F6EXV’s Blog

Comments and thoughts about the DX scene

DX cluster use

Hi !

DXing is no longer what it used to be … thanks to new technologies. When I started Dxing, over 30 years ago, rare

country hunters would organize VHF network, or would even telephone each other as soon as an extraordinary DX

or a missing one would appear on the air. In Bordeaux, we would monitor 145.450 in those days. So we could

sometimes hear brief annoucements like “VK9YA is presently on 21.295, split up 5 ; here is F6BKI”.


Today, all internet-connected Dxers share the results of their hunts live, but also the hunt of the whole world, thanks

to the world-wide cluster network. A ZL8 appears on 17m, and the whole world knows in a matter of one minute.

Nevertheless, erroneous or useless info occasionnally appear, and I thought it would be nice to remind users of basic

rules which, in my humble opinion, should rule the use of the cluster.


The cluster is not meant to make QSO

It is more and more common to see two connected hams exchange reports on the cluster, sometimes after having

taken a sked on 160m for example. Reports should not be passed on the cluster, but only on the air, otherwise

why not telephone each other to make QSO ?? Giving reports over the cluster may invalidate the QSO for DXCC.


The cluster is not meant to spot stations you cannot hear

How many times have we seen info like :

DX de F6XYZ  21260.0 FK8ZZ  No copy in Paris

Most of the time, the info was given a few minutes before by someone else who copies the DX; Imagine all the

connected stations informing the world they are not copying that DX…The clusters would be full of useless info.


The cluster is not a chat box

Limit the use of “announce” and “announce/full” to what is really necessary. Before asking for a QSL manager,

search the internet or  the cluster itself, typing “SH/QSL DX0AA”. It is likely the info will be displayed, without

you to bother the world. Avoid chating with your local friends : use the “talk” command rather than “Ann”.

If you want to inform that you have received a card for a recent Dxpedition and you have been lucky to be one

of the firts to receive it, use “ann” rather than spot the DX like :

DX 14000.0 KH8SI  QSL received today

In that case, remember that the spot will be trated like a real one and computer bells will ring all over the world

for those with logging programs indicating that entity is still needed on that band. These guys will hate you forever…

Comments should be info usefull to others, not to your ego. Give the split rather than say 599  or “yesssssssssss

first call !”


The cluster is not a parrot

Once you have read the info on the cluster, you are lucky to make the contact yourself. There is no need to spot it

again, as the whole world already knows that DX is there, and avoid repeats. How many times do we see the same

spot repeated 20 times in 5 minutes ?

Many info are wrong in terms of callsign. 6W1XX spotted as BW1XX. The cluster is not a bible, and you should

LISTEN for the call on the air rather than fully trust the cluster info


A Dxpedition is not necessarily connected to the cluster network

You hear that rare IOTA expedition to P29 on 15m. You need P29 on 17m. Ask them through the cluster to

QSY to that band is unlikely to reach them. On a desert island, the expedition is not connected to the web, and

they will not see your request. Not only the expedition did not go there just for you, but you will be seen as an

selfish by the whole world-wide community.

The cluster is not meant for complaints, at least in terms of spots. Don’t criticize an dxpedition for not beeing on

a band you need it on, just listen and they will be there sooner or later. You are not there yourself, and you cannot

imagine what circumstances the guys are facing on their side.


The cluster is not meant for you to spot yourself

Don’t spot yourself as calling on a certain frequency, even if you have a sked. If you are on a IOTA, someone

ill spot you quickly after you show up on the air, your ego will have to bear with waiting for the spot. Imagine

every active station spotting themselves : the cluster would be full of useless info.

Don’t spot your next door neighbour, even to say he is calling DX. You hear him Cqing DX, but this does not

mean he is heard on the other side. Let some DX spot him instead.


Not everybody is connected to his local cluster

It is useless to thank the guy you just worked when you spot him. Hopefully you will have thanked him over the

air, and he is not necessarily connected to read your thanks. Send him a QSL better !

The common “Tnx new one” may be nice, but who cares ? Imagine everyone spotting all their new ones…


The cluster is not a copy of your log

It is not worth informing the whole world you just worked a common DL on 20m, or a SP on PSK on 17m.

Even a beginner can find this kind of stations by just switching on his rig. It is a wrong excuse to say a beginner

needs everything : a beginner must also learn to turn his VFO knob…

If there is no DX today, there is no need to feed the cluster with useless local info.


What to spot, what not to spot

Common sense should dictate your choices. The desire to help a beginner is a wrong excuse to spot “anything”.

