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CQ World Wide DX Contest

Rules FAQ

CQ WW Contest Rules - Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this page is to answer some of the common questions about the rules of the CQ WW DX contests and how some of the rules are interpreted by the CQ WW Contest Committee. Please send any questions through the Contact Form.

The explanations here apply ONLY to the CQ WW SSB and CW Contests!

General Questions | Logging Questions | Single Operator | Multi-Operator | Club Entry | Explorer Category

Click on the question to show the answer.

General Questions

Q: Rule XII. D.3. states "... call-signs not found in the other log..." What does this mean?

This means that your callsign was not found in the other log. I.e., it is Not-in-Log (NIL). The penalty for a NIL is three times the QSO point value for that contact.

Q: For a single-band entry, is it allowed to be looking for multipliers on other bands to request a QSY, sked or even just asking if a multiplier is operating that band?

No, it is not. The rules state: "All entrants must operate within the limits of their chosen category when performing any activity that could affect their submitted score." Entering single band means that all activity to improve your score must be only on that band. You are permitted to work stations on other bands, but you are not allowed to ask them to QSY or make schedules.

Q: Is there any limit on operating time?

There is no limit on operating time for any of the traditional categories. Only the CLASSIC Overlay category has a time limit for the score calculation, but not the contest participation time. Everyone is encouraged to operate as much as they want during the contest period.

Q: What should I do if I accidentally make a QSO outside my license privileges?

Use X-QSO to mark the contact so it will not count for your score.

If you want to remove a QSO for any reason, use a text editor to add "X-" to the beginning of the QSO line in the Cabrillo file. For example:

X-QSO: 7023 CW 2009-05-31 0033 AK1W 599 05 XX9XX 599 24

The log checking software will not count this QSO for you, but will give credit to the other station.

Q: Can an operator of a multi-op station also work the contest from their home station and submit an entry?

Yes, it is permitted for an operator to work from home with his own callsign and then also from a multi-operator station.

Q: I submitted a log but can't find my on-line certificate. What's wrong?

On-line certificates are available after the final results are published for all entrants in the CQWW contest. The exception is when your log is submitted AFTER the deadline. If you believe we have made an error, reach out to us at https://cqww.com/contact/.

Q: What about...?

The web page http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Contest%20-%20General/HF-FAQ.pdf has some very helpful explanations about common situations encountered in HF contesting.

Logging Questions

Q: I would like to work on several bands, but only submit a single band entry. Is this allowed? How should I submit my log?

Yes, you may work other bands and still submit your log as a single band entry. First, please make sure your log includes all QSOs made on all bands. This helps us with the log checking. Second, make sure the Cabrillo file header has your category set for the single band you want to enter. (e.g., CATEGORY-BAND: 20M) Only the QSOs on the single band will be used to compute your score.

Please enter only one log containing ALL QSOs! Each log that you submit will overwrite the previously submitted log.

Q: I work a station and they do not know their CQ zone or they give me a serial number, what should I put in the log?

Log the zone based on their location.

Q: A station gives me a serial number vs. the correct CQ Zone in their exchange. What should I log?

Log the zone based on their location.

Q: A station sends me "cut numbers" on CW. What should I enter in the log?

The log checking software is expecting to see a log with sent and received zone numbers. No matter what someone sends you, it is your responsibility to convert it into the zone number you thought they were trying to communicate.

Q: Should I work and log duplicates? How are they counted by the log checking?

Yes! Please log all contacts that you make even if they are duplicates.

For example... XX9XX works K5ZD but logs it as K5ZB. K5ZD logged XX9XX correctly. Later XX9XX works K5ZD again. This time he logs K5ZD correctly. K5ZD logs the second duplicate QSO and scores it as zero points. For this case, the log checking software assigns K5ZD with a good qso and a dupe (no penalty). XX9XX gets a busted callsign (K5ZB) and a good qso (K5ZD).

Q: I made a mistake in logging and do not want a QSO to count. Should I remove it from my log?

No, please do not remove any QSOs from your log! This will cause the other station that worked you to lose credit for the contact.

