In todays digital, interconnected, instant access world we have become very dependent on gadgets, websites and notifications. In ham radio, if you chase DX at all, the cluster is probably your primary tool to see who is on from where. I know that I have become accustomed to checking the cluster and if there is nothing interesting I will go do something else with the idea that the bands are dead. There there are times when I check the low end of 20 meters to see what good DX might be available and more often than not, the band is quiet. In the old days, the lower end of 20m was a treasure trove of DX. I wonder to myself if ham radio is waning in popularity. However ,when a rare country appears, its chaos with unending pile-ups. I am forced to conclude that we are all watching the cluster. Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].
The other night I actually called CQ on 20 meters. In short order I had a nice pile-up of Europeans, then someone spotted me and the pile-up increased significantly. Everyone must be watching the cluster, thats why the bands are quiet. I think we should all make it a practice to call CQ with some regularity. Tune the bands to see how much DX you can pick up without the cluster. How long will it take you to work DXCC without the cluster, or how many countries can you work in month by calling CQ. If we all do a little of this, the lower end of 20m would came alive again.