Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DX nets - are they of any use? (Rhetorical question)

I suppose that not everyone in the ham radio sphere thinks that DX nets are of any constructive use. Perhaps some people like the idea of working DX off their own bat without the assistance of an intermediary. Having worked a few difficult ones in a DX net I am beginning to think that these nets are very very useful.

I am talking specifically about the 40m DX net run by Roger, ON7TQ, almost on a nightly basis. Roger has a beam which gives him direction on 40m, something most of us would give our right arm for. (Well, maybe not. But we'd all like the real estate and the hard cash for such a setup!)

I have made three very nice contacts on 40m recently, two of which were new countries for me on that band, one of which was a new country overall, thanks to Roger's DX net.

The first QSO was with TZ6TR, Tom in Mali, Africa, which was a brand new country for me, never worked before. I was thrilled to get Tom into the log and I'm not sure in a pile-up situation that I would have ever made it through. But with the DX net, each station who wants to work the DX gives the last two letters of their call and when there's about ten callers, the DX net controller invites each one in turn to call the DX station.

In this way, it is possible for smaller stations like mine to work the DX without the obstruction of the heavy QRM one would expect if the DX station was just calling CQ on simplex.

Norman VK7AC at his station
This contact with Mali convinced me of the merits of Roger's DX net. So a week or so later I heard Roger on again, booming as usual, and this time he had VK7AC, Norman in Tasmania, on frequency. I was surprised to see Norman sitting at a signal 7, and with a relatively quiet band (it was sunrise in VK7 and almost sunset in EI) I decided to throw my "Kilo Charlie" into the list. As it happens I had already spoken with Norman on 40m SSB using my Butternut vertical but I wanted to try him on my new inverted V. He gave me a 5 and 7 and while we were chatting he peaked at 5 and 8. He heard me no problem. Another nice QSO.

Just last night I joined in again with Roger's net. This time though conditions were strange. Roger was only 5 and 7 at times instead of his usual 20 over but crucially I could hear the DX station, in this case CE3EEA, Edgar in Chile. So when it came down the line to "Kilo Charlie" I called Edgar and, to my delight, he came back to me with a 5 and 3 report and I gave him 5 and 5. I never worked Chile on 40m before, so it was a new country for me on that band.

So thanks Roger for running your DX net. It has helped me get a couple of new ones into the log. I shall be listening with interest on a regular basis from now on.

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