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Questions About Calling Off Freq in a Pileup

Aug 1st 2011, 21:05


Joined: Jun 1st 2011, 01:11
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
I'm definitley in the beginner category. Hopefully my two part question will make some sense:

Is it generally a rookie error to answer a special event or contest QRZ on the same calling frequency? Occasionally I hear no response on frequency, and then "Station ending in XYZ, go ahead" and I wonder, "Where is that guy calling and how did he get through?" Tuning around a bit, I occasionally hear the other station off freq, so presumably better to call +-10, 15 KHz, 25KHz away?

Assuming calling off-freq is a good approach, if I have dual VFOs and a clarifier, is there an easy way to park on one frequency to recieve and transmit +-10, 15, 25Khz away randomly (or systematically) in the hopes of getting through a pileup?

Many thanks,


Any help/suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Aug 2nd 2011, 01:48


Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Total Posts: 0
The rule is to follow the wishes of the "DX" (i.e., rare) station. He will usually say he's listening "up 5" or "down 10", but he may not say it very often. So listen for a while. It's very bad form to call on his Tx frequency if he says he's listening up or down the band.

If your radio has dual VFOs, it probably has a "split" mode where VFO A is for receive and B is for transmit. You can set B up/down so many kHz according to your "DX" station's wishes, but you should add a smallish random number so you aren't right on top of a million other stations. So up 3, up 4, up 6, etc., if he says "up 5".

It takes practice, but if you listen to other stations calling the DX and then listen to the DX, you may be able to tell what exact offset he is listening on for a given QSO and then "pounce" with your Tx on that freq. when he signs 73 or QRZ.

Have fun!

73 Martin AA6E
Aug 3rd 2011, 17:46


Joined: Apr 23rd 1996, 00:00
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Alan, nearly all contest QSOs take place with both stations transmitting on or (in the case of CW) very near the same frequency. The only exceptions would be a very rare station that attracted a huge pileup for some reason, and SSB on the lower bands (75 and 40 meters, and occasionally 160) where split-frequency operation is relatively common. You may even hear it on 20 meter SSB on occasion when the QRM in the US phone band is especially heavy. If someone is operating split they will specify their listening frequency regularly.

On CW it's generally a good idea to use the RIT to call very slightly off zero-beat, but not more than 200 Hz at the most -- more than that and the station you're calling won't hear you or will think you're calling someone else. I generally find about 50-80 Hz offset is optimum.

If a contest pileup is too big to crack, just make a note of the frequency (or put it in one of your transceiver's memories) and come back later. As time goes on most serious competitors will be begging for contacts and it will be easier to get through.

DXpeditions outside of contests are different, and split frequency operation is the rule rather than the exception -- but in contests it's the other way around because the stations calling are spread out among more "targets" and it's fairly easy for a good operator to pick out callsigns.

73, Dave Sumner, K1ZZ
Aug 4th 2011, 14:56


Joined: Jun 1st 2011, 01:11
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
Many thanks for the thoughtful and helpful replies. Very much appreciated.

Aug 12th 2011, 01:56


Joined: Jun 1st 2011, 01:11
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Total Posts: 0
Just a quick followup. Tuning around 20m this evening, I hear "TY1KS CQ up 5, TY1KS CQ up 5" and I remember from this post that means he's listening 5KHz up, so I setup my rig for split mode, wait for his CQ, respond with my call sign, and I made contact on my 1st try! I couldn't believe it. My 1st DX contact ever is now in the log. I couldn't believe it. Many thanks!

73, KK4CIS, Alan
Nov 8th 2017, 13:53


Joined: Apr 17th 2013, 00:31
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Total Posts: 0
Ok, what do you do when they are running split and my kenwood 520 does not have that ability? Do I just leave them alone?
Aug 16th 2019, 16:52


Joined: Mar 16th 2018, 19:13
Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 0
The TS-520 has the ability to operate "split" with the addition of an optional crystal. See excerpt from TS-520 Operating Manual below:
The TS-520 contains a unique design feature which allows
cross channel operation without a separate external VFO.
The TS-520's internal VFO is used together with the fixed
frequency oscillator to allow reception and transmission on
different frequencies. The fixed channel oscillator must
have one or more accessory crystals installed for this feature
to work.

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