DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Move Closer to the DX

We were sitting on the front porch, thinking about how fast the time had gone by this fall. We realized that Heard Island would soon be on and the Local QRPers would be scampering about, comparing notes and beam headings, asking endless questions about the best path and band to use and pleading with the Palos Verdes Sundancers to get the flux up just a bit higher. In fact, this had already begun! The Locals had been in a frenzy for the past couple of months. Just about this time one of the more persistent QRPers rounded the corner and beat his way up the hill. This QRPer had a look in his beady little eyes that was somewhere between confusion and danger. We prepared ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of questions. Our energies were running low, for this had been going on since the VK0 DXpedition had been announced. A QRPer in need of a new one will wear you down. Absolutely! Remember that . . . Local QRPers have an endless supply of energy.

"Where is the best place in the world to work DX from?", the QRPer asked, as he sat down and pulled his chair up to face us. We were prepared for the stream of Heard Island questions and it was difficult to switch to another topic in mid stream. We had to put our text book answers on Heard Island aside, so we stalled for time. "Why do you ask?", we said, looking at the QRPer with our poker face, "aren't you worried about working the VK0 guys? What beam heading and which band?" Answering a question with a question always buys time. Guaranteed. Ask any member of the legal profession! The QRPer looked at us and replied, "Oh, them . . . they won't be hard. I'll get them in the log. What I want to know is where, exactly, in the world is the best location for working DX?"

We had shifted gears and we were now back in philosophical mode, with our classic Heard Island answers on the back burner for a moment. "That's an interesting question.", we replied, "why do you ask?" The QRPer looked around a bit and then spoke in a low tone, "Well, you see, I'm getting close to retirement, and I've done quite well with my investments. I have enough put aside to move pretty much anywhere I want. I think I've convinced the XYL that we should think about finding another spot to live, maybe even another country. Now, while the XYL may think I'm just tired of living around here, any true blue DXer would understand that the only real reason to move would be to get closer to the DX, right?"

Son of a Gun! We had been asked a lot of questions over the years, but this was a first. "Closer to what DX?", we replied slowly. "All of it!", the QRPer retorted in a split second, "This has got to be the worst place in the world for DXing. We're too far from all the DX. I keep missing stuff guys in W1 and W2 work with one call! And what about the VO1s and the VE1s. They have one foot in the Atlantic Ocean and the best takeoff to Europe in the world! And speaking of Europe, they have it made. They work deep into Asia and the Far East like we work the W9s. And what about Japan? They have it made! I bet they can work HL and BY and BZ every night on 80. And they likely have both JD1s on 80 and 40, too! What chance do us suffering-sixes have?"

We took a deep breath and thought about this for a minute . . . maybe two or three. The QRPer kept staring at us impatiently. QRPers don't like to wait for answers! "Well", where should I move?" he asked again. "Why don't you stay just where you are?", we asked, "you've got a good station. There are lots of DXers in W6 on Honor Roll. Marin County isn't a bad spot for DXing. Stay here and work the DX that IS!" It was clear we weren't getting through. "Didn't you hear what I just said?", the QRPer said in a rather sharp tone, "Didn't I just explain how just about anywhere else in the world is better off than we are? Sometimes I wonder about you!"

These are trying times in this world of DX, and we thought about the QRPer's question a bit longer and then replied. "You could move to W1 or W2 land", we replied finally, "and you sure would do better working Europe and Africa. But, then again, what about the Pacific Islands? You'd have to beat your way through the west coast QRM."

"I never really thought about that." the QRPer replied, "maybe VE1 or VO1 would be better? The Canadians sure have it made. They are far enough north that they wouldn't be bothered by the W6 QRM. Their signals would swing over VE7 and right down into the Pacific. And they'd still have the best shot in the world into Europe and Asia beaming east." We had seen this one coming. "That's true, but did you look at the latitude? They are around 45 to 50 degrees north. Sunspot Louie's reports have the Ap pretty high a lot of days. Those guys in VE land are a lot closer to the auroral zone than we are. If there's any significant geomagnetic activity, their signals are attenuated. And, if you move to a different DXCC country, you lose what you have now and you'll have to start over." The QRPer looked at us with a bit of a confused look. "Never thought about having to start over", he replied, deep in thought, "and I guess you are right about the northern latitudes and attenuated signals."

We thought we had a solid case, but the QRPer persisted. "OK, maybe the east coast or Canada wouldn't be any better than here. But what about the JAs? Now they have it made. I'd be willing to start over if I moved there. I'd re-work the Pacific stuff and the path to Europe and Asia would be a lot easier than here, right?" We had to agree with that: "Yes, you'd have a clear shot into the Pacific for sure, and Europe wouldn't be too bad either. The problem would be the Caribbean. And CY0 and CY9. That's a hard path from JA. There are a dozen or so countries that you'd have to wait a long time for from JA."

The QRPer made one last attempt. "Europe then!", he said in desperation, "that's where I'll go. I'll get a nice country villa in Europe. That should give me a pretty good shot at almost everything." What could we say? Nothing but the truth. "Most of Europe is north of 40 degrees. Some above 50. You'd get the same auroral attenuation as the VEs. And the path into the Pacific, even easy stuff like KH6 and the like isn't that good."

The QRPer threw up his arms in frustration. "What are you telling me, buster? That we live in the best spot for DX in the world? Why am I missing all the good stuff, then?" He didn't wait for an answer and just stomped off down the hill, arms swinging and shaking his head back and forth. As hard as it may be, we thought that maybe the QRPer had just learned one of the Inevitable Truths of DXing. DX is where you find it and the grass always looks greener on the other side. Or, more properly put by Albert, all things are relative, only some more so. Especially when you are in W6 and a 7O is working the east coast on 40 and 80!

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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