DXpedition ethics…

Posted: August 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ethics

There are a number of ethical issues involved in leading and organizing DXpeditions. As the DXpedition collects donations and intends to fill a need, certain “expectations” are made to the DXpedition group.

Some of these are quite normal and to be expected. Almost every DXpedition team intends to do a good job and to fill the need for contacts.

Some DXpedition teams build in various levels of redundancy in their plans to further bolster their pursuit of success. On rare occasions, some DXpedition teams will activate a certain entity mostly paying attention to their “home country” and then they go home barely addressing the needs of others. If such a group has accepted global donations, this kind of practice is highly unethical and should be shunned.

My first ethical quandary came in 2009 when I was fund-raising for our 2010 YI9PSE DXpedition. One of the amateur radio associations offered us a donation with the usual expectations for us to do a good job for their members.

As part of their offer, they asked that we provide them with an electronic copy of our logs and several thousand of our blank QSL cards. They would then provide QSL service to their members. This would create the ability to add or change contacts in the log. Potentially, contacts that were never made could be created and provided to their members. We would have no control or visibility into that.

This request didn’t seem proper and ethical to me and I declined their offer. It seemed so obviously wrong to me almost like it was a “test” of my own ethics.

Communications between the active DXpedition team and their “audience” is best done via HF radio, in the pileups with the intention of making a legitimate contact. We have recently seen a DXpedition where the 160 meter operators were on ON4KST low-band “chat”. The 160 meter operators were communicating in real time with the DXpeditioner and communicating their transmit and receive frequencies to each other. “Good Contact” was often declared over ON4KST chat. While it is not clear if proper contacts were made, prudent DXpeditioners will take steps to avoid the perception of improper or unethical behavior and real time “chat” with the DXpedition operator should not be encouraged.

DXpedition donors have certain expectations of the DXpedition team. There is heightened interest on 160 meters and six meters. If the DXpedition provides details of their plans, these two areas often bring additional support.

“Up front” donations before the DXpedition are very important. This helps the DXpedition organizer budget and know what they can spend before the DXpedition takes place. Many up front donors give freely and generously hoping the DXpedition has good luck and achieves success. Other up front donors have expectations of almost certainty getting into the log.

Then there is the “divine intervention” pleas that we receive. In every single DXpedition that I have organized, I have received various pleas for a contact, when the person pleading to us had no radio or antenna and no hope of making a contact on their own.

Several times, I have received email from a person pleading for our help in placing them in our logs.  They claim that a hurricane took down their antenna or that they are living in a senior center without any radio. They plead that they only need one more contact to achieve some award, usually “Honor Roll”.

We always ignore the “divine intervention” pleas that we receive. After the VP8STI/VP8SGI DXpeditions, I received an email from a prominent amateur. He said that he was unable to make a contact with us and he offered to make a donation of $1000 if I would insert some contacts into our logs for him. Of course, this request was rejected.

Adjustments to the DXpedition log are a sensitive subject with certain ethical concerns. Typically, the DXpedition considers the master copy of their log as “sacred” and only the QSL Manager is empowered to investigate and resolve log issues and errors. These “busted call” and logging error investigations are typically done after the DXpedition has concluded.

Recently, we have seen on a major DXpedition where the “back office” team was making daily log changes and corrections in almost real time while the DXpedition was still taking place. This opens up a literal “Pandora’s box” of ethical concerns.

There is some debate currently about the ethics of various teams QSL policies. Some “old school” proponents feel that all DXpeditions must provide some free means of obtaining a QSL card, such as the “bureau card” approach.

As DXpedition leaders try to address ever increasing costs to carry out DXpeditions, they are looking at non typical ways to cover DXpedition costs. Some groups wish to charge a fee for the convenience of OQRS (online QSL Request System) or a OQRS bureau card. Some funding organizations are balking at changes in this area. I feel that it is appropriately ethical to announce your need to recover your costs by asking for a $1.00 for a bureau card or other such convenience.

