Manager - AB7RG
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Using the Spotting Net

Created by on 2007-12-18
A few weeks ago I wrote an article on DXing, and several people asked me to write another. As I enjoyed writing the first one, I have decided to write another.

A somewhat touchy subject in Amateur Radio is the use of spotting nets for DX - whether VHF or HF -- and contesting. Many feel that the spotting net is bad for amateur radio, as it encourages people to be more lazy, staring at the computer screen until a DX comes up, to name one common complaint. Others feel the spotting net is a gift to amateur radio, and feel they would be lost without it.

The spotting net is a tool, and used correctly it can be a highly useful tool. The one thing is, it is often used incorrectly; I myself can attest to that, having made a few mistakes myself as I learned the ways of the spotting net. However, simple courtesies, common sense, and a few general rules can make the spotting net, along with DXing and contesting altogether, more enjoyable for everyone.

Probably THE most important thing to remember is, don't self spot! DXpeditions sometime do this, as well as rare DX (I myself am guilty of this, having operated from 4U1WRC, but after a few nasty remarks on and off the air that trend stopped!). First of all, this is against the rules of most contests - you may well find yourself kicked out if it is found out that you self-spotted. Outside of contests, self spotting a common prefix (K, VE, G, F, etc.) will generally not generate QSOs and only clogs up the spotting net. Rare DX are often allowed to get away with this, but I generally think that, in a way, this is a lazy practice that facilitates so much of the bad comments regarding the spotting net.

Another thing to remember is to not over spot DX. About half of extra spots come from DXers simply using the spotting net to tell the world they got a new one. If it is the first spot for a DX, it doesn't hurt to slip in a "TNX" or something like that in the spot, but don't spot an already spotted DX just to say you got a new one. Besides, nobody notices it anyway!

If a DX is already spotted, some acceptable excuses to spot him again are:
QSL information, although in general this should be posted on the "announcements", and should only be spotted once;
Listening frequency, but post this only if it hasn't been posted in about 10 or 15 minutes;
If the DX is QRT or has QSY'd - again, only once.

Otherwise, don't spot him. It clogs the cluster.

And also, remember to use the cluster ALONG WITH, not to REPLACE, careful tuning. If you're having "radio time", don't sit in front of the computer - look at the spotting net while carefully tuning 17M, or 40M, or whatever band you like. NEVER BECOME A CLUTER CRAB!

Another *very* important rule is to never trash ANYBODY on the cluster! If a lid is transmitting on the DX's frequency, ignore him. If somebody spots "BS7XX" instead of "DS7XX", ignore it, and if "DS7XX" has not been spotted, then go ahead and spot him (if you've heard him, of course). Never, never, trash talk on the cluster. In fact - don't talk on the cluster at all. It isn't a chat room. We have and for that.

Try not to test spot either. That's another thing that clogs up the cluster. If you must test spot, don't spot a BS7, P5, or 7O - spot your own call, and explain what you're doing.

Don't say, "I can't hear him" either. You guessed it -- another net clogger. It's completely useless, considering everyone has different antennas, radios, QTH's, etc.

One thing that's acceptable to do -- but not in excess! -- is to spot (in the announcements) that you've received a QSL. Some say this is another cluster clogger, but many others and I feel that this helps others know that QSLs have gone out, and maybe they should resend. But keep it in good taste! If it's already been done, don't do it again.

If you've made mistakes on the cluster, forget about it. We all learned the Way of the Cluster at one time or another - and made mistakes along the way. If you've made a mistake, say "d'oh!" and don't do it again.

Use the cluster the right way and everyone will benefit. Good DX!

73, de Brennen KI4PRK (age 13)

KI4PRK 2008-01-07
RE: Using the Spotting Net
N9NW, you have a good point but be cautious. A lot of the newbies can raise new ones by calling CQ; One thing I like to do is call CQ aroun 18080 (available to generals). I've gotten all sorts; A6's, UT's, LA's, etc.

The spotting net is a great tool, and what is overboard to some people really isn't bad, but still I don't want to be the one to encourage people to use the spotting for DL's!

But as long as you don't go overboard, the occasional spotting of a semi-common UA9, CN, or YO is perfectly acceptable done in moderation.
N2AUR 2008-01-02
Using the Spotting Net
I like spotting nets. All the stations forming the massive pile up are not listening for the other (often equally rare) DX stations on the band. It makes it almost too easy at times.
N9MW 2008-01-02
Using the Spotting Net
Very nice article and I agree totally with your comments.

I suppose the argument will always exist that using DC-Cluster is cheating and takes the fun out of it. But, when I put the first of my three cluster nodes on the air more than fifteen years ago it was simply replacing a 2 meter FM spotting net. Is there a difference? To be able to get DX information in a timely manner without listening to people ratchet-jawing in the background was wonderful.

The only comment I would add is that I think there could be a lot more spots made by folks in North America. I'm afraid I know a lot of people who absorb information from the DX-Cluster and have never put out a spot. Even what seems as a trivial spot may be a new country for a beginner or a new band/mode for others.

N4FOZ 2007-12-21
Using the Spotting Net
I have been a writer for over 40 years. I sincerely hope you consider writing for a living. You are very good!
N7YA 2007-12-21
RE: Using the Spotting Net doesnt matter on these things. sure, post it here, hihi.
WM2P 2007-12-21
Using the Spotting Net
I just hate those GPS devices. Before I used to be able to drive around for hours to find a resturant and then when I did, it would be half empty because no one knew it was there. Now everyone can easily find things and all my favorite places are crowded. I really think it is much more fun to aimlessly drive around to find someplace. It makes it that much more exciting when i do find it.

Ooops, I am replying to the wrong article; or am I? :)

AB9PZ 2007-12-19
RE: Using the Spotting Net
>>>>>by N0AH on December 18, 2007
Brennen, relax over the airhead comments on is all part of the fun- just look at the DX'ing records of those you might have concerns over and you can who walks and who talks- Har!<<<<<

OK, so now after beating up on a 13 year-old and showing the world your true character, you figure that it's in better form to be chivalrous toward the young person. Yikes....and you're an educator?

N0IU 2007-12-19
Using the Spotting Net
Another FB article Brennen!


Like all good rules, some are meant to be broken. You said, "Probably THE most important thing to remember is, don't self spot!"

There are some "specialty" nets that are for digital modes in general, digital modes by band and even one just for Hellschreiber. In these cases, it is quite common to self-spot in order to stir up some activity.

For digital modes, there is the W6RK Data Mode Spotting Page at The nice thing about this is that if you post a spot, you can UN-SPOT your posting!

For digital modes by band, there are KE7HPV's Ham Radio digital spots pages at Once, there, pick your poison! This is also where the Hellschreiber mode spotting page lives.

There is also the The K3UK Digitalradio Interactive Sked Page which can be used for arranging QSOs and experimenting in all digital modes at In addition to digital mode spotting, he also has an SKCC spotting page.

Happy Hunting and Happy Holidays!

Scott N0IU
UC1AWX 2007-12-19
RE: Using the Spotting Net
Ammonia? Makes me wonder what happened to "Accept" band with theirs "lets plant bomb in every one's ass" :)
ZS6VL 2007-12-19
Using the Spotting Net
Gr8 article, congrats Brennen. There's always something new to be learnt. 73 and have a peaceful and blessed festive season.
WX1F 2007-12-19
RE: Using the Spotting Net
>>>>by N0AH on December 18, 2007
"Now back to my Cobra 146 and PDL II."

I preferred the 148 w/8719 pll and a A/S SuperScanner.

N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
K8MHZ: Apocalypto............this rare island off the Yucatan coast wil be activated as a separate DXCC of Puru in March of 2010........I saw this in a dream while on the back of a white buffalo. Now that's a spot.

