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Combining the Latest DX News with the Best Resources
DXing.info - DXers' new home on the Internet

By Mika Mäkeläinen

Wouldn't it be great to have one single website where you could check out the latest news, audio clips, loggings and background information? All this combined with an interactive forum for discussion, giving you the opportunity to chat with DXers from all around the world. Not a dream anymore - such a site is located at www.dxing.info and has already become hugely popular with hobbyists worldwide.

Would you like to publish this Article in your local DX Magazine? The article is available also as an MS Word file for download. You can publish the article in any non-commercial DX Magazine for free, but please email when and where you intend to publish it.

The first precondition for successful DXing is to stay alert and up-to-date on changes taking place in the broadcasting scene. International broadcasting stations change their schedules regularly and this information is normally available on their websites. New domestic broadcasting stations, their new frequencies or new schedules are much more difficult to keep up with, and this is where websites like DXing.info can be very useful.

In news, being fast and being right is what counts. If you are among the first DXers sending a report to a new radio station, your chances of getting a QSL - or even hearing the station - are much better than those arriving later. And your reply is likely to be much more enthusiastic, as the station has not yet been inundated with mail from abroad. One of my best memories in this sense is Radio Eco from Bolivia. I was the first person in Finland to report the station and received, among other things, a small stuffed alligator in return!

After DXing.info was launched in April 2002, it has consistently been the first (public) website in the world to publish news on the most important new shortwave radio stations of this past spring, including Radio Baluarte (6215 kHz), CPN Arequipa (was temporarily on 6150 kHz), La Voz de tu Conciencia (6064.5 and later on 6060 kHz) and Radio UNAMSIL (6137.8 kHz). The latest news item or items are always featured on the front page (not a bad choice for your browser homepage), while other news of the ongoing month are available on the News page where you can also find the news archive. It pays to take a peek in the archived news of the previous months, because DXing.info has often featured new stations well in advance.

Unedited news and indices in real time

But you don't need to rely on the edited material written and selected by me as the editor of DXing.info. What makes DXing.info perhaps the fastest source for DX News on the Internet, even faster than moderated mailing lists, is that its users can post news on the Community Forums in real time. Community members can send their DX logs and QSL news in an instant, without moderation causing any extra delay. This is why several DXers have preferred to set the DXing.info Community as their homepage when browsing the Internet.

In addition to news, all DXers need to keep up to date on the latest propagation conditions. On DXing.info this is made as easy as possible. The latest propagation report (solar-terrestrial indices) and forecast from NOAA (the same as you hear on radio station WWV) is displayed on the front page and automatically updated every three hours. If you want more detailed information, the Propagation page contains for example maps (that are updated automatically) of Auroral activity around the poles. You can also find a forecast for the A-index up to 45 days ahead, along with the best Internet resources.

I have reviewed all propagation sites that I was able to find, and added links only to the best resources, grouping them to categories according to content. These links give you a clear picture of the ongoing solar cycle and a good idea on how conditions on the band are developing. The page is well worth checking whenever you plan to spend time on the dial, and is a vital resource when preparing for a longer DXpedition.

Radio station profiles and station identifications

Often when I listen to an interesting radio station, I would love to know more about the station. Visits to radio stations are among the articles I enjoy most in DX magazines. A well-written profile article on a station - especially of a station that doesn't have a website - retains its value for years. In the Profile section DXing.info aims to collect such articles, so if you visit a station, catch a rare station on the dial or receive an exceptionally nice QSL with lots of information about the station, why not share your joy with other DXers - articles and any other kind of contributions may be sent by email to info (at) dxing.info. On DXing.info you will get a worldwide audience of hobbyists who share your enthusiasm and value your achievements.

Listening to station identifications is equally fun and is often a great tool to determine whether your tentative catch of some station really is the station in question. The Audio collection of station identifications from around the world is probably the largest of its kind on the Internet. Here you can listen to both studio quality and DX quality recordings. Just pick a country from the pull-down menu and you will get stations listed in frequency order.

Many recordings are in the Real Media format, and you need the Real Player software to play them. A free version of this software can be downloaded from the Real website. More recent recordings are mostly in MP3 format, and some also in Windows Media. Small file sizes are preferred.

The audio section of DXing.info contains both new stations - DXing.info was the first website to make available for example the station identifications of Radio Baluarte and La Voz de tu Conciencia - as well as archive recordings of stations that no longer exist, from countries that are long gone. Over time the audio collection gains value also as a historical reference source.

In addition to profiles and audio, a useful feature is a list of radio station from a particular country you are interested in. On the Lists page you can find a couple of X-band lists with the essential contact information and hyperlinks to websites. X-band lists on the web are handy because they can be updated continuously, just like the situation on the X-band which seems to change constantly - making printed listed helplessly outdated. Also, a list of links to other good station lists on the Internet is provided on the same page.

