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DX Gold – Please Share…

I found this article on a reflector this morning.  It describes the problems they had at K1N and the techniques used to try to work around the problems.  I have encountered many of these problems – especially on Friday when I packed up the radio feeling quite miserable having had to work so hard for so to pick out so few stations from the persistent callers despite using several of the techniques below.

It’s a good read so hopefully it will help us all work more DX. I urge the widest possible distribution of this article as possible (please share it). It would seem that At least some of Europe needs to change to improve and I strongly concur.

From Glen W0GJ operating at K1N (as reported in the “Gray Line Report” of
the Twin Cities ARC:

GOOD ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS THERE !

Feedback and Lessons 

I learn a lot from every DXpedition I´ve ever been on. I´ve put together a
summary of my two weeks of operation from Navassa. I´m sure all of my
teammates will concur with what I´ve observed and learned. European stations
complained a lot for the “short time” we worked Europe. QUITE THE
CONTRARY!!!! This is a MOST interesting point of discussion! If you look at 
the times in our logs, we spent MORE time working Europe than working North 
America.

Our Club Log statistics, however, show that North America had 58% of the
contacts, Europe 32% and Asia 6%. WHY, then, if MORE time was spent working
Europe, was Europe about half the number of North American contacts??? 

Simple answer: RATE. Period. 

When you listened to us working North America, we could cruise right along at
300-350 Qs/hour, or more! I often saw the “rate meter” hanging around
500-600 Qs/hour. (I heard that someone on the team was clocked at 1,200
Qs/hour….. on 160m!!!!) When working Europe, we would be extremely lucky to
see rates of 100 Qs/hour. Euro-pean signals are as strong, if not stronger than
North American signals, in the Caribbean. The west coast U.S. is much harder to
work than Europe. South American signals were among the strongest! 

Here is a note I received after I returned home. It is from a well-known DXer 
in Europe: 

“I listened to XXX working US pile-up on 80m. Fantastic, at least 10 QSOs per
minute, and when he turned to listen for Europe, the rate was only 10% of that.
Same on the other bands and modes.” 

The problem is THROUGHPUT. Rate. Efficiency. Cooperation. Whatever you want to
call it. For the time we spent working Europe, we should have MORE contacts 
than
with North America, but that did not happen. It COULD have happened! 

No one more than me would like to have seen the European Qs outnumber North
American Qs. For the “next one,” 

I have some suggestions to help DXers, including myself, and particularly DXers
in Europe, to be more successful. Here is what I see are the issues: (This
applies to US hams as well for more distant DX operations – N8PR)

1. Not listening to the DX operator. 

2. LISTEN to and LEARN the rate and rhythm of the operator. 

3. LISTEN to WHERE the operator is listening, and to his PATTERN of moving his
VFO. You MUST KNOW where he will listen next if you expect him to hear you! How
simple is that? It is part of the hunt… and the fun of DXing…. and getting
rewarded! 

4. Learn to use your radio (split/simplex, etc.). 

5. Do NOT jump to and call on the frequency of the last station worked. The DX
station will NOT hear you, because the din is total unintelligible chaos. Move
UP or DOWN from that frequency, as we on our end were continuously tuning up or
down after each Q. So, if one jumps onto the last-worked frequency, we will not
hear you, even if you were the only one there, as we have already tuned off 
that frequency. 

6. TURN OFF ALL SPEECH PROCESSORS AND COMPRESSION! Do NOT overdrive ALC. There
is a night and day difference in listening to NA/AS and EU pileups. The 
horrible distortion makes it impossible to copy many, if not most European 
callsigns. I don´t know what it is, but I would bet that mic gain and 
compression controls are “firewall forward,” all the way clockwise. There were 
MANY loud stations that we did not work, COULD NOT WORK, simply because we 
could NOT understand their terribly distorted callsign. Have you ever listened 
to yourself in a pileup? We gave many stations a “19” signal report. Very loud, 
but extremely unintelligible! You want to have IN-TELLIGABILITY, not 
distortion! 

7. Give your callsign ONCE and ONLY ONCE! DO NOT KEEP CALLING! Call. Listen.
Call again, if needed. Listen. Listen. We would tune on by those who did not
stop calling. We are looking for RATE and getting stations into the log. You
should be, too!!! 

8. If the DX station comes back with your call-sign, DO NOT REPEAT YOUR
CALLSIGN, AS WE ALREADY KNOW IT, or we would not have answered you. Many
stations (in all modes) would repeat their callsign two, three and even four
times or more! This was so frustrating at times, that we would just move on to
the next station. We ONLY want to hear “5NN” or “59” from you. Anything
else is a total waste of time. Let me repeat, if we come back with YOUR
callsign, DO NOT REPEAT it back to us! (Did I repeat myself?….. forgive me!) 
It CHEATS others out of a chance to get into the log. Only repeat your callsign 
if it needs correction, and then let us know it is a correction. Our 
propagation windows and time on the island are limited, and we need to maximize 
the opportunity for everyone. SPEED and EFFICIENCY ARE OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE! 

9. LISTEN to the DX station come back to some-one. IF THERE IS NOTHING CLOSE TO
OR RESEMBLING YOUR CALLSIGN…… SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!!!! This needless
interference slows things up, and lessens YOUR chance of getting into the log!
We are focused on the callsign we heard and do not hear you, only your QRM. 

10. Take some time to listen to the next DXpedition working North America, and
listen to the rate and rhythm of the operator. It is fast, quick and efficient,
and more people get into the log! Then listen to him work Europe. The wise
operator will catch on quickly to what it takes to get into the log! 

11. SPREAD OUT! Our highest rates (for any continent) were working the center
and far edges of the pileup, where there was less QRM. Weak stations were much
easier to work than loud stations in the middle of the pileup. If we say,
“Listening 200 to 210,” 70% of the pileup sits exactly on 200 in an
unintelligible din, 25% of the pileup sits on 210 and is almost as bad. 5% of
the pileup will be spread out somewhere between 201 and 209, making them very
quickly put into the log. S P R E A D O U T ! ! ! ! Dare to be different! Dare
to be heard! 

12. LOUD is NOT better! MORE AUDIO/COMPRESSION is NOT better! Finding the spot
to be HEARD is the MOST important thing you can do to get into the log. My
biggest thrill (and I´m sure on both ends) is finding the lone weak station
and getting him into the log, quickly. 

13. LISTEN to the DX operator´s INSTRUCTIONS! As we would constantly tune our
VFO, if we find a clear spot, we would often say, “33” (meaning for YOU to
transmit on 14.033, 28.433, etc). A few would listen, and get into the log very
quickly. You cannot hear these hints if you keep calling calling calling 
calling……… Many times, I would say, “listening 200 to 210,” and after a
while, would say, “listening 240 to 250.” Often 30 to 45 minutes, even and
HOUR later, I would find MANY still calling on the original “200 to
210″….. of course, they would never show up in our log, as I was not
listening there. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN and LISTEN SOME MORE. The less you
transmit, the better chance you have of get-ting into the log. You must know
where I am listening, if you really want to get into the log. 

14. LISTEN to the “good” guys who make it into the log. Study how they do
it! It is not easy to find the “good” guys, as they are quick and efficient
and are in the log and gone, long before anyone can find them. They don´t
transmit much. They are listening. 

15. LISTEN to the “bad” guys. It won´t take you long to find them. They
keep calling and calling. They aren´t listening to find out where to transmit,
or they wouldn´t be calling. How simple is that? Being LOUD helps, but not if
the DX is not hearing you! 

If you don´t want to get into the DX log, just ignore the above suggestions,
and keep calling, calling, calling….. I wish you the best of luck. You´ll
need it. 

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