DX CODE OF CONDUCT
by Randy Johnson W6SJ
***June 2012 - 10,000 Dx Code of Conduct flyers now being mailed Worldwide
This DXpeditioners’ Code is to help maximize the fun for all participants. As the DX operator, you play a critical role in pileups: you are "in charge”. Dealing with an unruly pileup of discourteous operators who have forgotten about ethical behavior is NOT fun. So it makes sense to plan and train ahead of time on how best to deal with the situation
Good operators at the DX end and courteous behavior at the other end of the QSO can greatly increase the total number of QSOs logged. It has been demonstrated that pileups can be kept reasonably under control if the DX operator follows certain ‘rules’. Luckily, some top operators have given us the benefit of their experience. Please peruse these suggestions.
It is also important that you tell the thousands of hams who want a QSO that you expect them to operate ethically in accordance with the DX Code of Conduct. If your DXpedition has a website or just a page at QRZ.com, please consider posting a notice on your website.
As a starter, consider posting our mascot with a link to this site. You may be as creative as you like. You might consider posting the Code itself on your website, just copy and paste . Whatever suits you. For further assistance, click here. For an example of how this might look, click here.
We also hope that you will tell us that you have linked to us so and we can publish your DXpedition and website at this site. More important, we hope that this initiative will play a positive role in making sure that you enjoy your trip.
(NOTE: This page is organized as a Table of Contents. Click on each topic to go to a section of the document that explains it further. Some sections have links to a third page with even more details and links to various resources we think may help. Enjoy!)
Do your Homework click on item for more information
Here is what we mean in more detail.
At the end of some sections click on to see the links to additional material.
Before traveling read "DXpeditioning Basics ” by N7NG.This freely available publication is a must read for every DXpeditioner.
Study the propagation before you travel. There are three important population centers in the world: Europe, North America and Asia . From wherever you are, two are likely to be easy. The third one is the most difficult to work from your destination location so it becomes your “target area.” Make sure that you work the target area any time any band is open to that area.
Practice your QSO technique. Pick out the weaker stations. Provide training to your less-experienced operators in the finer points of both SSB and CW operating.
The DX community appreciates a well organized website, some of which are works of art. If your operation is smaller and you do not plan to have a "full service" website, at least set up a QRZ.com page that states your location, dates of operation, and QSL information. Even with a complete website, a QRZ.com page with a link to your main website makes you easier to find.
Always check for a clear TX frequency and find a clear RX range before starting up on a band. As a DXpeditioner, you have powerful tools to control the frequencies you use. If you have previously announced your frequencies, try to stick with them. However, conditions might demand a change. You may have to select your pileup RX place in a spot other than the busiest part of the band
In order to maintain control of the pileup you must operate in such a manner as to make control possible. It is easy to lose control of a pileup, and if you do, it may be your fault. Maintain good QSO mechanics. Use the same general pattern for every QSO. Select a callsign from the pile and stay with it until a satisfactory QSO results. If it is not possible to finish a QSO, solicit QSOs again. NEVER select another callsign without soliciting QSOs – QRZ, CQ, etc.
Issue clear instructions to the pileup and stick to them – always. For example, if you catch only part of someone’s call and give the partial out, do not work anyone else until you have completed with that station. If you call “NO EU,” DO NOT work any European callers. Ignore rude callers. Breaking your own rules just creates chaos. Stay in charge, but never shout to nor lecture the crowd.
You should give you callsign often enough so that no one has to ask. If you don't give your call often enough, some callers will just log whatever callsign was last spotted on a DXcluster (right or wrong) and some will ask for your call. That wastes time, interrupts your flow, and energizes the ever present frequency cops. Once per QSO is not too often.
If you are blessed with a real long callsign such as SV9/ON4ZZZZ/P, that's a lot to mention after every QSO so just be alert. If you hear someone asking “QRZ” or “What’s the DX?” on your TX frequency, you have waited too long.
