Mariana Islands DX Association - PO Box 445 - Agana Guam 96932
Volume 1 Number 2 - April 1998
Edited by KH2D
Published Quarterly by MIDXA
Split Ops: How To
Club News Guam - we nailed the day and time for club breakfasts to 11 AM on Saturdays at Shirleys Coffee Shop in Harmon. Attendance has been great with a bunch of the Guam members showing up every weekend. BY/WAITRESS is always happy to see us. Shirleys serves great food, and lunch menu is available at that time of morning, so if you haven't been, stop by. Saipan - WH0AAV and KH0CE are jogging on beach road on Sunday mornings and winding up for breakfast at Wendy's. Saipan members interested in joining them should contact Jun, WH0AAV.
Pictured at breakfast at Shirleys in Guam on April 3 are (left to right) Dave W1YRM, Bill NH6D, Dick KH2G, Tony NH2E, Danny KH2JU, Dave N2NL, Gary K9AW, and John WH2U (KH2D behind the camera).
Back & Forth WH0AAV made a quick stop in Guam in January on the way home from his Christmas visit to the Philippines. He was here just long enough to pick up his computer from the doctor, but unfortunately not long enough for computer class. KH2D was in Hawaii for the month of March. WH0AAV is in the P.I. until mid April.
Where & When The EMERGENCY FREQUENCY for communications during typhoons, etc. is 7.085 mhz. ALL MIDXA members in the Marianas should have a 40 meter dipole or other 40 meter antenna, and a source of emergency power to operate an HF radio in the event we are needed for emergency communications. Forty meters works great during the daytime for all four islands. We held a net practice session on January 25th with the following check ins: KH2JU, KH2D, WH0AAV, K9AW/KH2, KH2G, KH0CE, KH0FO, and N4UQM/KH2. Half of the stations who checked in were on emergency power, and all were using 'typhoon' antennas. In the event of a typhoon, we need to collect ACCURATE information regarding commercial power, telephone systems, water systems, and damages to houses and commercial buildings. We lost the only known ham on Rota, and we don't have members on Tinian at this time, so keep the phone number handy for anyone you know who can provide us with reliable damage information after a typhoon.
Fish - Food for Thought - I was reading a book the other night, and I came across an interesting story. The following was written by Don Newlands, VE3HGN, and originally published in January 1985 Radiosporting. Since we are so close to the ocean, I thought it was worth reprinting here.
My Granddaddy used to fish for food, my Dad fished for fun, and I don't fish at all. I buy fish at the fish store, along with most other folks. No fuss, no muss. Evidently, we three had something in common: we all wanted fish. Granddad would stand in the icy water, casting, reeling until his limbs went numb; one man in harmony with nature. My memory of him is a bit misty. He didn't talk much, but seemed confident and content.
My dad, on the other hand, had an expensive yacht, filled with gear. He bragged about his catch and had a lot of big ones stuffed and varnished which he would point to with pride.
Now I haven't time for all that crap. I'm prepared to stand a few minutes in line at the fish market and I can either eat it or mount it, but for anybody to freeze his butt in water? Or lay out big bucks for a boat just to fish from? Today's he's hopelessly out of touch.
Now you may ask what this has to do with ham radio? Simple. My Grandpappy was an original DX'er, wire antennas, 20 watts, and a spark that could set a house on fire. My Dad was a Dx'er with stacked antennas, 12 beverages, phased verticals, transmission lines as thick as a wrist. 2 meter spotting nets, DX Cluster and all. And he kept the family up all night with his yelling and screaming.
From my perspective, this all sounds primitive and disorganized. I prefer a simple little tribander at 40 feet and a low band trap dipole with the apex at 35 feet. All I do is give my call (or just the suffix - I know it's not legal, but it's in) to the list-taker, and in a minute, it's all over: "last heard you were 55, rifle shot, bang bang." All I do then is listen to the MC's "Good contact." No fuss, no muss. Oh, my certificates (all framed, of course) are the same as theirs. Now that's what I call progress!
CQ DX, CQ DX is a call of the endangered species. Now
it's "put me on the list.". Now, how do you get on the list? Ya' phone
'em, that's how! And while you're on the phone, ask them if they have
Split Operations - When and How As the spots increase, so do the number of stations who call us. The goal of the DX operator working the 'pileup' is to work as many stations as possible, as smoothly and as quickly as possible. You are the DX station - you called CQ - you made the mess - it's up to you to control it. No one is going to control it for you, and an out of control pileup is one of the biggest causes of frustration on the HF bands for lots of hams. One of the big problems with pileups is that many of the stations calling can't hear the DX because of the QRM caused by other stations calling also. The simplest and most efficient system for solving this problem is the 'split' operation - where the DX station transmits on one frequency and listens on a different frequency, or over a range of different frequencies.
