Edward Doyle, KJ4NRN
Even when starting small DXing can be fun for all.
In just over 2 years of being a ham, the one thing I’ve found that I can do for hours on end without getting bored is DXing.
I’ve found that some hams think DXing is too hard, QSLing too expensive or that they don’t have the right equipment. DXing is something that everyone can enjoy and nobody says that you have to QSL to be a DXer. Some DXers I’ve spoken with have logged over 200 countries but don’t have a single QSL card.
I have a nice setup (mainly due to the generosity of some friends) in the shack, but, being 15 years old, I don’t have money to throw around nor do I have enough experience in ham radio to be an expert. So how did I end up with 176 countries in my log?
You simply need to remember these five simple rules:
1. Be sure you always listen before transmitting
2. Make sure you are always courteous
3. Remember that there is usually propagation to somewhere
4 Learn when propagation conditions are best.
5. Always be patient
If you already follow these rules, you have 99% of what you need.
For those who don’t have tons of time, a computer can be helpful to pick up some DX spots. [A DX spot is a website listing that shows the call sign of the DX station, his frequency, the time the DX was heard and usually some comment about the DX station. — Ed.] Some good spot sites are DXwatch.com and DX summit.fi.
Your equipment doesn’t matter much for the first 50 to 75 countries. If you are very patient and willing to learn a little technique, you can stick with low power to a wire antenna for the earlier contacts. Of course, the easiest way to go is with a 100 W transceiver and a dipole or good vertical antenna.
There are many good books out there about DXing, including The DXCC Handbook and The Complete DXer. Both are available from the ARRL® and other ham radio catalogs. 1
While not necessary, an Amateur Extra class license will open up many more frequencies. On 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters most of the good DX hangs out below the General class segment of the band (which certainly makes the General class license holders mad). Even so, I have worked 138 countries with my General class license and you can too. Seventeen and 20 meters will be your best bands for now and 10 meters when the sunspots really come back. In fact, once the sunspot cycle kicks in again, even you Technicians can work DX on 10 meters. When I was a Technician I got over 30 countries the first year, only on 10 meters. So that just goes to show that you don’t need a General class license for DXing.
QSLing can be easy. I won’t go into detail about the direct process, but via the “buro” is cheap and easy if you are willing to wait for a reply.2 The ARRL’s Logbook of the World (LoTW) is free. Not all DXers use LoTW, but some DXers have earned DXCC using only LoTW. Though not accepted for DXCC, eQSL is fun and easy.
So, to the people who think they are having enough fun on 2 meters, get out there and try something new — like DXing. You’ll find yourself captivated. It’s too much to miss out on. By the end of this article, you should be saying, “If that 15 year old kid can do it — so can I!”
So, the next time you hear a DX station calling CQ, don’t just listen. Throw your call sign out there and have some fun.
73 and hope to see you “down the log.”
[For more on DXing, see the October 2012 special DXing issue of QST® — Ed.]
1The DXCC Handbook (order no. 9884) and The Complete DXer (order no. 9073) are available from your ARRL dealer or from the ARRL Store. Telephone toll-free in the US 888-277-5289 or 860-594-0355, fax 860-594-0303; www.arrl.org/shop/; email@example.com.
Edward Doyle, KJ4NRN, an ARRL member, is 15 years old and has been licensed for just over 4 years. His sister and father are both licensed hams as well as his grandfather. DXing is one of the many ham radio activities he enjoys as well as participating in Field Day with his local club. He will be joining a group of young hams lead by Don Dubon, N6JRL, on a trip to Costa Rica to operate TI5N as well as sightsee in the beautiful city of San Jose. Outside of ham radio, he is interested in guitar, tennis and cycling. Edward can be reached at 3279 Hunterdon Way SE, Marietta, GA 30067-5043, firstname.lastname@example.org