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International Grid Chase 2018

Announcement | Rules | Facebook Group | Event Score Data

The ARRL International Grid Chase is underway!  Join in on our newest year-long operating event!

Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, ARRL Contest Branch Manager
[as announced in December 2017 QST, page 92]

You may not know this, but your station is in a Maidenhead grid square. The entire world is divided into thousands of these 1° latitude × 2° longitude squares, each one with a unique designation. They're all part of a geographic location system adopted in the 1980s at a meeting of the VHF Working Group in Maidenhead, England. 

Unless you are a VHF enthusiast, this nugget of information may not mean much. But at 0000 UTC on January 1, 2018, the global Amateur Radio community came alive with the exchange of grid squares.

For more information on grid squares see

Get in the Chase

The objective of the ARRL International Grid Chase is simple: Work stations in as many grid squares as possible and upload your log data to ARRL's Logbook of The World (LoTW). If you are not currently registered with Logbook of The World, this is a good reason to get started. Go to Registration and uploading are free. When registering and setting up your Station Location, be sure your TQSL Station Location includes your Grid Square!

Every new grid square contact confirmed through LoTW counts toward your monthly total, so you have an incentive to start the chase as soon as you ring in the New Year.

Just turn on your radio and start calling "CQ Grid Chase," or listen for others doing the same. Make the contact, enter it into your log, and you're on to the next (see the sidebar, "Tips for the Chase").

At the end of each month, your totals on the Grid Chase leader board will reset to zero. Fear not, though. The online scoring system will maintain your monthly totals for a grand total at the end of the year, when an annual summary will be released (as of January 10, 2019, the Leaderboad now shows Total-Year January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018, Cumulative Totals).

For the monthly competitions, the cutoff for uploading logs to LoTW is 2359 UTC on the 10th of the next month. For example, January logs were cutoff at 2359 UTC on February 10, 2018.

The ARRL International Grid Chase is open to all amateurs, regardless of location or license class. Any operating mode is eligible as well as every band, except 60 meters. You'll find the complete rules at

How Will Scoring Work?

On a monthly basis, participants earn "points" for new grids worked. 1 point is earned for each NEW grid square confirmed (via LoTW) for each band and mode combination (see Rules paragraphs 3 and 4 below). Each band from 2200 meters to Light (excepting 60 meters) can be used to make a contact on each of the three event modes (CW, Phone [eg SSB, AM, FM, etc|, and Digital {all digital modes}).
     Example: In January 2018, W9JJ contacts W1AW (grid FN31) on each of the 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands on CW and earns 5 FN31 CW points (1 point per band using CW); he then contacts W1AW (grid FN31) on each of the 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands this time on SSB and earns 5 FN31 SSB points (1 point per band using SSB); he also contacts NJ1Q (grid FN31) on SSB on 17, 12 and 10 meters but earns only 2 FN31 SSB points (as he had already contacted grid FN31 on 10 meter SSB by previously contacting W1AW in FN31); he then contacts N9HF (grid EL99) on SSB on 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters and earns another 5 (this time EL99) SSB points (1 point per band using SSB); and finally contacts KD9NH (grid EN44) on JT65 Digital mode on 2 meters and on 70 centimeter EME earning 2 (this time EN44) Digital points (1 point per band using Digital); in total W9JJ earned 19 grid points for January.
       W9JJ can repeat any or all of these contacts in February or the months to follow. By working new stations each month, the points continue to grow. Again, you can rework each grid by band and by mode every month.
      The scores shown in each user's dashboard will reflect LoTW confirmations to date; scores for past months will be updated as LoTW confirmations arrive.
      After the 12 month event has concluded, monthly totals will tallied for a cumulative year-end score (tallied by band, and by mode, or total of both). Also, unique grids worked by band and mode will be be tallied at year end.

Results:  Where can I find the Leader Board?  Go Here    
                Where can I find the Grid Totals?
  Go Here

But What's My Grid Square?

Determining your grid square is easy. David Levine, K2DSL, has a great online calculator at Just enter a postal address, zip code, or even a call sign, and David's site will tell you the grid square for that location.

