DX Tips

  

In going through the club archives, the webmaster came across this document of DX tips.  Many former members of the MDXA are included in the submissions.

 

How to bust a Simplex Pile-up 
Having trouble busting a simplex pile-up ?? Set your Split or XIT/RITso that your XMT freq is 200 - 400 Hz lower than the DX freq. Onmost XCVRS, this will cause your signal at the DX end to be 200 - 400Hz higher than the mob, and it will stand out like a sore thumb.
Works 98 % of time for me even when competing with W4s usinga linear and yagi !!! Try it !!!
Now you might think that since you are transmitting on a lower frequency,the DX should be receiving you on a lower frequency. This would betrue for wide splits. For smaller shifts in freq such as << 800 Hz, theproduct detector in receiver section will create an inverse audio shift inthe audio bandpass of receiver.

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

Friday - A good DX day 
Friday is the Sabbath for the Muslim religion, and it is the onlyday of the week they are off work. All the countries in Africaand Asia are heavily populated with Muslims.
Put some heavy listening time in on Thursday afternoon andevening, and Friday morning, afternoon and evening. Youstand a good chance of working a goody such as AP, S2,5X, etc. I have worked a lot of new ones during the precedingdays/times listed.

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

Trying unusual beam headings 
When trying to zero in on a DX Station. When I worked Pratas the other day I tried long and short path and could barely hear them. Turned the beam North and they were a good 5x5 and got them on the second call. This might beworth trying sometimes when nothing else seems to be working.

Submitted by Jim, AC5OT

Shifting your calling frequency  
After 4 years in Costa Rica, and Indonesia, Italy and Navassa a fewyears back, on CW don't call on the exact frequency of the previous QSOunless you are sure have a big signal. I spent much wasted time tryingto seperate weak signals, mostly Europe and Japan when they called on samefrequency. Even if the station isn't specifying listening up, call up ahalf a KC. If he says up, call 1 kc away from the previous QSO. TheRussians seem to know about this but not may others.

Submitted by Dick, W5AA, W5AA/TI8

Use your amplifier, DUH!!  
On 80 SSB call with your amplifier ON. Several times on DXpeditions, I would spend 3 minutes trying to pull out the call of a weak USA SSB signal. Thenafter I got his call, the idiot becomes 5&9 and says. "Ok now, I have turnedon my amp: just wanted to see if you could copy me barefoot!!"

Submitted by Dick, W5AA, W5AA/TI8

Long Path propagation tips  
Long Path (LP) propagation is probably the least understood and leastused method of working DX. Long Path propagation is obtained bypointing your beam in the opposite direction of the location of the DX.

You do not need a beam to work Long Path. Any antenna with a lowangle of radiation will work well such as a very high dipole or verticalwith a good ground plane. A low angle of radiation is needed tominimize the number of hops over the greater distance. For example,100W and a good vertical on the East Coast can produce S9 + 20 DBsignals to VK6 via LP during the late afternoon in early Spring.

Long Path propagation occurs when the Maximum Useable Frequency(MUF) all along the LP is slightly higher than the frequency being used.Many times LP will favor the Gray Line and the radio wave propagatesjust inside the dark portion of the gray line where the D Layer of theionosphere is not ionoized and absorption of the radio wave does notoccur.

There are certain times of the year when LP propagation is most likely tooccur. This is uaually Late Winter/Early Spring and Late Summer/EarlyFall. During these two times of the year, the MUF's in the Northern andSouthern Hemispheres tend to be about the same, so LP propagation issupported. LP propagation seldom occurs during the Winter and Summeras the MUF's in the two hemispheres are greatly different.

For the East Coast and Mid-West, LP propagation during the late Winter/Early Spring often occurs during the first hour after sunrise. Since the Earthis close to the Sun, the ionosphere rapidly ionizes. Early morning LPduring this time period usually favors 20 and 15M, and LP openings toall of Africa and the Indian Ocean are likely to occur. Also during theLate Winter/Early Spring LP openings to VK/ZL and the S. Pacific arelikely to occur during the last two hours of the afternoon prior to sunset.

For the East Coast and Mid-West LP openings in the Late Summer/Early Fall usually favor the lower bands such as 30 and 40M. During thefirst hour prior to sunset and the first hour after sunset, good LP openingsto the Far East and S.E. Asia are possible. These LP openings on thelower bands are most likely to occur when the SFI is < 150.

LP Path propagation does have repetitive patterns, but follows nodefinite rules as long as the MUF along the LP supports the propagation.During periods of low SFI, early morning LP openings to the Mid-Eastduring Winter have been known to occur on 20M just after sunrise.

Just remember that Late Winter/Early Spring and Late Summer/EarlyFall are the time to look for DX in the opposite direction. Sometimesit will not be the exact opposite direction. Since LP follows the MUFcurve, the opposite direction is sometimes skewed.

If conditions are favorable, LP propagation can occur at any time ofthe year. If you have weak copy on a DX station, always try a reverse beamheading.

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

First and Last Rule of DXing  
The first and last rule for working DX has and will always be tune, listen, tune, listen,tune, listen.....and tune, listen some more. This rule has held fast for so many yearssimply because if you cannot hear the DX, you cannot work the DX !!

30 years ago, an hour spent listening to 20M on a good propagation evening would netyou many rare DX stations calling CQ. Not anymore !! What has changed ? Think for a few minutes. How many chirpy, raw AC CW signals have you heard coming from Russia lately compared to years ago ? Not very many. Now you hear more lousy signals coming from USA stations. What has changed is this. During the past 30 years or so, better economic conditions in the world, and the breakdown of the old Russian federation have allowed the majority of DX in the world to have just as good, if not better, stations than stations in the states. Except for possibly some of the poorer third-world countries inAfrica and Asia, the DX is no longer running low power homebrew or WWII surplusrigs and simple wire antennas. They are now using late model transceivers, linears, andtowers with high gain multi-element yagis or quads. The rare DX stations with this setupnow have just as good, if not better, country totals than we do. Now they are no longercalling CQ, but listening for a new one, just like we should be !!!

With the rare DX now listening instead of calling CQ, it is now more difficult to worka new one by just listening. The First and Last Rule still stands firm however. Since itis now more difficult to work a new one by listening, many of us have put our faithin Cluster Net spots. Cluster Nets have their good and bad points. More on this later.The problem with putting your faith in cluster spots for working a new is this. Bythe time you get the linear tuned and on the DX QRG, the pile-up has always started,and your chances for working the new one have greatly diminished. Someone had tohear and/or work the DX to put the spot on the cluster. That someone could have beenyou, and you would have been able to get a probable first, second, or third shot at theDX instead of being in the middle of the pile-up. In summation, time spent just watchingthe cluster would be better spent just listening.

99.99 % of the time calling CQ DX is a waste of your time. Unless you have a tower,high gain yagi, and linear (if needed), you should never call CQ DX. If do have atower, high gain yagi, and linear (if needed), and you know there is a good probabilitythe band is open to a part of the world that you need a new one, calling CQ DX may bring a rare one with a modest station out of the woodwork. Why ??? That stationknows if he calls CQ that he would wind up with a pile-up he would not want or could not handle. Tower/Yagi or not and you want to feel like a Big Wheel, call CQ DX oneevening when the band is open to Europe. Oh yes, you will probably get a pile-up, fillup your log with DX you worked many times before, and increase the workload ofof the QSL bureaus. Believe me Europeans like to QSL. End result, you have to takethe time (I hope) to reply to those cards. This time could be spent more wisely listening for a new one.

DXpeditions have and will always be a good way to work a new one. For the past two years, there have been a lot of good DXpeditions to some of the most wanted. The Firstand Last Rule still applies. You have to be able to hear them to work them. Here is where the Cluster Net comes in handy. It is a very fast way to determine what bands and modes the DXpedition is working right now, so you save some time compared to just tuningand listening. You still have to be able to hear the DX to work however. Never jump intoa pile-up if you have marginal copy of the DX station. It only leads to the frustration of"was that my call he gave" ? A good DX Op will always give the frequency range thathe is listening Up. If the DX just says Up, and the pile-up is 10 KHz wide, get very comfortable, and be prepared to be at the Op Table for a long time unless you get verylucky. Many DXpedition Ops have the bad habit of only sending a partial call ?, anda TU in return. Even if the partial call was close to yours, and the timing was right, youcould very well wind up with a NIL. Never consider the preceding scenario a good QSO.All good DXpedition Ops will send the complete, correct call of the station they worked at least once in the exchange.

Depending on the time of year, propagation conditions, and the location of the DXpedition, often times the higher bands will not cut the mustard especially for theLittle Pistols (opposite of Big Guns). Do not dismay however. Almost all DXpeditionsstart off on the higher bands to get their QSO count up. At about the half-way pointof the DXpedition, they will crank up on the lower bands. They will always shootfor the states on the lower bands when they know the QSO count for the states is lowon the high bands. The DXpedition is usually running high power, good antennas,and a seasoned low band Op, and they know the sunrise times in the states. So, if youcannot get through on 20 - 10M, bet you will make it on 30 or 40M. Check thesebands a few hours before local sunrise and sometimes 1 to 2 hours after sunriseon 30M. 99 % of time if you cannot cut the mustard on 20 - 10M, 30 or 40M willget the new one, even in the Summer.

