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LLDXT's method for working European pile-ups

Note: this paper was posted to the dxpeditions reflector at It is reprinted here will full credit to it's author in the hope it will be useful to hams on both sides of the pile-up.<Didier/KO4BB>

My name is Rob Snieder PA5ET formally PA3ERC. I have been on a number of DX-peditions from the Caribbean and I have been a team member of the latest TI9M Dx-pedition which had one of the goals to work Europeans on all HF bands.

As many DX-peditioners know is can be quite difficult to keep order and work Europeans with a reasonable rate. They keep on calling, don't listen, make QRM on your calling frequency, etc.

I have tried to write down the method we use in the Low Land DX-pedition Team (LLDXT) which did the job for us.

We hope that publishing this method might help future DX-peditions members to work Europeans in a more efficient way with the best rate possible and keeping control of the situation.

The LLDXT method

  • If you expect a pile-up to come, one of the most important things to do is to work split immediately even if you get a couple of stations worked simplex. Just use a fixed listening frequency e.g. in CW always call up 1 or 2, SSB up 5.
  • Don't use the entire band to work you pile-up. It will invite commenters telling you to keep your split range smaller.
  • If you change from simplex to split repeat your call at least after the next 5 QSO's and mention you now working split. Don't work any more stations on your transmit frequency and never work stations less than 1 up in CW or 5 up in SSB.
  • If stations report QRM on your transmit frequency, consider changing it. Tell the pile-up you are moving and they will move with you and your rate should go up again. Don't try to get that other station to move because as DX station you will loose this battle and if the local ham police starts telling that guy to move it will attract the Up Up callers and make it even worse.
  • If you are lucky, stations will give their full callsign although South Europeans have a habit of only saying their suffix. Telling them to use full callsigns will help a couple of times and then it will be back to suffixes. Don't try to change the world because you can't.
  • Work any letter combination you hear and give the report as soon as possible, don't wait until you have the full callsign. Once you are sure of at least 2 letters, give the caller a report. Yes, I know it means an extra transmission but you will see that your rate goes up working that way. Stations which normally would keep on calling now only have the time to call once because by the time they try a second time you are already exchanging a report with another station. Hams will adjust their calling method over time to your way of operating and start to learn how the DX station is working. Once you give a report, hang on to that station until you worked that station, don't give up! If you come to the conclusion that the station you were calling is not there, transmit NIL QRZ or say Nothing heard QRZ. Don't just say QRZ because that means everyone can call. In CW, when a station doesn't come back, then send his call or part of it again with RST again and again until you have his full call. If you transmit his partial call with a question mark everyone will call again. If they hear you giving a report they will stand-by. I am not sure why but it is working.
  • If the situation is getting out of control because nobody listens, send QRX QRX QRX and listen until the frequency is quiet. If QRM persists, send QRX QRX QRX again until everyone is quiet, then call the station you wanted to work.
  • If they keep on calling again over the station you want to work send QRX QRX QRX until they are quiet again and send LIST OR QRT LIST OR QRT. The word QRT is magic, you will see they will start listening now.
  • If the pileup still does not behave, do what you said you would do and go QRT, transmit DE YOURCALL YOURCALL NOW QRT NOW QRT TNX FER QRM
  • Now go to another band or different frequency on the same band, or have fun and listen on you calling frequency and listen how they attack each other for making QRM and then QSY. They will learn from this process and it will get better and better.
  • Never respond to QRM'ers or ham police, you are the boss and needs to keep the lead. If you can't you probably need to think over why it went wrong and start again on a different frequency.
  • In CW you can send fast but only if you can confortably receive at the same speed as you send.
  • Always confirm a changed call so the pile-up station knows that he is in the log.

I'm sure lots of DX'ers will disagree with this method or some of it. I'll be happy to start a discussion. I can work 4 stations a minute in a European pile-up which is not bad I think considering the extra exchange using this method. Of course, if you don't have a large pile-up, you can work simplex and take full calls all the time.

I hope that future DX-peditions can make use of this method and that it will change their bad impression of European radio amateurs.

73 de Rob PA5ET

Extensive contest experience at PI4COM, PA6WPX, PA6HQ

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