Contesting is one of the most popular activities in amateur radio. While the rules differ from contest to contest, in general, the goal is to make as many contacts as possible in a given time period.
To enter a contest and be considered for awards, you must submit a log of your contacts. The contest organizers will check the log to make sure that you actually made the contacts that you claim. To make this easier to do, most contest organizers now request that you send in a digital file that lists your contacts in the Cabrillo format. The Cabrillo format is a standard for submission of electronic contest logs. (E2C07)
In contest operating, operators are permitted to make contacts even if they do not submit a log. (E2C01) If you do not submit a log, you obviously cannot win a contest, but there are several reasons why you still might choose to participate in a contest. For example, for big DX contests, some amateurs travel to locations where amateur radio operation is infrequent. Making contact with those stations during a contest gives you an opportunity to add countries to your total.
Another reason is that it will give you a good idea of the capabilities of your station. If, for example, during a contest, you need to call repeatedly before a DX station replies, it might mean that you should improve your antenna system.
There are some operating practices that are either prohibited or highly discouraged. On the HF bands, for example, operating on the “WARC bands,” is normally prohibited. Therefore, 30 meters is one band on which amateur radio contesting is generally excluded. (E2C03). The other “WARC bands” are 17 meters and 12 meters.
Another prohibited practice is “self-spotting.” Self-spotting is the generally prohibited practice of posting one’s own call sign and frequency on a call sign spotting network. (E2C02) The reason this is prohibited is that doing so would give you an advantage over other operators.
During a VHF/UHF contest, you would expect to find the highest level of activity in the weak signal segment of the band, with most of the activity near the calling frequency. (E2C06) VHF/UHF contesters stay away those portions of the band that are normally reserved for FM operation. That being the case, 146.52 MHz is one of the frequencies on which an amateur radio contest contact is generally discouraged. (E2C04) 146.52 MHz is the national FM simplex calling frequency.