DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

The Bigger Picture

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 56 from the DX University™*


In early November, Rick (The Locust) Hilding, K6VVA released a video that he called “The Big Picture of Expedition Operating and its Direct Relationship to Anti-Social Pileup Behavior.” That was a mouthful – in several ways. You can find it here:


It’s funny and accurate. Bernie McClenny, W3UR presented a followed-up piece in How’s DX? – QST for February, 2014 – backing up many of Rick’s thoughts.

These articles – and many others -- help to get the point across: Pileup behavior could be better. But as Rick emphasizes, the primary responsibility for an orderly and enjoyable pileup belongs to the DXpedition operator. A secondary responsibility belongs to the DXers in the pileup. The DX op must set the scene – the rules – the DXers must then follow them.

The bigger picture is one of understanding who is in the pileup, what they are perceiving and why they appear to behave poorly. One theory is that the masses of DXers fit a “normal” or Gaussian distribution described by the usual “bell” curve. The number of DXers is on the vertical (y) axis while the degree of their experience is on the horizontal (x) axis. Among those of us analyzing pileups, most of our thinking has centered on the more experienced DXers, because they are those with whom we are most familiar. I believe there are relatively few of these most experienced DXers. What I believe we fail to understand is that by far, a greater number in the pileups are much less experienced. These are the casual DXers.

In recent years, I have become much more sensitive to the existence of the casual DXer. These folks are interested in DXing. They like to work hams in far off places, and maybe even chase awards. Yet, they haven’t been exposed to the literature, or the on-the-air experiences that lead to the expert status of the most experienced. Frankly, there aren’t all that interested in spending the time to learn, either. Yet, they should be encouraged and mentored. Most of all, when identified, they should not be ridiculed or harassed because of their inexperience.

You could argue all of those who disrupt a pileup do so with intent, the DQRMers (Deliberate QRMers). There is no question that these malcontents do exist of course. I maintain however, that the DQRMers are relatively few. More often, we hear interference that is caused by circumstance, ill-timing, inadvertent calling, or the inability to operate a radio properly. These problems are not resolved by brute force or ridicule. It is necessary to understand the problem. Then craft a solution. As an example, Rick (‘VVA) has determined by experiment that sending a partial callsign two or three times can lessen out of turn calling. This in not because the DXpeditioner is expressing discontent, but rather because those with poor timing are finally hearing that he is trying to work someone.

So, what can we do? We can all help by identifying these casual DXers and welcoming them to the world of serious DXing. It is certainly possible for them to remain casual while still learning and understand more advanced DXing techniques. We need to understand that while many of us are “Professional Amateurs” some of us are just amateurs. We need to do a better job of understanding who is in the pileups and how to deal with them effectively.

The DX University is a resource for DX learning. The in-person sessions are an excellent opportunity for casual DXers to rub shoulders with more experienced DXers. There is much to learn. Perhaps more than anything, though it’s attitude. If you haven’t met a newcomer or casual DXer recently, make an effort to find one (!) Join the world!

de N7NG


*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. In person sessions are being scheduled for 2014, including sessions at The IDXC in Visalia in April, and the ARRL 100th Anniversary Convention in Hartford, CT in July. DXing resources can be found on the DX University Website. For more information go to www.dxuniversity.com