DX Sense and Nonsense
Some notes about DX chasing from both sides – written by an operator who has over 19,000 contacts in 8 years from a choice DX location, and many more thousands from the U.S.
There is no doubt that chasing, and better yet catching, DX is a fun and rewarding part of the hobby of Amateur Radio. The game is to put as many different country entries into you log as possible. However, a few inconsiderate operators can make it difficult to impossible for everyone else. In fact, a few bad operators in a country can cause a DX station to avoid working a band when it is primarily open to that country or region as has happened to Italy and Spain, to name a couple of the worst in my experience.
Of course there are many well mannered and considerate operators in both Italy and Spain, but there are a seemingly growing number of rude and overbearing operators there who poison the DXing for everyone else. For example, as a DX station I have established that I will say “QRZ” when I am finished with the previous contact. I will guarantee that if the band is open to Italy or Spain there will be from 2 to 6 or more stations calling while I am still in QSO with the previous station. Their vocal minority is just as bad about ignoring directed calls from DX stations to other parts of the world. To be fair, other parts of the world, including the United States can be just as bad.
As a DX station, I want to make as many contacts as possible so that everyone gets a chance. I have enough problems with interference of all types that I may not copy you very well. IMPORTANT: If I want anything beyond my signal report, I’ll ask. If I didn’t ask, but told you my name then an appropriate response from you is ONLY 1) signal report and 2) name. Again, if I have time to ragchew, then I’ll give more information; and more importantly I’ll ask for more info from you. Otherwise, PLEASE NOTE, you are just taking up time that I could be spending giving one or two or three more stations a DX contact.
This ragchew rule applies double or triple to the small SSB “DX Window” on 75 meter SSB. If you are stateside (or elsewhere) and operating from 3790 to 3800 (*ARRL recognized); or from 3775-3800 (recognized by the rest of IARU Region 2 and all of IARU Regions 1 & 3) then you are in the SSB DX Window. If I want the weather in New England or New York then I’ll ask. If not, please give someone else a chance at DX. And please, do not hang around to ragchew with your East Coast or Southern buddies on 75 or 40 meters just because you have sunrise. We can still hear you farther west, and you prevent us from hearing the Pacific region.
DXpeditions are some of the worst violators of common sense and courtesy in my experience. Apparently the pure difficulty of the adventure is sufficient reason to believe in your own importance. The band plans seem to have been pulled out of a hat (being nice here)! NO DX station, no matter how rare as the right to the entire band. A number of recent Dxpeditions have been on 12 meters at 24.935 and other frequencies “listening up” or “listening up 5 to 20”. Put 2 or 3 DX stations on 12 or 17 meters and there was no place for anyone else ! Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back….give me the whole band and I can make many thousand contacts as well!
Some other DXpeditions in the past have been almost as thoughtless. It is not uncommon for a DXpedition to call CQ on 3790 say, and listen up 5 to 10! Hold on there! That’s the entire *ARRL SSB DX window for 75 meters that one station is using. A suggestion for the future: Call outside of the window and listen to a SINGLE frequency inside; or call inside the window and listen above or below the window. Or better, tx and rx outside of the window. If your are rare DX, then we’ll find you!
I have personally had to “go split” when operating in the 75 meter window from a DX location when the number of callers on my frequency prevented calling stations from hearing me. It is not unusual for me to listen outside of the ‘window’, or even down at 3745 if that happens to be an open frequency. I do not find it useful to listen “5 to 10 up/down”. If I cannot make out some calls on 1 rx frequency, then I can seldom make them out when they are spread all across the band. To each his or her own, but it does say a lot to me about operator skill.
Ten General Rules for Maximizing Your Number of DX Contacts
- Listen first. If you do not copy the DX station, then you will NOT work them. By calling or tuning up on frequency you may very well make my LID list though.
- Listen for instructions from the DX station. Are they listening “up 3” or “down 5” or “up 5 to 20 — UGH!”? Or are they ONLY listening for Europe, Asia, S. America, or another area. Don’t call if you are not in the area of the “directed call”. (see #4 below)
- Do NOT call when they are working another station. Even a moron can understand that this actually slows down the contact rate for everyone! And, personally I do not take or recognize “tail-enders” who call before I have finished a QSO. I always say “QRZ” when I am ready. It’s just my way of trying to bring order to chaos. ***If you ignore instructions and I copy your callsign then I will NEVER put you in the log, except maybe IW0zzz RS 00 “Lid”
- This is a hobby. It is NOT life and death! *Truth be known, YOU are NOT that important to get into my log, no matter where you are and no matter where I am!
- As a DX station I have a listed QSL Manager for a number of good reasons. If you choose to ignore that, good luck on getting a card…ever.
- If you are a serious DXer you probably have Internet access and access to the DX Summit spots. Please do NOT call CQ on my spotted calling or listening frequencies. What are you thinking
- If you are on a DXpedition and have real-time access to spots, please pick a frequency that is NOT already in use. I really don’t care what you announced LAST WEEK as “your” frequencies. **This goes double or triple for your listening frequencies — DO NOT listen on frequencies already in use. You can also ask if the frequency/frequencies are in use. See number 4 above.
- Keep your calls short! Timing is more important than the number of calls. I hear many stations continuing to call AFTER I have given a report to a different station and am trying to get my report.
- Make sure that your transmitted audio is very clean; not too low pitched and not distorted! Turning up the mic gain to drive the ALC over scale will NOT make you louder!
- If you can’t or won’t play by the rules, prepare to be ignored!
In the famous words of late LA resident, Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Good DX and good luck in ham radio!
Good comments, Jay. I’ll add a couple more based on a few people I’ve heard in pileups. After getting through please don’t ask the operator:
What’s your call?
What’s your name?
What is your transmitter/antenna/power
My name is…
My call is (spelled out twice phonetically)…
Where are you?
Oh yeah I was there/knew somebody who was/want to go
What’s the weather like?
How do I QSL?
Back in the hobby after 20 year break. (A lot to catch up on).
Hear Hear, great advice.