DXpeditions, frequency choice & collateral damage

I was up early this morning trying for ZL9HR on 40 meters. I never did get him but something happened that gave me pause.

ZL9HR was transmitting on 7030 and listening up. Callers were answering him 2-14 khz up from 7030. Then, on 7030, came a slow but strong transmission over ZL9HR that said “You are ruining QSOs 12 khz up”. And the station had the cojones to ID himself.

As a DXer, I hate to say it but I can sympathize with this guy.

There he was, well up into the band for a CW station, no doubt enjoying a QSO and all of a sudden, a horde is unleashed upon him without the courtesy of a “QRL?”. Those calling on his freq weren’t even listening there – their receivers being tuned to 7030.

If all this had taken place at 7010-7020 khz, I would say, “Tough – moved up into the non-DX portion of the CW band”.

But that’s where he was.

Could it be that we as DXers are tresspassing by operating at freqs whose split range will extend into the more casual parts of the band? And in so doing, are we giving ourselves a black eye and perhaps inviting the wrath (in the form of jamming) the we often incur?

If the justification for choosing such a high frequency on any particular band is to work US non-Extra class ops, then yes, by seeking to accomodate, we do deserve that wrath. DXers who choose to operate CW have the onus on them – not the other way around – to accomodate and not be accomodated.

Any DXpedition to a rare entity that will require a large split due to the number of expected callers should operate low in the CW sub-bands with the expectation that non-Extra class ops will then be motivated to upgrade.

Another reason for operating so far up in the band may be the fact that other DXpeditions are currently active as well. And this is the case with 5T0SP also on the air and claiming 7015 as their 40m CW freq.

I have heard overlapping pile-ups several times due to two DXpeditions operating in close proximity to each other – it ain’t pretty!

But the considerate solution lies with better band coordination between simultaneous DXpeditions, not moving up into the more casual parts of a band and unleashing the world’s kilowatts on QSOs in progress.

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  5 comments for “DXpeditions, frequency choice & collateral damage

  1. Jerry N4EO/YI9EO
    December 6, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I got an email for a DL operator giving me grief for calling CQ near or on 28.060 mHz when I was in Iraq (2011-2012) while I was only trying dispense a few Qs to QRP stations from YI9EO.The DL ham wanted me to cease and desist from taking over the 10 meter QRP calling frequency. On 10 meters one doesn’t take over any frequency for very long. Oh, well. There will always be death, taxes and hams in a perpetual winter of discontent.

  2. December 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

    As a casual DXer and General class licensee, I agree with the breaker. Of course nobody owns a frequency, but it’s really rude to park so high in the band when you know full well there’ll be a massive pileup above you. It’s especially galling that the DXpedition went all the way up to 7030, which just happens to be the QRP window. QRM is always unfortunate, but pounding the stuffing out of QRPers seems particularly ugly.

    When I hear a rare one down in the Extra segments, it just reminds me I need to get around to studying for that exam. Plenty of DX comes up to the General segments, especially on other modes, so if I can’t get them on CW maybe I’ll get them on SSB, RTTY, or PSK. If I want to join the elite band-mode collectors, the Extra test will just be part of the price of admission.

  3. December 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    This is an issue as old as ham radio – I remember reading of similar complaints in QST decades ago. The sad fact is that DXpeditions will (due to the necessity of operating split) occupy many khz of bandwidth.

    Their reply is that those hundreds of callers are confined to 10-15 khz – which represents excellent “efficiency” compared to how much spectrum a similar number of individual QSOs would require.

    Regardless, when a big DX operation takes place at 7030, it’s obvious that band plans and gentlemen’s agreements have gone out the window. And I was as guilty as anyone else this morning.

    BTW, RTTY ops now seem to have moved into the vicinity of 7030 as well.

  4. Larry W2LJ
    December 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Back in the mid 90s, when I was exploring the world of the digital modes, it was considered really bad form amongst RTTY operators to operate below 7.060 MHz. That seems to have gone out the window years ago.

    Not that I am defending 12 kHz DXpedition operating windows, but there is plenty of room for rag chews and casual operators up around 7.110 MHz and neighborhood. Lots of slow speed guys hang out there.

    But I agree, it is tough when you’re already on frequency, minding your won business only to be literally obliterated by a sprawling pile up. The DXpedition has control over that, I guess by choosing NOT to answer guys who are throwing out their calls that far away from their listening frequency.

  5. December 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    The DXpedition op has control in terms of deciding the limits that he tunes and works people, but it’s also up to each of us calling to pick a clear frequency, which means listening on our TX frequency as well as listening to the DX. It’s easy with a dual-RX radio but even single-RX radios generally have a REV or A/B button. I must admit though that I’ve accidentally stomped on a net while calling some DX: I had the sub-RX on but the audio level was way down so I didn’t hear the net. Ooops. Red face here, lesson learned! 73 Gary ZL2iFB PS Great blog BTW

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