For Belgium, the Copyrights for this article have been granted exlusively to the UBA, the Belgian National Radio Society. OPERATING PRACTICE 3 11. Conflict situations Let's keep in mind we are sharing with many hundreds of thousands the same hobby on the same terrain, namely the ether. Conflicts are bound to happen. It seems unrealistic not to discuss this fact; a bit of good advice never hurt anyone. As pointed out in chapter 4: AT ALL TIMES, BE POLITE. This is the only way to successfully tackle conflict situations in the long run. Let's have a look at an example of a very extreme case, namely IZ9xxxx from Sicily. OM Pipo had the annoying habit to call CQ on 14195 kHz, a 'de facto' DX frequency used by rare DX stations and DXpeditions, and to conduct QSOs with regular stations from Europe and America on that frequency. A lot of DXers worldwide felt offended. 14195 kHz was transformed to a mess every time Pipo showed up, because the DX community did not appreciate him 'monopolizing' that frequency. If we analyze this case, we notice the following objective observations: Pipo asks 'Is this frequency in use?' before attempting a CQ and makes QSY when the frequency is in use. Pipo uses a frequency which he, as decreed by law, can use at anytime (see further). 14195 kHz is situated in the de facto DX window 14190-14200 kHz. This frequency segment has been withheld by IARU Region 1 with priority for DXpeditions since January 1st 2006 (since that date Pipo had to emigrate to other frequencies). Whenever Pipo made legal transmissions on 14195 kHz (before 1 January 2006) he was being jammed by dozens of stations, who never identified with their callsign and who were, in fact, operating illegally (called pirates). This situation came to my attention in mid 2003 and I witnessed on many occasions how dozens of DXers were deliberately jamming Pipo. Let there be no doubt that each of these stations transmitted outside the legal boundaries granted by their licenses. If their National Controlling Authorities would be stationed at their doorstep with a mobile unit, witnessing their illegal transmissions, these DXers would have lost their licenses. Not Pipo who was always working within the legal boundaries of his license! As a quasi-objective observation we can say Pipo is an anti-social ham who on purpose spoils the pleasure of many. But, his actions are always conducted within the boundaries of his license. What is a good approach to deal with such an individual? Certainly not by jamming him (and making illegal transmissions yourself). It gives him a feeling of power, and power tastes for more... so he will even step up his efforts to annoy you and others! Leave him be, and turn your VFO to another frequency; contact him in a normal manner and try to find out the cause of his behavior. On 12 August 2003 my nerves were tested once more by Pipo. I called him in a normal manner and we had a QSO which lasted about 20 minutes on 14195 kHz. During this QSO I learned Pipo didn't appreciate (to say the least) how he kept on being jammed by dozens of 'unknown' hams. He was appalled by the death threats (!) he received by telephone (picked up by his daughter!), etc. During this 'calm' QSO we exchanged argumentation as to why Pipo should or shouldn't continue using 14195 kHz. We ended the QSO without reaching an agreement, but the next few weeks 14195 kHz was clear of IZ9xxxx transmissions. Of course Pipo started using 14195 kHz again after a month or so, perhaps because someone caused him grief on another frequency? On another occasion in 2005, when the K7C expedition was active on 14195 kHz, I overheard Pipo asking 'Is this frequency in use?'. I promptly responded: 'Yes Pipo, by K7C, tnx QSY, 73 from ON4WW'. Pipo immediately went down 5 kHz to call CQ. Case closed. In my early days as a ham I encountered a vicious incident taking place on 21300 kHz. An infamous and obnoxious ON6 was engaged in a local QSO on top of a major DXpedition. I broke in, explained the situation, asked them politely to QSY if possible and signed with my callsign. The foul language in response thrown at me cannot be published here. At a later stage I learned this ON6 and an ON4 buddy of his were constantly being jammed on a VHF repeater. Perhaps their unmannerly mentality was the basis for the jamming or perhaps they gained this mentality because they were unjustly jammed (by again 'illegal jammers')? Here's another example of an improper incident which happened between an old-timer and two novices in Belgium. Two ON3 stations (novices) were having a QSO on a VHF repeater. One said to the other he could hear him very well on the repeater input frequency. At that moment an ON4 (old-timer) 'ordered' them in a very arrogant manner to leave the repeater because he wanted to make a call. This is not done. As said before, at all times BE POLITE. The ON4 operator could break in and tell them he wants to make a call. As a repeater user he should understand the primary purpose of relay stations, namely to provide an extended operational range for mobile and portable users. If these two unlucky ON3 stations would cross eachother on a highway at 120 km/h in opposite directions, their QSO would be quickly finished on a simplex frequency. 'Newcomers' being bawled at by an old-timer is flatly embarrassing. Are we not supposed to help them become even more experienced hams? Are these true stories? Does it matter? 'Bottom line': be polite. One will not always reach his objectives, but he will more often than not. This brings me to the next chapter, which could actually reside under 'Conflict Situations' as well... 12. 