In researching this topic for this page, there was not much out on the Internet about how powerful this can be with kids, and how chasing special event stations can actually be a hobby within the hobby so to speak. There is so much that can be done with Amateur Radio, but this page is dedicated to explaining what it means to chase special event stations.
Please watch the video below for an example and explanation
Video by RadioHamGuy (Larry - WD0AKX), thank you for your explanation video
In amateur radio, a Special Event Station is a special operation usually in observation or commemoration of a special or historical event. These events usually will have a special 1x1 call sign, or some other special vanity call sign. These stations generally operate for a short time and have special QSL cards or certificates to commemorate the event that you can send for, after you make a QSO.
In most cases, the special event is operated by a local Amateur Radio club, and as you are probably aware, clubs have very tight budgets, and you may have to send a little money in order to get a printed certificate sent to you. The amount is normally just to cover printing and postage. Keep in mind, this is a amateur hobby, so the operators do this for fun and not for profit.
How does it work?
Chasing special event stations can be somewhat of a sport. If this is something you want to get into, then we suggest the following:
Look at your calendar and determine when you can set aside some time to work the air waves. We try to find one that is going on when our club meets. This can be difficult if you are meeting during the week since most stations are active on the weekends; however, some stations operator over multiple days or you can schedule special times for your club to get together.
Search the Internet and try to find special event stations that are operating. At of the time of this writing, we have not found a 100% complete listing, but in the SE Resources link on the right (or below) you can see links to different special events and a link to ARRL's special event database. If the event is registered with ARRL, it will be in that database, but not all special events are registered. We will continue to keep adding new information to those resources as we find them.
When you make the QSO, make sure you have it logged. In most cases, in order to get the QSO card and certificate, you are going to have to send a QSL card or at least the contact information. It is good practice to keep a log anyways, but in order to reap the rewards of the QSO, you need to have it documented.
Almost all of the Special Event listings will list when they will be activated, what frequencies, and what modes they are using. This comes in real handy when you are getting ready for the chase.
Allow time for the information to come back to you. Some make take a few weeks to a few months. Again, remember this is a hobby and people are volunteering their time to do this.
Another thing we are doing is, if one of our members makes the contact using the club call sign, we have the QSL card and certificate in our Ham Shack (or post it on the club's website), but give the operator credit for making the contact with either some additional sticker or with the mounting. Kids love to see their achievements being displayed, and this is another opportunity to encourage them to get on the air and do something for the club.
Ready to Go...
That is pretty much it for chasing special event stations. It can be a lot of fun seeing how many your club can rack up and displaying the different QSL cards and certificates, and maybe even using the air waves to learn a little history. So, 73 for now, and good luck chasing special event stations.
Do you have questions or more information to share?