2011 CQ WPX Survey Results (Part 2)

Read part 1 first.

Q4. Should the Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted categories be combined into one Single Operator category?

This question was included for several reasons.

  1. The CQ WPX Contest Committee has become very good at using statistical techniques to identify entries that did not claim use of assistance (i.e., the spotting networks or the DX Cluster). We then spend a lot of time writing emails to participants and confirming if it is an error or cheating. Since there is little difference in score, we wanted to know if the participants felt there was a need for separate categories.
  2. The WPX RTTY Contest does not have an Assisted category. All single ops are grouped together. Combining the categories would make it easier to merge all 3 modes into the same rules.
  3. We wanted to see how attitudes have changed since this question was asked in 2009 and 2010.
Response Count Percent
Yes 1863 47.36%
No 2071 52.64%
Total 3934

It was close! The majority still favor keeping a category that is “pure radio” in that there are no outside connections or assistance provided. This group was quite vocal in their support.

Some of the comments from both sides:

  • A single operator assisted has a greater advantage over non-assisted for extra multipliers, etc. I have operated assisted and unassisted … a difference between night and day!
  • Absolutely not! I do not have internet service at my remotely located shack. I am ok with the Skimmer. Keep the single op class as is, please.
  • Absolutely not. Just because some people must cheat to do well doesn’t mean we should change the rules to legitimize their cheating.
  • Actually a lot of hams are using Cluster and they are not informing about. If you allow for all entrants, no more problem with this issue. Nice idea!
  • Alternatively you could give the non-assisted operator a bonus for not using the spotting networks.
  • Any assistance of any sort is a ‘second op,’ and it results in unfair disadvantage to the unassisted single op if the two were combined into a single category. Let’s keep the assisted/unassisted categories separated, even if the unassisted op is a dying breed.
  • As a casual operator, I prefer ‘spinning the dial’ to see what I get. I feel that people who use spotting aids should have their own category.
  • As most don’t even understand the difference, and quite often mess them up.
  • Assisted gives unfair advantage to those seeking new multipliers. It’s like ‘hamburger helper’…takes the skill out of S&P. I’m old school…not a fan of assisted operation.
  • ‘Assisted’ is a critical difference in radiosport and should be distinctly separate from pure SO. Maybe it doesn’t impact WPX that much, but it does in the bigger contesting picture. Explaining/managing the differences across multiple contests would hurt the overall contest participation and enjoyment.
  • Assisted make for a more interesting contest for SO. I almost always find the DX using S&P before spotted, but can help with the multipliers.
  • Being Assisted does not really help much in this contest as virtually every suffix is a multiplier. Rate is the key to winning.
  • Bit of a conundrum this one as looking at past results the unassisted get better scores. I am sure only a minority cheat so the conclusion is majority of entrants in ‘assisted’ are not intent on a full time serious entry. From my view I wish to remain in unassisted mode and know who my peers are. You have created ‘assisted’ class why not stick with it?
  • By forcing all serious competitors to be Assisted, and making ‘Assisted’ unlimited in its breadth of spotting options, you’d be encouraging the spotting of everybody in creation, and forcing every competitor to have all of the spotting aids you mention – including Skimmer – even if they don’t want to have them or deal with them. The skills involved would then have less to do with radio than with automatic and semi-automatic QSOs, and the WPX would no longer be a radio contest, but rather a computer contest, or a ‘point and click’ internet contest.
  • Call me old fashioned. I’ve been into computers since the early 70s, and have played SDR and lots of other emerging technologies. But I still like to find my own multipliers, and compete against those who do likewise. We could do-away with CW, too, as old-fashioned, but lots of folks like to test their core basic skills. Finding your own stations to work is one of them. (My preference, instead, would be to have the default entry classification allow assistance, but provide an unassisted class that operators could specifically elect to participate in. So opt-in to unassisted, instead of the present opt-in to assisted.)
  • Computer spotting networks add to the fun. I would think almost all hams have a computer today.
  • Contesters operating portable do not always have internet access. The unassisted category allows them to place higher.
  • DX cluster are not much use down here in the southern hemisphere.
  • Everyone is allowed packet in WPX RTTY and that’s fun.
  • Guess I’m a dying breed. Contesting isn’t the same if I have to compete with guys having thousands of ears filling in their band maps. I’d rather just quit.
  • Hardware and software requirements make these categories very different.
  • Hey, it’s just fun and it’s a hobby. I don’t like to see the spots causing mayhem on the bands, but why not take advantage of the new technology?
  • I always believe that the most of competitors use all this helping either go to simple or assisted category. So it would be more honest to be only one category.
  • I participate as Assisted hoping I might pick up a new DXCC entity as I am not a big gun station. I would prefer SO2R/SO3R were a separate category.
