I got another new DXCC entity into the log tonight; but it was not QRP, and even at 85 Watts it was a bit of a chore.
The station was A61Q and the entity was the United Arab Emirates. The band was 17 Meters. For whatever reason the DX op decided not to work split; but to stay simplex. That made for pandemonium. I found him by tuning around, and when I saw/heard the pileup, I checked the cluster, and sure enough, he had already been spotted multiple times. It's no exaggeration to say that a melee ensued.
At the beginning, he was as loud as A45XR was from Oman the past couple of nights. I thought I stood a good chance with QRP and started there. The pileup was a zoo and I threw out my call many times with no luck. I sensed a pattern - A61Q would call "CQ DX" and the ensuing cacophony of chasing stations followed his "K". It turned out that he was working stations that he could pick out as the calling died down, and everyone started listening (funny how that works, eh?).
As I sensed his pattern, I thought I stood an even better chance. But then the inevitable started happening - the band began to change. He went from 599+++++ to 599++, then eventually 599+, and then eventually just 599. At that point, he looked like he might fade fast; so I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and turned the K3 up to 85 Watts. It took about a half dozen calls or so (waiting for the avalanche of calls to die before throwing mine out), but I finally heard my call coming back to me. We completed the exchange (stations were actually calling him while he was still working me!!!) and I listened for a while as I put the QSO information into my log. Within the next ten minutes A61Q was becoming covered by the background noise.
I heard plenty of other DX; but for some reason QRP just wasn't working for me tonight. I didn't hear any more new entities; so after A61Q I kept it to 4.8 Watts (I always stay just a bit below 5 Watts - call it a quirk). I did end up working N4FOC on 20 Meters and then John N8ZYA on 30 Meters before pulling the plug for the night.
Getting back to the pileup situation, though. Folks - the most formidable DX weapon you have is your ears. Use them! You have two ears and one key (or microphone) - that should tell you something. Listening is more important than transmitting.
It seems like when "exotic" DX comes on the band, people just snap and go crazy or something. Here we have a station working simplex, which is bad enough - but we also have a gazillion or so chasing stations that just aren't listening! When the DX calls "WB4?" - why are W7 or N6 or AA5 stations throwing out their calls? Isn't it deathly obvious that he's trying to work the WB4 station? And please don't tell me you thought the was calling for something else. You know, if you couldn't hear him well enough to know that he called "WB4?" then you shouldn't be trying to work him in the first place. Just because a DX station is listed on the cluster doesn't mean that you should click your mouse and immediately start throwing out your call. See if you can actually hear him first, OK? If you can't hear him, how are you going to know that he's calling you back? Common sense, right?
If A61Q had worked split, the situation might have been better, but that assumption is not a lock, either. But if everyone had been listening and not sending out their calls needlessly while simultaneously foaming at the mouth, then the DX station could have worked a whole bunch more stations than he had. The pandemonium slowed things down exponentially.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!