When do you need to go to a split operation ? When the people you are giving reports to are not answering, or when you are not getting your report from the station you are working because of other stations who are continuously calling. Simply, when the QRM starts slowing you down. Split operation moves the QRM and you are no longer forced to wait for 20 or 30 stations to stop calling you so you can work one of them Modern transceivers today come equipped with two VFO's - some even come with two receivers. The RIT (on Yaesu rigs, the CLARIFIER) can also be used for split operations. The primary goal of a split operation is to get the calling stations (the pileup) far enough away from the DX station so that the pileup causes no interference on frequency the DX station is transmitting on.
For CW operations, 2 KC's is usually a good starting point. On CW, you can announce that you are listening up, i.e., QRZ KH2D UP which is usually all that is need to make the pileup move away from your transmit frequency. If the pileup doesn't respond immediately and other stations continue to call on your frequency, UP 2 UP 2 UP 2 UP 2 DE KH2D will usually do the trick. Simply turn the RIT on and tune up the band and listen for stations calling you, or, if you prefer, use the other VFO on your rig to receive. Tune up and down over a range of 2 or 3 KC's - fortunately there are a few DX'ers left who are smart enough to not just tune up 2 KC's and send their call a dozen times. It's hard to copy anybody even with a 250 cycle filter when 75 stations zero beat the same frequency and call you, so move your receive frequency around. By moving, you will increase your rate by working the good operators who know what TAILGATE means, and the ones who quickly figure out the direction you are tuning.
On SSB, the process of working a split operation is basically the same but since you need to move the pileup farther away from your transmit frequency (to disable the affect of Mr. Splatter), using two VFO's is a must. Again, most modern rigs with two VFO's have the A=B button. Press it, which sets the second VFO to the frequency and side band you are currently operating on. Tell everybody to standby, and then activate the second VFO as the receive VFO. Tune up (or down) the band at least 5 to 10 KC's, find a quiet frequency, then announce to the pileup where you will be listening. For example, if you are operating on 14.195, move the pileup up to 14.210. It's fine to move them down, but the usual procedure is to move them up. Again, as on CW, it's difficult to pick out callsigns when too many stations are calling you on the same frequency - so simply spread them out. Listen from 14.210 to 14215, or to 14.220.
Do's and Don'ts of split operation. It's very important to tell people where you are listening. As new stations arrive to join the pileup, they need to be instructed quickly as to what's going on. On CW, always include the UP after your callsign (and please don't forget to send your callsign after EVERY station you work - don't expect the new guys who just showed up to know from your fist who you are). On SSB, simply give your listening frequency after every contact - KH2D 210 - or - KH2D 210 to 220. It's also important to check your transmit frequency on occasion - no matter how specific you are you will always get the guy who can't figure out what's going on and who zero beats you and calls you for an hour. You want to make sure your transmit frequency is CLEAR, that's why you are working split. If you listen on your frequency and find 3 stations calling, DO NOT work them - MOVE THEM. If you WORK them, then you'll move the pileup down to your frequency and you'll have to start over. Move them by simply announcing where you are listening - even if you have to announce it ten times - do it until they all move off and your transmit frequency is clear again. It's imperative that you keep your transmit frequency clear - if you don't, the guys who are calling you there will be joined by the RADIO POLICE. The RADIO POLICE are the guys who already worked you, or have nothing better to do but listen to you, and they will begin telling the lost souls you are listening up - next thing you know the lost souls and the RADIO POLICE have you covered in QRM. Before you begin any split operation, make sure the frequency you are going to listen on is CLEAR and not being used by other hams. If you tell people to call you 10 KC's up, remember they won't be listening where they are transmitting - they are listening to you - so don't plop your pileup down right on top of somebody else who is having a QSO. Don't get carried away with how wide of a frequency range you need to listen on - 10 or 20 KC's is usually enough to accommodate half the world. One of the worst demonstrations of poor operating was a Clipperton DXpedition back in the late 70's. The whole world wanted to work them, and they would show up on 14.195 and start listening from 14.200 to 14.300 - which would clobber who knows how many QSO's that were already in progress up and down the band. Start listening on one frequency. If things get difficult, spread them out to 5 KC's, or worst case 10 KC's, but don't clog up half the band with your pileup. Do pay attention to your QSO rate - if you are just passing out signals reports, on CW you should be working 2 or 3 stations a minute. On SSB 3 or 4 a minute. If things slow down, it's usually because your transmit frequency is getting QRM - go clear it off.
Always remember - YOU ARE THE DX. YOU MADE THE MESS. YOU MUST CONTROL IT. We all hear the talk after a DXpedition - 'that was a great operation' or 'that was a total mess'. The difference between a great operation and a total mess isn't antennas, radios, amplifiers, or propagation. It's operators that make the difference. Nobody likes to tune down the band and find a total mess, and nobody usually complains much about a good operation. If things get out of control, you MUST get control back. If one station is causing you problems, tell him about it. Bluntly. With all the different languages in the world, I have found over the years that 'XX1XX SHUTUP !' is usually universally understood, and that 60 seconds of 'STANDBY QRX STANDBY QRX STANDBY QRX' will usually bring any pileup back to reality. You might not make XX1XX happy by telling him to shut up, but I can guarantee you that you will gain the respect of all the good operators who hear you tell him. If you let things get out of control, you not only frustrate yourself, but you also frustrate all the DX'ers who are trying to work you. If the pileup gets out of control and you can't fix it, do yourself and everyone else on the band a favor - announce you are going QRT and go watch TV. Come back again tomorrow night - start over clean - every day in the Mariana Islands is a DXpedition, so there will be plenty more guys to work tomorrow.
And finally, one of KH2D's Secret Pileup Suggestions.
Every now and then, stop working people. Pretend to disappear for a
minute. Let the pileup die down, let the guys with the big signals stop
calling. Listen really hard for a few of the little guys with the weak
signals, and jot down their callsigns. Then work them - they won't give
up when you stop, they'll keep calling. Make a contact with them no
matter if it takes four times as long to exchange reports as it does
with the big guns. Don't let the big gun make you give up on the QSO
- tell the big gun to shut up, and don't work anybody else until you
have worked the little guys. The little guy might be running 50 watts,
and he might be using only a dipole antenna on 20 meters, but he's in
there, he's trying - he's not standing in line at the fish market. Make
his day. Give him a new one. We are the DX, we get a lot of pleasure
from ham radio every time we turn on the radio, and it's important for
us to remember that every day we need to give a little bit back.
HAVE A NICE PILEUP. 73, Jim KH2D
In the Pileup KH2D - After suffering from blown-up-amplifier-itis for a month or so, I finally got back on the air in February. I have been concentrating on the low bands - a few good openings on 75 in the evenings, but not as good as early January, when the W1's were banging in here one night. 9M0C (Spratly) was like shooting fish in a barrel in mid February. I'm trying to finish up my 5 Band WAS (on both CW and SSB), so I send my wife to church every Sunday to pray for Rhode Island, Vermont, and Delaware ...... H40AA and H40AB showed up as advertised on April 1st. Work them now, worry later - they may wind up being a new one for everybody. If you can't find them, check the cluster - every other spot is H4. They are very easy to work from here in the Pacific.
Packet Cluster We had a few problems getting the crossband node going again after Typhoon Paka, but it's alive again. KH2D and KH2JU worked diligently for a few days after the power came back on, and the 9600 baud UHF link is back in action. The antenna at the cluster site was replaced with a homebrew eight element Quagi which works, but not as well as we had hoped it would. We also did some serious testing and made sure we have the beams in the right direction, but the signals for the UHF link are still not up to where we would like to see them, so we have a pair of 10 element UHF beams on the wish list. Also, we are going to need to purchase a VHF beam for the node, which we will point at Saipan. The VHF beam shouldn't cause any problems for the local users on Guam, as virtually all of our cluster users are on the north end of the island near the node site. WH0AAV has acquired a 14 element VHF antenna for the Saipan end of the packet link, but we are still looking for a radio and a TNC. The cluster was left on in the autopilot mode while KH2D visited Hawaii in March. It performed flawlessly for a few weeks, then proceeded to visit LaLa land on a very regular basis. Thanks to Danny KH2JU, John WH2U, and especially to KH2D's XYL Marie for helping with the long distance cluster repair attempts. The cluster node in Guam is getting a little more use, with KH2JU, N2NL, NH2E, NH6D, and KH2D showing up regularly.
LID of the Quarter Award Goes to JA7BXS for sitting smack in the middle of the DX window on 3795.0 and MC'ing a 'LIST' for DU1KT, who usually can't hear anybody on 75, BD4DW, who nobody else can usually hear on 75, and UA0??? who everybody could hear but nobody could understand because of his outstanding audio quality. This sterling operation was performed on a Saturday evening, while the grayline was going across North America, and on the first full weekend of the 9M0C operation. The usual group of 75 meter Asian and Oceania DX'ers had been noticeably absent from the DX window for the past few nights since the 9M0C operation had begun, but this group of pickle jar tops really need to work California on 75, so I guess they decided they were more important than the guys in Spratly and the thousands of hams all over the world who need Spratly for a new one. Nobody 'owns' a frequency. The ham bands are for the shared use of the thousands of hams all over the world. But this type of operation is a classic example of no common sense and a total disregard for fellow hams worldwide. If you hear an operation like this going on, key they mic and tell them what you think about it. On behalf of the hams on the east coast who have never worked Spratly, I would like to say THANKS GOOD BUDDYs to JA7BXS and his little group of sheep. May their fish rot in the sun and stink forever.
