I understand, and enjoy, Birdwatching but fail to see the point of Twitching...
I've sent and received QSL cards over the years, but have never paid much attention to what countries I have "confirmed" or which of them I have just "worked" and I have no idea of what DXCC entities I've worked over the years. Probably not that many.
I've just started keeping a computer log, to coincide with starting a new spell of HF CW activity. This is mainly to help me remember if/when/where I've worked someone before, when I meet them again - not to assist my collection of rare DX. I don't have the logging software (logger32) connected to the Cluster etc. I only ever look at the DX Cluster if I come across a pile-up and can't work out what they are all screaming about - and only so I can tut quietly to myself and tune away, knowing which chunk of the band to avoid for the next few hours.
I don't like "rubber stamp" QSOs and much of what "DXing" seems to involve. "Paper Chasing" seems to revolve around confirming QSOs that have carried little, or no, actual information between the operators beyond their callsigns. Even the signal reports are bogus.
I've been wondering about trying to get DXCC myself (CW only) just to give me an incentive to keep track of the places I've worked - but with my own personal criteria for what QSOs will count towards the total.
I'm thinking about working towards DXCC only using QSOs that fit the following conditions
- Must have been of at least 5 minutes duration
- Must have included the exchange of Name and QTH
- Must have included the exchange of at least two of the following
- Working Conditions (Rig / Power / Antenna)
- Weather conditions
- Age & date licensed
- Any other information
- Confirmation by paper QSL (I'm intending to use LOTW, but paper QSLs & LOTW records can't be mixed for the award of DXCC by ARRL, so for this "ragchew DXCC" it seems fitting to stick to proper paper QSLs)
- Must have been for a QSO between June 2016 and June 2017 on any HF band
I wonder if it's even possible nowadays, given the rise of the DX Cluster and pile-ups and Reverse Beacon Network. Is it possible to find people in 100 different countries who are willing to chat rather than give out simple "599 TU". Getting 30 or 40 countries should be reasonably easy - in Europe most of the countries are not "DX" and should have a reasonable number of active stations who are happy to have a real QSO, even a "rubber stamp" one that goes beyond the basic "599 TU". There must also be stations in far away countries who still like to have a QSO - even using the universal language of CW where in depth knowledge of English isn't really needed:
"ge om = rst 599 599 599 = op john john es qth shetland shetland = rig ic7200 es pwr 100w = ant vertical = wx 16c 16c es sun = hw? bk"
I had a short CW QSO with JA1NUT this weekend on 20m. I just happened to be sitting with the radio on the frequency that he chose. Heard his "QRL?" and then his "CQ" call. I answered, and was amazed to get through. Weak signals, but we were still able to have a "real QSO" - although short due to condx - and Shin even asked me if I was operating from the location on my QRZ.com page. I replied that yes, I was. He commented that I should be able to put up some rhombics given the amount of open space. That wasn't a rubber stamp QSO, even if condx were not ideal, with weak, fluttery polar signals, but we still managed more than "599 TU".
I think (outside of contests) this was might have been my first Japanese station, it's certainly the first where I've had a "real QSO".
Grabbing the "DX" station before he gets spotted on the Cluster seems to be the only chance you get to have any sort of QSO nowadays.
I've had a few CW chats with Alan TF/W4MQC who's on holiday in Iceland this summer. He isn't interested in DXpedition-style rubber stamp QSOs, even though he's in a reasonably unusual DX location - and it's been good to bump into him a few mornings and find out what he's been getting up to. My CW has been neglected in recent years - and it's QSOs like these with Alan that make me want to improve - so I can have longer, quicker, more meaningful conversations with people using Morse Code, and not so I can send "599 TU" at 40wpm for a new DXCC entity in the log.
Let's see how it goes. I'll try to keep a list of Countries Worked / Confirmed that fit my criteria on this blog somewhere....