Most major Dxpeditions, in the intial planning stages of the Op, study the propagationconditions of the location they are bound for. They obtain the latest propagation forecastsfor that location, and prepare charts for times and bands to hit all the continents on theglobe. They consider both short path and long path propagation for as much world-widecoverage as possible. They want to give you a new one. So, when you shoot to work amajor DXpedition, do your your propagation homework as well.

Ask any seasoned DX Op the key to working DX. He will tell you listen, tune, listen,tune........The First and Last Rule for Working DX !!

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

Peanut Whistle DXing  
These are just some thoughts on "Peanut Whistle" Dxing that I've noticed over the last two years. May be true, maybe not. Might work for you, might not. But for what it's worth here goes:

My station:
100 watts output, Kenwood TS690S.
All band dipole at 40 feet fed with 450 ohm ladder line through a small tuner.

My thoughts:
1. CW is the best mode for me on low power. (Maybe high power too.)

2. When changing bands, I have to retune the tuner. Sooo, when a hot one comes on the packet it takes me a bit to get ready for him. In the meantime the "Thundering Herd" has already gathered. Too, too late for me to get in there most of the time. SOLUTION: I TUNE the bands. I read the DX stuff on-line for times and freqs, and try to be there. And I check the packet, but I don't just sit there and look at the computer screen.

3. PROPAGATION IS! When propagation is very poor everywhere so are my chances of working any DX. Good time to cut the grass. Only the high-power boys are making it then. When the band seems to be wide open I still carry a big handicap, but have a lot of fun trying and working some of the DX. But when the band is spooky as it has been at times during the peak of the sunspot cycle, then is when I can make some good contacts because sometimes I have the best propagation. VP6DI is a good example. I worked them 4 times, 2 of those times I was mobile! I had the better propagation. On the other hand, I never was able to work the A52. Couldn't even hear them down here.

4. "If you can't hear them, you can't work them" says the Old Sage. On the other hand, they have to be able to hear me also. Although there are manyexceptions, my general rule is to hear:
S5 on 20 meters
S4 on 17 meters
S3 on 15 meters
S2 on 12 meters, and
S nothing on 10 meters
before I try to work them on SSB. On CW and PSK31 things are better. Butthere is no use in cluttering up the band worse than it already is. The cops do a pretty good job of that all by themselves.

5. I try to pattern the DX. Some say "5 to 10 up" then move up incrementally until they reach "10", and then start over. Some say "5 to 10 up" and keep right on going up after "10". Others go up 5 and just sit there. A bit of listening before I make a call on an established DX station is always helpful.

6. Timing is very important. Usually it is best for me to wait a second before calling after the last exchange unless I know I have extremely good propagation. The Force 12's and KW's are just too much. But if I can get the timing right, I often get a contact. Tricky thing, that.

I know there is no new information here for most of the guys in the Magnolia DX Association. However I felt some of these things might be helpful to someone new to DXing with a less than super signal (like mine). I wanted tolet them know that lots of DX can be worked with a peanut whistle and a bit of patience.

Submitted by Joe, N5ID

DX Spree when K=3  
During periods of moderate solar activity, coronal X-Ray emissions from the Sun canwreak havoc with the earth's geomagnetic field and adversely affect the ionosphere.During periods of X-Ray emissions, the D Layer of the ionosphere is heavily ionizedover sunlit portions of the Earth resulting in heavy absorption of frequencies as highas 15 MHz. These X-Ray emissions primarily affect the sunlit portions of the NorthernHemisphere during the Summer and early Fall time periods.

The VHF guys love this, as during the day they get good sporadic E propagation andwork great DX on 6 and 2 Meters. For us HF guys, it seems that we might as well shutdown the rig and watch TV, as 20M will appear dead in the mid-evening hours.

A good indication that coronal X-Ray emission is occurring is a sudden jump in theBoulder K Index from 1 or 2 to 3 in the early or mid evening hours. The A Index,however, will still be reasonably low (8 - 15). To get a first hand look at what isgoing on check the Space Weather link at http://www.sel.noaa.gov/forecast.html and then go to the Radio link. For a view of the portions of the earth being affectedby coronal X-Ray emissions and the frequencies being affected by D Layer absorption,see the Near Real Time MUF Map at
http://www.spacew.com/www/realtime.html.

Now, 20M may have been dead in the mid-evening hours, but look for some great 20MDX openings to the Indian Ocean, Africa, South Atlantic, South America, Oceania,and the South Pacific from 0300 to 0600 UTC. You will not have much competitionfrom Northern Europe during this time period, as the approaching sunrise andsubsequent daylight will bathe Northern Europe with coronal X-Rays resulting instrong D Layer absorption. From 0600 to 1100 UTC look for some good 30M openingsto Oceania, VK/ZL, and Austral-Asia.

If the K Index hits 4 or greater, there is usually a major geomagmetic storm in progress. This is primarily caused by the coronal mass ejection of heavy particles from a major solar flare. The solar wind carrys the heavy particles (most usually protons) which bombard the geomagnetic field. If a direct hit took place around the North Pole, a ProtonEncapsulation Event occurs, and geomagnetic storms begin in the Northern Lattitudes and travel down the geomagnetic flux lines to the Southern Lattitudes. This usually results in 3 to 5 days of very lousy propagation. This event can occur singularly or in conjuction with coronal X-Ray emission. Simple coronal X-Ray emission will not usually result in a K Index higher than 3.

 During Winter, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun and coronalX-Rays are more of a problem for our neighbors down under.

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

Trickery and Cunning always prevail  
Perhaps you don't have the best antenna or the strongest amplifier and you havedifficulty busting the pile ups. But your wife is a ham. Have the wife calland when the DX station says, the YL go ahead, she tells him to listen for theOM, K5VVA. It works every time. The YL voice is equal to at least another 500watts.

Submitted by Bob, K5VVA (XYL is W5BJM)

100% QSL Returns, Guaranteed!  
At the present time, I enjoy a 100% return on all DX QSL cards sent. Believeme, this did not occur over-night. Yes, I read a lot of articles on how to getDX cards back. There were a lot of good tips. I tried them all, and someworked, but others didn't. So, for the next few paragraphs, I would like toshare with you how to get 100 % returns on your DX cards sent. It took me about3 years or so of sending out cards before I found the method that worked solid.

1. You Need a QSL Card
Sounds simple, but it isn't. You need a great looking card, a one of a kindcard, a colorful card. You need a card that the DX station would be verypleased to get. A card with a map of the world, or a telegraph key and yourcall will not cut the mustard. Here are some good ideas. A card with a fullcolor picture of you at your station and your call only in the upper left handcorner, a card that depicts your state, or geographical location, a map of yourstate, full color state flag, state seal, full color Magnolia blossom - wonderwhere that come from ? The number of QSL card printers in the states aredwindling, and trying to find one that will custom design you a colorful cardat a reasonable cost might be very difficult to do. With today's computergraphic programs, a custom QSL designer can come up with a beautiful card foryou from your own simple drawing and clear-cut instructions for colors. Icustom designed my own QSL card 6 years ago using Microsoft Powerpoint. I usedthe graphics and colors I wanted, and made a printout of the card to exactscale. I sent the printout and graphics layout to a printer in Europe and got2,000 high quality cards, postpaid, for $ 120.00 USD. Send me an email for infoon some of the best custom QSL designers and printers in Europe, with pricesyou cannot beat.

2. QSO Data
Where to put the QSO data, front or back ? You have probably heard, lately,always on the front with your call. It really does not matter ! I prefer a QSLwith an uncluttered picture or graphics design on the front with my call andaddress, and the QSO data on the reverse side. Strictly personal preference. Ifyou do have your QSO data on the back side of your card, when you sign the card(you should always sign your card - it adds credibility), make sure you putyour call in large block letters after your name. This way, the DX station doesnot have to flip over the card to see your call when he looks at the QSO data.Indulge an OT, I have to mention this. Please make sure you have the correctdate and time in UTC for the QSO. Always check the the shack clocks regularlywith WWV. Computer clocks can accumulate incorrect times of 1 or 2 minutes. 1or 2 minutes can make a big difference with a DXpedition QSO when the call is bustedby the DX Op. Always send a personal note of greeting to the DX station and hisfamily. It only takes a few minutes and will make him feel great ! How do youfeel when you get a card from a rare DX station with a nice note on the card ?

3. Sending the Card
Many DX stations have QSL managers here in the states or overseas. You needaccess to a good up to date QSL manager data base. The most accurate, and up todate one that I know of is the GoList. Send me an email if you need info on theGoList. If the DX station has a manager, you still need the correct address ofthat manager. That means you need a good call sign data base with addresses.Buckmaster, QRZ.Com, and Radio Amateur Callbook (RAC) are probably the mostpopular. RAC will discontinue publishing it's call sign data base on CD ROMafter the coming Winter edition. I have never used Buckmaster, but have heardit is very accurate, and you get 3 or so years of free web look-ups with apurchase. It is more expensive than QRZ.COM, but Buckmaster offers auctions tothe highest bidder for the latest CD on their web. Both Buckmaster and QRZ.COMhave the latest on-file addresses for both state-side and DX stations. Always include a pre-addressed return envelope, and put the return address of the DXstation or QSL manager in the upper left-hand corner of your return envelope.Nested envelopes, a larger envelope for the one you send, and a smaller returnenvelope that slides in the larger envelope (without having to fold) areavailable in plain white for USA managers and red-banded international sizesfor overseas mail. Send me an email for sources of these envelopes. Oh yes, ifthe DX station has a USA manager, don't forget to put a stamp on your returnenvelope. For DXpeditions with USA managers, it may take 3 to 6 months to get acard. If you know a postal rate hike is coming in a few months or so, add theextra postage to your return envelope. For return postage to DX or DX withoverseas managers, see the next paragraph.

4. Make it Very Easy for the DX Station to Reply to your QSL
Put international postage on your return envelope. Use the correct denominationof stamps for the country that the DX is in. This way, all the DX has to do isfill out a QSL card and put in your return envelope. Send me an email forsources of international postage. IRCs (International Reply Coupons) are usedby many DXers, but they present a number of problems. All countries that acceptand issue IRCs belong to the International Postage Union. One IRC is supposedto pay for one unit of air mail return, 3 ounces of mail (an envelope and QSL).One problem is, some countries that belong to the postal union make up theirown rules for how many IRCs are required for one unit of airmail postage.Another problem is the fluctuating currency rates. In Germany and Japan a fewyears ago, 1 IRC would not do the trick. To compensate for this, many DXers put2 and sometimes 3 IRCs in their return envelope. We are now approaching $ 5.00of your hard earned money for a DX QSL. International postage for manycountries can be obtained for less than the cost of 1 IRC !! Another problemwith IRCs is this, and it also holds true for those who put greenbacks in theirreturn envelope for return postage. The DX station always has the option ofpocketing your IRCs and greenbacks, and returning your DX QSL via the bureau. Sorry to saybut, the direct QSLs for my very first 1A0 and ZA QSOs (2 IRCs each) never gotreturned direct. They were received by the bureau. Putting greenbacks in directQSLs can often get the DX in trouble with local customs officials. The postoffices of many African and Mid-East countries will often open internationalmail looking for contraband. US dollars sent by international mail to manycountries are considered contraband. If your letter is opened by the postoffice in a DX country, you also stand the chance of losing your IRCs by acorrupt post office worker. IRCs and US dollars are all traded on the black market like anything else.Of prime importance is making it easy for DXpedition managers to replyto your QSL. Using a peel-off, self stick flap on your return envelope,making sure the QSO data and your call are on the same side of your cardin some manner, and having the exact QSO date and time in UTC willgreatly speed the processing of your card. For a reputable DXpeditionQSL manager, a donation of $ 5.00 to $ 20.00 to help defray the cost ofthe DXpedition and QSL cards will be greatly appreciated. For largerdonations, an International Money Order to the DXpedition Team Leader,or per published instructions is the best way to go.

5. Re-Sends
Remember the DX station has a job, probably a family, and he likes to put sometime in operating. How long do you wait for a QSL card before a re-send. ?Wait a minimum of six months. If you have not received a QSL for a new one bythen, re-check the address using more than one source, and send your next cardvia registered mail. In the past, I have prematurely sent re-sends and oftenwould up with a reply to my re-send and original mail within weeks of eachother !!

6. Final Comments
I hope some of the preceding information helps you in some way get that QSLfrom a new one. MDXA was founded on the principle of helping each other getDXCC and increase country totals. We can all be active participants of thisgreat principle !! Hope to see you on the DX Tips link of our web site.

