DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Son of a Gun!

One of the local QRPers was up the hill the other day and he was not smiling. "You know, there are a lot of know-it-alls around these days.", the QRPer glowered. "An awful lot." We were thoughtful over this for a bit for one must be careful with opinions and labels these days. "You really think so?", we asked and the QRPer was off. "I sure do. I've been DXing for over a quarter of a century and I've been through three sunspot cycles. I was around for the Great Days of DXing and I watched the Palos Verdes Sundancers bring back cycles 21 and 22! We had to agree with his claim to longevity for we had watched this particular one scampering around for longer than we cared to admit. And we knew better than to question the results of the Palos Verdes Sundancers.

We knew there was something serious bothering the QRPer so we listened a bit longer. "One of the Big Gun know-it-alls keeps telling me solar flares do not enhance the solar flux", the QRPer stammered out, "and I know darn well some of them do! Why just a week ago we had a flare and the flux jumped from 70 to 100 and the bands were red-hot! The Big Gun know-it-all tried to tell me it was just coincidence. I even told him WWV was reporting the flux was flare enhanced and he still wouldn't listen to me." We were properly sympathetic but getting the uncomfortable feeling this was too technical for us. We just sat there and the QRPer began to look closely at us, his brow furrowed and his beady eyes flashing. "Don't you think I should know what I'm talking about!", he demanded. "I'm a six meter operator too and we get the big openings when there are flares!" It was obvious we were outgunned and out of our league. So we hauled the QRPer up to the Old Timer.

There the QRPer ran through the whole routine again and we were sure the Old Timer would have all the answers. "You've listened to WWV many times, right? And you've read lots of articles and theory on propagation? And you've tuned the bands during quiet and disturbed conditions, right?", asked the Old Timer. "Yes, I have", replied the QRPer, "and I know what I'm talking about. Why is the Big Gun know-it-all telling me it's coincidence", the QRPer asked again, his voice raised in exasperation.

The Old Timer was silent for a moment. "With propagation, what you may think may not always be so. And short path may be long, or skewed. The bands are enhanced in some directions, attenuated in others . . . maybe. What you think you hear may not be. Any what you don't hear may be there. And when the flux goes up, so does propagation . . . sometimes. These are the Mysteries of the Ages and one of the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. Surely you understand all this?"

The QRPer was nodding his head rapidly in response. Maybe we needed a bit of time to sort out the Old Timer's words. We were starting to wonder what the Old Timer was saying, but the QRPer was smiling. "Why that's perfectly clear," he exclaimed. "Now I know I was right!" And he turned to us and said, "Why didn't you just explain it like the Old Timer just did?" And he was off down the hill, looking for the Big Gun DXer and screaming "I told you so! I told you so!"

Son of a Gun! What could we say? So we asked the Old Timer what he was talking about. "Beat's me", said the Old Timer, "first thing that came to my mind. Got rid of him, didn't I?" And that was all he would say. When the Old Timer speaks, it is ike a flashlight in the dark. For, as we suspected, these are the days when the solutions are applied to the effect, not the cause.

Best Regards, Paul

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