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The International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW), is an amateur radio event held on the THIRD FULL WEEKEND of August. The event had its beginnings in 1993 in the club rooms of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in Scotland, and now more than 470 lighthouses in over 55 countries participate.
In 2002 the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society commenced an amateur radio contest event title the National Lighthouse Lightship Weekend, NLLW, which was held on the first weekend in August to celebrate the US national lighthouse day. The two events continued to coexist alongside each other for many years until a few years ago when the ARLHS management decided to re-title the event to the International Lighthouse Lightship Week, also ILLW. The basic difference between the two is the weekend event is just that, an event, while the other is a contest with prizes for numbers of contacts made. The renaming of the ARLHS contest has caused some confusion but this has had little effect on either event.
The objective of ILLW events is stated as "to promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration, to promote amateur radio and to foster International goodwill". Unfortunately for our world lighthouses, technology has replaced their need as navigation aids and a number have fallen into disrepair and have become the victims of vandalism. The weekend event aims to bring these lighthouse to the attention of the public in the hope that some will become protected and restored to their former glory.
The basic format of the event is that a local amateur radio club will set up a radio station either in, or near to, a lighthouse. They will then operate from that station over the whole or part of the weekend. The goal is to contact other amateur stations, particularly those operating from other lighthouse sites. To enable participants to be aware of which lighthouses are "on the air", a complete list of entrants is maintained on the ILLW web site, http://illw.net. Entry is via an on-line form and the details contained on the form are transferred to the web site. Each lighthouse is numbered to enable identification during difficult radio conditions. Details of where to send QSL cards are also shown. Completing an entry form is not compulsory but it does assist other operators to know who is active during the weekend.
- "Purpose" Official ILLW web site