*EDITORIAL* 11m Call Frequency Traffic – The Ham Solution

On one hand, radio operators who work the 11m DX band are fortunate in that designated frequencies exist, both above and below the citizens band allocation, where one can listen for and/or make CQ calls with the very real prospect of being heard.

Many operators, in fact, will leave their transceiver’s VFO glued to one of these precise frequencies while waiting for an opening to occur; and then take up the mic when that opportunity presents.

After all, they don’t have to scan for solitary audio transmissions or stray CQ calls up and down the band like one would need to do on most of the amateur bands.  Instead, they can sit back in the comfort of the radio shack chair, often multi-tasking on the computer with the transceiver humming away in the background.  Convenient? You bet it is!

Most of us know these meeting places as ‘call frequencies’ with 27.355 MHz LSB (Oceania), 27.385 MHz LSB (North America) and 27.555 MHz USB and 26.285 MHz USB (International) being the ones utilised most by operators who work in this portion of the spectrum.  After soliciting a contact, operators can then QSY to another frequency and begin their QSO.

While those who work the 11m DX band are able to enjoy the luxury of monitoring just a handful of frequencies though, they’re quite often disadvantaged in that these same gathering points can be so overcome with noise that establishing a radio contact or even RX a faint CQ call can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

This occasional clamour of RX signals on 11m calling frequencies might originate from…

  1. DX stations calling CQ
  2. Operators responding to a CQ, and/or
  3. Operators engaging in ragchew (and in doing so forgetting about the thousands of other users of the frequency while they’re at it).

A similar situation exists when one of the listed call frequencies (usually your favourite) is overwhelmed with QR.  Just like with heavy traffic caused by an abundance of CQ’ing and fro’ing, high-level ‘white noise’ caused by non-human sources (e.g. televisions, tele-communications towers, lawnmowers, computers, etc.) makes for a harsh listening environment indeed.  Particularly if your station is not equipped with any of the noise eliminating products on the market.

Essentially, this is what you might call the ‘catch 22’ of working the 11m DX band…  The frequencies we depend on for our ‘fruits’ are the same ones which give us our ‘worms’.

A solution to these issues, and one bandied about by DA-RC members whom enjoy working DX on this band, is simply moving to a nearby frequency that is quieter and then continuing your CQ efforts there.

Some of the DA-RC guys have been referring to this practice as the ‘ham solution’ which, when translated, means reverting back to ham operating protocols when hunting DX on 11.  In other words, QSY’ing to a frequency within the parameters of the 11m DX band, checking for traffic, then “going for it!”

Basically, the logic is that you’ll snare some of those ops moving in between frequencies in and around the call; and if you remain on the one frequency for long enough then you’ll eventually be spotted on one of the 11m clusters and hopefully create a mini pile-up of ops wanting to work you.

This is a fair argument too from a group of guys renowned for their successes on the bands, not limited to the field of dx adventure, but also in the realms of hunting serious DX.

Of course, if you’re one of the band’s ‘big guns’ and possess a ‘super station’ of sorts, then you can always battle it out on the call frequencies in the hope of being heard or even hearing the response.  If you’re like most radio operators though and sometimes get drowned out when the band is open, or the signal meter is 5/9 with QRM/QRN and you can’t hear any transmissions at all, then why not QSY to a nearby frequency and continue your CQ efforts there?  You’ll soon find that it’s a very effective means of navigating an 11m system that, while normally advantageous, is every so often tremendously testing!