL7 are considered DX.  Here, W/VE amateurs are 
unambiguously defined by the posted rules as those in the 80 ARRL and 
RAC Sections.  DX is "everyone else".  (How individual logging program 
authors have chosen to interpret and implement those rules is a totally 
separate matter.  Personally, I wouldn't stay with a logging program 
that forced me to use scraps of paper to log what the author felt were 
zero-value contacts.  As long as the contact stays in the submitted log, 
the contest robot should score it correctly.)

Not all contests need to be DX contests.  In addition to the Stew Perry 
Challenge later this month, there is a pair of DX-friendly 160 contests 
early each year.  Historically, the ARRL 160 is a _domestic_ contest 
and, with its rapid-fire short exchange and ARRL/RAC Section-based 
multiplier structure, is the closest thing to the old Open CD Parties 
available today.  Over their respective lifetimes, both the CD Parties 
(until they were abruptly terminated) and the ARRL 160 contest have 
enjoyed growing popularity -- the latter at least partly due to more and 
more hams having discovered the fun of putting a signal on the top 
band.   Interestingly, advances in receiving technology and techniques 
have made it no more difficult today to garner a "clean sweep" on 160 
alone as it was to do so in a CD Party a quarter century or more ago 
utilizing the five HF contest bands!

One thing remains constant for _me_, at least.  It has always been a 
particular pleasure of mine to find KV4FZ and work him -- initially in 
the CD Parties back then and now in the ARRL 160 contest.  It's a shame 
his logging program kept him from full enjoyment of the contest this year.

Bud, W2RU

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