De Copyright rechten van dit artikel zijn voor België exclusief toegekend aan de UBA, de Koninklijke Unie van de Belgische Zendamateurs. OPERATING PRACTICE 4 17. TIPS FOR DX STATIONS AND DXPEDITIONS Do you enjoy a combined family and radio holiday ? Or are you working abroad and 'radio activity' is an option? Or perhaps you are totally nuts (according to your XYL) and prefer spending your money on a DXpedition? Odds are you will make transmissions from a 'wanted' entity. The more wanted, the more chances you'll have to encounter situations as above mentioned: 'cops', nobody listening to your instructions, etc. It is very important that YOU control the situation, and keep it under control. If going on holidays to Spain or France you won't create big pileups; if you're heading for the Baleares, Crete or Cyprus, the pileup fever will surface and you'll get quite some callers; your job takes you to Iran and you get lucky to operate from that entity, take a seat and start sweating! If you manage to set sail for Scarborough Reef and fire up a DXpedition adventure, the pileups will be awesome...'fasten your seatbelts'! How can you control a pileup and keep control? Indeed, while not a simple assignment, it is totally feasible. Here are some tips: mention your callsign after each and every QSO. If you are blessed with a real long callsign such as SV9/ON4ZZZZ/P, at least mention it after every three QSOs; if you are working simplex and notice you can't pick out complete callsigns or those you are calling are not coming back to you anymore, immediately switch to SPLIT mode; when switching to SPLIT mode make sure your QSX (listening) frequency is not in use! Be careful not to ruin an ongoing QSO; when working in SPLIT mode, announce this fact after each QSO. Indicate which split you are using. CW example: UP 1, UP 1-2, UP 5. On SSB: listening 5 up, listening 5 to 10 (kHz) up; on CW SPLIT listen at least 1 kHz up (or down). Better is 3 kHz, to avoid possible keyclicks on your TX frequency => no excuse for 'cops' to intervene; On SSB SPLIT listen at least 5 kHz up or down your TX frequency. It is quite astonishing how 'wide' some SSB signals are. If you take a SPLIT of only 2 or 3 kHZ these signals may interfere and splatter on your TX frequency; keep the SPLIT window as narrow as possible, don't claim unnecessary spectrum just for yourself; if on SSB you managed to pick out a partial and not complete callsign (happens often in a big pileup), give a report to the partial callsign e.g. 'Yankee Oscar 59'; on CW do not send a 'question mark' when returning to a partial callsign. For some obscure reason the majority of (undisciplined) pileup callers take a 'question mark' as the sign to start transmitting again, although the partial callsign does not resemble their callsign. Example: 3TA, 599. Not: ??3TA, 599. In the latter case, the pileup WILL start calling again; on SSB and CW (and digimodes): if at first you gave a report to a partial callsign, be sure to transmit the complete callsign so the operator knows you logged him and not someone else. Some inexperienced DX stations do as follows: TA, 59. OH3TA returns with his callsign several times and gives a report. The DX station comes back and says: QSL, tnx, QRZ? Of course OH3TA is left in the dark as to whether he has been logged or not. The DX station should have said: OH3TA, tnx, QRZ? once you have given a report to a partial callsign, stick with that station until you manage to get his complete callsign. A pileup can be very undisciplined. If they notice you stick with the partial callsign until you have the complete callsign, they will understand their continuous calling has no effect on you, and they will eventually show a bit more discipline. If on the other hand you drop the partial callsign to work another station, you have lost the battle and chaos will rule; if a pileup becomes too undisciplined, go QRT, change your TX frequency or move to another band; always stay 'cool' and don't start shouting at the pileup; don't work 'two-letter callsigns'; tell them you only want to hear complete/full callsigns; in SPLIT mode, when you notice the stations you return to are not responding, listen on your TX frequency, chances are someone is jamming you (e.g. 'cops'); on CW on the higher bands, a transmit speed of 40 wpm is about the limit the pileup can cope with. On the lower bands (160 to 40m) the maximum speed to use - depending on conditions - is between 20 and 30 wpm; always inform the pileup about your moves. If you go QRT, tell them. Are you up for a pitstop in the little shack, tell them: QRX 5 (QRX 5 minutes, standby). If you QSY to another mode or frequency, tell them. It is very annoying for a pileup not to know what your next step will be. After all, they want to work you and like to be informed about your activities. 