Cluster Spotting 101

1. Spot what you hear to let other ops know that a station is on a certain frequency and is available to call.
2. That's It! There is no more to it. Step 1 says it all, so what's so hard to understand?
3. If you still don't understand, go back to step 1 and read it very carefully.
4. If you still don't get it, read the text below, then read step 1 again.
5. If you still don't understand step 1, then you should not post on the cluster.

This is so simple, yet hundreds of ops just don't get it. For the ones who don't understand, I'll elaborate and try to explain it to you. You can look at the cluster at any given time and see junk like "Nil in AL." Why spot what you don't hear? If the same station was spotted 15 minutes ago and already has a pile, why spot again just to say "TU" or anything else to let the world know you worked the DX. Believe it or not, no one else really cares what you work. Also, I believe some ops give their thanks hoping the DX station is looking at the cluster and will be sure to log their call correctly. I've got news for these ops. A radio contact is a radio contact, and nothing else. Assuring you are logged correctly should be accomplished OVER-THE-AIR. Thanks for the contact should be given OVER-THE-AIR. For the self spotters out there, all I can say is this. If you spin the knob and hear yourself on the air, then you should definitely spot yourself.

And then there are these clowns who will call CQ and spot each station they worked on THEIR frequency. You see something spotted that you need, and go to the frequency only to find the bozo who spotted the station calling CQ. For these types, I'll try to explain it to you. Spot stations that you hear who have the frequency. In other words, when you spot a station on a certain frequency, that means the station you spotted is available to call on the frequency as spotted. Yet, these ops will spot their log. If you spot a station on YOUR frequency, don't get angry if everyone and their brother comes on your frequency and starts calling what you spotted.

The cluster is no place to cry. "The DX is 59 here and is only working Europe" "North America only" Some good ops, and especially DXpeditions follow propagation. There may be times when there will be short openings to certain areas of the globe and they will concentrate on that area. Just wait your turn. And then there's always some guy who will pop up and say, "He went QRT at my sunrise." No matter when an op goes QRT, it will always be at someone's sunrise. It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

Sometimes, we see false spots that are sent by mistake. This could be because of typing errors (P5 instead of P4) or we may miscopy code. E7 is sometimes copied as EZ, and 6Y is sometimes copied as BY. (WOW! That Chinese station sure has a loud signal in Florida) We all make mistakes, we just need to be more careful and take a good look at what we are sending before we send a spot.

And then there's the beggars, and they are the very worst. "Pls listen for me, I'm calling you" "Pls turn your beam toward me" "Pls QSY to 40 meters" That's right, some of them are so inconsiderate they expect a station who is running a pile to QSY to another band just for them. (ME...ME...ME) Just jump in the pile and call like everyone else. You may not be able to get in their log as quick as the big guns, but in most cases, you can eventually be heard with a modest station if you put forth the effort. I know, since I'm living proof. If you aren't satisfied with the performance of your station, then improve your station. Oh yes, one more thing about the beggars. How about those who spot a station on a certain frequency just to beg that station to go there. If the station spotted is actually there, that would be a very rare occurrence. These types of spotters could also appropriately be placed in the next paragraph.

This page wouldn't be complete without mentioning the idiots. Anyone who has been on the cluster for a while has seen these types. They will spot "P5DX" or "BS7H" only to set off alarms and send people running for their radio, tripping over objects to get there. Or they will send P5 test spots, which is just as bad. After running to get to the radio and falling down twice, you see "Test, pls disregard." Does that perk up your day or what? Actually, we've heard these false P5 spots so many times, some of us would probably disregard it if we heard a real one.

For DXpeditions, the cluster is no place to try to communicate with the ops. Many DXpeditions have pilot stations as liaisons. This is an organized way of compiling information such as band openings and lack of activity on certain bands to certain areas. Operators on Dxpeditions don't have time to be overwhelmed with individual concerns. Most of the cluster begging that goes on is not seen by a Dxpedition. If a DXpedition is watching the cluster, the worst thing they can do it let it be known. That opens up a big can of worms.

The cluster is a useful tool when put to proper use. It's good to have a life line when something pops up that we need. We may not be on the frequency, or the band at the time. Or we could be doing something else and not even on the radio when this occurs. Things would be so much better if we didn't have to filter through all the junk. The comments section is for useful information like simplex, split frequency, short/long path, mode, etc. But unfortunately, it is used for everything else mentioned above.

Good DX and please don't post junk on the cluster.   Narcisstemic Clusteritis Bingosis (NCB)    DX Cluster Monkeys