DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

DX Advice is Easy to Give

Last week one of the village QRPers came trudging up the hill in the early morning to bring questions that would shatter all serenity. Before he had a chance to get started, another of the Locals came around the curve of the road and trotted up the hill. The QRPers glared at each other and it was clear they had just come from the DX Club meeting. We moved them to neutral corners of the veranda. It was obvious that, while both had been to the same meeting, they seemed to have come away with a different view of what they had heard.

"It looks like DXing has taken another kicking.", the first QRPer began, glaring at his opponent and then turning his attention to us. "Did you hear that the operation from Scarborough Reef, BS7H, has gone QRT?" We nodded in agreement for we had heard some squawking on the local two-metre repeater about this a little earlier. "What kind of operation was that?", he continued, staring at us with his beady little eyes and glancing over at the other QRPer every now and then. "They weren't there long enough to even make a dent in the pileups, they were calling for EU and working JA, calling for JA and working NA, and their signals were always dishwater weak. Everyone was mixed up and you never knew when to call. And to top it off, the one time we had propagation and they were calling for NA, didn't we come up against one of those over-bored linear types sitting on their transmit frequency. The ones who just blast everyone else out of the way with their incessant 'CQs!'"

The second QRPer piped up, "I don't think the operation was that bad", he said, "it's true that conditions were not that good and the usual DX annoyances were there to contend with. But it's always been that way. I've been DXing for five years now and I've never seen an operation where DXers didn't call out of turn or there wasn't a jammer or rag-chewer on the DX frequency from time to time. That's part of DXing. It always has been. True-blue DXers learn to work around it, to not get frustrated. The pileups always settle down, the jammers get tired and the full-bore CQers eventually give up and try somewhere else. If anyone really needed them, they were workable. While it may have been difficult, I feel a good operator could have gotten through . . . although even some of the top dogs didn't make it. That's the intrigue of DXing! Nothing is certain."

At this point the first QRPer was standing with his fists clenched and glaring at the happy QRPer with a look that we would rather not describe!! It was becoming clear to us what had happened . . . the usual. The angry QRPer had missed them, the happy QRPer had them in the log and was rubbing salt in the cut. We tried to console the first QRPer: "While you may have missed them this time, they'll be on again and you'll get them. For sure. It may take a few years, but they always come around again. And the next time it will likely be nearer the top of the cycle. Meanwhile, work the other DX that is around. Stand tall!! You are a DXer, and there will always be DX to work."

Before he had a chance to reply, we turned to the other QRPer and said: "And while you may have worked them and he did not, there is no reason for you to be condescending. They were weak and not on the air very long. You may have them in the log, but there is no need to crow about your DX prowess and cleverness. As a DXer and a true-blue amateur, you shouldn't be letting your ego get the best of you."

We sat back, confident that we had this one figured out and had averted a crisis. We should have known that what appeared obvious was not always so. And this was one of these times. Both QRPers turned their attention from each other and focused on us! "Neither of us worked them!", the first QRPer stammered. "He was in their calling left and right the same as I was and he had no better luck that me. What I don't understand is why he is sticking up for them. They were not workable. Why make it sound like they were?"

The happy QRPer simply said, "Because they were! Just because I didn't make it this time doesn't mean I'm about to tear a strip off the operators and all my fellow DXers. My ego has nothing to do with it. A lot of DXers got through. Neither of us did. We can't control the DXpedition or the pileups, but we can control how we react to not working them." He nodded toward the other QRPer and said, "I think he's suffering from cognitive distortion. What do you think?"

Son of a Gun! We thought we had better find out what 'cognitive distortion' was before we went too far down that track! So we tried to steer them off in another direction, perhaps aiming for a compromise. "What's the difference?", we asked, "since neither of you worked them, maybe you both should concentrate your efforts on the 3C0 operation that's coming on in a few weeks. That'll be a new one for both of you. They are going to be there a full week and they'll likely be easier to work. You'll both probably get them the first day. DXers move on to the next operation. DXers are prepared!"

"That's what I've been telling him all morning", the first QRPer said, "but he keeps reminding me about the BS7H. Why isn't he upset about missing them? It might be years before someone goes back there. While what you have said is true, what's wrong with being disappointed in missing a new country . . . and why shouldn't he be as unhappy as me?"

We thought about this for a moment and we were coming up blank. We looked over at the QRPers and they were making their way down the hill, still arguing and pointing fingers at each other. You know something, we still had this nagging feeling that something wasn't right here. For while a DXer moves on from a missed DXpedition, he usually isn't too happy about it. We walked out in the back yard and stared out over the bay, deep in thought. And then it hit us! We had to be sure, so we went in and checked our logs. We were right! We recalled the first QRPer being on the air for about the same amount of time as the second one. However, his rig had packed it in during the spring of 1995 and he was off the air while it was being fixed . . . during the month of April. And our logs showed that we had worked the first major BS7H operation on 14 April 1995. We were pretty sure all the locals and worked them too. All those who were on the air at the time, that is! And while it is easy to offer advice to one who has missed a rare one, it is easier when one has a QSL from a previous operation stashed away in a shoe box. Always. DX IS!

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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