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Achieving a “Clean Sweep” is the Brass Ring of ARRL November Sweepstakes

10/25/2018

The ARRL November Sweepstakes (SS) weekends are nearly upon us. The popular operating events — one for CW and the other for phone — typically attract approximately 3,000 logs combined. For this 77th running ARRL November Sweepstakes, the CW event is November 3 – 5 (UTC), and the phone event is November 17 – 19 (UTC). Each starts at 2100 UTC on that Saturday and runs through 0259 UTC on that Monday. Stations may operate 24 of the available 30 hours. Logs are due within 7 days after the event is over. Last year saw 1,275 entries for the CW weekend, while the phone weekend attracted 1,674 logs.

The challenge of SS — or “Sweeps” — is to work as many stations in as many of the 83 ARRL and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) sections as possible within the 24 available hours. The number of sections worked is a score multiplier. Making a “clean sweep” is the goal of many SS aficionados — working all 83 of the available US and Canadian multipliers, and qualifying for a clean sweep coffee mug. In the 2017 CW event, only 10 operators managed to “work them all.” SSB participants had better luck with 78 clean sweeps. Last year, Puerto Rico (PR) and the US Virgin Islands (VI) were still reeling from devastating hurricanes.

At one time, the most difficult SS multiplier was Northern Territories (NT) in Canada, where J. Allen, VY1JA, in Yukon Territory, often was the only station available. That’s changed, now that the VY1JA station not only has been thoroughly upgraded but is able to be remotely operated (as VY1AAA), although by a Canadian operator, thanks to Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, who plans to be at the helm of VY1AAA again this year for both the CW and phone weekends, operating SOHP.

The antenna complement in Yukon Territory is a 4-element quad at 45 feet for 20 – 10, a 2-element phased ground plane array on 40, and a single element ground plane on 80. “J has constantly been working on antennas as time and weather permits, and we should have some more antennas ready for 160 and later contest events,” he told ARRL.

Hull said he prefers to operate CW at or above 32 WPM but will honor any request for him to QRS. He expects to hang out in the bottom 5 kHz of the band or above 40 kHz from the bottom.

“Take a moment to send thanks to J, VY1JA, for the tremendous work he has done to keep it all running,” he urged.

Other hard ones in 2017 appear to have been Alberta (AB), Northern New York (NNY), US Virgin Islands (VI), and Wyoming (WY).

SS is a “domestic” contest with broad appeal, and even stations with modest equipment and antennas can enjoy success. Many stations like to operate in the QRP category (output of 5 W or less), although that challenge is more daunting in this stage of the solar cycle. 


ARRL November Sweepstakes is the oldest domestic radiosport event (the first was in 1930). The SS contest exchange has deep roots in message-handling protocol and replicates a radiogram preamble. In SS, stations exchange:

  • A consecutive serial number (NR). Operators do not have to add leading zeros on serial numbers below 100.
  • Operating categoryQ for Single Op QRP; A for Single Op, Low Power (up to 150 W output); B for Single Op, High Power (greater than 150 W output); U for Single Op, Unlimited, regardless of power; M for Multioperator, regardless of power, and S for School Club. 
  • Your call sign. 
  • Check (CK) — the last two digits of the year of first license for either operator or station. 
  • SectionARRL/RAC Section

“Casual operators are very important to SS, so I would advise that if you come across [operators] who just want to help you out with a QSO, take the time to walk them through the proper exchange sequence and encourage them to work other stations and to submit a log,” said now-retired SS Manager Larry Hammel, K5OT. “Your patience might be rewarded with a motivated op next year!”

The SS Operating Guide package, available for download, explains how to participate in the Sweepstakes, including all rules and examples of log formatting. Clubs or public service teams thinking about entering this year will find the guide a useful source for information.

The deadline to submit CW entries is November 12. The deadline to submit phone entries is November 26.

Club Eligibility Lists

A system is in place to submit club eligibility lists, either by uploading a file of eligible members or by copying and pasting from a list, right up until the time of the contest — November 3 at 2100 UTC in the case of SS CW, and November 17 at 2100 UTC in the case of SS phone.

Direct questions to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ. — Thanks to Gerry Hull, W1VE; Larry Hammel, K5OT, and Bart Jahnke, W9JJ    



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