Solar Eclipse QSO Party Rules for 2023 and 2024

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Version 1.01

3 Dec 2022 

The following are the complete, detailed rules for the SEQP.  For a quick introduction to the SEQP, please visit the SEQP FAQ page.  The SEQP is one event within the Festivals of Eclipse Ionospheric Science.

I) Dates and Times

14 Oct 2023 1200 – 2200 UTC (Partial eclipse begins ~1500 UTC in Oregon ends ~1840 UTC in Texas)

8 Apr 2024 1400-2400 UTC (Partial eclipse begins ~1710 UTC in Texas and ends ~2040 UTC in Maine)

Participants are encouraged to operate before, during and after the eclipse passes over the continental US.  Doing so will create baseline data (pre- and post-eclipse), and eclipse influenced data (during annullarity or totality) for the research team.

II) Objective

To generate observations of propagation by the Reverse Beacon Network and PSKReporter event logs before, during, and after the eclipse on the amateur bands for the purpose of ionospheric sounding.

The Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP) is unique among ham radio competitions as it awards points for two-way QSOs (ham to ham contacts via radio) and bonus points for reception reports from skimmers, RBN nodes and the like.  

Please be aware that the SEQP is one of many events to be held during the HamSCI Festivals of Eclipse Ionospheric Science.  You are welcome to participate in more than one event.  Each event has its own 'rules' page, accessible from the 'Festival' link above.

III) Station Requirements

  1. All transmitting and receiving equipment used to make two-way QSOs must be located within a 500-meter diameter circle.
  2. Remote operation is permitted for two-way QSOs if the physical location of the remote stations meets the 500-meter diameter circle rule above, all station and operator licensing requirements are met for the remote location, and all category limitations in these rules are met.
  3. Portable operation, from a fixed location (such as POTA, SOTA, Field Day style setups, operated by individuals or groups) are welcome and encouraged (see bonus points below).
  4. It is important to calculate and record the 6-character Maidenhead grid square of all stations used in the SEQP because the grid square will be needed during the log submission process. Visit http://www.arrl.org/grid-squares for help in determining your 6-character grid square.
  5. There are no provisions for mobile or rover operations.  Transmitters and receivers should be fixed in one location for the duration of the SEQP.

IV) Categories (to be listed separately in the results)

  1. Single-operator (only one transmitted signal, emitted for the purpose of making two-way QSOs, is permitted at any time)
  2. Multi-operator (one or more transmitters) (only one transmitted signal per band and mode, emitted for the purpose of making two-way QSOs, is permitted at any time)
  3. There are no restrictions on transmitter power (please be reasonable, don't run a kilowatt on FT8!), spotting assistance, or band changes

V) Bands, Frequencies and Modes for Two-Way QSOs

160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, and 6 meter bands, using these modes: CW, SSB, digital (all varieties)

Reminder:  By international agreements, the 60, 30, 17, and 12 meter bands may not be used for two-way contest QSOs.

We anticipate plenty of activity. On CW and SSB, tune for stations calling 'CQ SEQP' on the 38s (CW +/-10kHz from 3538, 7038, 14038, etc.  SSB +/-25kHz 3838, 7238, 14328, 21338, 28338).  Activity on digital modes will be close to the usual activity centers but - please - spread out!  With many stations active, assist the receiving decoder stations to make quick and accurate measurements by leaving some space between signals.  You can find band planning information at 

VI) Exchange for Two-Way QSOs

Accurate Signal Report, 4-Character Grid Square.

Example Exchange: 

  • W1AW:  CQ CQ SEQP de W1AW W1AW
  • N0AX:   N0AX
  • W1AW: N0AX 579 FN31
  • N0AX:  589 EM48
  • Optional:  Either station's callsign may be inserted at any time during an SEQP QSO.  Use your judgment to balance efficiency (short QSOs) against accuracy (knowing for sure who you worked).
  • If you miss any of the information, simply ask for a repeat (on SSB), or send AGN? (on CW).  Be sure to log what you receive.

Notes

  1. On CW, call “CQ CQ TEST DE [your call] [your call] K” using a single code speed during the transmission.  Repetition of CQ and/or TEST as shown, as well as repetition of your callsign, maximizes the ability of the automated receivers to decode and spot your transmission. Please see Getting Spotted by the RBN for tips on getting spotted while calling CQ during the SEQP.
  2.  To determine your grid square, visit https://www.arrl.org/grid-squares.
  3. Signal Report
    • CW/Phone: The strength (S) value of RS(T) signal reports should represent the approximate peak S meter reading.  (Readings greater than S9 should be sent as S9.)
    • Digital: The preferred digital signal report is the SNR in dB as provided by the digital mode software. Alternatively, give the operator-determined RSQ (Readability - Strength - Quality) value. Note that N1MM+'s FT8 integration should automatically place SNR values into the Snt and Rcv signal report entry boxes, though you can do so manually if desired. (Researchers will assume any CW or digital signal report not in three-digit RST/RSQ format is an SNR [dB] value.)

