DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

Without the Internet

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 66 from the DX University™*


There’s no doubt that the modern data processing and the Internet have “enhanced” DXing to a great extent. In addition to keeping accurate records of what DXers have worked on all of the DX bands, the constant communications between DXers around the world opens bands and leads us right to the pileups with record speed. There are great advantages in using the Internet to keep track of spots from around the world, but there are also important lessons to be learned by practicing pre-internet methods.

Once, many band openings went unnoticed because there was no one there to talk to. The bands sounded dead, and even if someone called CQ, there was generally no one to answer. I recall having a weekly, short distance sked on ten meters in the late sixties. Having my small beam pointed toward the San Francisco area from near Sacramento would invariably generate a call sometime during the conversation from New Zealand or Australia. If we hadn’t been having a local QSO, the band opening would have gone unnoticed. Since the development of our modern Internet resources, it is much easier to spot band openings by simply checking one of a myriad of spotting networks that have proliferated.

So what is it like without these new resources? Last Thursday, around network news time, our local high-tech communications system (cable) went out of service. No television, and no telephone and no Internet. Isolated! As they say “When All Else Fails…”

So, not having anything else to do, I sat down in front of the radio and began to tune! What a novel concept! A few things can happen when you just tune the bands. First, you might run across a pileup. In such a situation, it becomes necessary to tune to find the station who is being called. Without knowledge beforehand, finding the DX station is not necessarily a trivial task. Of course, there are the usual arrangements, the DX operator asking for calls “up one” or two. So, down one or two would be a good place to start listening.

I found a pileup and tuned down slightly, and sure enough, there was the station – one of the ZD9s on 20M SSB – with a substantial pileup just up the band. After working him, I realized once again that this was the way any of us learned to chase DX. Returning to the methods of the last century was almost a strange feeling

Another possibility when tuning is hearing a rare or semi-rare station calling CQ. In fact this happened for me yesterday. I was up early and catching up on a few things in the shack with the radio set to listen on 3504. VK9AN had been on that frequency in our early morning, and sure enough before long there he was calling CQ. He was an easy mark! Listening for a while after my QSO indicated that no one else had been listening as no one called until the VK9 was spotted. If you are really interested in heightened pileup competition it is definitely worth waiting until the pileup builds. But if you are more interested in getting a new one in the log and moving on. Finding the rare one in the clear after a CQ is the way to go. One measure of a successful DXer is how many rare QSOs he/she makes following the CQ of a rare DX station.

Clearly, as a society, we are much more pressed for time than in the past. To the extent that we spend more of our [would-be DXing] hours with our families, relying on spotting networks to alert us to the opportunity for a quick QSO “is a good thing. I buy that.” But time spent tuning and listening can produce many rare and unusual QSOs, while teaching us how to be better DXers.

*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. DXing resources can be found on the DX University Website. A DX University session will again be held at the Visalia International DX Convention in April, 2015. Contact the DX University if you are interested in using DX University resources as a framework for mentoring in your area. For more information go to www.dxuniversity.com