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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

To Spot or Not

Chuck Guenther (NI0C) on September 30, 2006
View comments about this article!

In an earlier article, DX Chasing as a Technical Activity, I mentioned the ubiquitous spotting clusters available (mainly, though not solely) on the internet. These networks are extremely popular, and at least one ham (KB9AMG) has been acquiring and reporting statistics on who provides spots as well as who is spotted. Although the use of the internet for reporting DX activity on the bands is a relatively new phenomenon, local VHF clusters and the telephone have been used by hams for sharing DX information for decades. With every technology, though, there arise legitimate questions concerning its use and abuse. Such questions are to be expected, and require thoughtful consideration.

As a DXer who has used the clusters for several years, I want to begin with a few questions and thoughts (which by no means should be considered complete), concerning using and sharing information on the clusters. Hopefully others will add to these thoughts and begin a conversation that will help improve the quality of information shared on the clusters, and promote more thoughtful use of this technology. This article was inspired by AA0MZ in Kansas, who for a while, was recognizing a Cluster Crab of the Month on his web-site, based on the most obnoxious (in his opinion) behavior on the cluster during the previous month. AA0MZ stopped the nominations after one self-spotting station was offended by it.

The first question is the toughest of all. What are the implications of augmenting ham radio with near real-time internet communications technology? Should DXers be using the clusters at all? My wife (who is not a ham) thinks it is cheating. Why do you need the internet to display who is on the air, she asks? The answer, of course, is we dont. I worked my first 290 countries with 100 watts, vertical antennas, and no internet access. It took me (on and off) a span of 35 years to do this. It was fun. Some very competent DX operators, such as my friend Roy, WA4DOU, will not use the clusters at all. I have the greatest respect for them. So, why have I and so many others given in and taken the easy route? For me, it is knowing that there is this tremendous body of information out there to help assess band conditions and DX possibilities very quickly. Ill have to say that it was fun working K7C on 80 meters, and watching their website DXA display my moment of fame. But, when I showed my wife my call sign on the DXA map, she asked the obvious question: You heard yourself work them, so why is all that technology necessary? Well, uh, because its cool, in a Dave Barry sort of way, I argued, unconvincingly.

However, cool technology is bound to fail us. Indeed my next contact with K7C was on 40 meters, and this time the DXA was broke (too many users). It is sobering to realize that, despite this high technology aid for verifying contacts, the K7C expedition reported working more than 10% duplicate contacts! This statistic alone demonstrates that some hams are quickly becoming too dependent on auxiliary technology to help them in their pursuit of DX. Im uneasy about myself getting too dependent on the clusters. However, since my wife and I share a phone line for a dial-up connection to the internet, and she tends to work on her computer while Im hamming, I dont always have access. This is good discipline, and encourages me to continue honing my tuning and listening skills. Im most proud of the pileups I break sans cluster.

The next question seems much easier on the surface. Assume Im tuning the low end of 40 meters, Im connected to N0VDs DX Central cluster and I hear a DX station. Should I put out a spot? There are a number of considerations involved in this decision. Put yourself in the place of the DX station you are hearing. Is he or she already enjoying a lively pileup? If so, why add to the confusion? What are your motivations for putting out a spot? Is it simply to brag? Or, are you adding to the body of information that might be useful to someone pursuing this station, such as a sudden QSY or change in QSX frequency?

Realize that while some stations appreciate being spotted, others detest it. How can you tell? By listening! Is the station attempting to carry on conversations rather than merely exchanging reports? Perhaps this one would prefer not being spotted. Or is the station calling CQs with no responses on a not so active band? Here a wisely timed spot on the cluster may invite others to open their ears and dig in the QRN! Were you lucky enough to find and work a rare station? You might want to resist the temptation to put out an immediate spot. Maybe theres someone else waiting whose chances would be better without the howling hordes that a spot would bring.

This brings us to the next question: Im connected to the cluster and I see a spot for a country or band-zone that I need. What do I do? A spot is not an invitation to transmit! The first thing I do is to QSY my rig to the spot frequency and then listen. This is not a time to say Heloooo Radiooo or send carriers or question marks on CW or to blow into the microphone, or send QRLs or ask if the frequency is in use. The spot is an indication that the frequency is or (was very recently) in use. Until I hear and positively identify the DX station and know that he or she is standing by for calls, any transmission by me on the frequency is simply QRM. If I cant hear the DX, maybe they QRT, maybe they did a QSY, maybe they asked the pileup to stand by, or maybe propagation just isnt in my favor. It is my job to try to find out, but I do that by listening, not transmitting.

Finally, I have to say a word about cluster QSOs. Anyone who has watched the clusters knows that some hams just cant resist the temptation to use the cluster to communicate with the DX they are trying to work. Setting up a schedule is one thing, but verifying call signs and signal reports on the cluster during the course of a QSO is cheating, and there are thousands of people who know you are doing it. Last Winter season, I watched the cluster and listened as a local ham worked zone 18 on 80 meters. Did a QSO take place? Were these two stations really copying each other? Only they know for sure. It sure looked suspicious to me.

In short, Im using the clusters less and enjoying DXing more. The more lids I see swarming around a recently spotted DX station, the less Im inclined to put out spots.

73 & Good DX!

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
To Spot or Not  
by LNXAUTHOR on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
- don't see anything wrong with using the Internet to help make contacts... not really necessary, but it's there?

- if someone is chasing paper, then chances are good that the op will use any or all available tools to gain an edge or achieve a goal... human nature?

- a bigger problem is the behavior of operators during contests, pileups (on both ends)...
 
To Spot or Not  
by KC0VCU on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
As a relatively new ham (a tech for just over a year, working on that general so I can do more than listen) I don't know that my own observations are particularily useful.

That qualification in there, I think I am reasonably aware that propogation across the bands at the moment isn't quite what it has been in recent years, and will be in the years to come. That means two things to me, one it will be much harder to find those amatures who are on the air, and two there will be fewer amatures actively working the waves for a while.

It is somewhat disheartening to try to use even w1aw to bone up on my code, when propogation to my area is so poor that most of the day I can't find even that station on any band.

As a result I have started looking at dx clusters, partly as a way to determine if I am able to hear anything that people with better setups and in better locations than I can, and partly as a way to figure out some starting points for tuning and listening to learn my equipment with some actual live bands to listen in on.

I am somewhat hesitant to report spots at this point. A big part of that is that much of what I am hearing is code that I don't know well enough to report as a spot. In time though, who knows.

73,

-Rusty - kc0vcu
 
To Spot or Not  
by KR2Q on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
You can't change the world. Some folks "cheat" (your word), some folks dabble, some "hone their skills," some...well, whatever.

When it comes to DX and contesting, I've done it all. I have a very strong sense of ethics and "right and wrong." I'm also a qrper and I've worked 1 short of Honor Role. One day I got feedback that the local DX gurus "knew" I not qrp and therefore all of my accomplishments were meaningless (to them). Well, I knew that I was qrp, in fact, I even worked DXCC with 300 mw in 19 days (I'm a serious op). But these "big gun well known DXers" well, they "knew" otherwise.

And on that day it hit me....you can't convince the world of anything. Be true to yourself, period. Don't worry about what other think, say, or do. Each of us has our own values and our sense of reality.

I can tell from your posting that are rather frustrated at some of the behaviors you have observed. My advice is, WHO CARES.

Do things the way YOU want and don't sweat it in terms of others. Sometimes "their" behavior is unacceptable to "us," and that is true for most aspects of life, not just Clusters, not just ham radio, but everything.

Have fun, work the bands the way you feel is appropriate and just shrug off everything else. Life is to short to worry about things about which you have little or no control. Just laugh internally at the whatever you observe and then turn the dial. You'll be much happier.

de Doug KR2Q
 
To Spot or Not  
by NN4RH on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I don't use the DX clusters, myself.

But DX chasing is a hobby. Do whatever you want to within the regulations!
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K0BG on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
You bring up some very interesting points, and I do believe some of them are indeed cheats. Just last week...

I was just leaving my house and heard a Latvia station. One particular W5 stood out among the crowd. Not because of signal strength (he was loud, however), but by the way he was giving his call. Every time he gave his call phonetically, he used a different alphabet.

By the time I pulled back into my driveway 15 minutes later, the Latvia station was very loud, and although I have worked Latvia before, I gave the station a call and tacked on my usual "mobile" at the end. The Latvia station came right back, and he even took time to ask me what I was using for a mobile station. All the while the W5 kept calling over the top of us. The only difference was, he started adding "mobile" to the end of his call in hopes (I have to assume), he get called.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K7UNZ on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
When a DX station asks me to post the spot, I usually do it. However, I never use the cluster myself to "hunt" DX. I tune the bands, and if I hear something that's great. If not, then a cluster spot wouldn't have helped anyway (hi).

