GM4JJJ's 144MHz DX Tips

GM4JJJ's 144MHz DX Tips
Based on my experience of DXing on 144MHz from Scotland

A few things that might help:

  • Beam into the direction of any wind during high atmospheric pressure, that is generally the direction of the best DX - [It works for me anyway!]
  • Check the beacons for an idea of conditions. Note down the exact frequency you hear any DX beacons on and also the beam heading, this way you can listen for and identify them again more easily.
  • If you can't get through to a DX station in an SSB pileup then try a quick call in CW. Even though the station can't copy CW he will usually say that he can hear the CW station and will then ask you try phone!
  • Have a tape recorder ready at all times to capture that rare DX. Especially useful in Sporadic E openings when it is hard to write everything down fast enough.
  • Try calling CQ off the SSB calling frequency when there is an opening. Don't be just another CQ on a busy frequency.
  • Look for the weak stations, work them before the strong ones. The strong ones will be there after the weak ones have gone.
  • After a big aurora appears to die out, try pointing antenna west of north.
  • In a Sporadic E opening it sometimes pays to tune around the FM part of the band, often there are a number of stations there in rare squares that don't have SSB or CW and they are easy to work in SpE if they believe that you are a genuine DX station! - Unfortunately quite often they don't speak English or turn out to be a Spanish Taxi station!
  • Make allowances for the other station's difficulties such as QRM or limited CW ability. QRS if necessary.
  • In an aurora if you have a big pile up then send CW faster to sift out the faster operators and get them out of the way and then QRS when the pileup dies down.
  • If you want a test and no-one comes back to your CQ on SSB, try calling on LSB and immediately 3 stations will call to say you are on the wrong sideband.
A few operating habits that I hate:
  • Don't tune up your amplifier on the Calling Channel.
  • Don't whistle for your dog on the Calling Channel before calling CQ.
  • Don't try to get 100 watts out of a solid state 100 watt amplifier on SSB.
  • Don't use RF VOX switching on your amplifier on SSB.
  • Don't tell the DX station your life story in a Sporadic E opening.
  • Don't waste time telling a local his signal is wide in a Sporadic E opening.
  • Don't send partial callsigns in a pileup.
  • Don't reply to stations that send partial callsigns.
  • Don't keep calling a station when he is obviously responding with a specific QRZ to another station.
  • Don't argue about whose frequency it is - there is plenty of room on 144MHz.
  • Don't call a local EME station for a chat when he is calling CQ EME.
  • Don't transmit FM in the SSB part of the band - Learn the bandplan!
  • Don't transmit in the Beacon Subband.
  • Don't tell someone their signal is OK if it ain't.
  • Don't call the DX station that you have worked 20 times before if a new station is struggling to get his first QSO with the DX.
  • Don't QSP someone's report or you will invalidate their QSO.