Dear fellow True Blue DXers,

When I initially thought about the True Blue DXers Club, last July, I was dreaming to have perhaps 500 members by the end of the year. Three and a half months later we stand at over 750, and new members sign up every day. This is both an indication that I had had a good idea and, especially, that the time was ripe for such an initiative.

Now, we can bask in the modest glory of our growing numbers. Or, we can look ahead and find ways to make ourselves meaningful. Let’s remember that our overall aim is to promote human-to-human DX communication using CW and SSB. Less officially, between ourselves, shall we say that we want to do all we can to keep the CW and phone sub-bands alive, so that we and others can continue enjoying our passion?

One of the ways we have to do that is to launch our own awards programme. This is no easy thing to do, mainly because there is an award for absolutely everything these days.

Still, we managed to come up with four ideas which reflect the specificity of the Club, promote DX excellence using traditional means and recognises the activity of those striving to keep up the activity on HF bands.

Here are the basic concepts:

    • Worked All True Blue. QSO with 10% of the current membership, as announced by the website. At the moment of writing, for instance, the membership stands at 756, so contacts with 75 different members would be required. An online members database is currently being worked on, and search facility should be available in all major log programs.
    • CW DX Excellence and SSB DX Excellence. QSO with 200 DXCC countries in a calendar year (365 days between first and last QSO).
    • MILLION MILES Award. Recognises efforts at increasing everyday CW and phone activity. Exchange WW Locators, work out the distance between stations and tally up one million miles during one calendar year but only during weekdays (in order to exclude contest QSO).
    • DX ULTIMATE Award. Like the ARRL Grid Square challenge, but open-end, that is no time limits, and CW/SSB only (mixed mode, no digital). Basic award at 500 Grid Squares confirmed, Honor Roll at 1,000. Honor Roll list published and regularly updated on the website, with current totals.

In order to finalise the proposals and to roll out the awards programme, we are looking for an Award Manager. Tony, IZ2ESV, who had initially volunteered, remains fully engaged with the Club, but owing to other commitments, cannot fulfill the role now.

The ideal candidate has 3/4 hours of time per week to dedicate to this activity and excellent written English communications skills. He or she must be highly organised and capable of working in autonomy. He or she will maintain regular contact with myself and Petr OK1RP, the Club President.

If you are interested, please drop a mail to peteparisetti@gmail.com with a few of paragraphs about yourself, your ham radio activity and why you think you are the right candidate.

This is obviously a volunteer position, therefore non-remunerated. The selection process is completely informal – basically Petr and myself looking at any candidate we may have, perhaps have a Skype chat with a couple, and then make a decision.

We hope to hear from at least some of you!

Meanwhile, thank you for your continued support.

73 Pete MM0TWX
TBDXC Founder and COO

17 COMMENTS

  1. Hello,

    we would like to invite you together with DQ_Radio for SKN event tonite
    on 80/40m band CW using pump keys.

    CQ CQ SKN…
    The members of HA5KKC, HA8KVK and HG0DQR
    are inviting you to participate in a Straight Key
    Night activity on 80 and 40 meters bands from
    18.00 CET 16 November, to 06.00 CET 17 November.

    https://groups.io/g/ok-on-air/attachment/797/0/SKN_ang.pdf
    https://plus.google.com/?hl=eng
    https://www.facebook.com/tbdxc

    73 – de Petr, M0SIS aka OK1RP

  2. Hello Pete

    You also have my respect for your reasoned argument and more particularly your level of honest conviction here.

    I have a very high level of respect for the mountaineering community being a man that is proud to complete a 20km day hike over reasonably flattish terrain. The world is being stripped of an important human attribute, that being “courage”, so I admire any man or woman that is still engaged in what I consider to be “courageous” activity.

    I am sure that within the mountaineering community itself that these FT8 type discussions have been going on for a long time (comparisons to sports climbing are probably not even required). I am sure the guys who climbed the tallest peaks in the 60s and 70s must look at the “group tour” approach to say climbing Everest that exists today and mutter “not True Blue”. But even back in the climbing glory days there would be those who argue that using hundreds of sherpa porters to stage climb a mountain is not “TrueBlue” either. I guess this is a relativity concept where the man who has climbed the mountain alone, unassisted, without oxygen looks down from the peak of TrueBlueness and feels a tad superior to everyone else who chose an easier path. And he has earned that right.

