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CQ World Wide DX Contest

Rule Changes for 2012

Important Rule Changes for the 2012 CQ WW DX Contest

The RULES for the CQ WW DX Contest 2012 (SSB/CW) have undergone some very important changes that may impact your operation and score. This document is to explain these changes and why they have been made.


The OBJECTIVE of the CQ WW Contest is stated in the RULES: For amateurs around the world to contact other amateurs in as many zones and countries as possible.

Not stated in the rules, but important to understand, is the OBJECTIVE for CQ (the sponsor) and the CQ WW Contest Committee; 1) to provide a fun contest for the entrants, and 2) to ensure the order of finish for the entrants is correct and meaningful.


The ENTRANT makes contacts during the contest period, being as accurate as possible (copying, sending, logging).

The SPONSOR reviews and adjudicates the log contents submitted by the entrant and determines the entrant’s final score.


The role of the entrant, in terms of the contents of the log, ends when the contest period ends.

The contest sponsor (via the CQWW Contest Committee) will utilize various methods, including its own wide band SDR (Software Defined Radio) recordings made during the contest period, to judge the quality, accuracy, and veracity of the submitted log being reviewed.


The entrant should not utilize any database or other source of information after the contest ends, in order to make any change(s) to the log content for any given QSO(s).


There were four rule changes made for 2012 to specifically address these objectives:

1.    CQWW Rule XIV: All entries must be sent WITHIN FIVE (5) DAYS after the end of the contest.

2.    CQWW Rule III.13: Post-contest correcting of call signs by using any database, recordings or confirming QSOs is not allowed.

3.    CQWW Rule XII.2: All sent and received exchanges are to be logged. In addition to the number exchange, the call sign sent by an entrant during a completed exchange, must be logged as sent by the entrant. All QSO exchanges must be logged upon QSO completion.

4.    CQWW RULE XIII.3: Unsportsmanlike conduct can be grounds for action by the CQ WW CC. Examples of unsportsmanlike conduct includes but are not limited to.....post-contest modification of a log by using data sources to correct call sign/exchange errors


Rule XIV – “The 5-day deadline.”

As little as four years ago, the deadline for log submission was up to 6 weeks. This long delay was a historical artifact from the days of paper logs. As recently as the late 1980s, entrants had to maintain a manual dupe sheet, manually score the log, and take it to the post office for mailing. It required a lot of time!

Today, with computers in wide spread use for contest logging, when the contest ends essentially all of that work is done. All you need to do is to create the Cabrillo file, open up your email, add the attachment, and hit the SEND button – all done in a matter of minutes. Last year, 10% of the logs were received in the first hour after the contest; 50% of the approximately 7000+ logs were received by day three!

This new log submission deadline means that any participant in the CQWW contest wishing to submit an official entry must submit his/her log no later than 23:59:59 UTC on the first Friday immediately following the end of the contest. It does not mean that you may submit an “early draft” version of the log before the deadline and then also submit a subsequent “version” of the log after the deadline. The deadline is the deadline.

On rare occasions, there may be exceptions to the deadline, as there always have been. From CQWW Rule XIV: An extension may be given if requested by e-mail (questions@cqww.com). The granted extension must be confirmed by the Contest Director, must state a legitimate reason and the request must be received before the log submission or log mailing deadline.

A deadline extension will only be granted on rare occasions and only if a real reason is provided for why the log cannot be submitted prior to the deadline. Sending an email request for an extension does not, in any way, guarantee that an extension will actually be granted.

Extensions will not be granted for the “convenience” of the entrant. Each entrant is expected to make every effort possible so as to submit his/her log before the deadline. Entrants who anticipate operating from a “remote” DX location (DXpedition) should seriously consider how they will comply with the deadline as part of the planning, well before the contest.

If the contest committee contacts an entrant about his/her log after the deadline, the deadline may be waived at the discretion of the committee.

Q: “If you want to stop post-contest log checking by the entrant; why not make the deadline one day? Obviously, a lot of checking can still take place in five days.”

CQ, the contest sponsor, feels that 5 days is the appropriate timeframe needed to balance what it considered to be “reasonable” versus what would prevent post-contest log manipulation. The old deadline was based on decades-old requirements of paper logs. It is time for the log submission deadline to catch up with today’s methods and technology.

Yes, one can still do a lot of post-contest log manipulation within 5 days. That is why the additional rules were added - to make perfectly clear what is expected from the entrant (and what is not expected from the entrant).

Rule III.13 – “After the contest period, don’t correct call signs.”

When the contest period ends, do not use any sort of database, local or remote, to review and then modify the callsigns in your log prior to submission.

Use of QRZ.com, DX Cluster, RBN files, other call sign databases, friends’ or club logs, etc., are considered to be other data sources and are not allowed for post-contest call correction.

Having friends or experts who were not “the entrant” review the log also “counts” as a database (not permitted).

A recording of your own contest effort, whether digital or analog, is considered to be a database, even if you made the recording yourself.

Q: “After the contest I noticed a typing mistake. What should I do?”

You have to determine whether the call sign you logged is the call sign you sent during the QSO in question (see rule XII.2 below for more information). If you are certain that this is a logging error, AND that what you logged does not match what you actually sent, then make the correction. If the committee’s SDR file shows that what you submitted on your log does not match what you sent during the contest exchange, you are in violation of the rules.

Your decision must be based purely on your inspection of the log. You may not use any database or other resources to review your log.

Rule XII.2 - “Log only the call sign you sent during a completed exchange.”

The "call sign you sent" refers to the "other station's call." i.e., the station you are working.

