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At the moment I only have an HF receiver (or I will when I build it, hopefully soon). Are there any contests I can participate in, or ways for me to participate in a contest without borrowing a transmitter or working with an amateur who has one?

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Summits on the Air (SOTA) is not a contest, but an ongoing activity with awards. You can participate as an activator (transmitting from summits), a chaser (working those on summits), or an SWL (listening to contacts and logging them). All the chaser awards are available to SWLs (shortwave listeners).

More info is here: http://www.sota.org.uk/Awards

Other activities also have SWL awards. There appears to be one for IOTA (Islands on the Air).

This site is dedicated to "shortwave amateur radio listening" and has a news about awards and a registry: http://swarl.org/

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There is a complete list of all Amateur contests at: http://www.hornucopia.com/. Some ham contests include a category for SWLs, others don't. Check the contest's rules at this site to see if includes an SWL category.

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  • $\begingroup$ I hesitate to call that one "complete". For example, the Nordic Activity Contest does not appear to be listed. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 9, 2016 at 22:32
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Absolutely, you can be a SWL (Short Wave Listener). Here are some links to be a better SWL:

http://www.astrosurf.com/luxorion/qsl-cqdx.htm

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    $\begingroup$ Could you say more on how to be a good SWL in your answer? Answers that are just links become useless if the linked page goes away. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Reid AG6YO
    Apr 9, 2016 at 20:45
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Most contests welcome logs from SWL especially when you are confirming the qso's and the values that are being sent.

I have (and continue) to issue ask cards for SWL-ers who confirm qso's I have made either in a contest or in normal mode.

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