DX Cluster use By Paul F6EXV @hk3w @5k3w @dx_world @hk1j_

DX cluster use

Hi !

DXing is no longer what it used to be … thanks to new technologies. When I started Dxing, over 30 years ago, rare country hunters would organize VHF network, or would even telephone each other as soon as an extraordinary DX or a missing one would appear on the air. In Bordeaux, we would monitor 145.450 in those days. So we could sometimes hear brief annoucements like “VK9YA is presently on 21.295, split up 5 ; here is F6BKI”.

Today, all internet-connected Dxers share the results of their hunts live, but also the hunt of the whole world, thanks to the world-wide cluster network. A ZL8 appears on 17m, and the whole world knows in a matter of one minute.

Nevertheless, erroneous or useless info occasionnally appear, and I thought it would be nice to remind users of basic rules which, in my humble opinion, should rule the use of the cluster.

The cluster is not meant to make QSO It is more and more common to see two connected hams exchange reports on the cluster, sometimes after having taken a sked on 160m for example. Reports should not be passed on the cluster, but only on the air, otherwise why not telephone each other to make QSO ?? Giving reports over the cluster may invalidate the QSO for DXCC.

The cluster is not meant to spot stations you cannot hear How many times have we seen info like : DX de F6XYZ 21260.0 FK8ZZ No copy in Paris Most of the time, the info was given a few minutes before by someone else who copies the DX; Imagine all the connected stations informing the world they are not copying that DX…The clusters would be full of useless info.

The cluster is not a chat box Limit the use of “announce” and “announce/full” to what is really necessary. Before asking for a QSL manager, search the internet or the cluster itself, typing “SH/QSL DX0AA”. It is likely the info will be displayed, without you to bother the world. Avoid chating with your local friends : use the “talk” command rather than “Ann”.

If you want to inform that you have received a card for a recent Dxpedition and you have been lucky to be one of the firts to receive it, use “ann” rather than spot the DX like :

DX 14000.0 KH8SI QSL received today In that case, remember that the spot will be trated like a real one and computer bells will ring all over the world for those with logging programs indicating that entity is still needed on that band. These guys will hate you forever…

Comments should be info usefull to others, not to your ego. Give the split rather than say 599 or “yesssssssssss first call !”

The cluster is not a parrot Once you have read the info on the cluster, you are lucky to make the contact yourself. There is no need to spot it again, as the whole world already knows that DX is there, and avoid repeats. How many times do we see the same spot repeated 20 times in 5 minutes ?

Many info are wrong in terms of callsign. 6W1XX spotted as BW1XX. The cluster is not a bible, and you should LISTEN for the call on the air rather than fully trust the cluster info

A Dxpedition is not necessarily connected to the cluster network You hear that rare IOTA expedition to P29 on 15m. You need P29 on 17m. Ask them through the cluster to QSY to that band is unlikely to reach them. On a desert island, the expedition is not connected to the web, and they will not see your request. Not only the expedition did not go there just for you, but you will be seen as an selfish by the whole world-wide community.

The cluster is not meant for complaints, at least in terms of spots. Don’t criticize an dxpedition for not beeing on a band you need it on, just listen and they will be there sooner or later. You are not there yourself, and you cannot imagine what circumstances the guys are facing on their side.

The cluster is not meant for you to spot yourself Don’t spot yourself as calling on a certain frequency, even if you have a sked. If you are on a IOTA, someone ill spot you quickly after you show up on the air, your ego will have to bear with waiting for the spot. Imagine every active station spotting themselves : the cluster would be full of useless info.

Don’t spot your next door neighbour, even to say he is calling DX. You hear him Cqing DX, but this does not mean he is heard on the other side. Let some DX spot him instead.

Not everybody is connected to his local cluster It is useless to thank the guy you just worked when you spot him. Hopefully you will have thanked him over the air, and he is not necessarily connected to read your thanks. Send him a QSL better !

The common “Tnx new one” may be nice, but who cares ? Imagine everyone spotting all their new ones…

The cluster is not a copy of your log It is not worth informing the whole world you just worked a common DL on 20m, or a SP on PSK on 17m.

Even a beginner can find this kind of stations by just switching on his rig. It is a wrong excuse to say a beginner needs everything : a beginner must also learn to turn his VFO knob… If there is no DX today, there is no need to feed the cluster with useless local info.

What to spot, what not to spot Common sense should dictate your choices. The desire to help a beginner is a wrong excuse to spot “anything”.

There is no general rule or a list of what to spot. What is rare and of interest is not limited to what you need. Nevertheless..

To work a Ukrainian on 15m PSK is not a fabulous achievement of which the whole world must be informed.

To work Florida on 17m CW may be nice, but should the world know ? Any station has a least one reference for a local award (DOK for DL, zip code for Spain, department for F, county for USA, etc). This does not mean you must spot everything you hear. What are these awards worth if you just need to watch your screen to get them ?

A special prefix can be spotted, without exagerating in terms of repeats. A semi rare US state can be spotted (like Wyoming or the Dakotas) but who needs a spot from New York ?

As a conclusion, I would like to say this is only a point of view. The cluster system is a fabulous technical achievement, but do not forget that everything that goes through it travels the entire world in a matter of seconds. And it is better to find the DX before it is spotted : less competitors, easier to get though… so get to your VFOs !


Paul F6EXV


Z60A Kosovo Rep News

MARCH 2 — While DL5AXX and OH2BH will concentrate on the ARRL DX SSB Contest, Henri, OH3JR will do 20M CW and other CW bands from the regular Z60A base camp. He will pay special attention to the U.S. propagation window: 13.00 thru 18.00 UTC.

A follow up activity will be led by OG2M with OM3PC and OM5RW. They will make yet another major low-band push before the closing of the low-band season. The overall Z60A activation will finish Marc


WILDLIFE! As a protected US National Wildlife Refuge, Baker Island is a place few humans ever get a chance to see. In fact, the protected status of the wildlife is the main reason why landing permission is so rare. There are strict conditions laid down by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to make sure our DXpedition does not disturb the island’s delicate ecosystem.

Eleven species of seabirds nest on the island including boobies, frigate birds, and almost a million pairs of sooty terns. There are also skinks, geckos, sea-turtles and staggering numbers of hermit crabs. As DXpeditioners to other remote Pacific islands have found out, crabs pose a particularly difficult problem. They emerge at night, and eat their way through just about anything that has a trace of organic matter. This includes cardboard, rope, paper, clothes, bedding, leftover food and even coax. Keeping the pesky crabs out of DXpedition tents has become sort an art-form over the years, and many different techniques have been tried on other islands such as Clipperton. The most popular to date has been the "DXpedition Crab Fence", which is basically a 15” high roll of sheet metal strung out around each tent. It’s not 100% crab-proof, but its highly effective.

Even with the abundance of crabs that exist on Baker, the risk of aninvasive plant or animal species from the mainland gaining a foothold is very high, and could mean catastrophe for native seabirds. This means everything we bring with us including clothing, footwear and equipment must be pre-cleaned and specially treated prior to our departure. Even the food we bring is controlled, with fresh fruit and seeded vegetables both prohibited.

The land is not the only place where we’re bound by permit conditions.

The marine environment at Baker is also under protected status. Surrounding the island are extensive thickets of living staghorn coral which dominate on the eastern side. Table, plate and many other coral formations are also common on the rest of the reef slopes. Larger heads of lobe, disk, and brain corals – some up to nine feet in diameter – are found along the deeper slopes. A total of 104 species of coral has been reported since Fish and Wildlife began documenting the area. Because of this, diving is strictly prohibited at Baker, and waste from our ship must be disposed at a distance of 50 nautical miles.

While our movements and equipment may be regulated in order to protect the environment, luckily the hours we can be on the air are not. Therefore, we intend to be active as much as we can on all available bands.

This project presents a great opportunity to prove to the US Fish and Wildlife Service that DXpeditioning is a highly compatible activity on an ecologically sensitive island. Our protection of Baker is just as important as the number of QSOs we make, so when we’re done we intend to leave the island exactly as we found it – to ensure future operations are possible.

As with any DXpedition to the rarest and most remote islands of the world, this trip needs your help. March 2018 will mark a significant milestone for the team as our next payment on the ship is due. Though the operator team will contribute over 50% of the expected budget we still need your support to make this trip happen. If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider helping by visiting our website: http://www.baker2018.net/pages/donate.html

Thank you in advance for your support.

73 from the Baker Island 2018 Team


Operators Yuris/YL2GM and Kaspars/YL1ZF (ex-YL3AIW) [along with Girts/YL2KL] are active again from Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea (prefix 3C, Clublog’s most wanted #57 as of February 2018, IOTA AF-010) and Annobon Island (prefix 3C0, most wanted #47, IOTA AF-039). After a recent successful "reconnaissance" DXpedition with 3C0L/3C1L in October-November 2017, it was planned to go there with a larger team. Unfortunately, the usual team members from Ukraine were requested last minute to pass complicated additional formalities to obtain entrance VISA and thus could not join. As a result, the team is the same as last time plus Girts/YL2KL. They will use different callsigns — 3C3W (from Bioko) and 3C0W (from Annobon). They are currently active from Bioko Island (3C3W) until Monday, March 5th. Then will try to catch flight to Annobon on Tuesday, March 6th, and continue as 3C0W from there. Future plans are not clear yet, but their Web page states that they will be in the area until March 27th. Activity will be on 160-10 meters using CW,
SSB and RTTY. Suggested frequencies are:
CW – 1826.5/1821, 3526, 7019, 10119, 14029, 18086, 21029, 24904
and 28029 kHz SSB – 3795, 7100, 14190, 18140, 21290, 24940 and 28490 kHz RTTY – 3583, 7043, 10136, 14083, 18103, 21083, 24923 and 28083 kHz

QSX CW up 2 (160 down 2, JA 1810-1820) QSX SSB/RTTY up 5

QSL via YL2GN direct or ClubLog’s OQRS (direct or Bureau). See their Web page for more details. Look for the logs to be uploaded to LoTW six months after their operations. For more details and updates, watch their Web page at: http://www.lral.lv/3c0w_3c3w/index.html

DX Notes

1. Around 1300Z, 2 March, many stations thought they were working VU4G, but it was actually 4U1A on 20M CW.

2. Around 0100Z, 2 March, a station was signing 3C0W on 40 CW. It appears this station was likely a pirate.