Contests ARRL DX CW, February KH2D 619 Q's, 139,150 points. I was working on my 5 Band CW WAS during this contest. Almost clean sweep on 15, 44 states worked, no propagation to W1 land. 1997 CQWW WPX SSB RESULTS - KH0CE 1st place lower power, 20 meters, Saipan, with 283,554 points / 552 Q's / 177 M. WH0AAV, 1st place high power, 15 meters Saipan, 1,244,880 points / 1401 Q's / 315 M. CQ WPX SSB contest, last wekend in March - KH2D operated from KH7R in Hawaii, KH6 lands number one multi multi station. Sid, NH7C and his XYL Andrea, NH7CC operated from the island of Maui. Stations active from Guam included NH6D/KH2, N2NL/KH2, K9AW/KH2, WH2U, NH2E, NH2A and KH2JU. Due to computer problems KH2JU was unable to post a score. WH2U, NH2E, and NH2A got beach fever during WPX weekend so they set up a portable station at the beach with a 20 meter dipole in the coconut trees. Rumor has a good time was had by all (and we heard them in Hawaii).
New Members We have quite a few new members since the last newsletter. Welcome to Sid, NH7C, who lives in Ohio. Sid is active on HF and enjoys county hunting, Dxpeditions, and RTTY and data modes. Sid was a volunteer with a DMAT team during the east coast ice storms. From Florida, we now have Ron, N4GFO as a supporting member. Ron was in Guam with the U.S. Navy and now resides in the Jacksonville area, where he and his wife Wanda, KF4TUF, just purchased a new house. Ron has been busy working on the antenna farm. We hope conditions improve so we can chat with Ron on HF really soon. From the Philippines, we are joined by Noel, DU1TXU. Noel is an active CW operator on the HF high bands. On the local scene in Guam we have been joined by N2NL, Dave, who is back to Guam with the U.S. Coast Guard for another tour. Dave is stationed on the USCGC Galveston Island, and is a very active CW operator and contester. Dave hopes to put Guam on the map on 160 meters while he is here. Also in Guam we have NH6D, Bill as a new member. Bill has operated from a bunch of the KH islands, and is in Guam for an indefinite period of time. Bill's QTH is a condo, so he limited antenna wise, but he is still active on CW and enjoys chasing DX. From Miami we are joined by KC4MHR Suzie, and her grand daughter Kathy, KD4ZLT.
Book Review ON4UN's ANTENNAS AND TECHNIQUES FOR LOW BAND Dxing. (ARRL $20). Since the doctor advised me to stay horizontally polarized for a while, I dug out a few of the ham books that have been laying around for a while uncracked. This book has everything you would ever want to know about the low bands - 40, 80, and 160 meters - plus a whole bunch of stuff that you probably wouldn't want to know. In a word, it's DRY. Kind of like reading an algebra text book just for the fun of it. It contains some practical information, but very little, a few interesting stories, and if you have never seen a 4,400 pound full sized 3 element 80 meter quad, it's got some interesting pictures. The majority of the books content is formulas, equations, and computer modeling of anything and everything you could imagine, all of which lead to the in-your-face advertising for ON4UN's NEW LOW BAND SOFTWARE (ON4UN $50). I skipped the software myself. If you are seriously interested in knowing all the inner workings of your coax and your vertical antenna, and you are in the market for the formulas to define all those intangibles, you will probably enjoy this book.
Web Page The MIDXA web page is alive and well at http://www.guam.net/pub/midxa. Look for some changes in the next few weeks - it's time to put the Paka pictures to rest, there will be some additions to the members pages, and the Paka page will be replaced with another special page.
Member Info Ken, N4UK has changed jobs and also changed his email address. Ken can now be reached by email at email@example.com. Ken says he likes the new job but will be doing a lot more commuting, which will cut down on some of his DX'ing time. Bill, NH6D, also has a new email address. You can reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org, but he intends to keep his other account with AOL so his previous email address is still OK also.
Pacific Radio Waves is published quarterly by
the Mariana Islands DX Association.
For more information about MIDXA, visit our web page at http://www.guam.net/pub/midxa
or send EMAIL to MIDXA.
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Web pages designed and maintained by Jim Kehler, KH2D
May not be reprinted without express permission of MIDXA.