I was trying to work one of the NPOTA guys yesterday and wasn't having much success, which is OK. Sometimes that's just how it goes, a lesson learned the hard way from the QRP Fox hunts. I'll not name names or call signs or the location of this particular activation, as I would like to keep with the old "Dragnet" thing of "changing the names to protect the innocent."
The pile up was pretty hot and heavy - it's amazing, in a way, how popular this NPOTA program has become! I guess most Hams are kind of competitive by nature, and I suppose there's a little "pile up breaker" in a lot of us.
To get on with the story (and my rant), the Amateur Radio op decided to make sense of the pile up by resorting to working call sign areas, which is a good strategy. It thins out the herd a bit, albeit making for littler herds, but it DOES calm things down a bit.
The op worked about four stations from call area 1, then only a couple from call area 2, then about three from call area 3 - and then commenced to work about 30 or 40 from call area 4. And no, the NPOTA entity was not in call area 4 - so it wasn't a case of favoritism there.
My point is, if you're going to work by call areas, which is a recognized method of culling down the herd of a pile up - then be FAIR about it. It's definitely NOT fair, if you're going to spend five minutes on some call areas and then a half hour on others. Yes, propagation may determine that it works that way, but it's still not the right thing to do. If you're going to work call areas, then give everyone a fair chance. Work a set number (maybe 10 or less) and then move on to the next area. If an area seems to be in the skip zone, at least give those guys a decent chance. Heck, you can even say (for instance), "I'm not hearing anyone from call area 8. Last chance, anyone from 8 land before I move on?"
And guys, it's a nice practice to call for DX and QRPers between working call area 0 and then going back to call area 1.
By the same token ...... chasers - clean the wax out of your ears!
If the NPOTA activator is calling for call area 4 - we should NOT hear call signs with 2s, 5s, or 7s in them. If he's working call area 4 and you live in Tennessee, but your call sign is W7ABC, then you wait until he gets to the 7s. Either that, or apply for a call sign with a 4 in it.
More importantly, if you can't even hear the NPOTA station clearly enough to tell that he's working by call areas in the first place, then what are you doing throwing out your call sign? Throwing out your call sign on a frequency just because the DX Cluster that you use is telling you there's an NPOTA station on frequency is NOT the thing to do. What if by some wild chance he hears you and answers you and you can't hear him well enough to know that he just answered you? I'll tell you what's going to happen - everyone else on frequency is going to make note of your call sign and associate it with the word "Lid" - and I don't think you want that to happen.
Others in the pileup - when you hear a Lid being a Lid - don't comment. We all know he/she's a Lid by their actions. Your emphasizing the point just makes it worse.
Bottom line - Activators ...... use Common Sense.
Chasers ..... mind your manners and adhere to the DX Code of Conduct.
As Stan Lee would say, "'Nuff said!"
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!