Call CQ

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.

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.

Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Call CQ”

  • Peter kg5wy:

    What is a cluster?

  • John kc5wpj:

    That was my thought Peter…….

  • Fred- AE2DX:

    I have found this to be true also, its almost like fishing I throw out a few CQ’s when the band sounds dead after a few calls I might get a hit or might not but when I do make a contact the band seems to open up with many more, I guess everyone is waiting for some one else to be first hi.

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    I have gone beyond listening years ago. It first started with a used Icom IC-756.It had a bandscope. Let’s you know in a window if anyone was on and which way to turn the dial. Then I moved to a used IC-756PROII. A much better “fish finder”. Fast forward and more lucky breaks then I can explain, or even imagine, and I now have K3 with P3/SVGA. Many leaps forward in band spotting. Plus when I find a split is needed I can find a hole and get heard. I have a PX3 now on order for my KX3 so the adventure continues. I have used the evil cluster. But I would say about 90% of my contacts are from calling CQ, even when I don’t see blips on the screen, and when the bands are cooking and I slowly work from one end of the band and track my prey and jump on him/her and get another in the log. I would say from looking at my fish finders over the years, that a dead band is not always as dead as you might think. People are in fact calling CQ, just in the wrong place. If I can get a waterfall shot of some kind of action up or down the band it is usually a station making a brief CQ call and not a noise spike. If I lost the person or missed the last location I will do a CQ as close I can to where I though I saw someone. A majority of the time I will get a call back and these generally are nice long QSO’s. Don’t think the band is dead because no one is calling CQ. I can assure you from many years of having radios with bandscopes and panadpators that there are people calling, however never where I am at the time, nor anyone else.

    Good article

    73 Harry K7ZOV

  • Danny de PD3X:

    Absolutely True. At times I do look at the cluster finding myself trying to get in touch with that one DXCC that is not in my log yet and….the pileup already is that huge that I consider it indecent transmitting, knowing I would bluntly forge my signal over that of others. And I do not want to be that rude.

    Calling CQ…When the bands seem to be dead I suspect my rig first. And when checking I make a short SSB transmission using a recorded CQ call, looking at the power and SWR to see if the antenna is OK. It usually is. And sometimes the CQ that I sent out results in response.

    At such moments I am glad to be a HAM that does not rely on high-tech only and I enjoy my neverending hobby even more.

  • Scott, W9MBL:

    As a newly licensed ham, I’m trying to be very cognizant of what is “acceptable procedure” on the bands. I’ve read forums where people have been chastised for calling CQ on some bands (which I don’t really understand, but everyone has an opinion, right?) and others where people routinely do it.

    I don’t have much luck when calling CQ (or not enough persistence as people tend to hear me when I respond to “QRZ?”), but I’m usually still out on 17m and 20m calling away. My wife did mention that I should probably get a voice keyer — even though her father (SK) was a ham, I think there is a limit to the number of times one should have to hear me call CQ!

  • john mann kk4itn:

    Funny thing you should mention this today. Call CQ and you hear all the QRZers.They come out of the wood work. They won’t answer just QRZ, then go back into the wood work! Friendly people! Same on 2 meters, they listen like spies but won’t answer.
    These are the guys that work 100+ countries in 4 hours. Or the QRPers working 5 watts with a 10 element beam.
    Most I think are wall paper hams. These are the guys on cw with a keyboard and code reader programs pushing buttons and sweating on their keyboards.

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