Radio
Amateur
DX is...

A Shorthand Introduction to an Epidemic Form of Madness 

The DX Stage        What's going on?  -  What will be going on?

Becoming a super-informed insider...

It is as simple as this: the better informed you are, the more efficient your DX efforts will be. Try to know precisely what's on the DX stage today, get to know what's on it tomorrow and after tomorrow. On the basis of this knowledge, organise your very personal planning, your personal calendar, for working the DX you "need": a new DXCC-entity, a new IOTA-group, a new zone: on this or that frequency band, in this or that mode.

Informing yourself with the help of the good old DX corners in monthly radio amateur magazines might be helpful and good as a first step, but their degree of actuality can by no means compete with other, more up-to-date and more flexible information channels which you can readily tap nowadays: e-mail information, the Internet, and so-called DX clusters. The more sources you make use of, the better and the more thoroughly you will be in the picture.

Email information ("reflectors"). Subscribing to DX newsletters are in no case a new invention; DXers had always felt the need for undelayed, up-to-date information. New is how the news reach you today. It is electronic mail that provides the possibility to spread DX news within seconds or minutes.

The email publication being by far the most actual is Bernie McClennie's (W3UR) Daily DX which, as the title proclaims, is issued daily (except on Saturdays/Sundays). Beside comprehensive DX- and IOTA-news, it contains QSN-reports (reports on DX-stations worked quite recently with times and frequencies and other necessary information), a DX-forecast in the form of a DX-calendar, QSL-information for DX-stations on the air, and a very useful propagation forecast.

This is nearly all a DXer would need to become a super-informed insider, but you should show some understanding that subscribing to a publication like that, which swallows the working capacity of a man, cannot be provided free of charge (it's a bit astonishing - I cannot help saying this - that the majority of radio amateurs are ready to invest a lot of money in hardware like transceivers and antennas, but turn out to be real skinflints when confronted with relatively minor expenses for written material and all sorts of PC software...).

If you feel you are not dependent on daily information, there are a lot of other very good and comprehensive DX newsletters which, if you subscribe, will be emailed to you every week, like the famous and very reliable 425 DX News edited by Italian DXers, available in English, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Russian. The 425DX-people offer a fantastic website which is a rich source of information per se on the past, present, and forthcoming DX scene.

Other very good sources of DX information similar to the 425 DX News is the German DARC DX Newsletter  (DXNL) which is in English, too, the ARRL DX News, and Carl Smith's, N4AA, The QRZ DX Weekly Newsletter, which can also be delivered by snail mail if you want. All these publications are free of charge, except the last one.

Internet. Major DXpeditions will  announce and in exhaustive detail describe their activities on a website of their own, the clickable URL of which you will very probably find in one of the DX newssheets. Make a bookmark of their webpage before they are on the air. This will keep you informed straight from the horse's mouth until the DXpeditionists have left the rare spot. Howsoever, have a regular look on NG3K's webpages which belong to the most important URLs I know for DXers and contesters. Bill Feidt, NG3K, offers a special site for announcing DXpeditions which you can use as your perpetual DX-calendar. The page is not only nice to look at, but also well-cared-for and absolutely reliable. You can also read or download some of the above-mentioned DX newssheets there (in case you have not made a subscription), and you can make use of a lot of additional DX-related information.

The bookmark for NG3K's pages should have a prominent place on your desktop! The same goes for the late AC6V's webpages which, if not one of the first addresses as a DX dictionary, are a cornucopia of DX information. If in trouble or in doubt - try AC6V as a starter, and click yourself through the information jungle!

Another very informative website is Marek's (DH9SB's) Weekly DX-Calendar (including a monthly overview) which, if you are looking for something special, provides a search by DXCC, continent, and date. With a click on the DXpedition's callsign you even retrieve the latest DX-cluster spots for them. Really fantastic! It's worth bookmarking this page on your PC screen!

DX clusters. It all began in the late eighties when Dick Newell, AK1A, developed the so-called PacketCluster software to enable radio amateurs to exchange DX information via the packet radio net on UHF. One station using this software is linked to other stations using the same software. They are so-called nodes which form a cluster, and clusters can connect other clusters, which then form an extensive network.

DXers who are connected to a cluster acquire the benefit of so-called DX spots (callsign of the DX-station, frequency, additional information) other connected stations have "spotted". Connected stations can also send spots and announcements, talk and mail messages, and they have an easy access to data in databases, e. g. QSL addresses etc. Users of the system can set personal filters to avoid information they do not need or desire, even set an (acoustic) alarm for a particular DXCC entity. The commands, mostly dx-,  announce-, show- and set-commands, if not sent out automatically, are quite easy to learn, so that this system seems to be a must for every serious DX amateur.

But, as most things in this world are nice-looking at first sight, the DX-cluster system also suffers considerable disadvantages. Above all: while searching for DX, you should never wholly rely on DX-cluster spots or announcements. When making your own regular band observations, you will come across and work rare DX stations BEFORE they are spotted and BEFORE the DX greenhorns even "join" the pile-up. "You hear and work them before the lower class people are on frequency", as a prominent DX-friend has put it (he said this with a smile...). DX clusters can represent both: blessing and pest! They should be seen from a certain critical distance. Make your own experience! You'll very quickly bang into the many disadvantages and "attending ills" which such a system brings along.

In the meantime, sufficient cluster software has been developed, like ARCluster, CC Cluster, CLX (only for the LINUX operating system), DxNet, DXSpider, DXHeat and a few others. In addition, the TELNET system, an Internet-protocol of its own, can be applied to access one of the many DX clusters. I'd very much recommend you to use TELNET if you are connected to the Internet anyway and have no UHF-station at hand or generally have no intention to work on 435 MHz. The only thing you have to do, is installing cluster software specially developed by and for hams, as there are CC User by Lee Sawkins, VE7CC, and RXCLUS by Robert Chalmas, HB9BZA. I myself prefer Lee's fascinating program, but this might be a matter of taste. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages; decide yourself by testing the different programs for a while. Both are free of charge and can be downloaded at the sites shown in the Look-it-up-in-the-WEB box below. From the list of TELNET clusters given in every cluster software you can easily select the one that suits your purposes. They are very similar anyway...

Fans of the more exotic modes like OLIVIA, DOMINO, CHIP, HELL, JT9, JT65, SIM etc  should - at least additionally - try  W6RK's special digimodes (DX) cluster  that allows you to announce your own CQs, not to forget PSKReporter, although it is quite different from the tools mentioned before and not chiefly DX-specific. And the most attractive one: the fantastic Ham Spots Net. It has become a must for digital enthusiasts to register there.

Before actively using a DX cluster for the first time, please intensively read up everything about how the system is organised and used and - very important! - which sandtraps you should avoid. First of all, as it's a DX(!) cluster you are expected to solely spot DX(!) stations. Before you spot, decide whether your message is of enough value to others. Never spot everyday DX or stations spotted only a few minutes ago. DX is what it is for you, the spotter (see DX definitions above). That means it is at least taboo to spot your own callsign (you can hardly be DX for yourself...). Decide whether a message should be a spot or an announcement. You are expected to only spot what you definitely hear on a certain frequency - with no exceptions! For instance, you cannot spot stations you would simply like to hear. Non-spot messages are sent in announcement mode although even the announcement corner should neither serve as a chat room for private conversation nor is it a Hyde Park for DX speeches.

Above all, the DX cluster is no arena for personal showmanship and image cultivation. Many radio amateurs, mainly DXers, have an incredible penchant for showboating. Remember: nobody is interested in what a fantastic operator you are (except yourself); the one and only thing that counts is the message what kind of DX is on, on which frequency it transmits, if necessary: in which mode, possibly followed by a comment on frequency offset, QSL information and the like (please no personal comments like "73, Jack", "nice QSO!", "tnx!" etc).

Got me? Please consult the many and very good handbooks on this topic.

Look it up in the WEB...                                                        Toolbox2

Information by e-mail/Reflectors

Daily DX:

425DX News:

DARC DX Newsletter (DXNL):

ARRL DX News:

The QRZ DX Weekly Newsletter

www.dailydx.com   (homepage and subscription)

www.425dxn.org    (homepage and subscription)

www.dxhf.darc.de/mailman/listinfo/dxnl   (subscription)

www.arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive-dx/ 

www.dxpub.net/qrz-dx.html

Direct Information from the Internet

NG3K's Homepage:

NG3K's Announced DXpeditions:

DH9SB's Weekly DX Calendar:

Ham Radio DX News:

DX World Net:

AC6V's Homepage: 

TELNET DXCluster addresses: 

PSKReporter:

www.ng3k.com

www.ng3k.com/misc/adxo.html

www.dx-info.de

dxnews.com  (incl free e-mail subscription)

dx-world.net

www.ac6v.com

www.ng3k.com/Misc/cluster.html

pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

DXCluster User Programs

RXCLUS: 

ARCluster/DXSpider User Program:

DXSpider User Handbook: 

www.hb9bza.net

www.bcdxc.org/ve7cc/default.htm#prog

www.dxcluster.org/main/usermanual_en.html

 

Initially published: 2005

Last revision: 6th February 2017

 

2017 by Hans-Dieter Teichmann

Impressum/Editor's Note