For many years, members of the three primary population centers have been characterized and labeled usually as a group following major DXpeditions. They are usually characterized in different ways. The Asians (primarily Japanese) have been seen as highly disciplined. According to some analysts they are disciplined to a fault. According to some DXpeditioners, the Japanese are too organized, tending to slow the proceedings. Usually though, they are a relief and a delight for DXpeditioners. Operators in North America are often described as efficient and quick. High rates are achievable when working large numbers of these operators. Much of the time they are overly aggressive, but their similarities are numerous.
European operators on the other hand are usually characterized by continuous calling and lacking in cooperation. Rates are said to suffer because of these traits. For this, they are often labeled as troublemakers. It is interesting that more often than not, we refer to “ The Europeans” as a single group. Who are these “Europeans?” Should we put them all in the same box? Are they really all the same? Or do their differences deserve more study?
To pursue this question, we first need to consider that how the members of a particular population center are characterized depends heavily on who is doing the evaluating. We need to understand that these descriptions are highly dependent on popular perceptions and attitudes.
The operating performance level achieved by various DXers depends increases greatly when the levels are determined by members of the same group. When we are reading an evaluation referring to “The Americans,” “The Europeans,” or “The Japanese,” we need to be suspicious. This is an indication that objectivity is missing, and methods and attitudes may need adjusting.
When a groups’ characteristics are described in this manner, we can all be fairly sure that more understanding is required. Would we really expect all members of a particular group to be the same? Is the makeup of the group even properly defined? What does it take to make pundits think a bit more before commenting? Well, it takes research and thinking seriously about the problem. There isn’t much room for shooting from the hip anymore.
Some members of the DXpeditioning world are very successful in dealing the vast diversity of personalities and cultures present in the modern pileup, other operators are significantly off course. This in-turn suggests that given the proper approach, most any pileup can be managed.
There are aspects of pileups that can’t be controlled. There is the pathological, deliberate QRM (DQRM). There is virtually nothing that the DXpeditioner can do to assuage these sources. On the other hand, some DQRM is provoked by the DXpedition operators themselves through their own actions. Procedures such as allowing a pileup to exceed a reasonable portion of a band is one such provocation. I witnessed a serious situation in the last week as usual on 17 meters. Opening a DXpedition with maybe only two stations, one on 17 meter SSB is almost guaranteed to create a problem. In this case, DQRM resulted directly.
So what should be done to improve the situation? Let’s consider “The Europeans.” What can we do to be able to say: “As a group, they really have it together.” Is it even possible to moderate their pileup behavior? Maybe, maybe not. It might take a radical solution, but I know we can do better because some have done it.
Martti Laine, OH2BH, is one of the most successful DXpeditioners and Contesters in our increasingly difficult times. In cooperation with the DX University Martti has written a paper describing how to successfully work Europeans. The paper is entitled: “DX Chase: It Takes Two to Tango” and subtitled: “Working Europe from the rare ones can be difficult. Here’s how to do it.”
This past weekend, October 10th and 11th, the paper was presented and discussed at a DXing Summit meeting in Rome organized by IK0FVC, Francesco; OH2BH, Martti and IK0XFD, Giordano, President of the Rome branch of Associazione Radioamatori Italiani (ARI). This paper isn’t a list of Thou Shalts or How to’s. It isn’t a list of Best Practices. It is rather a more thoughtful discussion of the differences of the world, attitudes, and lengthy discussions of some more specific operating procedures, why and how. Careful thought, study and adherence to what this paper proposes – and what follows (it’s probably a work in progress) – is almost guaranteed to improve DXpeditioning across the board.
And a caveat: (You knew there would be a catch, right?) If and when all of this fails to make us better DXpeditioners or DXers, there is a new — or revised — Q-Code: ‘QTX’. This code is a less blunt way of telling an operator – DXer or DXpeditioner – to stop transmitting for some time and then come back with a retuned method or mind. “WW2XX QTX – 10” means that WW2XX should stop transmitting and only return to the chase after spending the next ten minutes adjusting his attitude or procedure. This is sort of a penalty box. The DXpeditioner can put the DXpeditioner in the penalty box, OR the DXer can put the DXpeditioner in the box. (Good luck you say? Maybe. But if I were a DXpeditioner and I heard a series of “Z81X QTX – 30” I might think again.