Hard to the right!

    One of the Local QRPers was by the other day, and he made his way up the hill.  He was a little out of breath, so he sat down and looked at us with a puzzled look.  We were going to ask what was going on, but we decided to wait him out.  Finally he said, “You know, as a DXer, you don’t find me rag-chewing very often, but since the bands are flat most days at the bottom of the cycle, I got on 20 this morning and worked a few of the louder stations.  Nothing new, but I was just in the mood for talking.”

     We nodded and replied, “Nothing wrong with that.  Every QSO doesn’t have to be a machine gun speed 59 and a new one.”  “I know”, he replied, “but this fellow I was talking to, he has me confused.  He wanted me to run more power.”

     “So you were hard to copy?  That’s a reasonable thing for him to ask.  And with your new amp, you sure make the electricity company happy when they calculate your power bill!” we said with a grin.  “That’s the confusing part”, he replied, “I was running about 300 watts and he gave me a 20 dB over report.  And when we got around to discussing our stations, I told him about my amp, and that I was running 300 watts to a yagi.  You know,  the usual stuff.  Anyhow, he asked me if my amp was broken!”

     Son of a Gun!  We were starting to get a glimpse of what was going on, but we needed to hear more.  “This fellow you were working, was he also strong?”  “Sure was”, came the reply, “He was the loudest signal on the band.  He said he had a big amplifier and stacked yagis at 110 feet.  That’s why I didn’t bother to use very much power.  Besides, we are only supposed to use the lowest amount of power to make the QSO.  That’s right in the rules.  But that’s not the point.  If I was 20 dB over, why did he want me to run full smoke?”

     We thought we knew the answer, but so as not to give this QRPer poor advice, we hauled him further up the hill to see the Old Timer.  We found him out back of the house, down in the field, soldering more wire on to the end of his Beverage.  The QRPer repeated the story, ending with, “And if he was hearing me 20 dB over, why did he ask if my amp was broken?  He must have known it wasn’t.”  The Old Timer put down the soldering gear and turned to the QRPer.  “Son”, he said, “you found another DXer who decided to rag-chew today, that’s all.”

     “Yes, yes, I figured that out because he was talking about his DXCC totals and he was telling me all about how he was planning to work the upcoming Ducie operation on all the bands, even 160.  How did you know he was a DXer?”

     The Old Timer looked at the QRPer for a moment and then said, “DXers don’t run 300 watts when they can run full smoke.  DXers don’t use their towers at 30 feet when they can crank them up to 100 feet.  A DXer never gets on the air unless he has the antenna as high as it will go, and all knobs on everything turned hard to the right.  If you want to be a true DXer, you have to learn this.  Everything is always full bore!  Mic gain hard over, never look at the ALC reading on the rig, and never hook the ALC line up between the rig and the amp.  Most importantly, never, ever use the amp unless it is tuned to get out every last watt.  Every DXer knows this!”  And he turned around and started soldering his Beverage again.  It was clear this was all we were going to hear on the subject.

     As we walked down the hill, the QRPer asked us, “Why did he say that?  It doesn’t make sense.  The regulations are quite clear.  You are only supposed to run the minimum amount of power necessary to make the QSO, and if you overdrive your mic, it will likely sound raspy and abrasive, and you likely will be wide and splatter over someone else.  Why did he tell me to do that?”

     Son of a Gun!  What could we say?  It was clear this QRPer didn’t get it.  He was not quite ready to become a true blue DXer.  So all we could do was repeat the same old refrain, and hope that someday he would attain enlightenment.  “It’s one of the Mysteries of the Ages and the Eternal Enigmas of DXing, son.  Only the Deserving will work the DX.”  “But what about running excessive power and the regulations?” he repeated.  We just looked at him and shrugged.  Sooner or later he’d figure it out.  Meanwhile we had to put that new tube in our own amp, because we sure didn’t want to be in the third tier when the VP6DX operation opened up.  DX IS!

This story is in the public domain and may be reproduced in any format. - VE1DX

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Last updated 15 December 2020