Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I don't do DX

I don't do DX. If I come across a pile-up I tune on by. Not because I have indoor antennas - many people have worked DXCC with indoor or restricted antennas and/or QRP. But because pile-ups just frustrate me and raise my blood pressure, and that's not what I need from a hobby.

Normally I don't come across pile-ups very often because they usually happen away from the QRP frequencies. But in the last few days while I've been trying out the HB-1A I have been listening around the two 30m QRP frequencies of 10.106MHz and 10.116MHz and the usually quiet frequency has suddenly been disturbed by a bunch of people sending their call over and over again. A pile-up, presumably.

I listened, to try to hear who they were calling, and suddenly someone started sending a stream of dits on the frequency for a minute or so. I was prepared to think that someone had pushed something against their paddle accidentally, but any doubts were removed when it happened again, and again.

In his most recent blog posting Ed, N4EMG writes about the same sort of thing, and questions whether a new operating technique has developed where people who fail to work the DX decide to destroy anyone else's chances of working it as well. From what I heard, I think it's quite likely.

I can understand the frustration when you spend half an hour calling some DX without success. Do you carry on and hope your moment will come, or give up and live with the feeling that you've wasted half an hour of your life for nothing? Which is why I steer clear of pileups.

If you can't crack pile-ups leave that activity for those with the patience, the power and the antennas. There are far more interesting and rewarding things you can do with a radio than ticking off countries on a list, anyway.


Paul said...

Hello Julian, pile ups are not my peace of cake either. It is disturbing all those calls on one frequency. I like a quite piece of the amateur radio band. Not to busy but just that station I like to work with. I don't like contest too. Too nervous, too fast, too crowded. too short. 73, Paul PC4T

Ed N4EMG said...

I thoroughly enjoy 'trying' to work DX, even with the nonsense that I described. It's one of the aspects of the hobby that a lot of people are drawn to long-term. Nevertheless, it IS frustrating when someone decides to act in such a childish manner and gets their kicks from ruining everyone's chances. The real problem is that nothing can be done to prevent things like that from happening.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the sentiments posted here. What baffles me, is that a lot of this is happening on with CW operations, I'd have thought that a pukka operator who went to the trouble of being proficient in Morse code would have more sense! In the same breath, it is similar to the occasional DX pirates, who pirate a call and operate in CW. Why bother? What on earth do you gain from this.

Talking about bad behaviour in a pileup, I heard on a recent side band pileup someone sending a stream of dits exactly like you monitored Julian.

It is also like these chaps who insist on tuning up on top of a QSO. This happend to me a number of times. I was working a DX station, just to have some rude OM tune up. What is the game? The just delay proceedings, as we have to repeat information again.

Oh well... all the Best DX :-)
Life is too short for carp fishing!

73 de Andre' M0JEK

g4ilo said...

I think that perhaps things like that would not happen if the idea of DX spotting clusters had been killed at birth. Without them, you'd need skill just to find the DX in the first place. With them, one spot and every idiot with a computer is bang on the frequency including many without enough of a clue to engage split before pressing transmit.

I don't want to appear hypocritical so I must say that I find the DX Cluster useful on VHF when openings are fleeting and there is less activity, and they collect useful information for propagation monitoring which is one of my interests. But I think they are largely to blame for the problems on HF.

Jspiker said...

I rarely listen to a large swarms of bee's for the same reason. I can seldom hear the transmitting station of a big DX contester because of loose filtering in my rig. (I don't have any).

But I DO have a collection of "fox" pelts in the backroom. I enjoy those very much when I have the time to chase a QRP signal.

Don't know if there's a big difference between DX'ers and fox hunters but I actually enjoy catching a QRP fox. I think it's great fun.

Maybe it's the QRP aspect? It's a little more realistic when the sought after station is only running 5 watts.

The playing field is a little different.

Ed N4EMG said...

I believe that you raise a terrific point, Julian. There's no question that the DX Clusters are beneficial - most of the time. They're abused, certainly, but there's good information to be found. I believe what has happened, however, is that there's an abundance of operators who no longer tune their radios. They simply click from one spot to another. If they took the time to tune, they'd often discover some unspotted DX near the pileup. Of course, in today's world, that doesn't last long, someone will spot them quickly. I would even be willing to pay a small fee to access a moderated cluster, one that's free of snide comments and useless posts about QSL cards not received and comments like "please jump to 80 meters for my 9BDXCC".

Adam said...

I hate pile ups and avoid them too. But I do find the idea of working a new country, or getting my signal a mile or so further than my previous record exciting! The trouble with this latter enjoyment is, if I am not careful, I will start to lose the joy in working stations closer to me. I am aware of this predicament and need to balance my competetive edge with my chilled-out edge. That, I can tell you, is noo easy thing! 73 Adam

Marty said...

Well said Julian, I will join you on your soapbox!

Having come back to amateur radio a couple of years ago after a sabbatical approximating one sunspot-cycle in duration, one of the big differences I noticed between "then" and "now" was how the CW activity in the bands has changed in character.

The conclusion I have reached is that by and large the erstwhile CW "rubber stampers" have migrated to PSK, where they continue to "rubber stamp" using macros leaving the CW portion of the band largely vacant save for the frequency 10kHz plus or minus of some DX station (often a DX-pedition) where all that appears to happen is the cacophany of stations repeatedly and endlessly sending their own callsign, often interspersed with some comment like "LID" or "IDIOT" or "QSY" or those machine-gun like dits you mention.

Like you I tut-tut to myself or mutter dark and occasionally "Anglo Saxon" incantations casting aspersions on the ancestry of the perpetrators of the phenomenon and tune on by.

DX clusters appear to be the main root cause of this behaviour.

Also like you I think there is rather more to amateur radio than ticking off countries on a list, and why the Dickens are so many people so "sniffy" about E-QSL?

Still each to their own ...

Eleven years ago I got so fed up with amateur radio I went and did something else for a while!

Martin - G4FUI (Penrith)

g4ilo said...

Welcome back, Martin.

I think I've spotted your call on PSK Reporter so hopefully you haven't given up on digimodes altogether. I don't blame European digimode operators from only making rubber stamp contacts with me given my inability to converse with them in French, German, Italian or Russian, etc.