Hints on Autumn Dxing From The Big Man

Originally published in the September 1984 C&E.

September annually brings the first hopes for cooler weather in the Southwest, along with plans for antenna work and other projects that we won’t get to until it’s snowing.

Q. R. Zedd, A5A, was reminiscing about autumn radio projects and the like the other day, and some of us local boys were fortunate enough to be allowed to listen.

“Winter is probably the best time for Dxing,” said Zedd, hiking his spurs up on the edge of the Tuesday morning coffee table at OU’s Commons Restaurant. “But fall is good, too, especially if you know how to sandwich in your operating between football games and the World Series. If you would like, I could give you a few tips.”

There was a general chorus of pleading, of course, and Zedd laid out a few observations, to wit:

“Number one, you got to remember that tall grass seems to have a magical effect on the ground plane under your antennas. That’s true even if you got a modest monobander at 75 feet. Never mow your lawn after the end of August.

“Naturally it might be that your lawn will start looking cruddy, but just reflect on this fact: nobody ever saw the house of a DXer that had a nice lawn. If your wife or girlfriend wants to mow the lawn, why, you can let her. Just don’t take part in it yourself. Maybe she will get discouraged and let the lawn get suitable cruddy. Meanwhile, you will be having more time at the rig.

“Number two, always keep in mind that all the best DX is always on when you’re at the golf course. Therefore, give up golf. You can always start again next year, or maybe you can learn croquet, which is a dandy game for DXers because you can play in your own yard (right after your wife mows it for the spring) and keep your receiver strapped to your tee shirt or propped in the window of the shack, so you never miss anything.

“Number three, cooler weather lets you drink more coffee. This is vital. The older you get, the more coffee is likely to keep you awake. That’s good. If it doesn’t keep you awake, drink more anyway because you’ll have to get up a lot in the night to go to the bathroom, and every time you do, scan the band and holler ‘CQ DX’ a few times; you might be surprised at the results. Try to drink at least six cups of coffe every evening after supper. It also helps if you eat a lot of heavy stuff like hamhocks and pork bellies.

“Number four, always keep in mind that Murphy’s Law applies to DXing. The more you plan, the more you will screw up. Stay on the air at least fifteen hours a day and you don’t have to plan nothing. Murphy strikes more often in the fall, especially in the Norman area. I don’t know why.

“Now as to preparations for later fall and winter,” Zedd went on, refilling his coffee cup, I’m sure you boys all know some of the things you want to do —

“Never fix your beam until there’s ice on it. Your bare hands will stick to the frozen metal real good, and keep you more secure up there.

“Always run your linear full-bore, even if you’re talking to a pal a block away. You never know when someone exotic might be listening. I met Tondelayo that way.

“If you plan any major new antenna work, set it up for around November 20. There’s almost always a good sleet storm around then, and you will find that you work at peak speed and efficiency in sleet.

“If you hear a pileup and don’t where to point the beam, aim it at your neighbor right across the street. This will remind him you’re home, and he’ll be more careful when he backs out of his driveway that he don’t slide on the snow and hit your extra pickup parked out there curbside.

“Make sure you are up on the current best prices for Alpha 1 linears and new computers and the like, because Santa Claus is coming, and your wife and kids may be looking for shopping hints along about nor. It’s also good to gripe at the supper table a lot about how you missed that good one the other day on account of how decrepit your transceiver has gotten, or how you need a new crankup tower for the safety of the house, and so on.

“If you get really snowed in and your antennas all have fallen down, try writing a piece for one of the ham magazines. Keep a record of your time and when you sent it off and all. If they happen to buy it, your buddies will be real impressed and tend to forget you started in amateur radio out of CB, and even if you don’t, you can claim on your income tax that your station was all purchased as a research project for the article, and you can write off the whole station.

“This last gambit, incidentally, ain’t likely to work. But you’ll meet some real interesting people from the IRS, and by the time they get done the audit, warmer weather will be around again.”