DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners


by Wayne Mills, N7NG

While observing some of the excellent operating from D64K and 9M4SLL this past week, one might wonder why there has been relatively little acrimony present on the DXpedition frequencies. While there have been some complaints, particularly from the more deserving inEurope, the overall response has been good. In theUS, even with long polar paths from many locations, griping has been minimal, as has the on-frequency “clutter.”

Why is this so? Certainly some of the same people that have caused havoc during the past year or so are present, so what’s different? We have all the same elements present:

Difficulty with propagation, difficulty with DXers who haven’t learned how to operate their radios, language problems leading to misunderstanding instructions, timing problems leading to what appears to be continuous calling, code readers that lead to misunderstandings, and a general lack of tolerance on the part of many DXers.

What may be different is that the DXpedition operators are doing an excellent job of performing. They are satisfying the audience. First and foremost, they are keeping the rate high. Nothing is more important than rate. In the end, if the rate is high, nothing else really matters. Since rate depends on so many other factors, a good rate is success by definition. A side-effect of high rate is that everyone is so busy trying to be the next QSO, they don’t have time to tell the wannabees DXers that the DX operator is listening “UP, UP, UP.”

A quick look at the Club Log stats shows that QSO rates for some of the recent DXpeditions are abysmal. One QSO per minute or – hard to believe – even one QSO every two to three minutes just isn’t acceptable; there is no reason for such poor performance. If an operator on a major expedition runs that slowly, he should be observing and learning from a more competent operator.

The primary goal of the DXpeditioner should be a good rate while maintaining acceptable scores in other key areas. Fairness in deciding who to work and maintaining high standards in QSO format are still important. Consistency and attention to the technical details of QSO cannot be ignored. Of course, if other important factors are ignored, a good rate won’t be possible.

These observations are nothing new. Although they have been discussed frequently, they are often ignored in the sea of complaints about DXers’ lack of patience and poor operating. Yet, the problem almost always lies with the DXpedition operator. Few disagree that the DXpedition operator is responsible and has the opportunity to control the pile, yet many are quick to blame the callers when things get ugly.

There are many reasons for errant calling in a DX pileup. Most reasons are easily explained if not always justified. There are poor signals, language problems, unavoidable poor timing, and the list goes on. The bottom line, though is that these difficulties pale when careful analysis of the DXpedition op reveals deficiencies.

Nothing is more important than the selection of operators for the next DXpedition to a rare country. Selection cannot be made by organizers who are not also excellent operators themselves. Funding organizations must pay more attention to operator capability.

In the end – once again – we discover that  it’s up to the DXpedition operator. The most effective solution to “bad” pileups is keeping the rate up, giving clear instructions and being fair.

(c) 2012 - Wayne Mills, N7NG