73, Jim/k7unz
 
To Spot or Not  
by K2TV on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Having worked the first 300 or so countries before the advent of DX Clusters, I see nothing wrong with using spots from a DX Cluster as a tool for DX'ing. After all when it comes down to working the DX station, it is your station, antennas and operating skill along with the DX station's that accomplishes the contact. Before there were DX Clusters, all DX'ers relied on published DX Bulletins, belonged to DX Clubs or got alerts via a repeater or telephone. The Cluster is just another tool! We hams are supposed to make use of and foster new technology.
What I don't like about the DX Cluster is the amount of nonsense that takes place in the form of sophmoric comments to ALL.
Everyone that makes use of the DX Cluster should contribute spots. DX'ing is not just watching the cluster, but tuning and listening for DX. That is part of the fun. If you hear something that might be a new one for someone... post it!
In any event, lighten up and enjoy the thrill of DX'ing and stop taking it so seriously.
73
Bob Myers, K2TV
http://www.qsl.net/k2tv


 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W6TH on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
.
Does the word "cheat"mean 90 percent of ham radio?

Well, to begin, I hear many qrp sigs that are above and beyond 10 watts.

In California I can verify the fact of two hams running more than the legal power. (SF), (SD).

I have been asked for the sending a qsl card to a ham I have never worked on any band or mode.

The worst yet, five hams calling a rare dx on a friends radio station, (SD). All sigs were zero beat and same sig strength at my qth.As a matter of fact I know one person, a ham friend that used anothers station to work that rare one. This one ham is at the top of the "Honor Roll".

Want more? I am sure there are more.

73,
.:
 
To Spot or Not  
by KC7QDO on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Never used one.

I thought about it once but I have always prefered the hunt with the exeption on 6 meters when the locals on the local simplex freq state 6 is open. That is a raratiy though because when it opens all life comes to a grinding hault to work 6 or 10 for that matter.

Have fun dxing no matter how you do it. Just remember echolink does not count but a good tool to use when setting up a sched on 20 or some other band with a friend.

Bruce
 
To Spot or Not  
by AI2IA on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Amateur radio includes developing operating skill over a period of time. It also includes acquiring the know-how to construct equipment. In addition, it includes responsibilities and ethics.

Anyone can use "aids" of various kinds to increase their number of contacts and to acquire "awards." If they do this to excess, they cheat themselves. Any award or recognition not backed up by real skill is a worthless deception. The greatest awards are these: To know what you know and to know that you know it, and to acquire real skill.

When you encounter a ham hog, just change frequency. When the time comes for you to get that rare station, you will get it, because you earned it.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WY3X on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I tend to agree that using internet "spots" for HF should be considered "cheating". I've been a ham for 15 years, and don't have DXCC yet. Is it my fault that I don't have DXCC because I don't use all means available at my disposal to find and work those countries I still need? No, it's not my "fault" that I don't, it's my "honor system" that I have chosen not to do so. I absolutely REFUSE to CHEAT by using the internet to supplement my communications arsenal in my ham shack. When I stumble across DX, I work them, and that's the way it should be.

VHF and above, meteor scatter, and moon bounce are different matters entirely, because a lot of contacts are pre-scheduled and coordinated via landline, so it wouldn't really make any difference to use the internet to spot stations on 50MHz and higher. It's all a matter of protocol.

I see nothing wrong with working a DX station from a friend's shack. Would it be different if I had my mobile sitting in my friend's driveway and used that to make the contact? Ownership of the equipment makes no difference, as long as you are within the specified distance from your home station. What is it the rules specify? A 100 mile circle from home is considered "home"?

The way I locate stations I need is by listening to others work them. When the DX station calls my area, that's when I throw out my call. If it's a country I've already worked, I move on don't add to the QRM on frequency. This lets others have the pleasure who need to work the station without my added interference.

This is one man's opinion though, I don't expect to sway any "cheaters" away from their chosen methods. I guess it's not any worse than cheating RF by using VLOIP/Echostink/WIRED/IRLburP/etc. (I would never use any of those). But then, I'm a little more rabid about the purity of the hobby than most.

73 all, -KR4WM
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KB9CRY on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
When I stumble across DX, I work them, and that's the way it should be.


Well that's your opinion. Using spotting clusters is not cheating, it's just using all the available technology to your advantage. For me, it saves me valuable time scanning across the bands looking the very few DX that I need to work. When I see them spotted or if I find them myself, I work them using the highest DXing ethics.

All a matter of opinion. There is no ONE right answer.

As you also stated, it's a matter of how you want to conduct your DXing. The card on the wall all looks the same regardless of how you got it.
Phil
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I appreciate all the comments thus far-- you've been thoughtful and constructive.

I especially liked the comments from Rusty, KC0VCU, a relatively new ham. I think that you are using the clusters in a positive way, and your hesitancy in issuing spots until you get the call right shows that you have the instincts of a good radio operator. My motivation for using the clusters is similar to yours. As primarily a lowband DX operator, I like to see what others are hearing and working that I cannot even hear, especially here in the Midwest. It helps me to tread lightly on the bands and to strive to improve my receive capabilities.

To those who remarked that I'm taking things a bit too seriously, Ill give that some serious thought!

When I spoke of "cluster qso's" (cheating), I should have added that it seems pretty rare-- probably because of the high visibility of the clusters. I think the vast majority use the clusters wisely; however there is room for improvement, hence the motivation for my article.

73,
Chuck NI0C


 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K8MHZ on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Just yesterday I was complaining about a station using phonetics that were hard to understand. He would go back and forth between Juliette Whiskey 8 Delta Charlie and Papa Whiskey 8 Delta Charlie. Or so I thought. What he was really trying to say was Japan Whiskey, but his accent was so strong he was saying 'Shah pahn' with the same rhythm and vowel sound as Papa.

It was suggested that I simply check the DX clusters to get his call right.

Having never used them before I immediately thought 'why bother to listen at all?'

To me, in order to qualify as a contact the needed info should come from the radio, not the 'net.

I am new to HF. My first contact was on 40 meters, CW, 10 watts with my friend Tom W8AMZ on the other side of town. That was on August 31, 2005.

I only use hard cards to validate my contacts. Since I started 13 months ago I have cards from 32 states, 41 countries and 3 Canadian provinces. Never once used the Internet to find them.

Really, how long does it take to surf the band for DX stations? So what if they are on the 'net. If you can't hear them you can't work them.

Since I am roughly 1/2 way to WAS and DXCC in a bit over a year of part time hamming I think I will carry on as I have been, not using the 'net, just to have an added distinction to the awards. If I apply for them. I will know when I have worked all the states and I will know when I have made that 100th DX entity. I do like wallpaper though. It is a great conversation starter.

That being said, from now on when I find out someone has a DXCC I will probably ask if they used the clusters. If they did and they don't think that is cheating, there should be no sheepish look to follow.

 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
KR4WM:
Are you saying it is okay to use the clusters for VHF/UHF, but not for HF? If so, your logic escapes me.
73
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WA5ZNU on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I find spotting quite valuable because DX stations can go for what seems like hours without ever giving a callsign; it's nice to know who you're working. Conversely, I've heard DX stations call CQ for what seems like hours without getting an answer. Spotting helps them.

I also think just using WOTA is a better idea that arguing about the (de)merits of spotting or self-spotting.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K8MHZ on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"I find spotting quite valuable because DX stations can go for what seems like hours without ever giving a callsign; it's nice to know who you're working."

Silly question maybe...why not just ask for their call sign?

It has worked for me. I reply simply with my call sign in regular phonetics. If the station responds I say my call again and add "your call, please?"

If conditions are so poor that this simple exchange cannot happen I don't consider it a valid contact.

After getting 42 DX entities like this in my first 13 months at the bottom of a solar cycle I don't really see any reason to diminish the challenge by making things any easier.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N9DG on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
When it comes to VHF and UHF spotting networks are not nearly as effective or useful as on HF. In fact the DX communications paths possible for many of the lesser openings may never even appear there at all. These are band openings that may be very limited in geographic scope or are very short in duration. As a result the openings that you do see spotted for VHF/UHF are typically the more massive ones.

So if you really want to work DX (unscheduled) on VHF and above you need gear contained within in your own shack that lets you find it for yourself. Trying to depend on spotting networks to alert you to band openings on VHF and up will cause you to miss many DX QSOs.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WT0A on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hint: don't spot em 'til you've worked em.
Glen
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N6AJR on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I use the spots for casual dxing, mostly to see how the band is doing. if you see a lot of spots for europe, and they are from 5's 6's and 7's then I know the band is open and give the big knob a spin. occassionally I will see a friend in the mess and use the spot to tune there, as to say hi, and such. E51JD comes to mind. I like Jim and have spoken with him many times ovwer the years, so if he shows up on a spot I will work him, if the bands are favorable.

In some contests if you use spotting it puts you into the multi catagory ( as the idea is you have others assisting you) so that levels the field a bit. In some contest , like the sprint, the spots do absouletly nothing for you and in fact get in the way.

I don't find it an ethical problem. I also use a beam antenna, a rotor, a logging p[rogram and an amp. are these "cheating" too??. or just the way I ham. I have done bare foot, and qrp, and this year its qro. Lots of your hi rate contesting stations use several spotting nets, and auto tune rigs to get a rate of 70 to 80 calls per hour. its a different type of radio. not everyone likes doing the same thing. some folks walk, some jog, some do compettive running and some are in wheelchairs.. do what you like and don't worry about everyone else.. its a hobby.

I have my equipment set up with ACLOG, and Orion , a Alpha 87a, and either a gap voyager or the 3 ele steppir for my main station. I can see a spot and click on it, the log prefills the call and date, band and freq, the radio goes to that freq and the amp autotunes there as well. the steppir also autotunes, and I know where the swr is on the gap, by band.

so one click, no tune ham radio. its nice, its also expensive, and its what I am using this year. I have 9 hf rigs and multiple antennas and use each for a different job. Sometimes I spot sometimes I don't, my choice.

remember he who dies with the most toys ...and I am in contention :)

http://hometown.aol.com/catfishtwo/N6AJR.html

 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KG6R on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Some people hunt with a flintlock others with modern rifles. I use dx monitor software (just a user). In my time challenged life, it has helped me contact some great folks in distant lands. For me the challenge is working the stations not finding them.

To thine self be true!

73,

Jim KG6R formerly KG6QHP
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W5CPT on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Valid points all, but the Cluster is just another technology. If the collective "WE" are going to look at technologies, let's include directional antennas. There were hams who used nothing but wire before Yagi & Uda changed the way we think about emitting RF. And coax too! Open wire works and was here before coax so let's include that also. And the list of technologies we use when we "don't have to" is almost endless...

I hope you see the "Tongue in Cheek" here. I use the Cluster, (and a Yagi and coax too) by choice. I put up with the negatives to use the positives of the technology. There are some who chose not to use it (including me on occasion, contests and the morning 80M Good Morning Kentucky Net) and that is fine.

But is is not "Cheating" to use it. And there is no established way of using it either. Just the way one ham has determined he/she is going to use it. Because the way that person has chosen is not the way we would choose, doesn't make it wrong, just different.

There is real cheating on the cluster, and I am aware of it. There are contests that differentiate between using and not using and some will say they didn't when they did. That's cheating. But cheating is not confined to the Cluster.

Bottom line that has been said before, is that you may chose to use it or not. It's your choice and your conscience.

My opinion and worth what you paid for it.

Clint - W5CPT
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WA4DOU on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
The reason I don't use spoting, lists, nets, etc. is because dx'ing is like hunting. The thrill of the hunt and the chase are important parts of the equation for me. Therein lies the challenge. Several years ago I was reading articles on Eham.net and saw a country spotted at the bottom of the screen. Having suspicions but no firm opinion on the ethics/virtues of spotting, I went to my rig, found the dx and worked it promptly. I felt nothing. The experience felt empty. I realized that day that spotting had done exactly what I had suspected, it removed the challenge. In about 3 more weeks I'll have been licensed for 45 years. There were years when I wasn't on the air and years that I had no gear and there were years that I was on the air and chasing dx. I have 300 countries on cw and 316 mixed. Many have higher totals than I do and in far less time. DX'ing will remain a thrill for me until check out time gets here. I may make the Honor Roll yet.

Read 9V1YC's article entitled "Have We Lost The Magic?" in the DXCC Yearbook 2005.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NL7W on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I liked KR2Q's response. Be true to yourself, and accept what cannot be changed. Time and technology march forward, and those who use it for the good, right, and proper - will. Those who don't, well...

73.

 
To Spot or Not  
by SSBHAM69 on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Chuck, I would have expected something better coming from you. You go ahead and call others lids because they don't fit into your form of how to operate. Worse than that you give any credit to the ham radio hate monger AA0MZ. All he ever did with his website was to try and put hams down. I hope he lets his license expire and I hope that you can do better in the future.

73
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W6TH on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
.
I am not a cheater and will never be one. Oh, maybe I am a cheater, because I use the scan button, it stops for a few seconds and then completes it scanning.

Sixty eight years ago was the real ham and the real dxer that would scan the band manually, wait till the qso with the dx station ended and then call.
.....This is a fast moving world today and cheating is a natural cause, so normal, why disappoint all and not consider it a part of Amateur Radio, cheating is a part of Amateur Radio.....

Momma says, don't take your gun to town boy, don't take your gun to town.

.:
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W0IPL on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
>"This is a fast moving world today and cheating is a natural cause, so normal, why disappoint all and not consider it a part of Amateur Radio, cheating is a part of Amateur Radio"

Well, it may be part of your hobby but it's not part of mine.

I have had many enjoyable conversations (not just the exchange of "59" no matter what the signal) when I called a DX station after that station ended a conversation. When you can relate to them some of the things they previously said, most become very friendly and are willing to chat rather then exchange meaninless 59s.

That's my part of the DX experience. A friendly chat with someone you will probably never "meet" yet have enjoyed a conversation with.

I think DX spotting is for those not willing to make Amateur Radio a hobby. To them it is nothing but another piece of paper on the wall. I enjoy the conversation, not the piece of paper.
 
To Spot or Not  
by W1JQ on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
A topic something like this came up on the YCCC mailing list, and someone (K1AR, I think) very wisely said "Don't infer rules where there aren't any." DX clusters are one of the ways that ham radio is adapting to changing technologies, and and hardly a new one at that. If you don't think it's fun or fair to use clusters for DXing, don't. I do use clusters for DXing (just worked #275 today), I don't use them for contesting. It's a hobby, not a job, and you should do what satisfies you.

That said, there are ways clusters can be abused--not so much by the users as by the spotters. Here's what I practice:

* Don't make a spot unless that spot adds information to what's already available. If a station has already been spotted, I won't spot it. I make rare exceptions--for example, if all the other spotters are in Europe, and my spot would indicate an opening to the US.

* Never make brag spots.

* Never make spots about receiving (or not receiving) QSLs. I admit, when I see complaints about a DX station who wants $$$$$, and I've gotten a card with just a GS or two, I'm tempted to jump to the DX station's defense. But that just perpetuates the problem.

* Never participate in arguments or trash talk. (Cluster operators who filter this junk and blacklist the posters are much appreciated.)

* Do spot things that are generally "interesting" (including broadcast interlopers and other odd non-Ham signals that shouldn't be there). Although it isn't used this way, the cluster could be a tool for getting some of this stuff under control. I remember once spotting a Yankees game on 20M. The transmission stopped shortly afterward--I bet someone didn't know his radio was on.

The result is that I'm pretty active, but you'll rarely see a spot from me. That's the way it should be; I really don't like looking at the cluster and seeing a screenful of spots for the latest DXpedition. One is enough.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KC2MJT on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
A bit like baseball. You look at the stats without steroids and then squint and look at the stats with steroids. Both were the result of a lot of effort, but arguably those without worked harder and perhaps with more skill for the same result.

Still interesting, still fun. BT

You work the bands as you deem fit and live with your own concious. Nothing more fun than chasing around the bands.

Nate
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
SSBHAM69:
I don't know AA0MZ except though his web site. I certainly don't agree with everything on his web site (or his politics, for that matter), but the guy does have a sense of humor, and since his was the first commentary I had seen on the DX Clusters, I felt I should acknowledge his contribution. I'm sorry that offended you.
73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I use the cluster all the time. I think it lets me tune around looking for good DX while keeping an eye on other bands. On VHF/UHF especially, but a little bit on HF, it's a good propagation indicator. If I start seeing a bunch of UA0 and RK9's on the cluster on 20m, I might want to run up to that band and work some DX, even though I generally find 20m kind of dull these days.

The careful, skilled DXer would have an easier time getting through pileups if they didn't have to compete with the "I saw it on the cluster and here comes the kilowatts" crowd. Every once and a while I consider that it would be nice if pileups did a slow build instead of being instantaneous. They'd still reach the same saturation level, though. There are a lot of active DXers, and the pickings are slim with bad band conditions, so everyone is going to have a big pile.

The careful, skilled DXer is going to break the pileup anyway. A wall of kilowatts calling blindly still has plenty of little holes to sneak through.

I've tried to consider my spots more carefully lately. If someone already has a pileup, eh, who cares? But I run across 80m CW and hear stations calling CQ and not getting any response despite their good signals. They get spotted once I've checked the cluster to see if they'd been spotted in the last hour or so. Some people have other things they need to do while they wait for the band to open... the cluster is great for that.

I pulled back from a "DX 3500.00 3XD2Z Answering CQ's" spot last night after I got a QSO that way... I figured if you were paying enough attention to the band to figure out that you should call CQ, you deserved to have a nice Q with 3X, and I didn't really want a wall of CQ's covering the whole band anyway. Of course, my CQ frequency was swamped and ruined for me after my Q... but I didn't mind moving ;-) (consider this my brag spot!)