'COPS' (POLICE) The ham community is expected to be 'self policing', keeping order in our ranks. As long as nothing illegal happens, the 'Authorities' won't intervene. This, however, does not mean the Radio Amateur Service needs to have its own police! Self discipline? Yes. Let us go back to our friend Pipo from Sicily. Had I been 2 seconds slower in responding to his question 'Is this frequency in use?', surely one of the self-imposed DX 'cops' would have thrown bad language at him. This foul language (such as IDIOT, LID and much much worse) is of the kind of nature for things to evolve from bad to worse. As can be expected from a person with Pipo's character, he would just love staying on 14195 kHz instead of moving to another frequency. Not only will he be jammed for the next two hours or so, also the K7C expedition will disappear off stage... Precious time and lots of QSOs will be lost thanks to our 'helpful cops'. Most 'cops' have good intentions and are not using foul language. They remain polite and are often successful in their attempt to clear a frequency of unwanted traffic. Some 'cops' also have good intentions but by using bad language and manners they don't achieve their goal to clear a frequency. These 'cops' create chaos instead of calm. A 3d category of 'cops' is those using foul language with the objective of creating chaos. Their bad language and manners attract comments from colleague 'cops', with a resulting total chaos! These three 'cop' categories have one thing in common: while playing 'cop', they are effectively being PIRATES, because they make transmissions without identifying. In which cases can we usually encounter 'cops'? 'Cops' mostly appear on a rare DX station/DXpedition's frequency, usually when this station is working in SPLIT mode; a DXer forgets to press the SPLIT button on his transceiver and starts calling the DX station on his transmit frequency. Usually this operator also prefers to send his callsign three or four times, because of which not a soul in the pileup hears whom the DX station is returning to. This is the time for 'cops' to start shooting. A civilized 'cop' can correct the 'offender' by telling him to transmit 'UP' or 'DOWN'. He is trying to help, rather than punish him. A lot of variatons are being used that sound neither neutral, nor polite. I don't want to quote these, as not to show how things mustn't be done. How can we help the 'offending' operator in a neutral way? Before giving in to your 'cop' vocation: first of all consider what the added value can be of YOUR intervention, if any; stay quiet if another 'cop' is already in action. And if you still have to give in to your being a 'good cop': give the last 2 or 3 letters of the offender's callsign followed by UP or DOWN. That's it; Any other message may not be well understood by the offender, he possibly won't correct his mistake and chaos creeps in. CW Example: ON4WW calls by mistake on the DX station's frequency. Transmit the following: 'WW UP'. By only transmitting 'UP' (or 'DWN'), ON4WW will probably not understand you were addressing him. Consequently he will repeat his mistake and call again on the DX station's frequency. A second consequence will be you probably woke up the other 'cops' who will start to transmit UP UP, with chaos as a result. So: always transmit some letters of the offender's callsign, followed by 'UP' or 'DWN'. In that way he will understand you are addressing him and not someone else. If you transmit his 'full' callsign followed by 'UP', you will very probably cover a part of a transmission made by the DX station. Of course it would be better if nobody felt attracted to 'being a cop', but this seems a utopia. An effective call to the offender can restore order rapidly. A call with foul language achieves the opposite and brings little joy to the pileup and DX station. One good 'cop' can be a blessing, two good 'cops' are already too many. On SSB and RTTY modes the same principle applies. Give a part of the callsign (or even the complete callsign in these modes) followed by the correct instruction (listening UP/DOWN) and the DX station's frequency will be clear again in no time at all. Being a DXer you will quickly grasp you accomplish more by not reacting to 'cops' at all. Try to swing something negative to something positive. Keep on LISTENING (here's the magic word again) through the tumult to the DX station and in many cases you will be able to log the DX station while the 'cops' are having a 'jolly good time'. Remember, strictly taken, a 'cop' ALWAYS makes illegal transmissions, unless he identifies! 13. TWO LETTER CALLSIGNS (PARTIAL CALLSIGNS) AND DX NETS As pointed out in chapter 3 (CORRECT USE OF YOUR CALLSIGN), you are to use your complete callsign in all modes at all times. In many DX nets (mostly to be heard on the 15, 20 and 40m bands) the MOC (Master of Ceremony) takes a list of stations wanting to work a DX station that is present in the DX net. In order to make this list the MOC often asks for the last two letters of your callsign. Not only is this incorrect, it is also illegal. Unfortunately many have also adopted this method when they call a DX station outside a net operation. It slows the rhythm in which a DX station/DXpedition moves ahead. Overheard many times, also when I was active 'from the other side': a station gives three times the last two letters of his callsign. He is very strong with the DX station and had he given his complete callsign once, the QSO would be made in five seconds. Now it will take three to four times more time to complete the QSO! On CW this phenomenon is heard much less and in RTTY it is seldom seen. The most improbable example in the blooper category I ever