Interesting DX topics besides gear and weather?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by VK5FPAC, Dec 7, 2017.

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  1. VK5FPAC

    VK5FPAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting DX topics for 'cold call' QSO's (non radio), how hard can this be?

    Interesting conversation is not always the highlight on HF as most of the time it's mostly the journey, mostly.

    Contests; don't go there please..


    So, having been in SWL for 35 years and then HF for 4 years. I sometimes struggle for good starter topics with foreign hams that hold an interest beyond the first signal report! I often struggle to engage an interesting discussions because I mostly find other hams struggle as much as I do. To hold an interest beyond name rank and serial number seems to be a big problem in this hobby.

    I hate to say it but it's mostly dull, dull and did I say dull, oh yes I did, dull on anything besides ham gear and space weather...

    Unlike the fantasy picture (below) that duly mocks our present reality, aren't ham QSO's supposed to be worth something more than a log entry?


    I find ham's are mostly quite 'boring' beyond the technical specs of their gear. Or am I not engaging in the 'right stuff' of ham conversation before the usual abrupt "73" ends the stilted silences beyond anything remotely new and interesting?

    Not trying too much to rile the sleeping giant here but FFS surely there must be some 'universal maxims' that generate worthwhile interest in conversation beyond the 'Q' code?


    If hams are mostly (mostly) boffins engrossed in their own tech worlds, what topics of conversation can generate interest and make for a memorable QSO for those interested and know other things other then radio gear...

    ...cheers, Bob
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  2. W4IOA

    W4IOA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just tell them how politically incorrect their current government is. That always get them talking.
    KV4PD, VK5FPAC and N7ZAL like this.
  3. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe you just need to have "the gift of gab" gene. I never have a problem talking (CW) with US or DX hams. One thing just leads to another. Weather, location, related news, etc. It just flows in conversation. I suspect if you just relate to ham radio it will quickly stifle any communication.

    So, never had a problem and can't see why there should be.

  4. KK6NOH

    KK6NOH Ham Member QRZ Page

    The trick to having a conversation with someone like that is to make them do the talking. Ask them something about their country or culture and let the good times roll.

    For example... I might ask someone what kind of music they listen to in Germany or what they just ate for dinner in Australia. Believe it or not that is legitimately interesting to me. Usually once people get talking one thing leads to another and you will have a pleasant extended conversation.
    WF4W, N7ZAL and VK5FPAC like this.
  5. VK5FPAC

    VK5FPAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...mostly from others it's their "the gift of the boring" gene that I find somewhat comatosing!
    K1OIK and N7ZAL like this.
  6. K4YWZ

    K4YWZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, ham radio is just the vehicle. The conversation itself is no different from any other human interaction. Most of us manage to have any number of discussions with any number of people, every single day. Thinking about how those happen is probably the first clue.

    I might hazard that ham radio attracts more than its fair share of introverts. That's probably partly to blame for the rather narrow topic areas that traditionally come up.

    "What do you like to do when you're not doing radio?" is probably a good start.

    And women. Who among this male-dominated hobby doesn't like to talk about women? I, for one, would love to have a nice QSO with that YL with her feet on the desk in the picture you posted! ;-)
    VK5FPAC likes this.
  7. W4IOA

    W4IOA Ham Member QRZ Page

    It helps the conversation if both stations have an updated QRZ page that includes a bit of our lives and interests outside of ham radio. Talking about ham gear and weather are ice breakers, they help get the conversation started. Case in point: I was talking with a ham in Germany when he saw my address and that I liked to salmon fish. He'd been to my area salmon fishing so we ended up having a nice 25 minute yak fest. A JA saw my page and noticed that I worked at a gun range. He was an competitive shooter so we yaked about firearms, places in Oregon to shoot, and price differential of ammo U.S. v Japan.
    Getting a good page setup is helpful to conversation!
    VK5FPAC likes this.
  8. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Recognize that the first priority of many hams is just to make a bare bones QSO for some operating achievement like DXCC. So trying to make conversation with a DX'ped or other rare entity against the demand of a pile up is rather futile.

    Not all DX hams are fluent in English, and conversing in it beyond the "standard" QSO can often be difficult and intimidating. To help bridge the gap I try to squeeze in a few words in their native tongue, but my cultural knowledge or accent often doesn't work well too, lol.

    If language is not a barrier and propagation conditions, signal strength and QRM allow it, the casual QSO can be an experience of great joy. I am often touched by the personal connections I have made with otherwise total strangers.

    As in any conversation, I have found a key is to simply BE INTERESTED IN THE OTHER PERSON. Ask questions!

    The usual QSO preamble works fine as a starter; signal report, QTH, name, followed by the equipment run down. But then expand from there.

    I first ask questions that can be derived from that data. Drill down to ask about rigs and antenna's and why they chose them. What is their history in ham radio; when and how did they start, what are their operating preferences?

    Then if I sense it is appropriate, move to more personal information. How long have they lived in that local QTH? What is its economic base and history? (I like geography) What is their profession? How long? This often leads into topics involving families.

    In between answers to these questions I offer to share the equivalent info about myself. But sometimes the other just wants to talk! That's fine with me too!

    Finally, I find the QRZ bio page to be a fascinating and rich source of conversational topics for QSO's. Hams that have taken the time to compose their Zed page beyond the default data often put up tidbits and teasers, photos, etc, that can lead to many unusual topics.

    For me its like a FaceBook profile, only better because it involves amateur radio which IMO can be a more effective interpersonal social media. (I don't do FB) Many great QSO stories have been stimulated asking about something I have seen another ham publish on QRZ.COM about themselves, or that I have been asked about myself.

    73 de John - WØPV

    PS - In your case Bob I would probably ask about that QUAGI with the circular elements, since I am thinking about a duo-band VHF/UHF directional gain antenna that could be effective for both horiz and vert polarization. But I would also want to know about the Adelaide region; what's its story beyond being a beach & marine playground?
    VK5FPAC likes this.
  9. KV4PD

    KV4PD Ham Member QRZ Page

    "And women. Who among this male-dominated hobby doesn't like to talk about women? I, for one, would love to have a nice QSO with that YL with her feet on the desk in the picture you posted! ;-)"

    An ATV QSO would be nice.
    VK5FPAC likes this.
  10. WF4W

    WF4W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    this is how you do it. You ask them leading questions and let them do the talking - then you comment on the responses and find common interests.

    I really dont know why hams dont talk about anything interesting - I can go on for hours talking about the craziness of parenting a 7 year old boy... i can talk about the Star Wars universe (I bet most hams are star trek fans though :rolleyes: ) and I can talk about online gaming, Xbox, the horrors of pool maintenance, and other various DIY tasks throughout the home. . . .but you're right, most hams just wanna talk about gear, antennas, weather (hams LOVE to talk about the weather!), and if you're on VHF they're especially into talking about road traffic... and weather!
    VK5FPAC, KK6NOH and K2XT like this.

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