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“Awesome” Activity for the 2018 ARRL International Grid Chase


“On-the-air activity for the 2018 ARRL International Grid Chase (IGC) has been awesome!” ARRL Contest Branch Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, said this week. “The year also began with DXpeditions, as well as several contests at both HF and VHF, to boost numbers. Facebook and social media (Facebook, Twitter #ICG) are abuzz with chatter about the event, the excitement, the grids worked.”

Jahnke said the statistics show the highest overall activity on 40 and 20 meters — not surprising in the winter — and especially strong digital activity. He expects phone and CW activity to perk up this month and next, with the ARRL International DX Contest CW weekend February 17 - 18, and the phone weekend March 3 - 4. He also anticipates that February’s statistics will come on strong as participants re-work January grid squares to boost their February scores. As of the January activity upload deadline of February 10 at 2359 UTC, some 23,300 station sites were active in the IGC.

“The leader board reporting system continues to evolve, with much helpful participant feedback,” Jahnke said. That user input is improving how ARRL reports participation.

“From the statistics, it’s clear that during this period of low sunspots and low winter E-skip and F2, most of the activity on the mid-to-lower bands is digital modes,” Jahnke said. “As we get into the summer E-skip season, we expect to see activity above 15 meters begin its ascent in the totals.”

Jahnke said it’s apparent that participants are taking advantage of CW (and FT8 and other digital modes) on HF to overcome some of the weakened propagation on the low- to medium-frequency bands, and of FT8, JT65, and FSK144/MSK144 on 6 meters and above to rack up impressive totals. “Not to be outdone, in comparison to overall band totals, phone contacts on 80, 40, 20, and 17 meters are strong, and 2-meter and 70-centimeter contacts were strong in January as well,” Jahnke added. Several contests in January, including the ARRL RTTY Roundup and ARRL January VHF Contest contributed to these strong phone and digital numbers.

During January, IGC-eligible contacts matched in Logbook of The World (LoTW) topped 22,000 on 40 meters and 23,000 on 20 meters — the two bands with the greatest activity — with nearly half the contacts being made on digital modes in both bands. On the new 630-meter band, 31 IGC-eligible contacts turned up in LoTW.