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Author Topic: New to amateur radio...some dx hints?  (Read 3189 times)
VA2FSQ
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Posts: 514




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« on: May 24, 2011, 07:22:43 PM »

Hi,
I'm new to this hobby.  I have been on the air about 6 hours and so far have racked up 7 countries.  I am still trying to figure out the whole propagation and the "grey line" and so on. 
I live in Montreal quebec and have contacted a few countries in south america, europe and russia.  All of the countries I have contacted were during the local times of 10PM to 1:am (02:00 - 05:00).
Given the day/night cycles it would seem that all my contacts were between countries that were dark (with the exception of russia).  So if this is a pattern, how does one contact a country such as australia from montreal?  Do you try during the day time?

So far I have been operating mostly on 20 meters and occasionally on 40.  All foreign contacts were on 20 M.
I would appreciate any hints or somewhere to look to get a good handles on this.
Thanks
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VA2FSQ
KC7YRA
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Posts: 256




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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2011, 07:29:32 PM »

The best way to get better is to just do it more.  In time, you will learn the fine nuances of propagation.  That said, it is never an exact science.  Things will change and shift and many MANY times will not do what you expect.

That is the draw of amateur radio and more specifically, DXing.  If it were hyper predictable, what would be the fun?  It would be like the internet.

Also take the time to make your station the best in can be.  Spend the majority of your money on antennas.  If the best you can put up is a dipole, great, try to make it higher.  If you can put up a tower, try to get a better antenna on top.  ANTENNA ANTENNA ANTENNA.

So just keep going.  Keep striving and chasing.  Read, "The complete DXer" by W9KNI.  It is a lot of fun and really gives you some good ideas.

Brad
« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 07:32:09 PM by KC7YRA » Logged
AB3CX
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2011, 03:52:38 AM »

Every season is differrent also.  Winter is best for the low bands. Spring and fall are best for Asia. This summer, look to EU in the mornings on 20-17-15, 12, SA in the afternoons 20-17-15-12, 10 and listen for EU on 40M evenings to nights.  You might hear anything on 20M after dark, and if you're lucky try 40M 3-6 AM local time to work VK, ZL and KH6. Summer time is a tough season for 80M. Put up some good antennas and keep listening,
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AC4RD
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2011, 04:20:35 AM »

Congratulations!  It sounds like you are having a lot of fun so far as a DXer!  :-)

I second the recommendation of YRA, that you read _The Complete DXer_ by W9KNI.  It is easy and fun to read, and it gives you a great deal of insight into the world of DXing.  You'll DEFINITELY be a better DXer after reading it.  You can get copies of the earlier editions cheaply at hamfests, though the latest version is worth buying if you are really interested in DXing.

It sounds like you are eager to start racking up more countries!   You'll find that lots of listening is a great way to learn.   Oh, and think about giving 15 meters a try, too--it's lots of fun when it is open and it's not quite as crowded and busy as 20.   I worked CN on 15m last night from my parking garage at work, leaving for the day.  :-)

Good luck, 73, and post to the forum so we all know how much fun you're having!  ;-)   
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K3STX
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2011, 04:25:28 AM »

Hint #1: Learn CW, much more efficient mode than fone (if that is what you are doing).
Hint #2: If you are restricted to operating from 10pm-1am local time, your best bet is 40 meters. As things pick up with Sunspots, you will find Europe really loud on 20 and 15 meters in your morning time, "finishing off" around 3pm or so. This weekend is the WPX CW contest, there will be TONS of activity. BIG DX stations with BIG antennas.

You don't need a fancy set-up,, 100 watts and wire antennas like dipoles/verticals is what most people use. But for lots of countries it DOES take butt-in-chair time.

If you learn CW, with a dipole up 30 feet you will work TONS of DX on 40 meters during that time slot. I don't know if there is much fone DX on 40, don't do fone.

Welcome aboard, DXing is really great fun.

paul
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VA2FSQ
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Posts: 514




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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 06:11:38 AM »

Thanks for all the useful hints!
I have another question:
I have contacted a few countries getting through the pileups fairly easily.However, the contacts are short. How does one deal with qsl cards in these cases?

1) No entry on qrz.com?
2) Address on qrz.com?

Thanks
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VA2FSQ
W2IRT
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 09:15:31 AM »

I have contacted a few countries getting through the pileups fairly easily.However, the contacts are short. How does one deal with qsl cards in these cases?

1) No entry on qrz.com?
2) Address on qrz.com?

Thanks
If there's no entry on QRZ the first thing I'd suspect is you busted the call somehow. Check DX Summit and do a search of the call your heard and see if there are any comments there. It is possible that the OP has never entered any info on QRZ but is legit. Of course, don't ever work a station if you're not sure of his call ahead of time. Cluster spots are often wrong. When you're sure you have the callsign correct then it takes a little detective work. I subscribe to the Daily DX bulletin ($50/year and worth every penny) but there are many other free weekly bulletins, too. If you subscribe to the DX-NEWS mailing list you'll get all the free ones distributed automatically; they all list QSL routes.

If there is an address on QRZ.COM there's usually some text to go along with it. Often the DX station will state his preference for how to handle the cost of return postage. If in doubt, send two (cheap-for-you) US Dollars or one (expensive-for-you if bought new) IRC plus a self-addressed envelope and your card, all stuffed inside a regular #10 "security" business envelope. Do not EVER put callsigns or reference to amateur radio anywhere, on either envelope. If it's going to a country known to have severe mail-theft issues, I even go so far as to have a post office meter sticker affixed in place of postage stamps...do this especially if Canadian postage stamps are really nice (some foreign postal theives are stamp collectors who will grab your envelope for the stamps then see there's money inside it. Cha-ching!)

