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Managing CW DX pileups

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by VK2WP, Aug 25, 2015.

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  1. VK2WP

    VK2WP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This afternoon on 20M low end of band put out a general cq and nearly had the phones lifted of my head.

    Half of Russia and EU came back, with the babble of calls only managed to decipher a few and even then tromped on a couple.

    For once the band was open nicely long path.

    Did not have the time to set up split operation and made a mental note to have VFO's ready next time I venture to the more robust low end of band.

    Any other tips cw ops can pass on....alphabetical listing ?? Does that mean I will have to have a list of say EU and Russian callsign prefixs ready so I know what to call in ?

    Again guidance would be appreciated.

    Could have put this up on the DX Zone I guess though being related to cw hope you don't mind my query being here.

    Thanks, Nick VK2AOH
  2. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Tks for the post / query NICK. The next time it happens & you get a 'pile-up' started,... don't be afraid to request a reply from specific geographical locations that you are hearing well & desire to QSO with.

    EU, (Europe)
    NA (North America)
    AF, (Africa)
    RU, (Russia)
    AS, (Asia)
    SA, South America)
    OC, (Oceania)

    example; de VK2AOH pse SA SA
    or; de VK2AOH NA NA

    When you're the DX,... you're the one in control !!! :)

    Steve / W5BIB ex-TA2ZZ (1969)
  3. VK2WP

    VK2WP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Really good advice and thanks Steve. Next time will have the prefix's written down and ready as well as the VFO for split if needed.

    Sure was fun despite the scramble and at least logged a good number of the callers.

    Just need a bit more pre organisation.

    73's, Nick VK2AOH
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
  4. K6TOP

    K6TOP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Nick

    This a good question and, I think, a good place to ask it.

    A big CW pileup with 10, 20 , 30 (or more!) stations calling at once is exciting, but can get chaotic,

    As you said, preparation is important -- especially being ready to go split. I will start out simplex, but when the pileup gets going, switch to split. Here are some pileup management techniques I have learned while operating from VP2V for many years (10,000 QSOs). These techniques help control your pileup and pick out calls.

    1. Go split to keep your transmissions clear. Chaos results if the pileup can't hear you sigs though the QRM. Callers start calling blindly, out of turn and covering you up and keep calling when you are responding and trying to copy an exchange.

    2. Go split (did I mention that already?) to spread you callers out a bit. I used to call 'UP 1", but more and more I find that most stations call *exactly* 1 KHz up, zero-beating each other. While these guys are 599+ but impossible to copy, I'm working the 559 guy who is calling at 1.2 up (and the guy at 0.9 up and the guy at 1.3 up...) I'm starting to use "UP 2" more often and am finding that spreads the callers out a lot more. Do tune around through your pileup and work different offsets. If you stay on one RX frequency, pretty soon you'll have a lot of zero-beat callers again.

    3. Establish a routine, a rhythm, so that the callers know what to expect. Answer the same way every time. When I'm in a good rhythm, the pileup goes silent after they make *one* call -- since they know I'm going to be sending to someone and further calling is useless on their part 'cause I'm not listening. When finished with a caller, always sign the same way. Don't use "QSL CUAGN 73 K" one time and "RR TU K" the next. You want the callers to know the 'cue' to start calling again. Establishing a rhythm is key to maintaining control of the pileup.

    4. As Steve (BIB) said above, use geographic calling when appropriate. If the the band is open to a particular area (say EU) for a short time , but longer for others (say NA) it is especially helpful. From VP2V I often call for JA and OC when the those short openings appear -- and go then go back to NA and EU later.

    5. Picking out one call among a myriad of callers in a pileup is a learned skill and one that can be practiced. Find the program called 'pileup runner'. It does an amazing job of creating a simulated pileup from which you tune around and pick out calls.

    6. Don't forget to give your call frequently in the excitement (or in an attempt to control the pileup) It's bad manners and leads to frustration and more bad manners in the pileup.

    7. A big, big issue is calling out of turn for 'partials'. Sometimes the pileup gets so large, so vast, so noisy, that its possible to copy only 2-3 letters of a call. For example, I'll respond with a partial, say, "EA2??"... And then get a bunch of stations answering, none having EA2 in their call! And covering up the EA2, of course. When this happens, just stick with the partial, repeating it as long as it takes. Don't give in to the QRMing bullies. Once they find you can be interrupted, chaos ensues.

    Managing your CW pileup is a bit of work, but makes it more enjoyable you and for the callers!

    A25SL, N4UP, VK5EEE and 1 other person like this.
  5. VK2WP

    VK2WP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Kevin, your suggestions along with Steve's comments are most helpful. For a start will get Pileup runner and do a bit of practice before hitting the bear pit again.

    Obviously running a pileup is a practiced art along with the art of telegraphy.

    Agree the straight keys thread is a good place to put such discussions as surely there will be others who would appreciate a few operating tips.

    Thanks again for your time in composing such a detailed response.

    Nick VK2AOH
    VK5EEE likes this.
  6. M0LEP

    M0LEP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess part of that preparation involves finding a place where the frequencies you'll be listening on are clear of other users...
    VK5EEE likes this.
  7. K6TOP

    K6TOP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep, an important point.
    VK5EEE likes this.
  8. VK2WP

    VK2WP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A good point, one of the hazards of running split and something I will keep in mind.

    Thanks again for comments.

    Nick VK2AOH
    VK5EEE likes this.
  9. K5TRI

    K5TRI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Very good advice there. I would add that in terms of rhythm and giving out call sign it really seems to be good practice to give out the call after every contact. Yes, it may impact rate a bit
    but it will help stations coming across the spectacle quickly determine what's going on. I often hear DX stations only send their call after 5 minutes or even longer (I know 5 minutes doesn't sound long). Also many times when operating split, DX stations don't announce it and thus chaos starts to happen for those who don't check around first before calling and blindly call.
    I personally assume spilt operation when I hear a DX station work at a high rate and I don't hear anybody else on the DX frequency.

    73 Mike
  10. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just be prepared for all the "helpful" people sending "UP UP" on YOUR frequency when some unfortunate who doesn't know how split works tries to call on it...

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