Slow Down a Bit…
by Wayne Mills, N7NG
This week’s suggestion is aimed more at DXpeditioners, but it also addresses DXers. I just wrote a section for an updated version of DXpeditioning Basics (suggesting that DXpedition operators might benefit, and actually increase their rate by lowering their speed on CW. (www.dxpeditioningbasics.com) (The section was adapted from an article in the CDXC Digest.) In slowing, DXpeditioners may increase their rate, and likely calm the pileup as they communicate their instructions better.
An aside: The DX Code of Conduct (www.dx- code.org) has been widely publicized. All DXers should conduct themselves in an orderly manner, and in fact, most try. The Code web page also includes guidelines for DXpeditioners, (http://www.dx-code.org/DXpednew.html) this section may be more important. Most of us realize that the DXpedition operator should be in control of his pileup. DXpedition organizers often assume that their operators know all of this stuff, but at times, it is obvious that this assumption is simply not true. The DXpeditioner’s failure in properly controlling a pileup will usually lead to chaos, out-of-turn calling and frustration-induced jamming. Some of this is caused by excessive speed on CW.
Speed is a natural method to get as many DXers in the logs. Whether a DXpedition or a contest, it seems obvious that “more is better,” and it seems natural that the first element targeted is speed. It’s perhaps the easiest: Talk faster, send faster to get more calls in the log. It might also be a bit of an ego trip.
For now, let’s concentrate on CW. The inescapable fact is that many DXers don’t copy CW well enough to understand what’s happening when the DX op sends at speeds greater than about 25 wpm. They can copy their callsigns and maybe “?,” but that’s about all. What they usually miss then, is the instructions that tell them how to call, where to call, when to call, and when to stop calling.
Poor and aggressive operating arises out of frustration; frustration can be fed be lack of information. Frustration can lead to difficulties on the DX frequency – jamming and deliberate QRM (DQRM). Minimizing frustration, giving DXers the feeling that they will make the next QSO is extremely important. Good communicating with the pileup can facilitate this feeling.
As an example of what can be done with instructions at a reduced speed, I once had good success splitting a big pileup into two separate sections, one JA and one USA. This was accomplished by slowing my speed to about 25 wpm while delivering the instructions – which I did every five minutes or so. It would NOT have worked at all if I had not slowed to deliver the instructions.
The hint this week is for DXpeditioners to first be aware of your pileup. If it’s a bit unruly, consider slowing you speed. It may be the DXers inability to copy 40 wpm, or it might just be poor propagation, but better communicating with the pile will likely improve the situation.
(c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG