VU4 is Not in the Log!
I can't work no Vee You Four, I can't work no Vee You Four
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get Nicobar, I can't get Nicobar
When I'm drivin' in my car, and the man come on the repeater
He's tellin' me more and more about some useless propagation
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can't get no. Oh, no Vee You Four. Hey, hey, hey
That's what I say
I can't get no Vee You Four, I can't get no Vee You Four
One of the Local QRPers beat his way up the hill yet again. This fellow, in previous years, was typically out of breath when he made it, but we could see he had been on an exercise program or maybe even a diet. He flopped down in the chair, not sweating as profusely as usual, and he just sighed. “What’s new?” we asked, not really sure we wanted to know.
“Well”, the QRPer said, “It’s the VU4 operation. VU4NRO and VU4RBI.” I worked VU4 years ago, but I can’t break the pileup this time. It was easy when the flux was 200 and the A and K were low. But now we are near the bottom of the cycle, and I can only hear them for 10-15 minutes on 20 meters. And I never can bust through the EU pileup. And worse yet, the W6 fellows are telling me they are 20 over on the West Coast! How can I compete with the California Kilowatt stations? I’ll never work them.”
“If you worked them before,” we asked, “why do you need to work them again? Sure the bands are flat and we are approaching the Low Days of DXing, but if you already have them, who cares?”
The QRPer jumped to his feet as if we had drilled into a nerve, and glared at us. “That’s not the point! I’m a DXer, and I have to work everything that shows up. It’s been 17 years since a VU4 was active. If I go to the DX club, and I don’t have them in the log, what kind of DXer will they think I am?”
We thought about this for a moment and then replied slowly, “If you can’t get through, how many of the other East Coast fellows will work them? Not many, if any.” The QRPer scowled at us and said nothing. We ploughed on, “And although it is widely thought that a great DXer must work every DXpedition, this is not true. Propagation and the state of your equipment all play a part. If there is no propagation, then you won’t work them, and neither will anyone else at the DX club. If your antennas are not working properly, then you can’t work them either. But why dwell on it, because you have the QSLs from 17 years ago?”
The QRPer sat back down, wiped the sweat from his upper lip, and replied: “Yes, I understand that if there is no propagation, none of us will work them. But what if my beams are broken, or if my coax is causing a high SWR? What if my amplifier has a blown tube? What if VE1TK, or even VE1DX who is just running 100 watts works them and I don’t? What then? I’ll be the embarrassment of the DX community. Maybe they will kick me out of the DX club and not allow me to be a member anymore!”
We pondered the situation a bit more and then asked; “Do you have anything that works on HF?” It was a simple question and we were astonished at the answer. “No, nothing that works! All of my HF Yagis are broken. They have elements missing, or the coax is bad and a couple of them have rotators that won’t turn. And on the low bands even though I have wire antennas my coax is full of water. I can’t transmit . . . and I can’t hear them either.” We stood up and looked at the QRPer: “But how about 6 meters? You’ve always operated on 50-MHz and done very well. More than well. You were number three worldwide to get DXCC on 50-MHz. Does your 6 meter setup work?”
“Of course it does”, he bellowed, standing up and glaring at us at his full five feet, five and a half inches tall. “I work everything that moves on 6 meters. Nothing escapes me on 50-MHz! But I can’t work into VU4 land on 6-meters from here. No one can! That would only happen at the very peak of the solar cycle and then only for very brief openings And only if someone was there. 50-MHz is where the top dog DXers operate. Anyone can work HF. It is only us elite 6 meter operators that can work DX on 50-MHz!”
We took a deep breath and replied slowly: “So what you are telling us is that you didn’t listen to Lord Baden-Powell. You were not prepared! You didn’t have the capability to work anyone on HF, let alone a rare station like VU4NRO. So why are you complaining? A true blue DXer is always prepared! And a true blue DXer accepts that they can’t control propagation, but they know they can keep their station in proper working condition. You are not prepared, and you are not one of the Deserving! And remember; only the Deserving will work the DX! It is one of the fundamental Mysteries of the Ages and an Eternal Enigma of DXing. There is nothing the Palos Verdes Sundancers can cure. If you don’t understand this, you are not yet ready to join the ranks of the true blue DXers. You are relegated to be one of the Legion of Handwringers! Remember, DX IS! Although for some more than others.”
The Local QRPer jumped to his feet, obviously feeling insulted and yet not knowing what more he could say. He stomped off of the veranda and looked back at us and said “You never answer my questions! And I still don’t know what to tell the fellows at the DX club. I don’t have a QSO with VU4NRO and I probably never will! All you do is tell me that I am not one of the Deserving!” He clenched his fists as he beat his way down the hill. “Some help you are!” he bellowed.
We thought it over for a few minutes and even considered how the Old Timer would have responded. We finally concluded that this particular QRPer, although getting a bit long in the tooth, was not likely to ever work either VU4NRO or VU4RBI. And we sort of felt that maybe it was because he had let his station fall apart so that he had no HF capability! DX IS!
73, Paul VE1DX (aka VE1DXI, VE1DX/KH6 and, EX:VE1UK)
This story is in the public domain and may be reproduced in any format. - VE1DX
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Last updated 15 December 2020