Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can you offer some tips on chasing radioteletype (RTTY) DX?

Q Can you offer some tips on chasing radioteletype

A Glad to! Like any other form of DXing, the quest for RTTY DX
demands patience and skill. When a DXpedition is on the air with RTTY from a rare DXCC entity, your signal will be in competition with thousands of other HF digital operators who want to work the station as badly as you do. Sometimes pure luck is the winning factor, but there are a couple of tricks you can use to tweak the odds in your favor.

Let’s say that you’re tuning through the HF digital subbands one day and you stumble across a screaming mass of RTTY signals. On your computer screen you see that everyone seems to be frantically calling a DX station. Oh, boy! It’s a pileup!

You can’t actually hear the DX station that has everyone so excited, but what the heck, you’ll activate your transceiver and throw your call sign into the fray, right? Wrong!

Never transmit even a microwatt of RF until you can copy the DX station. Tossing your call sign in blindly is pointless and will only add to the pandemonium. Instead, take a deep breath and wait. When the calls subside, can you see text from the DX station on your screen? If not, the station is probably too weak for you to work (don’t even bother), or he may be working “split.” More about that in a moment.

If you can copy the DX station, watch the exchange carefully.
Is he calling for certain stations only? In other words, is he sending instructions such as “North America only”? Calling in direct violation of the DX station’s instructions is a good way to get yourself blacklisted in his log. (No QSL card for you—ever!) Does he just want signal reports, or is he in the mood for brief chats? Most DX stations simply want “599” and possibly your location—period. Don’t give them more than they are asking for. (A DX RTTY station on a rare island doesn’t care what kind of weather you are experiencing at the moment.)

When DX RTTY pileups threaten to spin out of control, many DX operators will resort to working split. In this case, “split” means split frequency. The DX station will transmit on one frequency while listening for calls on another frequency (or range of frequencies).

A good DX operator will announce the fact that he is working split with almost every exchange. That’s why it is so important to listen to a pileup before you throw yourself into the middle. If you tune into a pileup and cannot hear the DX station, tune below the pileup and see if you copy him there. If his signal is strong enough, he shouldn’t be hard to find if he is working split. His signal will seem to be by itself, answering calls that you cannot hear. This is a major clue that a split operation is taking place.

Finally, don’t neglect the other modes if you’re hunting digital DX. An increasing number of DX stations are now using PSK31, so make sure you add that to your list of operating modes.

From QST June 2001