The International Amateur Radio Union is a worldwide advocacy organization for amateur radio, and national-level organizations like ARRL are themselves members of the IARU. The union does not make international rules like the ITU, but it does lobby on the international level on behalf of radio amateurs.
Yesterday, I took part in a contest run by the IARU, which was as good a chance as any to hop on the air and start making contacts. The exchange for this contest was very simple: most stations gave their ITU zone. The only exceptions to this were official stations of the IARU itself and its member organizations. American hams are used to listening to transmissions from W1AW, the official station of the ARRL, but in this contest, it was a treat to work W1AW (well, actually the station identified as W1AW/6). Some of the abbreviations for the other member organizations were familiar like RAC (Canada), RSGB (UK), REF (France), and UBA (Belgium), but some were new to me.
Like most contests, I chose to enter this one as cw-only, single operator, low power. This is probably the best category given my limited antenna. Some of the stations were speed demons and required some extra listening to get it right. I have the impression that there were fewer “entry level” operators in this contest.
Propagation was poor during the contest. The SFI was in the mid-80s, and a high velocity stream from a coronal hole had created unsettled conditions from the beginning of the contest on Saturday morning. I had a couple contacts on 10m, but the band was generally useless. Fifteen was fairly limited, but 20 was strong. During the day time, 40m was useless due to noise, but when 20m faded around 9 pm, 40 cleared up and took the load. I stuck with it until around 1am, making a last pass on 80m.
I had started on Saturday morning, but missed the middle of the day due to the meeting of the NIH amateur radio club and some shopping. Overall, I made 208 contacts and got a reasonable number of multiplier points from the IARU member stations. My list of countries worked included: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Canary Islands, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, European Russia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turks & Caicos Islands, Ukraine, USA, Venezuela, and Virgin Islands.