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HF Contesting on a Budget
Ideas, Hints and Tips

Home > HF Contesting > Budget Fun
This page contains ideas, hints and tips that will help you to enjoy the sport of HF Contesting without emptying the bank account.
Ever wished you could have a winning contest station ? Ever wished you could win the Lotto ?! Well here's some news for you - the two don't have to go together. Although its true that the leading contest stations in the world spend huge amounts of money on their Mega-Stations, an enjoyable contest and a respectable result can be obtained in other ways.
If you set your sights correctly and choose the contest that suits you, your equipment and your capabilities, there are still ways of doing well. For a start, even the biggest contests have many different classes, and its important to choose one where you can do well.
  • Don't have much power ? Enter the Low Power or QRP section.
  • Limited antenna space ? Enter the Single Band Section.
  • Not much time available ? Choose the 12 or 24 hour section.

I'd like to quote from K1RC before we go any further, to show just what can be done with the minimum of equipment:

I started QRP contesting in '78 with a converted CB radio and won '78 CQWWSSB 10m QRP (K1CGJ-old call) with it.
Won '79 CQWWCW 15m QRP with a borrowed Argonaut and a dipole at 60 ft.
Won '99 CQWWCW USA QRP All-band and '99 WPXCW QRP USA All-band (using KX1M) with the Triton IV running 4 watts, the Zep and phased Verticals. Broke 1 million points in WPX.
Just put up a TH3 for the 2000 SS and CQWWCW. Both TenTec rigs are from flea markets and are over 20 years old but still run great.
73, John K1RC

The following sections examine all aspects of a contest station, and suggest ways that a Budget Contester can improve their setup despite a small bank-balance.

  1. Antennas
  2. Masts and Towers
  3. Receivers and Transmitters
  4. Computers and Information
  5. Shack Furniture
  6. Power Supplies
  7. Auxiliary Items
When the pocket book is completely empty, and you still want to improve something, the best plan is to work on your operating skills, your propagation knowledge, and really learn how to use and maintain the equipment you already have in the shack. Do this, and I'm sure that just like John, you'll be up there with the winners.

Legal Note - All Suggestions made in this section are purely ideas for discussion; no responsibility will be taken for the result of any action made by others responding to what is written here. All projects should be checked by a competent and qualified person before proceeding.

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