We have recently seen some DXpeditions use ploys or schemes to raise money for their DXpedition. When DXpeditions use schemes, gimmicks and ploys to bolster their success, I feel that extra scrutiny by the major funding organizations is needed.

Organizing major DXpeditions is fraught with risk. DXpedition organizers need to find new and better ways to obtain funding. Ethics should always be considered when trying various approaches. The DXpedition leader needs to be empowered to do what is needed within ethical boundaries to achieve success. The DX community also needs to examine the various methods used and make note of who follows proper ethical considerations and who does not.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Henk PA2S says:

    Thank you for this very good article, illustrating risks that go along with DXpeditions. I fully agree that ethics should be one of the most important aspects to consider, both for the team and the stations ‘needing’. Unfortunately, it seems that personal exposure sometimes takes over from the ham spririt as I got to know it when I became licenced in 1976. As said, I consider bad ethics a risk, as it could damage the credability of the amateur service as a whole.

    It may be worth discussing ever increasing budgets, which will raise the question where the limits are. The old saying like the sky is the limit comes to my mind. In my early amateur days, stations with kW amps and huge antenna farms were rare, especially in PA land. Nowadays, many amateurs simply buy themselves a big gun and it leads to an arms race, to be won by the ones with the largest budgets. As with the expedition budgets, the gap with the goals of the amateur service widens, ending up with money winning from common sense and most of all, scientific and technical advancement.

    Let us think beforehand and take into consideration that our service can only survive on the long run without emphasis on personal gain.

    Thanks again for the food for thought.

    Best 73 & gd dx,
    Henk, PA2S (mainly active on 60, 6 and 4 meters)

  2. Steven Rapata/ AC6DX says:

    Paul you always do a Fantastic Job, Great Morals & Ethics
    enough said de AC6DX Steven.

  3. Well said, Paul. With respect to QSLing, since LoTW, eQSL, and Clublog matches are accepted for DXCC, WAZ, and IOTA (respectively), the need for a free bureau card for the sake of award eligibility is no longer necessary and in my opinion should be discontinued. An OQRS donation of $1 or €1 for a physical card via the bureau is not a hardship in virtually any place in the world today.

    Likewise, affixing a donation request for an *expedited* confirmation is both fair and reasonable in this writer’s opinion, with higher sums guaranteeing an on-island upload if possible.

  4. Charlie says:

    Paul,
    Your statements are pretty much right on target.

    Those expeditions that violate DXCC rules, or do other unethical actions must be exposed to the ARRL DXCC desk and the amateur community as a whole. Please ensure the actions are based on verifiable facts. Unfortunately, for some expedition leaders, ethics to not come into play when the almighty $$$ enters the equation.

    In my own experience, the local area, (southern Mississippi Gulf Coast), has a few unethical DXers who make DXing a not-so pleasant past-time. Some of these ner-do-wells are Honor Roll and #1 HR’ers. No amount of intense peer pressure has been able to deter these misguided individuals to change their ways.

    Only continued peer pressure and withholding $$$ seems the most viable method to assist these individuals/groups to modify their behavior.

    Keep up the great work. I look forward to QSO’ing you on many more expeditions in the future.

    73, Best DX,
    Charlie
    WD5BJT
    (A remote free DXer)

  5. Paul -vk4ma says:

    The trouble with any discussion re ethics is that every person seems to have a different set of them.

    If using the ON4KST chat to facilitate a dxpedition qso is unethical then you are probably saying that the use of this tool to facilitate any qso is unethical. It could further be argued that using the dxcluster is equally unethical – ie the cluster has done half the work by identifying the DX callsign and his frequency – in contrast, calling the DX and getting your report is pretty straight forward (in comparison to actually locating the DX your self without the aid of the cluster). There are some prominent DXers who even argue that organising skeds (via email etc) is unethical.

    Personally I have no problem with dxpeditions using ON4KST particularly in the later stages of the dxpedition to drum up additional qsos. Simarly I see no issue with dxpeditions self spotting on the dxcluster. If the issue is dxpedition economics, then in my view it is ridiculous for a dxpedition to sit on an empty band making no qsos because of some inherent sensitivity around self spotting or making their activity known via ON4KST chat.

    Free bureau qsling is a joke. A free confirmation can be provided economically via LOTW at much lower cost (beggars cannot be choosers).

    I view paying for QSLs and donating to dxpeditions in the same way as I view my cable TV subscription. DXing requires someone to get out there and make decent content for me to chase and I am willing to provide financial support to those who provide me with the entertainment. Sure – there is plenty of low grade DX (just as there is free low grade TV) but it does not generate much excitment for me these days. The Intrepid DX Group are the Game of Thrones of ham radio and I am willing to make my subscription payment when they go somewhere interesting.

    A final comment – it is noteworthy that Paul has not mentioned the unethical dxpedition practice of working and logging stations that are clearly using overseas remotes to make their qsos. DXpeditioners argue that to not work these cheaters would slow down the qso rate. This seems to be strange logic – ie dxpeditioners will facilitate cheating for the sole purpose of making more qsos.
    The VP8 team was happy to work and log VKs on 80 metres for instance when it would have been clear to the highly experienced team that such qsos were only possible via an overseas remote. This seems to be a strange (but common) exception to DXpeditioners acting ethically

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

    • n6pse says:

      Paul, DXpeditioners make hundreds of contacts per hour, adding up to thousands of contacts each shift. It should not be an extra burden for the operator to somehow make an instant determination that a station is using an improper remote and should not be logged.

      Each country has their own rules about remotes and the DXCC rules have recently been revised regarding remotes. If your VK peers are making false or improper contacts with a DXpedition, then you and your VK peers should voice your concerns locally in the form of peer pressure.

      While you feel that it’s unethical for a DXpedition to log what may or may not have been a proper use of a remote, I will assert that it would be unethical and irresponsible for a DXpedition operator to not log a potentially valid contact just because it does not match with his knowledge of propagation or his senses.

      Paul N6PSE

    • Axel says:

      Hello Paul,

      I would not aggree with you that the DXpeditioner could be sure that the VK’s in the log on 80m were using remote. I just checked Clublog – there are NO QSOs with VK on 80m from VP8STI and 3 QSOs with VK from VP8SGI. There are 2 more VK’s in the VP8IDX log for 80m, both from VK4 – one of them was with you.
      So you would confirm for sure that the VK4’s who worked VP8IDX were working us from home and those 3 who worked VP8SGI were using remote?

      I’m pretty sure that the 2 VK, 3 ZL and 47 JA QSOs in the VP8IDX 80m were NOT using remote stations. I may be wrong of course.

      Those who decide to cheat themself will know it for sure and they have to live with that.

      73 & gl

      Axel, DL6KVA

      • Paul -vk4ma says:

        Hello Axel

        Thanks for your input here

        What you have left out here is the time that the qsos took place, the difference in geographical location between the three island groups and the fact that the 80M qsos appear to have been made on ssb (a much tougher qso than cw).

        I happen to be located on the most easterly point of Australia and thus I see darkness and sunset before the rest of VK. I can assure you that no qso was possible with SSI and SGI on 80 or 160 from VK as these island groups are much further east (and south) than the Falklands and thus sunrise occurred much earlier on SGI and SSI.

        Lets establish some facts here – it appears the three VK qsos with SGI were made with VK3 between 0600z and 0630z (on ssb).

        My sunset (the earliest in VK at this time of year) was around 0830z
        The sunset time in VK3 – earliest would have been at 0930z approx

        So this means that the VK3 qsos with SGI would need to have taken place on 80M on ssb three to three and a half hours before VK3 sunset in mid summer over the most difficult polar path imaginable (ie total daylight across the whole path)

        Lets compare this with the two qsos made from VK4 with IDX on the Falklands. I should add that both the qsos were made from my station (vk4ma and vk4ajj). I also have a 4 square on 80M which is probably the biggest 80M antenna in the eastern half of VK at present.