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

Stay Put when Working Split  
When a station is working split and listening on one single frequency you haveno choice but to transmit on that one freq. However, when a station is listening up and actually gives the spread, for example "listening 200 to 210," then I've found it much more successful to pick one freq and stay there. In fact, I make it a point to stay at the upper most freq of the given spread. Too many people "chase" the DX all around the given spread and easily get frustrated. However, it has never failed that when the DX says listening 200 to 210, he will make a point to visit the top freq quite often. In fact, I've listened and it's not unusual for the DX station to work a station on 200, 201, 203, 205, and then jump all the way to the top. That's because by the time he works a few stations by the "creep up the band" mode, everybody and his brother start using the "chase" the DX method as mentioned above. So to get away from the "wall" of callers, the DX station will jump to the top or bottom limits of the given spread. I call this the "Stay Put" method. Especially when the pileup is very large! This worked great for FO0AAA on Clipperton.

Submitted by Glenn, K2FF

Time Your Calls  
Seems as though 99% of operators jump on the mike immediately when the DX station says QRZ. So think of how it would sound if there were 100 people in a room and you asked, "What's your name?" and 99 people immediately gave their name and the lone 100th person waited 1 full second and then said his/her name. Bet you 10 to 1 odds you would hear/remember that 1 out of the crowd! And then put on top of that, staying on one single frequency and not chasing the DX around, then your chances of getting in the log have just been increased greatly. I call this the "Delayed Calling" method. Used this for TI9M for every single QSO.

Submitted by Glenn, K2FF

Digital Recorders  
Can't say enough about digital recorders. I use the DVS-2 with my Yaesu Mark-V. I've got 4 separate versions of my call prerecorded. One is Kilowatt 2 Foxtrot Foxtrot, another is Kilo 2 Florida Florida, another is K 2 Freddy Freddy, and the last is Kilo 2 Fox Fox - K 2 Fox Fox. US operators will pick up anything with Fox Fox very easily, Europeans like/recognize Florida Florida, and Japan/others understand the standard Foxtrot Foxtrot better. And with the digital recorder, all I'm doing is pushing a button for as many times as necessary until the DX station comes back…then I key the mike and actually talk to say nothing more than "QSL, 5/9 also…Tnx." I call this the "When in Rome Speak as the Romans" method. This is used all the time.

Submitted by Glenn, K2FF

Use the SH/DX  
I always connect to the packet cluster and use the "SH/DX" command to see where the particular DX station has been operating…time/freq. For example, I'll type in "sh/dx/25 cy0mm" and get the last 25 spots. It might show me that he was on 15m for a period of two hours. I make note of the time and then arrive on the same freq the following day 30 minutes prior. More times than not, the DX station will repeat operating times/freqs etc., because they have built a band plan prior to going on the DXpedition. For example, if you'll go type sh/dx/25 n6xiv/kh9 you'll easily see the pattern. I call this the "Show & Tell" method. I did this for VK0MM and I worked him on New Year's day right when he came up and called CQ!

Submitted by Glenn, K2FF

Use Internet/E-Mail  
For those that are getting way up there, say 300+, you might as well realize that setting up a sked might be your only chance. Everyone over 300 don't necessarily need the same remaining 35 countries. Believe it or not you might still need 4U1UN in New York! Well, do a little research and once again use sh/dx 4u1un and see spots for the last operation. Or, go to yahoo.com and look up 4U1UN, or go to the DailyDX and search the bulletin archives for past operations. Look up the past operators on QRZ.COM and e-mail them to see if they are going back anytime soon or know of anyone that might be. Set yourself up a schedule. I call this the "Use all Available Resources" method. I used this for a couple of 80m contacts to complete 5BDXCC this year (2002).

Submitted by Glenn, K2FF

Help Another Ham  
It never hurts to help another DXer out when possible. Make it a point to help others out whenever you can. Say you see an ad in QRZ DX and someone is looking for a QSL route for an operation long ago which you happened to have worked and were one of the few to get a confirmation; or, say a ham is going to a semi-rare location, plans to operate MAYBE, but has not intentions of buying QSL cards; or, even perhaps a station gets the opportunity to go work in North Korea but needs an antenna, keyer, simple logging program, etc., HELP THEM OUT IF YOU CAN. You'll never know just how much your seemingly small contribution might actually mean the world to the person you're helping. And before you know it, he/she is able to help you out in return with maybe that all important sked with a totally different country but which he/she has a personal contact; or, can confirm his/her present location on that one remaining band; or, …… Well, you get the picture by now. I'm a firm believer that in the long run, credit will always be given where credit is due. I call this the "Ham's Golden Rule." So, give me a call and I'll climb your tower for nothing more than a cold Coke!

Submitted by Glenn, K2FF

Turn the volume down  
Turn the volume down on your transceiver. Believe it or not sometimes a weaksignal can be heard better by turning the volume down. As the volumeincreases, so does the QRN and QRM.

