For Belgium, the Copyrights for this article have been granted exlusively to the UBA, the Belgian National Radio Society. OPERATING PRACTICE 2 8. PILEUPS Once bitten by the DX chasing bug, you will frequently enter PILEUPS. When a rare DX station appears on the bands he quickly will raise a large group of amateurs wanting to work him. At the end of a QSO the crowd starts calling the DX station instantaneously and all stations call on top of each other. This is called a 'pileup'. Not only rare resident DX stations generate pileups. Quite often DXpeditions are organized to activate countries (entities) where ham radio is almost non-existent or to uninhabitated islands. The purpose of these expeditions is to contact as many hams worldwide in a short timespan. Obviously contacts with these expeditions should be AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE in order to give as many people as possible a shot at a new one. Hence, the expedition operator is not interested in your QTH, equipment or name of your dog. What is the best way to get as quickly as possible in the log of a rare DX station or DXpedition? LISTEN LISTEN and then LISTEN again. And, why should I listen? Because those not listening won't be as successful. Indeed, by careful listening an operator will have more success in breaking through a pileup and log the rare DX faster. By listening, one gets acquainted with the behavior of the DX station and the rhythm in which he works. Also you will find out if the DX works SPLIT. During the listening period you have ample time to check and doublecheck the send and receive parts of your station: correct choice of antenna? SPLIT function activated? Transmitter (and amplifier) correctly tuned on a CLEAR frequency? Often this last part is done ON the frequency of the DX station! Bad! This results in a reaction by the so called 'COPS' (see chapter 12) and spoils the pleasure of many because the DX station can't be heard anymore. Before making any attempt to transmit: be sure you heard the DX station's callsign correctly. We often enter a pileup following a spot from a DX Cluster. Often the spot is incorrect! Make sure you heard the callsign of the DX correctly. This will prevent you from receiving the much feared return QSL card with the message 'NOT IN LOG', 'NON EXISTING CALL' or 'NOT ACTIVE THAT DAY'. An experienced DX station will turn to SPLIT operation if he perceives too many stations are calling and the pileup becomes unmanageable. By working SPLIT his transmit frequency stays clear and the callers will hear him well. A not so experienced DX station will continue working SIMPLEX and finally goes QRT because he can't control the pileup anymore. In such a situation, you yourself can play an important role during your QSO with the DX station. Gently suggest to him the time has come to switch to SPLIT operation (of course only if there are too many callers!). The other DXers will be grateful if you manage to persuade the DX station to change to SPLIT mode! Here are most of the different pileup situations: A. SSB SIMPLEX PILEUP What is the most effective way to break through a SIMPLEX pileup (a big pileup with many stations trying to work the DX, all at the same time)? Wait until the previous QSO is COMPLETELY finished; timing is VERY important. You will have little or no success if you throw in your callsign immediately after the previous QSO. Wait for approximately seven seconds and give your complete callsign ONE TIME LISTEN ... There are many variants to this approach. This is experience you will only acquire by listening very often to simplex pileups. A lot depends on the rhythm in which the DX station works, and how well or not so well he can decipher the callsigns out of the cacophony. If you call immediately after a previous QSO finishes, your callsign will disappear in the pile of tens of others calling simultaneously. The pileup callers mostly give their callsign two, sometimes even three or four (!) times in a row. Meanwhile the DX station probably already answered one of them, but nobody hears this as some keep calling 'endlessly', without listening. By waiting for approximately seven seconds, the moment when the majority of the pileup takes a breath, time has come for you to give your call, once. Then LISTEN. Give your callsign relatively fast. 'Stretching' of the phonetic alphabet is USELESS. 'Oscar November Four Zulu Zulu Zulu Zulu' is the correct way and this may be pronounced rather quickly. 