As for your comment on school structure, lower school here in Colorado is K-6, middle school is 7-8, and high school is 9-12. We used to have the Jr. High system but it went the way of the regular brown buffalo-

Brennen, relax over the airhead comments on is all part of the fun- just look at the DX'ing records of those you might have concerns over and you can who walks and who talks- Har!

Now back to my Cobra 146 and PDL II.
K8MHZ 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
" is not that I dislike Brennon. (unless he is still in middle school) but I doubt that. I only dislike MFJ. I wish there were a million of him. I just hate that he is going to outlive all of us-"

It's 'Brennen' and I too am jealous. If I was half as smart as him when I was 13 I would be twice as smart as I am now. I also wish that I would have become a ham at that age instead of not discovering it until I was 30 something.

If you read his posts you will see that he was home schooled and that pretty much rules out middle school, which BTW is populated in the last year by 13 year olds. The reason you would hold that against him probably illustrates the fact that you are confusing junior high school with middle school.

"K8MHZ: Mark, I don't take the meds, I just make them better-"

If you are using anhydrous ammonia to do so I would strongly recommend not bragging about it on a public Internet site. That type of thing could land you in the big house with no place for you to erect a decent antenna, unless you shunt feed the bars on your cell. Getting coax in prison may be a bit on the tough side as well, but if you did manage to pull it off I would hazard to guess that you would be a pretty good contact to make for those of us that have not got a QSL card from a penitentiary yet.
K7NNG 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Gosh darn, I am impressed with the writing, but for gosh sakes, WHAT IS SPOTTING?? Am I working DX all wrong after 50 years of it......?
KI4PRK 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
I agree with AI2IA. There is nothing like making a full QSO without the help in any way of the computer. That's why I enjoyed VU7RG so much. But I also agree with VE3TMT. Often, with an antenna like mine (relatively low dipole) careful tuning doesn't bring up those exotic ones, and though I'm not lazy I certainly don't like to tune through nothing but noise for hours.

Again, use both and DXCC will come to you. Including the FJ/OH2AM on St. Barthelemy (assuming it will be officialy a new DXCC) then I have 190 countries, split roughly 50/50 between tune's and spot's. These include really rare ones, like E4, or ZK3.

I know I'm saying the same thing over and over again, but it helps to put it in different perspectives.
VE3TMT 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
NI0C writes:

"Well don't depend on me to do your tuning for you-- I ain't gonna! I tune a lot and find lots of good dx, but I spot very infrequently these days-- people like you are one of the reasons."

Don't get me wrong Chuck, I don't sit here plastered to the monitor waiting for then next spot to pop up. I actually enjoy using my radio. If not, I would have sold it long ago and bought a Flexy. But with my noise level off the vertical I don't hear all those nice stations you guys do, you know the ones down in the noise level or just above. My station is far from quiet and if it isn't S-5 or better chances are the noise is going to win out. So from time to time I watch the cluster, not really so much as to take the easy way out, but more to see if I can actually hear him and maybe work him.

I guess it all depends on individual conditions. If I was out in the country on a few acres with a tower and beam and NO NOISE, I might look at the subject in an entirely different manner, but for now I use any means available to get the most out of this hobby.

AI2IA 2007-12-18
A Time When Feelings Count A Lot!
When I sit in front of my rig, fire it up, and look at it as I put those headphones on, a special feeling comes over me that no dumb computer screen will ever replace. I'm sure that you know the feeling. You are at the controls. The world is before you. What awaits you is largely unknown.

Now I have a rig where I can put a virtual panel on the computer screen. THE FEELING IS JUST NOT THE SAME!

When you and your rig are together, it's just you and it sharing a unique station license in all the world!
Those non-ham computer folks just don't have that.

Now when you try to put "spotting" into this very special experience,well, I feel it in my bones! It just doesn't mix!

Do any of you hams out there get my message? - AI2IA
N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net is not that I dislike Brennon. (unless he is still in middle school) but I doubt that. I only dislike MFJ. I wish there were a million of him. I just hate that he is going to outlive all of us- You know, like that guy in the movie about the last one alive in New York....... (-:

This just in.............FJ is now working JA only on 2 meters EME split 2,000Khz bouncing off Direct TV birds- Clusters.....................Is this for real? I mean it was posted by some op with the call sign of "GOOSE" and verified by "VIPER"
K9ZF 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Another fine article Brennen!

Again you are showing talent and wisdom well beyond your years:-)

K9ZF /R no budget Rover ***QRP-l #1269
Check out the Rover Resource Page at: <>
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!

NI0C 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
VE3TMT wrote: " I don't have all day to sit in front of the radio leisurely tuning the bands hoping to fall on some sweet DX."

Well don't depend on me to do your tuning for you-- I ain't gonna! I tune a lot and find lots of good dx, but I spot very infrequently these days-- people like you are one of the reasons.

Chuck NI0C

N7YA 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
I say anyone telling you what to spot (namely that 'SWL' guy) should hang it in their hat...obviously they neglected to notice that you were spotting for 6 meters and state-to-state qso's are the norm.

Spot as you like, operate as you wish, explore and enjoy any avenue of this great hobby that falls within the rules and common decency...just my thoughts. Good luck and keep spotting for 6M, those are a whole different story.

73...Adam, N7YA
N5GIT 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
fb on how to use the clusters

i myself only use the cluster to see if theres an es opening on 6 meters...if i see spots its open it not its not

im do self spot when the band first opens to get ppls attention that the band is open.

one useful tool is dx 'plots'on google maps/earth. THAT could be overused as well. i'll spot a es hop just to see the plot on earth but then i read 'dont spot state-state dx' everyone including myself that spot es for 6m is out of line?

thoughts please and 73
N7YA 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
"I hope everyone finds a nice shiny new K3 under their tree...ooops, now I've done it."

...a K3 is almost worth getting a tree for! I dont do xmas, but i would for one of those! :-)

As far as the spotting net thing goes, ill use it to see who is reporting what from where....but it can never replace actual tuning. I have heard, and worked, some really good DX before and never saw one spot for it...and im not going to spot him unless asked, i know how frustrating it is to be a little pistol chasing a rare one for an hour and a half, then someone spots him and the sky opens up with all the KW monsters smashing me out just so they can ragchew with the DX that they personally dont need...i wont do that to someone.

Its mostly a very loose beacon indicator on my computer, nothing more. occasionally ill spot something, and ill try to mention what i was using so others may get an idea of the difficulty level, but again, personal results depend on many variables like the skill of the op, the terrain the receiving station is in, the gear he has, etc...just knowing hes there is no promise of a new one.

And those who depend on the cluster for logging the call instead of taking the time to listen truly deserve getting their card back with "not in log" written across the front. The cluster is just another tool, nothing more. it will never, ever replace simply listening....were hams, that is the absolute most important skill we should possess. Enough on that.

Paul N0AH, you seem to really dislike this kid, lol.

Hey, no worries who you want. But i think even Brennen will tell you hes got a lot to learn yet. And i know you have been around the world as the DX, i know...weve worked before. I have nothing against you, im just curious what the deal is. Most hams are old guys, and many of us are bitter so the rest of us tend to perk up when a young ham takes our "dying" hobby this enthusiastically, so we try to encourage new hams with the right idea, thats all. you and i should be onboard with this concept, were both parents in our 40's...and my son is about Brennens age so i enjoy reading his take on things.

The frustrating thing shouldnt be him or the attention hes getting, it should be the fact that so many older, more "experienced" hams out there cant grasp the concepts that a relatively new, 13 year old ham seems to be exhibiting.

...from what i understand, kids like Brennen in the not so distant past in our country were a dime a dozen...Americas children were SUPPOSED to be like that. Thats what we should be more upset about.

Anyway Paul, thats my take on that...much respect and i look forward to your next DX operation.

Brennen, keep up the good work...and never stop learning.

And to the rest of the hams reading this....cycle 24 is on its way! See? theres always something to be excited about...days and nights of great DXing is on the way.

73...Adam, N7YA
N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
FJ now running 79KHz down split on 20M digital...OH2AQ posting-
KI4PRK 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
VE3TMT, don't worry, I'm homeschooled! :D

And don't get me wrong, almost all of my common and semi-common, and about half of my semi-rare DX has come from just firing up the rig and tuning around. I'll never forget the time I was just sitting on 14016 and an HZ station started calling CQ. New one! And then five minutes later I QSY'd up the band (20M) to the SSB portion, tripped across VU7RG just as she was starting the operating session, and logged another new one! And then a couple months later when 9U9Z answered my CQ call on the last night of their DXpedition, as they were desperate for QSO's!

But I equally use the spotting net. If it hadn't have been for the spotting net, I would not have known that there was a brand new DXCC entity, and I would not have QSO'd them until it came out in QST and everyone knew there was a new counter and the pileups would be humongous. But 30 minutes ago I got them, no sweat. Thanks to the net. Use both, and know that the net can be over used. DO NOT become a cluster crab!
NE5C 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
That is a great thing about Ham Radio and using DX Spot Nets and computers! If you don't like DX Spotting -SIMPLE- don't use it - and don't Monitor The DX Spot net!


For those that DO ENJOY the spot nets - USE IT AND ENJOY - Incidently if you believe computers are Ruining Ham Radio? Again...SIMPLE - Then just throw those out of your shack also! You don't need to know Propagation reports or Email and such, just lick your finger - place it in the air and say "POT LUCK" here I go.

WOW...Isn't relieving stress SIMPLE!
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and God Bless All.
"Smiling and 73"
KD0BRD 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Nice article, Brennen. Someone mentioned this earlier, but you should try submitting an article to QST. Maybe your "DXing for Beginners By a Beginner" one?

VE3TMT 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net

A couple of things....

1. Shouldn't you be in school
2. I demand to see some ID
3. Stop reminding us of your age, you are making the
rest of us look bad.

I guess that's really three things.

Excellent article. I see nothing wrong with using a DX spotting net. I am lucky to work the neighbors with my 100W and vertical so I leave the cluster running to see the rare ones pop up. One click of my mouse and my radio is there ready to go. I don't have all day to sit in front of the radio leisurely tuning the bands hoping to fall on some sweet DX. Maybe in another 20 years when I might be financially able to retire. The funny thing is, here we are living in an era of amateur radio with all the new hype about "software defined radio", yet it seems to be considered taboo to let a computer spot the DX for us.

Great article, keep them coming and keep those grades up!


N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
K8MHZ: Mark, I don't take the meds, I just make them better-
VE3TMT 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
No but seriously, you guys are a lot of fun to read and actually make me laugh from time to time.

I want to each and everyone of you a safe and happy holiday season.

I hope everyone finds a nice shiny new K3 under their tree...ooops, now I've done it.

K6YE 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net

Great article.

OTOH, be careful whom you spot. There are at least two rare ones that either will totally not QSL or "slow QSL" the spotter. Both state that fact in their blogs.

I think spotting is great for DXpeditions and for finding old friends. Beyond that, I like surfing the bands for activity. However, to each his/her own. That is what makes ham radio such a great hobby.

Semper Fi,

Tommy - K6YE
N3QE 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
I "use" the Spotting Net by not using them.

If a trillion folks show up on a frequency calling somebody they cannot hear, then I know somebody pointed there on a spotting net! And I move away...
K8MHZ 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
AH, your meds need adjusting. Have you been taking them as directed or is it your doctor's fault?

Brennen, fine article and kudos. You are an asset to this craft and I hope to make a contact with you someday.

