C’mon people, listen!

A lot has been written recently (including by me) about the general conduct of hams on the airwaves. Over the last few days, I’ve seen something that has just been so absurd that I had to vent here. 

I’ve discussed operating in pileups before, and how it’s important to listen to the operator’s instructions to understand where they are listening. It’s frustrating when an operator doesn’t listen and calls right on top of the DX station instead of on his split frequency. While there’s really no excuse, the occasional call or two can be understood by operators who just send 5NN TU (on CW) or just “Thanks” on phone without giving the split often. The same can be said for those operators who don’t ID often.

What I cannot understand, and to me what’s totally inexcusable was the behavior that I’ve seen on RTTY in the pileups for the folks operating from the new PJ entities recently. The vast majority of operators at the DX end seem to be really top-notch operators and are doing their best to control the pileup. They leave nothing to chance when, at the end of a contact, they send something like “K2DBK TU DE PJ7E UP 2-4”. You know who the station is, and you know that they are listening for your transmission 2-4 up. In spite of this, operators repeatedly (and I don’t mean once or twice, but dozens of times) continue to call on the operators transmit frequency, not where he’s listening.

I believe in Heinlein’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. I don’t believe that most of these operators are calling just to QRM (create noise) on the DX station. For one thing, they are all using their callsigns, so we know who they are. (There is a chance that they are using someone else’s callsign to intentionally make them look bad, but I don’t think that’s the case.) I think that either they don’t have a good enough copy on on the DX station to be able to understand that he’s listening on a different frequency, or they don’t understand what “UP” means. In the former case, they shouldn’t be calling at all. If you don’t have a good enough copy on a station to receive what they are sending, how on earth are you going to know if you’ve worked them? If it’s the latter, and you don’t know that “UP” means that the operator is working stations using split operation, then ask someone what it means, don’t just ignore it.

Incidentally, I want to mention that I’ve looked up a number of callsigns that are guilty of this behavior. There is a mix of stations, but a significant number of stations seem to be US Amateur Extra class, and, as best I can tell, they have been Extras for quite some time. This isn’t a case of “no-coders” not knowing how to operate. It may well be that RTTY, which has increased in popularity recently, is new to these operators, but like any mode you need to learn how to use it.

When in doubt, refer to the DX Code of Conduct

David Kozinn, K2DBK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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