New to Ham radio and DX........

Discussion in 'The DX Zone' started by KE9RJM, Apr 30, 2018.

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  1. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Although unlikely in the foreseeable future, it would be good for overall DXCC totals to have P5 active again. The reason being that many of us count total countries/entities, not just active ones. So if/when deleted, it would still count. And obviously, unification might result in another "new one" aka Easy and West Germany.

    With something like 360 total worked over the decades, any non-ludicrous addition (e.g., Scarborough Reef) is of interest to me and many others.
  2. WA7WJR

    WA7WJR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Bob,

    Congratulations on your first DX contact. I can relate with your emotional high every time I get a new DX contact under my belt.

    There is a lot of sage advice here, and I will offer some additional info from my experiences.

    1. Yes, use a DX spotting website. I personally like the layout and ease of use of DXMaps list view for spotting whether I am in US or VN.

    2. Some of my first DX contacts were made using an inverted G5RV at 45' strung between trees. I also used a Buddipole antenna on top of a bamboo pole at 35 ft. in VN to contact TX5EG in French Polynesia some 15,000 KM away. Of course a directional antenna is going to give you an advantage, but you can work DX with even simple antennas. As US7IGN indicated, a vertical antenna may be a better option for you given your situation. The primary disadvantage to a vertical is increased noise, but you might want to check this out...

    Before upgrading you transceiver check out and Explained for the Sherwood Table of Receiver Performance - Rev E.pdf. Upgrading your transceiver should be a careful consideration after you have more experience and determine exactly what you want to do...esp. true if you are thinking about getting into contesting. Amplifiers are a good addition and can help you break through a pile up sometimes.

    3. I have the Complete DX'er, and also "The New DXer's Handbook" by Bryce Anderson, and "DX - The Easy Way" by Craig Buck (both available on Amazon). Each cover the same basic info, and each provides some useful tips. I enjoy reading and hearing a variety of perspectives.

    A few lessons learned...

    QSOs - Almost every contact I make when operating in VN is a DX contact. The vast majority of DX contacts are going to be a minimal exchanges. In most cases, RST, OP name, and QTH than a quick thank you for QSO and 73 :) Don't expect to spend any time rag-chewing. Listen to the exchange and respond accordingly. In many cases, the DX operator may not have a strong command of English.

    CALL SIGN - when making contact state your call using international phonetic alphabet ONLY. The monkey business of saying "Welcome Two My World" for W2MW instead of "Whiskey 2 Mike Whiskey" is pure nonsense. I would never respond to a station that doesn't use international phonetics from my DX location.

    QSL - this is tricky business and a whole chapters are written about exchanging QSLs with DX stations in the above mentioned books. Always include a self-addressed envelop. Do not put any markings indicating Amateur Radio or other unique markings on the envelop (esp. if there are GS inside) due to mail theft in some countries. Many DX stations, especially Dxpeditions, are using OQRS for QSL cards and it virtually guarantees you will get a QLS card and don't require you sending one. A lot of Asian stations seem to be moving more towards eQSL. eQSL allows you to download and print QSL cards, but other than that the interface is horrible IMHO. I personally prefer LoTW, and only use eQSL for my VN call.

    CW - learn morse code. You will make a lot more DX contacts with CW than with phone...especially these days (years). This opened up a whole new world for me, and it is almost an obsession now.

    TIME - making DX contacts requires a lot of time at the radio watching and listening. Follow the gray line in the morning and evening. I have made some of my best DX contact (XR0TD, 9M2ZRK, VP2MSS, 5W1sa, RI1F, etc) from my US QTH around 1:00 - 2:00 UTC (6 - 7 pm PST).

    CONTESTS - are a great way to make DX contacts, but make sure you follow the contest exchanges. Operators get pretty fussy if you don't know the proper exchange for the contest. You don't have to, but should submit logs for verification purposes for the other stations. You can find upcoming contests and QSO parties at

    I could probably go on, but this should add a little more for you to chew on.


    KI5AAI, AB8MA and AG5DB like this.
  3. KE9RJM

    KE9RJM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for the time and effort to write a very succinct listing of advice "gems". I will be following up on many of your suggestions and really appreciate you input. Bob
  4. W6OGC

    W6OGC Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is great to have high towers and big antennas but you can do pretty well with more modest gear. No doubt that efforts and money to get the best antenna you possibly can will pay the best rewards.