I, too, find your articles to be well written and your wisdom to be ahead of your age. I don't know what career you are looking at but you are a natural for journalism.

Take a shot at writing something up for QST. I'll bet they would publish it.

73 and thanks for taking the time to post to eHam. Your stuff is MUCH better than 99.44 percent of the other articles I read here.

Mark, K8MHZ
W9OY 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
I've been on some form of cluster since the pre-internet days and I've never seen a clogged cluster. My present client (DXlab) just updates a spot if it is spotted multiple times. It also allows to be connected to multiple clusters and its interesting to watch propagation based on spots world wide. You can turn on or off the chatter and announcements etc so you can see just the information you are interested in.

It's true it's a tool but I don't see how it can be used incorrectly. It's kind of like the newspaper. Some use it for reading some for wrapping fish, some for both.

73 W9OY
WO7R 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
Outside of a contest, what's the harm in self-spotting for DX?

Having been the DX a couple of times, I don't believe I've ever done it, but I don't know what sacred principle is involved if a DX station chooses to self-spot _outside of a contest_. Me, I don't want the instant pileups when I'm starting up cold, but that's just me. If other ops can handle the load from the get go, what's the issue?

As long as we're talking about the DX, another pet peeve of mine is to add a spot with a comment to the DX. This presumes that the DX has DX Summit up or is on the internet at all.

Depending on circumstances, even DX in fairly common and civilized places may not have internet access. Especially for DXpeditions large and small, it's all about where the station is and what was arranged at that location. And, for that matter, whether the DX op wants to bother with the 'net during a howling pileup.

I don't mind several spots for interesting DX. It's not like it is this scarce resource that's going to run out if we do too much of it. And, there are plenty of times when I can hear the DX just fine but cannot hear anyone else. Sure, it's part of the game, then, to guess where the DX is listening up, but having a spot or two is a nice clue to get started with. Just because you can hear state-side or Europe doesn't mean that I can!

And, of course, listening on your own is still very valuable. If nothing else, if we all just hung out waiting for spots, there wouldn't be any.
N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
AB9PZ................this is a rated G forum.......and the AH comment, deal with it. I have the hottest call sign in the entire world-

W6TH- Blow hard......................oh boy, 60,000 QSL's and you still need what? 35 DCXX's?????

This is a kitty cat talk shop- why we all waste our time here, FJ is on frequency with spotters showing a split on 20M of around 30-40KHz...........fine operation!!!! You can chalk that split up to the cluster-

Watch out for rain this afternoon-good day to shop for a boat.

N6PSE 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Brennen, another very fine article.

Yes the spotting clusters get abused frequently.

I get tired of seeing the lid net at 14.275 with all the comments. No need for any of that.

The clusters are a great tool if you are looking for those "new ones" but no clear substitute for spinning those dials.

Thanks for the nice article.

73's Paul N6PSE
VE6TL 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Well written and thoughtful article. I would also add that as a good DXer, the spots can be useful for seeing what parts of the world are open to where. Equipped with this information, and if you have a directional antenna (and even if you don't), you can begin listening to this region for stations that have not yet been spotted. I've found that quite often, an exotic DX spot draws most of the attention away from the other interesting DX around. Listening is just as important as ever.

K7FD 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
I've spotted before, but don't particularly like the clusters. Heck, I've worked DX before but don't particularly like them either!

73 John K7FD
W6TH 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
I just hate depending on others for support.

In all the years I still hunt by tuning the dial, which to me is more like ham radio and the fun still exists.

Another thought; dx, I can take it or leave it, the thrill just isn't there any more, especially when one has over 60,000 qsl cards.


AI2IA 2007-12-18
There are radios and there are computers
When I use the radio I stay away from the computer. I use the computer afterwards to update the log or to confirm informaton about the contact, but that is later.

I don't want and don't need rules, spots, etc., etc. I enjoy searching on the radio for my contacts. If I get a rare DX, it is all the better if I got it on my own without the help of the computer. I'm sure that others appreciate this approach.
WB2WIK 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
Very useful article, Brennan!

