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80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?

Paul Veal (N0AH) on September 26, 2001
View comments about this article!

In a nutshell, from the USA, there is only around 10-15KHz to hunt SSB DX on 80 meters, 3.785MHz-3.800MHz. And your chances of working DX here are tied to a lot of factors, amplified over other bands (except 160) due to propagation characteristics including noise and gray line conditions.

Experienced low band operators know this and this window has always, for the most part, been managed in politeness and common sense morality. As a result, many hams have earned a new one here through some pretty sound operating practices and a lot of courtesy.

For example, during the 99/00 low band season, W5YU had/has a monster station down in New Mexico. In the morning hours, He would call for DX at his gray line, and when someone like VU2WAP or JT1CO heard him, there was comraderie on the band to then let who ever else was monitoring the frequency, step up to the plate and bat. That's how many over the last few seasons out west here have snagged zone 22 and zone 23 for 5BandWAZ's.

This operating style was not/is not always perfect. It has it's share of complaints, comparisons to list operations etc.... but it does a good job of keeping peace on the band and allowing room for calls to be made in the clear. Sometimes the politeness of letting in operators to work the DX of the moment is downright over-kill, but my point being it has always been there.

With the deregulation of the license issues, many stateside hams are now finding new privledges to venture into this window.

Along with them, they are bringing some accepted pile up habits on other bands with them. But it won't work the same in this window, too many propagation factors are against it. Yet this season, it is common to hear a W4 in the sunlight, call what he thinks he hears over and over again thinking that the DX 2 hours past his sunrise is hearing him- and/or as if a long path on 80 mters must exist as it does on 15 meters.

One of two operators like this is not too bad- they soon learn whats up, but take 20-30 hams without knowledge of this band in a dog fight after an internet post, and good luck in teaching them anything- Matters only get more complicated when those of us along the grayline jump in to the fight and next thing you know, the DX QSY's-

I can just see a JT getting spotted at 12:45Z. The sun is shining in W1 but 5 operators monitoring the cluster jump in- A few W3's with the suntan oil on tune in and a W5 in Arkansaw with a 3,000 foot beverage is convinced the JT station called his number- He only needs zone 23 for 80M WAZ! Meanwhile, those of us along the grayline here in the midwest are beginning to hear the JT signal peak when the clutter of QRM from the east rattles our cage. Then, W6's out west say the heck with it, and they jump in thinking that it's now or never with all the QRM out there-

Has this happened yet? On a small scale, to a point, it already is going on- But of more concern, is it going to be a growing trend? We already have informal nets in the 3.775-3.800MHz window on 3.787MHz everynight and for some reason, other informal nets park on 3.801MHz - They discuss everything but DX...with 500KHz of space on this band, it isn't good enough for some to try and keep the peace-

While ever station has a right to make a call, operate within thier rights, fight it out in pile ups, etc.......this down sized DX window is one of the last standing zones of common sense DX'ing. But will it continue to be a sanctuary of sorts for the serious minded DX'er? Only time will tell- 73 Paul N0AH

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80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by W3GEO on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
It sounds like there are two situations that need to be addressed here.

1. More education is needed on the part of some ops concerning the propagation characteristics of the 75 meter band, especially how to take advantage of grayline propagation. Also, many of the newcomers to HF may not understand the reason and purpose of the DX window. This can be done through the amateur radio related media but I suspect that a good amount of it needs to be done on an individual basis as you see it happening on the air. 75 and 160 meter DXing is very different than 20 meter DXing but, as you mention, many do not understand that.

2. The next situation is a bit more problematic. As people upgrade and gain HF privileges, there will most likely be more congestion. I suspect number of hams who are 75 meter DXers will increase by the same percentage that exists now, increasing congestion in the DX window. On top of that, overall 75 meter phone use will increase. The only solution for that will be to increase the phone allocation, perhaps down as far as 3.600 MHz in order to accommodate everyone. Hopefully this will relieve pressure on the DX window (which may or may not move) by those who are not DXers.

80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by WB2WIK on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The problem, Paul, is that you're attempting to work DX on a band where the world, the sun and stars, God, and all humanity obviously are working against you!

My hat's off to 80/75m DXers, it's a rough life for sure. Although, during major DX contests, it does seem quite easy to accomplish. I've operated from contest stations where we achieved DXCC and 30+ zones in one weekend on 80m.

Maybe the solution is to only chase DX on 80 during contest weekends!

