DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

How to Put on a Rare Country

Inspired by a comment from W4BPD, Gus Browning, in "The DXERS' MAGAZINE"

One of the Local QRPers was by the other day, this one looking a bit dejected and apparently carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. "What's new?", we asked in an upbeat tone, not wanting to ruin such a nice fall afternoon. "There's no DX!", the QRPer said, sitting down and looking at us sadly. "I've got all of the common stuff worked and, with the flux being so low, no one is going on DXpeditions to any of the rare spots I need. I haven't worked a new one in almost a year", he said. We thought about this for a moment and replied, "Well, it's the bottom of the cycle and it's true you've worked most of the non-DXpedition countries. Why not work on your 5-band DXCC? Or try 160? These are the Flat Days of DXing and that's what the Big Guns are doing. Fill in the countries on the low bands and when the flux comes roaring back, you can work new ones again."

The QRPer looked at us with a glare in his beady little eyes. "I'm sick of the low bands", he said, standing up. "I'm tired of listening to all the QRN and exchanging 339 RSTs with stations that used to be 20 over on 15 and 10 metres. Anyhow, I want new countries. There are lots of them that I've never worked at all. No one goes there. How can I work the ones I need if they are never activated? In those countries, DX ISN'T!" He was clearly working himself into a frenzy and although the heresy he'd just uttered had started a slow anger building in us, we decided to let it pass. Anyone who disputed DX IS! was clearly not one of the Deserving, but these were trying times in this world of DX. "Let's talk this over with the Old Timer.", we said, trying to nip this DX ISN'T thought in the bud.

As we had done many times before, we took the QRPer up the hill to see the Old Timer. He was sitting in the sun porch looking out toward Palos Verdes country and talking to Sunspot Louie about the prospects of improved propagation this winter. We didn't want to interrupt, so we just pulled up a couple of chairs and listened. It wasn't long before the Old Timer and Louie had agreed that the flux would rise this winter and that there would be more DX than last year, although more for some than others. Sunspot Louie sauntered off down to his shack to put out his propagation forecast on the Packet Cluster. The Old Timer turned his attention to us. The QRPer repeated his story, ending with, "and how do I work DX from countries that aren't on the air." The Old Timer took a deep breath and replied, "Well, son", he said, "you have to understand the Mysteries of the Ages and the Eternal Enigmas of Dxing to work new DX. Just be a Believer and you will be one of the Deserving." The QRPer looked at him and replied, "You've told me that a dozen times before! And I think I do understand. But what am I missing? Why don't the Big Gun DXers activate these places more often? Even with the poor conditions, we can work them on 20-metres, maybe even 15."

The Old Timer looked at the QRPer and said, "Here's what you do. Pick out a rare one. One that you need and that's fairly easy for us suffering-sixes to work. Put out a rumor that you have obtained a license to operate from there and that you've got landing permission from the local authorities. Send this to the DX Bulletins, maybe even tell the Marin County DX Group. Tell them that you've raised just about enough money for the trip and that it's just a matter of getting the time off from work." The QRPer gave the Old Timer a puzzled look. "I can't afford to go to any of those places. And I wouldn't know where to start to get landing permission and all that other stuff. Even if I could pull it off, I couldn't work myself! How would that get me a new country?"

The Old Timer smiled for a moment, and then simply said, "If word got out to the Big Gun DXers that you were about to activate, say A51 or P5, how long do you think it would be before one of them were there themselves?" The QRPer shifted his gaze between the Old Timer and us as his look of puzzlement slowly was replaced by a crafty smirk. Enlightenment was beginning to sink in! For once the QRPer was absolutely silent as he zipped out the door and down the hill. Son of a Gun! We looked at the Old Timer and asked, "Do you think that'll really work?" The Old Timer was again gazing over toward Palos Verdes country. For a few minutes he said nothing and we were sure he wasn't going to answer. Then he turned and said, "Remember when A51 was AC5 back in the Early Days? Remember when most of you guys needed AC5 for a new one?" We nodded in agreement as we recalled working AC5 a lot longer back than we cared to admit! "Sure do", we answered, "we worked AC5TY on December 27th, 1971 on the SEA net, 58 signals both ways!" "Well", the Old Timer responded, "I didn't work AC5TY. But I did work Sir Gus when he and Peggy were there a few years earlier. Did you ever wonder why they decided to go to Bhutan? Anybody can win, unless there happens to be a second entry!" And that was all he would say.

We sat there for a few minutes, and then slowly made our way back to our shack. We had just learned another one of the Mysteries of DXing, one of the Eternal Enigmas . . . and at a time in our DXing career when we thought we had learned all the tricks. When the Old Timer speaks, it sometimes hits like a strobe light, and this was one of those times! We decided we better check our subscriptions to the DX bulletins! The Golden Days of DXing were about to return, and we didn't want to miss out on the action! DX IS!

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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