DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

Upcoming DX -- Swains Island

Upcoming DX – Swains Island


by Wayne Mills, N7NG


Coming early in September will be another Swains Island DXpedition. Although there have been a number of expeditions recently, and more are in the works, this one will be especially interesting to me because it offers clear-cut opportunities for success or failure.

Swains is quite rare. While it is a relatively easy one for theUSA, an operation from Swains also requires DXpeditioners to focus on another major target area –Europe. With theUSAhearing and being heard easily, workingEuropefrom the Pacific is one of the great challenges for a DXpeditioner. 

Swains will also be a challenge for European DXers. Many of the DX University articles that have appeared in The WeeklyDX™ have been aimed at just this situation. (You can review these articles at http://www.dxuniversity.com/dxing/tools.php ) The following is a summary of suggestions for both DXers and DXpeditioners.

For DXers

Pick your Phase (No. 4). Are you equipped to call in the early pileups? Decide if you have a realistic chance. If you can’t don’t add to the confusion by calling with little chance of success. Call only at the appropriate time.

Listen Effectively (Nos. 1,2,5).


    1. Can you hear the DX station?


    1. Is he working split? Have you found the pileup? Is he working your area?


    1. Remember: When if in doubt, don’t transmit.


  1. Study the Pileup. Can you find the stations the DX op is working? If not, call at the edge of the pile or study the pile further until you can estimate the proper place to call. Calling blindly offers little chance of success.

In addition to hints for DXers, there are also many guidelines for DXpeditioners. One source is DXpeditioning Basics at www.dxpeditioningbasics.com. Here’s another by G3SXW adapted from How’s DX, QST, August, 1989.

For DXpedition Operators

Pick out a call. Pick out a call and reply to it, even if it’s only a partial call. Persist until a two-way contact is completed. If it’s just a wall of noise, , listen at the edge of the pileup.

Be brief. Transmit only the callsign and RS(T), then confirm (“TU” on CW) each contact. If the call was wrong the first time, , repeat the correct call before moving on. Give your own call every three to five contact, depending on the QSO rate, or at least every one or two minutes. Exclude niceties, Ignore inquiries.

Be regular. Transmit consistently so the pileup quickly recognizes flow (text) and rhythm (gaps between transmissions). Transmit every few seconds, if only “?” or QRX.” Don’t leave long gaps.

Be in charge. You call the shots. Give clear and brief instructions and stick to them. Don’t lecture. If frustrated with the pileup, shift your receive frequency.

RX frequency. If you are rare, always use split frequency, but aim to minimize band occupancy while maximizing QSO rate. Ask for “UP2” (up 2 kHz) to start. When picking calls from the edge of the pileup, shift your RX frequency in a regular fashion and then the pileup will follow you. On SSB, use a maximum of 20 kHz spread for RX.

Directional Calls. Only use directional calls when calls cannot be picked out of the pileup. Repeat your instructions (area, country, or call numbers) for EVERY QSO. Take a new direction every few minutes to prevent frustration. Don’t miss short openings to the US/VE, Europe, andJapan.

Ed. Addition: Work the Target Area. All DXpeditions should determine the most difficult area to work and put all resources toward working that area. Such an area is called the target area. In many instances, it is advantageous to use directional calls in order to work the target area effectively.

Speed. Operate as fast as you can accurately manage, but keep in mind that errors and dupe rates will increase as speed is increased. You rate may seem better, although your overall performance will suffer. Target 32 WPM on CW.

Closing down. Clearly announce and repeat QRT, QRX, or QSY messages. Power cuts or military invasion are the only excuses for leaving the pileup hanging!

Good luck to all who need a QSO or two!

*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. The Third session of DXU was held in Bryce Canyon, Utah on July 27, 2012 at the ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Convention

On the afternoon of September 14, 2012, before the W9DXCC Convention, The Northern Illinois DX Association in conjunction with the 2012 W9DXCC will present DXing in the Black Hole. DXing in the Black Hole is a learning experience “intended for inexperienced but “eager” DXers.” Dxing basics will be covered including what is DXing, stations and antennas, QSLing and record keeping, awards and of course how to work DX.

For more information about DXing in the Black Hole, go to www.w9dxcc.com. For more information about DX University go to www.dxuniversity.com

 (c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG