ARRL Contest and DXCC Rules Now Prohibit Fully Automated Contacts

Following the direction of the ARRL Board of Directors, ARRL has incorporated changes to the rules for all ARRL-sponsored contests and DXCC, prohibiting automated contacts. These changes also apply to the Worked All States (including Triple Play and 5-Band WAS), VHF/UHF Century Club, and Fred Fish, W5FF, Memorial awards. The changes are effective immediately.1

A resolution at the July ARRL Board of Directors meeting pointed to “growing concern over fully automated contacts being made and claimed” for contest and DXCC credit. The rules now require that each claimed contact include contemporaneous direct initiation by the operator on both sides of the contact. Initiation of a contact may be either local or remote.1

A discussion of these rule changes by one of the authors of the motions; N2RJ, an ARRL Director; was posted on Facebook and has been discussed in forums such as the Minnesota Wireless Association mailing list :

What is allowed:

Operator initiated contacts on any digital mode. Operator initiated means that a human operator initiates a CQ call or answers a contact. Once the contact is completed, operator must initiate another if they so choose.

Auto sequence is allowed - you initiate the contact, auto sequence sees it through, ends the contact. It is not allowed for any sort of automation to automatically start another contact.

What is NOT allowed:

Operator sets up fully automated QSOs that automatically answer and CQ again without human intervention. This is possible with external software to control WSJT-X, modified versions of WSJT-X and third party programs that use the WSJT decoding algorithms but offer fully automatic operation.

WHY we made this change:

Several members have contacted us saying that some stations are on the air 24x7 for months at a time. Joe Taylor himself expressed concern about this to me personally. So it was decided that we would address this.

What this affects:

All ARRL contests, ARRL awards starting with DXCC but other awards will have the rules adjusted.

What this does NOT affect:

Regular operation not claimed for DX or contest credit, such as WSPR beacons, Pactor/WinLink, Packet radio or AREDN.

Enforcement:

This is on the honor system primarily, but there are ways to determine unusual operation with modern technology. These fully automated contacts simply aren’t allowed and repeated violation could result in harsher penalties including being barred from ARRL awards and contests”.2


  1. “ARRL Contest and DXCC Rules Now Prohibit Automated Contacts”, ARRL The national association for Amateur Radio, retrieved August 21 2019, http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-contest-and-dxcc-rules-now-prohibit-automated-contacts [return]
  2. Ria Jairam N2RJ via Scott Neader KA9FOX, “[MWA] Automated QSOs”, Minnesota Wireless Association mailing list, sent August 8 2019, http://mail.w0aa.org/mailman/listinfo/mwa_w0aa.org. [return]