Thursday, August 14, 2014

Some after thoughts on working DX stations

Being on the DX'er end of things since the January DX-pedition to St. Croix, I've had to take my own advice (given in January's Blogs) regarding how to call DX stations to snag the rare new ones that have been showing up every few weeks.

There is an art to working DX which wraps around the guidelines I expressed in the previous Blog entries on working DX.  You may remember in those comments I make a strong point about the importance of listening.  While listening IS important, next in importance concerns the actual transmitted signal; what it sounds like and what frequency is chosen, as well as the timing of the transmission itself.
Here are some things that come to mind.

On phone speak legibly - use proper phonetics.I am amazed how many phone operators cannot be understood; not so much because they can't speak fluid English but because they either mumble, yell or are just plain unintelligible.  Use proper phonetics.  People like KH6BZF(sk) can get away with "Bloomin' Zipper Flipper" because we know who they are.  Otherwise, your cute phonetics will simply add to the confusion.
Additionally, please give me your FULL callsign, not a FRAGMENT of your callsign.  I tend to ignore fragments alone.  For example, instead of saying 6-Xray, give me Whiskey Quebec 6-Xray. Sometimes I will ID as Whiskey Quebec 6-Xray, 6-Xray.

On CW send clearly - slower is preferable to illegible.
Some operators think it is cool to send their callsign at 35+ WPM - it isn't.  I prefer slow and concise rather than lightning fast.  If I have to ask you for a repeat, then everybody's time is wasted.

Be on the correct frequency.
I am amazed at operator's inability to put themselves on a correct frequency.  If you are off frequency then I can't properly/easily copy you.  Yes most radios have RIT, however, the use of it should be a rarity, not a necessity.
On CW, because of the pileups, we DX stations turn on our tight filters.  If you are too far off frequency you will be outside the "skirts" of the filter and will not be heard.  When I am calling a DX station and he does not come back to me, I will shift the TX frequency around until I end up in the center of his narrow receive passband.  I take responsability for being sure that he hears me.

For SSB I am often on an obvious frequency such as 21232.32, so you visually KNOW when you have me correctly tuned in.  Correctly tuning in an SSB signal is an art that requires LOTS of practice.  So, practice LISTENING FIRST; then when you have me PROPERLY tuned in, make your call.

Insure your signal is clean
On CW this means a signal with no buzz or chirps.  I am very particular on this.  We amateurs are supposed to pride ourselves on clean signals.  Signals with a Tone of less than 9, are technically a violation of international radio regulations.  I tend to ignore buzzy and chirpy signals, unless there is no one else calling me.  Give your signal a PLEASING tone and I am more likely to want to work you.

On SSB be sure your radio produces clean audio, not overly compressed, and not bass or treble heavy. 
If your voice sounds muffled or tinny I may not be able to understand you.

Also on SSB, don't assume the DX station is using P-T-T; instead, consider that the operator may be using VOX with a noticeably after-transmit delay.  I.e., wait AT LEAST 1-second before making your call.  Otherwise, in your haste, the prefix of your call will be cut off requiring the DX operator to ask for a repeat.  Then, if you are still too quick, your callsign will again be clipped, creating a back-and-forth scenario that wastes time and frustrates everyone.

Work split frequency properly.
If the DX operator says UP 3, then transmit more-or-less UP 3kc.  To transmit on the DX frequency shows  lack of respect for the DX station's operating skills.  As a DX station I sometimes listen to my own frequency.  If I hear people calling on my frequency, I remind them the frequency I am listening on.  And PLEASE do NOT admonish those calling on my frequency.  You may be louder than I am so you cover me up.  Simply call me UP 3, get your QSO and move on.

These are just some of the tips for working DX stations.
I wrote more tips in January's blog-set.
You can review those comments below:

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