DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

What Are You Listening For?

What are you listening for?

by Wayne Mills, N7NG 

Last week we talked about how to study a pileup situation – listening to both sides of the pileup simultaneously. DXers are frequently encouraged to “Listen, listen and listen some more.” The first thing you need to hear is the DX station. Although there are exceptions, you are unlikely to make a QSO without hearing the DX station.


This week, we’ll start talking about what you are likely to hear when you do listen carefully. One of the first things that stands out for me when listening to a pileup situation is how many DXers really don’t seem to be listening to the pileup. After getting the DX station in your sights, it seems that listening to the pileup is the next logical step. But, that doesn’t always happen.


Consider a situation where the DX station is on CW, and he is saying “up.” What does that mean? With a small pileup on CW, “up” generally means up about 1 kHz. With a large pileup, though, saying “up” might mean many things. With a large pile, the DX op will need to spread his listening range in order to hear anyone in the mess, so he can’t be just listening “Up 1.”


Often, when I listen to such a pileup, with the DX op saying “Up,” I hear a small pileup calling exactly 1 kHz up – as advertised. Listening a bit more, I hear others calling up from there, because that is where the DX station is actually listening. In fact, he often isn’t working anyone “Up 1,” yet many are still there, calling endlessly. The DXers, who are making Q with the DX station, have listened carefully to the pileup and found where he is working. So, today’s hint is to listen and find the real pileup, rather than blindly following to the DX operator’s instructions. Many of you will find this obvious – others not so.


If you can’t listen to the DX and the pileup simultaneously, you get still get a feel for the timing the operator is maintaining. You will then be able to switch to the pileup as soon as the DX station turns it over. Listen immediately for the callsign – or someone sending a signal report – of the station that he’s working. Can you hear them? If so, look for them in the pileup. If you can’t hear the stations that he is working, you don’t have propagation, or you’re not looking on the right frequencies.


If you don’t quickly find the DXer he’s working, you can go back to the DX frequency and listen for the next attempt. Caution! Be sure that you don’t inadvertently change your transmit frequency and transmit on the DX frequency.

(c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG