Guidelines for the Event
and Frequently Asked Questions.
Please read before submitting an entry form. An entry form is optional but it does help to let everyone else know which lighthouses will be on the air.
What is the ILLW? Is it a contest?
The event is NOT a contest. There are no prizes, certificates or other enticements to participate and therefore, participation is free. Each station's operators decide how they will operate their station regards modes and bands. Participants are not committed to being on the air during the entire period - only as much as they can. There are no restrictions on aerials or power. We wish operators to enjoy themselves and have fun whilst making contact with as many amateur radio stations as possible. We request that stations take time to work other lighthouses or lightships as well as the slow operator, or the newly-licensed or QRP stations.
How close to the Lighthouse do I have to be?
As most available space in many lighthouses is usually filled to capacity, our activity does not have to take place inside the tower itself. Field day type set-up at the light or other building next to the light is OK. Our guidelines require that the station must be AT or ADJACENT to the light. Adjacent means next to or as close as possible. The intention behind this requirement is that the station should have a visible presence to the passing public who may be visiting the lighthouse over the weekend. Permission to operate from a lighthouse / lightship should be obtained from the relevant authorities. Operation from faux or false lighthouses, lights on poles etc. is discouraged as they are not within the spirit of the event.
What is regarded as a Lighthouse for this event?
Lighthouse: Generally regarded as a structure which is or has been listed officially as an aid to navigation in a recognised publication such as the British Admiralty List of Light and Foghorns, and which falls into the classic concept of a lighthouse such as Turnberry in Scotland. For example, a substantial tower having an internal staircase, a revolving fresnel lens and had or has a designated lighthouse keeper. Also permitted are lighthouses which have been moved to a museum for historic reasons. As stated in the previous paragraph, the lighthouse should also be visible to and visited by the passing public where possible.
The fact that a light has been listed in official documents does not automatically qualify the structure for this event such as range lights, channel markers and breakwall lights. Examples of some lights which have been submitted for the event but which have been rejected can be seen on, this web page.
The increase in the popularity of the ILLW has also seen an increase in the number of entries for lights which do not comply with the guidelines or the spirit of the event. It is important that entrants appreciate and understand the concept of the ILLW which is to to promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration, and at the same time to promote amateur radio and to foster International goodwill as well as remembering the dedication of those who served as lighthouse keepers. This is why there are fairly strict guidelines as to the definition of acceptable lights for the event.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has this to say about aids to navigation:-
Lighthouses and other aids to navigation can be used to help mariners in determining their position or safe course whilst warning them of fixed dangers or obstructions to navigation. They assist the mariner at sea to make landfall, safely navigate along the coast, avoid (by marking) certain objects and shoals that may be classified as a potential danger or obstruction to navigation and assist in moving through other waterways. · What is the main difference between a lighthouse and an Aid to Navigation. A lighthouse - the principal structure of a lightstation, generally made up of a lantern, balcony and tower. An aid to navigation can be a lighthouse but also includes lit and unlit buoys, lit or unlit beacons, radio navigation aids such as radar transponders (RACON) and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), fog signals, etc.
In other words, all lighthouses are aids to navigation but not all aids to navigation are lighthouses.
Lightships: Similarly, these are those lightships which are or have been listed officially as floating aids to navigation. Lightships that are currently being used as restaurants or other commercial operations are not acceptable for this event.
Faux Lights: Faux or false lighthouses are those which have never been an active aid to navigation and never listed officially as such. They are usually replicas, miniatures or other structures constructed for decorative purposes to satisfy some person's whimsy. Their use in this event is discouraged as they are not within the spirit of the event.
Having said that, it should be borne in mind that the ILLW organisers cannot prevent any amateur from operating at any lighthouse but faux lights will generally not be listed on the official entrants list.
The onus is on operators to act within the spirit of the event, the object of which is to have a visible presence at or near the lighthouse because the event is used to obtain maximum exposure for our hobby. We invite the press and, QTH permitting, also the public and try to underline the obvious parallel between the international aspect in lighthouses, lightships and amateur radio.
What frequencies and Modes can I use?
Because it is NOT a contest you may operate on any authorised frequency and mode as per your licence. It is not possible to specify particular frequencies as there are over 50 countries involved in this event and each has a different band plan so what is legal in one country may be illegal in another. Licence conditions also vary from one level to another and we are also dependent on the propagation gods.
Digital Modes - FT8
One of the main objectives of the ILLW is to set up portable stations near or adjacent to a lighthouse with the intent of exposing what amateur radio can do by making verbal contact with similar stations at other lighthouses. FT8, for example, is a keyboard to keyboard mode of communication which in my book is not what ham radio is all about and to demonstrate a computer driven mode of communication at a lighthouse is nothing short of giving the visiting public the wrong impression. An HF transceiver and a wire antenna tells the proper story. However if you want to use FT8 go right ahead, there are no restricitons here, just guidelines.
How do I call "CQ"?
To assist other stations we request that participating CW stations add LT for lighthouse or LS for lightship, other stations add 'LIGHT', 'LGT' , 'LIGHTHOUSE' or 'LIGHTSHIP' after their call. Some stations obtain a callsign with the letter L in the suffix to assist other stations identifying them as a participating station in the event.
Why is there a list of numbers for lighthouses?
The ILLW organisers have compiled a list of lights which have participated in the event for the purpose of allocating an identifying number to each lighthouse/lightship. These numbers are simply there for use when conditions make it difficult for the name of the lighthouse to be clearly understood over the air waves.
The list will gradually be expanded but it will never attempt to be a definitive list of every lighthouse in existence. It will assist operators in difficult conditions to issue a contact number in lieu of the lighthouse name. The list thus far is here. If your lighthouse is not listed, don't worry just enter and leave the number field blank. A number will be allocated after your entry is received providing the structure complies with our guidelines. Our numbers are primarily for use during the event. You may, of course, use any other reference number if you so desire, for example if your contact is chasing an award and requires a qualifying number appropriate to that award.
Who do I contact if I have any other questions?
Finally, if you have any questions at all about the event or how to enter, please contact Kevin VK2CE the organiser and webmaster using this link.