How DXpeditions Can Work the Most Needed Areas
When DXpedition operators are faced with a selection process regarding whom to work, there are ways to approach the problem. One method used in the past is the "pilot" program. That is, selecting one or several operators around the world to field comments and complaints from DXers about what areas the DXpedition should be working. This method has some merit, but primarily only to relieve the DXpedition members from having to deal with these DXers. What this method usually lacks is the current QSO statistics. Without specific knowledge of what has already been worked, it is difficult to know how to proceed.
If the DXpedition organizers and operators know what has been worked by the DXpedition, and if they know what the demand is based on the most recent "most needed lists," it is a relatively simple task to determine the current target area or areas.
What is a target area? Quite simply, a target area is an area of the world that is in most need of QSOs with a DXpedition. From the Indian Ocean, call areas 5, 6 and 7 in the United States might be considered target areas. Of course, there may be more than one such area.
Once a target area or areas are determined, it is a simply a matter of finding the necessary openings and point the calling to those areas. For most target areas, there is really no chance of working too many stations located in these areas. Each and every opening to one of these areas should be worked until no further contacts can be made. Complaints about such an operating practice should simply be ignored. Nothing can justify complaints from those in an area with less demand. This is another case in which the DXpedition operators must exert and maintain control.
Observations from South Sudan
On November 13, a multi-national group of six DXpeditioners left the far North bound for a low-band operation from South Sudan. As South Sudan is very near the Equator, this was quite a temperature shock. The group included Dietmar, DL3DXX, Wayne, N7NG, Martti, OH2BH, Pertti, OH2PM, Veijo, OH6KN, Olli, OH0XX, and Hans, PB2T. Part of the trip included an ‘introduction to Ham Radio’ workshop for telecom ministry officials of South Sudan. What follows are some observations on our operating and our pileups.
After nearly a week of operating in South Sudan, Z81X, we have made a number of observations about the pileups. Interestingly, what we have found is mostly positive. We are operating with an emphasis on the low bands, of course, and that means an emphasis on CW.
My observations indicate that the pileups are controllable and well controlled. Our CW speed has been be moderate, not more than maybe 30 - 32 WPM. Keeping the rate up is very important, however. To minimize frustration, a DXer should feel that the very next QSO will be with him.
Veijo, OH6KN says that in his opinion, the operating is better than he had expected. The DXers seem to hear better while the CW ops are better in general. Overall, DXers seem to have more patience, and they are listening more.
As an operator, Veijo likes to be consistent. He listens up and down and tunes outside the pileup frequently, making only one frequency on each frequency.
When there are problems, they are usually continuous callers, and those who don’t seem to be able to hear. Veijo thinks very few of these are malicious, however. He sends CW at a speed of about 28 WPM. He tries to maintain a regular rhythm, and when sending partials, he does so several times. This aids stations in knowing what is going on. As do others, Veijo feels that the pileup is indeed a reflection on the DXpedition operator.
(During our conversation, I mentioned that -- in the case of Z81X -- I thought in many cases, the European operators were better than the USA operators, or the US operators aare not as disciplined. We both thought this was a little strange, but after thinking more about this, we both realized that it is a function of distance. That is, it’s the 1/R relationship between the apparent quality of the pileup and the location of the DXpedition, where R is the distance between the DXpedition and the calling population. Simply put, the quality of a pileup decreases as the distance between them increases.)
Another of our operators, Olli, OH0XX indicated that his pileups represent nothing new. DXers seem as comfortable with him as he has been with them.
Olli feels that where problems exist, they are exacerbated by the newer methods of alerting DXers of what is on the air. Skimmers, Reverse Beacon Networks and other Spotting networks simply contribute to more DXers in the pileups, and more DXers leads to a greater potential for friction.
Olli does feel that DXers skills have decreased with time, with more reliance on brute force rather than finesse in their approach to a pileup.
Still, Olli advocates ignoring the various hassles. He simply doesn’t let himself recognize any difficulties. He always has the option to simply move from a troublesome frequency and move on. He feels that consistency on his part is key to good pileup behavior. On CW, his usual sending speed is about 30 WPM.
A third interview was with Dietmar, DL3DXX. Dietmar is one of the world’s premier Topband operators. Again, Dietmar doesn’t feel that the pileup operating experienced by the operators on this trip is exceptional, one way or the other. His key to keeping the pileup under control is to keep the customers happy. Keeping the rate up and being consistent is part of his approach. His operating speed – not on the low bands – is around 34 – 36 WPM. To do this, he admits that he has to assume more of the burden to make sure that he gets the call signs correct.
All agree that consistency is important. DXers want to know how you will be approaching their QSO. They will be listening to how you handle those who come before. Consistency will instill confidence in them, and that leads to good behavior.
