Huck Finn goes DXing

Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more restful. – Mark Twain

Here’s a new way to operate split and get the target DX station logged in a low-key, lazy, Huck Finn sort of way. And you don’t have to be operating from the banks of the Mississippi to use it.

First, a review of the standard method:

Tune in the DX station with your A-VFO, enable SPLIT. On your B-VFO, go looking for the lucky station getting worked, for he is on the DX station’s receive freq. Zero beat that guy with your B-VFO, then toggle the VFO’s and call the DX station when he indicates he’s finished with the previous QSO.

He may or may not come back to you. Repeat as needed. This requires numerous toggling of the VFO’s as you need to repeatedly listen for who is getting worked in order to park your TX-VFO on or near that freq.

Enter Huck Finn. He doesn’t have the patience for all that back-&-forth crap with the VFO’s. What he does have is a laid-back approach and a bit of time on his hands – time that he often finds isn’t required.

Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. – Mark Twain

Here’s a low-stress way to work the DX in a split situation:

Tune your A-VFO to the DX and enable SPLIT. Now tune your B-VFO to the center mass of the pile-up & open your selectivity up to a full kHz or so. But this time, don’t toggle back to the DX station to listen to him – instead, keep listening to the pile-up. It’ll fade at times (when the DX station is transmitting) and will be a cacophony of callsigns at others.

No toggling back & forth with the VFO’s though – that’s stressfull and Huck wouldn’t approve.

What you’re listening for in the repeating cycle of lull-maelstrom, lull-maelstrom is a singular, cogent reply – a “TU 599″. There may be several cycles with no valid reply heard, but that’s okay…check your email, gaze out the window, brush up on your Twain…

Eventually, you will hear a response (“TU 599″) in what had previously been the Sea of Noise that is a pile-up. This is what you’ve been waiting for and you now have three things to do in quick succession:

  • Zero beat the station sending the TU 599
  • Toggle your VFO’s so that you’re now receiving on the DX station’s TX freq & transmitting on his RX freq
  • Send your callsign as soon as the DX signs off with the station you just zero beated

If you work the DX at this point – great! If not, you still accomplished two things – you’ve put your transmit freq in the immediate vicinity of where the DX will be listening for at least the next few calls – you won’t have to go hunting throughout the pile-up to learn where he’s listening.

The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it. – Mark Twain

Secondly, in all the listening you did while waiting for a response, you learned that many, many folks in a pile-up are calling aimlessly in regard to frequency. They have no idea where to call but are calling anyway This should lessen the intimidation you may feel when pondering whether or not to engage in a pile-up with any reasonable hope of being able to get the DX station logged.

If you know where to call – regardless of whether you use the standard method or the Huck Finn approach – and are able to do so repeatedly, your 100 watts are many dB more effective than those with kilowatts who are shotgunning it and making the pile-up seem intimidating without actually being so.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. – Mark Twain

When do I use the Huck Finn method? Not for new countries but sometimes for new band-countries.

In case you missed it in all the verbiage, what’s different about it is that instead of actively seeking the proper freq to transmit on by alternately listening to both sides of the QSO’s, you’re waiting and letting the correct frequency “come to you” – only then do you switch VFO’s and transmit.

It works surprisingly well and I recommend it to folks who would like to add a new country to their log but are put off by the behavior that can somethimes be associated with a pile-up since you’re disengaging from half the fuss by waiting for the DX to be listening to your freq rather than chasing him around.



  1 comment for “Huck Finn goes DXing

  1. April 19, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Hello John, it’s a nice idea I keep it in mind. What I do most of the time when split is widespread is to follow the “TU 599″ and catch the direction that the DX operator follows, then call a KHz or so up/down depending on what the direction is. Works for me…and you don’t have to toggle VFO’s either.
    73, Bas

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