Saturday, January 6, 2018

Disappointing Pile Up Behaviour

The pile ups on the ongoing 6O6O (Somalia) DXpedition have been fierce. This is especially true in this region of North America since we have had fewer opportunities than many others. I expect to eventually work them though I have not yet done so. Unfortunately there is behaviour going on that particularly troubles me.

It's not the DQRM. Yes, there is DQRM as there seems to be whenever a rare station appears on the bands. It's ugly and I don't like it, but I can deal with it. It isn't the wayward who transmit on the DX's transmit frequency. We all make mistakes, and that includes me from time to time. It's embarrassing but you move on. Everyone discovers their mistake and corrects their transmit frequency, some later rather than sooner. The hurled obscenities are also regrettably routine and I don't let it bother me even though it reflects badly on all amateur radio operators.

No, this time it's something else. Every DXer knows there are those who will continue to call on top of the station the DX is attempting to copy. I don't mean those who do so unintentionally. It is easy in a pile up to not clearly hear the DX at all times or to double with them.

This egregious behaviour not only slows down the pile up it also delays the acquisition of a QSO by those creating the QRM for the DX operator. This should be so evident that any operator with an ounce of intelligence would understand that this is a bad idea. Many continue the practice despite zero evidence that the DX will reward them for their bad behaviour.

Again, this is routine in pile ups, regrettable as it is to see. Hams are people and bring all their human faults to the hobby. So we deal with it. What has me upset right now is a small subset of these persistent QRMers, the ones who ought to exemplify proper operating ethics.

I'm talking about contesters. Not just any contesters but those who regularly feature at or near the top of the results in all the major contests. They are well known. Too many call signs I recognize are repeatedly dumped on top of the station the 6O6O operator is trying to copy.

The guilty have excellent DXing technical skills, quickly finding the station the DX is responding to. That they then QRM the frequency with their high power and massive antenna farms is poor sportsmanship. That they do this persistently from on QSO to the next is outrageous. It is also embarrassing to have to say that some of these are hams I have met in person and there are one or two in my own contest club.

These are contesters I greatly respected and admired only 24 hours ago. Now I don't. I expect better from contesters, the members of my own tribe, so to speak. Superior operating ability and technical excellence in station design for some is seemingly not matched by their ethics and their treatment of others. That makes me sad and angry.

I am not going to name them. Even if I did I doubt it would help since humans are great at rationalizing and outright denial when caught in the act. It isn't even necessary since those chasing the DX can hear their call signs for themselves in the pile up. They persist despite knowing that everyone knows who they are and can hear what they are doing.

I don't have a solution. I can only hope I am overreacting and that the problem among elite contesters is less than I fear.

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