The DXer’s ethos, and why you shouldn’t fear the ‘big guns’

Its nice to have personal goals like getting to HR one day, or whatever, but its certainly not something I’d be comfortable talking about unless its in the context of encouraging others in their own pursuit.

Eg, I think it can be encouraging to others to talk about how you managed to work DXCC in a year with 100 watts and a vertical, but its certainly not encouraging to talk about how you worked a given DXPedition on all bands and all modes.

And if you’re the type of person who talks about working every DXPedition on every band and mode, and then whine when you miss one… well.. the rest of us start wondering what else you’re missing in your life.

Encourage others; re-assure them that DXing is possible no matter what their budget is, and pursue the challenges you enjoy for your own satisfaction.  That’s how I personally enjoy DX.

One thing I will say though is I find this whole notion that ‘big guns’ are stealing from ‘little guns’ is really toxic.  Anyone who has been around the block long enough should realize by now that the order of importance is this:

1) Perseverance
2) Condx
3) Station

Ham radio is such a wonderful hobby in that you can get a lot of individual satisfaction without it detracting from someone else’s enjoyment.  Lets not feed the trolls by spreading the notion that ‘big guns’ somehow prevent ‘little pistols’ from working new ones.  That attitude is likely to do more damage to the hobby and especially the individual – after all, it is little more than an excuse, and one that might easily lead a newbie to think that DXing requires no effort on their behalf.

Yes, there are idiots who dupe endlessly on the same band, with seemingly huge signals.  Experienced that as XU7AGA, but at the end of the day, they are few and far between, and I can promise you there are plenty of DXPedition ops who have trouble hearing certain calls, especially if they’re already in the log.

If you want to blame something for not being in the log, blame condx.  That way, you’re still likely to enjoy the company of your fellow hams, and they yours.

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Bhutan (A5A), ‘big guns’ and why missing a DXPedition is just fine by me.

I’m pretty sure I’ve got next to no chance of getting Bhutan (A5A) in the log this time round.  Now hopefully for the sake of irony I will be proven wrong, but the facts are as follows:

1) I work full time, and its the start of spring here.  The bands are often closed by the time I get home, leaving only the weekends.  That rules out the ‘bum in seat’ approach aka persistence which is so often all that it takes.

2) ConDX doesn’t seem to be there.  Today (saturday) I had the chance to indulge in my favorite hobby.  WAE SSB was on, and I could hear and work quite a few stations easily.  However, none of those stations were in the region surrounding Bhutan.  Jumping over to JT65, I found I could hear and work quite a few stations on 17M (which A5A has used a lot), but my station wasn’t getting heard around that region once more.  Lastly, I haven’t so much as heard a single beep out of A5A.

3) There is still work to be done on my station.  I have an Icom IC-7300 with a great scope, and an Ameritron AL-572 amplifier capable of well over our legal limit in VK, so it just loafs.  However, because of my current living arrangements I haven’t been able to invest in a tower until recently.  As such, using only basic antennas my reception is often noisy (no nulls), and I can’t push the power in the direction I’d like.

So it seems really likely I’ll miss Bhutan this time.  However, if you stop and think about it, its not the end of the world.

Imagine for a second we could all work DX whenever it showed up.  Here’s what would happen:

A) DXing would be about as exciting as a skype phone call.
B) We wouldn’t be motivated to improve our skills and stations; most importantly we wouldn’t learn and grow.
C) There would be less DXPeditions.

Now point C might seem a bit strange, but think about it in economic terms – supply and demand.  If everyone had every DXPedition in their log, there wouldn’t be any demand for further DXPeditions.  Of course, as new people enter the hobby places will need to be activated sporadically, but not anywhere nearly as frequently.

Just think about how many DXPeditions have aims these days – eg, ‘we’re concentrating on low bands’, ‘we’re CW only’, or even ‘we want to give ATNOs to NA’.  If propagation wasn’t a factor, everyone from every continent would work every band and mode on every DXPedition.

And that’s where the real rub comes in.  Imagine DXing where everyone reaches HR in ~10 years, and there are nowhere near as many DXPeditions – doesn’t sound like a very long lived hobby does it; sounds like a FAD to me.

On the other hand, we currently enjoy a hobby where one can always look to the future and say ‘I need Mongolia on CW’, or at worst ‘I’ve yet to work P5 on digital’.  There is always a bright future to hope for; always something to look forward to and dream of.

And that’s why I’m not going to get too upset when I miss Bhutan this time round… But hey, in the mean time, I’m going to improve my station in any way I can, so that condx willing, I’m one of the deserving when I get the next shot.

The golden days of DXing are ahead of us!  Always be a believer!  And don’t let ANYONE convince you that a ‘big gun’ stole your ATNO! For they are just men, not the gods of condx!

Plans for next XU7AGA Activation

Since returning to VK3, I have been really busy with family stuff and finding some decent employment.  However, I’m glad to announce that I’ve got most of it sorted now, and it looks like I will be returning to Cambodia in October or November 2016!

I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but it looks like it could be quite an exciting year for DX in Cambodia!

My plans for XU7AGA is to focus mainly on digital modes and ssb phone when I return, and help get as many people ATNOs as possible!

I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated as plans progress,

73,

Jarrad

XU7AGA QSL Card Update

Note: All XU7AGA Direct/OQRS cards have been dispatched as of 06/10/2015.

Just want to let everyone who has ordered an XU7AGA QSL Card know that my cards have been dispatched by the printer so hopefully I’ll be able to send them out shortly!

My apologies for the delay – the printing has taken quite a bit longer than I expected.

73,

Jarrad

Health Considerations for Backpackers & DXPeditioners

To be clear, I am not a Medical Doctor, so the following is an account of my personal experiences, the health situation in Cambodia, and precautions I’ll be taking in the future.

Background

Whilst operating in Cambodia, especially when operating from Koh Rong Island (IOTA AS-133) I was frequently bitten by all kinds of insects, namely:

  • Bed Bugs
  • Sand flies
  • Mosquitos

While Dengue Fever has been present in Cambodia, it was not endemic while I was there, so I (nor anyone else) placed too much emphasis on protection from insect bites.  Most of the time, I wore a singlet top, shorts and flip flops.  I was bitten all over the place, and as it turned out, the local insects produced greater allergic reactions than whenever I suffer insect bites back home in Australia.

Scratching produced wounds, and the wounds became infected with various results.  Read more for the whole story and advice to prevent experiencing the same issues I did, but warned medical issues are discussed. 🙂

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Revised QSL Card Design & QSO Rundown

As previously mentioned, the original QSL Card Design wasn’t compliant for the IOTA awards, so here is the new one.

Basically, if you get a QSL card with ‘Koh Rong AS-133’ ticked, it counts for IOTA.  If ‘Sihanoukville’ is ticked, it doesn’t.  All QSOs made with me between the 19/06/2015 & 21/06/2015 UTC were made from Koh Rong Island, IOTA AS-133.

In total, there were 92 IOTA QSOs. Although I would have liked more, it is wet season here and the weather was absolutely terrible.  Japanese stations collected the majority of QSOs, although even these pile-ups were frequently ended by the WX.

Honorable Mentions go out to: W6CCP, W6ZR, KH6HM, W4DJL, S52LD, UA0FDQ, SP5FCZ, YO8BGE, and Wim (XU7TZG), who managed a QSO on every band (except 160m which neither of us could tune) 😉

If you have any questions regarding whether your QSL counts for IOTA, please email me via my QRZ listed email address.

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