Dxing: I have tried to include a good mix of DX related information and links on this page. DXing is the niche area of the hobby that I really love. The big thrills don’t come as often now days, but it is still a lot of fun. As mentioned on “my station” page. I operate from a small city lot. My “DX-pectations” are calibrated to my situation, so my big thrills are a mater of perspective. Most of big thrills now days come on the lower bands to include 40, 80 and 160 meters. Often the unexpected happens and I able to snag a new one. One such example happened recently when I worked JD1BMH on 80 meter CW with my 45ft high inverted Vee! The initail contact was made with only 90 watts. I did fire up the amp (About 500 watts) to seal the deal and make sure he had my call correct. That’s what it is all about and keeps me coming back for more. You know DX’ing is a lot like fishing. Regardless of the type of gear you have, or your ability to access the worlds greatest fishing spots, when you catch a fish it’s still a big thrill and it only makes sense that you caught that fish because of the special skill that you perceive yourself as having. An ole fisherman would say, it’s all about knowing when you have a nibble,and knowing when to set the hook. It’s also about knowing where the fish will be, when to be there, and what technique to use to get them on the line and in the boat (log). Some might say there is “luck” involved. What!, luck you say! OK.. Maybe sometimes? hi hi
DX’ing Tools: There are many tools available that can be employed to help make one a more effective DX’er. Just like regular tools, the proper use of the right tool at the right time can improve your chances of getting a rare one in the log or a needed QSL in your mailbox. Some of these tools come in the form of “On Line” resources. These include QSL route data bases, DX bulletins, packet clusters, reverse beacons, Call Books, online propagation sites, and DX reflectors, just to mention a few. The other type of tool comes in the form of a program that must be downloaded and runs on your computer. By far the most important tool that you can employ is a good logging program. As it’s basic function it documents your ‘body of work” as it relates to ham radio. It records all your contacts and important information. If you are a DX’er, it must be able to track all your awards progress and status. A good logging program includes the flexibility to track whatever you want to. Many of the programs not only include these basic features but also include or can be interfaced with many other useful DXing tools. I have used a number of logging programs over the years. Based on the programs I have tried, in my opinion, the best one out there is the “DXLab” Suite of programs written by AA6YQ. This is a free program and the support is unbelievable. This program can interface with most all the hardware out there. The DX Lab suite offers most all the needed Dxing tools as part of the package and also has the capability to interface with other logging and digital modes programs. The program has a tremendous amount of “built in” report generating and database filtering capabilities and the flexibility to set up your own database filters as needed. It is a truly remarkable general logging program. If you are a contester, you can run N1MM and the contacts are loaded into the DXKeeper module in real time or can be loaded after the contest. Simply stated, DXLab does it all! Yes, there are other very good programs out there. I used “Logic” from Version 2 through Version 7 for many years (Nice program). I have also played with a few other of the well known programs. In the end I was converted over to DX Labs. When is comes to support, flexibility, capability, inter-operation with other programs, Awards tracking and cost (free), it can’t be beat! There is a bit of a learning curve, but well worth the effort in addition to the fact that there is plenty of help on line.
Propagation: Again, using the fishing vernacular, propagation study is very important in that it tells you where to fish for a certain type of fish, and when and where to drop your line in the water. Or more simply, for a given location on earth that you would like to work, what time do you need to be on the air and what band should you be tuned to? Additionally, where should your antenna point (Long path or short path)? A good propagation program can tell you this information and will optimize your chances of working some new ones. See the propagation software links of the left hand side of this page for some suggestions on what programs to use. I use the program call “propview” which is part of the DX labs suite of programs. “PropView” uses the the very reliable VOACAP, ICEPAC, and IONCAP propagation prediction engines to forecast the minimum and maximum useable frequencies between two locations. Results are rendered in an easy-to-understand color-graphic display. You can specify locations via direct latitude/longitude entry. Alternatively, PropView interoperates with “DXView” (DX Labs) to allow location selection via DXCC prefix entry or by clicking on locations on a world map. As an option, a program called “DX Atlas” can be substituted for “DXView”. “DX Atlas” provides improved graphics and many additional features. A propagation program is of benefit to all DX’ers. But it is a must to be a successful low profile DX’er. You will need every advantage you can get.
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