2008 DXCC Year End Review
By W1JR, Joe Reisert
This year I decided (with Bernie's permission)
to expand the year end
review. Hopefully the changes and additions will be useful.
DX wise, the year 2008 was very similar to what we experienced in
2007. The solar minimum, promised for October 2007 with 3.0 average
sunspots, turned out to be a false finish. Despite some small sunspots
from the upcoming Solar Cycle 24, Solar Cycle 23 hasn't died yet and
Solar Cycle 24 hasn't really taken off. In fact, it now looks like
there was a double minimum 10 months apart and that August 2008 had
even fewer average sunspots (1.1) then October 2007.
Very few solar disturbances occurred in 2008 except for a small one at
the end of March with the solar flux mainly staying at 70 or below all
year. With so few sunspots and low solar flux, good DX propagation is
still mainly confined to the lower HF bands. Since official sunspot
numbers are a moving index that is 9 months after the fact, the
waiting game for Solar Cycle 24 taking off goes on!
In September I visited Dr. Mausami Dikpati at UCAR (The University
Corporation for Atmospheric Research) in Boulder, Colorado in an
attempt to see what the solar scientists are predicting. She is the
person who predicted a very strong Solar Cycle 24
(http://ucar.edu/news/releases/2006/sunspot.shtml) and feels that her
predictions are still on target. When asked about the long solar
minimum we are experiencing, she pointed out that there have been
other long minimums such as between Solar Cycles 12 and 13. She is
still holding firm on her computer model accuracy and that Solar Cycle
24 will be a stronger cycle than the previous one, albeit stating
later than predicted. This could result in a more compressed solar
That being said, there was still plenty of DX activity in 2008 albeit
mostly concentrated on 160 through 17 meters with 20 meters being the
bread winner although 17 meters was not too far behind during daylight
hours. 30 meters is becoming more popular and so far over 75 DXCC
entities have appeared on 60 meters despite the fact that USA stations
are limited to 5 channels (!), USB only and 50 pep watts into a
dipole. 10 through 15 meters were spotty at best and then mostly only
on the North/South paths. Some sporadic E propagation especially in
June and July did enhance DX but this was not due to increased
Some new equipment and techniques were in evidence during 2008. 6
meters is often becoming a new band on many low frequency transceivers
thus increasing activity on that band. Many low band stations were
paying particularly attention to improving their receiving antennas
(such as Beverages, loops etc.) to take advantage of the improved
propagation when sunspot activity is low. Also, some manufacturers
have been designing transceivers with particular emphasis on improving
dynamic range so they have cleaner transmitted spectrum and improved
receiver dynamic range. One such technique is improved "roofing
filter" transceivers with a low first IF (intermediate frequency).
This yields better close in filtering and is often augmented with IF
DSP (digital signal processing) to vary receiver bandwidth.
There are now several manufacturers offering software updates via the
Internet not only for transceivers but antennas, rotator controls,
logging programs etc. In particular there is a rise in the use of SDR
(software designed radios) such as the Ten Tec Orion, Elecraft K3 and
the FlexRadio Flex-5000 etc. Even some instrumentation such as the
Array Solutions AIM-4170 Antenna Analyzer can be updated on the
There were even innovations in operating and contesting. One new
concept called "Skimmer" uses a wide IF with external software to
display CW call signs of many of the stations on a band in real time
on a computer screen. However, this technique is not viewed favorably
by many contesters. In a sense, it replaces the use of DX Clusters.
Time will tell if this method of operating enhancement will be widely
accepted like the days when 2 meter packet radio first came into
Operating techniques are always changing. Split frequency operation,
especially by DXpeditions has its own problems. Often calling stations
are not aware of the split and QRM the DX. During several of this
years major DXpeditions, I carefully monitored the DX station
frequency. Often someone would hear this relatively clean frequency,
jump right in, hear the DX station giving reports, imagined that they
had a QSO and with impeccable timing would hear the DX station say TU
and think they had a valid QSO! It goes without saying that if you
aren't copying the DX station well enough to have a valid QSO or
aren't aware of what technique is being used by the DX station, DON'T
CALL! This is a good reason to check logs if they are posted on the
Internet rather than receiving back a NIL (not in log) reply to your
Also, there are the usual problems with "policeman". If you can't
refrain from saying something to the interfering stations, drop in a
SHORT reminder like UP. Sending a long string of up up up up up etc.
or calling a station a lid often does more harm than good. Of course,
obscenities are NEVER appropriate. Also, try not to rag chew on
frequencies frequented by rare DX. 3.795, 14.195 and 14.260 (IOTA) MHz
are just a few that come to mind. You may not hear the DX station but
transmitting on those frequencies will make it difficult for others
that are experiencing better propagation than you are.
