DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners



Perhaps the last chapter is not the appropriate place for a discussion concerning ethics: maybe it should be at the beginning. In any event, make no mistake, this issue encompasses all other issues in DXpeditioning. Ethics is defined as a set of moral principles.It’s not what is legal or illegal but what is right or wrong. The DXing community is keenly aware of this and defines its own ethical transgressions. Eventually support for DXpedition groups and individuals whether direct or through the DX foundations may be affected when things go astray 

Situations arising from licensing, QSLing and even questions concerning an actual presence at the claimed location all affect the integrity of the DXCC program itself. It is not our intent here to describe in detail what is right and what is wrong in DXing. The DX community through its representatives on the ARRL DXAC as well as magazines and bulletins will over time decide these issues. It is our intent however to emphasize that these issues will be decided by the DXing community. It is in the best interest of any DXpeditioner to consider not only his actions but the perceptions of his actions by DXers. After all, image is everything.

Ethical considerations do cover things such as that which is prohibited by law and/or published rules, issues of DXCC Rules and use of the Internet – chat rooms, packet spots and schedules. Also included are matter related to QSLing – “pay to play,” OQRS, LoTW and e-QSL



One of the issues challenging 21st Century DXers and DXpeditioners is the funding of DXpeditions. An area which significantly affects DXpeditioners, funding of DXpeditions and their relationship with DXers is that of QSLing. Historically, QSLing has been conducted via the world postal system. QSLs can be delivered through the assistance of various groups operating the IARU QSL Bureaus, consolidating services that have served to lower the mailing costs at the expense of much longer turn-around times. QSLs have also been exchanged via direct mail, where QSLs are sent directly to DX stations along with self-addressed return envelopes. In the latter case, the DXer sends the QSL itself along with sufficient funds for reply also via direct mail. In addition to providing return postage, sending an envelope directly to the operator or QSL manager offers the opportunity for the DXer to perhaps include a donation to help cover expenses or other costs of an expedition. For many decades, there was no satisfactory form of “electronic” delivery of QSLs available. In the past, any electronic delivery system would have involved facsimile, a mode that is virtually impossible to make secure and not subject to alteration.



In 1998 the ARRL staff was tasked to study, develop and implement a system for creating electronic QSLs for ARRL awards. In early 2003 the ARRL introduced an electronic QSLing system that was not only secure but, because of the proliferation of the Internet, quickly became available to virtually any DXer who wished to use it. Logbook of the World (LoTW) or Logbook as it is known is a free, central clearing-house type of system that accepts log records from radio amateurs and attempts to match these records with QSO records submitted by others. When a match occurs a QSL is produced which in turn can be used for ARRL awards, particularly DXCC. LoTW records can now be used for the CQ WPX award.

Discussions have taken place concerning the use of LoTW for various other non-ARRL awards but the reality is that none of these awards has to date been supported. For DXCC however the LoTW system is a resounding success. It is becoming the standard for DX QSLing with matches over 40% of logged QSOs after some operating events. Although some still feel that few use it, with around 50,000 different users (in early 2012) LoTW is serving a significant percentage of active DXers. It is quite possible that LoTW generates more QSO records than the entire world-wide QSL Bureau system.

There is some concern about the length of time DXers who use LoTW have to wait for LoTW uploads. This issue revolves around funding and in particular funding for large DXpeditions. The primary method of individual funding for DXpeditions remains the direct QSL envelope option. At this time, no parallel funding mechanism exists for the LoTW system. ARRL has agreed in principle to use of some sort of credit-card based contribution mechanism but to date this has not been implemented. Without such a contribution channel, DXpeditions have been reluctant to upload their logs to the Logbook system early in the QSLing cycle. In doing this, their intent is apparently to persuade more DXers to request a direct card, thereby encouraging more contributions.

Originally, ARRL’s Colvin Award set a criteria for uploads to be not more than one year after the end of a DX operation. Somewhat later, some other organizations set a similar period. The one year limit was somewhat arbitrary: no one really knew how LoTW might evolve. By 2010, it was clear that it had become very popular. Now, waiting one year for an upload seems quite unreasonable, while most of the direct QSLing seems to be concluded after only 3-4 months.

In the past no one questioned that the bureau system might average over 2-3 years to deliver QSLs. So if you weren’t particularly interested in a rapid QSL reply you could use the bureau. If you were interested in a quick QSL, perhaps because you had just worked an all-time new country, you sent a direct request, usually taking advantage of the opportunity to also send a donation. Now, with postage costs very much higher than before, even for bureau deliveries, LoTW is more economical than either direct or bureau. As noted, with LoTW, as with the bureau system, there is no opportunity to send a contribution, since there is no envelope into which to put it.

No doubt, time will adjust these matters. Perhaps ARRL will provide a web-based credit card contribution system. In the meantime we can be hopeful that DXpeditioners will not incur or create excessive bad-will on the part of DXers, while at the same time DXers will “step up to the plate” and make the donations that are necessary to conduct these large expeditions.



The internet encompasses a new set of challenges for DXers. Using the Internet simultaneously with communications via radio facilitates certain possibly questionable activities. DX QSOs have traditionally been point to point, strictly via amateur radio frequencies. Through the use of Internet chat rooms, DXers can coordinate their QSOs – on Topband, for example, where communications is marginal at best. Observations indicate that QSO information is sometimes exchanged more via Internet than via radio. This isn’t necessarily a problem for DXpeditioners, at least not yet(!)

The Internet also allows the use of remote transmitting and receiving equipment. This can be an issue for DXpeditioners. In fact anyone can utilize receivers, transmitters and indeed whole stations remotely when they are located other than where their license and callsign indicate.

The Internet and associated modern technology also facilitates the use of very effective spotting networks. The Skimmer, which finds stations automatically may change contest and DXing drastically. Is this a bad thing? Probably not – it’s just different.

ClubLog has introduced DXers to a competitive system which is finding great popularity. Is that a bad thing? As DXers have fewer “new” ones to work such competitive schemes are probably a good thing.