If you want to remove a QSO for any reason, use a text editor to add "X-" to the beginning of the QSO line in the Cabrillo file. For example:

X-QSO: 7023 CW 2009-05-31 0033 AK1W 599 05 XX9XX 599 24

The log checking software will not count this QSO for you, but will give credit to the other station.

Q: I kept some paper notes of corrections when I was unable to change the log during the contest. May I use my notes to correct the log after the contest?

Yes, but only from your own notes or memory, provided that it reflects what was sent over the air. No corrections, additions, deletions to what was sent over the air is allowed.

Rule IX.9 says "9. Correction of logged callsigns and exchanges after the contest by using any database, recordings, email or other methods of confirming QSOs is not allowed." So you may not use a recording to listen to a contact and make corrections. You may not look up callsigns on the DX Cluster, RBN or DX newsletters after the contest. You may not ask via email or telephone for confirmation that a contact occured.

Q: Should I submit the log in Cabrillo v2 or v3?

The Cabrillo log format standard has changed over time. v3 is the preferred format for log submissions. The log robot will accept either v2 or v3 format and will automatically convert them to v3. View more information on log submission requirements here.

Q: What if I am not able to submit my log within the 5 day deadline?

Extensions of the log deadline may be requested through the Contact Form. The request must include the entry callsign, a valid reason for why the extension is needed, and a date by which the log will be submitted. The request must be submitted before the log deadline. Requests can be submitted before the contest. The maximum extension that can be granted is 10 days. All requests for extension must be acknowledged by the Contest Director to be valid.

Q: I logged on paper. What is the best way to submit my log?

The CQ WW Committee does NOT accept paper logs submitted by mail. All entrants are now required to submit their log in electronic form by using the Web upload form at https://cqww.com/logcheck/. LM by DL8WAA is an excellent free software program that easily makes entering the logs into the required Cabrillo format. You can download it from http://contestsoftware.com/e/home.htm
In addition to LM software's conversion capabilities, there is also an excellent ADIF to Cabrillo conversion tool, which can be found at https://cqww.com/adif/.

Q: I've tried to submit my log multiple times and have not been successful. Should I just give up?

We place a high value on every log, regardless of its size or category. If you are struggling with your submission, reach out to us (before the deadline) at https://cqww.com/contact/ for a prompt response.

Q: I need to resubmit my log to correct an administrative error (e.g., forgetting to include my club name, incomplete list of operators, etc.). Can I do this?

Yes. You can always resubmit your log. Each log you submit will replace any previous one. Be advised that if you resubmit your log after the deadline, it will be treated as a late log submission. In addition, resubmitting logs for the purpose of correcting log entries is not allowed. If you want to make changes to your log after the deadline, submit them through the Contact Form.

Q: My submitted log was accepted but it does not appear on the received logs page at <cqww.com>. Did I do something wrong?

It may take up to 20 minutes for the received logs page to synchronize with the log repository. We recommend you wait and see if your log entry correctly appears on the list. If it has been more than 30 minutes since you submitted your log, try submitting again.

Single Operator

Q: How can I tell if I am Single Operator or Single Operator Assisted?

The rules for Single Operator state "all operating and logging functions are performed by one person (the operator)." The CQ WW Contest has two classes of entry for stations with only one operator: Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted.

You are Single Operator IF you (and only you) *locate AND identify* every callsign that you put in your log. Locate means to tune in each signal. Identify means to determine the callsign of the station you are working. Do not use any outside tools such as the DX Cluster or RBN network to locate new contacts.

If you cannot say this, then you should enter the Single Operator Assisted category.

Q: As a Single Operator (Unassisted), can I post spots to the DX Cluster?

Unassisted entries are permitted to post outbound spots provided they do not view or utilize any information received from the DX cluster or other spotting sources.

Q: If I am a Single Operator, can I use the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) or DX Cluster to look for spots of my own callsign?

No, this is not permitted. If you do this, you should enter as Single Operator Assisted.

Q: My software uses the RBN to show where stations are located on the band, but it does not show any callsigns. Does this place me in the Assisted category?

Yes. The use of decoding technology to detect where callsigns are being transmitted and indicate this to the operator is considered assistance in locating stations. This is different from a band scope that shows where signals are, but does not apply any intelligence to identify the source of the signal.