I very rarely use any DX cluster spotting at all, and operate 99% of the time with no computers even powered on in the hamshack. Just because it's more fun for me that way.

But I was an "early adopter" of DX packet cluster spotting back when that started to become popular about 18 years ago, and then, I was "on the cluster" every single day! Because it was something shiny and new.

Not new any more, and now I couldn't care less about it.

I like tuning around and stumbling across rare stuff, hoping I do before the masses hit. That's the fun, for me.

AB9PZ 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
>>>>by N0AH on December 18, 2007
Can we move off this 3rd grade subject now?<<<<

It's become very clear what the "AH" part of your vanity call is referring to.

K2WH 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
I like to speak my mind right out without beating around the bush. I have never used a DX net or whatever they are called.

However, I think they probably suck.

N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Can we move off this 3rd grade subject now?
W9YE 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Brennen: Excellent, well thought-out article. The unedited nature of clusters allows them to be easily misused, so hopefully we can all learn from the points you have raised.

Couple of other points: double check to make sure the correct call and frequency are entered before clicking the "send spot" button (I've been guilty of not doing so once or twice). Also, if you happen to be the first to run across DX while tuning, it is polite to ask whether the op minds being spotted on the cluster before doing so. Some do not wish to deal with a large pileup that clusters can instantly create.

Great job! Vy 73 de Gavin W9EYE
K3NRX 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
As mentioned in previous theads of a similar ilk, my HUGE pet peeves regarding the DX clusters is that state side stations are more and more frequently being spotted. I question this practice as these are supposed to be DX clusters. And it's a really HUGE pet peeve with me when these spots are between friends saying "hi" to each other. I thought that's what the "TALK" or "ANNOUNCE" commands were for! And if you try to bring this to the spotter's attention, you run the risk of them snarling at you! I will sum this up is one short statement: QUIT CLUTTERING UP THE CLUSTERS BY SENDING STATE SIDE TO STATE SIDE SPOTS!!! No one freaking cares!!!! (unless someone's life is in danger, unless it's a special event station, or if there is a freak band opening on 10 meters -- These should be the only acceptions within the spotting protocol).

Vince P

KI4PRK 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Yes, many of these comments are right on the spot. You will almost invariably have better luck getting a new one you found by careful tuning as opposed to one you found on the net. However, I have found only a few really good ones by careful tuning — all I'm saying is, more can be found with the net, but it will be *a lot* harder to get them. So I use both!

And yes, I have to agree that spotting them from the USA is OK when they have only been spotted from Eurasia. Or the west coast when only from the east/vise versa.

Good points guys.
KG6WLS 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
Brennen, in my book you've got the job for eHam. Nice work and tnx again for yet another FB article.

eHam, this is what we want to see more of. And thanks for yanking that 7.1 article.

KC0VGC 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
There have been some good articles lately on operation and practices. This is another fine example. Hopefully more folks will take the time to read and think on well-written topics such as this more often. Thanks for taking the time and effort to put it out there for us!

WI7B 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net

I always learn something from KI4PRK, becaue the auhtor summarizes his experience well. For example:

"The spotting net is a tool, and used correctly it can be a highly useful tool."

"If you've made mistakes on the cluster, forget about it... If you've made a mistake, say "d'oh!" and don't do it again."

I think that many times we get irritated by others operators on spotting nets because WE have made the same mistake they might be making and wonder why they didn't learn this before. If we can use the spotting nets as another piece of our "arsenal", as a tool, and learn to say "d'oh!" more often our radio time will be just that much more enjoyable.

TNX KI4PRK for another lesson in ham life!


---* Ken
W6OP 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
Good article. I do disagree with one item however. I will spot a previously spotted call if the previous spots are all east coast. I want to let people know it's workable from the west coast now.

