DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

Study the Operator

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 53 from the DX University™*


November promises to be a banner month for “new ones,” both band-modes and all-time new ones. As I write, K9W has opened from Wake Island, as has 5J0R from San Andreas and XR0YY from Easter Island. TX5RV continues as well from the Australs. It’s almost a full time job keeping track of what you have and have not worked already. The weekend was frenetic with overlapping pileups and much confusion.

This first thing that struck me Saturday morning was that some of the DXped operators have yet to get their bearings. Some of the DXers in the pileups need to shake out the cobwebs, too. We’ve only had a few week’s respite, but it’s apparent that technique has suffered. Of course, the DX ops have had some additional time to revert. Some are failing to say –with every QSO – where they are listening (Please: at least “UP”!) and who they are listening for; Europe, NA, SA, whatever. One DX op made the grave mistake of answering an AA5 when he was listening for Europe. He was trying to be nice, but instead he just unleashed the hordes for a few minutes.

Some DXpeditions are still firmly entrenched in announcing their frequencies ahead of time. Guys, this just isn’t necessary any more. With our fantastic, worldwide communications systems, DXers will know almost as soon as you open up just where you are transmitting. Focus your efforts on telling them where you are listening.

DXpeditioners should make sure that they aren’t listening right on top of another expedition. This was happening between several expeditions last week, raising all sorts of issues. And currently -- as I write -- K9W is on 18132 listening up five, and XR0YY is on 18135 listening down five. That doesn’t work very well on USB. Somebody isn’t paying attention. Later K9W moved to 28.525, just five kHz above TX5RV’s outpost of 28.520. That followed one operator not know exactly how his frequency control was operating.

All that is necessary is to find a clear spot to transmit and also fine a clear space in which to put your pileup. Most of the DXpeditions have the Internet these days, so the various spotting networks can help you find the other operations transmitting and receiver frequencies. Just spot yourself. You are severely hampered if you must hold to a pre-announced set of frequencies.

On a positive note, there are some things that we DXers can all do to speed things along. The most important is to study the operator. This means listen first. Of course, we need to find where he’s listening, and what his listening pattern is. But it is also very useful to study his methods. What type of call does he respond to? Does he pick out partials quickly? If so, he’s probably finding someone close to the same frequency.  Pick a close frequency and send or say your call just once and listen. Is he slow to respond? If so, he is probably tuning. If he’s tuning up, you might tune up in frequency and call quickly on the first clear frequency you find.

Does he work tail-enders? This one is tricky. I most add that most of the time, tail-ending is a no-no. I am writing a page on “The Death of Tail-ending.” It’s unfortunate, but tail-ending is almost universally misunderstood and poorly implemented. It doesn’t lend itself to computer logging of CW on the DXpedition end either, if the DX op is using the computer to send CW. Few DXers know how to do it properly. If you think you know how to tail-end, you probably don’t. Unless you’re sure fuhgeddaboudit!(Bill Moore taught me that one…translation for those not from Brooklyn: “Forget about it.”) If you want to learn how to tail-end, find a copy of Martti Laine’s book “Where Do We Go Next,” and read Appendix I.Tail-ending is still a viable technique, though. This morning, one DXpedition operator told me “…way to work me!” following an irresistible tail-end. One of the C82DX ops (K6RB) last week responded to a well-times tail-end, as well. As Don Miller said in his 1968 DX Handbook: “Nothing in DX circles is more beautiful to hear, nor more satisfying to accomplish, than to raise a new or rare country by virtue of a perfectly times tail-end call.” Don goes on to describe the technique in detail in his book.

On an even more positive note, some of the DXpedition ops that showed up in the last day of so are fantastic. They are keeping the speeds moderate, communicating with the pileup and in general doing everything right – as evidenced by their well-behaved pileups.


*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 This article and more can also be found at the DX University Blog, n7ng.wordpress.com