Q: Does the use of waterfall technology, either radio- or logging program-based, violate the single operator unassisted rule?

No, provided there is no callsign and/or exchange information made available when used.

Q: As a Single Operator (Unassisted), can I post my scores to a live scoreboard? Can I view the scores of others?

Any entry class may post their scores to a live scoreboard (e.g., cqcontest.net or contestonlinescore.com). A single operator may view the scores on a live scoreboard site but should not view the band breakdown information.

Q: Can I use a code reader to help me work stations on CW and be in the single operator category?

No. Any single operator that uses a code reader must enter the Assisted category. This was part of the rule changes for 2015.

Q: How do I know if I should record my contest operation to be compliant with the rules?

Recording your contest effort is a good practice for any entry. It provides an opportunity to learn from your mistakes (e.g., an RIT that wanders too far from your run frequency, unconfirmed QSOs, out-of-band errors, etc.). The rules clearly state that a Top-5 entry in any category MAY be subject to a request from the WW Contest Committee for an audio recording of your log. If you are unsure of your placement before the contest (or surprised by the result), it is prudent to make a recording in the event you are asked for one.

Overlay Category

Q: Can I enter an Overlay category if I submit a single band entry?

Yes. Your single band score will be used for the traditional entry. For the Overlay scoring, all scores will be calculated as all band scores. If you work single band and make contacts on other bands, all of your QSOs will be counted for your Overlay score.

Q: When does my 24 hours of operation for the CLASSIC Overlay begin?

Your 24 hours of operating time begins with your first QSO in the log.

Q: How is a 60 minute operating break determined for the CLASSIC Overlay?

The Classic overlay category specifies that break periods be a minimum of 60 minutes. The "60 minutes" means 60 consecutive "empty" clock minutes during which no QSO was logged. (Seconds are not included in the Cabrillo log QSO: lines and so would not be considered in log checking.)

This is a valid 60-minute off time in a log:
1358Z QSO
1359Z QSO
- first empty minute at 1400
- last empty minute at 1459
1500Z QSO
1501Z QSO

This is NOT a valid 60-minute off time in a log:
1358Z QSO
1359Z QSO
- first empty minute at 1400
- last empty minute at 1458
1459Z QSO
1500Z QSO

There must be 60 consecutive "empty" minutes. The "time B minus time A" gap of 1459 - 1359 = 60 does not meet the 60-minute test because only 59 consecutive minutes are actually "empty" - the last "empty" minute is 1458, not 1459. Leaving a gap of the minimum number of "empty" minutes is always the safest way to be sure of complying with the off-time minimum-break rules. Be safe and don't lose a multiplier or a big chunk of your log because you were one minute too quick to make a QSO!

Q: Can I listen the radio and fill the band map in my off time period?

No. Spending time to fill your band map during an off time is not within the spirit of the category. You are not permitted to make any use of the DX Cluster as a Classic operator.

Q: What happens if I put both Classic and Rookie Overlay categories in my log?

You are not permitted to enter more than one Overlay category. If the log checking software finds entries for both Classic and Rookie overlay categories, the last one found in the log will be used.

Q: Is the Rookie Overlay category based on the operator license or the station license?

The Rookie Overlay category is for operators that have been a licensed amateur radio operator for less than 3 years at the time of the contest. The qualification period begins when you obtained your first operator license. For those countries that allow use of a club station without a full operator license, the 3 year period begins when you obtained permission to get on the air.

Q: I was licensed many years ago and my license expired. I just got a new license. Can I enter the Rookie Overlay category?

No. The 3 year period applies from the time you obtained your first amateur radio license.

Q: If I am eligible, can I submit my log with both the Rookie and Youth overlays?

No. You can only submit your log with one overlay. If eligible, it is your responsibility to choose the appropriate overlay entry.

Multi-Single Category FAQ

This section covers many questions we receive about the Multi-Single (MULTI-ONE) category.


This category permits up to two signals (one RUN and one MULTPLIER) to be transmitted at the same time, but ONLY if each signal is on a different band AND with the following limitations.

