Thursday, February 26, 2015

K1N Interview for MDXC by W0GJ

The best comedy in ham radio can usually be found on the DX clusters during large (and small, for that matter) DXpeditions: the incessant whining and moaning from European ops who think they're being neglected. In an interview by the Mediterranean DX Club (h/t M0OXO) Glenn W0GJ was asked about this very thing, and he knocked it out of the ballpark:
Q: European stations complained a lot for the short time you applied during the best openings towards Europe. It has been your strategy or what?
This is a MOST interesting point of discussion!
If you look at our logs, we spent MORE time working Europe than working North America. Our ClubLog statistics however show that North America had 58% of the contacts, Europe 32% and Asia 6%.
WHY, then, if MORE time was spent working EU, was EU about half the number of NA contacts???
Simple answer: RATE.   Period.
When you listened to us working NA, we could cruise right along at 300-350 Q’s/hour.   When working EU, we would be extremely lucky to see rates of 125 Q’s/hour. EU signals are as strong, if not stronger than NA signals, in the Caribbean. The west coast U.S. is much harder to work than EU.
Here is a quote I received after I returned home.   It is from a well-known DXer in Europe:
“I listened to XXX working US pile-up on 80m. Fantastic, at least 10 QSO’s minute and when he turned to listen for Europe, the rate was only 10 % of that.   Same on the other bands and modes.”
The problem is THROUGHPUT.   Rate. Efficiency. Cooperation. Whatever you want to call it.
For the time we spent working Europe, we should have MORE contacts than with North America, but that did not happen.   I COULD have happened!
No one more than me would like to have seen the EU Q’s outnumber NA Q’s.   For the “next one” I have some helpful suggestions to help those in EU to be more successful.
Here is what I see are the issues: 
  1. Not listening to the DX operator
  2. LISTEN to and LEARN the rate and rhythm of the operator
  3. LISTEN to WHERE the operator is listening and his PATTERN of moving his VFO, know where he will listen next!
  4. Learn to use your radio (split/simplex, etc)
  5. Do NOT jump to and call on the frequency of the last station worked. The DX station will NOT hear you because the din is total unintelligible chaos.   Move UP or DOWN from that frequency, as we on our end were continuously tuning up or down after each Q, so if one jumps onto the last-worked frequency, we will not hear you, even if you were the only one there, as we have tuned off.
  6. TURN OFF ALL SPEECH PROCESSORS AND COMPRESSION! Do NOT overdrive ALC.   There is a night and day difference in listening to NA/AS and EU pileups.   The horrible distortion makes it impossible to copy many, if not most EU callsigns.   There were MANY loud stations that we did not work, simply because we could NOT understand their terribly distorted callsign.   Have you ever listened to yourself in a pileup?   We gave many stations a “19” signal report.   Very loud, but extremely unintelligible!   You want to have INTELLIGABILITY, not distortion!
  7. Give your callsign ONCE and ONLY ONCE!   DO NOT KEEP CALLING! We would tune on by those who did not stop calling.   We are looking for RATE and getting stations into the log.   You should be, too!!!
  8. If the DX station comes back with your callsign, DO NOT REPEAT YOUR CALLSIGN, AS WE ALREADY KNOW IT or we would not have answered you.   Many stations (in all modes) would repeat their callsign two, three and even four times!   We only want to hear “5NN” or “59” from you.   Anything else is a total waste of time and CHEATS others out of a chance to get into the log.   Only repeat your callsign if it needs correction, and then let us know it is a correction.   Anything else is cheating others out of a contact, as our propagation windows and time on the island are limited and we need to maximize the opportunity for everyone.   SPEED.
  9. Take some time to listen to the next DXpedition working NA and listen to the rate and rhythm of the operator.   It is fast, quick and efficient, and more people get into the log! Then listen to him work EU.   The wise operator will catch on quickly to what it takes to get into the log!
  10. SPREAD OUT!   Our highest rates (for any continent) were working the edges of the pileup where there was less QRM and weak stations were much easier to work than loud stations in the middle of the pileup.   If we say, “Listening 200 – 210,” 70% of the pileup sits exactly on 200 in an unintelligible din, 25% of the pileup sits on 210 and is almost as bad.   5% of the pileup will be spread out somewhere between 201 and 209, making them very quickly put into the log.   S P R E A D   O U T ! ! ! !
  11. LOUD is NOT better!   MORE AUDIO/COMPRESSION is NOT better!   Finding the spot to be HEARD is the MOST important thing you can do to get into the log. My biggest thrill (and I’m sure on both ends) is finding the lone weak station and getting him into the log quickly.
  12. LISTEN to the DX operator INSTRUCTIONS!   As we would constantly tune our VFO, if we find a clear spot, we would often say, “33” (meaning for YOU to transmit on 14033, 28433, etc) and a few would listen and get into the log very quickly.   You cannot hear these hints if you keep calling calling calling calling………   Many times I would say, “listening 200-210” and after a while would say, “listening 240-250”.   Often 30-45 minutes, even and HOUR later, I would find MANY still calling on the original “200-210”…..of course, they would never show up in our log, as I was not listening there.   LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN and LISTEN SOME MORE.   The less you transmit, the better chance you have of getting into the log.
  13. LISTEN
  14. If you don’t want to get into the DX log, just ignore the above suggestions.
This advice should be taken by all, not just EU ops.

1 comment:

Fred PA1FJ said...

It would be better if all stations in the EU would work with 100 w and no KW.
PSE free moments for QRP stations!