Remote Control Operation and the DXCC Program

After DeSoto described how DXers could count their countries worked, it wasn’t long until an award was created to recognize their accomplishments. The DX Century Club was announced in QST for September 1937. Creation of the award was due in large part to the efforts of its Managing Editor Clark Rodimon, W1SZ. In QST for November 1937, a list of DXers was published listing the DXers who had submitted their near 100 country totals to ARRL. (Yes, of course Rodimon’s total was listed…)

Among the original Century Club rules was one that required that all program participants make their QSOs from within the boundaries of their own call areas, where such call areas existed. Otherwise they had to make their QSOs from within the same country. Within a few months, recognizing that there were problems with this requirement – where DXers could move a short distance to another call area, requiring a restart – the rule was changed such that one could move a station up to 150 miles without having to re-start one’s participation in the DXCC program. This so-called 150-mile rule continued in place until mobility in the U.S. became so great in the 1970s that a change was deemed necessary. At that time, there was considerable discussion about this change. With the change to “anywhere within a single country,” the problem for large countries was resolved, though the problem was transferred to small countries – of course, that’s a different matter.

In the original DXCC listing, DXers were shown in order of their accomplishment. Those with the largest number of countries worked were at the top of the list. Those with fewer were farther down. Logic says that this order was arbitrary. How could it be any other way? Certainly those from the US Midwest could not be competing with those from the East Coast or Europe.

But, could it have been another way? Listing by countries worked implies competition. What if the listings had been alpha-numeric? Why not? An alpha-numeric listing today would greatly facilitate finding the score of a particular individual. Such a listing would also make sense since there really isn’t any meaningful competition intended by the sponsor. Any competition should be defined only by the participants.

Now, with the technological advantages we all enjoy, a dilemma exists:  How to deal with the use of Internet-based remote control. Regardless of competitive aspects, there is an inherent propagation advantage gained in DXing using multiple remote stations – or just receivers – in far-flung locations, even within a single country. Many of us have an aversion to others DXing via remote control, where the DXer’s station can be anywhere – multiple locations – within any single country. But while we don’t seem to mind complicated remote control schemes – or even ‘phone patches – the internet is just too easy. This issue raises hackles among many program participants – to the extreme that some DXers feel any use of remote control is simply cheating – period.

Since the ARRL Board decision in the summer of 2015 allowing internet-based remote control points virtually anywhere, considerable discussion and discontent has arisen. Practically speaking, outlawing remote operation is really pointless as there is simply no way to enforce rules limiting this type of operation. (Of course, these remote operations have been going on for years, and the rules changes have just raised our consciousness.) Our Federal Communications Commission has its own problems regulating remote operation since the Internet facilitates operation from other countries, and only the control operator – not the station owner — is responsible.

To help address this matter, after a short introduction, the DX Forum panel at the International DX Convention in Visalia – 2016 will spend much of its hour listening to opinions from members of the audience on Remote Control DXCC. What is the solution?

If you are coming to Visalia in April – and we hope you are – come prepared to stand up and express yourself. If you cannot make the trip, write to me with your well-thought-out opinions and we’ll include them in the program.

-N7NG

 

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6 thoughts on “Remote Control Operation and the DXCC Program

  1. The topic of remote HF stations and DXCC has been beaten to death. The ARRL has decided the issue.

    I was hoping that your DX Forum would take on interesting and challenging topics that remain unresolved.

  2. Paul,

    I do hope that is the case. However, Newington says they still receive lots of complaints. I intend to raise the question. If there is no interest, we’ll drop it quickly. Rest assured that we want to hear from the forum attendees, not from the panel. What specific alternatives would you propose for discussion? – N7NG

    1. Wayne, here are some topics of interest to me:

      1) The difficulty in accessing US possessions managed by USFW.
      2) Lack of FCC enforcement.
      3) Methods to bring Youth into our hobby.
      4) Ways to develop new DXers.
      5) Ways to motivate Elmers to Elmer.
      6) Developing Clubs and Club stations in rare entities.
      7) Eroding decorum, respect and behavior of US hams.

      Just a start, many important topics,

      Thanks,

      Paul N6PSE

  3. Newington once received a considerable number of complaints about the transition from spark to CW for many years (ref. early QST). A half century later, Newington received tens of thousands of complaints about the transition to incentive licensing (ref. mid-century QST, 73, and CQ) with so many hams registering their dissatisfaction that Advanced and Extra licensees would enjoy special bands of frequencies set aside just for them. Despite (or perhaps, symptomatic of) yet another old controversy, Newington even still receives a few occasional complaints about Morse code no longer being required for entry into our great hobby. Newington, in fact, is a bit like Jerusalem – all religions seem to meet there and sometimes with discord. Regardless, though, I would think that the trailing complaints du jour don’t constitute reason enough to devote limited forum resources to an issue that, after a prolonged period of reasoned debate and hearing within multiple elevated venues, was finally adjudicated and promulgated by ARRL’s most senior decisioning body. As an aside, I so wish I could attend Visalia, but family obligations preclude that possibility for now; I enjoyed meeting Wayne at Dayton in 2014. — Randy K7RAN

  4. What would be interesting at the DX Forum would be discussion
    of attracting young people, improving access to “closed” entities,
    developing local clubs in rare entities, funding DXpeditions, educating
    new DX chasers, how to reduce the impact of deliberate QRM,
    why Kosovo has not been added to the DXCC list, announcements
    of new DXpeditions, …

    The Amateur Radio world and Newington debated remote access
    for decades. There are valid arguments for both “sides”. The ARRL
    made a decision more than a year ago, and it seems to have worked
    fine, DXing continues.

    K6UFO

  5. Wayne, I very much enjoyed the DX Forum and the discussion on remotes and other topics. Ward Silver is such a voice of reason. Great panel and great perspectives. A very interesting and enjoyable hour.

    Paul N6PSE

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