DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

Estimating Where to Call Next

Estimating Where to Call Next…

by Wayne Mills, N7NG


In the early phases of a DXpedition to a rare location, where to call depends on the size of the pileup. If you’re lucky and the pileup is still small, there is no problem. On the other hand, the pileups might already be so large that finding the station being currently worked is impossible.

In this case, we might employ the Wayne Gretsky Rule for DX Pileups according to Kip Edwards, W6SZN. Kip has big time experiences from the other end of a pileup. “Gretsky is famous for saying that his success was due not to skating where the puck was, but where it was going to be.  The same thing applies to monster pileups.” Kip continues:


“Last night, 3C0E had a monster pileup on 40 CW and there was the East Coast curtain in full force. My 800 watts output and a rotatable dipole made clear that brute force was not going to be successful.  So I listened for awhile to see if I could figure out a pattern. The pileup was about 15 [kHz] wide and it was fairly easy to spot the guy he was working. I listened for a few QSOs but could not figure out a pattern—sometimes the next QSO was right on the frequency of the prior one, sometimes not.  So, remembering what it’s like from the other end when faced with a huge CW pileup, I went about 1.5 up from the prior QSO and called.  It took about five QSOs before I worked him.


“For guys who have never been on the other end, it’s difficult to explain what it sounds like when you have 20 or more guys all calling on the same frequency at the same time.  It is literally impossible to pick out a call or sometimes even a letter. Some DX operators will just sit there, waiting for repeated calls until they finally get one—and end up with one QSO every 2-3 minutes. The good ones will do something [else]. 


For right-handed operators (most of us) they tune with their left hand.  I don’t know about you but it’s far easier for me to tune the main knob counter- clockwise (to the “left”) than clockwise, i.e., up in frequency. That’s precisely what the guy did last night, and when he turned the knob up a bit there I was. The exact same thing happened the day before on 17 meter CW.”


This week’s hint is when the pileup is really huge, don’t worry so much about calling close to the frequency of the last station worked. Rather, find a place where the DX op might be listening next.

(c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG