HAM Radio 101

What is Split Operation in Ham Radio?

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.

Certain rigs, such as the ICOM IC-7610 HF/50MHz All Mode Transceiver, have independent dual receivers, making it convenient to listen to both sides of a DX station running a split. Here’s a video from DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist Mark W8BBQ on DXing tips, including how to work split operation. And when you’re ready to upgrade your station’s DXing capabilities, DX Engineering has chaser packages featuring transceivers, antennas, linear amplifiers, headsets and more.


Leave a Reply