    I am not so sure all this neatly applies to the FT8 debate at least not in my case. I use FT8 to try and make qsos that were not possible to make before FT8 / JT was invented. It is like a new piece of mountaineering kit has been invented that suddenly opens up the possibility of scaling previously unconquered peaks. Sure, there are guys using the new kit to make climbing the old regulars even easier and I have no issue with that (each to his own).

    Finally, a point of clarification around the webpage – the fault may lie at my end – the page presents very nicely here on my PC but when I was viewing it via my tablet the layout was a “dogs breakfast”. This may be a problem specific to my Samsung tablet or it could be a broader issue. Check it our with a tablet at your end just to be sure. The webpage looks absolutely fine when viewed via my Windows PC

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  3. Paul, VK4MA.

    I would like to thank you for addressing the issues, rather than throwing around tired and irrelevant slogans as others do, and for doing so in a calm, intelligently argumentative way.

    In this totally absurd discussion – seen from an outsiders’ perspective – in which two people argue about a ridiculously marginal issue, on the world scale, rightly ignored by anybody else, I would like myself to respond to the accusation of elitism you raise with respect to the True Blue DXers Club.

    Yes, you are correct. Although the definition of True Blue is open to many interpretations, in our case it was chosen to communicate a certain sense of elite. Given that this is not intended as an elite of wealth or achievements but rather of intentions, attitudes and means to achieve a goal, I am very comfortable in using it.

    It comes handy for me, as a passionate mountain climber, to use the mountaineering analogy. In the 1980s, as rock climbing began branching out into a sport, indoor climbing walls started popping up all over the world. There, increasingly phenomenal athletes train to overcome mind boggling levels of technical difficulty. They do so indoors, on an artificial structure created to somewhat simulate the rock climbing environment, protected at all times by a “top rope” that will catch them as they, very frequently, peel off the wall.

    Sports climbers and mountain climbers do the same thing: they climb. And yet, they don’t. What may seem as essentially the same thing to the casual observer, it obviously isn’t. An ungifted climber like myself gawps in astonishment at what the sports climbers do, and yet feels different and somehow “superior” (although I hate to use that word). I am a mountaineer. To enjoy my passion and conquer my modest peaks, I tolerate, almost welcome sufferance and risk. I have a long tradition behind me, I have an ethos which I share with my peers. In my own value system, I am better.

    Does this mean that I despise sports climbers or their sport? Absolutely not! I have nothing but astonished admiration for them. We simply do different things, and I like my thing better. If we consider the climbing world, mountaineering is “true blue” and sports climbing is not.

    Fortunately, however, the explosion of indoor climbing walls has not come to the detriment of traditional mountaineering.

    FT8, on the other hand, has majorly come to the detriment of traditional DXing activities. I would like to challenge the slogan-throwers who accuse us to be “grumpy old men”: try to work not the DXCC, but just 50 countries on 50 MHz without using FT8 these days. You will see for yourself that it is practically impossible. Day after day, you see a string of juicy DX only and exclusively on 50.313. And you actually hear most of them! Let’s see, then, if you yourself get grumpy or what. To those who disingenuously shout “operate instead of complaining” and “live and let live” I suggest to do what I do every day: operate. You will call on a CW frequency, you will see your call reported all over the world on reversebeacons.net, and nobody will answer you. Meanwhile, dozens of people on the same band exchange automated messages with a mouseclick thinking they are working “DX”.

    Not being at all gifted, I spent an incalculable number of hours trying to perfect my CW skills. That, in my value system, makes me True Blue. Last year I managed to make it into the High Speed Club, and after that basically my hobby and my passion died a sudden and painful – for me – death. And if I express my pain, I am a technophobe, elisitist, and grumpy.

    Finally, Paul, I personally designed the TBDXC webpage, using Wix. I think it is a thing of beauty, and am pained that you think otherwise.

    73 and thanks again.

    Pete MM0TWX

  4. Hello Pete

    I agree that I have cherry picked one of the better uses for FT8. But the mode does have it benefits ie

    Opening newly discovered paths on 6 metres
    Allowing dxpeditioners to travel to far away locations with a smaller load of radio equipment
    Faster qso rates for dxpeditioners once Fox and Hound is perfected
    Allowing guys who are not proficient at cw to work dx on topband, 80 and 30 metres and for dx chasers like me to have access to a new pool of stations to work on these bands.
    Extending the opening times on the lowbands before sunset or after sunrise.
    Acting as a propagation tool / beacon for those guys who are not interested in FT8 qsos but may wish for signs of short band openings, particularly on 6 metres.
    Allowing access to difficult paths on the lowbands that were previously only workable with huge antennas at both ends.
    The list goes on….

