K5LAD - 50+ Years of Ham Radio Memories
Policing the Police
Search keywords: DX, DXing, Up Police
Ham Radio activities are often FUN but seldom could be called FUNNY however a recent afternoon in November showed me that some really funny things can come up on the ham bands. Ive previously mentioned, in earlier articles, about the UP Police, the folks on the ham bands who cruise the DX activities on the HF bands and verbally chastise the hams who transmit on the same frequency of a DX station who has announced they are listening up the band, often from 5 to 15 kHz from his transmitting frequency. The transmitting error may be caused by accidentally failing to properly set up a transceivers split feature or often by their failure to listen to the DX stations often reoccurring announcement that they are listening up the band. It can also be a failure of the application of good old common sense, which should tell the calling station that almost every DX station operates split and they should seldom ever transmit on the same frequency as the DX station.
Nevertheless, that should not give the Up Police the right to be rude, to a station who makes an error. Only humans [thus far] have been issued ham licenses the world over so the Up Police are sure to be human and all humans make mistakes. Are they, somehow, perfect? I believe its OK to let an offender know the DX station is working split but to call them offensive names is beyond good Amateur Operating Practices and puts a bad light on the amateur ranks in particular.
The funny activity I mentioned was near the end of November, 2012, while a DXpedition was operating from a rare and uninhabited geographical location in the Atlantic Ocean called Saint Peter and Paul Rocks. This station was signing PT0S and it was a spot that hasnt been occupied, or opened for DX operation, for several years so the pileups were fierce. When such a high percentage of DX enthusiasts all need the same DX stations, the pileups become pileons. Typically, during a DXpedition from a regular needed site, the first several days belong to the Big Guns with high dollar equipment and monstrous, flying-bird killing towers and antennas. Hams with lesser equipment and antennas usually must wait until the Big Guns have had their chance and then theyre able to make contacts with the exotic DX station. When EVERYBODY needs a station, the lines get longer and the wait gets larger. A DXpedition always is planned and organized for a limited number of days so it is possible for the operation to end before everyone has an opportunity to that much anticipated QSO.
Since Im running an Elecraft K3 transceiver with the matching P3 panadapter, Im able to not only see pileups but I can save pictures from the P3 to show how the hundreds of stations were distributed across the various frequencies where the DX station was listening. The pictures shown in the article were created with this equipment.
In the picture below, the green vertical band shows where the DX station was transmitting and is the setting for my transceivers VFO A that is controlling the primary receiver. The width of the band is determined by the width of the roofing filter along with the setting of the DSP adjustment. In the case here, the receivers VFO A was sitting on 21.295.00 kHz as displayed by the number displayed at the top middle of the panadapters screen. Since I was using upper side band (USB) for 15 meters, the green bar shows a darker green line at the left side and the audio frequencies up to nearly 3000 Hz are within the green bar; low audio frequencies on the left and higher audio frequencies to the middle and right.
The DX station had announced that he was listening 5 to 30 kHz up which is a much wider window than is typically used. Some waiting in the wings operators were critical of his announcement since it was taking up so much spectrum space on the band, but his reasoning was to spread out the tremendous number of people calling him. In the picture above, the left edge of the red bar was at about the beginning of the 5 kHz up mark and since the panadapters scan was set at 70 kHz (shown by the frequencies 21.260.0 and 21.330.0) so the whole right-hand side was a graphic display of stations calling him.
NOTE: The S1-S9 numbers on the left-hand scale are not pertinent since I had not adjusted for that scale accuracy at this time.
There are several pictures displayed here and all show, basically, the same frequency window over a period of several minutes. In each of the pictures, I had it grab the picture when numerous hams, from all over the world, were calling PT0S, all at the same time. I did not grab any pictures during the time the DX station was transmitting so you dont see an actual signal within the green bar, only the grass which represented random band noise.
The actual funny part of the activity, and what prompted this article, was when another DX station, on another DXpedition, came on the same band but just down frequency from the PT0S operation. The station was V84SMD in the country of Brunei in Southeast Asia and was also a rare spot, much desired by DXers around the world. Either the Brunei group was unaware of the group at St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks or they thought they would be far enough away from them. My guess was the former.
V84SMD began to transmit on 21.290 kHz. and to instruct their callers that they were listening 5 to 10 up. The pictures shown above were made after the following hilarious debacle. I wish I would have captured some pictures of the actual debacle but I was both laughing at what was happening and feeling ashamed to hear the bad activities of what transpired. I have taken one of these other pictures and tried to identify, graphically, what was happening by adding the following semi-artistic additions.
The St. Peter & Paul Rocks station (PT0S) was transmitting at 21.295 MHz shown with the green line pointing to the green vertical bar. He announced that he was listening 5 to 30 kHz up, shown here as the large gray rectangle. The Brunei station (V84SMD) was transmitting at 21.290 MHz, shown above as the small yellow square. He said he was listening 5 to 10 kHz up, shown here by the larger yellow rectangle. You can see, from the picture, that there was an overlapping of the frequencies of the two DX stations and their callers. Every time someone called V84SMD 5 kHz up, they were transmitting on PT0Ss transmit frequency.
The UP Police went ballistic and cut loose with some
of the most foul language and insults that have been perpetrated on the amateur bands. Hey you moron, hes not
. Hes listening up the band!
You stupid idiot, dont you know how to operate your radio; hes
not listening here! Ive left out
all of the expletive adjectives used but I think you understand.
Finally, after about 10 minutes or so, someone noted on the DX Cluster that another DXpedition was down frequency from PT0S and they were calling V84SMD on his advertised listening frequency and NOT violating the sacred ground controlled by the self-appointed Up Police.
For what its worth, I did work PT0S on St. Peter & Paul Rocks and did not work V84SMD at Brunei. I wish I could report that as the band closed out and some of the participants had a chance to reflect on their shameful actions and that a group formed and the active violators civilly and quietly discussed their actions and apologized to all the listeners for their temporary animalistic and deplorable activity. That didnt happen, however, and Im forced to think they left their hamshacks to tell all of their family what wonderful followers of the DX Code of Ethics they had been.
All in all, was it funny? Yes, I thought so.
Was it also sad to see supposedly intelligent individuals acting like this? Absolutely
Hiram Percy Maxim .. where are you when we need you so badly now? Where are the Wouff-Hong and the Rettysnitch? (Google them if youre unfamiliar with these two amateur radio-related instruments)
Written November 29, 2012 - published TARC Newsletter December, 2012