'Ooooscaaaar Noooveeeember Fooouuurr Zuuuluuu' etc. is a waste of time and does not contribute to the intelligibility of your callsign at the DX station's end. On the contrary! ALWAYS use the CORRECT phonetic alphabet when calling in a pileup. The phonetic alphabet (Alfa through Zulu) in radio traffic serves to avoid mistakes during exchanges of letters and words. To achieve this goal, the 26 alphabet letters have been attributed a unique word. A DX station listens for these unique words in the pileup cacophony. His ears are harassed by the fusion of all these words (and figures) and fatigue increases. If we deviate from the standard words of the phonetic alphabet, it gets even more difficult for him. Far too often in pileups one can notice that the DX station missed just THAT letter that deviated from the standard alphabet, and consequently he has to ask for a repeat. Example: 'Lima' cuts like a razor blade. Many use 'London' as alternative. If your signal is very weak, the DX station will probably understand 'Lima' but not 'London'! More examples: Bravo - Baltimore. Echo - Easy (very bad). Hotel - Honolulu (bad). Juliett - Japan. Kilo - Kentucky. Lima - London (very bad). November - Norway (very bad). Oscar - Ontario/Ocean (very bad). Papa - Portugal (very bad). Quebec - Quitto (very bad). Romeo - Radio. Sierra - Santiago. Tango - Toronto (bad). Uniform - United/University (bad). Victor - Venezuela (bad). Whiskey - Washington (very bad). X-ray - Xylophone (very bad). Yankee - Yokohama (very bad). Zulu - Zanzibar (bad). Not only is the DX station listening for the exact words, he is also expecting certain consonants/sounds in these words and a defined number of syllables. If a syllable gets lost due to static/QRN, he can often reconstruct the word by completing the missing consonants and/or number of syllables. The amusing words as often heard on HF/VHF may sound comical, but are not effective ('Old Nose four Zenith Zebra Zinc Zigzag' comes to mind). If the DX station returns to you with your full and correct callsign, why waste time by repeating your callsign at the beginning of your transmission? Just give him his report. You can end your transmission with your callsign, but this is time consuming and certainly to be avoided when working DXpeditions. The shorter your transmission the better and the rest of the pileup will appreciate it as well. Usually just giving a report without additional info is the best way to go. One second and the QSO is made, the DX station can attend to another caller. When you're calling in a pileup, never transmit the callsign of the DX station; he knows his callsign....a pure waste of time. Give your callsign once. Two times is a maximum, but not advisable. In some cases (where the DX station doesn't hear well or if he's an inexperienced operator) you have to do this. Three times is out of the question! If the DX station returns with a part of your callsign, put an emphasis on that part of your call he missed. Examples: QRZ, XU7ACV. (cacophony - 7 seconds of waiting time) ON4zzzz. ON4zzzz, you are 59, QSL? QSL, 59. Thanks, QRZ, XU7ACV QRZ, XU7ACV. (cacophony - 7seconds of waiting time) ON4zzzz. 4zzzz, you are 59, QSL? ON4 - ON4zzzz, 59 , QSL? ON4zzzz, QSL tnx, QRZ, XU7ACV if the DX station returns to a partial callsign which does not correspond to yours, BE SILENT. Again, BE SILENT, BE QUIET! The DX station doesn't want to hear your callsign if he hasn't called for you. If pileup callers would follow this logical principle, more stations could be logged by the DX station! Unfortunately the 'ME, MYSELF and I' attitude prevails with a lot of DXers. Although they know the DX station didn't come back to them, they continue calling anyway. This is a pure waste of time, and a display of very selfish attitude! If the DX station returns with the word 'ONLY' and a partial callsign, this usually means that he already tried several times to log one particular station, but due to unsportsmanlike behavior of the pileup DXers (who keep on calling on top of that station) he has been unable to do so and has to make a repeat after repeat after repeat. If the DX station instructs 'JA ONLY, Europe Standby' he expects to hear ONLY Japanse stations. If you're from Europe, do not call. Also, don't call in the pileup 'Europe PLEASE' or 'What about Europe?', this is really not to be done. If you are running QRP (5 W or less on CW, 10 W or less on phone), do not call the DX station with your callsign followed by /QRP ('stroke QRP'). Never. In Belgian Radio Regulations this is a non-permitted suffix (surely in many other countries as well). Only /P, /M, /MM and /A are permitted. How often can one hear someone calling in a pileup with just 'stroke QRP' without giving his callsign? Eventually the DX station has to ask for his callsign, again a waste of time. Of course, during a 'ragchew QSO' you can clarify that you are working QRP. B. CW SIMPLEX PILEUP The same points as mentioned above are valid for a CW simplex pileup. Never transmit 'de ON4ZZZZ' but just plain 'ON4ZZZZ'. The word 'de' (in morse code means 'from') only adds to the confusion for the DX station in trying to disentangle the callsigns. Never end with a 'k' (invitation to transmit) when calling a DX station. The more irrelevant information you pass, the bigger the chance for mistakes. An extreme example on how a transmission of 'k' can lead to confusion when calling a DX station, is given at the end of chapter 13 (Two-letter callsigns). If the calling station (you) does not transmit during a timespan which is significantly longer than a space between two letters, the DX station will understand your transmission has ended. Adapt your speed. After careful listening to the pileup and the rhythm in which the DX station works, you can quickly figure out which stations are picked up by the DX station. Adapt your transmit speed to the average speed used by those stations. Just because the DX station transmits at 40 wpm doesn't mean he is actually working stations using the same speed. Often he picks out stations using a much lower speed. In that case it is better for you to slow down as well. If the DX station returns with 'ONLY' and/or finishes with 'KN' (instead of the usual K = Over, invitation to transmit) it means he wants to hear ONLY the specific station (or the partial callsign of that station) he calls. It is usually an indication he is starting to lose his patience because of the many undisciplined callers who are transmitting on top of the station he is trying to work! C. RTTY (AND OTHER DIGIMODES) SIMPLEX PILEUP Giving your callsign once will usually not be sufficient in digimodes. Twice is advisable and depending on how well the DX station can pick out callsigns, it is sometimes necessary to give your callsign three times. The latter is to be avoided as much as possible. It is better to use good timing and call at the right moment. Hopefully the DX station turns to SPLIT mode fast! D. SSB SPLIT PILEUP Pfew, the DX station works in SPLIT mode, what a relief! Indeed a relief because in SPLIT mode the pace of making QSOs increases considerably compared to working in SIMPLEX mode. How to get in the DX station's log fast when he's working SPLIT? LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN ... Go through the above simplex techniques, a lot of items are applicable in split as well. Is your transceiver positioned in SPLIT mode? By LISTENING a few minutes before making ANY transmission, you increase your chances considerably to get in the log with a few well placed calls on the correct frequency. Some hams make a sport out of it. They try to break the pileup with just one well placed call to get in the DX station's log. By listening for a few minutes you will: get acquainted with the rhythm in which the DX station works; get to know the width of the SPLIT (e.g. 5 to 10 kHz up/down), either indicated by the DX station (preferred method, but unfortunately not all DX stations do this often enough) or figured out by yourself; understand if you are having a real chance to break the pileup at that moment in time (does the DX station work only Japan because he has better propagation to that region?); figure out how the DX station moves through the SPLIT window; In other words, does he start at the bottom of the SPLIT window moving to the top and does he return to the bottom to start over again? Or once he gets to the top, does he move from top back to bottom? notice in which frequency hops the DX station moves through the pileup. E.g. if the SSB SPLIT window comprises 10 kHz, does he work stations every 2 kHz, or is it rather every 3 or 5 kHz? Or does he work some stations at the bottom, before moving to the middle, and then the top? After which: give your callsign one (1) time; and LISTEN. If you went through the above mentioned, it is usually a piece of cake to place your call at the right time on the right frequency. Wanna bet you will be more successful (than before following these tips) to 'break' through a pileup? And no, you don't need a kiloWatt of power to do this. Again: when the DX station returns with a partial callsign and it doesn't correspond to yours, BE SILENT - BE QUIET! This item is important and needs emphasis. If you do call when it is not your turn, even during SPLIT operation you can ruin someone else's QSO and decrease the speed and rhythm of the DX station. DO NOT DO THIS! Even if you hear others doing it! Be a lady/gentleman in radio traffic! If you don't do this - hence you are listening - you have a good chance to hear which station the DX station is calling, and on which frequency! Depending on the capability of the DX station to pick callsigns out of the pileup, it is advisable to give your callsign only once. You will get the feel of this in time. Two times is an absolute maximum, three times is not to be done. I repeat myself, it is an important topic. Different DX stations have different operating styles. One will be more to your liking than another. Some operators work by numbers to thin out the pileup. If the requested figure does not match the one in your callsign: BE QUIET - BE SILENT! E. CW SPLIT PILEUP Most of the points concerning SSB SPLIT pileup techniques are also applicable to CW SPLIT. Kindly read them again. Initially adapt your speed