We were sitting on the verandah with a split video feed running from the computer in the shack. We had long since learned never to be out of range of the cluster spots and the Internet. After all, this was DXing and we were convinced that to DX, one had to have a computer. Absolutely. No self respecting DXer gets on HF without a computer. All DXers know this, although some have been slower than others to see the elephant.
The bands had been flat for the last few days and we were taking a break from tuning. If anything showed up, we’d know within tens seconds. DX IS! And our computers tell us where it is and probably how to work it! This is one of the new Enigmas of DXing.
While we were contemplating this, one of the local QRPers made his way around the bend and beat his way up the hill. This one had been by a number of times before and he wasted no time getting to the point, “What’s all this about using your last two in a pileup being illegal?” he asked, glaring at us with his beady little eyes. “Haven’t we all been doing that for years?”
We tried to recall how many times we had heard this argument before and it seemed to top the number of DXCC countries on VE1YX’s confirmed list. Even counting the deleted ones! The QRPer continued on, “There’s talk on the Internet and on even on the DX repeater that this is a clear violation of the FCC rules and that you have to ID with your full call every ten minutes. How can I work DX that way? And suppose, just suppose, something I need comes up on a list. How else can I get on that list unless I follow the rules? If all this is illegal, why hasn’t something been done to stop it?” He was pacing back and forth, and starting to sweat.
We looked at him for a moment, then glanced over at the monitor. Nothing interesting had been spotted on the cluster so that avenue of escape was blocked. “Well”, we replied cautiously, “this isn’t the first time this issue has been raised and there has never been a clear cut answer. Some say it’s OK and others claim the FCC and the ARRL both find it in violation.” The QRPer nodded in agreement, “That’s the point! I asked about ten different Big Gun DX types and I got ten opinions. I even wrote to the FCC and all I got back was a letter saying they would look into it and let me know. That was six months ago! You’ve been around a lot longer than I have. What is the right answer?”
Son of a Gun! Where was Judge Judy when we needed her? Given that we likely weren’t going to get a ruling from the judge on this one, we did the next best thing and hauled the QRPer up the hill to see the Old Timer. The age-old question was repeated again, this time with a fist smacking into a palm to drive the point home. The Old Timer looked at the QRPer for a moment, then at us. “Who knows?” he replied. We had to admit that this was not what we expected, but we knew better than to ask for clarification. The QRPer was not so self-restrained. “What do you mean, who knows? If I’m in violation of an FCC rule, I want to know! I might get a citation . . . or if the DXCC Desk finds out that I worked some of my DX by using my last two, might they not take away my membership? I want to follow the rules . . . all I want to do is to find out what they are!”
The Old Timer looked at the QRPer for a few seconds and then said, “Son, there will always be opinions offered by those who judge others by their own standards. Remember that. When one of these DXers who have almost everything worked, and likely a lot of deleted ones as well, tell you that you can’t use your last two, they might be right. Don’t discount their knowledge. Don’t argue with them.” The QRPer looked more confused than ever. “But are they right?”
The Old Timer had flipped on his rig and began tuning 15-mertes for the polar opening to Asia. He looked over his shoulder at the QRPer and said, “Memory is often purified as time goes by. I think you will find that the higher their country total and the more times these Big Guns have been around the track, the less often they will recall using their last two. And you might even find that those with monobanders at 100 feet pushing out the full legal limit and a little extra can’t recall ever using anything but their full call . . . and usually only once.” And that was it. He put his headphones on and was off to see who was causing all the fuss between 21300-310 MHz.
We walked back down the hill with the QRPer. We had understood what the Old Timer had been getting at, but we weren’t sure about the QRPer. “So it’s OK for me to use my last two in a pileup, right?” he asked. We shrugged our shoulders and repeated what the Old Timer had said, “Who knows? For as Albert so often said, ‘all things are relative, although some more than others’ and this is another practical example of the Special Theory of Relativity.”
The QRPer glanced at us with a puzzled and frustrated look as he walked off down the hill. “What’s the use?” he muttered as he made his way around the corner and back down into the village. We though about it for a second and shrugged again. What more could we say? The QRPer just didn’t understand the Mysteries of the Ages and the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. We sat back down on the verandah and thought about the new towers in our antenna farm that had sprouted up over the past few years. And it seemed that we couldn’t recall ever using anything other than our full call in a pileup. Perhaps we should have told the QRPer not to use his last two . . . for surely it is not legal anymore!
73/DX Paul VE1DX (EX: VE1PMD, VE1UK, VE0UK, CJ1UK, etc.)
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