During the year 2008, there were four main types of DX operations.
First, there was the usual activity from home stations. Next, there
were many small single operator operations often working during off
hours when on trips or family vacations. Then there were the smaller
DXpeditions of a few operators and finally there were the large scale
Many pirate operations showed up in 2008 using existing or unlicensed
call signs. JX4JLK, JX7DFA, TU8/F5LPY, 5X1AB, C31FF, ZS8M and
VP2V/G6AY are just a few that come to mind. WFWL (work first, worry
later) with these stations does little good and sending a QSL is a
waste of time and money.
2008 started out with lots of activity from Saint Barthelemy (FJ), our
newest DXCC entity. Several other FJ operations on all bands from 160
meters through 6 meters followed during the year. Hopefully most DXers
now have an FJ QSL cards in hand from at least one of those
Even though January (with shortened daylight for those in the Northern
Hemisphere) is a tough month for DXers, there were many entities
activated. New Years Day usually is a great day for DXing since many
semi-rare entities often show up. January activity from semi-rare
entities was helped by operations from FO/M (Marquesas), 3D2R
(Rotuma), 3Y (Bouvet), J5 (Guinea-Bissau), T2 (Tuvalu) and others. It
is estimated that over 245 DXCC entities were activated during January
and with some luck, good propagation and a very active well equipped
DXer could have worked 200 DXCC entities during January.
February was also a very good month for DXers. We saw a first when the
government of Oman finally allowed access to the 30 meter band. A45XR
and A45WD put in a great effort to provide a new band entity for the
masses. Other large scale activity was provided by TI9KK, several 9X
stations and VP6DX from Ducie Island. VP6DX set a new standard for the
most contacts (over 183,000) ever on a DXpedition. Despite being near
the bottom of the sunspot cycle, they provided a strong signal on many
bands often at the same time. They also had an elaborate receiving
system and were very dedicated to exploiting difficult paths
especially on 160 meters. Other smaller scale activity took place from
VP8/G (S. Georgia), C21 (Nauru), and HK0 (San Andres). Finally, a
large scale operation took place when Kosovo declared independence.
Unfortunately, this operation did not meet the latest DXCC criteria
for a new entity but that may change in the near future. Keep an ear
March brought another large scale DXpedition as TX5C came on from the
relatively rare Clipperton Island. They experienced very hot and
stormy weather with equipment failures but gave out a new one for the
Deserving. Other notable operations were from CE0Z, 9X, Spratly, 5T,
JD1/M (Minami Torishima) as well as another group operating from St.
April had an FOC (First Class Operators) group operating all HF bands
primarily on CW from YK9G. June saw more 9L activity as well as a
group effort as 4W0R from Timor-Leste. The month ended with activity
from JX (Jan Mayen). July saw activity from CY0 (Sable Island) and FJ
(St. Barthelemy) primarily dedicated to 6 meters but with some random
HF activity. August had many stations on from the Beijing Olympics
sporting BT call signs. KM9D put on a short operation from H40 and
another station activated FO/M (Marquesas) in September.
October through the end of the year provided increased activity from
some rarer entities. VK9DWX put on a large scale all HF band operation
from Willis Island. More 9L DXpeditions came on from Sierra Leone and
it's off shore islands for IOTA seekers. JA8BMK did a grand slam by
operating from all the T3 entities as T30XX, T33ZZ, T31DX and finally
T32YY. Both VU7 (Lakshadweep I.) and VU4 (Andaman I) were also
activated on all HF bands. Other semi-rare operations included 3X
(Rep. of Guinea) and HK0 (counting for San Andres) from former deleted
entities of Bajo Nuevo and Serrana Bank.
All in all, and despite low solar activity, 2008 wasn't a poor DX
year. Many DXpeditions provided increased coverage on 160 and 80
meters. Contests provided some interesting entities. It should also be
remembered that contest oriented DXpeditions often come on a few days
before the contest testing their gear and provide a good opportunity
to snag a rare one.
