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


  1. Why did you remove my comments?????? I’ll have to use the cluster so that everybody knows who you really are !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You ARE NOT the kind of ham you pretend to be !

    Comment by f0lid | February 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. I will be happy to publish your comment , even if you disagree with me, when you have the guts to give your real callsign. I am NOT publishing blackmail and/or posts from people who hide behind fake callsign and false email address… As simple as that…

    Comment by f6exv | February 28, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hello Paul

    I fully agree with you. Well written peace. You forgtot to mention one thing. Thta is that people anounce DX witht hte wrong frequency. 1402600.00 instead of 14026.00. Don’t knwo what program they use. But people should be more carefull before they send a sopt.
    As what F0LID is about. To me he is pirat, and pirats should have theire equiment have conficated, and destroyed!
    Easy as that, other wise give your real call! As is EU0EU, EU0DX and so on
    73 de Dick PA3FQA

    Comment by Dick, PA3FQA | February 28, 2009 | Reply

  4. forgive me for the typing errors

    Comment by Dick, PA3FQA | February 28, 2009 | Reply

  5. Paul,

    Your text should be mandatory reading for everyone using the cluster system.

    For cluster programmers: please introduce a password system for logging in to reduce the use of fake calls.

    73 Erkki OH2BF

    Comment by Erkki Heikkinen | February 28, 2009 | Reply

  6. Paul,

    A very well written article, I am forwarding the link to our national society’s email list so that many will be able to read and understand this. Hope to see you on the air again soon.

    73 de VU2PTT Prasad (also W2PTT).

    Comment by Prasad VU2PTT | March 2, 2009 | Reply

  7. Hello
    Well, there are some resonable things in this artical but not too much. Today is XXI century. Old fashion era of DX-cluster on VHF is over.
    EVERY SPOT IN CLUSTER IS VALUABLE! Do not want to see a spots Ukraine on 15 m? Use filter system!
    LET ME DECIDE what is DX-station (rare one) for me! There are so many awards! may be a DL-station with sonder DOK more important for me than K5D.
    Any cluster spot let’s see a propogation status. Even somebody (may be your local station) sent “no copy or NIL” comments. You know that propogation is bad or poor and will not switch on TX.
    Somebody spots that he works DX with emotions (“yessss, first call, etc”) share a joy with others! what a problem? envy? better congrats him!
    Asking a DX station from remote island for sked? No reason? No way! A pilot station should accumulate this requests and sent it to DX-pedition.

    Comment by Tim | March 5, 2009 | Reply

  8. Cluster: easy DX for a rich man, without emotion and without life. Quench the cluster please.

    Comment by Sil i4zsq | March 14, 2009 | Reply

  9. Excellent!!! Can I put in my Home page?
    Siso, HK3W

    Comment by Siso HK3W | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  10. Paul

    I found your article very interesting. People can learn a bit daily. I Think this article teach everyone how we can use the clusters in order to improve our station performance and give some help to other DX hunters.


    Fer, HK3MRU

    Comment by Luis Fernando Maguin | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  11. Paul

    After read it on QST made a basic translation to Spanish to share with other Mexican Hams what have not the magazine and their english is not FB, let me know if there a problem to make a little more public, will send you the write up for your inspection

    Great Job

    Comment by Hector XE2K | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  12. Now that this has been published in QST, I assume that they own the copyright and that permission to use this text has to come from them and not from you. Please confirm the situation and if it belongs to you, say whether you need to grant permission or if this is under the GPL licence?

    It’s a great piece, but it seems like you may have thrown it away by having it published by a third party.

    Comment by Paul VP9KF | May 20, 2009 | Reply

  13. Hello Paul,
    just jumped on your site and found your post. It is very interesting, can i translate and put it on my site?
    Of course i have to pay for using your literature, a couple of beer at Friedrichshafen like two years a go is enough? 🙂
    Good luck in the pile-up!

    Paolo I4EWH

    Comment by Paolo | May 21, 2009 | Reply

  14. […] By i4ewh Queste considerazioni appartengono a Paul Granger, F6EXV, che le ha espresse nel suo blog . Con il consenso dell’ autore (e dietro promessa di pagamento sotto forma di birra tedesca) […]

    Pingback by Due righe sull’ uso del cluster « I4EWH's Blog | August 16, 2009 | Reply

  15. Right said !!!

    Comment by Guy. Va2wt | November 22, 2012 | Reply

  16. I like the dx cluster because tells you where a dx station and even you can’t it,you know it’s there anyways. So if and when propagation should change,the dx station may still be there and you may or maybe have the propagation in your area to work them.

    Comment by Clyde Blake | November 23, 2012 | Reply

  17. Reblogged this on Siso HK3W Amateur HamRadio "100% DX" and commented:
    Please all HK Stations Read, Read, Read

    Comment by HK3W | June 27, 2016 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: