Monday, July 25, 2011

Why I couldn't be bothered with ST0R . . . for now

Those of you interested in DX will have noticed the ST0R South Sudan Dxpedition, led by N6PSE, began a couple of days ago, activating what is a brand new DXCC entity. Somewhat unsurprisingly, their activity has been greeted with a barrage of QRM, much of it, sadly, coming from EU hams, but not exclusively.

A couple of days ago I decided I would give them a try on 40m CW but within a very short time it was apparent that it was going to be one great waste of time. As usual, a lot of operators kept calling ST0R even after they asked for a specific prefix or suffix. I was listening about 4kc up and could hear lots of people calling him even when he was trying to work one specific call. After a while on CW you get used to that, even if you never can understand it. The more the "lids" keep calling him, the longer it will take everyone to work him. But that just never seems to sink in with a lot of stupid operators out there. I am not fond of derogatory language when it comes to ham radio. We operate in the spirit of friendship, like one giant global fraternity, generally all interested in similar things. But unfortunately one would have to say there are just some people who you would prefer not to have in your band of friends. "Lids" who call incessantly, causing QRM without a thought, would not make it into my circle of friends. None of these guys ever reads the DX Code of Conduct it seems. There are those of us for whom the code of conduct comes naturally, for whom no greater explanation is needed. Do unto others as you would have done to yourselves, as it were.

But worse again than the above, where someone calls on the split frequency, are those who QRM the operating frequency of the DX station. Now I know sometimes this is done inadvertently. I have been guilty of this, as I'm sure many of you have. You dial in VFO A frequency and then VFO frequency B and never hit the "split" button. Doh!! A gentle reminder from a fellow ham comes in the form of dit dit dah, dit dah dah dit, otherwise known as the word "UP". Most sensible hams will figure out fairly quickly that they are causing QRM and will oblige by hitting the "split" button, thereby sorting out the problem. Sometimes a courteous "TU" is given in return, meaning "thank you". Then the QRM disappears.

For some reason though, there are CW operators out there whose knowledge of morse does not extend beyond their own callsign. They can send their callsign, and they can recognise it when someone comes back with it, and they know what "5NN" is, but apparently they cannot recognise these two simple letters - U and P.

They call incessantly, blocking out the DX station which is nearly always much weaker, and repeated "UP" calls from other hams on the simplex frequency do no good. In fact, in some cases, this prompts the QRMer to give his or her call more frequently than before, thinking that they suddenly have competition. The whole thing gets ridiculous. Many a while I have sat there in front of the radio, sighing loudly at just how ignorant and silly people can be. No, I am not some kind of perfect operator. But I believe we were all born with common sense. Some hams just seem to lose it along the way. Maybe it's the RF ??

With all that going on, often I have my finger on the largest button on the front of my Yaesu FT-1000MP. That's the one labelled "POWER". Sometimes I just cannot listen to it. Sometimes I spin the VFO, or change band, but sometimes I just switch off, knowing that the frustration of having to listen to this nonsense will cancel out any joy I might get if I ever get to work the DX station.

But it gets worse. Because then the so-called "frequency police" start their antics. These are hams who take it upon themselves to call the QRMing station (or stations) a "LID", or telling them to "QSY". The reason the frequency police's calls never work is simple -> if the QRMer cannot recognise the letters U and P, how are they supposed to recognise THREE letters in a row?!! In any case, the policemen then cause further QRM on the DX station, in some cases so much so that the original QRMer is doing less damage than the policeman!!

While I have used the word "lid" here, and I believe that some people just aren't born with any brains, I have to point out that I would never use derogatory terms on the air, or cause intentional QRM, and I don't believe that anyone else should either. It's difficult to stop a war, and supposedly condemn violence, when you're lobbing grenades at the alleged aggressor.

The best one can hope for is that the QRM will quickly disappear. This, sadly, hasn't been the case so far with ST0R. Because it's a brand new entity, all hams around the world who are interested in working DX will want to put Southern Sudan into the log at least once. So they are getting bigger pile-ups than any Dxpedition in recent memory. And they can only do their best to try to work everyone under trying conditions.

Imagine being on their side of things? Imagine hearing a gigantic wall of noise on the split frequency? Imagine trying to pick just one out. Maybe you hear an EI2 in there. So you call EI2? Ah, the good old question mark. Once you hear that, you can call at will, right? Well, so it seems. Have a listen if you get the chance. Listen to ST0R call a part call followed by a question mark, and then listen on the split (wherever that is, because it could be anything from 1 to 20 kc up!!) . I guarantee you will hear a lot more than just the EI2 that he is trying to work. It's shocking at times how rude, ignorant and seemingly downright deaf some ops are!

So with something like two weeks to run for ST0R, I think I will leave it for maybe a week or so before I start trying to work them in earnest because I just couldn't sit and listen to that night after night for hours on end. All you have to do is look at the cluster spots and they will give you some idea of the utter carnage on the bands. For example, I will go to my DXScape window now and copy some of them here:

21024.0 EUs tunning on top ...shame
21024.0 NO EU NO EU says...
21024.0 NO EU but Eus still calling
14145.0 no words
14145.0 Ham spirit ? NO - Kindergarden ? YES

Those are just a few examples from the cluster right now as I write this. I forgot to mention the idiots who tune their radio on the DX frequency as well. It just doesn't get any worse than all that.

Right not I am listening to ZD8D on Ascension Island on 20m CW. He is working simplex and things are well behaved at this moment. No mad QRM, no tuning, no policemen. Just an orderly operation, with a number of hams getting ZD8 in their log. I wonder how long it will last before mayhem breaks out . . .


  1. You're absolutly right! But this also is true in SSB. A lot of 'hams' apparently only understand their callsign and 'five nine'. They don't seem to know or understand 'up' or 'split' as well. And there is the same problem with partial callsigns ... And many people in Europe seem to have a problem with geography (listen when ST0R is calling for NA or outside of Europe only).

    As a little pistol I hope I will be able to work them after the bank holiday in August, either in CW or SSB.

    73, Claus EI7JZ

  2. Claus, yes indeed QRM is a major problem on SSB also. Right now I am listening to ST0R on 17m SSB. Someone is tuning on the DX frequency, while someone else is shouting "GOLF RADIO, GOLF RADIO". Silly. But it happens all the time.


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