2009 DXCC Year End Review
By W1JR, Joe Reisert
DX wise, the year 2009 was very
similar to what we experienced in 2007
and 2008. There were approximately 284 DXCC entities activated during
2009, about 10 fewer than in 2008. Unfortunately several DXpeditions
were delayed (hopefully only into 2010), had to be cancelled or were
thwarted from operating for one reason or another. CW still did not
die since there were at least 255 entities active on CW but fewer than
in 2008. 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. Some now say that we
have developed a group of computer "code readers." At the same time,
some SSB operators have noticed an increase in activity, especially
during SSB contests.
The solar minimum first promised for October 2007 and then August 2008
turned out to be incorrect. Despite some recent small sunspots from
the upcoming Solar Cycle 24, propagation hasn't really taken off.
According to NOAA, it now looks like the Solar Minimum occurred in
December of 2008. NASA is now using a new technique called
helioseismology to monitor the solar jet stream which is believed to
say the stream is delayed which portends that the start of Solar Cycle
24 will be later and hence shorter lived with a lower peak (probably
less than 90 sunspots) peaking in May 2013. We hope that the long
delay doesn't mean we will be having another Maunder Minimum! Only
time will tell if we are finally going to see improved HF propagation.
Very few solar disturbances occurred in 2009. A small disturbance
occurred at the end of March, another at the end of October during the
DX contest, and a larger one starting in mid-December. Ironically the
later didn't noticeably improve propagation. The solar flux, the main
propagation indicator on the higher bands, stayed mainly at 70 or
below all year. In fact most of July, August and September saw one of
the quietest Suns in over 90 years with A=66 on August 9th! In early
and late December, we experienced an A=0 and K=0 on several days. I
have never seen this happen before. However, the solar flux reached 88
on December 17th, the highest level since December 2006. When there
are so few sunspots and low solar flux, good DX propagation is still
mainly confined to the lower HF bands. Check the daily propagation
reports at http://www.dx.qsl.net/propagation/ or the weekly ARRL
Propagation Bulletins by Tad Cook, K7RA. Since official sunspot
numbers are a moving index that is 9 months after the fact, the
waiting game for Solar Cycle 24 to take off goes on!
Despite the lack of significant sunspots, there was still plenty of DX
activity in 2009 albeit mostly concentrated on 160 through 17 meters.
160 Meters seems to be getting lots of DX activity but possibly at the
expense of 80 Meters which does become active during contests. Several
more entities have received permission to operate on 60 Meters
bringing the total users almost to DXCC level. 40 Meters is still the
night time breadwinner. The expansion of this band from 7100 to at
least 7200 KHz for many of the Worlds entities has generated lots more
activity, especially during contests. 30 meters is becoming very
popular, sometimes being open 24 hours a day. 20 Meters is still the
daytime breadwinner although 17 meters is sharing some of the load.
During this year 10, 12 and 15 meters were spotty at best and then
mostly only on the North/South or skewed paths. Some sporadic E
propagation especially during June, July and December did enhance HF
DX somewhat but this was not due to increased sunspots.
Equipment and operating techniques are still improving especially in
the area of dynamic range and low noise receiving antennas on the
lower bands. Newly manufactured equipment can often be upgraded by the
manufacturers offering software updates via the Internet not only for
transceivers but antennas, rotator controls, logging programs etc. New
equipment offerings were few this year except for some panadaptors,
speech processors and improved antennas such as the 43 foot vertical
for multi-band operation. In particular there was a rise in the use of
SDR (software defined radios) which thrive on software updates. Even
some instrumentation such as the new Array Solutions VNA-2180 Vector
Network Analyzer, a new powerful measurement tool, can be updated on
the Internet. Of course, software, especially logging programs is
constantly being modified or improved.
Internet use and abuse by Amateurs continues to increase especially
for spotting clusters. The DX clusters are an amazing tool for finding
and spotting rare DX. One popular one is "DX Summit." Clusters are a
far cry from the way we used to spot DX using either the telephone,
spotting frequencies on HF or VHF repeaters. However, there are
several downsides. All too often incorrect or extremely rare callsigns
(not on the air at the time!) are spotted. A rare callsign can cause a
huge pileup that may even cover up the DX station. Listen before you
call to be sure it is the right station and especially if there are
special instructions such as listening UP! In these days of seldom
signing callsigns, never reply solely on the accuracy of the spot as
you may receive a NIL (Not in Log) to your QSL request. During 2009
there were often two or more DXpeditions operating simultaneously and
often pileups coincided or overlapped. Also don't post spots with
bragging or QSY request addendums. No one cares and in the case of
DXpeditions, they seldom are continuously connected to the clusters so
they usually don't see your spot!
