Paul, VE1DX is a writer who's material I never miss a chance to read.
He is an assistant moderator on another Yahoo list. He has adopted
the writing style of a prominent but SK ham from a few decades ago.
In the stories of his adopted character he discusses many aspects of
sun spots, and such. I quote the latest installment:
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
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
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!