CW DX pranks

One of the perpetual frustrations of being in a rare (in ham radio terms) location (or just having a big signal from an exotic location) is handling the ensuing “pile-up” of stations calling you, separating them so you can hear them and keeping them from interfering with your signal.  The sought-after (“DX”) operator must maintain control of the pile-up or pandemonium breaks loose.  A tried and true technique for controling a pile-up is to spread callers out in frequency above the DX operator’s frequency, which should remain clear, except when the DX is transmitting, of course.  This is called “working split” and on CW (Morse code mode), the DX operator indicates this condition by appending “UP” to his calls.

For unknown reasons, this concept is lost on some operators, who call repeatedly on the DX’s frequency much to the consternation of everyone else who is trying to make contact.  Sometimes, it’s an honest mistake and after some “helpful” operators send “UP UP UP UP” a few times (also on the DX’s frequency), the offender catches on.  But, in just about every pile-up these days, there’s always one or two operators at the shallow end of the pool of clue.  Tonight’s JT5DX pile-up on 20 CW (listening from the mobile on the way home from work) was no exception.

I’m never sure whether to laugh or hang my head in shame when this happens…but, now and then one of the other operators in the pile-up will answer the poor clueless soul impersonating the DX and give him a contact!  It shuts them right up and is usually good for a laugh.  I do feel a little bad every time I hear it…but, if they don’t get it when the pile-up police send “UP UP” and the DX sends “UP”, how can you explain it to them?!

Ethan Miller, K8GU, is a regular contributor to and writes from Maryland, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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