It Takes Two to Tango
New from OH2BH and the DX University:
After some prompting, Martti Laine, OH2BH has written a narrative describing how DXpedition operators can more effectively work Europeans in a rare-DX environment. The paper is titled “The DX Chase: It Takes Two to Tango” To be sure, the title is intended to emphasize that the DXpeditioner must guide and the DXers must follow if the operation is to be successful.
In this paper, adhering to his long-held belief that “The pileup accurately mirrors the DXpedition operator who runs the show,” Martti explains many of the factors that influence the successful DXpedition experience of working Europe, pointing in particular to the value of understanding the differences among DXers themselves. A lack of such understanding usually leads there.o failure. Introducing the concept of such understanding is the primary purpose of the paper. You can find “It Takes Two to Tango” at this link.
In addition to Martti’s paper, look for a companion piece – in similar form – for DXers coming in the near future – The DX Chase: It takes two to Tango – Part II by Wayne Mills, N7NG.
DXpedition Planning Video from K0IR
Ralph Fedor, K0IR has had the prime responsibility for planning a number of major DXpeditions. His experiences include expeditions to VK0IR, K5D, FT5ZM and K1N, Heard, Desecheo, Amsterdam and Navassa Islands. Each of these expeditions culminated in world-class results.
At the 2015 DX University session in Visalia CA, Ralph presented a program describing important aspects of DXpedition planning. There were a number of significant ideas in that presentation, not the least of which was the notion that a DXpedition owes a voice to DXpedition supporters -- investors if you will -- prior to the trip; that the investors are entitled to a voice in defining the DXpedition’s parameters.
Ralph has recently been named Chairman of the Board of The International DX Association, Inc., INDEXA an IRS (USA) 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. In coordination with INDEXA, the DX University is presenting a video summary of the DX University presentation. Click here to view Ralph's summary of that presentation.
The Complete DXer
Bob Locher, W9KNI is IMO, a classic DXer. Over 30 years ago – in 1983 – he published a book called The Complete DXer. According to Bob, the book was intended to make the point that DXing a fun endeavor that requires skills that can -- and must – be learned.
Bob’s book describes the “Classic DXer.” It is essentially a “how to” book as were many others published during the same era. But, Bob’s book is different – delightfully so. It was different then, and it still is. It was not written as a set of directives, laid out point by point: “thou shalt do this or thou shalt not do that.” Rather, the book was written as a narrative, from the point of view of a real DXer, describing the things that successful DXers do – as they are being done.
At the outset, I need to put this discussion in perspective. To a small degree, the Complete DXer is obsolete in the 21st century. Many changes have taken place in DXing in the last 50 years, and certainly in the last 30 years. DXing has changed repeatedly as technology has moved ahead. Further, our perspective on our own DXing continues to change as we work more and more DX without “un-working” any of it.
The most significant of these changes has been the Internet. The Internet has changed the world forever, of course, and these changes include effects on DXing. Many of the changes are not only technological, but also changes in how we view DXing. For example, DXers no longer need to sit for hours at their radios listening for needed DX stations. Moreover, since we can never “un-work” our DX, the games that we play and what we wish to work change periodically.
While “one ringer” telephone alerting networks had long existed, there was nothing like the fully-interconnected, Internet-based DX data gathering and distribution systems that exist today. The Internet has changed DXing forever, yet all-in-all it has probably changed for the better. We are all aware of the stress placed on family harmony by DXers needing a 160 meter QSO, but not knowing: “When will you be on 160.”
Why am I recommending a 30 year old book? It’s simple: Extensive listening on the air suggests to me that many DXers need to learn some of the techniques that fall into the “classic DXer” category. Primary among them is listening; knowing what’s going on at all times.
Despite the steady flow of information provided by the introduction of the Internet into DXing, however, The Complete DXer still makes a point: DXing is fun. It describes the hunt for DX, and it emphasizes that DXing is a game that can and must be learned. The Complete DXer describes – among many other things – the technique of listening; being aware of what it going on. Absolutely nothing is more important in DXing. When it comes right down to actually making a QSO, the Internet is a no match for actually listening. The third (and latest) version of The Complete DXer provides a valuable perspective on modern DXing. If nothing else, it puts a ‘modern DXer’ into a framework to understand the all-to-often neglected essentials of DXing.
