QST - September 2010 - (Page 83)
Tips for Beginners (and Experts!)
five count. On CW try to match your send speed to the DX send speed, unless you have reason to think he can copy at a faster rate. Unless you are the station that the DX has just sent a report to, you should not be transmitting. First, you may cause interference and the DX will have to ask for a repeat. Second, especially in CW, if you are transmitting after the DX has sent his report you run the risk of someone tuning to your frequency because they think you are sending a report back to the DX station. There is only a very short time to tune around and find the station that is sending a report back to the DX. Some CW exchanges go so fast there isn’t time to hang around long enough to be sure the station you have found is actually sending a report back to the DX. Everyone who hears you transmitting will be transmitting on top of you as soon as the DX asks for the next call. You don’t really want that to happen do you? Stop transmitting and listen to see if the DX has picked out a call. On CW I only send my call once, unless the operator has asked people to send their call twice or more. On CW simplex I have heard stations that would send their call eight, 10 or more times. I have actually sent my call, the DX picked me out and sent my report and I sent
COURTESY JOHN DWIGGINS, N4QVM
The June “How’s DX?” column included an article on “Trade Secrets for Beginning DXers.”1 John Dwiggins, N4QVM, has been a ham since 1987. He has never owned an amplifier nor tower and runs wire antennas with a Kenwood TS-480 transceiver. He has worked 265 countries, 250 of which are confirmed, and has earned 5BDXCC. John sent in the following DXing tips: Listen, listen, listen. Don’t take a cluster spot as positive ID of the station. Listen for the station to ID to be sure who it is. Listen to the operator; get a feel for how he works the pileup. For a quick boost to your country count, play in a major DX contest. This is the quickest and easiest way to work a large number of DX stations in a short period. Take a few minutes to look up the instructions for the contest, especially what the exchange is. Don’t let anyone tell you that you will not be able to work a DXpedition with your limited station. I have worked some of the most wanted DXpeditions with a barefoot 100 or 200 W rig and wire antennas. Attitude has a lot to do with it. If you think you will fail, you probably will. Learn how to operate split. Most rare and semi-rare stations operate split. If the station is operating split he will never hear you if you call him on his transmit frequency. When the DX station comes back with a partial call of K4G and your call is N4Q don’t send your call again — he is not calling you. Wait until the DX works the station he heard and then indicates he is ready for other callers. Usually the operator will indicate he is ready for more callers by saying QRZ, up, or in CW sometimes just two dits. Get into a rhythm. I do a three count in my mind as a timing guide. It sounds silly, but it keeps my call/listen times in a pattern. If the other operator is slow coming back to calls, sometimes I will stretch it to a
his report back, all the while with some station sending his call repeatedly. Simple antennas work. For one major DXpedition I worked them on all modes and all bands from 80 meters up. At the time I did not have a 160 meter antenna, but they were operating on that band also. So, in 1 day I measured out a 1⁄4 wavelength of wire, threw a line over a tree and pulled the wire up. The end result was a slightly tilted inverted L. I fed the antenna with TV twin lead, tied one side into the inverted L and the other side I tied into the radial system for a ground mounted multi-band vertical. It wasn’t pretty but I worked them on 160 meters.
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Wire antennas work very well. Using only wire antennas and 200 W or less I have achieved DXCC on SSB, CW and mixed. I need two more confirmations on RTTY to get DXCC there. I also have DXCC on 10, 15, 20 and 40, and on 80 meters I have the credits for it. When I apply for 80 meter DXCC I will also apply for 5BDXCC; the credits are there, I just have to do the paper work. So simple wire antennas do work — you don’t have to spend a fortune on towers, beams and amplifiers.
If you know other DXers, bounce ideas off of them. The DXers I have known were very happy to share tips. Subscribe to a DX newsletter. The information is invaluable.
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Get a cluster program running on a computer. This is the best way to know what DX is on now. Don’t limit the spots you receive to a certain area. If you see DX spotted by a South American or European station check it out and see if you hear them. It’ll be a lot easier to work them before all of North America starts calling.
McClenny, W3UR, “How’s DX?,” QST, Jun 2010, pp 89-90.
John Dwiggins, N4QVM, of Cooleemee, North Carolina runs a barefoot TS-480 with wire antennas and has worked 265 countries.
Early morning, before dawn in the winter, is a good time for East Coast stations to work the Pacific area on 30 meters and down. Most people won’t get up that early to work DX so the bands are less crowded. The downside is you have to compete with Japanese stations and there
Bernie McClenny, W3UR
3025 Hobbs Rd, Glenwood, MD 21738-9728
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of QST - September 2010
QST - September 2010
It Seems to Us: Disaster Drills: The Last Word?
This Just In
Guide to ARRL Member Services
Up Front in QST
A Solar Powered Repeater for Emergency Communications
A Portable Antenna Mast and Support for Your RV
One Ham’s DC Power Connector Preference
Attic Antenna Experiments
The Doctor is IN
Getting on the Air
Hints & Kinks
The Flight of PBH-8
Ham Radio Manufacturing: An Inside Look
JOTA 2010 is October 16-17
2009-2010 School Club Roundup Results
ARES®: 75 and Counting
2010 Simulated Emergency Test
This Month in Contesting
2010 ARRL DX Phone Contest Results
2008 ARRL International DX Contest (Phone) Scores
The World Above 50 MHz
Amateur Radio World
At the Foundation
Convention and Hamfest Calendar
ARRL VEC Volunteer Examiner Honor Roll
Field Organization Reports
75, 50 and 25 Years Ago
Index of Advertisers
QST - September 2010