DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

DXers and Those That Want to Be

QRZ, QRZ UP, 200-220 the DX cries
How much power before amp fries?
DX DX DX! Zero beat the last guy!
Add then the phone rings, it's TVI

We were sitting on the veranda, going back through our log books and making a list of outstanding QSLs. Every DXer does this from time to time. There are forgotten band countries, cards that are overdue, or maybe a new QSL route has surfaced that will finally produce one that once was thought impossible. Some of the newer types keep their logs on computer and this task is done automatically. While this is progress and more efficient, there is joy in finding a log entry that was missed for some reason or another. And for many it's a lot more rewarding than having it pop up on a computer screen. The newer computer types will dispute this point. There's no sense arguing with them because in their world of DX, computers are more important than linears and beams. Written log books are obsolete and only kept by "has-beens." They are sure of this. Most newly minted QRPers think this way. And while they may be right, they fail to see that one of the roads to understanding the Eternal Enigmas of DXing is realizing DXing is a transcontinental train. If you get on in the middle of the trip, and get off a few hundred miles further down the line, you never see the entire picture. There is no point in trying to explain this, because they won't listen. They never have. Sooner or later most figure it out on their own. A few never do.

While we were thinking of these short-haul types, one of them made his way around the turn and up the hill. This one a sleek headed QRPer, a thinker and a computer type as well. The instinctive "fight or flight" reaction hit us and we were ready to duck out the back door. The QRPer had already seen us, so we closed the log book, put it on the pile with the rest and waited to see what the problem of the day was. The QRPer sat down, glanced at the pile of log books and said: "I keep all my logs in electronic form, on my computer. Sure saves a lot of time." We looked at the QRPer for a moment. Yon QRPer had that all too familiar argumentative look. So we said, "You're right, and we bought one last week and we are going to type in all our QSO information as soon as the logging program arrives. That's why we have the log books out." The QRPer looked a bit doubtful, but since he had been headed off at the pass, there wasn't a lot more to be said. So he just nodded in agreement and said: "It's about time you guys saw the light."

We had the feeling this QRPer hadn't stopped by to discuss logging. We were right. "I've got a problem", the QRPer said, his brow furrowed deep in thought, "and it defies both explanation and solution." This was the thinker in action. We looked over at him and asked: "What's the trouble? Is your rig acting up? Or did you miss a new one?" These are tough times at the bottom of the cycle and often what was a minor inconvenience at the cycle peak can seem a heavy burden when the flux hasn't risen above 80 for over a year. "No, nothing like that", the QRPer replied, "No, it's RFI. I'm getting into my neighbour's gear and he called the authorities on me. They came out with spectrum analyzers and field strength meters and all that stuff. Made me transmit on all the bands from one-sixty to ten, and looked for harmonics and over-modulation and everything else under the sun. And when they didn't find a thing, they made me do it all over again with my linear at full power. And I still came up clean!"

"That's good news" we said carefully, knowing full well the terror that can strike a DXer when hit with a RFI complaint. And the relief that comes from knowing that your emissions are clean. "And since your transmissions are good, it must mean the neighbour has appliances and the like that don't measure up. So while it may be hard to resolve, why does it defy both explanation and solution? He'll either have to get RF suppression devices or buy better shielded gear. All you can do is offer to help. You have the expertise and remember the forth point of W9EEA's Amateur's code, written in 1928 "FRIENDLY . . . slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit." QRPers do not like to be quoted the Amateur's Code for some reason. We never did understand why, but they always bristle at it. Always.

The sleek headed QRPer glared at us with his beady little eyes for a moment, then retorted: "If it's that simple, why not tell it to him!" Something was wrong here, for the subject of RFI has been around for about as long as amateur radio. The problem is well defined, and the solutions are clear and documented. We had to know more. "Why do we have to tell this to him?", we replied, "You're the amateur, the DXer, and the one with the RF expertise. You can probably go through his house and put on a few filters and RF chokes and solve the whole matter in a few hours. Why are you being so stubborn about it?"

