When I first started participating in the ARRL DXCC program, I was very serious. If there were Remotes in 2001, I probably would have said using one was “cheating”. That is because I was so serious about everyone having to do it from their own back yard (or club or DXpedition or super contest station). At the same time, occasionally, I would play golf with my Dad – because it was one of the few things we could go do together that was an outdoor activity. On the golf course, if you blew a swing, you might take a “Mulligan” – a “do-over”. I did not take golfing very serious, and so taking a Mulligan was OK. If the game were for money or true competition, then it would be cheating. But casually, and if you don’t take yourself too seriously its just part of the game – its just for fun. There were no “Mulligan Police” as far as I knew.
On the ON4KST Chat, I have seen quite a few regulars lament that the DXCC program is now meaningless because of Remotes. Some even “name and shame”. Just yesterday, I heard an IZ8 with a 20 over S9 signal calling a Caribbean station – obviously he was using a US Remote. I very much understand their lament, but I guess I just don’t take it that serious any more. If I cheat – I only cheat myself. I guess I feel like I’ve made so many QSO’s from my own back yard – there’s nothing left to prove. And who else cares what my scores are if I don’t compete with anyone else? If I’m technically within the rules, then the plaque on my wall is valid, even if I don’t do it the “old fashioned way”. They have added and deleted entities along my journey – and I had to follow those rules – so if they allow Remotes and they don’t have a location or distance rule attached to that, then that’s just another rule that changed just like the others that changed.
The rules say that its OK to use a remote anywhere from your own entity. Interestingly, your LOTW award records have a certificate with a log that is set with a location. This means if you are a purist, you would use a different awards log for your home station and your remote station (but if I remember right, the recent DXCC rule change took away the distance rule, so its probably kosher to make QSO’s from anywhere within the same entity). I remember Wayne, N7NG blogging and saying that like the QRP DXCC Award – no one can prove where they transmitted from – so the old distance rules were not enforceable. I think for those chasing DXCC Challenge or trying to top others on a Leaderboard, then playing strictly by the rules and not taking any “Mulligans” makes sense. But some of this really comes down to the promises you make to yourself – and no one on the outside really matters.
Recently I posted #98 and #100 QSO’s for DXCC on 160M. I left #99 as an open slot that I “owe” because it was made with a remote. I also worked the first Z60A QSO with a remote. These are the only 2 QSO’s I have ever made with a remote, and I did it to see how I would feel about using a remote while chasing an award. Because it is very sure that I will make #99 and work Z60A from my home station, its a matter of days before I “Get right with the Lord” . . . . The experience was AWESOME. I just couldn’t believe how much the East Coast could hear and work that the West Coast could not. It confirmed my hypothesis that chasing DXCC Challenge from your own back yard on the West Coast is a total waste of time (if you are trying to become #1). It just isn’t going to happen – 160M and 6M will prevent you from getting anywhere near the count that someone in EU or the East Coast can get to. Along with this, the Leaderboard thing is also a joke.
Here’s the funny thing – I do NOT want to run to that remote and use it as a crutch, but since I missed 3Y0E and FT5GA, when Bouvet and Glorioso come around – if a Remote is the only way I can work them – then so be it. But I will mention this as a caveat on my QRZ.COM page. It will be a public naming of my “Mulligans” . . . . I do want every QSO for DXCC Honor Roll #1 and 9BDXCC / DXCC on 160M to be from my own back yard – and in weeks I will make good on this. Here’s an irony – I have made a handful of QSO’s where I was logged into the ON4KST Chat. It gets murky – the same guys calling others out for using Remotes also use the Chat to make “assisted” QSO’s. Some said that Packet Cluster Spots and Internet Clusters are cheating. Technically they are not – they are new tools that you can use – or not. You be the judge.
I am so looking forward to ending my DXCC chase – because I am stuck with the promise to myself that I would only make QSO’s from my own back yard. I made this promise in 2001 – and I want to stay true to my promise to myself – because yes, there is some guilt with me using a Remote. That promise has me feeling very much stifled – like I am living in the past and not taking advantage of new and very exciting technologies that I know will be just pure fun. After all – this is a hobby, and we are supposed to have fun, right?
And again – I felt like I “made the grade” in 2013 when I made Honor Roll in 11 years 100% from my own back yard. Only DXCC on 160 and 9BDXCC also need that “rule” – nothing else matters to me.
After I make my final last couple of DXCC goals (per my personal promise), I will use Remotes to compare East Coast with West Coast propagation. Maybe I will see about doing radio direction finding using several remotes. Its an area that could prove to be quite fascinating.