Over the last several years, SDR recordings of the contest have been utilized to carefully listen to highly competitive entrants. In some cases, when comparing the call signs that Running stations (those who ‘own’ a pileup) sent during the contest to what they actually submitted in their logs, we found the two would not always match. In these cases, the call signs sent by the Running stations during the QSO were broken or busted call signs (they did not match the actual calls of the stations they were working). Clearly, one way this can happen is when there is post-contest call sign correction.

This rule was crafted because some entrants may claim that these corrections were based on “notes” made during the contest and therefore are “part of the log.” The contest committee has no way to verify if these were made from “notes” during the contest or by use of databases (including a recording of your own contest effort) after the contest. This rule makes it clear that we expect the call sign in the log to match what was sent OVER THE AIR during the QSO.

Q: "What should an entrant do if he/she sends a “busted or broken” call sign during the contest?"

Instead of making (only) a manual note, send the corrected call sign (or the corrected part of the incorrect call sign) during the contest exchange.

For example, if the running station (entrant) pulls out DX1A from the pile up and sends the QSO exchange, when the answering station replies with DX1AAT, the running station should send, as part of the current QSO, either:

Equally, if the running station (entrant) sends DR2AA and makes the QSO exchange, when the answering station replies with DR2Q, the running station should send either:

When the contest committee reviews the SDR recording, there must be an indication that the runner (entrant) acknowledged and corrected the error at the time of the QSO.

The entrant should never log both the wrong call and the corrected call. The intent of the rule is to log only the correct call sign for each completed QSO.

Q: “What you describe works for the station that is running because it must send the call sign of the station it wishes to contact. What about for QSOs made while tuning the band (search & pounce)?"

Most entrants answering a solicitation from a Runner (calling CQ, QRZ, TEST, etc.) do not send the call sign of the station they are trying to work. They simply send their own call and then wait to see if the Runner answers them. This is OK. We are expecting the Runner to send the call or a correction of the call so we can verify a match with what is logged.

Historically, highly competitive entrants spend most of their contesting time running. Therefore, this rule is intended primarily, but not exclusively, for those entrants who are highly competitive in their category of entry.

Q: “During the contest, I made a number of notes about some of my QSOs that needed to be corrected. Since the notes were made during the contest, can I incorporate those changes into my log after the contest ends?”

During the contest, most of us have, at some point, done something “wrong” within the logging window. One example might be forgetting to hit the <enter> key and then adding another call sign which results in some very long, bad call. Or maybe we added part of the number exchange to the call sign. The entrant feels so rushed, he/she just wants to “move to the next QSO,” so a “note” is created about what really happened.

The answer is that it depends on the actual circumstances. The new rules require that whatever you sent during the completed exchange be accurately represented in your submitted log.

So if you SENT the correct information during the real-time completed QSO exchange, then yes, you can modify your log as per “notes.”

The contest committee will judge what you SENT based its SDR recordings of the contest.

Q: “May I submit my own SDR file or audio file to show that what I logged matches what I sent?”

No. Only the contest committee’s own SDR files will be used for adjudication.

Rule XIII.2 – “Unsportsmanlike conduct” and “post-contest modification of the log using other data sources.”

This rule puts the “teeth” into the enforcement of what CQ defines the entrant’s OBJECTIVE to be. If you violate the new rules, you may be subject to further action by the CQWW contest committee.

Q: “Are you saying that the committee is going to listen to all 48 hours for each competitive entry?”

No. Statistical sampling methods will be employed to flag a log for possible violations. Flagged logs will be subject to stronger sampling and more detailed scrutiny.

Q: “Do you have any suggestions how to avoid this issue?”

Always send the correct (or a corrected form) of the call sign of the station answering your CQ (or any other form of solicitation, including QRZ, TEST, E, R, “roger,” TU, “thanks,” “your call,” etc.).

Do not review the QSOs in your log after the contest using any data source(s). Confirm the Cabrillo header information is correct and send in your log “as is” before the deadline. Do nothing more until the log submission deadline has passed.  


Rule III.2 - You must not exceed the total output power limitation of your chosen category on any band. Total output power on any band at any time is measured at the output of the active amplifier(s).

During discussions with various entrants, it became apparent that there were at least two standards being used to measure output power. Many stations chose to cite the power at the antenna as their power output. They measured the output power in shack, then calculated (or estimated) the various losses though antenna tuners, coax, baluns, etc. These entrants determined their output power to be the net calculated power at the antenna. This point of ambiguity has now been defined – the measurement point is at the output of the transmitter or amplifier(s).

Some stations utilize more than one final amplifier per band. In such cases, when the active (at the same time) amplifiers are in use on the same band, the output power for that band must be calculated by adding together the output power from all active amplifiers on that band. This total may never exceed the power allowed for the category of entry, as per the CQWW specifications. See Rule IV.A. 1. a, b, c.

Rule III.14 - All competitors are expected to have read and to comply with the rules of the chosen category. The entrant agrees that any violation of CQ WW contest rules makes the entrant subject to either a red or yellow card (see rule XIII).

This rule establishes that all entrants should read the rules and agree that if they violate a rule they will be subject to formal action by the Committee.

Rule XII.2 - …All QSO exchanges must be logged upon QSO completion.

A primary goal of this rule change is to ensure accurate logging of the actual time of each QSO. This can be an issue for the Multi-2 (M2) and Multi-Single (MS) categories. We have noted that some entrants have logged a QSO with one minute (or more) difference from the actual time of the QSO. Because the previous and current rules stipulate “time logged,” we needed to make an absolute connection between the actual time of the QSO and the time “logged.” This rule achieves that goal. Also see the last part of RULE XIII.3, which now defines “rubber clocking” (entering a falsified QSO time) as unsportsmanlike behavior.

Note: All the above cited rules and examples apply to all categories of entry, without exception.


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