to the transmit speed of the DX station; when you figure out the average speed of the stations he is working, use that speed. This is the speed the DX station feels most comfortable at. Transmit your callsign once (1 time), and LISTEN. Giving your callsign twice on CW is senseless in most cases. If after all you decide to give your callsign twice, change to QSK mode (CW full break-in). Using this mode of operation you will hear when the DX station starts transmitting. You can then interrupt your transmission and use your 2nd VFO to find out who he is working. F. RTTY (AND OTHER DIGIMODES) SPLIT PILEUP Again, the points concerning SSB SPLIT pileup techniques are also applicable here. Kindly read them again. Send your callsign twice (2x) and listen. You will quickly notice that by giving your callsign three times, the DX station is already giving a report to someone else. If you are lucky the DX station will repeat the callsign of the station he's working at the end of his transmission. You can then go and search on your 2nd VFO who he called. Very often you are not that lucky and then it is important to hear the beginning of his transmission. Usually this works out fine if you give your callsign only twice. 9. TAIL ENDING A new hype came about some twenty years ago: 'tail ending'. It was and still is controversial. What is tail ending? With the introduction of the 2nd VFO (at first external, later incorporated in the rig) working SPLIT mode became a popular way of operating for DX stations and DXpeditions. The pileup callers listen on their 2nd VFO to the DXer being called by the DX station. When the careful listener hears the QSO is 'ok' (callsigns and reports correctly exchanged) he 'steps on the tail' of the DXer who is still concluding his QSO. If his signal is strong enough the DX station can already hear him and jot down his callsign. When the DX station concludes from his end, he immediately calls the 'tail ending' DXer. It was thought time could be saved in working this way and more QSOs could be logged. But time has learned that very few operators perform 'tail ending' in a correct way; many operators step too early on the tail during an ongoing QSO, hence the QSO has to be repeated (part of callsign missing, report not understood etc.). With today's attitude of less and less discipline many an operator seems to think it is necessary for him to call on top of an ongoing QSO. If they additionally hear the DX station is calling the next station without asking 'QRZ' or something similar, all hell breaks loose. 'Tail ending', yes or no? Today's general consensus: no. 10. DX WINDOWS National administrations prescribe the frequency bands hams can use. Most do not prescribe on which frequencies which modes should be used. To coordinate these matters in an orderly fashion the IARU band planning comes nicely into play. The IARU Region1 band planning only suggests two frequency segments on the 80m band where priority should be given to intercontinental DX contacts (3500-3510 kHz and 3775-3800 kHz) and a DXpedition window on the 20m band (14195 +/-5 kHz). Besides this we have the 'de facto' DX frequencies where DXpeditions and rare DX stations can be found. Be aware of these DX frequencies, also known as DX windows, and respect them. In the past, when active from central Africa with a low power station I wanted to make as many OMs as possible happy with a new and rare country. That's why I always looked for a spot in one of the DX windows to call CQ. I knew many DXers are keeping an eye on these windows in the hope of something 'rare' showing up. My disappointment was big when I noticed these windows were filled with 'normal' European or American operators conducting 'local' QSOs. Many think the DX windows are for them as 'regular' stations to call 'CQ DX'. I don't agree with this point of view and consider these windows as a haven for weak DX stations that want to be 'noticed'. It would be better for regular stations not to call CQ in these windows and use them solely in search for rare DX. The following 'de facto' DX windows and DX frequencies are current and worth keeping an eye on. They are to be avoided by regular stations to call CQ: SSB: 28490-28500, 24945, 21290-21300, 18145, 7045, 3790-3800, 1845 kHz; CW: mostly bottom 5 kHz of a band, and also following frequencies: 28020-28025, 24895, 21020- 21025, 18075, 14020-14025, 10103-10105, 3500-3510, 1830-1835 kHz; RTTY: ± 28080-21080-14080 kHz. Of course DX stations and DXpeditions can appear on other frequencies outside the de facto DX windows. Operating Part 3 Operating Part 1 A man should keep his friendship in constand repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).
Mark, qrv from Rwanda, 9X. The qsl manager was ON5NT, Ghis.
Remarks Mark was qrv from several DX countries around the world, using both CW and SSB. So he used calls like 9X4WW etc..

Operating Practice 2, ON4WW

DXing - Stories 02