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  1. KF7ATL

    KF7ATL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm a relatively new ham. Lately I have heard a few DX stations, but I can't get through the pileups. I have a 100 watt radio and a simple antenna, so I realize that I can't compete with the big boys, but I'm getting frustrated! What do I need to know to have a better chance? I use both SSB and CW.


    Garth, KF7ATL
  2. K2ER

    K2ER Ham Member QRZ Page

    Did you read all the replies you got on

    Lots of good advice there. I'm sure you'll hear more, but do make sure to digest it all.
  3. KF7ATL

    KF7ATL Ham Member QRZ Page


    Sorry, I had kind of a brain fart (seems like that happens more often as I get older). When I went back to Eham I couldn't find the post--turns out I was looking in the wrong place. Boy, do I feel foolish! Now that I have found it again I'll definately read all the replies.

    73, Garth
  4. K2ER

    K2ER Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cool. ;) Brain... er, flatulence is a universal problem. No worries!

    I hope you get something out of that other thread - on the CW forum at eHam. And by all means, I hope some of the many wise (and opinionated!) folks here on the Zed also contribute.

    Peace -
  5. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm not going to read what eHam had to say, so some or all of this has probably already been said:

    - Tune the bands and listen for DX calling CQ. If you're the first one to make contact, or at least before the DX is spotted on the internet and the hordes of lids descend on the frequency, it's a lot easier to work them. Might even be able to have a brief real QSO if the DX wants to, rather than the usual "59 thank you qrz" exchange.

    - I'm not going to get into how to work pileups. I don't work pileups myself.

    - Learn about propagation. This will enhance your chances of listening at the right time on the right band for those DX stations calling CQ.

    - If it's a DXpedition, if you wait until later in the period that they're going to be operating, it can get easier as the hordes thin out.

    - Try DX contests. You can work lots of DX contest contacts with very little trouble. Especially later in the contest.

    - If possible, put up a better antenna, or even just be smarter about the antennas you can have. For example, if you're relying on dipoles, get them outside rather than in the attic, etc; get them higher in the air; orient them optimally for the direction of the most likely DX you'll encounter. Have several dipoles with different orientations and add a vertical to the mix, and pick the best one for each circumstance.
  6. W4QBQ

    W4QBQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Garth, when you post a question, BOOKMARK the page for an easy way to get back to it.

  7. AB8MA

    AB8MA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    If you don't already own this, buy a copy of Bob Locher's "The Complete DX'er". He explains some great techniques (primarily CW) for working the rare (big pile-up) ones.
  8. W6ONV

    W6ONV Ham Member QRZ Page

    AB8MA brings up a very good read! Check it out. I would also say that AC6V's book DX101x is another fantastic reference that has some good information relating to working DX pileups or pileups in general.
  9. KC7YRA

    KC7YRA Ham Member Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page


    Welcome to DXing. As others have said, get the "Complete DXer" book. Really good stuff.

    It really boils down to timing, luck, antenna, and RF. You can eliminate one or two of those IF you are really up on your other areas. For example, If you have a poor antenna, you can sometimes overcome it with power. If you have low power, it can be overcome with a better antenna (these are not hard and fast rules, just something to think about). Getting your RF to the DX isn't the problem, it is getting over the folks that are running huge power AND antennas. If you have low power and antennas, you had better be good at timing and have a little luck on your side.

    Reading the complete DXer and learning as much as I could, I was able to work 160 new DX entities in 5 months. I had to learn patience and timing. I only had 100 watts BUT I put up a 6 element beam at 50 feet and that made the difference.

    It is a little hard for us in this part of the country (Being as you are my neighbor :D). I always tell folks that I am 2K miles from the DX before anything. So no matter what way I swing the beam (except north), I have stations many thousands of miles closer to the DX than I.

    What does help is your state. If the DX catches wind that you are in Utah, they will more often than not clamor to talk with you. :D

    So, my suggestion, LISTEN. Listen as much as possible. Listen to who gets through to the DX and who doesnt. Listen to who the DX catches, is it the the loudest signal or the first one they hear? Maybe it is the last one they hear in the pileup? Get your timing right as that has been the most important thing that I have learned. Listen as much as you can and learn the swing of pileups. I have spent HOURS just listening to DX stations running pileups.

    Also maximize how your watts are spent. If you have the best station that you can achieve (most power with most antenna) and you are not catching the DX, switch modes. Try CW or PSK. Where the S/N ratio is far better for the little guy.

    And you will learn that there are pileups that you just won't break. If you are listening to a DX that is only s-3 to you and they are answering stations that are +30, You probably don't have much of a chance. So scan around and find the DX that is all lonely :D

    Good luck. If you listen and perfect your timing, you will get more in the log. Good luck

    Brad <----- Hope you can understand my rambling :D
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There's a great deal of voodoo and Kung Fu involved.

    On CW, getting on frequency is critical. KNOW how your rig works. In most cases, when the tone from the other station matches the tone from your CW sidetone, you're on his frequency. I have purposely set my tone frequency to be lower than standard - about 400 Hz - in order to make it easier to separate signals in my head. If you're much off his frequency, he will not hear you.

    Keep the call short - send it one time. If you have a long call, send the suffix occasionally by itself. Your call isn't unusually long. In fact, it's pretty short - good for CW.

    Timing is important. Listen to the pileup. Get right on the frequency of the guy he's working. See if you can detect a pattern to the way he's picking calls out.

    Much of the above is true for SSB, too. On SSB keeping the call short and using effective phonetics is key. "Alpha Tango Lima" would be good, switching over to "America Tokyo London". The 'F' in your call is a serious handicap. I know, I had two calls with 'F', and I'm glad to be rid of them even though they were 2-letter calls. It's VERY hard to get F across, and 'Foxtrot' is a horrible phonetic. "Florida" usually works much better. Don't get too flustered if they come back to "Kilo Something 7" and you have to repeat 100 times. I was a "Whiskey Something Zero" for years.
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