  • I am tired of the macho attitude that real men and real contesters do use packet or anything else. They run all contests naked. There are so many mults in this contest that it really does not matter. Merge them and let the chips fall wherever.
  • I am vehemently against the combining of the two categories. I think the number of participants would decline. I know that I would no longer participate.
  • I believe that the cluster is used by almost everyone.
  • I do not believe that would be fair. There are those of us who want to go it alone and measured against our peers. I have nothing against those who would like to operate in an assisted category; just don’t measure us against each other.
  • I have no internet access at the place I used to operate from during contests, it would be difficult to become competitive against operators using assistance.
  • I don’t see the logic in the single assisted category. Single op means single op and nothing else.
  • I don’t use spotting, and I really would rather be counted separately from the ‘Assisted’ group.
  • I enjoy finding stations by turning the dial, and I would feel slighted if another ham with a similar station set-up turns in a higher score by using spotting networks.
  • I feel that there is little real advantage to electronic assistance but that there are some who would prefer a more ‘purist’ approach.
  • I find it fun as a casual operator to give out points and search and pounce or maybe looks for states or countries. More and more stations use a contest logging programs that have it built-in.
  • I like contesting without any help. It is more fun to search the band for multis instead of just clicking on a cluster spot.
  • I love the old style, Single Operator. Remember we are radio amateur, not ‘internet radio’ amateur.
  • I say no but there are times I would like to peak at the cluster, but not have to enter the assisted category. Still, I do enjoy having an old fashioned category that doesn’t rely on technology.
  • I think this is already happening.
  • I want to be radio operator, not an internet chatter part-time operating a radio.
  • I don’t have clear opinion about it. I would better vote ‘I don’t know’. Assisted category is fast growing as many people start to use different kind of assistance massively – on the other hand it create heavy disadvantage for those still contesting without any assistance.
  • It takes more skill to work multipliers w/o the aid of packet and other means.
  • It’s OK for WAE but not for WPX. Please keep CQ contests just the way they are now.
  • I’ve gotta believe these tools are becoming ‘SOP’ for anyone remotely serious about contesting.
  • Keep them as two categories. It shows how good an op is when as a SO they get better scores than most (or all) of the SOAs.
  • Let’s keep the real operators apart from the ‘push button ones’
  • Making assisted the premo first class category would seem to embrace the future and we need to get into the habit of future orientation rather than dragging anchors.
  • Maybe more part-time hams would join the contest.
  • Maybe turn off all DX clusters during the contest.
  • Most hams are honest. Aren’t they?
  • My feeling is that I am a radio operator and not a data processor. If I can’t find a contact by either turning the dial and listening or finding an empty spot and calling, I have chosen the wrong hobby.
  • I enjoy the assisted class and there is a degree of additional work and skill to use the cluster to make and find contacts.
  • Not everyone enjoys using Packet. It is clearly an augmentation to the fundamental RADIO portion of the hobby. As an example, I don’t have packet in my shack and actually enjoy having to find the DX and other stations to work. It allows me to more fully enjoy the hobby without non-RADIO distractions.
  • Operators with no access to internet would be punished.
  • Please improve techniques to expose cheating and name and shame the cheaters instead.
  • Single Ops enjoy the challenge of ‘doing it on my own’!! Why take that away from them? Let the ones that want/need help compete amongst themselves and vice/versa.
  • Spotting networks, just like computers, are a fact of life in amateur radio. It is not really the same advantage to a single op as to a multi but knowing where a multiplier is operating on your band would be – provided conditions allow a contact. Again more of an advantage to large amateur population areas.
  • That’s exactly what happens in reality. A friend of mine never claims assisted and though he’s not using it too much, he just keeps an eye on it.
  • The more ‘categories’ there are… the better for us little guys to make some ‘top three’ showings, eh?
  • The word ‘Assisted’ causes problems, but the intent is clear. Maybe ‘SO Traditional’ could be used for unassisted, and ‘SO(A)’ would become ‘SO’.
  • There is so much tradition behind the unassisted category that it would be a shame to eliminate it.
  • There should be at least one category (SO) where operator skill determines the score instead of who has the best robot. Any idiot can buy an internet robot. It takes a REAL contester to make all points by themselves.
  • Too hard to police anyway, since it’s so easy to bring up a spots page on your laptop.
  • If you want to be purists, OK, no computers at all! Let’s go back to straight keys, paper logs and paper dupes. Ready? I don’t think so.
  • Working without spotting is an added challenge that should be recognized, just as QRO and QRP are distinct from each other in the scoring.
  • Wow. This again. Eliminating SOAB and substituting packet/Skimmer will guarantee I would never again enter the WPX. Where does this hair-brained idea come from?
  • You cannot check if a ham has been assisted or not. One of the aims of a contest is for every ham to improve his technology. Let the hams use any technology they want.

