This is the home of the contest country files. These files are used by amateur radio contest logging software (and other related programs) to help determine country multipliers from a callsign. The files are updated regularly throughout the year and changes are announced on the various contest and logging software reflectors.
To download the file(s) you need, hover your mouse pointer over the word Contest in the menu bar above, and wait until the drop-down lists appears. Then click on the link that corresponds to the software you are using. Also read “Download Instructions” in the next section below.
Clicking on any of the “Pingback” links at the bottom of this page will take you to the release announcement for that version of the country file. For a given release announcement, click on on any of the highlighted hyperlinks to the right of the word “Download:” to download the files associated with that release. You web browser should prompt you to save (download) the file. If the file is displayed in the browser window instead, return to this page (using your browser’s Back button) and follow these instructions to save it:
Chrome: Right-click on the file name and choose “Save link as…”
Firefox: Right-click on the file name and choose “Save Link As…”
Internet Explorer: Right-click on the file name and choose “Save Target As…”
Netscape Navigator: Hold the SHIFT key down while clicking on the hyperlink (file name) and your browser will prompt you to save the file.
Safari: Hold the CTRL key down while clicking on the hyperlink (file name) and choose “Download Linked File As…”
NOTE: To download a ZIP file containing all the files for older versions of the country files, follow this link. To download all the files associated with that release, click on the hyperlink containing the date and version, for example:
10 May 2013 (CTY-2306)
NOTE: There are two different versions of CTY.DAT, CTY_WT.DAT, CTY_WT_MOD.DAT and WL_CTY.DAT. Beginning with CTY-1805, full callsigns in the file are prefixed with the ‘=’ character. Some older logging programs will ignore these callsigns, so “old” format versions of the files (without the ‘=’) are available. If you click on the appropriate link below for your software, you will get the correct version of country file.
To see the country file change (revision) history, follow this link, then click on the “Continue Reading ->” link underneath heading for any of the releases.
Once the file is downloaded and installed, there are several ways to tell what version of the country file you have:
- In your logging program, try to log the callsign “VERSION” (on a DX cluster node, use the SH/H VERSION or SH/SUN VERSION command). Each version of the country files will return a different country (except for Win-Test, see #3 below). That country will be indicated in the release notes for that version.
- Open the country file using a text editor like Notepad. Find the entry for Canada, VE. In the list of prefixes/callsigns, you’ll find a “callsign” that looks like:VERyyyymmddwhere “yyyymmdd” is the date of the release. For example, CTY-1812 was released on 10 November, 2008 so the version string in this case is “VER20081110”.
- The Win-Test files (cty_wt.dat and cty_wt_mod.dat) have their own version information at the top of the file. You can see the version number only by going to Options | Data Files | Country Files. You can not log the callsign VERSION, it will just come up as Canada, regardless of the country file version.
Except for Win-Test, the CTY file name (i.e. CTY-1812) can not be found in the file.
Many USA callsigns are not in the CQ or ITU zone indicated by the number in the callsign. For example, K5ZD is in CQ Zone 5, not Zone 4. The country files do list a number of these callsigns with the correct zone. However, because there are tens of thousands of such callsigns, only the most active contesters are included. Here’s how the list is created:
- Using the Super Check Partial Database of active contesters, build a list of callsigns that are found in 100 or more logs. 100 is an arbitrary number, but it tends to limit the number of callsign/zone exceptions to around 500, which seems like a reasonable number of active contesters (as compared to the total size of the country file).
- For each callsign that met the criteria in #1 above, predict the CQ and ITU zones based on the number in the callsign. For example, ‘1’ is CQ zone 5, ‘5’ is ITU zone 7, etc.
- For each callsign that met the criteria in #1 above, look up the callsign in the current FCC database, and determine the CQ and ITU zones based on the state (as listed). For example, Wyoming is CQ Zone 4, California is ITU zone 3. The ITU zone is determined from the state only for states that reside entirely within a single ITU zone (like Indiana, not Illinois). When a state contains multiple ITU zones, a ZIP code database is used to estimate a more precise location relative to the ITU zone border.
- If the CQ or ITU zone from step #2 does NOT match the CQ or ITU zone from step #3, add an exception to the country file, showing the actual CQ and/or ITU zones.
That’s the process, plain and simple. It’s fully automated, and rewards the most active contesters. If you want to “get on the list”, then “get on the air”!
If you do not live in or operate from the state listed as your callbook address, let me know if it would result in a change to your CQ or ITU zone. Many states cross ITU zone boundaries, so it’s harder to get the ITU zone exceptions correct. If your ITU (or CQ) zone is incorrect, let me know and it will be fixed in the next release.