The RUN SIGNAL may be transmitted on any band and may contact all other stations. The RUN signal must remain on the band for at least 10 minutes. The ten minute period begins when the first QSO (contact) on that band is made. A RUN SIGNAL may not be transmitted on a “new band” until the 10 minute period has been met or exceeded. The RUN signal will be designated with a “0” in the transmitter column of the Cabrillo log.

The MULTIPLIER SIGNAL may be transmitted on any band, but may only contact another station if, and only if, it is a new multiplier on that band. The MULTIPLIER SIGNAL may only call other stations. The MULTIPLIER SIGNAL may not request or attract any QSO by calling CQ, QRZ, TEST, etc. The MULTIPLIER SIGNAL must remain on one band for at least 10 minutes. The ten minute period begins when the first QSO with a new multiplier on that band is made. A MULTIPLIER SIGNAL may not be transmitted on a “new band” until the 10 minute period for the MULTIPLIER SIGNAL has been met or exceeded. The MULTIPLIER SIGNAL will be designated with a “1” in the transmitter column of the Cabrillo log.

The designation of “0” (runner) or “1” (multiplier) is not assigned to an actual physical radio, although that is possible. The signal designation of “0” and “1” is a functional designation. Rig “A” or “B” (or “C,” etc., if more than 2 radios) can be assigned either “0” or “1” according to its function (role) at the time of the QSO.

All QSOs must be logged immediately upon completion of the QSO.

Q: The category name is “Multi-Operator, Single Transmitter,” but you are saying that we can use more than one transmitter?

Yes, that is correct. The ability to run stations and hunt for multipliers at the same time is one of the reasons the CQ WW Multi-Single category is so popular.

Q: You have talked about the “ten minute rule” in both the RUN SIGNAL and the MULTIPLIER SIGNAL sections. Is there one “ten minute rule” that applies to both signals?

There are two separate and independent ten minute rules. One ten minute rule applies to the RUN SIGNAL and a separate, independent ten minute rule applies to the MULTIPLIER SIGNAL.

Q: When does the 10 minute clock start when changing to a new band?

The 10 minute clock starts with the first QSO on a new band. QSOs must be logged immediately upon completion of the QSO.

Q: What if we QSY to a new band to call a needed multiplier but it takes 2 minutes to break the pileup? Does the clock start when we first transmit on the new band or when we make the QSO?

The clock always starts with the first logged QSO. QSOs must be logged immediately upon completion of the QSO.

Q: What if we QSY from 20m to 10m, but do not make a QSO on 10m. Does the clock reset when we QSY to 10m?

No. The clock starts only when you make a QSO on the new band. If you QSY to another band, but do not make a QSO, then the clock does not reset.

Q: May we transmit on a new band before the 10 minute period, as long as we do not make a QSO on the new band before 10 minutes?

No. You may not transmit on the new band until after you are allowed to QSY to the new band. You must always follow the 10 minute rules.

Q: The clock on our logging software only shows whole minutes (no seconds). A QSO logged at 14:00:01 shows as 14:00. A QSO logged at 14:00:58 also shows as 14:00 in the log. Both look to be the same time. How can we accurately determine the timing for the 10 minute period?

The Cabrillo log format only shows time in whole minutes (no seconds). The 10 minute period is calculated based on the time shown in the log. If a QSO is made at 1400 to start the period, a QSO cannot be made on another band until 1410. We recommend that stations use a “count down timer” in their logging software to monitor when the 10 minute period has completed.

Q: What should we do if we are using more than one computer and the computer clocks are out of sync with each other? How can we accurately determine the 10 minute period?

It is the entrant’s responsibility to ensure that his/her clocks are in synchronization with a time standard (such as WWV, www.time.gov, Winbox tools, etc.) and with each other.

Q: What should we do if our RUN SIGNAL moves to a new band and starts to invite contacts (call CQ, QRZ, TEST, “my call,” etc.) before the 10 minutes are up?

Any transmission before the 10 minute period is against the rules. If you have not yet made a contact on the new band, stop immediately and wait for the 10 minute period. If you have made some QSOs, those contacts are in violation of the 10 minute rule and they will be removed without penalty. Calling CQ “early” (before the ten minute period) and intentionally not logging any callers (in order to take/hold a frequency) or changing times to be time compliant is a violation of the rules and may result in being disqualified. In all cases, you should log every QSO that you make regardless of time violation issues.

Q: What should we do if our MULTIPLIER SIGNAL moves to a new band and completes the QSO with the needed multiplier, but it is before the allowed 10 minute period? We do not want to lose the multiplier!

You have violated the 10 minute rule. You may contact the same station again, on the same band, when you have complied with the 10 minute rule. If you do work them again, be sure to log them again. If you work them twice (once in violation and once in compliance with the 10 minute rule), be sure to log both of the QSOs. Mark the first contact (the one in violation of the 10 minute rule) with X-QSO. This will give credit to the other station.

Q: Is there a limit on the number of times we can use X-QSO in our log?

X-QSO is intended for correction of occasional mistakes that happen during the contest. If the committee decides that X-QSO is being used to avoid the 10 minute rule the log will be subject to possible reclassification or other committee action, as deemed appropriate. For example, CQing on a new band with the intent of X-QSOing non-multipliers that call you is not allowed.

Q: Can we use a third band to search for possible multipliers and ask them to move to either the RUN or MULTIPLIER band?

No. A station in the Multi-Single category may not TRANSMIT on more than two bands at any time. The bands in use must be in compliance with the RUN and MULTIPLIER 10 minute rules.

Q: Can we use two or more radios on the same band to make QSOs?

When two or more transmitters are present on the same band, a hardware device MUST be used to prevent more than one signal at any one time. It is not permitted to request or solicit QSOs (e.g., call CQ) on more than one frequency at a time. The second interlocked station on the band should only be calling stations and must change frequencies after each QSO.

Multi-Two Category

Q: The rules for Multi-Two state "A maximum of two transmitted signals on two different bands may be used at any time." If we are working on two bands, can we transmit on a third band to call CQ or call a multiplier?

If you want to start transmitting on a third band, you must stop transmitting on one of the other bands. There is no exception.

Q: If we make a band change at the top of the hour, which hour is credited with the change?

The Multi-Two category allows each transmitter to make 8 band changes per hour. Here is an example log for one of the transmitters:

QSO: 14000 PH 2012-10-27 0052 K5ZD           59     05 ED8W           59     33      1
QSO: 14000 PH 2012-10-27 0057 K5ZD           59     05 RW1CW          59     16      1
QSO:  7000 PH 2012-10-27 0103 K5ZD           59     05 SV1ELI         59     20      1
QSO:  7000 PH 2012-10-27 0108 K5ZD           59     05 LY7A           59     15      1

The band change is counted in the 0100z hour.

Club Entry Questions

Q: Can I enter single band, but operate other bands and have the all band score count for my club?

No. Only the score of your stated entry category will be applied to the club score.

Q: Does my Overlay category score count for the club?

No. Only your traditional category score will count toward your club.

Q: Can a score be split between more than one club?

Single operator entries must indicate only ONE club that will receive their score.

Multi-operator entries may split their score among the clubs of the operators. The split will be by a percentage of the number of club members participating in the operation. The split is defined on the CLUB: line of the log file. Please show the split and then the club name. It is not required that all splits add up to 100%. Here are some examples of club splits:



Please spell out all club names according to the list of names at http://www.cqww.com/clubnames.htm.

Entering a split will cause the log submission web page to return a warning message that the club name does not match any on the list. You may ignore this message.

Q: The rules for DX clubs state "Participation is limited to club members living and operating within the DXCC country where the club is located OR within a 400 km radius circle from the center of club area..." What is meant by "OR"?

OR = Both. The club area is defined as the country where the club is located plus the area within a 400 km radius circle around the club center. This allows a club that is on the border of two countries to have members outside of the club location country.

Q: What is the club center?

Each club may select any location to be the center. Once this place is chosen, it must be the same for both modes of the contest. If there is a question, the CQWW Committee will ask the club officers to specify the location.

Q: Can club members that travel on DXpeditions count their score for the club?

Yes. Club members living within the club area that go on DXpeditions to other countries can count their score for the club. They must specify the club name in the log.

Explorer Category

Q: Is live video streaming considered self-spotting?

Live video streaming of your contest operation is permitted provided you do not provide the frequency you are using.


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