How did the results for 2011 compare to previous years?

Response 2011 2010 2009
Yes 47.4% 41.1% 40.3%
No 52.6% 45.9% 46.5%
Don’t care N/A 13.0% 13.2%
Total (count) 3934 4895 4032

We removed the “Don’t care” option in order to force respondents to take a position. It appears the 13% of “Don’t care” split their vote along the lines of those who selected Yes or No in previous years.

Q5. If the Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted categories were combined into one, would you operate:



More 552 14.25%
Less 525 13.55%
About the same 2797 72.20%
Total 3874

This question was designed to gauge what the impact might be if a rule change was implemented. Despite the emotion on both sides, it appears that most people would not change their operating very much at all.


The CQ WPX will keep the Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted categories for 2012.

Editorial Note

It is not true that everyone in single operator is using the cluster. If you think someone is, you should speak to them and ask them to follow the rules. We don’t find every log where someone looks at the cluster, but we do find the ones where someone is making a big difference in their score. It would help us and make the contest more fair if everyone would follow the rules and submit their log in the correct category.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey and shared their opinion!

Randy, K5ZD

2011 CQ WPX Survey Results (part 1)

The 2011 edition of the CQ WPX Participant Survey was another great success.  Survey invitations were sent to over 7500 email addresses based on all logs received for the 2011 SSB and CW contests. There were 4949 visitors who started the survey, with 3584 completing all questions. These are very high numbers for a voluntary survey and demonstrate the passion that participants have for the contest.  Thank you all!

Q1. Which phrase best describes your operating style in the CQ WPX Contest?

Response Count Percent
Serious competitor trying to win a certificate 1259 30.77%
Part time operator trying for the highest score possible 1306 31.92%
Chasing contacts for WPX or other awards 515 12.59%
Having fun and giving points to others 917 22.41%
Other 95 2.32%
Total 4092

This demonstrates we have a broad spectrum of interest levels represented in the results.

Q2. What category do you normally enter?

Response Count Percent
Single-Operator 3738 91.84%
Multi-Operator 332 8.16%
Total 4070

This percentage is in line with the overall activity in the contest.

With the growth in activity in the RTTY mode of CQ WPX, Ed, W0YK, and I have been discussing the possibility of aligning the rules so that RTTY, SSB and CW were all the same. The following questions were focused on some of the key differences between RTTY and SSB/CW rules.

Q3. Should the use of the 160 meters (1.8 MHz) band be removed from the contest? (The contest would only use 10, 15, 20, 40, and 75/80 meter bands.)

Response Count Percent
Yes 1521 38.11%
No 2470 61.89%
Total 3991

The RTTY contest does not include 160 meters. SSB/CW participants showed strong support for keeping 160 meters as part of the contest.

Q3 Comments:

160 is a good challenge for those of us that enjoy chasing DX there and the contest provides some chances for getting prefixes that usually aren’t there.

160 is a Ham Band like any other Band that Contesters enjoy operating. Why would anyone want to narrow our opportunities for making Q’s?

160 m adds to the score during low sun spots.

160M is probably marginal during the two contest periods and so may not contribute much to the overall contest.

160m to me should be off limits like 12 and 17. Not enough hams with 160m capability and 75/80 get so crazy it does not leave room for other none contesters to go and enjoy radio…Fairness to all.

160m unfairly benefits densely populated regions.

A high percentage of ham in the world don’t have antennas for this band, I think could increase the AB category participation.

A lot of us have gone to great lengths to be competitive on Top Band and we would like to exercise that capability in contests.

Absolutely not, I love top band and have enjoyed making contacts from other die hard entrants. Most of the ‘serious’ contesters don’t bother with the band because their Q rates are not high enough. Perhaps if more people tried it, they would be pleasantly surprised. Consider making an hour of 160M operating mandatory.

Although little time is spent on 160 during the WPX contest, activity isn’t nil.

As 10 meters works best in southern countries, 160m does same for northern countries. If you take one band from contest, someone is going to ask you to remove 80 meters. After awhile, WPX is only single band contest….

Could be removed only if CQ WPX 160m exist as a separate WPX edition …

Especially for WPX CW since that’s in MAY which is no good for 160m. In addition, who wants to do SSB on 160m, hah!

First thought – doesn’t matter. Second thought – there are 160m records out there, let the topbanders have their fun.

Granted, 160 is not *that* important in this contest, but we should be encouraging activity on the band.

Here in South America for example 160 meters is a big disadvantage in comparison with other people that goes to Central America to contact Americans and Europeans. For me, you can remove it.

I don’t use 160 meter band but there are OM ‘crazy’ for 1.8 MHz I think it does not matter much. The serious Single OP’s will not spend much time on this band due to lower Pts/Q ratio and slower rate. and so if there are not problems … why not?

In Italy band is only 20 KHz … too small for contesting!

Legal operation in Germany is allowed from 1810 – 1850 only. Contesting above 1850 is forbidden by law.

Many stations do not have 160 antennas and are at a disadvantage to the additional points/multipliers.

The WPX is a rate contest and there is not much rate on 160. Why disturb the Top Band?

This is the band that separates the men from the boys…

Look for part 2 in a few days…

2010 WPX Survey Results (part 3)

In September, 2010, a survey on the WPX Contest was sent to everyone who had submitted a log in the 2010 WPX RTTY, SSB, and CW contests. Read part 1 and part 2 first.


Q. Today, the WPX RTTY contest has different rules from CW/SSB. Should the WPX RTTY, CW, and SSB contests all have the same rules?


RTTY contesting is growing in popularity. We wanted to find out if participants felt that the three WPX contests should be brought together or kept separate.











Don’t care







Digging a little deeper into only those respondents who said they operated RTTY, the results were a little different.











Don’t care







Several comments pointed out the obvious challenges.

  • I don’t want to have 1.8 MHz included in WPX RTTY because we have a very narrow band segment 1810-1850 kHz… and many low-band DXers would be very irritated!
  • If we remove the ‘Assisted’ rules can be the same or almost the same
  • Whilst RTTY was a ‘specialist’ mode, it didn’t matter. Now RTTY is ‘mainstream’ as it has become so easy with MixW, etc, it should be treated the same as the other ‘mainstream’ modes.
  • The issue for WPX is that CW/SSB and RTTY each started from different roots, have their own history and have good reasons for their (different) rules. The biggest issue is 30 vs. 36 hours.  Ironically, CW/SSB started out as a 30-hour contest. 
  • Add a QRP category in RTTY!!  Of course no other RTTY contest has that category either.  But I am a QRP op.
  • I enter all three contests, and am happy that the RTTY rules should be slightly different.
  • I agree with the RTTY not using 160M, but I’d like to see an assisted category for RTTY as there is for both CW and SSB.
  • Only if CW and SSB use the RTTY rules. Almost all DX contests favor the NE coast of NA.  Being in the west of NA, the RTTY rules make the playing field more even and encourage more low band operation after the European runs are over.


This question assumed most operators were familiar with the differences between the modes.  The comments showed this was not true and therefore we should be cautious in over analyzing the results.  Next time we will ask about specific rules and whether the RTTY or CW/SSB version of the rule is preferred.


Q. Any comments or suggestions you would like to make to the WPX Committee?


We appreciate the feedback and compliments we received in response to this question. The contesters behind the WPX Contest really do work hard to make it a fun experience for everyone.


Here is a small sample of the suggestions we received. Please let us know what you think.


  • Probably 90+ percent of entrants in contests are guys who do not live and breathe radio contesting.  Don’t bend the rules into pretzels for the sake of the top one percent of entrants. I find that if it takes me more than about a minute to figure out what I need to know to participate in a contest, then the rules are too long, too complicated and I don’t read them.
  • Please get the scores done and published quicker, like 1 month after the contest. This is the computer age after all 🙂
  • How about a category for single op, 1 element antennas, whether horizontal or vertical? No room for a beam here, many have same problem.
  • I, like many others, don’t have the time to devote to 24 or 36 hours of contesting.  A new class…12 hour limited…would be nice to add for those of us that want to go at it hard for a time and still feel competitive in a class.
  • I think that SO2R should be listed as a separate category so SO1R operators can see their results vs their peers.  SO2R stations appear to totally dominate the ‘winning’ positions.
  • The point structure in the WPX strongly favors European entrants.  This is primarily because 40, 80, and 160 Q’s between EU countries are 2 points while similar Q’s between US states are only one point. In addition, North African countries which are a chip shot from EU get 3/6 points while Caribbean countries only get 2/4 points for US QSOs even though they are in many cases further away from the US. A simple way to level the playing field would be to make Q’s between US states worth 2 points on the high bands, and treat the Caribbean like a separate continent (like Oceana?) with full 3/6 point Q’s to the US and EU.
  • I think the time to send the logs should be shorter.
  • One suggestion, in these days of being ‘green’ and energy-conscious, is there a way to encourage / reward those people who run less than legal limit?
  • Should contacts on 1.8 MHz have an even higher point rating than 3.5 MHz and 7 MHz given comparative poor propagation and short opening times for intercontinental distances?
  • Need to seriously consider a 1/2 time category…18 hours for many participants who don’t want to spend all weekend on air or can not due to family/work, etc.
  • Stop the Kilowatt or more categories. 400 Watt Max and all country’s are on the same level. Too many countries are not allowing this high output.
  • You should REDUCE the SO operating hours back to 30 so the rest of the world may compete with the Atlantic corridor. Avoid the temptation to make it more biased. Work toward determining a scoring system that allows a Pacific rim contester (JA, VK, W6-7, etc) to finish in the top ten without an act of God!
  • Please remove the 36 hour limit for operation in this contest, extending it to the full 48.
  • Maybe have a category for kids?  Like 17 years old and younger?
  • I would like to see a ‘limited antenna’ category. I know there is a ‘Tri-Band/Wires’ cat in WPX, BUT many people just have wire antenna systems or verticals. People with limited antennas are at a DISTINCT disadvantage even with those using a tri-bander.
  • I love contesting but I think different parts of the bands should have power restricted.
  • The MS category was better when mult station was allowed to work all multipliers.
  • Low power contesting from southern Africa is exceptionally difficult on 40m and 80m – it is very difficult to penetrate European QRM. Would it not be possible to have a separate overlay category for just 20, 15 and 10m?
  • There should be a new category for hams with a minimum antenna system such as an antenna below 30 feet.
  • Please consider moving the CW WPX contest away from Memorial Day Weekend.
  • I want to have CATEGORY-OVERLAY: TB-WIRES in RTTY contest.
  • How about a PSK WPX contest?
  • Sometime you can change date of CW and SSB contests – every second year CW in March – much longer activity period on lower bands.
  • One problem I see in most contests is that the Multi/One rules do not allow for a low power entry. This discourages the 12 to 20 year old students I deal with from operating at all in contests because few have amplifiers or the time to spend operating the whole contest.  When they find that operating M/1 puts them in the same category as the ‘Big Guns’ they simply don’t bother.
  • Rather than a ‘tribander/single element’ category I would like to see a more rudimentary antenna category i.e. ‘wire & verticals’ only.  Many hams do not have any sort of hf beam because of neighborhood rules, cost, etc.


Thanks again to everyone who responded to the survey. Your answers and comments are very helpful to us in making the contest better.