I'll be adding more thoughts, plus I'll have an additional interview with Martti Laine, OH2BH.
DX University “Rules” in South Sudan
The DXU’s “Best Practices” will be used by the operators at Z81X. We take the initiative to offer these techniques to DXpeditioners because it is easier for a few DX operators to use good practices than to teach thousands of DXers how to be their best.
For this operation, the Z81X expedition will break from tradition and not pre-announce its transmitting frequencies except on the low bands. Knowing the exact frequencies on the low bands is still very important. Because of the large number of DXpeditions in recent weeks that have announced fixed frequencies, considerable confusion and interaction between their operations has occurred. One pileup QRMing another has been a serious problem, this sometimes not realized by the expedition. In some cases flexibility has solved the problems. In other cases, solutions have been difficult.
Rather than announce frequencies, we will employ the modern Internet spotting networks to direct callers to our latest -- and most efficient – locations. This method has been used on occasion recently with good success.
In another innovation, near the end of the Z81X effort the operators will employ a modern twist on an old method to work as many of the “more deserving, but DX challenged” DXers as possible. This effort -- e-Pilot -- will involve a DXpedition pilot. Details of this effort will be announced in further releases.
The Z81X operators will look for conduct that is consistent with the “Best Practices” for DXers presented on the DX University Webpage. (DXing Tools > “Best Practices.”) DXers often forget how easy it is for the DXpedition operators to spot unacceptable behavior in a pileup. Behavior that impedes the operation may result in a delayed QSO. (Go to the end of queue!) We will record many segments of the operation in stereo, pileup on one channel, Z81X on the other. Selected segments will be uploaded to the DX University Website to illustrate certain points.
Look for us also emphasizing the low bands and in the CQ WW DX Contest. Additional information on the Z81X expedition will be hosted on the DX University Website and on the DX University Blog.
The Conversation About Remote Control Operation Heats Up!
The ARRL DX Advisory Committee is currently studying the remote control issue as it applies to DXing and DXCC. The WeeklyDX(tm) carried a DXU article in June 4th 2012 issue of the WeeklyDX. With new technology more and more in use, the remote control issue has been simmering for some time. Now, with potential DXCC changes on the horizon, the topic is rising to the surface. The 2012 article can be found here. My lastest WeeklyDX(tm) article is here.
About the DXAC
Ever wonder what the ARRL's DXAC is all about? See the DX University Blog for a short history of the DX Advisory Committee, what's it's been doing and where it's headed right now.
DXpeditioning Basics - Revised
A new version of DXpeditioning Basics is now availabe. The original version was published in 1994. To see the new version, go to the DX University Website > DXpeditioning Tools > Publications > DXpeditioning Basics - 2013.
Tuition Grants for DXU Students
FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
22 April 2013
NCDXF DX University and Contest University Scholarships
NCDXF is committed to bringing younger DXers and Contesters into our hobby. NCDXF will provide full tuition scholarships for hams 25 years of age and younger at all DX University and Contest University sessions held in North America for the next year. This includes those held at the Dayton Hamvention next month.
Funding for this project comes from NCDXF’s Scholarship Endowment Fund, which is separate from its General Fund used to support DXpeditions.
Credit for the success of NCDXF is made possible by our contributors, individuals and clubs.
Joining or renewing membership has never been easier. Please visit our website at http://www.ncdxf.org
Glenn Johnson, WØGJ
Vice President, NCDXF
DXU Best Practices
With ever increasing activity, pileup behavior on the DX bands seems to be becoming worse and worse. The DX Code of Conduct is a widely circulated list of operating rules that have been adopted by many DXpeditions. The original Code is directed at DXers, and it instructs them how to operate in a way that could bring order and make pileups more civil.
Less widely known is that "The DX Code of Conduct" Web pages also contain a set of guidelines for DXpeditioners or DXpeditioner's Code. The DX-Code organization has asked DXpedition leaders to "support" the DX Code of Conduct. Which code they support is not always clear, however.
To clarify this situation, the DX University offers clearly delineated guidelines for both DXpeditioners and DXers. They are referred to separately as "Best Practices for DXpedition Operating" and "Best Practices for Courteous and Efficient DXing." Links to these pages are found elsewhere on this page. Best Practices" for DXers is similar to those of the DX Code of Conduct, although presented as suggestions.
The "Best Practices for DXpedition Operating" is the result of a considerable effort by a group of experienced DXers and DXpeditioners who hold strongly to the principle that DXpeditioners themselves are in the best position to control and manage their pileups.
We hope that DXpedition leaders and operators will review and adhere closely to the Best Practices for DXpeditioning Operating in order to help assure well-run operations. While the DX University takes no position on how these guidelines can or should be used, we hope that the organizations might would recommend these "Best Practices," These guidelines are simply offered as our recommendations for good operating practices.