Glossary and other DXing resources

Previously listed features of DXing.info have been more or less focused on radio stations, and can be of interest to anybody involved in (international) broadcasting, but on DXing.info you can also find content that is designed specifically and only for DXers - or future DXers. An Introduction of the hobby is included for those who come across the site with no idea what DX stands for.

As for other abbreviations used in this hobby of ours, they are numerous and can remain mysteries even to experienced hobbyists. For this purpose a hyperlinked Glossary is featured, and abbreviations are included. Here you can check the meaning of terms and jump easily from one term to another. Having browsed other DX glossaries on the Internet I would say this one is really comprehensive and the interface is a pleasure to use.

Always when I'm in contact with radio stations by email I have explained what the hobby is all about. To make the job easier, nowadays I can just add a link to http://www.dxing.info/introduction.dx without going into too much detail.

Oh, you may wonder about the .dx ending in most of the file names on DXing.info. It is just the final touch, made possible by the server that hosts DXing.info, and named after our beloved hobby, that makes the content on DXing.info stand out from the mass of files on the World Wide Web. Not used on any other site on the Internet, .dx is hereby reserved for this hobby of ours ;-)

Articles are for novices and more experienced DXers alike. One of the most exciting pieces of DX reporting that I have recently come across is Danny Wu's article about DXing in China, added in this section in June 2002. To me at least this inside view was a first of its kind and definitely a must to all DXers. I have a feeling that DXing has great potential in China and that we're going to hear a lot more from Danny and his friends in the future. Articles like this one on China are linked to other resources both within and outside DXing.info so that you can easily access any relevant additional information, such as sound files of the stations.

Logs are another vital brand of DX information. Individual loggings are best posted on the Community Forums (I'll tell you more about it in a while), but longer and more comprehensive logs can be posted in the logs section. There is a separate page for DXpedition logs where you can also read exciting accounts of DXpeditions to various locations and even watch a video report on Arctic DXing! The content under DXpeditions is in fact what can be seen as the seed of the entire site back in 1997 - something that you can learn more about in the history of the site.

Improve your equipment

One of the most popular pages of DXing.info - to my surprise, I have to admit - is the Equipment section, which gives you valuable advice on how to improve your antennas and other equipment, taking into account the restrictions imposed by the urban environment where most of us have to practise DXing. From equipment reviews to construction guides, this is also the page where you can have your own reviews published.

One of the most interesting topics on the equipment page is the K9AY antenna, which seems to have become very popular over the last two years. I use the antenna myself, but I have mixed feelings about it. Is the antenna really as good as many people say? Find out for yourself - comprehensive reviews and test results by Bjarne Mjelde and John Bryant are posted on the site.

And when you have your equipment in order, it is time to start QSLing… DXing.info gives you links to some of the best QSL galleries on the Internet and offers other important resources for collectors of QSL cards, including links to various country lists - yes, there are big differences in how we count our points in various parts of the world. As for the latest verie-signers, your best bet is to check out the next section of DXing.info, the Community Forums.

Participate in discussion forums

A core part of DXing.info is the Community Forums. This discussion forum contains news, logs, QSL info and other kind of information useful to DXers, all neatly organized by the topic. Unlike the rest of DXing.info, where specified editors write and upload information, on the Forums you are the editor - you can post anything DX-related and share it with the worldwide DXing community in real time.

Information is divided into categories such as National Radio (and further into continents), International Radio, FM DXing, Equipment etc, and subdivided into forums. The idea is that you can check out only the information that you find most relevant and interesting instead of having to go through a pile of messages which you couldn't care less about - as can be the case with some mailing lists. Even afterwards the way that information is organized makes it easy to retrieve whatever you're looking for.

A sophisticated search function (click the search icon on the Community front page) is included in case you prefer to look for information based on a keyword or author's name. It allows you to limit your search to a specific category or forum as well as to limit the time frame of posts taken into account. You can for instance type China and get all posts regarding Chinese stations and Chinese DXing listed immediately, sorted by category.

Another benefit in comparison with mailing lists is that by using these Forums you can reserve your email for truly private messages and you avoid the many problems of email lists such as getting your email account clogged. Over time you may even reduce spam in your mailbox, because when you post messages on the Forums, you don't need to reveal your email address to other ordinary users, like you would normally do on mailing lists. This way your email address remains private and is not spread around the Internet where search engines have access to many mailing list and newsgroup messages.

It takes a bit more time to post a message in the forum where it belongs to, but by doing so, you make it a lot easier for others to find precisely the information that they are interested in.

As is evident on the site, the Community Forums have become an instant success story. Reading the memberlist is like browsing the Who is who of international DXing; DXers who are most active both on the band and on the Net have welcomed this new way of distributing DX information. No wonder really, considering that the software used is the latest available, very intuitive and easy to use. Navigation is fast and the Forums include exciting features like private messages and opinion polls.