Submitted by Jim, AC5OT

ESP-ASP CW, Simplified  
Want to add some extra sensory perception to your ability to copy CW ?Here is a little trick that has been in use by CW Ops since the 1920's. Notmany of you may be aware of it, so will pass it along.

The headphone jacks of the older tube rigs was always monaural and mostusually had an output impedance of 8 Ohms. Back then, headphones wererather large, and the earpieces could be easily disassembled with a smallscrewdiver. When copying CW, a Dit or a Dah causes the electromagneticdiaphragm or tiny loudspeaker cone in each earpiece to expand, compressingthe air, and forcing a sound wave to hit the eardrum and auditory nerve ofeach ear in phase. This has the accumulative affect of someone "slappingboth sides of your face" at the same time, and has often been a stumblingblock in copying higher speed CW, or CW with QRM and/or QRN.

What the old CW Ops did was disassemble the earpiece on the very end ofthe line cord, unsolder the two leads to the earpiece element, reverse them,and solder them back. Now when receiving a Dit or a Dah, the diaphragm(or cone) of one earpiece will expand, while the diaphragm of the the otherearpiece contracts. This has the net cummulative effect of making the CWappear to flow through your brain rather than smacking both sides. I have anold large pair of Radio Shack 8 Ohm monaural headphones that I got backin the early 70's. I made this modification and the results were just downrightphenomenal. Often times, you will find that the CW tends to flow better fromright to left, or vice-versa. Just turn your headphones around, and remember how to put them on the next time !

The headphone jacks on today's modern transceivers is a stereo jack, mainlybecause of the widespread availability of stereo headphones. The secondarywinding of the audio transformer or impedance matching network will still givegive you monaural sound for your headphones. The biggest problem withimplementing this little trick today is that most all the stereo headphones aremolded plastic. Disassembling an earpiece to reverse the leads to the tinyspeaker inside can be tricky without breaking something. With a little patience,however, and being careful it can be done. You will be amazed at the results !Copying CW will be easier, your copy speed will increase, and you will havebetter copy with QRM or QRN.

Oh, by the way, the input imedance of stereo headphones these days is inthe neighborhood of 22 Ohms. This is also the output impedance of thestereo headphone jack on your transceiver. Also, you do not have to spenda lot of money getting your headphones from Kenwood or Yaseu. I havealways bought mine at Radio Shack. I compared a set of headphones fromRadio Shack to a pair of Kenwood that my Son had bought for his stereo.The Radio Shack phones were much more sensitive. (ASP - Auditory SensoryPerception)

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

The Greatest DX Tip  
For a few minutes I would like for you to remove from your mind your country totals, your band/mode totals, what you need for Honor Roll, Top of the Honor Roll, or anyother numbers that are continually on your mind. For a few minutes, I would like for you to do this.

Go in your shack and look at your rig. Do you see any "romance" there ? No ?? Thensit down in your op chair and envision this in your mind. Picture a dimly lit attic with asloping roof and old wallpaper on the walls. In the corner is a rough-hewn homemadetable and an old straight back wooden chair. On the table is a wooden laquer finishedbox with a lid on the top, four large knobs on the front, and a dial above each knob. Itis an old TRF receiver. Next to the receiver is a breadboard transmitter. It is a loosely-coupled Hartley with an 803 tube sitting in its socket in the middle of the board. Alarge variable capacitor with knob and a tank coil with an alligator clip lead are mountedjust to the right of the 803. The connection wires, carbon resistors, and mica condensersare positioned on the board as if done by an artist on a painting. An old brass telegraphkey is connected to spring clips on the breadboard by wire covered in woven clothinsulation. On the wall just above the table, nailed ceramic insulators hold the antennaleads in place. An RF ammeter is in series with the antenna leads, mounted on the wallat exact eye level from the old op chair. A bank of homemade lead-acid batteries sit onthe floor just to the right of the op table.

Now go outside and look at your antennas. Do you see any romance there ? No ?? Thenhang on to something so you won't fall like I would and envision this in your mind. Picture a center-fed Top Hat, an off-center fed Windom, or an extended Zepp hanginghigh in the air with ribbed ceramic insulators, and swaying gently in the breeze. Nowlook at your antennas again. Whether they be multiple towers with stacked yagis orsimple dipoles, just enough energy to light a mere 100W light bulb, converted to an RFelectromagnetic wave, allow you to reach the far flung reaches of the globe. Are you nowbeginning to see the "romance" ??

The next time you go into your shack and turn on the rig, always keep in the back of yourmind the picture of the old attic shack. Now go work some DX just for the sheer fun, thrill,and miracle of it, and never forget "the romance of whence thou has cometh".