Or keep repeating the #1 rule of any successful DXing..."don't try working them unless you can actually hear them." (The #2 rule of "WFWL" is a given!)

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6

RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by NB6Z on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
This sounds like a valid issue, but a rather small one in my opinion. To my experience, DXing in general is not that easy and when I do work DX it is a rewarding experience. It is one of the reasons I turn on the rig each evening after dinner... I assume it may also be that way for hams who have spent lots of time and money to build a powerful station with impressive antenna systems?
Education and experience will soon separate the DXers from the "wanna be Dxers"! The mix of operators may change but the laws of physics will not. Paul, you will still make those grey line DX contacts on the low bands, but you will have more hams listenning to you and trying to figure out how you do it! ;-)
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by KC0IOX on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
You and I pretty much have the same gray line, Paul, and I have heard you on 75/80 quite a few times. BTW, Paul, you are a very good operator from what I've heard of you on the bands. Anyway, 3 things that I think would help:

First, LISTEN. A lot of people don't actually listen before they transmit, and really compound the problem. This problems seems the most pronounced with the DXrs. Probably because they draw the most pile-ups, etc. The previous post about working them if you can hear them is good practice. Anyway, if people would just listen more, and know what they are doing, it would probalby help.

Also, there are a lot of operators who don't know/care about band plans. We should do more to enforce them among ourselves, and make people aware of them. I think that most people are decent enough that they wouldn't step on the DX window if they knew it was there.

Finally, the suggestion about getting more phone priviliges to the 75/80 meter band is a good one. There is a lot of un-used space on this band.
Just my humble 2 cents. 73
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by K6SDW on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Of course, there's always the low end of the band for dxing using CW, 3.5mhz and up.......activity is slim nowadays, but wide open!
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by AD1C on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to see domestic contests banned from using 3785-3800.
RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
We have always had hams with newly gained access to the Dx window. They have learned how to play the "game" of Dxing on 75, as will the hams who are now gaining access to the Dx window.

People new to the "window" will moan when they hear some of the ops who inhabit the window, say hello to their old time DX friend for the 7th night in a row that week, as they wait to work this new to them DX.

There will always be 6s talking to each other in the DX window as I am trying to listen for DX at the start of my gray line sunset in AZ.

There will always be some op east of me at the very end of his sunrise calling CQ DX in the middle of the window, at 20 over 9, while I am listening for DX at the start of my sunrise.

But, it can still be a lot of fun! And, you can meet some real nice people while doing it.

RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by W4AN on September 26, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I'de like to see 80M DX Window banned during domestic contests.
RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by N5NJ on September 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I'd like to see the 75m band plan back the way it used to be with Extra from 3775 to 3800, Advanced from 3800 to 3890, General 3890 to 3999.

This would really clean up the "window".
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by W0KDX on September 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Well, being from the Midwest, it is frustrating to even try at times to work DX in the "window". Between the loud mouths running illegal power that are 15 kcs wide either trying to call the DX when the DX is transmitting or the idiots that are next to the window on their "daily" schedule across town running excessive power, it is nearly impossible to work DX.

Some are fortunate to have beverages, 10 plus acres and huge antennas, but that doesn't mean that individuals with smaller set ups can't hear or work the DX>

I see a general lack of courteousy on the bands. Regardless if the DX is calling for W5, I hear W6's in there, East Coast stations either throwing out their calls or tuning up, talking to each other, whatever. It becomes a general free for all, anything goes.

The window needs to be published I think, everywhere that this is a "window" not for ragchewing, but for working DX quickly. The "window" of opportunity is very limited to many of us. That is one reason I don't pursue DXing to a large degree on 75. Not because I can't but because of the bone heads on there that won't let anyone work the DX. They have to jump in "nice to work you again Mohammad, you're signal is louder then last night when I worked you...many wanting to call here Mohammad is ....can you listen to my two microphones and tell me which sounds better ?"

That type of operator is the biggest bone head around.

In any case, there needs to be mode education on how to treat the window and how to use it and participate in it. Period.
RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by K2WH on September 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I just love/hate the operators who work DX stations just for the hell of it to let everyone else know they can work DX effortlessly. We all know the types who are on first name basis with the DX and "Just want to say hello" types. Then I love it after about 5-10 minutes of casual chit chat they say "Well, not going to hold it, lot's of stations calling". Yeah, the DX needs to know this. He was unaware.

What lid's they are.

What these operators are really saying is:
"I have the frequency now and I will relinquish it when I am ready. You other guys must wait, I want to show you that the DX and me are buddies and we work all the time and sometimes, we swap family pictures and vacation together. See how easily I can do this. I am superior, (say this like Arnold Swartzenegger), I am RF Man and you must wait."

What lid's.

BTW, this is not jealousy on my part, becuase, I can also work the 80 meter DX easily too. Not a problem on this end. Just needed to get this out. I needed a forum to say this and it was presented here. Thanks I feel much better now.

80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by KB1FLR on September 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Point taken. But the ony way aproblem like this can be resolved is by policing the bands ourselves. This should be done in the friendliest and least confrontational way possible. Educate the offending operator about the customs in that neck of the woods in a tactful manner and you will probably have a ham willing to listen to you. Call the op an idiot and he/she will get angry or intimidated and we will lose another ham.

73 de KB1FLR, Rick

RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by N0TONE on September 27, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK/6 wrote:
"The problem, Paul, is that you're attempting to work DX on a band where the world, the sun and stars, God, and all humanity obviously are working against you! "

WB2WIK/6, please think carefully before you post opinions like this. An awful lot of the more adept hams get into this hobby specifically because they like technical challenges. Just because it is difficult to work 80 meter DX does NOT mean we should not support it, encourage it, and by way of gentlemen's band agreements, give them some space. Gosh, it's only 15kHz he's talking about!

I have to take VERY strong exception to your opinion that Paul has a problem because he's trying to work DX on a band where it's difficult. There are a fair number of guys who have DXCC on 80 or 160, so it's clearly not impossible.

Maybe you were trying to be funny. I can hope, can't I?

- - - - - - -

WB2WIK also wrote:
"Maybe the solution is to only chase DX on 80 during contest weekends!"

I really hope this is a joke, too, but it's a bad one. DXing and contesting require similar stations and skills, but the purpose and thrill are very different. It does not seem appropriate at all to limit a DXers ability to puruse his passion only on contest weekends.

WB2WIK/6 wrote:
"Or keep repeating the #1 rule of any successful DXing..."don't try working them unless you can actually hear them." "

That's a good rule - but if the reason you can't hear them is because stateside stations are invading the DX window and neglecting the agreed-upon use of the bands, then there's a very different problem that cannot be fixed via a better receiving setup or operating skills on the part of the DXer.

We make these gentlemen's agreements on the various bands so that we can accommodate EVERYBODY's interest, not just the majority (which, on 80 meters, might be nets or ragchewing). We should be ashamed of ourselves the very moment we consider reducing the amount of time someone can pursue his interest (which is different from ours) just because it's unusual or technically difficult.

There is plenty of room for DXing on 80 to fit right in with the boatanchor nets, AM enthusiasts, hi-fi SSB and all the others.

Let's respect that DX window. And, if we intend to do DXing on 80, let's make sure we've read up on it. There are at least two great books on lowband DXing that discuss the somewhat different operating practices required.


RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by KD3V on September 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
We need to take a fresh look at two issues.

1. using a band according to its best propogation mode
80 is primarily a ground wave mode band and thus best for local qso's and is thus not a 'DX' band. (I also do like to see how far I can get on a watt of power but let us be practical also).

2. RE-adjusting allowed BW per mode based on CURRENT day criteria. CW:SSB is 250KHz:250KHz This is not efficient relative to the required BW to operate each mode! Be realistic now!

We can do this by readjusting the CW/SSB fraction in accordance to the relative bandwidths AND number of operators using that band. The first cut should be to allow initial split might be 5:1 ratio for SSB:CW bandwidth and not the current 1:1
using a first cut of 500HZ:2.5Khz we get 1:5
It could also be 300:2.1Khz which is 1:7

This disparity is a holdover to the very early days when there was primarily CW operation and SSB was a newer more complex mode to get on and thus had a relatively smaller fraction of operators. We need to adjust this now! (and I do hear the screams of the CW operators!) I know this is a worldwide issue.

Also, a final thought, you can work DX anywhere in the band! There is nothing stopping anyone from using any frequency. You just have to allow a little more space for each other on the band and you can work DX with normal cooperation.

RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by AI2Q on September 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!

What you say may have an element of truth in it, but what's wrong with extending comeraderie to a ham that you've come to know in the 80-M DX window? Isn't international good will what ham radio is all about? Are we all so impatient that we can't say hello to a fellow ham overseas that we've made friends with? The "you're five-nine, now 73" operation we all engage in so much in our DX quest reminds me of the 1960s when working Russian hams. That was all they were permitted to say!

Vy 73, AI2Q, Alex .-.-.
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by AC0X on September 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe we should've promoted the lifting of the distance limit on 11m. It'd be a great place for those who like to call DX but choose to learn nothing about propagtion (hehehehehehe ;-) )
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by KA4WJA on September 28, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
I'll make this short...
I'm not a dx'er nor a contester.. (more of an experimenter..) so I thought I'd have little to add.. BUT....
I would like to correct a mis-statement of fact.

Dave, KD3V, stated that "80 is primarily a ground wave mode band and thus best for local qso's and is thus not a 'dx' band."
This factually INCORRECT!!!
Dave, I believe that you are an intelligent guy BUT you are either just plain wrong here... (or I'm just mis-reading what you wrote)

First let's look at typical maximum "ground wave" range
on 80m (say 3.75mhz...) it is about 55 - 60 miles MAX.
That is assuming you have an antenna that will put most of your signal at the horizon (i.e. a vertical antenna).... Most hams using 75m ssb do NOT use a vertical, but rather a dipole less than 1/4 wave high..
AND therefore put MOST of their signal straight up!!!
So for the "typical 75m ham" (if there is such a thing) the typical "ground wave" range is more like 20 - 30 miles!!!!

{MY opinion: 20 - 30 mile contacts on 75m are a waste of the spectrum that everyone here is trying to defend!!! I have to grit my teeth a little to write the next line... Why not use 2 meters??? Not necessarily repeaters.. try 144mhz ssb/cw ... or even FM simplex.... But PLEASE don't tie-up the 75m "dx window" with 20 - 30 mile qso's!!!! }}

Dave if by "local" you mean 50 - 400+ miles..???
You are talking NVIS... NOT "ground wave"!!!!
That is Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS)
This is
the typical "statewide net" or "regional rag-chew"
propagation on 75m...
Dave please understand that I do NOT mean to be a "nit-picking" lid... but rather to point out what seems to be a VERY wide-spread mis-understanding of propagation!
AND if you'd like to see just how good a "dx band" it really is try some "grey-line" work ... OR just tune in
on some cold January night...... and if you listen, you hear quite a few qso's spanning thousands of miles!!!!!

{MY Opinion::: If you think that cw is all there is between 3.5mhz - 3.75mhz, you need to listen again...
Please note that although I do work cw, I'm NOT a "cw nut"...
AND I hope that everyone understands the differences between the FCC rules regarding the license class/freq/mode allowed... verus a "band-plan" or "gentleman's agreement"....}

I hope that everyone will see that I specifically {highlighted} my opinions... verus clearing up "facts"...

John, KA4WJA
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by N0AH on October 1, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The comments on my article are starting to sound more and more like the evolving DX window-
RE: 80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by KI0RO on October 23, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
To KD3V:

80 meters not a DX band? You amuse us.

(Hint: you're not going to work DX on 80m with the antenna on your car)
80 Meter Phone DX 'Window's Last Stand?  
by LZ1ABC on November 16, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
HI all.
75 mtrs is great dx-band but to work some decent dx you need::::::

1)at least 500w!!!!
2)ant: dipole(who told u??). At least vertical aprox 20m long, es 10 mtrs hight. And of course some receiving ant, couse the vert is to noisy.

At my first QTH(center part of Sofia) i have 41mtrs long windom es 100w and i am telling u its impossible to work dx. Oh well i worked some ja's es w's stn but they had at least 2el yagis/quads(full size)!for 75mtr u need SPACE, SPACE and again SPACE. Dont be naive.
Go to 10mtrs and make the world with 10w and dipole.
Also on 75 dx window is JAMMED with the usual "dxers"(we know them all)
working every day the same W's JA's stations. And like one above said they suck(lids). 10khz window is enough only for 2 stn's(couse they use at least 1,5kw)??! How i am suposed to work any dx from them(with my 100w). If eventualy there is a dx stn on 3.790, on 3.795 will be my fellow "the dxer" running 3kw and making his 100-th qso with his fellow "dxer" from USA. Thats the reality on the 75mtrs(in Europe)- there are only a bunch of chosen
individuals who own the dx-window.
Any way the 3.5mhz CW is something else!!!!
Room for every body. And not needed so much power. I made FO0AAA with a 100w . I can't imagine that on the dx-window from EU!!
CU on 80m
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