For example, enter "W1AW" and the site will return "FN31pr." The letters "pr" designate the grid square field, but you won't need that for the Chase. Just FN31 will do.

The ARRL online store ( also offers grid square maps of the US and Canada, as well as a grid square atlas of the entire world.

Plenty of Pileups

Grid map section

Figure 1 — Grid square FN51 is mostly salt water, except for a narrow strip of land along the "sole" of Cape Cod and a portion of southeastern Nantucket Island. This image is taken from the ARRL Amateur Radio Map of North America, available at

Some grid squares have thousands of amateurs in residence, but others have only a few, or none. Those "rare" grid squares will be hot properties in 2018, and hams operating from those locations can expect serious pileups.

Of course, nothing prevents you from hopping into your car and driving to a grid square where you are the only amateur on the air. There are some grid squares in coastal areas, for example, where most of the territory is comprised of water. Look at Figure 1 and notice that grid square FN51 is mostly in the Atlantic Ocean, except for a relatively narrow strip along the "sole" of Cape Cod and a small portion of southeastern Nantucket Island.

If you're taking to the road, some vehicular GPS systems will display grid square locations. You can also use apps for your smartphone or tablet, such as Ham Square (iPhone, iPad) or HamGPS (Android).

However you play it, the ARRL International Grid Chase is going to be big. By the time you read this, "opening day" will be less than 2 months away. Better sign up with Logbook of The World (if you haven't already) and prepare your gear!

Questions? E-mail

Tips for the Chase

  • Any contact can count for your Chase score; it doesn't have to involve an exchange of grid squares. As long as other operators participate with Logbook of The World (LoTW), and if they have included their Grid Square in their LoTW TQSL Station Location profile, you'll get the credit automatically when they upload their logs. This means that contest contacts will count, as will contacts with special-event stations, or any other on-air activity. As long as stations upload their logs to LoTW, you're good.
  • The new FT8 digital operating mode is ideal for the ARRL International Grid Chase. You can set up FT8 to call CQ and automatically respond, completing a contact in a little over a minute while you watch. When the contact is complete, simply click your mouse to trigger another CQ. You'll find FT8 within the free WSJT-X software suite at
  • Watch for Logbook of The World users on your favorite online DX clusters. Most clusters have the ability to filter and display only stations that participate in Logbook of The World; other clusters can at least flag the stations with a symbol. This will save time when you are looking for contacts to increase your score. If you enjoy JT65, JT9, or the FT8 digital modes, check out the free JTAlert for Windows at This software works with JT65-HF or WSJT-X applications to automatically flag Logbook users and will even alert you when a station is on the air in a needed grid square.
  • Upload often. Grid Chase totals are refreshed at the end of each month. With that in mind, it pays to send new data to Logbook of The World every couple of days, or even daily.
  • Satellite contacts count. Contacts made through earthbound repeaters do not count for the Grid Chase, but repeaters in outer space are the exception. There are low-orbiting satellites that support CW, SSB, and even FM contacts. See the AMSAT-NA website at
  • Try "circling" grid squares. It's easy to set up a portable or mobile operation at the intersections where corners of grid squares meet. For example, you could operate in one grid square and then drive west across the "border" into the next square. Make some contacts there and then drive north into the adjacent square. Bang out more contacts, and then head east into another grid square. This is a very common technique used by VHF "rover" operators. In a single day, you can operate from four different grid squares!
  • Access a Remote Station. Around the world, stations remotely accessed (via internet) are available for use. These stations give amateurs with location challenges (eg, apartment dwellers or those with HOA Community restrictions, etc) ability to make contacts from a less restricted or more equipped station. Many of these Remote Stations require special permissions/subscriptions (contact the station sponsor for details). When uploading your Remote Station QSOs to LoTW, remember to add the Remote Station’s location detail as a new “Station Location” into your LoTW TQSL setup. Per FCC, operating a Remote Station located in the US or it's Possessions requires that the remote operator must hold a FCC-issued license (foreign licensed operators may not use/control a US-based remote station). For more information on remote operations see For purposes of this event, a Remote Station may only be at a location where the station builder owns or has rights to erect structures and use the property (this prohibits setting up a Remote Station as a go-kit with solar panel and simple antenna in an underpopulated grid square or other location for convenience).
  • Take the Chase on vacation. Take a radio along when you travel and work new grid squares at your destinations. Even a handheld FM transceiver can be used to work a new square on a simplex frequency.

