An open letter to all DX contesters

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KW4TI, Apr 10, 2018.

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  1. KW4TI

    KW4TI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dear Amateur Radio Operators and DX contesters in particular,

    DX Contesting and Radiosport have always been an important part of Amateur Radio, in both testing the limits of technical knowledge and achievement as well as providing interest in the practice of amateur radio. However, I believe that frequently contesting is currently operating to the detriment of other use of the HF bands. There are other equally valid uses of the HF bands to communicate, via nets, communications and equipment testing, and even ragchewing. The FCC and other telecommunications regulatory agencies require these frequencies to be operated in a manner to advance the radio arts as given in Part 97 and in particular:

    ยง97.1 Basis and purpose. The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

    (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
    (e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

    I often participate in the North American Traffic and Awards Net (NATA Net ), typically at 2230-0030 on 7185 kHz. Such nets are often play an important role at getting amateurs involved in DX communications, and for example the NATA Net helps amateurs work towards awards such as Worked-All-States (WAS). Many volunteers are on several times per week, some as net control, some as relays. These volunteers could not be nicer or more helpful to newcomers, offering a gentle introduction to working a net and making contacts.

    Unfortunately, the net is often subject to malicious QRM communications, often those who mock the goal of the network to introduce newcomers to DX communications, without identification of course. Furthermore, the net is often subject to radio contesters who do not even attempt to establish if there is any use of a frequency, and simply call CQ until other users of the frequency give up the frequency.

    Without these newcomers, there will be few new hams interested in joining organizations such as ARRL, and few new hams advocating for the continued allocation of the HF bands for amateur use. While particular contesters may achieve bragging rights over their peers, the entire service suffers and may eventually fall into disrepute and disuse.

    If the amateur radio service is going to degenerate into an arms race of increased power, higher towers, and larger arrays who are able to simply shout down any other traffic, and no consideration is given to the multitude of amateur radio operators operating with modest power and antennas simply sufficient to communicate, perhaps hams should no longer be entitled to the privilege of communication on the HF bands, and these should be allocated to others who will use the bandwidth more responsibly.

    It would be helpful if band plans allocated specifically for contesting, but this would require voluntary compliance on the part of contesters, and if some contesters do not even check if frequencies are in use, there is little hope they will voluntarily restrict which frequencies they use. I hope that the ethos of DX contests can somehow incorporate sportsmanship in the form of being considerate of other amateur radio operators. Only if each operator realizes that the use of radio spectrum is a privilege conferred with responsibilities can the service persist.


    Daniel Marks
  2. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    How many of us recall reading similar letters written in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, etc...? Must be that time again...
    WQ4G, NY7Q, W8ARC and 11 others like this.
  3. K1FBI

    K1FBI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sincerely, I am not going to read your novel.

    "We rarely handle written message traffic but it would be handled first on every net."

    Maybe they should rename it to just an awards net since the traffic part is bunk.
    WQ4G, K7MH, W4JHU and 2 others like this.
  4. K1FBI

    K1FBI Ham Member QRZ Page


    Ending with sincerely doesn't erase the intent of the post; especially it's smugness.
    W4JHU likes this.
  5. W3WN

    W3WN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here we go again...
    NX6ED, W4JHU, KS2G and 2 others like this.
  6. K1FBI

    K1FBI Ham Member QRZ Page

    KA0USE, NX6ED, N2SR and 1 other person like this.
  7. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Purposeful QRM is not a good thing, and I am sorry this is happening to your net. However, I don't know what you think can be done to the perpetrators. The FCC is not going to fool with this. They never would have. OH, if you're dealing with one person who can be tracked down and is a constant perpetrator, they might/could. But I doubt that is what's going on. And I'm not sure why you think some band plan for DXers or contesters would help.

    So what do you do? You scrupulously ignore the QRMers. They crave one thing, for you to notice them. Don't write letters on the Internet, and don't get into battles on the air. If someone is on "your" frequency, politely ask them to QSY. If they don't, either because they don't hear you or don't want to move, ignore them if you are there first or move the net a few kilohertz if they were there first. Nothing else will work. Nothing else ever has.
    KD8ZMN, NX6ED and W4JHU like this.
  8. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    During contests, and when a DX station calls out a particular frequency, you really have to realize that any "net" operation does not have any chance of holding a frequency. The 3B7A operation, when on 40-meter SSB, has been calling out 7180 kHz to 7190 kHz as their "split" receiving frequency. That operation has been operating for several hours and that frequency range was probably very clear when they started. As propagation changes, your "net" operation is going to be interfered with because the 7185 kHz frequency has been in use for hours but you have not been able to copy the other stations already on the frequency.

    Even during contests, the high end of each band is generally not occupied with contesters. Frankly, to avoid such interference, I strongly suggest that you move your "net" frequency to the 7250 kHz to 7280 kHz range. This avoids the AM activity that is centered around 7290 kHz and will, generally, avoid both contest and DX "split" operations.

    Otherwise, your complaints and pleas are going to fall upon deaf ears!

    Glen, K9STH
    WQ4G, NY7Q, W4RAV and 4 others like this.
  9. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    These days, it's about once per week. "We had a net and somebody clobbered us." The posts are getting longer and more detailed, I have to admit.

    People who do nets or other scheduled QSOs(*): You need to come up with a plan for switching frequencies if your planned frequency is in use. People aren't going to move for you if they have already occupied your choice of frequency, and nobody is going to dig through all the net schedules before calling CQ in a contest. And nobody is going to cite them if they clobber your net. That's just reality. Teach your members how to be frequency-flexible, and practice it regularly, even when it may not be necessary. In that very unlikely event that your services are needed during a national emergency, the extra effort you spent practicing frequency agility(**) will pay off big time.

    (*) that includes me, by the way.

    (**) frequency agility is also a necessary skill for disaster communications, and it is one that has to be practiced, just like passing messages.
    KC3BZJ, WQ4G, NY7Q and 5 others like this.
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's like intentionally driving into a known area of town with a large traffic jam and when you arrive there, you start complaining about all the traffic.

    Do these nets have access to any contest calendars?

    For example, I try to plan my driving by avoiding the idea of driving downtown during times when rush hour traffic is occurring.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
    XE2B, NY7Q, NX6ED and 8 others like this.
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