The cluster irritates me sometimes, but I think it's done more for my DXing fun than it's caused trouble for me. Sometimes I get it in my head that we should try to save the cluster-junkies who've never felt the sweet victory of finding unspotted DX... but then, they're not taking anything away from me, and sometimes it's fun to see something on the cluster and slam through the pileup anyway. It's a good way to sharpen your DX skills.

Now, to 30m... band's sounding good tonight...

73,
Dan
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, I should say though that I feel strongly that you should copy the call yourself. Cluster fills are cheating.

To that end, the DX should IDENTIFY FREQUENTLY. I really do like to wait around for the ID... and if I worked ya 15 minutes ago, it's about time.

Dan
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
WA4DOU:
Roy, my friend-- thanks for jumping in and giving your thoughts. Although we don't see eye to eye on the use of clusters, I share your concern about the effect of this technology on ham radio. Although ambivalent about it, I've obviously chosen to make use of it. Yes, 9V1YC made some excellent points in his article.

To those who seem resigned that "technology marches forward," may I remind you that it doesn't march by itself. It is invented by human beings and is controlled by human beings, and we have the capacity to use or misuse or opt out of it if we so choose.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W2RDD on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I suppose it is a bit like fishing. To use or not use an electronic device to search out a school. I like to cast my line in the water after the usual unaided reading and be pleased if I get a strike.

But I have been known to come back with an empty creel.

Same thing on the radio. No aids and low power. When I get a DX bite, it is quite satisfying.
 
To Spot or Not  
by N0AH on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
In slow times of propagation, it is always a welcomed practice. Having been a victim of false spots, I could care less. It means I'm popular. Some claim I have falsely spotted others. This is nonsense. If I spot others, using their call, I do it on purpose. I can't help but suggest....don't believe every thing you read or that you are working what you think is real that some drunk in Georgia spots.....
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"To use or not use an electronic device to search out a school"

I think of it a little like something that tells me which lake I should be fishing in. It's not very often anymore that I care about one particular spot, unless it's a friend of mine. I know that many others really do use it as a fish finder.

Dan
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
N3OX wrote:
"Oh, I should say though that I feel strongly that you should copy the call yourself. Cluster fills are cheating.

To that end, the DX should IDENTIFY FREQUENTLY."


Amen, brother!
73,
Chuck NI0C

 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KB9CRY on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, I should say though that I feel strongly that you should copy the call yourself. Cluster fills are cheating.


No, it's using all the available technology to your advantage. I guess you'd say that Check Partials on my contest logging program are cheating also. Until they are deemed illegal by the authorities, either the FCC, the DXCC, or the contest managers, they are available to all those wise enough to use them.

Phil
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Really? Jeez, I didn't know anyone who was actually active felt that way about it. I think contesting software that fills in the call is cheating too. I think that not having copied both calls invalidates the QSO, which has been pretty stripped down as is.

But hey, once again, doesn't ruin my enjoyment of the DX chase. I have 295 worked, 104 confirmed (almost all buro dribble-in), so I'm clearly not in it for the paper...

Dan
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by AB2MH on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think spotting is cheating.

Using excess power, tuning up on frequency, splattering, falsely claiming to be QRP/mobile etc. is cheating.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by AB2MH on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
N3OX wrote:
> To that end, the DX should IDENTIFY FREQUENTLY. I really
> do like to wait around for the ID... and if I worked ya
> 15 minutes ago, it's about time.

Just remember that the DX station may not be required by his country's law to identify every 10 minutes like USA stations.

In fact, some of them may not ID as much to keep the pileups down to a manageable level by discouraging people who would have otherwise called when they hear a rare country/prefix.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W7ETA on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great prose!

I tire hearing ops ask "Who's the DX!!", on the DX's xmit.

I used to think, "Why don't you just listen?!"

Now I wonder why they don't just look it up on the internet!

With internet spots, pile ups become huge much faster. Since I enjoy working through CW pile ups, with 100 watts, or less, I enjoy the larger pile ups from the internet.

Can't say I've ever worried how any one else DXs. Except for that fellow who has been "Checking Propagation" for decades.

WF WL

I still need quite a few to finish my DXCC, all pirates.

73
Bob

PS: the competition junkies always spot the DX before they try and work it.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
But you can't keep the pileups to a manageable level, because the rarer it is the more it gets spotted... that's the DX world with the cluster in place. The pileups will rise to the level of interest among the plugged-in DX community, no matter what the DX op does.

I never said they were doing anything *illegal*, I just think a DX station running a pileup should generally throw an ID in there not more than 15 minutes apart, preferably more frequently. If you've got a 100/hr rate, then at absolute worst, taking the time every 15 minutes to give your call only takes that down to 96/hr, and that's assuming you're like the first Laotian station I worked, XW8KPL/CSN, and have a stupid-long call.

To not do so puts the guys who *don't* use the cluster at a substantial disadvantage. Should they have to burn a half hour of prime DXing time to see who the screaming pileup is for?

Dan









 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K8MHZ on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Again,

Why not just ask them for their call?

If it is a dupe, that's as much their fault as yours for not IDing. So far I have not had a problem with that.

If it is a country you already have, bid the station best wishes and send a card if you wish. No one will think less of you for working a country twice.

I think that fills from the Internet are indeed cheating. I also think that clusters aren't needed. I will get my DXCC without them. After that I may check them out just to have more things to play with.

Contests are already like shooting fish in a barrel. On 20 meters on a contest weekend anyone should be able to work 20 or more countries on SSB.

The real trick is getting them to send you a card. If eQSL is cheating then spotting most certainly is. At least the eQSL verification takes place AFTER a legitimate contact.
 
To Spot or Not  
by N0IU on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I can't comment on using the cluster to find the call of the station you just worked because I live in a glass house!

The thing that does aggrivate me and definitely is cheating is hearing one station wrap up a DX QSO by telling the DX station to listen up for his friend (insert callsign here) who is on frequency and wants to work him.

Scott N0IU
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WY3X on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C:
Are you saying it is okay to use the clusters for VHF/UHF, but not for HF? If so, your logic escapes me.
73

Yes, that's exactly what I am saying. It's been common practice for years to set up QSO's on VHF (moonbounce, meteor scatter, etc.) and above by using the landline for scheduling contacts. There is no difference in using the internet and POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). If it's acceptable to set up a contact over POTS, then it should be acceptable to use the internet. It's NOT commonly accepted practice to set up HF contacts over POTS, at least not with a DX station, so setting up an HF contact using the internet should be verboten also, or at least strongly discouraged as being dishonest. That's my opinion, FWIW. -KR4WM
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Why not just ask them for their call? "

For me, at least for really rare ones, it's because they've sent N3OX 5NN and I've sent TU 5NN and then no matter what I send after that, I've been drowned out by the pile who found my frequency... I'm a little pistol DXer. I don't get in through the front door, I sneak in through the dryer vent.

Everyone has their own take, but I think ham radio should be *fun* above all. There's a competitive aspect, for sure, but I think that those involved should make an effort to do things that give everyone a sporting chance. Everyone but Mark needs to shut up when the DX goes "The Kilo Eight Mike Hotel Something, go ahead." The DX station should give his call often, work split, and try to do things that reward those who pay attention over those who just have a computer and a ten kilowatt ERP.

That's not to say that the contesters and DXers who have put in years of practice and lots of time and money into their stations shouldn't WIN... they're the best in the competition. I think though, that when possible, a DX station might consider those who have their own personal goal to work 100 countries without internet assistance. This brings to mind the topic of pileup control and the sensible split. The cluster allows the pileup to drift endlessly up the band while even the new entries to the game can just get the frequency on which the DX is listening from the cluster.

The clusterless ham could be faced with a station running 35WPM, handing out 5NN after 5NN without identifying, and worse, the DX station is on 14.008 listening more or less randomly between 14.009 and 14.082... on the internet, there's a constant stream, every 45 seconds, you get:

DX de K8MHZ 14008.0 3Y0OX/B QSX 14042.1
DX de NI0C 14008.0 3Y0OX/B wked 14041.5
DX de N0IU 14008.0 3Y0OX/B nw 14020.8

Without the internet, you have no idea where the pile is. A good DXer may eventually find it, but not if the band is only open long and you have to search 80kHz of the 20m band for weak scatter that has the proper timing relationship to the DX. Add this to the fact that the entire pile will be constantly calling no matter what partial call the DX station asks for, and the pileup goes from fun to frustrating. There's no need for this. You can't blame it squarely on the cluster, but the cluster and DX spot culture enable it.

Dan
 
To Spot or Not  
by KX0R on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Chuck,

Thanks for a very thoughtful and relevant piece. As someone who almost never uses the clusters, and who works DX mostly when I run across it, I read this with great interest.

Way too many operators have too much of their ego wrapped around how many DX stations they have worked. This all started years ago, and it has grown into a monster. I can't think of a worse way to spend the best days of your life than trying to beat out other stations in pileups in an attempt to improve your definition of who you are.