    I used to chase DX with a big quad, full gallon, etc. Fun! But now when the ravages of old age and decrepitude have taken their toll, I find that one can do pretty well with less. For the last 5 years, I have had simple wire antennas, or homebrew modest verticals, and run 5 watts. I also use almost exclusively CW.

    Use a cluster. I like DX Heat but there are several. Learn how to operate your gear, every knob and switch, and mode. Upgrade your antenna to eliminate inefficiencies, power robbing coax, unnecessary doo dads.

    There are dozens of antenna articles online, in old QSTs, to fit nearly every situation. Subscribe to a dx info service, like Daily DX.

    You don’t need to work every station you hear on the first call. Learn to figure out the operator’s pattern, what bands are best at which times for different areas, when propagation favors you. There is really an awful lot of information and experience that goes into working DX, and you have to start somewhere and build your skills, judgment, prowess. Patience is a virtue, too. Refuse to be deterred by the rampant bozoism you will hear. Keep your cool.

    Comtesting can yield new countries, but here again you need to get experience to maximize the experience. Just be patient, listen, persevere!

    K1TGX and US7IGN like this.
  5. K4LRX

    K4LRX QRZ Member QRZ Page

    Nice thought, costs nothing to dream.
  6. VK3KTT

    VK3KTT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    hi sounds like you having fun the complete dx'er is a great book to give you some tips. Some clusters are dx summit and dx heat are worth looking at. dipoles can be very effective antenna's . your ic 718 is a starter radio but its ok. look at the countries close to you then see how you go ssb can be great fun but might be tough from a small block due to the cycle. ft8 will get you dx contacts but not much interaction or talking. something to consider is to work out the best time for dx on the band you like and to go out portable choose some where high with a good take off and low noise this will help you get an advantage. 10m can get busy in the summer time with dx contacts also start trying for worked all states this teaches you the basic skills of dx hunting. enjoy most of us spend the first year or so fumbling around thats ok its all experience. i have managed to work 275 countries with 100 watts so it can be dont.
    de vk3meg
  7. KI5AAI

    KI5AAI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a brand new General class as well (IC-7300 with a 20 meter dipole for now). Great advice and easily understood by a newbie DX'er.
    WA7WJR likes this.
  8. KE9RJM

    KE9RJM Ham Member QRZ Page

    So over this past weekend I stumbled onto the Museum Ships special event....I'm hooked!!! I only managed 6 ship contacts in a couple of hours but what a thrill practicing my listening skills and then actually wind up talking to some of the most famous ships in history!

    My question is, given a budget of $3500 or so for an antenna and transceiver upgrade designed for DX SSB operations....what would you choose?

    Thanks, Bob
    K3KIC likes this.
  9. AA6YQ

    AA6YQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Upgrading from a single wire to a directional antenna will give you the best bang-for-the-buck. Do you have the room and legal/marital ability to put up a small multi-band directional antenna, like a hex beam? Using rotating guy rings, you could mount this on a 35' mast with the rotator at the bottom. If there are enough funds left over, you could consider upgrading your transceiver to an IC-7300, but I might stick with the IC-718 for awhile to see how your interests evolve with the improved antenna.

    Note that at this stage of the solar cycle, a hex beam will only be of frequent use on 20m and 17m, with occasional openings on 15m and above. So plan to keep your wire antenna up for use on 40m.
  10. K1TGX

    K1TGX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My $.02
    I would take as much of that budget & find a used tower of 60' or so (assuming you can actually do this on your property). Used Rohn 45 sections can be found for really good prices. 55 would be an even better choice if you can find someone who really wants to get rid of it. A sturdy tower can support a good sized multiband ant - I am hoping to find a Log Periodic. The advantage the LP has is its frequency coverage. Having 20M thru 10 all in one antenna to me would be a big plus - you can even find them to go down to 30M. There is a T6 log advertised right now on in the classifieds.
    Having the tower up 60 or more feet will allow you to use it as a support for low freq wire antennae - always a plus.

    My philosophy is put whatever you can into your antenna system.

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