The Complete DXer and a companion A Year of DX published in 2010 are very readable and helpful additions to your DX library. They are currently available from the ARRL.
QRM and Frustration
(This article is drawn from parts of the DX University presentation at Visalia in April, 2015.)
DXpeditions have always had some form of on-the-air difficulty in conducting their operations. In the early days, there were many fewer DXers, and the QRM potential was less. But, there were always DXers disgruntled by their inability to make a QSO who would transmit on the DX frequency. But, recent DXpeditions have been increasingly plagued by QRM, inadvertent and intentional.
Inadvertent QRM falls into several categories: Ignorance or IQRM, Unnecessary or UQRM, and Created or CQRM. A forth type of QRM is not inadvertent, it is Deliberate -- DQRM.
Ignorance IQRM or IQRM* stems from a lack of learning about standard, proven DXing procedures. To the extent that it affects us all, this type of QRM is primarily caused by the inability of would-be DXers to operate their radios properly. This results in transmissions on the DX frequency and the inevitable reactions from frustrated DXers.
Unnecessary or UQRM is usually attributable to the UP and Frequency police. This difficulty appears to be exacerbated by the unnecessarily complex frequency controls of modern transceivers.
A third form of QRM is Created QRM or CQRM which is caused by DXpedition operators who don’t have the ability to control their pileups. (In some cases, CQRM can lead to intentional QRM.) The fundamental principle is that the nature of the pileup depends on how the pileup is conducted. It is likely that CQRM is the easiest QRM to control since it is relatively easy to guide a relatively small number of DXpeditioners.
Having defined several types of disruptive expedition-related QRM, what if anything can be done to rectify these situations? To help combat Ignorance QRM, the “DX Press” has been prolific. But one thing is becoming clear: More often than not we are “preaching to the choir.” We are NOT reaching the large percentage of casual “DXers.” They don’t read the literature, they don’t belong to DX clubs, and often they don’t know other experienced DXers. They have an interest in DX, and they start calling when they hear something interesting. We need to pay more attention to finding and working with more casual DXers.
The code is another situation. With the advent of no-code licenses, we have many new hams who want to work CW, but haven’t yet put in the time to learn it effectively. Thanks to the industry code readers are prevalent. Some DXers wish that these people would stay on SSB and RTTY, but is that what we really want?
Unnecessary QRM can be minimized by better educating DXers in the operation of their radios. In addition, frequency control in radios currently available is far more complicated than necessary and should be simplified. Transmitting on the DXpedition frequency was seldom a problem with separate transmitters and receivers.
In the case of Created QRM, QRM created by DXpedition operator’s style, more attention by DXpedition managers to procedure would prove helpful. Because there are relatively few DXpedition operators, it is easier to help these operators in using the best practices to manage their pileups than to attempt to educate thousands of DXers. If DXpedition operators consistently employ best practices, pileups will be more efficient and more fun. Following the suggested Best Practices published by the DX University and by The DX Code of Conduct – for DXpeditioners can help.
In the case of CQRM, QRM created by DXpedition operator’s style, more attention to procedure by DXpedition managers could prove useful. Following the suggested Best Practices published by the DX University and by The DX Code of Conduct – for DXpeditioners can help.
Intentional QRM is entirely another matter. DQRM is usually generated by discontented operators who wish to retaliate in some way for some reason. Perhaps some of these operators haven’t made their desired QSOs for reasons they deem beyond their control. Some of these QRMers are not DXers at all, and have had their net QSOs disrupted by DXpedition activity.
Some DQRM results from adverse, real-time interaction between DXers and other, pre-existing Amateur Radio activities. For example, DXers in pileups aren’t well known for listening to their transmitting frequencies before transmitting. DXpedition operators aren’t known for listening to their pileup frequencies, either. Opening an expedition on a narrow WARC band without a full complement of stations isn’t the best idea, but it happens. Covering certain nets and mode frequencies isn’t wise either. Some of the QRM and DQRM is caused by the operating style of the DXpedition operator; frustration experienced by DXers can lead to DQRM.
When a major DXpedition in on the air, there is much additional friction ready to be exploited. Better operating on both sides of the pileup is necessary. Putting our educational resources where they will do the most good is essential. The DX University is working in this area. If you have additional ideas, please write.
*The terms UQRM, IQRM, CQRM and DQRM used in this article are attributed to Chris Duckling, G3SVL.
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.
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