DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

Using Propagation to Your Advantage

Using Propagation to Your Advantage

by Wayne Mills, N7NG

We all experience variations in propagation, no matter where we are located. Of course, some areas have much better propagation to areas of greater interest. Topband on the East Coast is a good example. More countries are workable with relatively low power from the East than in other, more westerly parts of the country. The West Coast, on the other hand, has a chip-shot to the islands of the pacific andSouth East Asiaon most bands, most of the time. That’s just the way it is.

You will have a much higher success rate chasing DX from your location if you pick and choose when you call the DX. Calling DX while the band is favoring you is like having big antennas and too much power. Conversely, for most DXers, calling during periods of poor propagation will waste time and cause considerable frustration.

Calling a DX station when the conditions to your area are poor doesn’t usually make sense, either. Not calling under these conditions does require discipline, however. Calling when you can just hear the signal “in there” is tempting. I can be “dangerous” and possibly embarrassing though if you are actually called and can’t hear the reply.

When to call can depend on many things. Calling is probably in order if the DX station’s operating time is limited and he might QRT at any time. If the DX station isn’t working your part of the country during good openings, or if there are no good openings, calling under poor conditions could make sense.

Further, you might choose to increase your level of competition – your challenge – by calling when conditions are relatively poor. Slipping in between a couple of loud DXers from another, more favorable location can be fun. But care must be taken in this case to avoid causing unnecessary interference.

So, endlessly pounding away, sending your callsign in direct competition with much stronger stations without a plan doesn’t make much sense, and it can cause considerable unnecessary QRM to those with a much greater chance of success.

In order to find periods of good propagation, you can use the various Internet-based propagation tools and solar resources services. Learn the relationships between the solar indices and propagation conditions. Study propagation. Using these tools will help you decide when it’s best to look for the DX station. By choosing periods of good propagation to call DX, you will find that it takes much less mental energy and it will generate much less stress in your DXing life.

The Hint for this week is to learn the propagation for your area, and use your knowledge to make the most efficient use of your time calling DX.

(c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG