*FORUM* Triple 5 Call Etiquette

In the 11m DX community, spirited discussions have cropped up recently on some of the hobby forums, including Facebook, Cluster dk message board and others, about what is and isn’t proper calling conduct on the international call frequency……27.555 MHz USB.

To QSY or to not QSY after a CQ DX call on this particular frequency, it appears, is the ultimate sticking point and the cause of much good-natured debate!

Some Dx Adventure Radio Club members have been involved in the symposium also with a clear message conveyed to others about what their preference of call frequency methodology is.  In my opinion, though, all sides have merit.

The purpose of this editorial, then, is to explore the pros and cons of such operating methodology; to hopefully provide a clearer picture as to why some Freebanders conduct themselves on 27.555 MHz the way they do.  In other words, the logic behind it and what they perceive the benefits to be.

Firstly, let’s take a look at 3 different Triple 5 calling practices present amongst our population of 11m DX Hunters…

On one side of the fence sit the non-QSY’ers; DX Hunters who prefer to make their “CQ, CQ DX” calls without giving a QSY at the end and then QTX for a reply.

On the other side of the divide sit the QSY’ers; ops who do provide a QSY within their “CQ, CQ DX” calls then progress to another ‘monitor frequency’ as soon as their transmission has finished to listen for a reply.

Then there are the DX Hunters who’ll do both — depending on band conditions and what they hear on the call frequency at the time — radio ops who’re notorious for neither operating conduct but instead base their 555 calling tactics on propagation trends.  These guys are often nicknamed affectionately as ‘chameleons’ for their adaptability and flexibility of operating conduct!

Below is a balanced summary of the alleged advantages and disadvantages of remaining on the International Call Frequency after a “CQ, CQ DX” call is made and/or nominating a QSY frequency to defer to for QSO.  It’s not intended to be directive to any DA-RC member or user of this part of the band, rather an insight into the idiosyncrasies of some ops…


Perceived Positives:

  • Saves time on the VFO, flicking between the call frequency and another up or down the band.
  • Allows the DXer to make more calls in a shorter amount of time and so make more contacts
  • Ensures that if a QSY frequency isn’t heard by RX stations then a contact can still be made and a QSY frequency agreed on after a few repeated ‘overs’

Perceived Negatives:

  • Some ops command up to 30 seconds after a CQ call is made to ‘listen’ for a reply — This can create tension if another caller keys up too soon
  • Locks up the call frequency and prevents others from calling and listening — particularly if calls are regular
  • The responding station then also locks up the call frequency with a response and again when a QSY frequency is provided and then confirmed, sometimes on multiple occasions.
  • The QRZ of returning stations’ cannot be heard in high-level call frequency QRM/QRN
  • Some listening stations don’t reply to the “CQ DX” call due to their own perception of clogging up the call frequency with a response
  • Other operators using Triple Nickel may lose patience with repeated non-QSY calls and elect to make a call soon after the CQ takes place
  • Weak or QRP stations are lost within the 555 noise


Perceived Positives:

  • Frees up the call frequency to be used immediately after a call is made by others
  • The QRZ of returning stations’ can be heard on a quiet QSY frequency in times of high-level call frequency QRM
  • More chance of copying weak or QRP signals
  • Facilitates a pile-up of contacts rather than a stop start Call/QSY affair
  • Helps develop a pattern of operation (i.e. DX Chasers become aware of your preferred QSY frequencies and use this predictable behaviour to their advantage)

Perceived Negatives:

  • A waste of time and effort — particularly when conditions are low and contacts are unlikely (i.e. More time spent toggling the VFO instead of listening)
  • CQ calls from desirable stations can be missed on the call frequency while the CQing station is absent and if the call frequency is not being monitored
  • The nominated QSY frequency can be missed or not heard correctly during the CQ call and, if this occurs, then the contact can be lost
  • Takes longer to give and then repeat a QSY frequency during a call
  • The nominated QSY frequency might be in use for the DX station or out of his or her allocation/ or station capability

As stated previously, these are just some of the apparent pros and cons of CQ behaviours on 27.555 MHz USB with critical emphasis on the ‘perceived’ part.
To provide as clearer and perhaps more even-handed debate than the one presented above, though, your comments below are very much appreciated.

73 de Darren, 43DA001