DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners



An important issue related to successful pileup management is frustration. Those who feel that, for any reason they will not be successful in making the QSOs they wish can be a potential source of problems for a DXpedition. A few who feel that the DX is not giving them a fair deal may create deliberate QRM (DQRM) on the DX frequency consisting of derogatory comments, carriers and various other obnoxious and/or disruptive forms of interference 

It is therefore important to attempt to create conditions that will lead to a high degree of positive feelings on the part of those participating in the pileup. Several methods are available to accomplish this end.



One method of supporting high expectations is simply staying power. That is, the DX operator remaining on a band for hours at a time, showing callers that when conditions are right or (at least) when the pileup diminishes they will have their chance for a QSO. Staying on the same band has the added advantage of minimizing band-dupes and maximizing the number of different stations worked. Moving from band to band or even disappearing for long, undefined periods is a formula for disaster by giving the Big Guns multi-band QSOs while the smaller stations may make none. Nothing is more frustrating than just getting started with a pileup only to have the operator “QRX 10 Minutes.” The QRX is usually much longer, if the station resumes to the same session at all.



In a similar vein a tool useful in minimizing the overall frustration potential is simply keeping the QSO rate high. There is no question that a DXer senses a good chance to work a DX station who is working other stations at a rapid rate. Not only is it true that more stations can be worked in the allotted time but one receives a feeling that the operator is competent and will work everyone before the expedition is over. All of the aspects of operating that contribute to a high rate are important. Speed isn’t the only element. In fact excessive CW speed is usually a detriment. If the operator’s speed is excessive, errors and dupe rates will increase.

In any event, many DXpeditioners report that the amount of jamming decreases as the rate increases. Distractions, such as conversations with friends should also be minimized.



Another method for managing large pileups that also reduces frustration is working by call areas. This method might only be used when the pileup is very large but in any case it has the advantage of regionalizing the competition making the playing field more level for those calling. In this way even those DXers with small antennas and low power will have a chance earlier on. Several considerations are important, however, when working by call areas.

When working by call areas it is most important that consideration be given to the existing propagation. It is generally pointless to attempt to work areas where propagation is poor unless that is the only propagation that you expect. It is important to recognize such cases and to pay special attention to propagation openings to difficult areas. Once finding these difficult openings, it is important to work a large number of callers while the opening exists. A DXpedition operator recently discovered a rare opening to the West Coast after days of poop propagation. Before the opening was over, this operator had worked not just a few, but hundreds of thankful DXers.

It is also extremely important to work all of the areas within the subdivisions you have defined, assuming propagation exists. If the band is open from Africa to the whole of the USA, and areas one through five are worked, then the DX station goes QRT for the evening, those callers in areas six through zero will not be impressed. There are variations, however. In some situations where plenty of time is available the DXpedition may decide to work only fours during a particular opening, there being ample opportunities for working the fives and sixes on other occasions. Care must be exercised to make certain that all areas are treated fairly in the end, however.

On twenty meter SSB from Albania, ZA1A, the pileups were enormous. Most of the time we worked by call areas. So it became desirable to break the call areas down to even smaller subdivisions. One evening in fact about one hundred W4s were worked followed by one hundred K4s, followed by one hundred N4s, etc. When we reached the western US on several occasions the propagation was relatively poor and we skipped them entirely. At the time this was not very popular among the fives, sixes and sevens, but there was plenty of time and when we did work the West the rate was considerably higher and the resultant QSO quality and quality was much higher.



A nagging problem that comes with working by call areas is stations signing portable. That is, when the expedition is working threes, some stations in other call areas are prone to call "portable three." This problem seems to be overrated, and drastic solutions are not necessary. This situation is discussed in the "PROBLEMS" chapter.



Important information concerning the details of the operation, such as which stations are active, what frequencies they occupy, when each will be on the air and when they will QRT should be provided from time to time. This information will allow the DXers to plan their own personal strategies for getting into the DX log. While such information is useful for the DXer he should not expect to be informed to the point that he can arise from the couch in front of the television to work the DX at the appointed time and return in only a few minutes missing only the Bud Lite commercial - and he shouldn't ask for such information either. While Pilot stations have provided some of this information in the past, modern Internet communications is now bringing these details to DXers directly.



Excessive stress as a possible cause for deviant pileup behavior.