Pete W6OP
W8RSI 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
Another thing about the clusters: If a DX station is already working a massive pileup, I dont think it's good practice to spot them, especially if they've already been spotted once. There are lower-powered stations in that mess that have been trying to work the station and re-spotting them on the cluster only serves to make the pileup worse. Let them work thru what they already have before attracting more stations... I will usually only post a spot to the cluster once I've heard the station call QRZ once or twice without reply.
K6CRC 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
I am a fairly new General licensee. I have only a passing knowledge of spotting networks. Thank you for the basic etiquette lesson.

This is a well thought out and well written article. The adults of my generation were not taught (or most likely did not learn) to structure their writing as well as the kids today. Compare this to the majority of stuff written by adult hams!
N3OX 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
"About half of extra spots come from DXers simply using the spotting net to tell the world they got a new one."

Yup. And I think the absolute worst time to do that is when you and five others who were paying close attention and carefully tuning found a new one, and you beat those five guys.

I want to add that you should NEVER spot extremely rare DX that's already developed a small pileup. Let the other DXers who tuned and found the rare one work it first.

Just a matter of personal preference, but it's a shame for the little guys who pay attention to get descended upon by the kilowatts who don't (see N5XM's comment) just because someone decided to reflexively spot a station.

Brennen, again, good comments.

I might summarize them: "don't spot unless you have a really good reason"



P.S. regarding this:

"If you must test spot, don't spot a BS7, P5, or 7O"

Some people test spot to test their cluster *alarms* ... this might be the worst sort of reliance on the cluster ;-)

Still, some people want to be called from elsewhere in the house if one of those spots comes through...
N5XM 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
You just can't replace careful tuning. It's fun to work a nice DX station and then find it shows up on the cluster 5 minutes later! There are other goodies hiding out there wanting to work you, but "computer myopia" is often a typical result if you adhere too strictly to spots. As an aside, it's real obvious how many Hams haven't read the thread about Pileup Etiquitte, hi...

I'm still trying to figure out how folks think they can work DX they can't or won't hear.
K3UD 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
I have never used a spotting net for DX work. It seems to me that spotting nets take the fun out of it and it becomes almost a "shooting fish in a barrel" situation or hunting on a private game preserve.

As someone else mentioned, it used to be that you tuned around the band and tried to listen for the new one that you have been looking for. For me, DX contacts were always a bit of unexpected surprise. It was kind of like a good hunter looking for game in the wild.

N0AH 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Brennen.........can of worms here- Pandora is knocking-
LA4RT 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Thanks for a good article. A few more points:

If he's already been spotted from Europe, and you hear him from the U.S., it's OK to spot him. It's helpful to hear where he can be heard.

I think an occasional "still there" spot is fine, because "now QRT" spots aren't very common. How would you know that he's QRT, anyway, unless he actually announced it? You may no longer hear him because propagation has changed. But if he announces QRT, by all means spot that.
LNXAUTHOR 2007-12-18
RE: Using the Spotting Net
- tks for the article... have never used a spotting net, and have a feeling i'd only read, not post, just like i usually only spin the dial and listen for, not chase DX (although i do have a few good ones in the log, along w/the QSL cards)...

- and good follow-up on the addt'l articles... i'll take a read of those as well...
NI0C 2007-12-18
Using the Spotting Net
Thanks for your nice article. Congratulations also on working 9K2HN on 80m the other night. I nabbed him a minute or so later. Did you stick around and notice how quickly the pileup grew out of control? The DX clusters are partly to blame for this.

Of course, we didn't always have the clusters. Everybody had to find their own DX and get all information, including QSX frequencies, QSL manager info, etc. by copying the DX station. Dx'ing was more fun this way.

I like the way you encouraged people to use their radios instead of being "cluster crabs." This is as it should be!

The subject of spotting has been discussed in this space before.

See my Sept. 30, 2006 article:

Also see NU4B's Feb. 10, 2007 article:

A lot of useful discussion followed both of these articles.

Chuck NI0C