Last Thursday I went over to the monthly meeting of the North East Radio Group, NERG. I don’t go to many radio club meetings but when I see a topic that interests me I will make the effort.
The presentation on Thursday night was by David, VK3JMB, who was taking about working DX. Dave is a keen chaser of DXCC entities and has worked 311 different entities, or countries as some like to refer to them.
Dave’s presentation was full of tips and tricks to help snare that elusive DX contact. below is a summary of the tips I noted in my book. He had plenty more but these were the ones I thought would help me the most.
- Listen, listen, listen – study how the DX station is working the crowd. Learn what works and use this to your advantage. If you’re not listening then you are not going to succeed
- Call CQ – when there are no stations around to work call CQ. If everybody just listened then there would never be any QSOs
- You don’t need a big station – Dave uses a 100 Watt rig, no amplifier and a TH3 Junior
- Use headphones – reduction of background noise lets you concentrate better on the weak signals
- Use a microphone that boosts the higher frequencies in your voice
- Use a beam – get the best antenna you can fit on your block and use good quality cable
- Choose your times – different bands work best to different places at different times. Although there is always the exception. 20m is the ‘world over’ DX band
- Work the grey line – the period between day and night can produce some good propagation for a short time
- Look at the indices – solar flux index above 120, A index below 10 and K index below 3 would be the ideal conditions to work DX. You can’t influence these numbers but you can change your plans if the numbers are looking good
- Watch the DX cluster – the DX clusters can show where the DX is being worked from and you can see when stations nearby start to work the DX. VK often follows ZL when working DX
- Check the DX news services – KB8NW, NG3K and 425 DX news provide information on upcoming DXpeditions
- Work the contests – many new countries can be worked during world wide contests like CQWW and CQWPX. Even the OCDX contest can bring out some rare DX
- Use the NATO phonetic alphabet – a standard alphabet can help get the callsign through. Dave suggests also having an alternative phonetic for your callsign just in case the DX is having trouble
- Be polite when breaking into an existing QSO – a luttle bit of courtesy goes a long way
- Work the high end of the split – when the DX station is working 5 to 10 Dave suggests call him 10 up
- Join a DX net – the ANZA net on 14.183 at 0515z daily and 21.205 at 0445z on Saturdays can be a good source of easy DX. Be sure to send and reply with accurate signal reports
- Work the DXpeditions – when others go to the effort of activating rare DX entities many, many others want to work them. Dave’s advice is start trying to work them as soon as possible and keep trying until you get them
- Do your homework – research when, where and how the DXpeditions will be working and match them to work them
- Hunt in packs, share info – if there is a few living close to each other then share info on 2m about where the DX is so it can be shared around
- Work for awards – WIA DXCC, ARRL DXCC, Worked all VK call areas, Antartic Award can all build your skill level
- Have fun – Dave didn’t mention this one but I think it is important.