encountered: a station called me on CW as follows : 'XYK XYK'. He was so strong I eventually had to log him to be able to hear the much weaker callers. So I replied: 'XYK 599'. The callsign that follows is fictitious, but you'll understand. He came back: 'Z88ZXY Z88ZXY 599 K'. This nice OM at first transmitted the last two letters of his callsign followed by the letter K (invitation to transmit in morse=Key). The letter K was glued to the last two letters which made it seem as if it were the last three letters of his callsign. This is what I call both literally and figuratively 'a waste of space and time'! A final remark on DX nets. The enclosed cartoon says it all. The QSOs are fed, so to speak, with a spoon. The MOC often lends a 'helping hand' and this cannot be the idea of someone wanting to make two-way QSOs. Try to make contacts independently. It will result in more pleasure and higher reward. 14. THE USE OF QRZ AND QUESTION MARK Some DX stations and DXpedition operators have a bad habit of not frequently identifying. This habit asks for problems. DXers tuning the bands (especially those not logged in to a DX Cluster) hear a station, but not his callsign. After a while they transmit 'QRZ' or '?' or 'CALL?' on CW, and 'QRZ' or 'What's your/his call?' on SSB. This is most annoying; when the DX station works SPLIT he can't hear this. The pileup stations are transmitting on a different frequency and are disturbed by the one transmitting 'QRZ' or '?' or 'CALL?'. Result: the feared 'cops' surface. Chaos follows. If you want to avoid chaos, follow rule number one of DXing: LISTEN. Don't ask 'QRZ', '?', 'What's your/his call?'. It won't help you in figuring out the callsign of the station. 'QRZ' in this case is being used incorrectly as well! QRZ means: Who is calling me? 15. HOW TO CALL A CONTEST STATION Before entering a contest or calling a contest station, thoroughly read the rules of that specific contest. In some contests you cannot contact all participants due to the nature of the contest. It is somehow embarrassing if you call a station who does not want and cannot work you at that moment in time due to the contest rules. In such cases the logging software even prevents the operator from logging you. Here are some tips: a contest station wants to work as many stations as fast as possible. The message is: keep it short! Never give your callsign twice when calling a contest station. Once is sufficient; if the contest station copied your complete callsign, do not repeat your callsign and just give him the required contest report; if the contest station returns to someone else: BE QUIET, BE SILENT! 16. DX CLUSTERS A controversial theme. Most love 'em; some dislike them. It is striking how many incorrect 'DX spots' are being posted. When spotting DX, before hitting the ENTER button: check all data, correct any typos. A DX Cluster also has an 'ANNOUNCE' function. Many operators 'mildly abuse' this function to air their frustrations, moan and to ask for QSL information. Air their frustrations, moan? Here are some recent spots and announcements observed during the 3Y0X expedition (and also on numerous other occasions): - 'I've been calling for 3 hours and still no QSO' - 'been listening for 5 hours, not a peep. Bad expedition!' - 'bad operators, they have no clue about propagation' - 'why not SPLIT?' - 'please RTTY' - 'BINGOOOOO!' - 'New one !!!' ' - 'My #276 !!!' - 'Europe PLLEAASEE' - etc. etc. This doesn't make sense. The added value is nil. A DX Cluster is a tool to spot DX, period. The commentary field can be used to give info about the SPLIT frequency used, QSL manager etc. DX Cluster = DX spots, with possible relevant information which has added value for all DXers. Need QSL info? Give the command 'SH/QSL callsign'. If there is no QSL database on your DX Cluster: 'SH/DX 25 callsign'. The last 25 spots of this station will be shown, and usually one of the commentary fields mentions 'QSL VIA'. Even better is the command :'SH/DX callsign QSL info'. This will show the last 10 spots of that callsign with QSL info in the commentary field. If the DX Cluster can't provide you with any QSL info, it is good practice to consult any of the internet QSL websites. Don't project your frustrations on others. Invest more time in improving your station or operator skills. Spots with commentary such as 'Worked 1st call' and 'Worked with 5 W' say nothing about the signal of the DX station, but everything about the ego of the DXer who made the spot. Many DX spots can be observed of stations spotting themselves or their chat partner, to pass a personal message in the commentary field. This is not to be done! Spotting a PIRATE station? A PIRATE doesn't deserve our attention, don't spot him. If you spot stations, such as our friend Pipo, what do you reckon will happen? Right, don't spot him. Summary: make correct DX spots. Don't annoy your fellow hams with your frustrations. Nobody really cares about the state of your ego, but everybody will enjoy useful information such as SPLIT frequency and QSL Manager info. Use the DX Cluster functions in a correct manner. If you don't know them, look them up. The manual usually can be found on the DX Cluster by typing 'SH/HELP'. Read the manual. Attention: the entire DX Cluster community reads your spot! It is very easy to build a bad reputation. It is just as easy to build a good reputation. For our pure amusement, the following Cluster Monkey link ( is recommended. The message is clear. Operating, Part 4 Operating Part 2 A man should keep his friendship in constand repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).

Operating Practice 3, ON4WW

DXing - Stories 02