There is no general rule or a list of what to spot. What is rare and of interest is not limited to what you need.


To work a Ukrainian on 15m PSK is not a fabulous achievement of which the whole world must be informed.

To work Florida on 17m CW may be nice, but should the world know ? Any station has a least one reference

for a local award (DOK for DL, zip code for Spain, department for F, county for USA, etc). This does not mean

you must spot everything you hear. What are these awards worth if you just need to watch your screen to get

them ?

A special prefix can be spotted, without exagerating in terms of repeats. A semi rare US state can be spotted

(like Wyoming or the Dakotas) but who needs a spot from New York ?


As a conclusion, I would like to say this is only a point of view. The cluster system is a fabulous technical

achievement, but do not forget that everything that goes through it travels the entire world in a matter of

seconds. And it is better to find the DX before it is spotted : less competitors, easier to get though… so

get to your VFOs !




DX Cluster which respect DX Cluster use


February 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 18 Comments



For some time I have been looking for Robert 5V7BR, wanting a sked on 30m for a new country, as for some strange reason I did not work 5V7C on that band when my friends were there.

This morning, after tuning 80m and not finding anything of great interest, I went to 20m and started reviewing the band. Robert was there, quietly talking to a Belgian station. I called in, he replied, we exchanged a few words about his manager F2VX whom I will see this afternoon, and asked for the 30m sked. Not sure about the best time, I suggested 0800z. At 0759, I went to 10.121 and started tuning the rig. Before I had finished, I heard 5V7BR calling me, coming loud and clear…. Here was my new one on 30m…. Thank you Robert !

Nice way to start the day ! Sometimes DX is as simple as that !


February 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

European discipline


The K5D expedition was once again a great moment for European discipline on the bands, especially (but not only) on 40m.

No wonder many foreign DXpeditioners are really avoiding European pile-ups… Having been on the other side of the pile ups myself, there is nothing as frustrating as spending more than half the operating time trying to shut up out-of-turn callers in order to copy a callsign which got partially through.

Some may think it is a language problem : NO WAY ! Even if you do not speak 2 words of English, when you hear “ALPHA BRAVO, come again”, and your call does not have AB in it, you will understand that the DX is not coming back to you, so you should just QRX until that QSO is completed.

When will European operators understand that discipline ensures more QSO ???

DX : the alpha bravo, 59


DX : The AB only, come again


DX : The AB ooooonly, come again

EU : DJ4.., OK2VVV, AB, HB9XYZ, …

DX : The AB AB AB only only AB, GA

EU : DJ4AB DJ4AB, DJ4AB ur 59

DX : DJ4AB ur 59 QSL ?




Try to figure out how much time was wasted ? Try to figure out how many more QSOs could have been worked in this time frame if things happened like this :

DX : the Alpha Bravo, ur 59

EU : DJ4AB DJ4AB ur 59


Whether this is in CW or phone, same situation….. Yes, there are some cheap licenses in several European countries, with no code requirements. For sure this was an alleged selection for supposedly better operators. This is partly true, as the discipline situation did happen before. But instead of moaning about cheap licenses, let the “old timers” educate the newcomers instead of fighting them. But this education does not have to be done with insults on the DX’s frequency ! Join your national society, join your local club, publish articles about operating properly and ensure all newcomers read them, and more important, understand them !

We all favour more hams, so let’s fight for more better operators.


February 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

K5D now history


The K5D team wrapped up this morning, so this operation is now history.

They did a very good job, considering the propagation. Well over 100.000 QSO is quite an achievement, even though they will find many duplicates in the log.

The DX clusters have shown some negative comments. They come from people that have never been on the other side, so they do not carry much weight… The funny thing is that a lot of cluster guys sort of “talk” to the expedition members, while we know they do not have a permanent internet connection. What is the point in asking them to come to a certain band or mode when they do no read the announces ?

The other thing that puzzled me is the fact more and more spots say “no copy here”.  If every time a spot appears, and those who do not copy post as well, the cluster system will have more “no copy” spots than real spots. I hope this trend does not develop too far.

What annoys me is also the increase of self-congratulating spots. Instead of saying usefull info for others (like the split), they say “TNX nex one” or “TNX 5th band”. Who cares ????? I wished the posters would think in terms of helping the DX community rather than showing off…. Oh well, I guess this is a trademark of our times, which does not mean it is for the better !


February 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hello fellow DXers !

Hi ! I have decided to create my blog, maybe for my own satisfaction, and hopefully to share some comments about the DX scene.

You are of course welcome to share your comments, in a true ham spirit !

73 and CU

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments