Friday, February 25, 2011

Always A Thrill...

Yesterday's postal mail brought one of my favorite things. New magazine? No. New catalog full of new toys? No. The letter carrier brought an envelope from the Northern Illinois DX Association . NIDXA is a DX club but they also run the 9th District Incoming QSL bureau. The envelope contained a dozen QSL cards from stations in Columbia, Poland, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Germany, France, and French Guianna.

I am not a big time DXer nor do I have anything approaching a superstation. Most of the time I run 100 Watts or less to an "all band" 80 Meter dipole fed with balanced line. Occasionally I'll use my amplifier on SSB but that's a rare event.

When you first get your HF privileges any contact is a thrill. If you spend a little time to learn more about propagation you'll find that a lot of the time your timing is more important than anything else. You increase the likelihood of DX contacts tremendously by knowing when to listen. Are you on a band with possible propagation at the time of day when it should occur? Is it a time of the day or week when the DX will be around, i.e.--not sleeping, not at work, etc.

Often, good times to listen for DX are the few days before a big contest. The frenzied atmosphere of the contest hasn't begun but lots of stations are verifying that antennas and equipment work, etc. You'll also find that the DX is more likely to engage in an actual conversation outside of the contest. On the other hand, don't be put off with just a short signal exchange and a 'thank you'. In many cases the operator on the other end may not actually speak English and has made an effort to learn just enough to make a contact.