VII) Transmitting Digital Modes

  1. Many software authors publish guides to using their programs with FT8.  Such guides are available for N1MM+ and Ham Radio Deluxe.
  2. PSK Reporter Spotting:  Many digital mode packages such as the open-source fldigi program and Ham Radio Deluxe/Digital Master 780 have options for automatically sending spots to PSKReporter.  Please enable this option to send additional data to PSKReporter.
  3. Operate normally, call CQ, answer CQs - same as you would when not involved in a contest or QSO party.
  4. Make sure your software is configured with your station location in the 4-character grid square format. This is especially important if you are operating portably.  See the ARRL page on grid squares.
  5. Use an Internet connection for time sync and spotting if possible. Smart phone hotspots and public WIFI may provide Internet in portable locations.
  6. Use CAT radio control if possible, to accurately record QSO frequencies.
  7. In your Cabrillo soapbox, please note the type and version number of software used e.g. WSJT-X 2.5.4 or fldigi 4.1.23
  8. ​Optionally sign SEQP to attract other participating operators (e.g., "KV4PC SEQP 73").​

VIII) Scoring

Score = (QSO Points x Multipliers) + Bonus Points

  1. QSO Points: CW and Digital QSOs, 2 points each; SSB QSOs, 1 point each
  2. Multipliers: 4-character grid squares, counted once per band.
  3. The same station may be worked for QSO points on all SEQP bands and modes (e.g. N4BB contacts KD8GMH three times, on 40m CW, 20m SSB and 10m FT8).
  4. Duplicate contacts (second, third, fourth, etc. QSOs with a station previously worked on a given band and mode) are allowed after 10 minutes have elapsed since the previous QSO with that station. (ie K8MAD may contact N4FCG for QSO points on 40m CW at 2130z, 2152z, and again at 2215z)
  5. Bonus points earned (see Bonus Points section)

The final score, including bonus points, will be calculated by the HamSCI Data Processing Team.  Claimed Scores are not required to be accurate

 IX) Bonus Points

All bonuses will be calculated after the SEQP and included with the final scores.  

  1. Operate during annularity or totality (the time of greatest coverage of the sun at your QTH) – add 100 points.  Visit eclipsewise.com to determine the eclipse start and end times at your QTH.  Note:  Not all participants will be able to claim this bonus, only those operating under the path of the eclipse will qualify.
  2. Operate outdoors (so you can see the eclipse) – add 100 points
  3. Operate at a public venue – add 100 points
  4. Upload PDF of antenna and station design characteristics, including information such as orientation, E and H plane patterns, height above ground, station block diagram – add 100 points.
  5. Provide Effective Radiated Power relative to a Dipole (ERPD) on each band – add 50 points per band.
  6. One bonus point will be awarded for each band and clock hour during which your signal was spotted in a grid square other than your own by the RBN, PSKReporter, or DX spotting network. Spots will be counted only during the contest period and only on the seven contest bands. A spot of your signal on any mode will qualify for the bonus point.
  7. Bonus points items will be submitted and claimed via the SEQP Log Upload page. The link to the log upload page will be posted here just before the SEQP is held.

X) Log and Score Submission

A log upload page will be available. The link to the log upload page will be posted here just before the SEQP is held..  Once the upload is successful, you will be able to download a PDF Certificate of Participation from that same page.

  1. Please submit logs using the Cabrillo format standard (see Logging Requirements, below). Cabrillo files will be used for both scoring and research purposes and thus is the preferred log format.  
  2. Participants may alternatively submit ADIF or (other format) logs. Non-Cabrillo logs will not be scored but may be used for research purposes.
  3. Any additional supporting files you believe would be useful to research may be posted to the public HamSCI zenodo.org community. You will be provided a DOI (digital object identifier) you can include on the SEQP log submission page.
  4. Logs must be submitted within 30 days following the SEQP events: 
  • 2023:  By 2359 UTC Saturday, November 11
  • 2024:  By 2359 UTC Sunday, May 7

XI) Logging Requirements

Logs should be in the Cabrillo format (http://www.arrl.net/cabrillo-format-tutorial).  All modern logging programs are capable of generating a Cabrillo format log.  Required fields:

Frequency, Mode, Date, Time (UTC, not local), Sent Call, Sent Signal Report, Sent Grid, Received Call, Received Signal Report, Received Grid

Example QSOs (or click here for full example log):

QSO:  7030 CW 2017-07-20 2241 K2MFF             579  FN20VR N3AO              599  EM97SG 
QSO:  1816 PH 2017-07-20 2243 K2MFF             59   FN20VR KC2LRC            59   FN13WA 
QSO:  3590 RY 2017-07-20 2249 K2MFF             599  FN20VR W1AW              599  FN31PR 
QSO: 14070 PK 2017-07-20 2305 K2MFF             30   FN20VR AD0AE             24   CM97WL 
  • Use the following mode codes should appear in the log.  N1MM+ should automatically generate logs with the correct codes.
 
      Mode     Cabrillo Code
LSB/USB/AM PH
CW CW
RTTY RY
PSK31 DG
JT65 DG
FT4/FT8 DG

 

  • Include station power level, 6-character grid square, antenna type, equipment list, and extra comments in the Cabrillo file soapbox. Please use the example below to allow easy and accurate post-event processing.

Example soapbox:

SOAPBOX: power=100 W, grid=FN20vt, antenna=dipole, equipment=IC7410
SOAPBOX: comments=Totality was beautiful!
  • Use any software that supports the Solar Eclipse QSO Party. The N1MM+ contest logger natively supports the SEQP as log type "ECLIPSE". Any logging software that supports the ARRL VHF contest exchange format can also be used. Note:  N1MM+ will be updated for the 2023 SEQP.  Until then, these screenshots are representative of setting up N1MM+.

n1mm_seqp_config.png

Figure: "New Log in Database" dialog box from the N1MM+ contest logging program. Select log type "ECLIPSE", choose "SINGLE-OP" or "MULTI-OP", put your four-character grid square in the Sent Exchange box, and include station data in the soapbox.  Be sure the 'Mode' selection is set to SSB+CW+Digital if you plan to operate any digital modes.