Assuming that you have gone to some relatively rare entity, you can start out by assuming that you will be dealing with a pileup. Don't wait until you have a large number of callers. Start out by operating split immediately. As soon as you are spotted on a DXcluster, the whole world will descend on you and you might as well be ready.
Standardize your transmitted messages as much as possible. For instance send a QSL or TU message at the end of every QSO and maintain a consistent pattern to help callers synchronize with you. That reduces the amount of out-of-turn calling. This is a well established technique for controlling a pileup. It gives the callers solid guidance in determining when and when not to call.
Work and log dupes: it is quicker than telling the duplicate callers that they are dupes, and it may be that they were unsure of a previous QSO. Use your website to announce your policy on duplicates, for example “Please work us only once on each band/mode slot to give others a chance for a new one.”
When you are about to leave the pileup, say what you are doing. Announce if you will QSY to another band/mode, perhaps giving out your new TX frequency. If you are going QRT for a while, give out your QSL information and website address. Don’t say, “QRX 5” unless you definitely are going to come back within 5 minutes as this just extends the band pollution unnecessarily.
if you don’t know how long you will be, it is better to say, “QRT,” but then come back on later when you are ready. When you get tired, slow down and take extra care over accuracy. If you start making too many mistakes, take a break and maybe a short sleep, whatever suits your body’s natural rhythm.
This is called the conversational style of pileup operating. This is perhaps one step beyond being friendly and not lecturing. It helps control the nature of the situation. Rather than have a group of antagonistic hounds, you put the callers at ease, and in the end give them confidence that you are fully interested in making a QSO with each of them. This style of operating is NOT a substitute for poor operating procedure, however.
Also remember the many operators who are not regular CW operators. They want a QSO too but may be able to copy code at, say, 20 wpm. DXpedition operators are sometimes whizzing along at 40 wpm. So keep an ear out for the guy who is calling at 20 wpm and respond to him at a speed he can copy easily. You will make another grateful friend.
Also rememember that many operators have 100 watts and wire antennas. After the big guns all have their QSOs, work these guys because they are the backbone of the amateur radio community.
When possible, try to avoid subdividing a pileup by numbers. Depending on propagation, try working a whole continent or several continents, or NOT working a particular continent. At times only working by numbers will work, however. Whatever method you choose, be sure to inform the pileup after every QSO.
(***I don't necessarily agree with the 'continents' theory although the last line about informing the pile-up is a must!)
A valid QSO is when both stations have copied content and have logged it correctly. It is unrealistic to think that you will copy 100% of all callsigns the first time. On CW do not send a “question mark,” as in “ABC?” when returning to a partial callsign. For some obscure reason many (undisciplined) pileup callers take a 'question mark' as the sign to start transmitting again, although the partial callsign does not resemble their callsign.
So when you respond to a call with a partial as “ABC 5nn” and W5ABC responds, “W5ABC W5ABC 5nn TU,” it is proper that you respond “W5ABC QSL TU” That way W5ABC knows he is in the log and does not have to call again later to make sure.
If you made a mistake with someone’s call, he may keep calling you. Repeat his call or work them again, using “TU”, “QSL”, “CFM” or “You’re in the log” to let them know for sure that they are safely logged. This is even more important if you do not have an online log with daily updates.
As a DXpeditioner, you are helping to set the ethical and operating standards for other DXpeditions. Be professional and courteous at all times. Remember, you are on a global stage, an ambassador for amateur radio. With power comes responsibility.
Don’t just work the loudest callers. Try extra hard to pick out weaker signals, especially after the first few days of your DXpedition. They may be DX or QRPers or just guys with 100 watts and wire antennas, typical home stations who will really appreciate the QSOs. This is the mark of exceptional DXpeditioners.
A number of people contributed to this document. It is thus a compendium of the work of others, here presented in a format that hopefully has included the best of what experienced DXpeditioners have had to say about this topic.
In the end, if DXpeditioners are better prepared, insist on good operating behavior from those calling them, and if those at the other end adhere to the DX Code of Conduct, everyone will have more fun. And that’s what it’s about.