    In a recent discussion with a fellow ham re FT8 I put forward the hypothetical…. what if ssb had come first in ham radio and cw had been invented later as a means for better dx qso sensitivity and efficiency? CW is afterall an artifical means of substituting a human voice (which has poor radio clarity) for tones that enjoy better radio throughput. Most cw qsos for a long time have simply been an exchange of callsign and 599 with very few real conversations taking place. I am very proficient at cw but I have hardly ever had a conversation with this mode because it is just not as effective and personal for real conversing as compared to ssb. So is there really a big difference here between FT8 and cw – sure cw is a skill that has to be learned – but fundamentally we have the same callsign / 599 exchange – many are using computers to send cw and an increasing number are using computers to also decode this mode. It is a little less mindless than FT8 but not by a huge degree these days.

    To the non passionate observer ham radio has always been a bit of a mindless hobby – if I demonstrate ham radio to a non ham friend their initial questions often are;

    Why do you need such a big antenna to talk overseas when I can do the same thing using just my tiny mobile phone
    When you talk to an overseas ham what do you talk about (answer – very little – we usually just exchange reports).

    The non ham then looks at you a little strangely and probably thinks what a mindless activity

    In short – many ham radio activities can appear mindless to those who do not have the passion for the particular activity. Grown men kicking a ball around a field can be mindless to some yet not to hundreds of millions of others.

    Once again, I reiterate my support for a group that is keen on repopulating the cw and ssb part of the band. Despite the “feel good” letter from the TrueBlue president stating that the group is not critical of FT8 users I am simply saying that this goodwill is not reflected in the name of the organisation or in its motto. “TrueBlue” suggests that others not engaging in TrueBlue qsoing techniques are somehow not “TrueBlue”.
    The group motto suggests that the TrueBlue group are engaging in a martyrdom of keeping it “hard” whereas FT8 users are doing it “easy”.

    I was simply pointing out that the reality is not that simple – some ssb and cw qsos are very easy – some are hard, and the same situation applies to FT8 and other digital modes.

    As for my webpage comments – I am certainly no computer expert – but I recognise an ugly looking webpage when I see one. But I concede I may be a little anal retentive when it comes to expectations re the look of a page, particularly when you can go to a company like WIX and create a pretty decent looking webpage at virtually no cost

    Cheers for now
    Paul – vk4ma

  5. I have moved to the countryside, because of city noise and limitations. I spend hours daily on the radio.
    I have over 2400 DX Challenge band points on CW, and over 2500 on all modes using simple antennas.

    Still I dont qualify to be a true blue dxer, because someone defines its only for traditional modes.

    Like VK4MA & UR5RCV I spend lots of hours on 6m, chasing ultraweak signal on FT8 (and CW).

    I saw a comment from a British station on ON4KST. He had not heard NA the last 15 minutes on 6m.
    Well, here in JP33 I have not heard NA all day. And I have good EME reception level.

    This hobby has WAY too many grumpy old static men. OPERATE the mode you like, and be active daily.
    Live and let live is a positive motto, that will get you further than bitching about FT8 on a daily basis.

    Per, LA7DFA

  6. I,m suporting Paul opinion. Constantly new in our hobby meets resistance and rejection of the orthodox. So it was in the 60’s, when the SSB appeared. Most people said what a ugly modulation. Imagine now is connected through the moon CW or SSB.There for a long time all is replaced with digital kinds of communication. And again about the revolutionary invention of K1JT, if you want to successfully engage in DXing, then there also need good antennas and sometimes power. I heared VK4MA on 50.313 several times for very short period but still no luck with 6 el.beam. And one more example – having 106 countries worked on 6m I still never worked NA and SA even with my antenna. As for the HF bands, there just as well need to have good antennas and as well as power. Without antenna you can/t decode rare DX. I,m a DXCC HR#1 holder as many other prestigious plaques but FT8 aroused in me a second life and interest in radio

    73,s Igor UR5LCV
    50 years in HAM radio and I’m proud that I’m not a dinosaur 🙂