Working DX is fun. I don't do it a lot, so it's a pretty good kick. When I do it with QRP, it's truly amazing - like magic. A little DX never hurt anyone, and it can be a great cheap thrill. Trying to work DX can teach each of us much about antennas, propagation, and how to operate. Rag chewing with operators in other countries is a fine experience.

I just think "WORKING" DX is overrated, and to become heavily involved in it might be kind of tragic. You only get one life, so many hours, and there are so many wonderful things to do and participate in... Consider the idea that too much DX might be bad for you.

The contests, the hype, the radio manufacturers, the magazines, and the DXers themselves have blown this thing up way bigger than it is. Very few of the DX-chasing contacts involve a real exchange of meaningful information; and the ones that do, end up frustrating the other sharks in the pileup! This is a very twisted thing.

People like challenges, and challenges help us grow - but I think measuring someone - or yourself - by how many countries he's worked is pretty shallow.

So I think we have to use the DX clusters - or not use them - after a reality check. Why work all that DX anyhow? I know I have stepped on some toes here, but remember, I really enjoy working DX when I do, because it is not an obsession. People sometimes get so serious about these compulsions that most of the fun evaporates. You can hear it in the contests and the pileups if you listen. Let's be honest.

So I don't think the DX clusters and spots are the real issue here at all. The real issue is why are people so emotional about this activity? I think we have better things to do with our bands and our time. One nice QSO with a real person is better than a lot of DX in the log.

 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"The real issue is why are people so emotional about this activity?"

I don't know about anyone else, but pretty much the only thing I knew about ham radio before I got my license was that ham radio operators could talk around the world. That doesn't explain the 5NN 73 QSO, of course, but it has something to do with the lure of DX for me. And I'm sure many, many DX stations do it because they love being popular on the bands. The ones that don't love the pileups have generally learned to not let one get started.

Dan
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KI6LO on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well to add to the 'pileup' here on Eham, I do check the cluster but I also tune the bands almost as much. I have almost as much luck either way with my small station. When I have a short time to operate, I do use the cluster to speed up the process and find out how active the bands are and where.

As for operating manners, I guess nothing can be done to educate piss poor ops. Tuning on the DX stations frequency, obvious calling without really listening, overdriving signal w/ resultant splatter, working DX stations again and again just to say "Hi - your still 59 today" and local QSOs in the DX window or assumed windows are just a few of the things that are really annoying. My all time favorite is "Your 59, tnx for the QSO, please stand by for my buddy who's on freq".

No one is perfect but it seems to me some ops really go out of their way to prove just how bad an op they can really be and seem to be proud of being a world class horse's behind!

Gene KI6LO
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W9OY on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I like the cluster. A very useful tool.

73 W9OY
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W5TD on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"definitely is cheating is hearing one station wrap up a DX QSO by telling the DX station to listen up for his friend (insert callsign here) who is on frequency and wants to work him."

Now how is this cheating? As long as both stations copy the callsign and reports, it is a good and ethical QSO. Nothing wrong with helping a friend out while DXing. They still have to make the contact.

73s John W5TD
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W5TD on September 30, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Add this to the fact that the entire pile will be constantly calling no matter what partial call the DX station asks for"

Yes there are far too many Jabronis like this. One of the unfortuate effects of the DX cluster is that many people have either forgotten or never learned to listen. DXing was more fun and challenging before the clusters were created.

73s John W5TD
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KB9CRY on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
and definitely is cheating is hearing one station wrap up a DX QSO by telling the DX station to listen up for his friend (insert callsign here) who is on frequency and wants to work him.


Yea, you wouldn't call this cheating if I did this for you for a P5 or BS7 contact?!!!



but I think measuring someone - or yourself - by how many countries he's worked is pretty shallow.


You're just jealous. One of my long term goals as a DXer is to work them all, and I'm real close and I don't think I'm any less of a person for doing so. It's taken me many years to get this far and it would take you the same if you had the same goal. Don't denigrate someone's pursuit of something that you don't have the desire or capability to do.

Phil
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by AC9TS on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I use them all the time. I have an extreamly modest station and I'll tune to see if I can even hear the spot. If I can, I'll throw my call out a few times. I have no intention on going for any awards. I don't even send QSL cards (unless someone send me one first). For me, it's just to see what 100 watts and a 75 foot loop in the attic can do.

Tom - AC9TS
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N0IU on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"...cheating is hearing one station wrap up a DX QSO by telling the DX station to listen up for his friend (insert callsign here) who is on frequency and wants to work him."

I said this and I stand by it. The concept of cheating is that one station has a particular advantage over the other stations. Having access to the Internet is not cheating. Whether or not you use it is a personal decision. The thing that rubs me the wrong way about the scenario above is that if I am fiddling with the knobs trying all the voodoo magic I know to bust the pileup and Operator A says to listen up for Operator B, this is like butting in line.

Use the Internet or local spotting network if you want, but at the end of the day, the bottom line is that you still have to work the station. If everyone let their friends in, when would I get a chance to work the DX?

Scott N0IU
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by SWANMAN on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Unfortunatly, many spot sites have become either personal playgrounds or chat rooms. This one, http://dxworld.com/144prop.html
is notorious for it's non-propagation posts.
 
To Spot or Not  
by M3SKF on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
HMM I HAVE OFTEN MADE THE SAME REMARKS IN THE UK, I DONT QSL ONLY BY REQUEST I LIKE TO CHECK THE BANDS TO SEE WHATS ON I NEVER USE THE CLUSTERS TAKES THE FUN OUT OF RADIO FOR ME.NICE POSTING THANKS
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W7ETA on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
On the first day of Marketing 101, an entry level class, the Professor posed this question:

"One person buys a compact stereo system."
"One person goes to a store and buys components to make a stereo system."
"One person researches components made by different companies; goes to different stores to buy components to make a stereo system."

The question was, "Who got the best system?"

There was a lot of debate.

In the end, the Professor admitted it was a trick question. Each person got the best system--they each bought what they wanted.

I believe the point of the exercise was to underscore that we have to discover why people engage in an activity, vrs imposing the reason why we would.

People might engage in the same activity for different reasons.

I can't remember asking anyone how many DXCC countries they have confirmed.

At one time, the local DX cluster listed countries people were looking for. If one popped up on the cluster, I'd telephone an op looking for that country.

Did people cheat when they tape recorded the DX station, went back and played the tape at a slower speed to correctly identify the DX station?

73
Bob
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WA5ZNU on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Silly question maybe...why not just ask for their call sign?"

Well, I'd like to know who it is first. I might not want the contact, or it might take me 20 minutes to get it.

"It has worked for me. I reply simply with my call sign in regular phonetics. If conditions are so poor that this simple exchange cannot happen I don't consider it a valid contact."

I operate QRP CW so this doesn't work; it's nice that DX will take the time to listen for weak signals and I think that's a feature of amateur radio that should be encouraged. To me, it seems inconsiderate to make the DX listen to my call 2 or 3 times and then ask, "By the way, who are you?" Of course, if they ID regularly then it's courteous to the rest of us. But if they don't, I head over to the spot network to see what the pileup is about. If it's Moonbase 12, then I know it's not worth competing with the kilowatt stations until it settles a bit, but if it's just vanilla DX, I might join in.
 
To Spot or Not  
by K3TJ on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Long ago in Pittsburgh, (before the internet or packet) there was a little used VHF repeater. A dozen or so of us would simply call out spots of pile ups. I could be anywhere in the house and hear the words "I found a Charlie Foxtrot on [some frequency]" (US vets will understand that)

So spotting is not new at all. Get over it.

Respectfully, ed k3tj
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
In a response to N3OX, KB9CRY wrote: "No, it's using all the available technology to your advantage. I guess you'd say that Check Partials on my contest logging program are cheating also. Until they are deemed illegal by the authorities, either the FCC, the DXCC, or the contest managers, they are available to all those wise enough to use them."


Phil, I disagree with you on the subject of getting callsign "fills" from the Internet. This is an awfully slippery slope you are approaching. My DXCC certificates were awarded for: "...two way communication with other amateur stations..." My 5B-WAZ certificate is even more explicit: "...satisfacory evidence of two-way communications on five amateur radio bands..." There is nothing said or implied about using "all available technology." These awards are for radio communications, period.

73,
Chuck NI0C

 
To Spot or Not  
by K6BZ on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
>My wife (who is not a ham) thinks it is cheating.

How about checking the Daily Sunspot Summaries? Listening to beacons? DXpeds announced by the arrl, and others. If there is rare DX dozens already know about it.

A person can build a house with a old rusty saw and a hammer using home made nails. Or they can use power tools, air guns and laser levels. Both achieve the same goal.

Tools is tools, and 'DX Is'
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I forgot to mention that my wife is a philosophy professor who teaches courses in applied ethics and moral issues. I value her opinion.
 