Many DX stations, especially the large scale DXpeditions now update
their logs on the Internet during their operation. One of the most
active Internet activities in 2009 was the use of the ARRL Log Book of
the World. This was spurred on by the introduction of the ARRL "Triple
Play Award" which was completely awarded on the basis of LoTW entries.
Also, several of the large 2009 DXpeditions also put their logs
directly into the LoTW. There are now over 250 million LoTW QSO
entries and over 35,000 LoTW users, an increase of almost 25% over
2008! Most major contest logs and some awards now have to be submitted
via the Internet.
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
year's 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 reply to your QSL request.
However, this doesn't mean that we should call continuously and later
check the internet hoping to see if your callsign is in the log!
Also, there are the usual problems with "frequency policemen". 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 and
often QRMs the DX station. 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
frequencies 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.
Many pirate operations showed up in 2009 using existing or unlicensed
callsigns. 3W2BV, 3Y0Q, C31LJ/M, HV3VO, JW4JLK, OD5GR, OY2JT, R1FJA/P,
TK0M, TU2FQ (on CW), YI1SR, YI1HR, YI1HRP, ZD9BNA, ZD9HP, ZK3T, ZL5SP,
ZL9C, and ZL9AI are just a few that come to mind. Some stations using
YU8 callsigns were also observed but most of them were in located in
Serbia, not Kosovo. Those that were QRV from Kosovo during 2009 were
YU8/IW0HEU, YU8/HB9BF and YU8/HB9EKC. Likewise, some recent
operations are still not accepted by ARRL such as 5N/LZ1QK and
9Q/DK3MO. 4U1AIDS operated from Switzerland and does not count the
same as 4U1ITU. Also some DXpedition callsigns were even pirated
during their operation. WFWL (work first, worry later) these stations
but this does little good if they are a pirate so sending a QSL is a
waste of time and money.
There were a few major DX items of interest in 2009. One of the
biggest surprises was when the ARRL Desk was able to certify that the
7O1YGF operation in 2000 was valid. Furthermore, 7O1YGF QSLs are still
available and their logs were placed on the LoTW! Other highlights
were the K5D operation from Desecheo Island and K4M from Midway
Island, areas that have restricted access and require special
permission from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Let's
hope that these superb operations and the work of the KP1-5 Project
will yield future operations from other restricted areas, especially
KP1, Navassa Island! FT5GA was finally operational after a long delay.
Big disappointments this year were surely the very limited operation
of ZS8T from Marion Island (only 85 QSOs) and FT5WO from Crozet
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 (and this year with a long weekend) usually
is a great time for DXing since many semi-rare entities often show up.
January activity from semi-rare entities was helped in 2009 by
operations from E44M, J5UAP, FW8DX, JD1BMM (M/T), VP8DIF (SGA) and a
large group of YLs from the Falkland Islands. TS7C was also active and
apparently set a new RTTY world record with over 12,000 QSOs. I'd
estimated that 200-210 DXCC entities were activated during January,
about 10-20 less than in the same period in 2008. With some luck and
good propagation a very active well equipped DXer could have worked
180-190 DXCC entities.
February was also a very good month for DXers with 160 meters still
yielding some very good DX and 17 meters improving. 3B7FQ, FH/G3SWH,
FP/KV1J, FW5RE, several HVs, PS0F (F/N), S79JF, T27A, TN5SN, and TT8SK
activated some semi-rare entities. A French group activated several
Antarctic area entities. However, the biggest excitement was the large
scale operation (20 operators!) of K5D from Desecheo Island logging
over 115,000 QSOs! If you didn't work them, you probably didn't try!
As the year passed on there were many semi-rare operations. March
brought us DXpeditions such as H40FN, VK9AA (C/K), VK9LA (LHI) and
VK9GMW (Willis I.). April followed with 3B9/SP2JMB, YK1BA, and S04R.
May had operations such as 5V7PM, ZK2V (who activated 60 meters for
the first time), and 7P8R. DX tends to slow down in the middle of the
year as the Northern Hemisphere experiences longer daylight.
Regardless of the time of year, June gave us S92LX, TZ6EI and 5J0BV
(HK0A), the latter two were both also on 6 meters. July had another
group operating both 3DA0 and 7P8. August saw operations from OJ0
(Market Reef) and 4W6AL.
DX typically increases as we move into the later third of the year
when days shorten in the Northern Hemisphere. September saw activity
with FO/A, T2, T30, ZL7 and finally FT5GA from the long delayed very
rare Glorioso Islands. The later was a military working group on a
mission so operations had to be in their spare time. However, over
50,000 QSOs were still made on all DX bands and the logs were posted
on the Internet and LoTW.
October was a confusing month with several DXpeditions all operating
at the same time including FT5GA. 3D20CR activated Conway reef and
there were operations from FO/M and PY0T. After overcoming operating
permission and several transportation problems, there was a shortened
operation from Midway Island by K4M. They still managed to exceed
60,000 QSOs and made over 2,600 QSOs on 160 meters. November saw
operations from A25, CE0Y, T30, and VK9X. Also active was TX3A from
Chesterfield Island making almost 37,000 QSOs between fishing and
diving! The later, a two man DXpedition, emphasized the lower bands
and uploaded all their logs on the Internet as well as LoTW while
still on the Island! December ended the year with operations from 5T,
C56, CE0Z, J5 and SV2ASP/A.
And now the Drum Roll please. Those entities that were NOT believed to
have been active during 2009 are as follows:
Africa (16): 3C0, 3C, 3X, 3Y/B, 5A, 5U, 9X, D6, E3, FR/J, FR/T, FT/X,
FT/Z, T5, VK0/H, and ZD9.
Antarctica (1): 3Y0 (Peter 1).
Asia (9): 1S, 7O, BS7H, BV9P, EZ, P5, VU4, VU7, and XZ.
Europe (3): 1A0, JX, and R1M (MV Island).
North America (7): CY0, CY9, FO/C, KP1, TI9, XF4 and YV0.
Oceania (13): 3D2/R, KH1, KH3, KH5, KH5K, KH7K, KH8S, T33, VK0/M,
VP6/D, ZK3, ZL8, and ZL9.
South America (5): CE0/X, HK0/M, PY0/S, VP8/O, and VP8/Sand.
Note that some rare entities may not be on this list. This is because
some operations, however short, were conducted. Examples are 9U1P,
E51WL (6 meters), FT5WO, VK9WBM (6 Meters) and ZS8T (only 85 QSOs) to
name a few.
A list of DXCC entities that have believed to have not been activated
in the last 6-10 years are: 3C0, 3Y0/B, 7O, E3, FR/E, FR/T, FT/Z,
HK0/M, KH1, KH5K, KP1, P5, and VK0/H. In addition, there were some
short or low QSO total operations from some rare entities such as
FT5/W, VK0/M, XZ, ZL9 and ZS8/M. This shows that an avid DXer working
hard at DXCC in the last 7-10 years could have been able to make the
DXCC Honor Roll. The list also serves as a guide to those planning
DXpeditions to rare entities.
2010 will start with many planned operations. We hope that the
excellent cooperation with the USFWS that permitted the recent
operation from Desecheo and Midway Islands will help to open the door
for operation from other entities such as Navassa Island which has
similar environmental restrictions. 2009 operations from D6/F6AML and
EZ were scuttled because of licensing problems. Let's hope these
issues can soon be resolved. Among some of the rarer entities rumored
upcoming operations in 2010 are 3B9, 3W, 9X, CY0 (delayed from 2009),
E4, FH, FO/A, FW, H40, J5, S2, T31, VP8/H, YV0, and ZK3 to name a few.
Others maybe in the planning stages and not yet announced.
The possibility of new entities being added to the DXCC list still
exists. Kosovo may finally obtain all the needed requirements for
separate status. The status of PJ (Netherlands Antilles etc.) can
change as some of these Dutch Islands may become more independent from
the Netherlands but probably not until late 2010 or early 2011. If so,
a few new entities will be created and some will be moved to the
"Deleted List." A recent change in the DXCC rules will revert deleted
entities to the Deleted List instead of being completely removed (as
if they never existed) as previously ruled in 1998. Hence, the present
DXCC active entity list still stands at 338.
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 are
only 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 Island
Groups and many have never been activated so there are lots of
challenges. For the last several years, CQ Magazine has reinstituted
the year long CQ DXCC 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 Magazine 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 2010 and here's hoping to see you in the pile
Many thanks to W3UR, W9KNI and K7RA for their valuable inputs to this
(Editor's note: Congratulations to the following stations who reported
to your editor they worked 250 or more DXCC Entities during the 2009
calendar year: F1JKJ, K4MWB, K4UTE, N8RR, SP8AJK and W2QO.)
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