DX University™


  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

News and Views
WAITING FOR BOUVET

As we wait for the beginning of the Rebel DX Group DXpedition to Bouvet Island, we wonder: How will it come off? How many of “The Deserving” will emerge with a new one or even DXCC Number 340? How many will make a QSO? Or make a QSO on a particular desired band? There are lots of questions, and not many answers.

Yet, this expedition will likely be different from what we have come to expect in recent years. DXpeditions to the difficult Southern Ocean have become expensive – very expensive. Suitable ships are limited in number, and are very expensive. If helicopters are necessary or desirable, adding a helicopter or two can easily double the cost. In addition, fuel costs for ships and helicopters have greatly increased in price in the last few decades. All of this has made foundation involvement important – inclusive and demanding.

This past week – finally – the 3Y0I DXpedition team departed Cape Town for Bouvet Island. Despite the lateness of the season, the plan is to arrive at Bouvet, land via Zodiac in a Southeast section of the island, haul equipment a short distance above the surf and set up camp.

But logistics is not the only issue. The current Bouvet team is experienced in this type of seamanship, and some have previous landing experience on Bouvet. Assuming the landing goes as planned, there are additional chores to be completed. These include surviving ashore, building stations – including antennas – and making them work. Questions have already arisen regarding antennas and, which of those included will best fulfil the needs of the particular operating location. Which will perform as expected on the glacier?

And what about operating strategy? How about the storming pileups? What should the team aim at in order to maximize the “happiness”? In other words, how will the performance be optimized for the Deserving? Is it necessary to do so?

WITH NO MONEY – NO HONEY?

In the past, with considerably less expenses, the operators usually provided seed money and relied on donations made after the fact to balance the books. These later donations were highly dependent on the quality of the performance. We asked: “If you enjoyed the performance, please put an extra donation in the post when requesting the promised confirmations.

The waters are now muddied in this regard, with sometimes-foundation-funding and OQRS, personal contributions depend on personal desires and how the expedition fulfills the needs.

In the case of an operation where seed money is initially self-funded, DXer “happiness” is probably more important than when large portions of the necessary funds have been supplied on a more anonymous basis though the foundations.

So, the performance characteristics of the DXpedition must be considered. Will the team aim at maximizing “All Time New Ones” (ATNOs) by restricting the number bands put into play? Or will they maximize the happiness by spending large amounts of time and energy on the low bands – even Topband? Do we even know how many serious DXers actually need Bouvet? Will the team simply aim at the largest possible number of QSOs? These are all important parameters that may trace directly back to the ultimate funding.

For the3Y0I expedition, funding seems to be closely held. There appears to be no large scale funding effort that has raised a significant percentage of the total cost in advance. In fact, there seems to be no obvious single source of large-scale funding at all – other than perhaps the operators themselves.

In the past, additional funding to complete a project came – voluntarily – in the form of contributions along with QSL card requests via post mail. Now, with Logbook of the World, that particular avenue no longer exists.

For the sake of argument, let’s now assume that for some reason foundation money has not been made available. We may ask why: Under what conditions will a funding organization make seed money available? Should this be clearly defined and reasonable?

So, here we are, waiting for the next Big One. Will the team be successful? What defines success? How would the organizers recover the expenses with limited success or no success if a landing never takes place? Would formal insurance be an option? What would it cost? Is insurance practical?

Some things are there for sure: With no external money available up front to help 3Y0I, these people are taking on a huge personal risk. The effective cost per QSO will be high and as there is no advanced financial support from the foundations, the team members will have to come up with some new concepts for external money so that the DX audience would have a fair opportunity to support 3Y0I after the fact. This suggests that for the first time early QSLs and LoTW may need to carry a larger price tag than has become recent custom with traditionally structured DXpeditions.

It is clear that the DXpedition funding model of the recent past will need to be altered. What will it become?

OH2BH / N7NG

     Posted: 2019-03-25
 
Milestone - One Billion QSO Records

Logbook of the World – History

On the 19th of December 2018, a significant milestone was reached. At 2332Z one billion QSO records had been uploaded to Logbook of the World.

Many hams began using the Internet during the early nineties. Dave Leeson, W6NL (W6QHS) talked about the Internet at Visalia in 1994 or 1995. It was a new concept for many of us. In mid-1995, I signed up to the VE7TCP DX reflector, using the only service I could find in Jackson, Wyoming: dialup accessible MCI Mail.

In just a few years as the Internet began to be widely used, DXers began suggesting that it might be time to utilize electronic mail to exchange QSL information that would be accepted by ARRL for award purposes. But how?

In April, 1998 Lew Jenkins, N6VV was present at the International DX Convention in Visalia, California. Lew was/is an expert in encryption. To an inquiring Rusty Epps, W6OAT, Lew confirmed that it would be possible to create an Internet-based QSLing system that would produce confirmations acceptable to the ARRL for award purposes.

Rusty summoned a number of key individuals to his fourth floor room in the Holiday Inn. Among them – in addition to N6VV – were members of the Yasme Foundation board of directors, the ARRL board and representatives from the RSGB. To this group, Lew presented what he called Encryption 101.

What Jenkins proposed was an electronic QSLing system utilizing Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that could replace mailed paper cards with rapid electronic transmission and exceptional security. The proposed system would involve individual electronic records containing three parts: 1) A data component containing QSO data, funds transfer, and possible visual representations. At least the first two would be protected by digital signatures.

The message was carried away from Visalia by those present. In July, 1998, at the Second Meeting of the ARRL Board, the following motion was made:

19. On motion of Mr. Roderick, seconded by Mr. Kanode, it was unanimously VOTED that the Executive Vice President direct the study, development and implementation of electronic QSL submissions for ARRL awards.

Along these lines, ARRL moved to study, develop and implement such a system. By the time [I] arrived in Newington in May, 2000 as manager of the Membership Services Department, the nature of a system had been formulated. However, rather than a three part “QSL” equivalent, it had been proposed that a “central clearing house” concept would be developed. Using this method, rather that all records being sent to individuals, as is the case with conventional paper QSL cards, QSO records would be electronically sent to a common data processing center. Each record received would be compared with the existing, already submitted records. Where matches occurred, a virtual QSL would result. These matched records could then be used directly for ARRL awards applications. Records that would be used for non-ARRL awards would need to be transferred in some way to other awards issuing organizations. (In practice, while this has worked out well for ARRL, it has hampered electronic QSLing for non-ARRL awards.)

Upon “going public” in 2003, a total of 100 Million records was quickly received by “Logbook of the World” as it quickly became known. After 15 years, there are more than 110 thousand users. There are over 163,000 “certificates” (different callsigns) in use, and there are more than 163 million QSL records stored in the system.

And now, after 15 years, the total number of QSO records has passed one billion.

-- N7NG

     Posted: 2018-12-20
 
It Takes Two to Tango

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. 

     Posted: 2015-11-23
 
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.

     Posted: 2015-09-26
 
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.

https://www.arrl.org/shop/The-Complete-DX-er

https://www.arrl.org/shop/A-Year-of-DX

 

- N7NG

     Posted: 2015-09-22
 
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.

- N7NG

*The terms UQRM, IQRM, CQRM and DQRM used in this article are attributed to Chris Duckling, G3SVL.

     Posted: 2015-05-11
 
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 CodeThe 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.

     Posted: 2012-10-08
 
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.

     Posted: 2013-09-23
 
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.

     Posted: 2013-09-03
 
Tuition Grants for DXU Students

Press Release
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

w0gj@arrl.net

     Posted: 2013-04-28
 
Upcoming Scheduled Sessions

NEW ITEMS

It Takes Two to Tango

The DX University Blog

DXpeditioning Basics - 2013

 

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Special Information for DXpeditions!

Incorporate these into your DXpedition Web sites...

Best Practices for DXpedition Operating

How We Will Operate

How To Work Us - What we expect of you.

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Here Now!

The DX University has released two sets of "Best Practices," one for DXers and one for DXpeditioners. These tools can be found in the DX University menu under DXing Tools and DXpeditioning Tools, Best Practices.

* Best Practices for Courteous and Efficient DXing *

* Best Practices for DXpedition Operating *

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Comments?

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About DX University

Established in 2011, The DX University™ is a multi-media program offering information, instruction and varied learning opportunities for DXers and DXpeditioners alike. The DX University has presented in-person sessions in Salt Lake City, in Visalia, California at the International DX Convention, and at several ARRL division conventions. Sessions have also been held at the W9DXCC Convention in Chicago and the ARRL Centennial Celebration in Hartford, CT.

The DX University Website is part of the DXU program. The site presents ideas and techniques for DXers and DXpeditioners aimed at improving operating skills and lessening the growing chaos on the DX bands. The media includes audio and video files as well as articles and programs from previous in-person presentations. Most of the information is available for your use. Contact us for details. Your input is always welcome.

Check here or in The DailyDX(tm) from time to time to see what's new!