DXing With Minimal QRP: Part 2 - Keynote # 2, 2001
Somewhere along the line between my computer and the final printed version of the Keynote, the order of my columns got mixed up and this column should have appeared a couple of issues ago. I apologize for any inconvenience.
This month I'm continuing the info about working DX with QRP. Let's start with some things you can do to help to make sure the DX station works you and not someone else in the pileup.
Be sure your signal is as clean and crisp as possible and your keying is as close to perfect as possible. DX stations often mention that it is not always the strongest signal that is easiest to hear in a pileup, but often a weaker clean signal with perfect keying is easier to copy. If you have a memory keyer, use that to send your call. It is possible to get nervous when trying for some rare DX, and be sloppy sending even our own call.
Another thing that helps at times is to delay for a second sending your call so that the last letter or two extends past the main buzz of the pileup. In my case, the DX station would then hear the WP and send WP? Then I send my call again, and make the QSO. That is assuming there is no other WP in the pileup, and everyone acts properly and does not transmit again if their call doesn't contain a WP. And we know the odds of that. Generally anyone who has a W in their call transmits, everyone with a P transmits, and others will transmit even though their call has nothing close to a WP in it. The best of the DX stations in this case will send WP? KN KN and keep doing this until everyone else shuts up except the WP station. If a DX station does this often enough, he can really take control of the pileup and make it manageable.
Pay attention to whom the DX station is working if you keep calling him without an answer. If he is working one W6 after another, and you are a W1, he may have his beam pointed to California at the moment, or propagation may favor the DX to California path right now. Note his frequency or store it in memory and look for someone else. Come back later and see if the DX station is working stations in your area. If so, jump in and try again.
Sooner or later with a rare station the pileup gets too large and covers up the DX station, making it impossible to know whom the DX is working. When this happens, the DX station goes to split frequency operation, transmitting on one frequency and listening on another, usually higher, frequency.
If you hear a DX station send UP (or UP1, UP2, etc.), that means he is listening to a frequency higher than his. The number is the number of kHz higher than his frequency he is listening. Leave your receive frequency on the DX station, and set your transmit frequency UP to where the DX is listening. If he just says UP with no number, generally that means UP 1, but not always. Then you have to find the pileup yourself. Once you determine where the DX station is listening, follow the same procedures as I mentioned previously. Just be sure you are transmitting and listening on the right frequencies. Every rig seems to have a slightly different way of accomplishing this.
If the pileup is huge, you might be better off transmitting slightly higher than the main pile. The DX station will often explore the upper (usually) edge of a pileup if he can't pick out calls from the main section of the pile. This is where the clever QRPer can often steal a QSO from the QRO stations. It's really a chess game, and whole sections of DXing books have been devoted to breaking a pileup.
A problem occurs when the DX station is listening UP, but never says so. This is where listening comes in. If you hear the DX working one station after another, but don't hear any of the stations he is working, it's time to tune UP and see if he is indeed working split frequency. Or you can go ahead and transmit on the DX frequency, and the self appointed DX policemen will very impolitely tell you the DX is listening UP. It's always better to know what's going on before you do any transmitting.
Equipped with the knowledge I've just imparted in the past couple columns, you should be able to easily get DXCC with QRP. I am now at 188 countries worked and working new ones is becoming difficult, even with all the experience I have gained. When you get to the point where the new ones are coming slowly, you may need something else to keep your interest up while you wait for that next new one.
One thing you can do is work islands. The IOTA (Islands On The Air) program is similar to DXCC, except the entities are islands instead of countries. Interested? Check out my friend Dave, VA3RJ's web site which I think has the most thorough coverage of IOTA info that you can get. His URL is www.qsl.net/va3rj/ Next month some more DX and IOTA info. Till then, good QRP DXing and 73. Visit me at home.windstream.net/johnshan/ or Email me. -30-