I have spent quite a few hours on HF lately now that I have an awesome antenna in the air. Mostly listening and getting familiar with the different bands and such but I have been making several attempts to break through some pileups and make some contacts. In my brief experience, I either break through in the first or second call or it takes a while to finally get through. Not a whole not of middle ground is to be found. What makes things worse is the conduct of other operators trying to get through the piles ups as well.
The technique of other operators makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to complete the contact while attempting to use manners on the air. I’ve heard operators wait several seconds after “QRZed” to even start giving out their own call sign so that the DX station will catch the end of the call sign after all other operators are done with theirs. I’ve also heard operators that only give out part of their call sign in repetition in hopes of getting recognized for the partial and then give the full call upon request. And then you have the ones who put their call out there before the DX station has completed the QSO with the previous operator and called “QRZed” again. (Some just do it repeatedly for annoyance in hopes that the DX station will recognize them just to get them off of their frequency!)
These and other unprofessional methods of operating a station can make the radio time very frustrating at times for multiple reasons. The amount of blatant QRM (Let’s call it what it is) can even prevent me from hearing the DX station in the event that they are recognizing my call sign for their next contact. Once the DX station begins to work split, this improves because you are not having to listen to the other operators as much. But then you have to deal with the people who don’t listen long enough to realize that he is working split. The fact is that many of these unprofessional techniques work and work well.
Having experience being the DX station, when you are trying to pull out a call sign (or even a letter) from the pileups, it is very easy to recognize the lagging operator that is giving his call sign with minimal competition. The only problem with taking the easy call sign at the end is that it only encourages such methods among the operators. Before you know it, the response to “QRZed” now last 30 seconds!
The bad thing is that I’ve found myself being tempted to do the same thing just to stand out and make the contact. Browsing the internet, it isn’t difficult to find the DX Code of Conduct. Most clubs, especially ones specific to HF and DX, will have the Code of Conduct on their website and will expect their members to abide by them on the honor system. I like the idea of maintaining the integrity of the hobby with the code of conduct but I’m questing the success of the practice.
I wouldn’t wait around for international enforcement of the code of conduct. If anything is going to happen, I believe that it will have to come from the ham community itself. Being the example is a good idea, but I think it’s only going to get you so far. What if the Dxpeditions and other stations working pile ups completely ignored the bad behavior and only worked the stations that were operating appropriately? Elementary, I know but sometimes you gotta go back to basics. As simple as this solution may be, there is an issue. Maneuvering around the LIDS will take time and will result in overall lower numbers of QSO’s. In todays market, the success of the expedition or local contest is measured by the number of QSO’s. That being the case, why would you intentionally decrease your counts just to prove a point? It doesn’t make any sense with the ultimate goal in mind. So what’s the solution? I am interested to hear your comments!
In the mean time, allow me to share a website or two that I came across addressing this exact issue. LOTA – Lids on the air. What is a LID? I am glad you asked. Lid…a term used in amateur radio to denote a poor operator; one who is inept at the practice of the art. Check this out to see if you qualify!
Even better, this is a very good website that simply calls them out, by call sign and example!!!
Operators record examples of the worst offenders and post them on this webpage. One guy even posted his own video!
Happy DXing! (Don’t be a LID!)