From time to time over the past week, I have seen 3B7M dxpedition spotted on the DX Heat Cluster and most of the time I either did not hear them or they were at or below the noise floor. I knew they were there as the pile-up was alive and well and responding with their call signs hoping to make it into 3B7M log. Yesterday they were spotted on 15m at their usual CW watering hole of 21.005 and as with all dxpedition they were operating split.
Before setting up my radio in split operation I wanted to make sure I could hear 3B7M. As I listened they did top out at S4 at times and that was good enough for me to give them a go. With my radio configured to split operation the next task was to watch my waterfall and see who 3B7M was contacting. With VFO A in my left ear (3B7M) and VFO B in my right ear (the pileup) I paid attention to who 3B7M was calling and then looked at the pile up on the waterfall to see the lonely signal that was coming back to him. The problem here was call signs not even close to the one 3B7M was calling were throwing their calls out again.
It took about 10 mins to figure out where 3B7M was dropping his call, now having said that there are a lot of radios with waterfalls out there now and they too have ferreted out 3B7M's pattern. Now the game is to figure out when we're exactly to drop my call. Most of the time it's just luck that you drop your call at the right time and right place! There are times in the waterfall you see stations running a KW or more signified by a bright red line on the waterfall as well as splatter. During those times I just rest as there is no use jumping in and getting nowhere.
It took about 20 minutes but I did finally hear 3B7M call "VE9KK 5NN". Now call me a bit skeptical but I have had times when I think that was my call or just one close to it? So I never get too excited until I check their online long which most dxpeditions have now and see if I am in it. This morning I checked and there I was in the log.
Finally, I am not sure why but there seems to be a new operating practice when it comes to dxpeditons and that is DQRMing (deliberate QRMing) In the past there have been those who forgot to put their rigs in split and transmit on the dxpetions calling frequency and I have been guilty of that! Also, those by mistake are tuning up their amp on top of the dx station as well. BUT recently I have unfortunately witnessed outright DQRMing. In the case of 3B7M I heard stations sending a series of fast CW dits over top of 3B7M or sending a series of the letter "V". I am almost positive they were intentional as this QRM was only sent when 3B7M was sending out a call sign they were seeking to make contact with. The DQRM was consistently dropped at just the right time each and every time. Fortunately, they grew tired of their childish behavior and moved on to something else.