Monday, March 11, 2013

DX Code of Conduct

This post will deal with a phenomena that is occurring more and more frequently, I believe.  But it hasn’t been noticed by me alone, it was also noticed by Jim K9JV, who posted about it on QRP-L this morning.  I touched upon this  in my recent post about pile up behavior; however,  this is a very important topic, so here we go again.

Jim was trying to work both P29NO and 9M4SLL.  The pileups were big and unruly.  While it is the domain of the DX to try and control the pileups, it remains the responsibility of those trying to work the DX to do so in as “professional” a manner as possible.  Jim pointed out that several stations continued to throw out their calls, even though the quarry was clearly calling for a station whose call was in no way similar to those of the perpetrators.

This is maddening!  K9JV was furious (and justifiably so) that when  P29NO was calling “K9?V”, a KØ, a VE and a W2 kept plaguing the aether with their calls.  I had a similar experience a few years ago when I was trying to work an Iraqi station.  I was one of those competing in the pileup, and the Iraqi station suddenly began sending “W2L?”   He meant yours truly of course, yet I was obliterated by a W4 station, and no, it wasn’t a W4Lsomething (I could have accepted that) – the station didn’t even have an “L” in their call at all!  Jim was lucky as he ended up working P29NO. In my case, the Iraqi station subsequently went QRT and I never got him in the log.

What causes this kind of behavior?  Are people truly that stupid and discourteous?  I don’t know the answer to that, although I am tempted to offer an unfounded and uncharitable guess.

But I think part of the problem may lay in the way that I think DX is encountered today.  At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, in the days of old, we used to find DX by twiddling the dial and listening for it.  You spun the dial knob, up and down – back and forth, straining your ears to find that foreign amateur radio op.  If you were lucky, you were able to hear him, you worked him and you were good to go.  Or you listened for a pileup, and you located the station they were all calling, determined if you needed him, and then you joined the fray.  But in essence, YOU had to locate the DX station yourself, either by dial twiddling or by locating the goal of a pileup.

Today, things have gotten immensely easier; but at the same time, we have invoked “The Law of Unintended Consequences”.  Allow me to explain with this scenario:

A station twiddles the dial – he finds and hears (for example, we’ll use a DXpedition that just concluded) TX5K.  He works him.  Then, proud of his accomplishment, he posts TX5K to the Internet (in the days of old, the PacketCluster), wishing to share the bounty. Immediately, on the screens of Amateur Ops the world over, it appears that TX5K has appeared on 18.073 MHz (for example).

Nowadays, with the myriad of the logging programs and rig control programs available, an Amateur Op can just point and click with his mouse and “Viola!” there they are, on TX5K’s frequency.

I think the problem is, that many (but by nowhere near all) ops don’t pause to listen to hear if they can actually hear TX5K.  Or may be they can, but they hear him only marginally at best.  In fact, they hear him so marginally that if they were tuning across the band on their own, they wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was TX5K in the first place – but hey, their computers tell them that he’s there, right?  So what do they do?  They start throwing out their calls in the hopes that somehow he’ll magically get louder and that they’ll be heard in return.  Heck, in many cases they can’t even tell that he’s working split!  So they call right on the listening frequency, which then invokes the ensuing cacophony of “UP”s and “LID”s being sent.

It gets to be one, big frustrating mess.  And this doesn’t even take into account the zoo that can occur if some quack, who literally enjoys jamming DX operations, gets involved.

So what should be done about this?  Closely and completely adhere to the “DX Code of Conduct” – that’s what!

The DX Code of Conduct was formulated by Randy Johnson W6SJ.  You can read about it here.

I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
I will not trust the DX cluster and will be sure of the DX station's call sign before calling.
I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot.
I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call.
I will always send my full call sign.
I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine.
I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign not like mine.
I will not transmit when the DX station requests geographic areas other than mine.
When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.
I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.

Having wonderful tools at your disposal does not abrogate your responsibility to operate in an unselfish manner. You must still be courteous to your fellow Hams.