Membership makes things easier

Although anyone can browse the Community Forums of DXing.info, you can take full advantage of the Community only by registering first. Community membership doesn't cost anything nor does it oblige you to contribute regularly (although that would be appreciated, after all sharing information is the basic idea of the Forums) but it does give you added comfort in using the pages.

To become a member, just click the Register icon on the Community main page, this will guide you through the registration process. First you need to approve the rules, then your information is registered in the database. One of the aims is to get DXers around the world to know each other better, therefore only real names are used as usernames. Your email is needed to confirm your registration, but you may choose to hide your email address from other users. In that case it remains visible only to the administrator.

You can choose your password, but don't make it too easy so that it could be guessed by anyone. The password can be changed later. Not even the administrator knows your password, but if you happen to forget your password at some point, no panic, you will get a new one automatically by email and later you can change it to anything you like.

In the profile you may list a variety of online contact information for yourself and give additional personal information such as location, occupation and interests, which are visible to all users - it is totally up to you how much of yourself you want to share with other DXers. You may choose that a signature file is automatically added to each message that you post. In the end you have control over several variables, such as the publicity of your email address and online status (down the Community main page there is a section Who is online listing those members who are currently logged in). You don't need to make final decisions at this point, as you can change your settings any time later on through the Profile link.

After you are done with the settings, submit the page and your registration request is sent automatically to the administrator - currently me. I approve (activate) all registrations manually, normally within 24 hours, but occasionally it can take longer due to travel assignments, so please be patient. When I have approved your application, you will get an automated email reply saying that your account is activated. Then you can log in with your username (your real name) and password and begin taking full advantage of the Forums.

Choose your personal front page

After you've looked around, you may want to change the appearance of the Forums when you arrive there. On the front page of DXing.info in the navigation bar on the left you can see several options under the Community heading. By clicking these (or by clicking the category titles on the Community page) you can see how part of the Forums can appear "collapsed" and only the category that you're most interested in, is visible. This may be useful, if your interest in DXing is very limited to, say, domestic or FM broadcasting stations. Likewise, if you're into international radio you might want to have International Radio as your personal entry page - by saving it as your browser homepage, or by adding it to your favorites or bookmarks.

When you're logged in, you will soon notice that spotting new posts is made easy by the color symbols, unread messages appear in different color. By clicking the forum and then the relevant topic, you enter the message, or the thread of messages, if someone has already replied to the message. When you're reading a message, you can either post a reply (which will be added to the same thread) or start a new topic (in which case you write the subject first and then the message itself).

Posting a message is easy

If you've ever sent an email and navigated the World Wide Web, you will instantly learn how to post a message. After clicking the "New Topic" icon (or the "Post Reply" icon) you can give your message a subject and then proceed to writing a message. Keep the title concise; mentioning the name and frequency of the station in question is a good idea, if your message is about a logging or a QSL.

You can use emoticons to express feelings and a special code called the BBcode to format the text. With the BBcode you can for example highlight and underline text and add links. All this is optional, writing plain text is just fine. Before submitting your message on the forum, you can preview it, and even after having it published, you can return to edit the message. This sounds more complicated than it is - when you've done it once, the second time is easy and fast. If you prefer to take a practise shot first, there is a forum specifically for test messages.

Questions and answers on the site

The forums have many additional features that are best explored on the site itself. On the Forums forum you can learn for example about moderators and ranks. The Community Forums has a very comprehensive FAQ to answer any questions which you may have about the Forums and how they function. The rest of the DXing.info website has another FAQ.

For any other information about DXing.info, please check the About page - this contains links to various informative texts about the site including an overall presentation, FAQ, terms of use, site history, a look at what's new (not a bad idea to check this page when you arrive at the site to get a quick review of the latest updates) etc. There are even banners that you can place on your own website, and a page of comments to see what other users think of DXing.info.

Last but not least, the people who make all this possible. The DXing.info "Hall of fame" including profiles of the DXers who have contributed to DXing.info. Your name and presentation can appear here as well. You can contribute to the site in many ways. Aside from posting messages in the Community Forums, you can send recorded station identifications for the audio collection (first read instructions on the Audio index page) or you can offer your DXpedition logs, equipment reviews and other articles to be published on the website for the enjoyment of other DXers. If you have software expertise, especially on PHP and website design, I could use a helping hand. If you would like to translate some of the contents of this site to another language, be in touch.

Also, please do bear in mind that there is no subscription fee for the content on DXing.info - but it still costs to keep it going. If you have enjoyed using the site, maybe you can consider supporting the site financially. Any contributions are warmly welcomed and will contribute to developing DXing.info further.

In any matters, you can be in touch by emailing to DXing.info - an easy address to remember, for a site that is easy to enjoy. The reliable information source and the new home for DXers on the Internet.

published on August 12, 2002

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