To Spot or Not  
by K7FD on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Not only do I use the cluster less, I use less power and have decided on a mini beam vs. my old full sized quad. So far, it all adds up to a bit more of a challenge...and a bit more fun!

73 John K7FD
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KB9CRY on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
If everyone let their friends in, when would I get a chance to work the DX?


Well Scot if you buy me a cold one at Dayton or W9DXCC, then I'll make sure you get a shout. Actually, this practice if quite common on the low bands where we in the Black Hole of the Midwest need all the help we can get at times to get past the coasts. I don't think this is very common and usually I don't here a station giving out the friend's callsign but normally something like, P5RR, there are other 9 landers or Zeroes calling please listen for them.

Phil
 
To Spot or Not  
by K0RFD on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know if I would consider it "cheating."

Cheating who? Cheating yourself?

I don't use the spotting nets. As a matter of fact, I consider the DX spots to be a pain in the a$$.

I run 100 watts and a fan dipole. Not your average big-gun station, exactly.

Most of the good DX I've found, I found by spinning the big knob on my radio. By the time it hits the DX spots, it's too late for me. Once somebody is spotted, 100 people have fired up their amps and spun their beams around. Then the only hope I have is to actually LISTEN to the DX work various stations, and then either be the first or last caller according to how the DX is working. (Are you listening, rookie DXers?)

I don't use the spots in contests, because in most contests, single-ops can't use the spots or we'd have to enter as multi-ops. Yeah, I know, it's the honor system. But some of us still have honor, you know?

As long as there's paper to chase, people are going to chase paper however they chase paper.

The spots are a great convenience to some, a pain in the tush to others like me.

I will spot somebody, but only if he's been calling CQ for a while. And then only if I've worked him and I ask him, "Do you want me to spot you?" Not everybody wants a pileup. Some people just want a QSO.

Whatever floats your boat, you know?
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by AB2MH on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
N3OX wrote:

> But you can't keep the pileups to a manageable level,
> because the rarer it is the more it gets spotted...
> that's the DX world with the cluster in place. The
> pileups will rise to the level of interest among the > plugged-in DX community, no matter what the DX op does.

Of course you can keep the pileups at a manageable level. If you keep it on the down low, impatient ops will just QSY right on by.

But if I am a station in central africa, or heaven forbid some rare place like north korea, and identify frequently, you can be assured that more people will stop by and start to call. Whereas if I identify say every 20-30 minutes, the impatient or casual DXer will just move on.


> I never said they were doing anything *illegal*, I
> just think a DX station running a pileup should
> generally throw an ID in there not more than 15
> minutes apart, preferably more frequently. If you've
> got a 100/hr rate, then at absolute worst, taking the
> time every 15 minutes to give your call only takes
> that down to 96/hr, and that's assuming you're like
> the first Laotian station I worked, XW8KPL/CSN, and
> have a stupid-long call.

Well first of all, Mr. rare DX doesn't have to listen to N3OX, AB2MH or anyone wanting to work him for that matter. He makes the rules because you (or I) want to work him. He has an abundance of everyone calling him, especially W/VE and perhaps Europe. So whether or not you think he should ID every 10/15 mins is not relevant, because he will just do his own thing anyway. He makes the rules, and oftentimes the Government in his/her country is very lax about amateur radio. They won't have any rules about IDing except that you have to do it at least once during the transmission (and even then, I am almost sure they won't enforce every violation of that rule!) So the best advice is to work around the situations.

Some DXers will use clusters. Others will do it the old fashioned way. Nothing wrong with either, IMO.

> To not do so puts the guys who *don't* use the
> cluster at a substantial disadvantage. Should they
> have to burn a half hour of prime DXing time to see
> who the screaming pileup is for?
>
> Dan

Well Dan, to quote a popular QSL manager, "rare DX is not a medical prescription."

Hey, I am at a disadvantage because most of the time I am in the mobile, operating barefoot into a vertical whip antenna and the car acting as a capacitance to ground. Are the people using kilowatt amps and stacks of SteppIRs atop 200 foot towers playing unfairly? Of course not. It may not be fair to you or me, but it's still fair game in general.

The tools are there. Some people can use them and some can't. Some choose to use it, some don't. But that doesn't mean that we should just get rid of the tools. As long as the rules of your country are being obeyed (that means no multikilowatt amps and no intentional interference) and also the rules of the contest, if any, are being obeyed, AND you exercise common courtesy (i.e. no loading up on frequency or playing DX police) I don't honestly see the big deal.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by AB2MH on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C wrote:
> Phil, I disagree with you on the subject of getting
> callsign "fills" from the Internet. This is an awfully
> slippery slope you are approaching. My DXCC
> certificates were awarded for: "...two way
> communication with other amateur stations..." My 5B-WAZ
> certificate is even more explicit: "...satisfacory
> evidence of two-way communications on five amateur
> radio bands..." There is nothing said or implied about
> using "all available technology." These awards are for
> radio communications, period.
>
> 73,
> Chuck NI0C

So Chuck, I take it that you don't look up callsign info, addresses and QSL routes on sites like QRZ.com or hamcall.net?

What about QSL managers on IK3QAR.it or other sites?

Am I to assume that you ask the ham on the other end for his address every time you want to send a card?

Or do you put your QSL card, SAE and GS in a bottle, drop it in the ocean, let it float and hope it finds its way to the station you worked?

Or let me guess - you never ever QSL direct, only via the buro?

Come on now.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KB9CRY on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Tnx Ryan

NI0C wrote:
> Phil, I disagree with you on the subject of getting
> callsign "fills" from the Internet. This is an awfully
> slippery slope you are approaching. My DXCC
> certificates were awarded for: "...two way
> communication with other amateur stations..." My 5B-WAZ
> certificate is even more explicit: "...satisfacory
> evidence of two-way communications on five amateur
> radio bands..." There is nothing said or implied about
> using "all available technology." These awards are for
> radio communications, period.
>
> 73,
> Chuck NI0C

So Chuck, I take it that you don't look up callsign info, addresses and QSL routes on sites like QRZ.com or hamcall.net?

What about QSL managers on IK3QAR.it or other sites?

Am I to assume that you ask the ham on the other end for his address every time you want to send a card?

Or do you put your QSL card, SAE and GS in a bottle, drop it in the ocean, let it float and hope it finds its way to the station you worked?

Or let me guess - you never ever QSL direct, only via the buro?

Come on now.


Chuck you started this by using the very inappropriate word, "cheating". If you look at the dictionary, cheating means going against the rules, etc. It's been established by many others that the use of DX Clusters or check partials, etc are not against the rules and therefore are not cheating. It may be against one's personal ethics and we all have ourselves to answer to and to establish are own rules of engagement but it's not cheating. To follow that same thinking, anyone using a computer to log is cheating, the same if you use a computer during a contest or don't manually fill in a dupe sheet, or even better, if you use any commerercially made radio hardware that was not homebrewed by yourself, THAT's Cheating. Bad choice of words and it just stirs these types of posts.

Phil
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Phil,
I'm not talking about looking up addresses. I'm talking about using information posted on the clusters to find out the callsign of a station "worked."

That's cheating and you know it.
 
To Spot or Not  
by WI8W on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Well, to begin, I hear many qrp sigs that are above and beyond 10 watts."

So W6TH just exactly what electronic or other device did you use to determine that?

I personally have heard 1 watt signals that sounded like they were 1KW signals. They were not that strong on the old S-Meter either.

Also unless what you heard was SSB...QRP is defined as being 5 watts or less.

So maybe what you heard was "above and beyond 5 watts" instead.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W3ULS on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
What a thread!

When I look at DX logging programs--such ProLog2K or the DogPark software for the Mac--I do feel somewhat distressed due to the onrushing technology that now allows (1) a needed DX station to be spotted automatically, (2) the rig to be automatically tuned to the DX station's (reported) frequency, and (3) the beam rotated to the correct heading. All this while the ham operator may be cutting the grass outside. I assume hams who use this technology carry some kind of alarm on their belts so they can rush to the rig and call the DX. (Or maybe he/she operates remote from the mower or wherever.)

While all this is within the rules and simply reflects current hardware/software capability, I do not find this kind of state-of-the-art operating appealing. What I do find awesome is the result on my end when I discover a lone DX station I'm interested in and 20 seconds later am hearing a wall of signals calling the same station. Amazing.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W7ETA on October 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
<I forgot to mention that my wife is a philosophy professor..>

How many countries does she have confirmed?
;-D
73
Bob
 
To Spot or Not  
by N0IU on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
KB9CRY wrote, "Well Scot if you buy me a cold one at Dayton or W9DXCC, then I'll make sure you get a shout."

If you are willing to wait until May 2007 in Dayton or September 2007 in Chicago to get your beer, its a deal!

Scott N0IU - Also in the Black Hole of the Midwest
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
In my last posting, I addressed Phil, KB9CRY, and failed to note that he was quoting from Ryan, AB2MH. That's because I didn't see Ryan's posting, and attributed his words to Phil.

