Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Some additional Tips on working DX stations.

What follows are some addition thoughts that crossed my consciousness after last nite's restful sleep in the patio hammock. After looking at the operational summary stats from my non-contest operations a number of things come to mind. 

In the first installment of these musings (, I described what it is like for a "beginner" (me) to be on the DX-station end of a pile-up.  
Since publishing that blog entry I received a reply from Valentin (YO6DDF) :
"Thanks Ron,I have read your blog and also have shared on FB for the YO group. 73&DX's Val,YO6DDF.
Evidently my comments have made the rounds.  Beginning Sunday nite I noticed that the European stations seem to be less frantic and more orderly.  Last night I was able to run a pileup on 160 meters for nearly an hour before a pushy Italian (an IW6 call) drove me to leave 160-cw and make a final run on 80-cw before I shut things down at 2,004 non-contest QSOs.  That IW6 is probably STILL swearing about me.
That stations were more orderly easily increased my hourly QSO rate by 25%.  Therefore, approximately 25% MORE stations got to make contact with St. Croix.  Do you SEE how that works?

Because I have been on the low power end of looking for DX stations, I know what it is like struggling to be heard through a morass of voices or cw tones, as a DX station I have endeavored to give everyone a chance; case in point being 10-meter Ssb yesterday afternoon.  In a couple of hours I managed nearly 160 QSOs.  During that time I often asked people to standby so I could listen for QRP stations, mobile stations, VE stations and even Africa.  When I put in my 5th call for Africa, HZ1AB (Saudi Arabia) asked if he would count as Africa - another country for the the log, NICE!

On 10-meters, I was amazed by how many QRP, mobile, or QRP-mobile stations had incredibly strong signals when no one else was walking over the top of them.  
This is proof you don't need power on 10-meters.  One guy in Virginia was S9+ with only 10 watts and a dipole 10 feet above ground.

While a lot of people probably hated it, when the pileups got too thick I would have to take it by call area #'s.  At one point I got creative and asked for stations with some letter in the callsign: "Anybody with an "X" in the call?", "Anybody with a "Q" in the call?", "Anybody with a "K" in the call?", etc.

Probably the part of Ssb operation I disliked the most was hearing 500 different explanations of how COLD it is.  One station in Wisconsin told me it was -40.  I reminded him that we had 85 degrees on Tuesday, making a net difference of 120 degrees, to which he replied "that is just WRONG!".

During operations here on St. Croix, I gave REAL signal reports and would ask EVERYONE to give me their name for the log.  Names make it more enjoyably personal.  Real signal reports allow BOTH sides of the QSO to assess the propagation path between the two locations.  While taking the time to do this may have "slowed things down", as we know, it's QUALITY of communication, not rapidity of communication that makes the difference.
The difference is QUALITY.  Quality is one of the premises that brought me here and Quality is what I leave with.

A number of stations worked me on BOTH Cw and Ssb on multiple bands (the top station worked me on 8 band-modes).  Working stations on multiple bands and modes is one of the reasons I spent time figuring out the amplifier and antenna arrangement.  

While I could easily have run low power  or even QRP, to give more stations a shot at working St. Croix I ran the Alpha 89 amplifier to around 800 - 1,000 watts (except on 30-meter Cw, of course).

I made a number of "bonus" contacts wuth stations here in the Caribbean, including a sked on 75-meters with KV4CF at the other end of the Island.

Did you manage to put WQ6X/WP2 or N6GEO/NP2 in your log?
If not, you missed out.

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