My Favorite Contest

A few blogs back, I briefly touched upon my favorite contest of the year ... the 160m Stew Perry Contest, or more affectionately noted as the 'Stew' or 'SP'.

The contest is named in honor of W1BB, one of the earliest and most dedicated proponents of 160m in its earlier days, as well as being the first amateur to earn 160m DXCC #1, in 1976.

Stew published a regular '160m News' bulletin, lovingly cranked out on his old Gestetner (remember those messy things?), which was mailed free of charge upon request.

These bulletins were chalk-full of DX reports, station information, and antenna-building hints. It was hard not to get excited about the Topband after reading one of Stew's bulletins!

This was largely back in the day when very few commercial transmitters had a 160m position on the bandswitch. If it did, it was most likely a hernia-making DX-100 or a similar E.F. Johnson biggy ... seems most 160m ops were he-men back in the early days.

Heathkit DX-100
To make things even messier, the band was covered with horrendous Loran QRM, much more devastating then anything the Russian 'Woodpeckers' could throw at us ... working anyone on 160, let alone DXCC, was a challenge and probably the main reason why so many found the band fascinating.

The 'Stew' is just a short 24 hour affair but often packs the CW band from end to end with a ton of activity, including lots of DX. It seems that most 160m diehards will jump at any opportunity to get on their favorite band, especially when conditions are as good as they have been of late.

The 'SP' is somewhat unique in that its system of scoring is probably the fairest of any contest around. The number of points earned for any QSO is determined by the distance between the two stations, with your computer contesting software dutifully making the needed calculations automatically from the exchange of Grid Square information, rather than the ubiquitous  '599'.

Such a system gives stations in the western half of North America a chance to compete, on equal grounds, with the much higher activity levels found back east. With most contests awarding fixed points per QSO, it is much easier for eastern stations to rack-up big scores by working the multitude of other easterners ... this is just not possible out west where activity levels, and population densities, are so much smaller.

Contest PR-man ... Lew, W7EW, on behalf of the Boring (Oregon) Amateur Radio Club sponsorship, has sent a heads-up via the Topband reflector, which is reproduced below in case you wish to learn more.

Greetings Radio Ruffians with a TopBand Bent,
The anticipation is palpable as time draws near for the
start of the 21st Running of The Stew Perry TopBand DX
Challenge sponsored by the multitude of Amateurs who
make up The Boring Amateur Radio Club. The contest is Dec
17/18. That is this weekend coming up, for those of you
that need reminders like to remember an anniversary, put
gas in the vehicle or to breathe.
The rules for this contest are different. Please navigate to and see how they are different.
Another unique aspect of The Stew is that The Boring
Amateur Radio Club does not specify categories to win
handsome plaques. You, the combatants do that. Yes,
anyone who thinks up a stellar category and remits $60 or
$63 to us will join the radio stalwarts listed below who are
stoking the fires of competition.

KL7RA Top # of QSOs by a S/O
N0TT Top Score, S/O, <21Y/O, > 200 QSOs
K7CA Longest DX, S/O, Low Power from Zone 3
K7CA Top Score S/O CQ Zone 19,24,25,27,28 or China
KH6LC VK/ZL Challenge- Top S/O VK-ZL
AA6VB Top Score Big City >50K, Little Pistol <100W
AA6VB Top Score Base Loaded Vertical < 60' tall
N6TQ/A25TQ California Dreaming- Top # of QSOs with Cal
VK0EK Stations by a non-California station
Rochester DX Assoc Top Score,S/O, L-P, Outside N. America
UX1UA Top # NA + SA QSOs by Zone 16 station
K7FL Top Score 100% Search and Pounce
K9JWV/WC7S Top QRP Score,West of Mississippi,wire antennas
Dr. Beldar-L1AR Top Score,S/O, Temporary Antenna erected > Dec.3
(All parts of temporary antenna including radials must be
installed after Dec. 3, 2016. This antenna must be the only antenna
for TopBand at the station and may be left erected because as we
all know "temporary" means "until I die")
KR2Q Golden Log Award
K2PO Top Score, S/O, Low Power, Zone 3
N6TR Top Score,S/O, Hi Power from CN Grid Field
W2GD Team Top # QSOs, NA/SA by EU Station
K6ND K6SE Memorial- Top Score, S/O, World
WA6CDR N5IA Memorial- Top # of Grids Worked
WA8WZG Top Score, S/O, by a 6 character call (Example- KA2BFD
or WD6XYZ)
W7RH Top Score, Low Power Asia
K1EP Top Score (>100QSOs) by YL or XYL
VE9AA Yr Trees Ants? If you have your TX wires in the trees or even
attached to 1 tree and your adjudicated score is closest one to
tree tree tree tree (3,333), then you win this plaque
VK6VZ VK6HD Memorial- Top Score by N. hemisphere station working S.
hemisphere stations.

Winner gets a new, fresh Flying Doctors of VK baseball hat

This list grows but will become even longer after you dream up a
contesting category. Just email me with the particulars so we may flesh it
out as some prior plaque proposals were too obtuse, couldn't be performed
by any one of our species or just a tad obscene.
There will be one or two more postings of the categories and sponsors
right up until and through the start of The Stew so don't delay! Also those
who haven't sent off their check or PayPals for their plaque sponsorship yet should not delay either.

Also follow Stalwart's VK6VZ's example and go fire up your system
tonight so you won't be modally morose when the only thing that happens
when you call CQ is that you open and close the neighbor's garage door
with a distinctive cadence.

73 and I remain,
Lew w7ew
The Boring Amateur Radio Club Committee on Participation
[email protected]

If you have a few hours of free time this Saturday night, why not give the 'Stew' a look, especially if you've never operated on the Topband. If you can load-up that old longwire on 160, I'll guarantee you'll have fun as well as be surprised at what you can work ... hopefully I'll see many of you this weekend in the best contest of the year!
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to “My Favorite Contest”

  • Richard KWøU:

    Thanks for the very interesting article. That certainly sounds like a great way to score contests; I often wondered if multipliers were really fair, but then every band has its quirks. Unfortunately living in a condo development with an attic dipole I cannot participate (unless there was a handy aircraft hanger around!) but it is fun to read about other activities.

  • Fred AE2DX:

    What a great article, My neighbor in Long island was Stews Brother Worth Perry, When I was going for my ticket he told me his brother was a ham. Seeing his picture and the wonderful story I feel close to him and have been active on 160 meters myself. I will save this story and thanks for posting.

  • ve7sl Steve:

    Thanks Richard and Fred. Happy that you enjoyed the blog! Sorry to hear that you can’t get on Richard. Some sort of attic antenna for 160 would be an interesting project!

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