Technical » How I Work DX Without a BEAM
How I Work DX Without a BEAM PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bob Avrutik, N1RA   

Don’t misunderstand me. Beams are good, but you must have the room for them and meet all the local and state codes for erecting a tower. In addition, there is the cost of the tower and beam and a person (s) to put them up. Your neighbors must also be considered. Beams work out fine and give a good forward gain and reduce QRM from the rear and sides of your pattern. If possible, that’s the way to go. They do have some drawbacks however. If there is a rare one calling from the side or rear of the beam you probably won’t hear him. You can avoid this by using a DX Cluster. However you have to rotate the beam to the heading of each station you want to work.

There are other ways to work the rare ones. I have worked 341 countries plus 59 deleted ones, without a beam. The forward gain of a beam, can be compensated for by using more output power from your station. A good receiver and operating practices can almost make up for the rear and side-wards advantages of a beam. A high power amplifier costs less than the cost of a beam, tower and erection costs, plus maintenance.

The real key to working DX is one WORD

            ---LISTEN--   --LISTEN--   --LISTEN--- 

This is the most important criteria for working DX.

To work DX you must find it first.  A DX Cluster is a very easy way to locate the stations you are looking for or to find new ones. There are thousands of Clusters available, located all over the world. They are accessible via the Internet. Some can be programmed directly and others via a logging program. The programming can be set to only see the stations that you are interested in and that may be available on the bands, and times you can work them. See the DX Cluster list on this website. Caution—I have found that some calls listed, on the Clusters, are incorrect. Letters are transposed and the 0 and O are reversed. If you collect QSL cards make sure you copy the DX stations call correctly.

Logging programs can be a great help keeping track of your contacts, and showing dupes and countries that are needed. Most logging programs work in conjunction with a DX Cluster to give you instantly all the facts you need to work a rare one. 

Once you locate a DX entity and are prepared to work him is the time to  listen and listen again. Find out how the DX station is operating. How does he end each contact? Is he working simplex or split? If split, what is the range where he is listening? Is he staying close to a single frequency or is he moving up and down to pick up stations? Is the split up or down? Is he calling for stations in a certain area of the world?  (EU, NA, SA, ) for example. If he is calling for an area other than yours , don’t call him. You will only cause QRM and he won’t come back to you.  In fact some DX stations will put your call on a Block list and won’t contact you any time, if you don’t listen to their instructions.
Listen and try to locate the station he is in contact with. This can be a little difficult, because you may not be able to hear many of the stations he is talking to. If you can locate the station, use that frequency as a starting point. Most DXpeditions and DX stations will not work a station who calls right on the same frequency as the one they just finished a QSO with (when   they are working split). With this in mind, I recommend going a kc or two higher or lower to call. He may be tuning in that direction and pick you up. If the DX station is working simplex, on CW, I find that transmitting 40 cps below his freq gives a different tone to him and it seems to work very well.
When transmitting, send your call only once and then LISTEN. If you call him too many times without LISTENING in between, he will probably pass you by and look for a less time consuming contact.  With this in mind—when you contact him, make your transmission as short as his. Don’t waste his time giving information that he is not interested in. Usually a report and a Thank You, (TU), is sufficient. If he had your call correct Don’t resend it when signing. It just wastes his time. If you are not sure he has your call correctly, but you are pretty sure he has come back to you, LISTEN, don’t send again. If the DX operator doesn’t hear you respond, he will send your call again. They will usually call two or three times at least. Come back when you are sure it is you he is calling. Then if he still doesn’t have your call correct, send it one of two times and LISTEN. He will come back with your call correctly this time.

Last, but not least—don’t be a LID or Policeman. Don’t go on the DX stations operating frequency to tell a station to QSY or curse at him or the like. When doing so you are causing as much QRM as the LID who is operating there. Sometimes a calling station operator may forget to change to split mode on his transmitter and call on the DX stations transmitting frequency. If no one says “UP” and the station persists you may want to say (UP) or (SPLIT), ONCE only. A good operator will have been listening and move. If he doesn’t, sweat it out, but don’t add any additional QRM.