        The earliest IDX qso was made at 0817Z being only 13 mins before my sunset – I was listening much earlier than this but 0817z was the first opportunity to call as IDX signals were finally coming up as sunset approached here. I should also add that my qso was made on CW and would not have been remotely possible on ssb at that time.

        So it is clear that the IDX qsos were clearly within the normal realm of typical grayline qsos on 80 metres. It is equally clear that the VK3 ssb qsos made with the more easterly lying SGI and at a time 2 hours earlier into our VK daylight, over an even more difficult direct polar path would not have been possible.

        Of course it is a fair question to ask whether a DXpedition op should know all this at the split second that he made the VK3 qsos from SGI. Well I guess this depends on the following:

        If the DXop had the grayline map open (good practice) then the grayline would have been an hour east of New Zealand (hours off the most easterly point of VK) and certainly this would arouse suspicions.

        The SGI log would have shown absolutely no VK qsos on 80M from SGI up until that time and yet here is a run of VK3s on ssb at this very strange hour of day

        How strong were the VK3 signals – I am guessing quite strong as undoubtedly the qsos were made using a USA or EU remote station (also very suspicious)

        As the VKZL pilot for the dxpedition I had consistently provided the available windows for VK and indicated that no propagation was possible on 80 and 160 for both SSI and SGI (may be not conveyed to the Dxop)

        Even if we say that the DXop is too busy to recognise the signs above, I still think it is disappointing that dxpeditions will not acknowledge the impossibility of qsos once the dxpeditioners are back home and processing the log. These qsos are clearly dishonest yet the Dxpedition takes the view that once in the log a qso in sancrosanct. I can understand the prevalence of this philosophy before remote stations came along but it is now a new world and I firmly believe that it is part of the DXpedition’s charter to look into highly suspicious qsos and to delete them from the log

        N6PSE (Dxpedition Leader) himself has written the original blog article to emphasise the importance of a Dxpedition maintaining the integrity of its log. Where is the integrity in this instance?

        Of course the further problem we have however is that LOTW does not allow for deletion of qsos so even if the Dxpedition team deems a qso to be dishonest there is nothing the team can do to delete that qso from LOTW. It will remain there as a credit for the dishonest op for ever and ever.

        UA4WHX (Vlad) has highlighted for many years now that he will not use LOTW because he cannot delete or change log data. It is a ridiculous proposition that once a qso is logged and uploaded to LOTW that it cannot be changed and deleted.

        I trust this post provides further clarification as to my position

        Cheers
        Paul – vk4ma
        ps Many thanks Axel – vp8idx was a new one for me on 80M and a hard fought qso

    • Axel says:

      Hello Paul,

      of course you’re right. I may have checked for the mode and time the 3 VK QSOs were made from VP8SGI. And probably you’re right about the possible or impossible propagation.

      Anyway I don’t believe that the operator at the DX site can easily judge if certain signals are ok or not. It may be a “super” station used for the QSO, may be extraordinary condx (sure you should get more station from this area in this case), may be just cheating using a closer remote station etc. I’m sure that everybody who goes to rare locations these days identify some of such suspect calls / signals. Some of them are going to work you on 3 bands just to be the only station from that area after 10 days of operation on these bands.

      Although it may be possible to find some of those cheaters after the DXpedition after very detailled propagation checking, calculation and so I don’t believe it’s the responsibility of the DX station or their manager to identify cheaters and not issue QSLs. Those stations know that they didn’t work them following the rules so there’s no reason for them to be proud of that QSOs although they are in the log.

      It is just hamradio and usually nobody worries about your DXCC standings, challenge points etc. 🙂
      For me it’s more about the fun on the radio, the possibility to make the QSO from home and of course following the rules.

      There are others but that’s their problem.

      Congrats to the greyline QSO from VK4 to VP8IDX on 80m – those QSOs were really fun for me after the night spend. You probably remember that we worked on 80m with 100 watts only because we missed the BPF and the 80m station produced QRM on the tiny radio used for 160m.

      Wish you all the best.

      Axel, DL6KVA

      • Paul -vk4ma says:

        Hello Axel

        Thanks again for your further post here

        I think what you are saying is that the remote cheating issue is not worth worrying about because ham radio is just a hobby, nobody really cares about DXCC standings and the cheaters are getting no satisfaction from their qsos.

        If this is the case then why is Paul worried at all about the ethical issues that he raised in his original post.

        Why not give off the YI9PSE logbook to other clubs and allow them to change the log and issue qsls? What would it matter? It is just a hobby – who cares if these clubs issue bogus qsos and qsls?

        Paul also says “Communications between the active DXpedition team and their “audience” is best done via HF radio, in the pileups with the intention of making a legitimate contact.”

        Why worry whether assisted qsos are made via ON4KST or other online channels. It is just a hobby and I am sure the guys making these qsos are getting no satisfaction from confirming these contacts.

        When those “divine intervention pleas” come in, why not just suggest to the desparate DXer that he make his needed qso with your dxpedition via an international remote. This would satisfy him and would not be a big issue as it is only a hobby and who cares any way

        Who cares if the back office team are making log changes whilst the dxpedition is in progress. About X% of the qsos are probably illegitimate to begin with (remote cheaters) and it seems nobody cares about dx standings because it is just a hobby.

        In short, it is the bizarre inconsistency that I cannot understand. If it is just a hobby and no one cares about DXCC standings or whether any one is cheating, then why even keep a logbook at all? Just visit the rare spot, have fun on the radio making qsos as you say and at the end of the dxpedition simply send back a qsl to absolutely any one who asks (and pays) for one.

        Why focus on some forms of unethical behaviour and completely disregard others?

        Paul may say that he is focusing on those ethical issues that he can personally control. Fair enough. But I would advocate that dxpeditions do have the ability to control some aspects of remote cheating but elect not to do so for the sole reason that it would slow down the qso rate.

        Fair enough – qso rate trumps ethics. I get it!

        I am happy to go back to “not caring” like every one else, but stop writing blog posts about Dxpedition ethics and integrity as if these things actually matter

        I will get with the program and make no further posts on the issue (and join the blissfully complacent)

        Cheers

        Paul – vk4ma

      • Axel says:

        Sorry Paul.
        There’s no need to mix everything.

        Pauls post is about clear unethical behaviour like chats, QSL-buyers etc.
        Those are just clear to identify and expeditions can avoid them (chatrooms etc.) or react properly (QSL request for non existent QSOs or even requests to put them in the log).

        The topic of big signals from probably remote stations is way more complicated, especially for the operator during the pile up.
        Sure there are ways to detect them (especially later), but it’s not that easy to fight with the usage of remote stations in different countries without the correct signing. In this regard I don’t see it that worthy to go into detailed propagation study just because the ethics of the other station aren’t on the normal level.

        I wish you all the best.

        Axel, DL6KVA

  6. Paul -vk4ma says:

    Hello Paul

    Although I have high respect for your opinion as a prominent dxpeditioner, I should state that your view is not universally held.

    VE3LYC for instance is on the record as saying that he has not logged callers that he considers to be using remote stations outside of their home country (because he knows – as do we all – that this is cheating). I would certainly not label Cezar an unethical operator – in fact – I would rank Cezar as one of the most ethical as he is not putting qso rate (or dollars) ahead of qso integrity

    I am not saying that it is the dxpeditioners responsibility to sleuth out when a station is cheating via a remote. I agree this too onerous a requirement. I do however advocate that it is the DXpeditioners decision at all times as to what he deems a valid qso and if he is of the view for whatever reason that a qso is not valid then it is his right not to log that contact.

    You have rightfully pointed out that the dxpeditioner owns the log data and has the sole right to determine when a qsl confirmation should be issued. Yet strangely you are not willing to extend this right to the time of entry of the log data – ie it should be the OPs sole decision as to whether a qso is valid or otherwise at the time that the qso is made (and this includes his opinion as to whether cheating can reasonably be suspected)

    My views on this topic were forged via a discussion with a group of German dxpeditioners who boasted that when on dxpedition that they could always tell when they were being called by a cheating remoter.

    My reply was if you can always tell when this is happening then why do you log these callers. The German response was that it would slow down the qso rate and it could possibly result in deliberate QRM. So – it seems that qso rate ranks ahead of qso integrity. The deliberate qrm issue can be resolved by logging the qso but then marking it for “no confirmation” post dxpedition

    So – what I am saying is that in circumstances where a dxpeditioner has a high and justifiable opinion that a qso is not valid he should not log (or at least flag for non qsl confirmation) that particular qso.

    Certainly on the higher bands forming a firm opinion that some one is cheating via remote is very difficult (although not impossible). On the low bands however it can be quite easy.

    Finally, I should add that this type of cheating is not just a VK problem – in fact, compared to some other parts of the world this type of cheating in VK is actually quite low. Your suggestion about naming and shaming cheaters is just not workable as I have tried this and the cheater simply replies that it must have been someone pirating their callsign. Impossible to disprove.

    I guess we will just have to “agree to disagree” on the ethics of this issue. But I do not see a big difference in taking the $1,000 for inserting qsos into the log as compared to taking donations post dxpedition for confirming qsos that you yourself know could not have possibly been made except via an offshore remote. Both instances involve known cheating with the only difference with the qso insertion being the large amount of money involved.

    Certainly I can categorically say that when the day comes when I have the opportunity to do some dxpeditioning that it will be my decision as to what goes in my log and if I am of the reasonable opinion that a caller is cheating I will not confirm that qso. If that means my qso rate is slower, that I collect less dollars and I am labelled unethical then so be it. Funnily enough, I actually think my stand would be respected by most hard core Dxers in the hobby right now

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

    • n6pse says:

      Paul, I want to be clear, I am NOT in favor of naming and shaming hams for using remotes.

      Paul N6PSE

      • Paul -vk4ma says:

        No problem Paul – I agree I inadvertently put words in your mouth in that regard. I retract that statement.

        It does however seem you do approve of applying “peer group’ pressure to those stations who are “making false or improper qsos”. My straight question to you would be …. do you consider a qso, made with one of your dxpeditions, made using a remote outside of the callers country, to be a “false or improper qso”?

        Cheers
        Paul – vk4ma

  7. Roger says:

    For better or worse remotes are legal here in the USA. There is nothing in the DXCC rules that prohibits them either except there is a statement in the rules that all QSOs which are credited to a given DXCC account have to be made from the same DXCC entity. So here in the USA a guy can setup his shack in Kentucky in a cave and use remotes using stacked monoband arrays on multiple towers located on the Marin Headlands in CA and on the Maine coast and this is legal both in terms of the DXCC rules and also in terms of FCC rules. Of course this guy has a big advantage compared to the guy who never uses any type of remote. But that does not make remotes illegal or unethical.

    But if a guy uses a remote in another DXCC entity then that is clearly a violation of DXCC rules. Anyone doing this should be kicked out of the DXCC program.

    I don’t have any tangible evidence of this but out of the 5000+ ops currently on the Honor Roll there are probably not more than a dozen that cheat by using remotes in a different DXCC entity.

    But there has always been some cheating with DXCC. Before remotes were technically feasible there were DXpeditions that didn’t really go the purported DXCC location.

    73 Roger K5RKS

  8. Broken Trust | Perturbation says:

    […] having read this recent treatise from Paul, N6PSE — I’m not sure whatever interest I had in DXing will ever be […]

  9. John says:

    The first hing to do is congratulate you on your high ethical standards.

    Next, we have to remember how terribly sad this type of mangling of reality is. This is about one person in one part of the planet wanting to make a contact by radio with someone in another part of the same planet. Ergo, each person is equally far apart. Why do people get quite so excited and willing to cheat to simply put a call in the log? The answer is often: simply to show off.

    I don’t know about you, but very few people in Main Street give a toss about whether one has a callsign scribbled into a logbook, or a DX certificate hanging on the wall. It’s a hobby, albeit one riddled with male macho-ism. The real sad fact is that these types tend to dominate DX clubs and even have a heavy influence on national organisations.

    I’m with you in enjoying DX, but not having attached such importance to it in my life that I can’t see anything else – or that I’ve completely lost touch with reality.

  10. Henk PA2S says:

    First of all, let me state that my interest in DXing on HF is limited and in that respect I consider myself an outsider. Funny enough, when I started listening to HF as a teenager, I wanted to become a ham and operate on HF. But after passing the exam, UHF and SHF became the name of the game. Just as with HF, pushing the limits was driven by both competitive elements and cooperation. Let me explain this.

    Competition is often a driver to improve. Many examples, like sports, illustrate this. But the downside is, that personal interests can take over from group interests. If cooperation has the focus, joint effort can just as well lead to advancement. One gets inspiration from the group and that drives yourself to put effort in your activities.

    In the 70s, in PA land we had a fairly small group of microwavers. Using a linear transponder in the centre of the country, we could chat with each other (no need for ON4KST hi). If one had completed something and wanted to test it, it was easy to find someone to see how your things worked. I remember jumping like mad when my 6 centimeters signal was received for the first time, for example. The group was a clear example of cooperation, we helped each other in many respects. As parts were difficult to get, the ones closest to the source provided these to the group. We met regularly, exchanged ideas, parts, admired others rigs etc. I am sure that I would never have been on microwave without this group effort. This is one of the missing elements nowadays, if you ask me. With commercial rigs all over the planet, many hams do not now a thing about how it works and are not interested in bulding anyway.

    Contests were the competitive element, that forced you to improve the station. Endless hours of reading, testing, failures and success were the ingredients to be able to widen the horizon, so to say. Just a quick example: a station in the centre of PA could work a contest group station at about 75 km regularly on 10 GHz. This was in 1981… With my setup, I could demonstrate that without enhanced conditions, distances up to about 150 km could be covered (I guess that if we had JT modes, this would be even more with the same setup…).

    Without the competitive element, the drive to improve would have been less, I am sure.

    But one thing always had prime focus: cheating was simply out of the question. Although we arranged schedules on lower bands, the contact and serial exchange had to be made on the higher frequencies. Yes, there were some questionable aspects here, too. Sometimes, it was so difficult that we used the lower band to exchange information like “keep repeating please”.

    As a golf player, I know that cheating means that one has to find another hobby. There are players who take the rules less seriously. As long as it is not in a competition, I do not care so much, as long as they do not interfere with me. Of course, it illustrates their personality, so I know who to avoid in the club house.

    A number of years, I was the VHF/UHF/SHF contest manager. I remember disqualifying a SWL who “invented” QSOs by linking stations mentioned in previous contest results. It took quite a bit of effort to find convincing evidence. Because the SWL claimed to have heard contacts between foreign stations, I did not have access to the serials exhanged. So I even called a few of the claimed stations to verify if the claim was correct. It proved to be not the case, so exit SWL #####.

    It all boils down to the same thing: as soon as cheating starts, the credibility of the game in question vanishes. Just like the guys in the club house, I prefer to avoid the cheaters. If the game is all important, we should protect its credibility by checks and balances. So “just a hobby” is something for the golfers with the fantasy handicaps, but I can well understand the view of the amateurs who want to protect the credibility of the game, that drove them to invest effort to achieve the results.

    One final word though: after many years of contesting, our group decided to quit. Because one realises that it is an arms race. The big guns on the best locations simply win. That also hinders the satisfaction of the stations with modest setups. Just like everything in human life, in my opionion, we should try to balance personal interests with group interests. If a game becomes out of reach for many, it may be time for the organisers to realise that it could be good to start disarming.