At any rate, if this article has gotten a few people to think about and discuss the implications of the DX clusters then it has accomplished its purpose.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
To Spot or Not  
by KG6TT on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Heck, until a couple days ago I didn't even know how to add a 'comment' to a spot. Yes, I use DX spots sometimes. But as my antenna is fairly pedestrian and the most power I can run is about 600 watts I am not a big voice so pileups are tedious... and well hearing hams shout over top of one another sort of turns me off. I say this because once a DX station has been spotted more than once or twice the hordes start gathering. Always reminds me of those Capital One TV commercials! Anyway, I don't personally think there is a lot of challenge in simply using brutt force as the single answer to getting through. Would I go to or stay in a meeting where everyone shouted over top of one another? Not for long. This is why I do a lot of old fashion tuning and listening. I get up early and listen while the band begins to come in. Then if I am lucky I'll find a couple of stations calling CQ and I'll have my chance.

Now in my mind the big problem is that far too many hams rely on the spots to decide when they are going to fire up their stations... hense the incredible infrequency of CQs on the bands since the advent of DX spots. Sometimes I think if that first spot doesn't actually happen that day then no one gets on the air at all, and everyone assumes there must have been a solar event or something wiping out HF propagation!

Then again I do LOOK at Spots. Or should I say I sometimes get curious. Should I see something interesting I investigate a bit. My first step is usually HamCap and Ionoprobe to see if there might be a reasonable communication possible from me to them. If not now and that station stays on the air for a while... when exactly might I have a chance at em. So since there are so few hams actually calling CQ these days I guess our equipment might get a bit dusty without those Spots to fill the gap.

I will also admit... I have a slight hearing problem (called Tinnitus) as a consequence when the pileups get pretty intense my brain sort of goes a bit to easily into audio overload. Even with the cans on there are times I can hear the station calling totally in the clear yet I can't sort out the letters of the call sign! I have been known to struggle with this for long hauls during contests (that is why I will never win any awards). Anyway, there are times that I actually use the DX Spots to see if I actually wrote that dang callsign down correctly or not. Yes, I could HEAR the signal... it wasn't an ESP contact yet my head gets confused in interpreting what I am hearing. The Spots have kept me from incorrecting logging the wrong call or forcing me to repeatedly ask the other station 'Say AGAIN?'

Now a bit of humor.... I have a friend who lives but a few miles away that uses Spots almost exclusively to decide whether or not he is even going to turn his rig on (tongue in cheek as he is probably reading this)! And he has a station that can blow me away easily. Well, to each our own. Yet, I can't help tilting my head to one side like that ol' trusty Cocker Spaniel when I see him actually hear a station then SPOT it... then try to work it through the pileup he just created. I am trying to get him to investigate possibilities before hand using DX info sheets and propagation tools but his response is "Why? I just watch the Spots". I guess I can't argue that one. Different strokes for different....

Are propagation aid type programs cheating? Hmmmmm. Well in my mind, regardless as to how you learn that a station is on the air you still have to get your signal there and hear their's in return (well I guess some sort of make it up).

73,
Jerry, KG6TT
Fairfield, CA
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N3OX on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
AB2MH wrote, regarding pileup control:

"Of course you can keep the pileups at a manageable level. If you keep it on the down low, impatient ops will just QSY right on by. "

I agree with you that the DX can do whatever they want regarding ID. They don't have to listen to me, or you, or anyone.

However, keeping it on the down low just ain't gonna happen. What about the brag spots? What about the guy who decided to go, listen, and respot him just because he likes to spot DX he's heard, even if he didn't catch the callsign?

I don't think pileups from really rare places can stay at reasonable levels. I think the DX will ALWAYS hit the cluster. Someone will spot it. I've certainly worked rare DX that didn't have a pileup, but that was just luck in getting in after the first or third QRZ? before anyone had bothered to spot him.

Anyway, I'm not whining. I'm a good DXer and there have only been a few countries that slipped through my fingers, and it had little to do with what the DX was doing, and almost everything to do with my skills and station. So I don't care for myself if the DX doesn't try to ID frequently and run a reasonable split, but that doesn't mean that ID'ing once every 20 minutes and listening over an 80kHz swath of the band for CW signals is a great thing to do.

In fact, the latter one is really bad operating practice, and I don't think it would happen without the cluster. You can't run an unruly, diffuse pileup without it. If the pileup is spread too thin, no one who's just using their ears is going to find it, and after you've worked everyone you've spread out, there will be no more new stations coming in.

If you have the cluster to tell people that they can call anywhere between 14.025 and 14.099 and get a QSO eventually, it's just going to make a huge mess. I actually *did not call* in a recent new DXCC entity pileup because it had drifted up into the digital subband, where there were ONGOING QSO'S. The DX shouldn't be putting people in the position of being forced to decide between good operating practice and getting the QSO. The actual pileup was never more than 4kHz wide... but apparently these ops didn't have a radio knob that would tune *down* as well as up. I felt, on this one, that I could let it go by and get it later when someone with more considerate operating practices activated it.

I don't want to be put in this position with P5 or BS7. I don't want to have to choose between working 'em all and being a considerate ham. Everyone in the DX pileup has signed away their rights against QRM from other stations, that's the implicit agreement and it's fun that way. The guys who are just trying to have a RTTY or PSK ragchew with their buddy in Texas have NOT agreed to be QRM'ed by P51LID's pileup.

I doubt the operation I'm talking about could have sustained a pileup without the cluster to tell people that when they said *QRZ? UP* that they meant fifty-five up!

The cluster is fine, but it enables some bad operating practices that we should try to avoid.

Dan
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
N3OX wrote: " I don't think it would happen without the cluster. You can't run an unruly, diffuse pileup without it. If the pileup is spread too thin... "

Dan, I agree with most of what you are saying; however we had very wide split pileups before the clusters came along. Almost all of the infamous "Romeo" operations (late 1980's to early 1990's) were run like that. In fact, one could make a case that the pileups tend to be more concentrated due to the "QSX" information being constantly given out on the clusters.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
To Spot or Not  
by N8CP on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
If you think a spotting cluster is a problem dont use them. I think the bigger problem is operators who dont use common sense in a pile up.
N8CP
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N2CG on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
DX Spotting Clusters are merely TOOLS that you either choose to use of not.

However, it's annoying to see some stations list a continuous string of stations they just heard or worked fully knowing that the band is open. This is wasting time and bandwidth. Additionally, the entire worldwide DX community does not need nor want to see your log on a realtime basis.

Perhaps being a bit more prudent and using common sense is in order.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K2WE on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I've enjoyed this topic and it's replies. I'm an avid DX'er. I've been in the hobby for over 42 years. Sure.. It's great to have the latest advances to help you but most of the newer DX'ers are missing the fun of "finding and working" the DX on there own. I was part of the first DX packet cluster network in the New York City area. I would sit and watch the spots come across.. wrong frequiencies.. callsigns.. QSL info.. It was like the cluster of mis-information most of the time.. Nothing can take the place of tuning the bands on your own and not "pouncing" on a DX spot.. I guess every one see's it different. A member of our DX club passed away a few years ago. He had over 365 countries worked. I helped his family price and sell his gear.. When I arrived there, I was shocked to find all his QSL cards and Honor Roll Plaques in the garbage.. I stood there looking at them for a moment before I realized they meant nothing to his family.. So.. The moral.. Use the packet clusters BUT.. Tune the bands on your own and see how enjoyable it can be.. You never know what you might find.. Before the clusters pick it up..
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by AA4LR on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
K8MHZ asks:
"Why not just ask them for their call?"

I had a really unusual incident in a DX contest this last year. It tuned the dial to a station who was clearly running in a contest. The exchange went something like this:

Him: "QRZ?"
Me: "AA4LR"
Him: "AA4LR 59 xx"
Me: "What's your call?"
Him: "AA4LR, I need your report!"
Me: "I need your callsign!"

At that point, he refused to work me. In fact, I continued to call him for 20 minutes. He ignored me and worked people around me. I left for a while and tuned across him later, and called some more. He could certainly hear me. At one point, he asked me what I wanted, and I told him I just wanted a contest QSO, but he refused again.

Turns out, this guy is a big-time DXer with over 300 confirmed.

Clearly, I pissed him off in some way -- but all I did was ask for information that I needed to complete the contact.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
AA4LR and K8MHZ:
Most DX stations (or anyone else running a pileup) expect that you know their callsign before you jump in the pileup. They may be trying to regulate the size of their pileup by giving their callsign rather infrequently. It's best to wait it out.
73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by N6AJR on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
This brings up a memory from way back when, I was working some one the other day and I asked his qsl rout and he said "Gud in the Book.." when is the last time you heard that, Its been a while..

for the new folks the "book" was the arrl call book withe everyones call and address in it, befor qrz...came out a couple times a year with several suplements, I still have a few..
 
To Spot or Not  
by WA3KYY on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well I admit it, I picked up a new country, Djibouti, (J2) this weekend due to the cluster. I probably would not have picked it up by tuning the bands because signals were very variable. I must have spent 20 or 30 minutes listening after I saw the spot to judge the rate of QSB and determine where he was listening (he was working split over a 2KHz window on CW). Once I had that all figured out I worked him on the first call (100W mini tri-bander at 25 feet) although he required a fill on my callsign.

On the other had, when Qatar (A7) was spotted, I took one listen and spun the dial. It wasn't worth the frustration of diving into that mess. But there were several other DX stations on the band that were easy to work, just not new countries.

It is interesting, I monitor the cluster during casual operating but only rarely use it while contesting. If the contest has a seperate entry class for not using the cluster, I don't use it. If there is no seperate entry class when you use the cluster, I do use it. Since contests that permit the cluster without creating a seperate entry category are rare, my cluster use in contests is rare.

73,
Mike WA3KYY
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K8MHZ on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"AA4LR and K8MHZ:
Most DX stations (or anyone else running a pileup) expect that you know their callsign before you jump in the pileup. They may be trying to regulate the size of their pileup by giving their callsign rather infrequently. It's best to wait it out.
73,
Chuck NI0C"

Works for me.

I have also found that listening for a while before transimtting can give other clues. Is he more likely to answer up or down a few cycles? Is there QSB that can be taken advantage of?

That is what I usually do anyway. But before I would resort to the Internet I would rather just ask.

Sometimes when the call is hard to understand I record it and play it back a few times. Usually I can make it out if I hear it over and over.

Is that cheating?
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Sometimes when the call is hard to understand I record it and play it back a few times. Usually I can make it out if I hear it over and over.

Is that cheating?"

I would define cheating in DX'ing as using the efforts of others to achieve the essential elements of a two way radio contact, or QSO. Those who use the clusters, as well as those who use the "DX nets," need to be careful not to receive assistance from others.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K4JF on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Good or bad is due to your viewpoint. But you have to admit, DX spotting is just about the only use left for those Packet controllers. Without the spotting, those would just be junk.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by W7ETA on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
DX stations ID according to their rules, and at a pace to manage the pile up.

Working a DX station, when there is a pile up, and then asking for his call sign, in essence says, stop whatever you are doing, and do what I want--tell me your call sign NOW.

The only way to top that is to then ask for a QSL route.

If its a DXpedetion, or a contest, you could waste more time by duping him.

If you are one of those ops with multiple call signs, you can crowded out a fellow hams by making contacts with different call signs. Make sure you dupe all of your Qs.

73
Bob
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by K0RFD on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
NI0C, you've uncovered one of my pet peeves, not that it matters to anyone else.

People who call the DX without knowing who they are calling sort of get on my nerves, not that that's important to anyone either.

I just think it's rude to call DX if you don't know who you're calling.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
It's not only rude, it's risky too! If I call someone and don't have the callsign, what will I put in my logbook if he/she comes back with a report? Stations who work pileups for long periods of time without giving a callsign frequently turn out to be pirates.
 
To Spot or Not  
by WA3MKB on October 6, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
So why is this even a topic? Why do we care what another ham does (as long is it does not interfere or is not illegal)?

We have thousands of hams enjoying the hobby and pursuing it their own way. That's what makes the hobby so great. It doesn't matter to anyone but yourself whether you've worked 1 country or 300. If your goal is all of them, go for it. Do it in a manner that makes it fun for you. Unless an ego is involved, it is your business and no one else cares.

Nuff said?
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 6, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Do it in a manner that makes it fun for you"

The problem is, "fun for you" might detract from fun for others.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by KC8VWM on October 6, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Ahhh but.. If one detracts from the fun of others, then it wouldn't be considered done in a manner that is fun for you.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
True, Charles; however consider the ignorance factor. It is possible for one to have a ball while blissfully ignorant of how one is affecting others.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by OLDFART13 on October 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
There is nothing wrong with using the packet cluster (it's not the DX cluster) to spot DX or stateside calls. Get a life.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by OLDFART13 on October 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Him: "QRZ?"
Me: "AA4LR"
Him: "AA4LR 59 xx"
Me: "What's your call?"
Him: "AA4LR, I need your report!"
Me: "I need your callsign!"

It makes so sense to call someone who is running a pileup when you don't have their callsign. It is frustrating and it throws the whole rythm off. There are others out there who took the time to get their call before just QRMing the frequency. Don't do it again.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"There is nothing wrong with using the packet cluster."

That's your opinion. Of course your opinion might command more respect if you gave your callsign. I hope you aren't one of those tinhorn DX cops who also don't give out their callsigns.

By the way, it seems you only read the Clif Notes version of my article. The article concerned use and abuse of the cluster.

 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 7, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Get a life."

I have a nice one, but thank you for your concern.
Since you presume to give me advice, I'll do the same for you: Write your own article and sign your name.

 
To Spot or Not  
by 2E0MCA on October 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Personally I prefer to find stations by tuning around the band. However, I use the DX cluster to confirm a call where conditions are bad, or the operator has a strong accent, making it difficult to resolve the call. I will not spot a station unless specifically asked to do so by the operator.

I do not consider using the DX cluster to be cheating. Every operator should be able to use whatever legal means they deem appropriate to achieve their amateur radio goals. There is plenty of room in this hobby for a multitude of different approaches to getting, for example, DXCC.

Cheating is using more power than you should, being somewhere other than you should, claiming to be someone other than you are. All of these are not acceptable. Those who do these things only demean their status in the hobby and harm their self esteem, probably shortening their active involvement.

I recently worked a country in central Africa from a UK special event station. I could have worked it again using my own call but that would have required adjusting the output of the station at the inconvenience of the other operators and any persons trying to contact us. I chose not to do it, preferring to work the station if possible from my home QTH. There are those who would have chosen differently and as long as they stuck to the rules of their licence there is nothing wrong in that. As I said, there is plenty of room for different approaches in this hobby.

73 de Martin

 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Every operator should be able to use whatever legal means they deem appropriate to achieve their amateur radio goals. There is plenty of room in this hobby for a multitude of different approaches to getting, for example, DXCC. "

If those "multitude of different approaches" includes augmenting one's radio communications with communications via the internet, then that cheapens the DXCC award. As I pointed out in an earlier post, awards such as DXCC and WAZ are for radio communications, period.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by 2E0MCA on October 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I agree that using the likes of echolink to claim a distant communication would be outside of what I would personally call acceptable for DXCC. I assumed that echolink would be treated as being the equivalent of using repeaters. As i understand it this is not acceptabel under DXCC or, indeed any one elses rules at this time?!
 
To Spot or Not  
by AH6FC on October 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think there is a right or wrong here. The clusters are nice, time savers, but you still need to work the station. The negative I see, perhaps just my perception, is that once they are posted on the cluster the bonehead QRM'er come in and cause trouble.
Maybe I have a failing memory, but I sure don't remember intentional QRM when I first was licensed as a kid. That's the only negative I've seen in ham radio currently.

BTW, it seems, again perception, that recently there have been fewer postings...though probably because conditions are so poor.

73, Bill
AH6FC/7
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Martin,
I think that CQ is giving some kind of new award for working with Echolink-- you can check their website to be sure. I'm not really interested because I want to see what my radio and antenna and I can do.

Bill,

The clusters seem to focus people's efforts on spotted frequencies. Some of the "bonehead QRM" is certainly attributable to the misuse of spots. Those who can't hear the DX need to QRX and listen.

Several evenings ago I saw a spot for a VU station on 40m CW. Within minutes, there was a pileup of stations calling pretty much zero beat, and most of them were doubling with the station they were calling. One station, not content with just calling the VU and taking his chances with everyone else, spotted himself on the cluster, telling the VU he was in the pileup! Is this tacky, or what?

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by 2E0MCA on October 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'm with you Chuck - I prefer to know how well my rig and antenna are doing. I noticed a definite improvement in performance when the rains finally came in September this year. I reckon our underlying London Clay had dried right out!

I've seen bad language posted on web clusters in the past, so they seem to bring out the worst side of some Hams.

Thanks for the info about the CQ Echolink award. I know of one member of our club who has no space for HF antennas, so is limited to 2m. He uses echolink, so I'll pass that info on to him.

73 de Martin
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by WA4DOU on October 15, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
There is no such thing as "having no space for an HF antenna". There is such a thing as "having no imagination, drive or desire for an HF antenna". I lived in apartments and rental units for 35 years and I had antennas in everyone of them. It only requires imagination and resolve.
 
RE: To Spot or Not  
by NI0C on October 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Roy, WA4DOU, makes a good point concerning apartment operations. I operated from several apartment locations spanning nearly twenty years, total.

The only time I felt I had to QRT was when my newborn son literally moved me out of the ham shack-- no more room for radios in the small apartment! He more than paid me back about twelve years later though, when he became a ham and helped me revive my own interest in the hobby.

73,
Chuck NI0C
 
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