Overview of most important ham radio awards

Ham Radio has come out as a special service for people across the globe that gives them a reason to connect with the people around them, across the town, or across the world. Ham Radio is not only about establishing connections with new people but also about helping people in time of need, sharing knowledge with others to help them, and more.

As the benefits of using Ham radio are many, people have been approaching toward it with great enthusiasm. And, to keep their interest, American Radio Relay League (ARRL) – an association for amateur radio (Ham radio), arranges several types of awards for Ham radio operators time to time. ARRL was founded in 1914 in the United States, and today it has more than 161, 000 Ham radio operators as members.

Here we will see an overview of some of the most important Ham radio awards.

First Contact Award

It is the most important award for the new amateur radio operators. This award is presented by ARRL to a new Ham on his/her first on-the-air contact.

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Elmer Award

The name of this award was given based on its meaning, which is providing personal guidance and assistance to new hams. The name Elmer was introduced by Newkrik. This award is given to someone who has helped a new Ham in understanding, learning, and performing amateur radio.

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DXCC Award

For a Ham, DXCC is the best award that he or she can achieve. It is the most prestigious award that every amateur radio operator wants to win. It is also important because one can win this award only when he/she has enough experience of having on-the-air contacts with 100 or more countries. Just imagine that how much experience you have gained by communicating with the people of above 100 countries in different occasions, including festivals and disasters.
The road to get this award is not easy. You have to start your journey from the basic First Contact Award to reach this goal of DXCC award. Once you will get this award, you will be a superstar of Ham radio operators, and the people who listen to this service. So, keep doing the good job and get your way to this honor.

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DXCC Challenge Award

As your experience increases, you can participate to win the DXCC Challenge Award. This award is presented to the winner on 31st December every year. To win this award, you as an amateur radio operator should confirm your collection of minimum 1000 band points. These points can be of any amateur radio except 60 meters, but from 6 meters to 160 meters. The winner gets a Challenge plaque along with the first endorsement "medallion."

Image source http://www.k7pt.com/images/dxccchal.jpg

Worked all States (WAS) award

It is one of the most prestigious awards for amateur radio operators. To participate in this award, every operator must have on-the-air-contact for each of the 50 states of the United States. And, the best part is, hams from across the globe are eligible for this award. You need not to be an American to get this award. To be eligible for this award, your bands must have two-way communication. There is no limitation of the band frequency except 60 meters. No time frame is required at all to show that you have on-the-air-contacts to the 50 states of the United States. Whether you have achieved this in a year or in many years, you are eligible for this award.

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Worked All Continents (WAC) Award

It is a prestigious award for the Ham radio operators who have on-the-air-contacts on all six continents that include North America, South America, Oceania, Asia, Europe and Africa. In other words, this award is for highly experienced amateur operators because being on-the-air to all six continents can be achieved in many years. Every ham who reaches to this award starts his / her journey from the First Contact Award.
This award is brought to hams by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). Working on all the six continents is not enough to being eligible for this award. You must have worked on the five bands, including 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters. According to IARU, this award is decided based on an amateur’s working on the all six continents and all the five primary bands.

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VUCC Award

The VUCC award is also known as VHF/UHF Century Club award. This award is presented to the Ham radio operator having on-the-air-contact with a minimum number of Maidenhead 2 degrees by 1 degree grid locators. Amateur radio operators from across the globe who can fulfil the requirement of this award are eligible. However, if you are an American then you will need the membership of ARRL. Depending upon the grid locators, different names have given to the VUCC awards. For example, the award named HALF century is given for the contact meeting 222 MHz and 432 MHz. Like this, the award named Quarter Century is given for the contact meeting 902 MHz and 1296 MHz. And, the awards above 1292 MHz are called SHF. Moreover, the contacts above January 1, 1983 are eligible for the VUCC award.

Image source http://www.arrl.org/img/333x220/exact/AWARDS/VUCC_Certificate_333_X_220.gif

Triple Play Worked All States (WAS) Award

To get this award an amateur must have two-way communication enabled on each amateur band for all 50 states on each mode. The ham should use LogBook of the World (LoTW), so that he can confirm QSOs with all 50 states on voice, CW, and digital modes. Winners of this award are displayed on the website of ARRL.

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Fred Fish Memorial Award (FFMA)

It is one of the most prestigious awards. It encourages amateurs to operate on the VHF bands. The VHF bands should be from rare grid squares. Operating the VHF bands can help the amateur radio operator to activate all 488 grids.
Fred Fish, W5FF (SK) was the first to win this award, and the name of this award was given in his name as well. He was the first ham who had worked and confirmed contacts to all 488 Maidenhead grid squares on 6 meters in the 48 states of the United States of America.

Image source http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/FFMA%20%237.JPG

These are some of the most popular awards for Hams. If you are a newcomer to amateur radio, you can start with the First Contact Award, refer someone’s name for the Elmer award, and can go ahead in your journey to win the awards listed herein above. Keep enjoying ham radio as a service, as a hobby, or as a helping system.

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