Recently I did an article concerning the 60m WAS program, and now I will try to give a brief, concise discussion as it relates to DX chasing on our 60m channels. The subject is extremely complicated, and one would have to be a DXer from day one in July 2003 to appreciate the difficult nature of working DX and chasing DXCC countries on the band. Those new DXers trying out the 60m channels need to read the history of 60m and become informed on what etiquette has developed over the years, especially with respect to getting along with ragchewers and being more gentlemanly in our efforts to work DX on 60m and not become deliberate QRMers. We all know how much that has destroyed DXing these past few years.
Initially we DXers on 60m were limited to 50 watts PEP effective radiated power output to a dipole as reference, were limited to USB only and 5 distinct channels to operate on. The ARRL initially thought DXing on 60m would potentially cause too much chaos on the bands and take away from the initial plans for the bands being “experimental” in nature as supported by the NTIA and FCC in preliminary studies prior to opening the channels to amateurs on July 3rd 2003. Despite this stance, the administrative powers did relent somewhat and began allowing digital and CW modes on March 5th, 2012. The operators on 60m are secondary users, taking a back seat to primary users of which there are many. This is why initially we all had to make transmissions short and listen a few seconds between “ overs” so primary users could use the channel if needed. Again, your history reading can assist you in understanding the early years of 60m and what all we went through to allowing some occasional DXing to occur and coexist with ragchewers on all 5 channels, some of whom did not want to share 60m. Slowly a gentleman’s agreement started to exist where DXing would try to stay on channel 5 and occasionally extending to channel 4, leaving the other three channels to all other operatives and, for the most part, the “agreement” still allowed ragchewers at night to still use channel 4 and 5 when they got home from work and until going QRT for dinner or bedtime. We hams have done similar compromises, like the 6m and 160m DXing agreements that evolved out of necessity.
The understanding of DXing on 60m requires a LOT of knowledge going far beyond this short introductory article in W8GEX’s 60m Newsletter. I strongly suggest that someone desiring to chase DX on 60m needs to check the resources on our 60m website at 60metersonline.net which was started by K3ZXL and taken over several months ago by Bill, AJ8B. It is a work in progress with several links including the WAS holders, a section for those with 50+ DXCC worked, and a 60m “resources” link which is a NECESSITY to read in order to understand the world-wide variations of channels used and what countries are constantly coming and going on 60m. That link also takes you to a chat room (60m DX Logger), spots on DX Summit and DX Watch and a sublink on 60m operations. There is no set rhyme or reason to what countries allow for their own channels, what their power limits are and if a VFO can be used, etc etc. As said previously, 60m is a difficult animal to tame and understand as to how it relates to working DXCC countries. Transceive operation is very difficult if several USA stations are calling a DX station, and keep in mind that with some countries having a different channel system, one must know when and where they are transmitting and if they are listening to one of the USA channels after calling CQ. One MUST keep up on where to listen, when to listen and when to call. Contacts are not handed to you on a silver platter. And, keep in mind that when there is a split situation, there is no such thing as listening “up 5-10” or such. A split channel QSO may have the rare DX possibly being alone and in the clear, but everyone else calling is on ONE channel frequency, making it difficult for a non- seasoned DX station. Frustration can set in and QSOs can be severely diminished. For this reason it is imperative that courtesy and short calling be primary goals, listening to the DX station’s instructions and not creating a situation that we all too often see on other HF bands these past years.
It is suggested that you find what new stations might be on the air, which countries are opening up the 60m band, what their channels are, if there are ragchewers in their own European country that do not care to stay up late in order to catch the USA in darkness for a chance for a QSO, etc. I suggest you attempt emailing a DX station for a schedule, get the channels agreed to as to where each will operate and to also check the Chat Room and DX Summit to see what DX stations may just show up randomly or announcing when they will operate during their trip. Being a DXer requires listening, reading about operations in QRZ DX by N4AA and the Weekly and Daily DXer by W3UR, checking spots on one of many sites like DX Summit and eHam and monitoring the 60m chat room chatter and using a good index of “suspicion”…. the same as on other HF bands but MUCH harder to accomplish, all while trying to be a different breed of DXer that is courteous, ethical, who listens and listens and does his “homework”.. It took me many years to get my 100 confirmed DXCC on 60m, utilizing my 58 years of being a DXer. I can tell you that with the advent of CW and a higher 100 watts power output allowed that began in March of 2012, the numbers of new countries worked the past 3 years has gone up so quickly, coupled with the many countries in EU now allowing experimental 1 year licenses to one or two stations. Stay on top of what the new ones are coming on, make those schedules if you can, and continue to read and listen.
60m is not an easy band for even old timer DXers to come to and expect to treat it as all other HF bands. I would hate to see too many try 60m without doing some history searching of what the band is about, what new conventions we must use with “channelization”, and how more disciplined one must be to keep chaos and QRMers from settling in to work an ATNO. Since QSOs do not count for the ARRL awards, it is assumed that if you come to 60m to DX, then you would uphold some higher standards that have been set by many DXers who have “weathered the storm” for many years to make 60m DXing something special to experience. And, our website can direct you to follow the WAS and DXCC chase. Have fun and “see you in the orderly pileups”… hi hi Welcome to 60m DXing and hope this article has helped in some way to make DXing more rewarding in many ways on our 60m five simple channels with low power. Don’t forget, if you use an antenna with gain over a dipole, you must lower your transmit power to be equal to the effective radiated power (ERP) of 100 watts PEP from a dipole or vertical antenna setup. The angle of radiation is the key to success in working DX with such low power! Ain’t 60m fun?
San K5YY 60m WAS #8 / DXCC 102 confirmed