Subscribe to your QSL bureau. It's relatively inexpensive (a few dollars a year and a sheet of self-addressed mailing labels) and use the bureau system for the most common DX entities (for new bands or modes, for example). The bureau is a great system for exchanging cards. I sort a letter for the #2 bureau in the U.S. and I've been a subscriber since I was first on HF. The only downside is that it takes 12-18 months in many cases to get a reply back.

73,
Peter W2IRT
(former Pointe Claire resident...my YL at the time was in Dollard)
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Night gathers and now my watch begins. It shall not end until I reach Top of the Honor Roll.
N5NA
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Posts: 217




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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 09:26:17 AM »

Subscribe to a couple of the free DX newsletters.

http://www.darc.de/referate/dx/bulls/dxnl/

http://www.papays.com/opdx.html

If you're a member of the ARRL they also have a newsletter you can subscribe to.

73, Alan  N5NA
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2E0OZI
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Posts: 270




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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2011, 09:52:09 AM »

Hi and welcome to ham radio and the DX bug. I have only been a ham for a short 5 months but at the moment I am enjoying it a great deal. My first trans-Atlantic contact was with a canadian ham on 17 metres, Rocco, a very nice fellow and patient to hear my 10w signal (at the time).

All the other guys have already given you great advice, so all I can say probably echoes thiers;

1. Listen much more than you transmit and dont transmit unless you have that guys call 100%. I DON'T use any form of cluster, but thats a personal choice for me. I like the hunting aspect.  Grin
2. Make your antenna the best it can be. A dipole up high is excellent. Or inverted V configuration.
3. Be polite. Always. There is always another day. Its only a pastime.
4. Be flexible as to band (and mode if you can). I am learning CW but it will be ages before I can carry on a QSO, so for the moment its phone. However one thing I learned when I switched from 20m dipole to W3EDP antennas is that the W3EDP worked pretty well between 40 and 15 so that gives me FOUR bands to play with rather than one, so I can tailor my operating to the conditions. That helps A LOT.  Cheesy


There is a DX Code Of Conduct (cant recall the link but I belive its on eHam somewhere!). It seems a pretty good document and philosophy I reckon.

My own operating is a split between casually looking for DX to build on my 33 countries and if thats not happening just chatting to folks in Europe on 40m.
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2011, 10:37:37 AM »

Read, "The complete DXer" by W9KNI
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VA2FSQ
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2011, 03:02:13 PM »

Thanks for all of the good advice, this should get me started.  Now I only wish the "DX"  contacts would say more than " 5-9 QSL?"

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VA2FSQ
KE3WH
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2011, 06:14:48 PM »

Thanks for all of the good advice, this should get me started.  Now I only wish the "DX"  contacts would say more than " 5-9 QSL?"


Sometimes they cannot say much more, bad or no English skills. If that's the sort of QSO's they are running, just go along. They may only have 30 minutes on that club radio and need to maximize the QSO's. If your running the QSO as the caller, you will have better luck with a longer QSO.

Welcome to DX!
Dan
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VA2FSQ
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2011, 10:14:52 PM »

I guess that makes sense.  Thanks.
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VA2FSQ
N0FPE
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2011, 09:55:04 AM »

Listen listen and listen again. Talk little and take ur time. Dont shout at the mic, Oh and listen some more..
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K0RS
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2011, 10:09:41 AM »

Thanks for all of the good advice, this should get me started.  Now I only wish the "DX"  contacts would say more than " 5-9 QSL?"

Ragchews with DX are more common than you might think.  If you break a pileup with lots of stations calling, it's likely that all you will receive is "59, thanks," because so many are waiting.  Many of the more common DX stations don't generate pileups however, and that's your best bet for extended conversations.  Most "G" (English) "DL" (German), "F" (French), "I" (Italian) and other common Europeans are happy to have an extended conversation.  Same is true with "VKs" and "ZLs" (Aussies and Kiwis).  "JA" (Japan) is also a good bet, language skills permitting.  Your best strategy is to listen for stations having casual conversations with other DX operators and calling them (only) after they have signed off with their current contact.

Being a good conversationalist doesn't hurt either.  Assuming you've found a station that seems inclined to shoot the breeze a bit, he'll probably want to hear a bit more than the canned "Yeah, rig here is a blah blah 1000 and my antenna is a dipole..."  Think about what is unique and special about your particular area.  People in other parts of the world enjoy hearing about things that are markedly different than their own locations. Another good topic is your other hobbies, if you have any.  Do you have an interesting career or former career?
 
Your callsign indicates that you live in Quebec, do you speak French?  Being bilingual would be a huge advantage.  There's lots of French speaking stations in Africa.  Try breaking a pileup in French even if the operator is using in English if he's an obvious Francophone.  You may be rewarded with a pleasant QSO.

Another other suggestion, and I know this gets beaten to death but is nevertheless true; learn CW.  It's much easier to transcend language problems on CW than with the spoken word.  On CW pronunciation isn't a problem and abbreviations and Q signals facilitate understanding. 

One other thing; having a strong, or at least readable, signal helps enormously.  If a DX station doesn't have to struggle to hear you, he is much more likely to take the time to converse.  If you haven't put up a beam, consider doing so.  Even a small tribander at modest height well help greatly.  Being in VE2 you might surprize yourself with your ability to generate your own pileups if you have an authoritative signal!

Larry
« Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 11:02:30 AM by K0RS » Logged
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