DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Beacon DXing

(Based on an suggestion by Wayne Mills, N7NG)

One of the more determined Local QRPers came up the hill the other day, grinning from ear to ear and with the look of new-found knowledge on his face. He came into the shack, sat down and started petting our cat. QRPers like cats. Remember that . . . most QRPers have several cats. But then again so do some true-blue DXers. Maybe they were QRPers in the beginning! The cat hopped up on the QRPer's lap, made himself comfortable and began to purr. The QRPer looked at the cat, then at us, and finally said, "I've missed my last major DXpedition."

We looked at the QRPer for a moment and he just stared back at us with a look that made us wonder just where this was all going. "And?", we finally prompted him. "I've figured out a sure fire way to work every DXpedition from now on.", he said confidently, "I've missed my last one!" We had heard this sort of statement before and, although we weren't sure many of these best laid plans ever worked, every DXer listens. If you don't, you'll miss the one that actually works. Absolutely. This is one of the Mysteries of the Ages and genuine, true-blue DXers know this. So we looked over at this all knowing one and said, "How are you planning to do that?"

The QRPer looked around a bit to make sure no one was listening then said in a low voice, "Are you sure we are alone?". We looked at the QRPer, "Just you, us and the cat . . . and he won't say a word.", we said, putting forward our best poker face. The QRPer looked at us suspiciously and glanced down at the cat. Then he looked straight at us and said, "Well, you've always given me good advice on DXing, taught me the Mysteries of the Ages and a few of the Eternal Enigmas. I figure that since I now know how to work almost any major DXpedition, I should share my secret with you. But no one else! If everyone uses this technique, it won't work for us. OK?"

Entering into secrecy pacts with QRPers wasn't our first choice, but we had to find out what he was up to. "Of course", we replied, "no one but you and I will know. How do you plan to guarantee a QSO with all these DXpeditions?", we asked. "High tech!", the QRPer replied, "high tech. All the major DXpeditions are posting their logs on the Internet within hours of the QSOs, right?" We nodded slowly, "Not all, but the team that went to Easter Island and Heard did. And it's likely to become more prevalent in the future. But how does that help you work them?" The QRPer replied, "Oh, they all will after the success of the VK0IR operation. It might take a year or two, but it will become normal procedure to put your logs on the Internet." We thought about this for a moment and finally had to agree that the QRPer was probably right. "OK", the QRPer said, "and with the rapid spread of information by electronic DX bulletins and packet clusters, it's easy to know when and on what frequency the DXpedition will be on, right?" We had to agree that this was the case. There is no sense arguing with apparent progress, especially with the young, for they are always sure in their belief that they are right. And sometimes they are!

"But all you've told us is that you will be able to find the DX faster and see the log a few hours after your QSO", we said, looking the QRPer right in the eye, "how does this make it easier to break the pileup? How are you going to work them quicker than in the Early Days, when you got your DX info from the Marin County DX Group, and when you had to wait until your cards came back to be sure you were in the log? All you've told us is that you'll know where they are and when you worked them a lot faster. Nothing about the pileup technique has changed . . . in fact the pileups are bigger and they build quicker." We were thoroughly confused now, for this QRPer still had the I-know-something-you-don't-know smirk on his face. "Get to the point.", we snapped, beginning to lose patience with him. Should you think a QRPer with a smirk and a cat on his lap is not irritating, try talking to one someday!!

"It's simple!!", the QRPer replied, "I just left out one thing. The best high tech feature of all. The beacon mode on memory keyers! All you do is set it to send your call and TU 5NN SK every 30 seconds at about 30 WPM. Then you set your VFO to the middle of the pileup, turn on the keyer and go watch TV. Every few hours, check the Internet log and once your call appears, turn the keyer off and wait for them to QSY to another band. Then you just do the same thing again. You never even have to hear them!! You don't have to listen to their transmit frequency at all. And, if you have one of those contest rigs with the built-in voice recorder, you can do the same on SSB. And, you and I are the only ones who know about it!! We'll work them all! What do you think of that?"

Son of a Gun! We glared at the QRPer for a few seconds, then took a deep breath and said in our best Clint Eastwood voice. "Give us the cat." The QRPer looked at us with a puzzled stare, then glanced down at the cat and then slowly handed him over. We put him in the kitchen, out of harm's way . . . for, as cats go, this was an Old Timer and we didn't want him to see what was about to happen. Cats have long memories. Remember that. But our fears were unfounded. When we returned to the shack, the QRPer was gone. We looked out over the veranda and saw him rounding the corner at the bottom of the hill. These are trying times in this world of DX, and although some of the locals can be a bit slow on the uptake, this one had obviously seen the writing on the wall. Judging by the speed at which he was running, he had seen a few "Dirty Harry" movies too!! Enough to know when to make himself scarce. And we further concluded that his answer to the unasked question, "Do you feel lucky?" was an emphatic "NO!!" So we just stomped back and forth on the veranda muttering "Beacon DXing! Beacon DXing! Beacon DXing!" It was clear the bottom of this solar cycle was dragging out too long . . . and if the Great Days of DXing didn't return soon, there wouldn't be a sane DXer left! DX IS!

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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