  7. Thanks for your first, interesting, observation, Paul.

    The example you quote is certainly valid. However, I have my very own opinion about sitting on a frequency, waiting for a rare opening to appear and completing a QSO through one mouseclick. Yesterday, we had an interesting, very short skip sporadic E opening in Europe on 6 and 10. On 10 meters, there are still a few European countries that I miss because the modest distance makes it difficult to get them, and ALL four of them came out yesterday. Two I couldn’t hear, so no contest. One (OJ0C) was in and out of the noise. I called for an hour, and didn’t make the QSO. The other (GU4) stopped calling before I could tune my antenna, so I missed him as well. Imagine that I am such dinosaur that I use a manual tuner to tune my ladder line fed 160m dipole! I am in no doubt that if these two stations appeared on the FT8 watering hole I would have worked them. But you know what? I am actually happy that I didn’t work them. Because I actively enjoyed the (modest) struggle I had on OJ0C – that is DXing for me. And the missed GU4 reminds of the haphazard nature – and the untold charm – of DXing immeasurably more than looking at a computer screen waiting for a callsign to appear.

    The interesting example you quote is not, I believe, representative of the use the vast majority makes of FT8. A dear friend of mine, top-of-the pack DXer for some 30 years, worked a new one on 6 metres last Saturday – a rare occurrence for him, given his band totals. He lives in Italy and worked Z6, a few hundred miles away, on FT8. By his own admissions he did so “whilst watching a video on Youtube”. I would like somebody to explain to me exactly how this practice “pushes the limit”.

    The reality, Paul, is that most days I spend half an hour calling on various CW frequencies, and essentially nobody answers. As I do so, I see on the cluster an uninterrupted stream of “DX spots” whereby LA5s report working DL3s (400 km apart) on 14074. Then I turn the VFO (imagine that some hams still do that!) across a deserted CW sub-band, and around 074 I find a jungle of loud signals. People sitting on one frequency to make one-mouseclick QSOs with stations they could work if they shouted out of the window. How exactly does that qualify as “pushing the limits”? THAT is 95% of the FT8 reality, my friend. The remaining 5% is real DX, especially on 6 metres, which DOES NOT SHOW UP on CW and SSB not because the QSO would not be possible, but because it’s a lot easier to sit on one frequency and wait for the opening (see the string of JAs worked from Europe last Saturday… they would have been 579 on CW).

    The reality, Paul, is that my hobby and passion of a lifetime has been, to a large extent, destroyed, not because Joe Taylor invented an incredible new form of communication, but because most people seem to enjoy what I, as a certified dinosaur, see as essentially a brainless activity. I am glad to feel less alone in my being a dinosaur as, since creating the TBDXC seven weeks ago, an average 100 persons a week have joined the ranks, top of the Honor Roll and “I’ve just started” alike. Maybe we’ll manage to repopulate the CW and SSB bands a little, without taking anything away from the FT8 enthusiasts.

    Finally, some may see your second observation as gratuitous, anal retentive and odious. As a computer expert, you may want to look up the meaning of anal retentive.

    73 Pete MM0TWX

  8. I obviously have no problem with a group focused on ssb and cw qsoing. Good luck to you guys.

    I only have two observations to make:

    The group motto – “because it is hard not because it’s easy”

    My receiver has sat continually on 50.313 for the entirety of June and July with my beam pointing to Europe. The potential window for us here in vk4 is roughly two hours per day (0500-0700z). So we have had approximately 100 hours of potential window to EU with 8 elements beaming that way from a very quiet rural location. Every station in Europe is now txing on 50.313 and in that time I have managed to work only 10 EU stations this year. The average opening time has been about 2 minutes per station worked and the average signal strength about -15. If making these 10 FT8 qsos is “easy” then I look forward to hearing about the even more difficult qsos being made by the TrueBlue team.

    My point is that FT8 can be used to push out the known frontiers of available propagation. These qsos are far from easy. In fact they are so difficult that it is only since the invention of JT-65 and FT8 that these new 6m paths have been discovered. In the summer just past here in VKZL, hundreds of qsos were made into the southern half of South American on six for the first time in over 20 years. Mostly done via JT-65 but some done on CW and ssb as well.

    These amazing qsos are made not so much because of the sensitivity of the K1JT modes but more particularly because everyone is now txing and rxing on one common frequency. These tiny micro openings, often not lasting more than 2 minutes, were just not detectable in the more random ssb / cw world. This is exciting stuff.

    Ham radio is supposed to be about pushing the boundaries and there is no doubt that k1jt invented modes are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the context of dxing.

    My second observation would be that it is clear the True Blue Group are not computer lovers. Their webpage may well be the worst webpage I have ever seen .

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  9. Very intersting motto! But you forgot to re-maind for e.g. true blue DXers never use ON4KST chat, DX clusters and WebSDR. And how about RTTY where human ears ca,nt decode incoming signals. Lets, back to 50,s and 60,s with old good CLC modulation. and vintage radio. That would be a real DX hunting in W9WNV, W4BPD and W6KG/QL style.

    73, Igor UR5LCV

  10. Petr,
    I am very pleased to join TBDXC. Thanks so much for making this possible. If TBDXC has a PayPal account, I would like to make a donation to offset expenses. See you on the bands!
    73,
    Tom, K3TW
    Lecanto, FL U.S.A.
    TBDXC #439

  11. look forward to having a Q S O with fellow members , All the very best of DX for every one.

  12. Letter from the TBDXC President, Petr OK1RP

    Dear fellow DXers,

    It is my pleasure to write to you and welcome you once again to the True Blue DXers Club.

    This initiative is barely a week old, and has already attracted great support, together with – inevitably – some controversy. As I write, we have gathered as many as 273 members. In just over a week, we think this is a remarkable success and makes us optimistic about the future.

    Any controversy seems to originate in people misunderstanding (or wanting to misunderstand…) what the Club stands for. In this respect, let me remind you once again that the TBDXC has NOTHING against FT8 or other digital modes, nothing against those who are using them and, especially, NOTHING against Joe, K1JT. The TBDXC applauds technical innovation, and we are glad that so many people have found a new way for their amateur radio passion.

    Rather, the Club was created to bring together like-minded Amateurs who may feel that their ethos and approach to DX communication is dying off in the wake of the “digital revolution” brought about by FT8. Given the level of enthusiasm the Club has triggered in only its first week of existence, this is obviously not the case. Practically, the aim of the Club is to a) to promote the use of radiotelegraphy (CW) and radiotelephony (SSB) in long-distance communications on the amateur bands; and b) to encourage the continuous improvement and refinement of the human, personal skills needed to do so.

    Our programme of work for the next few weeks includes:
    1. Setting the club’s meeting frequencies
    2. Promoting regular CW/SSB on-air nets
    3. Developing the CW/SSB Award program
    4. Finding ways to support beginners to develop top on-air operating skills.

    Changes happen almost daily (frequencies have been set, for instance, and both the schedule for on-air nets and the first awards to be offered by the Club will be announced very soon). Therefore, you have to check the Website http://www.tbdxc.net regularly, as all updates will be published there.
    Also, if the Club is to continue to grow, we count on your support for
    spreading the word” amongst amateurs who share our passion for person-to-person, long-distance amateur radio communication.

    The vision for the True Blue DXers Club is to be a point of reference for the values we stand for, and to create a platform where like-minded hams can recognize each other and gather. In essence, the TBDXC is a group of people who take care of the Ham Radio legacy. We have our own way to do that – some may call us “traditionalists” – and therefore we have a clear identity. DXing is our lifestyle and we stand up for that.
    Thank you again for joining the Club and for reading this letter. You will only receive occasional emails from us – please refer to the website for news and updates.

    73 and Long Live DX!
    Petr Ourednik OK1RP TBDXC #12

  13. This is really a good idea–to protect the traditions of ham radio, such as: enjoyable hard work building a competent ham station and reaping the rewards when actually talking to another human being in far away lands, on cw or ssb. Thank you for the TRUE BLUE DXers CLUB; I will talk it up on the air.

  14. If a computer can do all the work for you as a DXer, an ATNO is not worth a lot. I watched someone working in FT8 and it was not very exciting. Interesting technique, but no thrill and no effort. The machines are taking over. Fine for hams without an antenna, but bad for activities on the bands and for the DXing aspect of the hobby in general. But it´s our own responsibility to keep our bands alive. So, I don´t blame FT8 and its developer for it all. The new club is a good step.

  15. Finally some common sense!
    It’s really quite a shame we even need an organization like this. However, that’s where our once beloved hobby is now regarding DXing.

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