[CQ-Contest] What affected DXing?

Art Boyars artboyars at gmail.com
Mon May 11 11:46:23 EDT 2020

( I'm decoupling this from "Long term ionospheric changes (was Magnetic
North Pole Drunkard's Walk)" )

AB1J:  Regardless of any geophysical changes, the biggest change in DXing
over the years has been geopolitical.

K9YC:  Greater than RX noise? RBN? Nearly instant spotting?

NM5G:  Perhaps this refers to the availability of DXpeditions.

I think this depends on your time perspective.  Jim and Keith are probably
thinking of, say, the past 20 or 30 years, where technical improvements
have had a huge effect.  (I'll add another older one: the availability of
Japanese-manufactured transceivers in Europe.  No more "Send a filter
capacitor and VR tube to PO Box 88 Moscow.")

Ken (CK 58) might be remembering the 1950s and 1960s, where the big
technical change was SSB's displacing AM, and maybe the availability of HF
beam antennas (tri-banders; not the shack-on-a-belt kind).  In geopolitics,
however, two things going on then influenced DXing.

First, the Soviet Union removed restrictions on their hams contacting
outsiders.  (This is before my time (CK 60).  K3ZO just posted a little
essay about this, but I think that was only on the PVRC Reflector.  Perhaps
Fred will re-post here.)  I note that Israeli hams still had to use the
trick Fred describes to contact a USSR station.

Second, European colonies -- perhaps particularly in Africa and Asia, but
throughout the world -- gained independence.  The former VQ, FE, CR, etc.
stations disappeared, and the new "tube socket" prefixes started showing up
slowly.  My impression (again, CK 60, and never much of a DXer) was that
most of the operators in the colonies were colonial types; very few
locals.  When the colonies became independent, some of the colonial people
stayed, but a lot went home, taking their technical expertise with them.
And the political situation in some of the the new countries might have
hampered ham radio.

Three stories from my time as a many-year trainee at the W4BVV multi-multi
station, starting around 1967, illustrate the effect of the former
colonies' independence.

First, I'd find some new CQer, but not recognize the prefix.  Not knowing
which beam heading to use, or if it was even actually a new multiplier, I'd
holler out "What's a 2Z99 [or whatever]?"  An experienced op, usually W3ZZ,
would holler "It's the same as a VR23! [or whatever]"  Thanks, Gene.
What's a VR23?

Second, W3ZZ discoursed one time on how to work some certain African or
Asian British colony: "You have to call CQ on 14050 at 1815Z because Reggie
always listens on 14050 after he takes a shower and before he goes to bed."

And last, I was doing a stint on 20M CW one afternoon.  K3NPV/K4YF, our 80M
ace, came and sat down next to me.  "I'll show you how to work an MP4."
[Really!! As I recall, MP4 was Trucial States and Oman.]  John listened up
around 14080, and there among the RTTY stations was, indeed, MP4TCQ.  Got

More than 50 years ago, and I'm still amazed.

73, Art K3KU


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