'You are hot'! If a pileup grows too big on you, you may decide to work by continent/region or by numbers. Working by continent/region means you call only one specific continent (e.g. Europe) or region (Northern Europe, West Coast USA), while the DXers in the other continents/regions have to standby. Working by numbers means you call the stations by the number in their callsign (0-9). This way of operating is generally not recommended. Large groups of operators are sitting idle, nervously waiting until it is their turn to call you. While waiting, they have no guarantee you will call their continent or number; you can go QRT at any time. Hence they are nervous. And nervous people can quickly turn into nasty 'cops'. If you work by numbers, 90% of the pileup is sitting idle! However, to cope with a big pileup, this way of operating may assist operators who are in the learning curve. The one real advantage of working by continent/region is to give areas of the world that normally have poor propagation towards you, the chance to get through. Some things to keep in mind when working by continent/region: use this technique to reach areas with poor propagation towards you; when using this technique because the pileup is too big for you to handle, rotate quickly between continents; inform the other continents/regions about your plans: are you going to work JA only for 10 minutes, will you work EU next, then NA? Tell them. When the pileup gets smaller and smaller, return to normal operating practice and work all continents/regions simultaneously Some things to keep in mind when working by number: once you started a number sequence, finish it. Sometimes operators stop in the middle of a sequence to go QRT or return to operating without using numbers: be assured, you do not get the sympathy of the pileup by doing this! start the sequence with number 0 (zero), continue with 1-2-...-9 and start with 0 again; don't use the number 'jumping' technique: 0-5-2-3-8-4-...the pileup will hate you. Work a maximum of 10 stations per number, always work an equal amount of stations per number. Inform the pileup on how many stations you will work per number and repeat this information each time you switch to the next number. Remember, 90% of the pileup is sitting idle, 'cops' will transmit on your frequency. Avoid working by numbers if you can. Besides working by continent/region or number, some operators try working by countries. This is to be avoided at all times. Repeat, do not do this, you will attract 'cops' of all the 'idle sitting' nations. You will certainly fail to call each of the 335 different DX entities, so why even think about using this silly technique? Already in 1994 Wayne Mills N7NG published a very well written book DXpeditioning Basics. It came only to my attention in June 2010. A must read for the DXpeditioner and DX station. Wish I had read it sooner! Final remark: one of the most important points when running a pileup is to maintain the same RHYTHM throughout the operation. If you master this you will be much more relaxed, as well as the pileup. The most important point though: enjoy yourself! 18. MISCELLANEOUS CW keyclicks can be very annoying for your fellow-hams. If you own a rig that produces 'garbage', have it modified (or do this yourself, being a good ham!). Your fellow-hams will be grateful. The same applies to SSB: overmodulated signals don't call for friends. Make sure your transmissions are 'clean'! The Q code and number code (73/88) are established to make certain questions and words easier and shorter to transmit and receive on CW. In fact, they don't belong in phone (SSB/AM/FM) QSOs! Why say '73' on phone while you can just as well say 'Many greetings/Best regards'? Try to keep a reasonable balance in this matter. A phone QSO mustn't exist out of 'as many as possible' Q words and numbers. To say 73 (best regards) in plural (73's) on phone is not correct and sounds a bit 'overdone'. Also, ever tried to transmit 73's on CW? If a DX station's CW speed is too fast for you to copy and you really want to work him, use a tool (e.g. software decoding) so you understand what he is transmitting. If not, a lot of time can be wasted to complete just one QSO, yours. You don't react promptly because you don't understand what is being transmitted. Don't forget, many others are waiting for a QSO with the DX station. Only with lots and lots of practice will you gradually increase your capability to copy fast CW stations without difficulty and without software. 'QSO NOT IN LOG': if your QSL cards regularly return with this feared message, it means time has come to upgrade your 'operating practice'. TO LISTEN is a first requirement: if you can't hear a station, why call him? Read and re-read this document several times, try to act upon it, and be a successful operator. Wanna bet the 'QSO NOT IN LOG' message won't be regular anymore? Talking about QSLs, the saying goes: 'The final courtesy of a QSO is the QSL card'. Of course, most people like to have your paper QSL card in their collection. Some however don't. I personally take it as a matter of pride to answer all QSL cards that reach me via the bureau system or direct. This includes QSLs from hams and SWLs (short wave listeners) alike. In Belgium we are lucky, the use of the bureau system is included in our annual dues to the UBA, our National Radio Society. Using the bureau system is extremely cheap for us to exchange cards worldwide. However not all hams are that lucky; different countries use different bureau systems, some are not that cheap. Keep this in mind when you send QSL; inform yourself (eventually through the IARU website) if there is a good functioning bureau system in the country you are sending your card to. If not, consider sending direct with an SAE (self addressed envelope) and sufficient funds for return postage (e.g. IRC - International Reply Coupon). Another way is confirming contacts electronically through e.g. the LoTW (Logbook of the World) from the ARRL. No paper QSL is required, but hey, I still fancy these old fashioned paper QSL cards piled in shoeboxes! Some DX stations use a QSL manager to provide you with a QSL because they like making QSOs instead of doing the time consuming QSL chores. Many websites can provide you with all needed info on these managers. I just name one ( which is often mentioned during on the air conversations. A note on National Radio Societies. Remember during WorldWar II all ham licenses and equipment were revoked? Who do you reckon talked to the governments after the war so hams could get operational again? Indeed, it were the National Radio Societies (IARU members). These non-profit organizations are the sole bodies who have power to negotiate with the Authorities that are 'granting' you the privilige to operate ham radio. It is important that the National Radio Societies have a strong voice, and that can only be if you are a member of your National Radio Society. Together we are strong, l'Union fait la Force. Are you not a member ? Consider becoming one. For those living in countries that don't have a cheap bureau system, perhaps it is time for you to stand up and ask your Society why it is possible in Belgium but not in your country? And why not even offer your volunteer services to your Society? Remember, these Societies are the only option for you to be heard when it comes to dealing with the Government! They are important. Many DX resources are available through the internet. The list is very long, a search on the web will help you out. To name a few: 425 DX News Letter, ARRL Propagation Bulletins, Ohio Penn DX Bulletin, etc. Become acquainted with the IARU band planning and the frequencies authorized by your national administration for you to use. Make a hard copy of them and put it on the wall. IZ9xxxx and Pipo are the for obvious reasons somewhat modified callsign and name of a Sicilian ham. Ethics And Operating Procedures for the Radioamateur By stimulant of John ON4UN, this more extensive document followed up on this Operating Practice article and is the official IARU document on the subject of Ethics and Operating Procedures. It is available in more than 25 languages at and free for distribution among the ham community. Many IARU Societies use this document as a learning tool towards the ham exam. DX Code of Conduct A group of seasoned DXers and DXpeditioners made another approach in 2010 in order to try and ameliorate the sometimes appalling pileup behavior as witnessed during DXpeditions. You can find more info on this Code and subscribe to it at: When you follow the guidelines of this code, why not add the logo to your page or your website? In this way people around the world know that you will operate according to your best ability and best operating standards! In this case, make sure you really give it your best shot on the bands. Be a role model! We all deserve a good laugh, have a look at DL4TT's sharp observations ( on 'Dog X-ray' after you finished reading chapter 19. 19. IN CONCLUSION This boy started out as a small pistol ham. In the beginning he was very pleased if he could make just one QSO with a major DXpedition. With a low power station (some bigots claimed otherwise) he worked his first 300+ entities. There was no secret, there was just the very strong desire to work a new country. This meant going through all paper 'DX magazines'. I also tuned in on the 2 meter DX channel to listen to the old-timer DXers and see what new ones they were hearing with their superior antennas. There were those sleepless nights. There was the calling for hours to make just one QSO. There were the calls without success. More hours of calling until he finally broke the pileup. Or perhaps not, and tried again the next day. Sometimes taking holidays to be able to work 'a new one'. This boy still is a small pistol ham. If DXers from the east of the country pay him a visit, they exclaim: 'Boy, is this all you got? Is this really all you are using to work that juicy DX? Indeed, the desire to work DX is high, and that makes one eager to find ways to build a station as efficient and competitive as possible. It doesn't have to be megabig to be successful. Above all, good operating practice delivers the key to success. It often tickles me to take a drive to those 'DX Cluster moaners' and show them how to log a difficult QSO instead of wasting their time by moaning and airing their frustrations on a DX Cluster. 'Get a life, and work DX'. As a grand personality once said, "DX IS" ! Good luck in working 'new ones' on the bands. I hope the above tips may contribute to lift the level of operating practice a bit. If you don't manage to break the pileups, you may always call upon me. A tasty trappist beer per new country worked from your station is all that is needed... And, keep in mind, nobody will ever be without mistakes. Want to bet you will catch the author one day making a mistake? In that case, smile, and try to do better than him instead of 'shooting at the pianist'. Wishing you lots of success and pleasure on the bands! My thanks goes to the good friends who were involved in this project. English translation assistance was kindly provided by N1DG, tnx Don! 73 - Mark - ON4WW. (April 2006) p.s.: I care to learn about your opinion after you read the complete article. Was it of any use to you, would you like to see something added, etc. Operating, Part 1 Operating Part 3 A man should keep his friendship in constand repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).

Operating Practice 4, ON4WW

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