There were approximately 293 DXCC entities activated during 2008,
about the same as in 2007. CW did not die since I worked over 250
entities on CW, about the same number as worked in 2007. Many stations
with no code licenses, especially outside the USA, have been operating
on CW and some have shown great CW skills. One side effect is that we
are seeing much more "599 TU" operations with not as much skill to
copy other information. At the same time, some SSB operators have
noticed an increase in activity, especially during SSB contests.
And now the Drum Roll please. Those entities that were NOT believed to
have been active during 2008 (and are a useful guide to those planning
future operations) are as follows:
Africa (12): 3B9, 3C0, 3C, 5A, D6, E3, FR/G, FR/J, FR/T, FT/Z, T5, and
VK0 (Heard I.).
Antarctica (1): 3Y0 (Peter 1).
Asia (7): 7O, BS7H, BV9P, E4, EZ, P5, and XZ.
Europe (2): 1A0 and R1M (MV Island).
North America (5): CY9 (St. Paul), KP1, KP5, XF4 and YV0.
Oceania (13): 3D2/C (Conway Reef), FK (Chesterfield), KH1, KH3, KH4,
KH5, KH5K (Kingman Reef), KH7K, KH8/S, VK0/M, VK9/M, ZL8, and ZL9.
South America (5): CE0/X, HK0/M, PY0/S, PY0/T and VP8/Sand.
Note that some rare entities may not be on this list. This is true
since some operations, however short, were conducted. This applies to
FT5XN, ZS8T and FT5WO to name a few.
A list of DXCC entities that have believed to have not been activated
in the last 7 years are: 3D2C-Conway Reef, E3-Eritrea, FR/G Glorioso,
HK0/M-Malpelo Island, KH5K-Kingman Reef, and KP1-Navassa Island. This
shows that an avid DXer working hard at DXCC in the last 7 years
should have been able to make the DXCC Honor Roll.
2009 will start out with a leap second (hi) followed by E44M operating
from the semi-rare State of Palestine. Operation from ZS8T and FT5WO
are expected soon. In February the rare Desecheo entity should be
activated after many years of negotiations with the Fish and Wildlife
Administration. Hopefully this operation will not only be successful
on a grand scale but will open the door for a future operation from
another rare entity, namely Navassa Island which has similar
environmental restrictions. A possible DXpedition from FR/G (Glorioso
I.) is still in the cards as are others that have not been officially
The possibility of new entities being added to the DXCC list also
exists. Kosovo may finally obtain all the needed requirements for
separate status. The status of PJ (Netherlands Antilles etc.) may
change as some of these Dutch Islands may become more independent from
the Netherlands. If so, not only will a few new entities be created
but for the first time some entities may actually be completely
deleted from the DXCC list as if they never existed. However, the
later changes from PJ will probably not take place until later in 2009
or early 2010.
Sunspots should surely reappear and Solar Cycle 24 will start to
improve propagation on the higher HF bands. Look for the solar flux to
go over 100 with low A (<20) and K (<3) indices. Solar wind below 300
KM per second and dynamic pressure less than 0.5 nPa as show on NOAA
Space Weather are also good indicators.
Finally, DX means many different things to many people. Some DXers
only are interested in the ARRL DXCC Honor Roll and soon run out of
interest and challenges. Others pursue the never ending ARRL Challenge
competition. Some like to chase Islands for the IOTA (Islands on the
Air) program by the RSGB. There are approximately 1200 IOTA counters
and many have never been activated so there are lots of challenges.
For the last few years, CQ Magazine has reinstituted the year long CQ
Marathon to see who can work the most entities in each calendar year.
This program has a few more challenges by also adding several entities
recognized only by CQ but not on the ARRL DXCC list as well as working
all 40 zones. And there are the never ending DX Contests. There are
lots of things to do. Don't let the airways die for lack of activity.
Stay active and join the fun. Best of DX to you in 2009 and here's
hoping to see you in the pile ups.
(Editors note: A special thanks to Joe for his 2008 DXCC Year End
Review article. Also thank you to the following stations who reported
working 250 or more DXCC Entities during 2008: 5B4AHJ, K4UTE, K5EK,
K6TA, N1BAA, PY7ZZ, SM6CNN and W6IGK.)
Joe's other Year End Reviews:
| 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 |
Used with permission and with special thanks to "The
Daily DX" Vol. 10, No. 002 -
January 3, 2006
Editor/Publisher Bernie McClenny W3UR
Many thanks to Joe Reisert W1JR for the review