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DXpeditions 101: What is an Operating Split?

First-time DXer? As a service to those who are new to this exciting part of Amateur Radio, DX Engineering is posting a series of articles you can use to get started on the right foot.

What is an operating split?

Split means transmitting on one frequency and listening on another. This helps everyone hear the DX station better so they can time their calls, follow instructions, and not create unnecessary interference. Expect the DXpedition to operate “split” while the pileups are medium to large, possibly up until the last few days of the operation.

A typical DXpedition might transmit on 14.195 MHz and specify they are listening “from 14.200 to 14.210.” Your receiver should be set to receive on 14.195 MHz and transmit somewhere in the 14.2 to 14.21 range. This is typically done by using the VFO A and VFO B settings (VFO stands for variable-frequency oscillator). Most transceivers have a “SPLIT” button or menu item that alternates between the VFO on receive and transmit. The transceiver manual will have instructions on how to do this.

Practice setting your VFOs, say with a friend on the air, and get used to setting the VFO used for transmitting to different frequencies a few kHz away from the DX transmitting frequency. On CW (Morse code) and RTTY (radioteletype), the typical shift in frequency is 2-5 or 10 kHz. The DX station will send “UP” or something like “UP 2” after completing a contact.

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