    Best 73 and please cooperate!

    Henk

    • Paul -vk4ma says:

      Hello Henk

      Congratulations on your post here – your written English is better than my own

      Sometimes I think DXpeditioners do not fully recognise the input of the “at home” dxer to the success of a dxpedition. I have spent literally hundreds if not thousands of hours (and dollars) building my station over many years. It is also clear that the Dxpedition organisers also spend hundreds / thousands of hours (and dollars) in organising a dxpedition to a rare location such 3Y or VP8. In short, a successful qso, particularly on the high or low bands is often the culmination of many hours of work by both the “at home” Dxer and of course the dxpedition team. Dxers also generally contribute half the dxpedition budget.

      When the ARRL or DXpeditions fail to take action against remote station cheaters and dishonest contacts are made that are not achievable even by those Dxers who have put in the hours and dollars into their stations, this is quite simply a slap in the face to those DXers who have put in all the time and effort.

      As you rightly point out, this is akin to you practicing hundreds of hours on your golf game only for a plus 30 handicapper to hire Tiger Woods to play the club tournament on his behalf. It is absolutely no consolation when someone says “it is just a game of golf” or the cheater will get no satisfaction from his ill gotten gains (cheaters must get some satisfaction as otherwise they would not cheat).

      I often wonder how a Dxpedition Group would feel, after all their time and effort in organising a dxpedition, if a scammer was to pop up mid dxpedition who claimed to be on the same island as the dxpedition group and made thousands of “pirate” qsos from the comfort of his arm chair in the USA or Western Europe.

      I think the legitimate dxpedition group would feel rightfully “pissed off” – as they have put in all the effort in fund raising, licensing, travel etc. They would feel even more “pissed off” if the ARRL were to accept the pirate operation for DXCC on the basis that the checking of validity is not actually required when we are dealing with “just a hobby”. The ARRL may also argue that the pirate dxpeditioner could not possibly gain as much satisfaction from his dodgey dxpedition as does the true dxpeditioner so really it just doesn’t matter.

      Just as you have given up on playing competitive golf I am absolutely certain that this cheating issue (or more particularly the lack of concern from the ARRL and dxpeditioners) will also be the catalyst for me giving up on dx chasing as well (after 30+ years in the game)

      I was once a keen watcher of the Tour De France for instance, but these days I don’t even give this event a minute of my time – the results of the tour are meaningless as virtually every winner in recent years has eventually been exposed to be a cheat.

      Cheers
      Paul – vk4ma

  11. Roger says:

    I think everyone agrees that operating via remote THAT IS IN A DIFFERENT DXCC ENTITY from the control point is cheating. It is expressly prohibited by the DXCC rules. So “running remotes” is not the issue. Instead the issue is running remotes when the control point and the remote station are in a different entity. I think this discussion is blurring the line between these two situations.

    In any case, I don’t see how a DXpedition can be expected to police this.

    We are talking about the DXCC here and that award is run by the ARRL. If I had solid evidence of someone cheating in the DXCC program by using illegal remotes I’d discuss this with member of the ARRL Board of Directors for my region. The offender should be kicked out of the DXCC program.

    It should be noted that groups who rent out remote time will not tolerate DXCC cheating. They kick out cheaters from their service.

    I am not aware of anyone successfully bribing a DX operation to put them in the log — even if no QSO has taken place — as a result of a large donation to the DX operation. I’ve heard anecdotal stories of people attempting such bribes but the bribes didn’t work because DXpeditions are run my ethical hams who wouldn’t sell bogus log entries.

    Guys pleading to bribe DXpeditions for bogus QSLs because “they have no antenna” or “are living in a senior citizen center” don’t get any sympathy. In both of these cases these guys can legally and ethically operate remote to a large station with big antennas. Remotes is not my thing. But if I have to go to a senior citizen center and I still need Pratas Island then I’d bring my laptop [or a K3 control head] to the senior citizen center and work the BV9P via remote.

    73 Roger K5RKS

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