Chasing the Chase – Home

By Don Hill, AA5AU

The ARRL-sponsored International Grid Chase took place in 2018. It was a 12-month event to see how many Maiden Grid Squares amateur radio operators world-wide could work (and confirm) each month. Grid squares worked and confirmed via Logbook of the World (LotW) on each mode (CW, Phone, & Digital) and on each band were worth one point apiece. Each month, the points were reset so you could work the same grids again the following month.

I decided to blog the entire event from start to finish and divide it into four web pages. Each web page covers 3 months or a “quarter” of the year. I first likened it to a football game that has four quarters. But it certainly was no football game. It was more like a marathon or iron man triathlon or perhaps even more grueling than either of those.

Nearly half (48%) of my QSOs for 2018 were made during CW, RTTY and SSB contest events. In all, I participated in 64 different contests. The other 52% were made using a relatively new digital mode called FT8. FT8 is a digital mode available in the program WSJT-X.

Chart 1 – Total QSOs by Mode
Table 1 – Monthly QSO totals and efficiency

FT8, created by Joe Taylor, K1JT, and Steve Franke, K9AN, ended up being the perfect mode for the Grid Chase outside of contests. What made it so good was a another program called JTAlert, written by Laurie Cowcher, VK3AMA. JTAlert has a built-in Grid Chase mechanism that, when activated, alerts users to new grids each month from decoded call signs received in WSJT-X. It was an incredibly powerful tool for the Chase.

In 2018, I made 43,284 QSOs using CW, FT8, RTTY and SSB. I averaged 3607 QSOs and 1758 Chase points per month. Nearly half (49%) of my QSOs translated to Chase points as shown in Table 1. My average QSO rate per day was 118.5. I finished the Chase in third place behind Chas Fulp, K3WW, and Iztok Saje, S52D. Congratulations to each of them for their fine performance in the Chase.

Thanks to my wife, Sharon, for putting up with me being on the radio nearly every single day of year. Thanks to the ARRL for putting on this event. Would I do it again? No, not to this extent. I think once is enough for me.

Click on Part 1 below to follow my journey through the International Grid Chase in 2018. Thanks for reading.

73, Don AA5AU