DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

When in Doubt -- Don't Transmit

When in Doubt – Don’t Transmit!

by Wayne Mills, N7NG

Many DXers see what they want to see in big pileup behavior. Some see other DXers as a bullies, intent on getting to the DX first, not caring about the expense. These guys decry the tactics: the constant calling, the apparent deliberate QRM, etc. They want to “teach” these guys how to operate properly.


Other DXers realize that extremely numerous situations exist that make it seem that the mass in the pileup is totally undisciplined. There is no question that a pileup is a mess. It’s what I have called “controlled chaos.” If all of the callers are completely disciplined, a pileup can really be too good. Controlled chaos is a good thing, and it’s up to the DX operator to control it – at least to his satisfaction.


The apparent difficulty in a pileup is that many DXers want to call, even when they cannot hear the DX station well enough to make a QSO. In the West Coast DX Bulleting years ago, Cass told of a DXer who was calling without ever hearing the DX. He said “Oh, I wasn’t hearing in the DX, I was just calling blind.” “You [must] understand” he said “that they cannot hear you if you don’t call.” Listening simultaneously to both sides of the pileup is very revealing. In fishing, you cannot catch fish if you don’t have a line in the water. That’s generally true, but you are a much better fisherman if you know where the fish is, and what he’s eating. DXing is the same in that respect.


To be an efficient DXer, it is essential that you know what’s going on before you call. Effective DXing is not a random process. “You can’t work ‘em if you can’t hear ‘em” still holds true, Cass’ DXer aside. Calling under any other circumstances creates unnecessary confusion, QRM and animosity. So, this week’s hint is: When in doubt, don’t call. In fact, when in doubt don’t transmit at all. Rather, first remove the doubt. Follow the suggestions in previous articles about listening to a pileup. Determine what is happening before you transmit. If you can’t hear the DX station, wait for the band to change in your favor. When you can hear better, dive in with the confidence of an experienced DXer and snag the DX station with relative ease.


Needless to say, if you have a modest station, you will need to work harder – or be smarter – to log the DX station. Being a smart DXer doesn’t only involve transmitting. Trying to accomplish your goal with a modest station will not be easily accomplished without the cerebral effort of listening and comprehending. Maybe experienced DXers have set specific roadblocks in their paths in order to test their skills. It’s much easier to bulldoze your way to DXCC; much more difficult to do it with QRP, an indoor dipole, or other handicap. It can be done, however.

 (c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG