Sunday, July 3, 2011

Proper DX Operating Procedures

Proper DX Operating Procedures

Recently, Martti Lane, OH2BH, and others began operation from YV0. While the expedition is welcomed by most hams, their operating procedures leave much to be desired.

Having operated from several locations in the Caribbean, including VP5, PJ2, HI, 6Y5 and ZF, I have had the opportunity to handle very large pileups. Certainly none of these locations are as rare as YV0, however, the size of the pileups are certainly comparable. It can be tough sometimes to pick stations out of the crowd, but it can easily be done and with a great deal of control.

The operator handling the pileup must be in control at all times and not deviate from his method of operation. For example, when calling for specific call districts, countries or continents, the operator cannot permit stations out of area to complete a contact. Stations that call out of turn should be ignored until they realize you won't work them or told to wait if they are persistent.

Once one station is permitted to work the DX station out of turn, others will quickly adapt and call out of turn. This creates a huge problem and causes stations to call when they should be listening. The DX station must remain in control at all times and only permit stations to be worked when they are called and they are in the group being called.

While it is perfectly acceptable to call "Bravo Mike, Bravo Mike" and take an "Alpha Papa" instead during a CONTEST, a station running a DX operation cannot permit this to happen under any circumstances or others will quickly adapt and continue to call out of turn.

The DX operator should always end one contact and call QRZ before other stations are permitted to call him. In fact, there is a simple way to weed out those stations that are persistent about calling out of turn. You cannot simply ignore them and you cannot permit them to be worked out of turn, but you can take down their call, pretend you hear them next, work them and not log them. This makes them happy, gets rid of them and prevents the station from becoming a nuisance on the band.

The DX operator must be fair. When he asks the large EU or US pileups to standby while he calls of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, QRP stations or a specific station, he must return to the pileup in a reasonably timely fashion in order to prevent the stations in the pileup from becoming frustrated. It is not polite to make them wait for a long time and you will find using these operating techniques will keep most people pleased and they will patiently wait while you make your special contact.

Operating split should only be done when absolutely necessary, which is rare, and should only consume a small amount of bandwidth, a few KCs at most. The purpose of operating split is NOT so the DX station can have an easier time of picking out stations calling, but is to prevent strong stations from calling on top of the DX stations preventing others from hearing which station he called.

The YV0 operation was a mess and caused more problems than they are solved, such as those that follow:

1) Takes more bandwidth than necessary -- a 20kHz spread is not necessary under any circumstances. This doesn't include the DX stations transmit frequency and the small 5kHz space between the TX and RX frequencies. The DX station should listen on only one receive frequency ONLY after verifying the frequency is NOT in use.

2) Causes unintended interference because the DX operator has now way of knowing whom is using his listening frequencies before he calls CQ and announces those listening frequencies. Again, a 20kHz spread is not required for any DX station.

3) It brings out the frequency police in mass numbers. Because some people may not be aware the DX station is operating split, they inadvertently call on the DX stations TX frequency. Hordes of "frequency police" start yelling things like "split split", "he's listening up", "LID", and a variety of other phrases, most of whom do not ID their transmissions. This is both illegal and improper operating practices of which the DX station could prevent by only operating split when necessary and ALWAYS announcing his listening frequency after each contact.

4) A large frequency spread causes undue frustration for both stations that stay on one frequency and call repeatedly and are never heard and for those that chase the "last called" station and still never get called. Some of these guys get so frustrated they revert to causing intentional interference to the DX stations TX frequency in order to vent those frustrations.

5) When calling a station, call him using the same phonetics as he used so EVERYONE knows whom you are calling. For example, if I give my call as KING YANKEE ONE VICTOR and the DX station hears KING YANKEE, call for KING YANKEE, not KILOWATT, YOKOHAMA. There may be other stations such as KILOWATT 2 YOKAHAMA or YOKAHAMA VICTOR ONE on frequency that you do not want calling you when you are trying to work KING YANKEE ONE VICTOR.

Here are some tips for those calling the DX station in a pile up

1) Give your FULL CALL, preferably once, twice at the most. Do not continue calling. If you are transmitting you can't hear whom the DX station is calling and if he doesn't hear you over the pileup the first call or two, chances are he isn't going to hear you if you keep calling. You are only causing interference so others cannot hear whom the DX is calling

2) Call only when your area is called. Reply only when you hear your phonetics. See #5 above. If the DX station calls for KILO VICTOR ONE and you are a WHISKEY ONE KILO...don't call! It isn't your turn and you are only slowing down the process.

3) Don't call on the DX stations TX frequency if he's operating split. LISTEN FIRST, then call. If you hear him working stations but you can't hear them, he is probably split. Don't call on his TX frequency as you only induce others to call you a LID which causes them to be twice the LID for also transmitting on the TX frequency AND not identifying themselves.

4) Don't call until the DX station calls for the next station, EVEN IF he takes others that way. You only lend yourself to be a LID and you only add to the disruption.

5) Don't tune up on the DX stations TX frequency. Although most of us have Auto Notch and can't hear you, it is impolite to those using older receivers and it makes you a LID.

6) When you finally do get through, make certain the DX station has your FULL CALL. After giving a signal report. give your name and QTH ONLY if he is taking that information from others and DON'T DO IT if he is only confirming signal reports. If you listen before you call, you will know the format for which the DX station is operating and probably have his name, QTH equipment and QSL manager before you ever work him. Don't be in such a hurry to jump in before you know what is going on. If you call him ten times then find out he is working only JAs and your not a JA, then you are a LID.

I am certain that some of the more experienced operators can think of more techniques that would make the YV0 operation more pleasant, but as it stands now, I have no desire to work them...besides, I have YV0 confirmed on all bands and it would only be for fun. I see no fun trying to chase them across a 20kHz spread causing undue QRM to others whom would like to use the band.

I would have expected better from an experienced operator like Martti Lane, but I guess when you are a well known big shot you think you can do as you please, rather than do what's proper

No comments: