DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Generally Speaking

One of the Local QRPers came beating his way up the hill the other day, puffing and sweating as the first signs of early summer took their toll. It really wasn’t very warm, but the QRPer looked like he’d spent quite a few hours sitting in front of the rig this winter. We’d seen this before, and once the antenna and tower work began in earnest, he’d be back in shape

He flopped down in the chair beside us, wiped a bit of sweat from his brow, and asked, “What is the best DX rig?” We thought for a moment and then used the old trick of answering a question with a question, “Why do you ask?”

“Because all the Big Guns at the DX club were arguing about it at the meeting last night. One of them has one of those TS-2000 rigs, and he swears nothing can touch it! But another one bought a FT-1000MP over the winter, and he was just as adamant it was the best DX rig. And then this other guy who has 340 or 350 worked said he was happy with his TS-430, and that if you spent any more on a rig, it wouldn’t make any difference!”

We nodded and peered over our bifocals at the QRPer with a non-committal look. He took a deep breath and continued on. “Last fall I bought a FT-847. It’s a middle-of-the-road rig. And with my 600-watt amp and tri-bander, I worked a lot of DX with it these past six months. Now I’m beginning to wonder. Maybe if I had a $5000 rig, I’d have worked more DX. And if a lot of DX is good, more must be better. Maybe I should buy an FT-1000MP or an IC-781. What do you think?”

We thought about our FT-101 that was still grinding away after 25 years, and of all the DX we’d worked with it. Often we’d been temped by the glossy ads and the new bells and whistles, but we’d stuck to our DX guns. Maybe if we had bought a new rig every few years, we’d have worked more DX. But maybe we wouldn’t have, either.

The QRPer was tapping his fingers on the table, waiting for an answer. We took our time, and then replied. “You’ve heard the Old Timer say that all things are relative, although some more so, right?” The QRPer nodded and replied impatiently, “Yes, yes, I know! He always says that. It’s what Albert always said too. But what’s it got to do with buying a new rig? Should I dig into my savings and get one of the new high end rigs or not?”

We weren’t about to advise anyone on how much money to spend on a rig, so we decide to hit him with one of the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. “That’s the special theory of DXing the Old Timer kept telling you. You obviously haven’t heard of the general theory of DXing, have you?”

“What’s that?”, he said, standing up and staring at us, “and what does it have to do with buying a new rig?”

We looked at him and replied in a knowledgeable tone, “DXers believe that, generally speaking, he who has the best antenna will work more DX. And generally speaking, he who spends more time in front of the rig will work more DX. And generally speaking, he who has the biggest amp will work more DX. So maybe the general theory of DXing implies he who has the most expensive rig will work the most DX too. But it never has been proven. Albert spent years working on a unified DX theory, and he never figured it out.”

The QRPer looked confused, and he just stared at us. We stared right back at him, and said, “Generally speaking, however, Albert did prove that he who has the best propagation wins. That is why DX IS!”

He jumped to his feet and bellowed, “What kind of answer is that?” We shrugged as he stomped out the door and down the hill, probably no wiser than he had been a few hours earlier. Someday he would probably understand, but maybe he’d have to go through a half dozen expensive radios before it sunk in.

73/DX Paul VE1DX (EX: VE1PMD, VE1UK, VE0UK, CJ1UK, etc.)

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