"Why am I being so stubborn?" the QRPer glared at us, "I'll tell you why! He's a amateur too! And an extra class license at that. He knows all this stuff as well as I do. And instead of fixing it or even telling me, he reports me! And it's because I'm getting into his HF rig and packet gear. Not his TV and telephones. What kind of amateur turns in a fellow amateur for RFI? Maybe he should read the Amateur's Code, not me!!" This shed a different light on the problem! While we could often handle the easy ones, this was out of our league.

What else could we do but haul the QRPer up the hill to the Old Timer. There the story was repeated, complete with waving arms and fists thumping on the table. The Old Timer thought for a minute or so, then asked, "This complainer, this fellow who reported you . . . is he a DXer?" The QRPer was quick to reply, "No! Not at all. All he does is keep a sked with someone on the east coast once a week and read the packet BBS. Most of the time he just uses his rig for short wave listening. He has a beam and a tower, but he never works any DX. He's more of a SWL than an amateur!" The Old Timer took a deep breath and then said: "Well, if he's trying to pull a weak broadcast station out of the noise on the 19-metre band and you're on 14.210 with full power, 200 feet away, it's clear you might cause him some grief." The QRPer nodded, "Yes, yes that's when he gets upset. What's wrong with him?"

We were pretty sure the Old Timer had an answer and we were right. "While what may be wrong is a relative thing, remember, he's not a DXer, Son!", the Old Timer said, "And it cannot be said too often that only a DXer understands DX and only a DXer understands another DXer. You are a DXer! Stand tall. As WA6AUD so well put it: 'There are two kinds of amateurs - DXers and those who want to be DXers.' Listen to this and learn!" The QRPer nodded slowly, then asked, "I know that, but how does that solve my problem? Every time I transmit, he's on the phone complaining about me." The Old Timer was quick to reply: "Make him a DXer! Show him the Mysteries of the Ages and the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. Teach him the meaning of DX IS! Teach him to stand tall and to walk with his shoulders back and with confidence in his stride!! Show him that DXers are smarter, better looking and more technically competent. Make him want to be a DXer!" The QRPer looked over at us with a hopeful glance, then asked one more question. "Yes, I will! But I don't know all the Mysteries of the Ages or the Eternal Enigmas of DXing. How can I teach him something I don't fully understand?" The Old Timer just looked at the QRPer and replied: "You will be able to do it. Just be a Believer! You'll convince him that DX IS! and SWL isn't! Always remember you are a DXer and, down deep, he wants to be one too. Show him the way!!"

And with that the QRPer was off down the hill, sure that his problem was solved and that he'd soon be working the rare ones with a new found friend. We looked over at the Old Timer and asked: "Do you think he can pull it off?" The Old Timer watched the QRPer round the corner at the bottom of the hill and answered: "Probably so. He has the confidence and the enthusiasm." We were still not convinced, "But what if the other fellow truly is happy as a SWL and keeping a sked once a week. What if he really doesn't want to be a DXer? Haven't you ever run across an amateur that doesn't want to DX?"

"Never! They all do! They all want to become one of the Anointed Ones, true-blue DXers . . . although some more than others. And those who are unwilling to try, well I've only run up against two or three in my life. And of those two or three, only one ever was a problem . . . and he was a SWL." We had to know, so we asked the obvious, "So what did you do?" The Old Timer looked around a bit and then answered: "You know my XYL is a real estate agent?" We nodded. "Well, I talked her into selling him the house next door to that fellow you just brought up here." And that was all he would say.

Son of a Gun! We walked back down the hill and picked up a log book. What more could be said? Usually it's easy to tell when the Old Timer is serious, but this wasn't one of these times. So we just sat down and started looking through the log books again. Maybe we should be logging with a computer after all. DX IS!

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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