  • Publicity and IGC Logos. Interested persons and groups are encouraged to talk-up (publicize) the 2018 International Grid Chase. If doing so in print - and if including an ARRL IGC event logo - see note below.  The following event logos are available for download and use (with limitations per note below):

    Version 1 rectangular
    Version 2 square
    IGC Facebook cover image

    Note: It is unlawful to reproduce or copy ARRL logos and illustrations. ARRL members and affiliated radio clubs may use the ARRL International Grid Chase logo on the following personal or club promotions of their participation in the event: websites, news postings, calendar listings, flyers, posters, signs, banners and social media sites. The logo CANNOT be used on any items intended for sale (shirts, mugs, calendars, etc.), or as part of advertising or other commercial promotion including websites, auction listings, etc. The logo MAY NOT be altered in any way, and may not be incorporated into any other design or logo. If you are interested in using the logo outside of these requirements, contact © Copyright 2017-2018, American Radio Relay League, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

2018 International Grid Chase Rules

2018 ARRL International Grid Chase Rules

In the spirit of the Fred Fish Memorial Award, VUCC, DXCC, WAS and WAC, we bring you a world-wide event in which all Radio Amateurs can participate where the goal is to contact (each Month during 2018) as many maidenhead 4-digit grid squares as possible on all amateur bands.

Building on our successful 2016 National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event (providing a year-long focus of fun activating or contacting US National Parks), and considering ARRL's existing grid-square based award events (including our Fred Fish and VUCC Award programs where the objective is to contact stations in as many 4-digit maidenhead grid squares as possible), we introduce for 2018 the ARRL International Grid Chase to bring international grid-chasing on all amateur bands (HF, and VHF and above) to an all new level.

In a fashion similar to NPOTA, using Logbook of the World (LoTW - see as the QSOs data source, the 2018 ARRL International Grid Chase activities will be scored MONTHLY on the ARRL web site at Each month we will start fresh, recognizing participation through various tables and data selection options on the web page. Monthly pages will be added to track each calendar month's activities. Once the year is completed, an annual summary will be released.


  1. 1. Objective and Scoring: On a Monthly basis, on amateur frequencies from HF to Microwaves, to contact amateur stations in as many different 2 degrees by 1 degree maidenhead 4-digit grid squares as possible. On a monthly basis, participants earn 1 point for each new grid square worked for each band-mode combination (see 3 and 4 below). After the 12 month event has concluded, monthly totals will tallied for a year-end score.
  2. 2. Dates/Event Period: The event runs from 0000 UTC January 1, 2018 through 2359 UTC December 31, 2018. At the beginning of each month during 2018, the monthly scores will be reset to zero to begin the new month of competition.
  3. 3. Bands: All FCC-authorized frequencies (excluding the 60 meter band). Permitted bands: 2200m(*), 630m(*), 160m, 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m, 6m, 2m, 1,25m, 70cm, 33cm, 23cm, and all higher FCC-authorized microwave bands. (* There are special requirements to use the 2200m and 630m bands - see the ARRL Announcement - and interested parties may find this web site {as provided by John Langridge, KB5NJD} helpful in getting started GO HERE)
  4. 4. Modes: Three mode categories will be recognized - CW, Phone and Digital (all voice modes count as Phone, all digital modes count as Digital). In the spirit of the International Grid Chase event, on LF/MF/HF bands below 30 MHz, participants must make mode contacts in the subband appropriate for the mode being used (eg, participants must use the CW subband  to make CW contacts in this event {these are the subbands generally found at the bottom of our amateur band allocations}).
  5. 5. Methods of contact: All methods of contact are permitted (excluding QSOs made through repeaters, digipeaters, Echolink, IRLP, or non-satellite cross-band QSOs which do not count in this event). Satellite and EME QSOs are permitted.
  6. 6. Station types: Fixed, Portable, Mobile/Rover and Maritime Mobile (MM) stations may participate (MM stations are not eligible for DXCC, WAS or WAC credit however).
    1. a.) Stations who claim to operate from more than one grid locator simultaneously (i.e., from the boundary between two grid locators or from the intersection of four grid locators) must be physically present in all locators to give multiple locator credit with a single contact. These stations should be prepared to validate their claim. For a mobile station, this means parking the vehicle exactly on the line or corner. For a portable station, this means that the total area occupied by the station's physical setup, including operating position(s), power source(s), and antenna(s), must occupy some portion of each of the two/four grid squares simultaneously. Operators of boundary/corner stations should be prepared to provide evidence of meeting the simultaneous occupation test if called upon to do so. Two photographs -- one showing the placement of the GPS receiver in the station setup, and a close-up legibly showing the GPS reading -- are typically needed as evidence of compliance. Video footage showing an overview of the operating site and then, uncut and in real time, zooming in on the GPS display coordinates is even better.
    2. b.) Grid boundary lines and grid corners must be established using a GPS receiver whose map datum is set to WGS84, the global default for current GPS receivers. The GPS receiver should be set to use WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) if so equipped, since this improves the error figure to as little as 5 feet. In no case may the GPS receiver show an error figure in excess of 20 feet. Any modern GPS receiver equipped with WAAS will easily meet this requirement, as will most older units without WAAS.
  7. 7. Exchange: Call Sign and Maidenhead 4-digit grid-square locator (see Exchange of signal report is optional. When operating during a contest, the contest exchange takes precedence over the grid square exchange. QSOs made with a club or special event (eg, 1x1) call count only for the club, not for the operator. As with other similar award's criteria, if a station is located on the intersection of 2, 3 or 4 grid squares, the over-the-air exchange need only include just one grid square (confirmation for the adjoining grid squares will be made by the station operating from the intersecting grids through the station location in TQSL

    TQSL Station Locations will allow multiple adjacent grids (formatted as “grid,grid,” etc).  MM stations would have DXCC Entity set to “none”.  For information on LoTW TQSL, see

    Be sure your TQSL Station Location has your Grid Square!  To provide complete LoTW confirmations for the Grid Chase, participants must ensure that their LoTW TQSL Station Location(s) have their 4- or 6-digit Grid Square(s) populated when uploading their logs. If participants operate from multiple locations (eg, multiple Grid Squares), participants must have created separate (and uniquely named) TQSL Station Locations for each Grid Square they operate from (be sure to always chose the applicable Station Location relevant to the location of the QSOs that you are uploading).

    All QSOs within your DXCC entity qualify.

    See also section 9 below for Awards with specific requirements.
  8. 8. Event participation - contact submissions: All submissions are made through LoTW. See
  9. 9. Awards: As all contacts are being uploaded to LoTW, in addition to the overall monthly and annual recognitions of the ARRL International Grid Chase, participants may use their contacts toward other ARRL awards (see the list of ARRL awards at These include ARRL's grid-based awards of VHF-UHF Century Club (VUCC) and the Fred Fish Memorial Award (for contact with all 488 US 4-digit grid squares on 6 meters), as well as Worked All States (WAS) and WAS Triple Play, DX Century Club (DXCC), and Worked All Continents (WAC).
  10. 10. Recognitions: Achievement in collecting grid squares in the ARRL International Grid Chase will be recognized by categories of Band, Mode, and Continent (other leaders types will be developed as warranted) through our interactive web page monthly and at year end summary. Online certificates of achievement will be developed for Monthly and Annual recognition.

    Online Results:  Where can I find the Leader Board?  Go Here    
                                 Where can I find the Grid Totals?
      Go Here
  11. 11. Resources: A variety of resources offer grid-square maps and mapping tools.



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