Winning strategy

Share logs to refine strategy

Sharing contest logs and comparing statistics is a good way for beginners and experienced operators to refine strategy and learn more about the science of radio wave propagation.

A good software analysis tool is a called SH5. SH5 reads a Cabrillo log file and produces a set of statistics readable by any web browser. As an example, view John’s statistics for the OCDX 2020 CW contest. SH5 is inexpensive, easy to use and does a brilliant job. The documentation is easy to follow.

The SH5 contest log analyser produces 50 different reports that help discover strategies used by any participant. Team players can discuss team strategies and help each other by sharing logs. If you would like to view contest statistics from other participants, you will need a copy of their log. That’s easy for the CQWW contests but not so easy for other contests. Good reasons include: limited resources, uncertainty about the level of interest by contest participants, and other priorities.

In these circumstances, I have built this trial website to enable sharing of contest logs for the Oceania DX Contest – starting with my own logs. If you would like to share your log with others, then email a copy of your Cabrillo log [callsign.log] to:

The Oceania DX contests are first on the list. All contests are published after the log submission deadline – in this case 1 November 2020.

If there is interest, I will add more contests and look further at automating the process.


With respect for privacy, be sure to edit any sensitive information that you would not like to be published. Any text editor works with [callsign.log] text files. You might want to remove your address. You accept that shared logs are submitted for publication.

Strategy indicators

Detailed statistics reveal how strategy boosts contest scores – especially how to exploit critical narrow band openings. One useful indicator is the the number of contacts made on each band at different stages of the contest.

Table reveals band strategy by showing number of contacts on each band during each hour.
Table 1. Strategic move from 40m to 15m in first hour of the contest.

For example, table 1 demonstrates a counter intuitive strategy to change bands from 40m to 15m early in the contest, at a time when 40m long-path to Europe was delivering a high run rate with 5 points per contact while 15m only counted for only 3 points per contact. The temptation was to stay on 40m. The reward for moving to 15m at that time is the large number of prefix multipliers available in a relatively short time window. The lost 40m contacts were recovered later in the contest.

Build multipliers

A good indicator is the distribution of countries that build multipliers, as shown in chart-1.

Using a bar-chart to refine contest strategy. The chart shows the top ten countries worked by VK4CT in the Oceania DX contest..
Chart 1. Showing number of contacts made to gain multipliers in the top ten countries

All of these top countries are rich in multipliers. A good strategy is to plan for band openings to each of the high multiplier continents. Good preparation helps to pre-plan where and when to point beam antennas towards different continents on all bands through the contest. Remember, multipliers are gained on every band. So work as many bands as your can in the multiband category of the contest.

More can be said about how to predict valuable band openings, and strategy to open what may first appear to be a closed band – zero activity. This is where the RBN comes into play to quickly discover the chance of opening a ‘closed’ band. Application of the RBN ensures that no time is wasted calling CQ on a band that is not about to open. Application of the RBN to contest strategy and operation is a whole subject in itself – for another time.

This introduction to contest strategy only scratches the surface for techniques to have fun, maintain interest and improve contest scores. Refining strategy is a great way to start and we can all help each other towards continuous improvement.

Listening to leading operators during a contest is also a good way to improve operating skills. Notice the rhythm. Notice how CW speeds up during a big pileup, and speeds down at other times. There are many operators, new and experienced, tuning and listening for slower callers. The high speed callers risk missing those contacts.

Notice the effort and technique to get the correct exchange: call sign and number. This is easier to do in a slow period, not so easy to do with a monster pileup. My favourite technique is to move a piece of the monster to another band. For example from 40m to 15m, from 20m to 15m, and from 15m to 10m. With this technique I’m immediately running with skilled operators on a new band.

OK, that’s enough of my contest tips for now.

Let’s get started by sharing logs

All logs are good logs – part-time, full-time, single band, all band, QRP…

What part of the contest did you enjoy? We can all learn from all logs.

Download logs from:

Email your raw log to:

Share this link with your friends:

73, John VK4CT