I am so taken by this credo, that I am posting the DX Code of Conduct badge on the side of this blog, to be a reminder to myself and others.

Oh, and QRP Fox hunters …… your situation is a bit different, so let’s adapt these:

Fox Hunter’s Code of Conduct

I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
I will only call if I can copy the Fox station properly.
I will not interfere with the Fox station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the Fox frequency or in the QSX slot.
I will use full break-in if at all possible.
I will wait for the Fox station to end a contact before I call.
I will always send my full call sign.
I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
I will not transmit when the Fox station calls another call sign, not mine.
I will not transmit when the Fox station queries a call sign not like mine.
When the Fox station calls me, I will send ONLY the required exchange of RST – S/P/C – Name – Power out
I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
I will resort to attempting duplicate contacts only if I am very certain that I was not heard the first time.
I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.

If we all do these things, life on the bands can be much more pleasant.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

6 comments:

Tim N0UJJ said...

Larry
Sorry about you having a bad experience chasing DX.
I recently had success with TX5K and was surprised with the courtesy shown to this Dxpediton. I think a lot has to do with how well the big pile ups are being controlled. Can only hope bad behavior does not become a trend. During many contests I hear both the good and bad behaviors. We all need to keep pointing out the bad so it's replaced with the good.
73---- Tim N0UJJ

AA4LR said...

Frankly, I think the biggest problem with this sort of behavior is that people can't hear the DX at all. (At least, not well enough to tell what's going on) They just see the spot, jump to the frequency and start calling. If they don't hear their own call coming back, they just keep calling.

A good DX op won't put up with this sort of behavior. He won't work anyone except the station he's calling. That tends to quench the tail-enders and over-callers for the most part. At least, any of those who have a snowball's chance of working the DX.

Every once in a while, the DX gets away. That's what makes DX chasing so much fun. If it were easy, it wouldn't be any fun.

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Hello Larry, you wrote a nice post. I got the same experience with DXpeditions. But even before packet radio and internet the pile-ups were sometimes unbreakable. I like to find a DX myself like the old days, and know that clicking a DX on the cluster gives me no chance at all, 73, Bas

VE3WDM said...

Good morning Larry, one side note to the computer point and click on a spot. I have seen it happen were the station does point and click on a rare DX spot...BUT the split is not included in the spot. So now you have a station calling right over the rare DX.
Mike

jturning said...

Sometimes spotting a station is just about trying to rustle up some activity for them. I consider it ham perfection when you hear a DX station call CQ, work them and have a bit of a QSO beyond exchange, then spot them to let more folks know they're there to be had if you need them.

I'm just a slow newb to CW, so can't comment there as the DX is too fast for me now, but sometimes SSB spots don't mention they're working split. And if they don't know and the DX doesn't announce it every time you might innocently be unaware. Some might just have forgot to hit their split button. And conceivably some let their strong desire for the contact overrule reason. I consider tail ending rude, but many get their contact that way while the rest of us wait for our opportunity by playing fair and letting the DX pick out the strongest.

It would be nice if hams instead of name calling and being ugly would try to coach people that might innocently be making a fool of themselves. You'll always have the inconsiderate which you won't change, but name calling and cursing I hear on the air reflects even more negatively on the hobby and certainly won't encourage better behavior.

73....Jason - N6WBL

Morse Bear said...

I don't find working DX fun anymore. When I became a ham in 2002 and 2003 I thought it was great, even with a simple antenna. The little DX I work now is during the international contests where the crowds are split up and there is an easier chance of getting through.

The pile up behavior repulses me. People calling while a station is in the middle of a QSL and they keep sending their call where the DX or special event station finally takes them so they will go away.

While the DX Code of Conduct means well, I have been skeptical of it being effective, those rude people are going to keep doing it.

Good luck to the decent DXers like you out there. Maybe this year I will get those last few entities to finally get my 100 entities.

73 Rem