Submitted by Larry, K4WLS

DXpeditions to S. Pacific - Getting through on 40M 
If you are a Little Pistol like me, getting through to that DXpedition inthe S. Pacific can be difficult as usually 40M will open to the USA atabout the same time it is open to Europe and Japan on the Gray-Line.With the Gray-Line providing the stronger signals, and the influx ofyagis and linears in Europe and Japan, you are going to be spinning your wheels with your 100W and Inverted Vee or Dipole.

Here is the secret. For most locations in the S. Pacific there is about anhour time frame between the close of the 40M band in Europe and theopening of the 40M band in Japan. This usually occurs around 0800 -0900 UTC, but will vary depending on the time of the year. So, checkyour Gray-Line map for this time segment.

This small gap allowed me to get through to VK9ML, T2T, and ZL7C.

During the Summer, around your local sunrise is another good time assignals (for both you and the DX) will tend to be the strongest at theEastern-most end of the Terminator Line. There will be, however, somecompetition from Japan around this time. During the Winter, signals fromthe S.Pacific tend to peak around the DX sunset, so the sunrise hoursfor us do not favor the S. Pacific. The sunrise hours on 40M for usduring the Winter usually favor the higher lattitudes such as Malaysiaand S.E. Asia.

Submitted by K4WLS

Atmospheric Weather - Weaker or Stronger Received Signals 
I had always thought that the atmospheric weather had no effect on HF propagation, except for QRN levels. That was until I read the book"HF Propagation for Little Pistols", by Robert Brown about 6 yearsago.

A strong high pressure area over your geographical location results ina loss of signal strength. This is because the changing electric and magneticfields of the radio wave lose energy when they collide with the closelypacked O2 molecules in the upper atmosphere.

A strong low pressure area over your geographical results in stronger signals.This is because the O2 molecules are not closely packed, and there is verylittle attenuation of the electric and magnetic fields. Also, many times theupper atmosphere is heavily laden with moisture in a strong low pressurearea. The moisture provides an excellent propagation medium for theradio wave.

I was reminded of this little DX tidbit tonight while keeping watch on 40Msignals as the sunrise swept across the Indian Ocean, Middle East, Europe,and Africa. There were very strong signals from 3B8, 5R8, 4X, ZS1, V5,Z2, and Europe. There is a strong low pressure area over NC tonight, andit is heavily laden with moisture. Oh by the way, my 40M antenna is justan Inverted Vee up about 30 ft at center, and oh yes, the QRN level wasvery high. It is 0110 local, and I just peeked out the window. It is rainingdogs and cats (so to speak).

Submitted by K4WLS

QSLing Tip #2 
Always trying to find a way to help in getting the QSL card!If you have W6EL Propagation Program, did you know that you can PRINT aGreat Circle Bearing Map from ANY Country (entity) in the database?If not, you should try it..I have started since October 1, 2002, in printing a Great Circle Map forwhomever I worked and sent a card direct.So far, 100% return, which is OUTSTANDING considering it is just December!
That is YOUR Merry Christmas gift from me to you! hi hi....
GOOD DXing !

Submitted by N5FG

QSLing Tip #3 - Improve Russian return rates 
I recently discovered a foreign language translation site on the web. The URL is:

http://www.translate.ru/default.asp?lang=en 

This is a free use site that will allow you to type in an address in English, and get it converted to Russian Cyrillic style lettering. Cut and paste the result into your favorite word processor to print on the envelope. For the benefit of U.S. postal workers, also include the destination city name and RUSSIA in English below the Cyrillic address so they'll know which bag to toss it in. This simple step saves postal workers in Russia from having to perform a translation on their end thus improving the odds that your card will actually arrive at it's intended location. I used this idea successfully when sending for SSB cards for the K1B expedition. The web site will also translate several other languages.

Submitted by Steve, WQ5N

QSLing Tip #4 - Addressing of SASEs or SAEs 
TIP: For many decades now, when I send an SASE or SAE, I place my address on both places on the envelope. That way once the envelope is placed in the mail system if the regular address is destroyed due to coffee spill etc it will still come to me since my address is in the return address position too.... Remember, once the envelope is placed in the mail you do NOT want it to be returned to the dx or qsl manager but YOU want to receive it and this helps insure that you will in fact receive regardless of the address the mail employees go by and after all this is what YOU should desire or else why bother to QSL??? You have my permission to print this tip as you see fit....
73,,
 Ray W5EW

 

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