*EDITORIAL* Dealing with DXpedition Jammers

What is a Jammer?

For the purpose of this DA-RC editorial, a ‘Jammer’ is defined as “a person who deliberately blocks or interferes with radio comms…”

For any dx adventure team on Amateur or 27 MHz frequencies, ‘Jammers’ on the Calling or QSY frequency can be a somber point, plus of course for the committed DX Hunter who’s trying to work them.

So why do people Jam?

The chief reason for such reckless behaviour is said to be ‘resentment’ or ‘jealousy’ by the perpetrators.

Resentment about the activity going ahead and not having the skills or resources required to achieve it themselves; about feeling inadequate about not being able to offer similar opportunities to DX Hunters; and finally jealousy that certain OM can provide exciting experiences for others when they lack the expertise, knowledge and motivation to do so.

History says that the most common methods of human ‘interference’ in ham and/or 11m radio activities are playing music, audio recordings, by making nonsensical comments between QSOs, calling over the top, using CB noise toys and dropping AM carriers; either when the pile-up is calling and the DXpedition station is trying to listen, OR, the DXpedition operative is exchanging a report to finalise a contact.

Such inconsiderate behaviour either slows the rate of contacts made in a pile-up, or prevents them from taking place — particularly if the Jammer’s signal is superior to the incoming DX.

Of course, it also frustrates the guys on the DXpedition Team who’re powerless to act; to halt the hindering RX and go about their TX work without significant intrusion like they’re entitled to do.

For this reason, specific measures to take before and after your dx adventure should be part of every logistics and recon effort as these will minimize the ‘Jammer’s’ impact.

It’s worth a discussion, then, on what to do if you ever encounter such actions on one of your dx adventures; who and what to look out for.

Unfortunately, this was the case on a dxpedition to Nauru Atoll (271 Division) (C21) in the southwestern Pacific a few years back when a ‘Jammer’ played havoc with my ops, across a number of bands, for a good while.

An unprofessional Aussie ham bunged up my TX frequency for about 30 minutes during pileups — playing music and repeating ‘stupid’ comments on air to prevent me from working other VKs he was competing with for various Awards.

It was ham jealousy at its best!

In hindsight though, this was made worse — probably because I made the rookie error of acknowledging the ‘Jammer’ on air and then gave him a mouthful which only seemed to inspire him for more shenanigans!!!!!

I also changed my TX frequency many times to dodge his verbals which no doubt served to make it somewhat of a ‘challenge’ for the guy to find me — another action I regret.

We live and learn!

It’s true that DXpeditioners can take solace in the fact that ‘jamming’ will be ineffective if the DX Hunters can hear the TX over the Jammer’s signal and vice versa; but it’s certainly NOT a pleasant operating environment if or all when it occurs.

As I said before, if I could travel back by time machine to 2016, I would’ve snubbed the ‘Jammer’ during my activity on Nauru by not expressing my annoyance at him and so feeding his gigantic ego.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t have called him out on air as a ‘wanker’ and referred him to the ‘DX Code of Conduct’ website to polish up on his on-air behaviour.

I would’ve let it ride…

Planning for the Jam

Moving forwards, ever since the trip to southeastern Micronesia, I’ve operated in 6 ‘Most Wanted’ DXCC, and during each amazing dx adventure there’s been a blatant attempt to clog my ops at one time or another — usually with annoying AM carriers but sometimes with tunes and broadcasts over the top of my TX.

Now, I know better!

Instead of shouting back and rewarding the ‘Jammer’ with an emotional rant that would’ve no doubt riled him up for more tomfoolery — or changing the operating frequency to avoid him — I instead battled on to log stations in spite of him.

The result was that the ‘Jammer’ soon departed the scene.

It’s my experience nowadays that, if ignored, the ‘Jammer’ will himself become frustrated and soon QSY to another band or frequency and this is great advice I give to other DA-RC members when confronted with the same problem.

In other words, if somebody is making your life hell on the air, ignore them and they’ll soon lose interest and QSY.

What if Ignoring Doesn’t Work?

Beyond simply overriding the ‘Jammers’ with a thumping signal or ignoring them in the hope they’ll give up and head elsewhere, certain operating procedures can be implemented also by the dx adventure team to minimize the causes of jamming…

While there will always be hobbyists who go out of their way to disrupt an activity due to their own insecurities, there are things you can do behind the mic to keep the majority of DX Hunters ‘onside’.

In my experience, good operating methodology is always the most effective way!

Maximizing positive expectations, optimizing QSO mechanics, and minimizing disruption to unrelated activities elsewhere on the band, go a long way to reducing ‘jamming’.

Friendly QSO style ops when time permits, which acknowledge the experienced and inexperienced operator, provide a more personable activity, and one under which participants will be less likely to blow-up about something trivial, are the recipe for success.

As mentioned before, under no circumstances, in my opinion should the DXpeditioner confront a ‘Jammer’; nor should he change his operating frequency significantly to escape him; despite the urge to do so

Instead, it will generally be possible to continue ops to some areas of the world until the ‘Jammer’ tires of his lack of success and leaves you to go about your work in peace.

My tip is — just be patient and plough on!

I hope you enjoyed the read.

73 de Darren, 43DA001