DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

More on Remote Control

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 51 from the DX University™*


On direction of the ARRL Board of Directors, the DX Advisory Committee is currently charged with reviewing the DXCC rules. Potential changes are to be passed to the Board for their consideration. Among the current pressing topics are the DXCC country criteria and the use of remotely controlled stations. In the June 4th 2012 issue of the WeeklyDX™, I talked about remote control in the 21st century.

Operating via remote control has significant advantages. If one is unable to sustain an antenna system or worse, is prohibited from even transmitting, remote operation can be the solution. Living under restrictive covenants is but one situation. For DXing, however, other factors come into play.

In the beginning, and for many years, all DX QSOs were required to be made “from within a radius of 150 miles of the initial location” (Rules for postwar DXCC, QST for Mar. 1947, p. 69). This limitation was practical for the time and was perhaps intended to foster or at least accommodate local competition. At some point, this restriction might have been seen as keeping Westerners in their places.L In reality, however, there is no real competition because there is no level playing field.

In the seventies, this concept was challenged. At that time in the United States, the population was becoming increasingly mobile. The thought of giving up formal DXCC chasing because an employer or alternate employment required a distant move was not well-received. Many DXers pretty much gave up DXing after a long-distance move.

The issue was discussed for several years, and finally in 1977, DXCC Rule 9 was changed to allow contacts for DXCC credit to be made anywhere within a single DXCC entity. This solved the mobility problem, but another problem loomed. In large countries such as the USA, major differences in propagation could be expected within the geography that was allowed. Many DXers took advantage by traveling to opposite coasts to work DX from propagationally advantageous locations. With some justification, others still loathe this practice.

Today, DXers can leverage Rule 9 to even greater advantage. Using the Internet, they can operate easily from distant locations still within their own DXCC entity. In principle, the latest equipment, simply installed allows DXers to transmit “legally” from anywhere within their DXCC entity, giving them great “competitive” advantage.

And, there are many additional possibilities that aren’t currently DXCC-legal. One can operate a station at a remote DX location – say in the Azores Islands – while enjoying one’s home environment – or any other environment, for that matter. Alternately, one could operate one’s single – or multiple – home station(s) while traveling anywhere in the world.

Extending that idea, one could operate a very rare station – say Campbell Island – while residing on an offshore vessel. This could be very useful. But, why even bother to go there? Just plant a remote station on an island and stay home next time. Variations on this theme are already being contemplated.

None of this even touches the ability to use remote receivers at distant locations, either close by to eliminate local noise on Topband, or on another continent to be able to hear the unhearable. What about the use of such remote receivers on both ends of a QSO?

And, what about the extensive use of undetected remote equipment in contests? Judicious use of remote equipment will defy the most extensive detection attempts –and do we really want to expend the energy to detect such cheating? My own discussions with others suggests that I don’t come close to realizing what possibilities already exist, not to mention those yet to be invented.

Some who argue against these concepts might say: “Just make these things against the [DXCC] rules.” In many cases, the transgressions would be clear; that is, we could easily recognize activities contrary to the rules. In others, we might have only our suspicions: “That QSO was simply impossible at that time.” In most cases, however, while we’d have our suspicions, we simply wouldn’t be able to prove the transgressions. How much energy do we really want to expend to locate and “prosecute” an ever increasing number of such cases?

These remote operating variations are already being accomplished! Such operating is impossible to detect. We cannot stop it. As I have said in the past: “The twenties and thirties style of operating recognition has been made obsolete by technology.” Like it or not, a new – or modified – form of program structure is necessary – even past due. Those among us who long for DXing as it was in the beginning – when we were beginners – will likely be disappointed, but if changes aren’t made to adapt to the modern world, the modern world will consume our traditions.

So in this respect, in what direction should DXing go? We could all stick our heads in the sand. To some extent, we have been doing that for some time. DX operating has always had discretionary aspects. How much power will I run? Who can make a QSO from my shack? Can I make QSOs for my DXCC from someone else’s shack? Can someone make a QSO for me from his or her shack? Can I work my own station while on a DXpedition to a very rare location?

Should we ignore an order of magnitude increase in the use of these methods? Try to control them? Or should we think outside the box? Perhaps all we need to do is recognize the options and remind DXers of the reason for awards. After all, most of us have long been defining our own DXing in an ethical way. We can make definitive statements forewords to the rules – concerning what is “right. The least we can do is lay a guilt trip on those who persist in pushing the envelope.

While in Newington, I always told those who asked that there are many DXCC rules that simply cannot be enforced. That in the end, the correct way is for each of us to decide for ourselves how to conduct our own DXing activities. You should be open about it and be able to defend it. There is no other way.

*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. The most recent scheduled session was on Friday, 20 September at the W9DXCC in Elk Grove, Illinois. In person sessions are being scheduled for 2014. DXing resources can be found on the DX University Website. For more information go to www.dxuniversity.com