So when a DXpedition shows up on a frequency (that wasn't in use), but it's a frequency that will be used by a NET - who wins?
Well this morning nobody won.
Here's the story: VK9DLX on Lord Howe Island showed up on 14.264.9 this morning well BEFORE the SATERN NET showed up. VK9DLX was transmitting on 14.264.9 and was listening up the band. That's a common operational practice for a DXpedition. No issues.
Here's the rub. The SATERN NET that normally meets on 14.265 fired up their net on 14.263, just 1.9KHz away from the Lord Howe DXpedition.
And therein lies the problem.
Besides QRMing VK9DLX on 14.264.9 from 14.263 (less than 2KHz away), different unidentified participants from the SATERN NET would come up to 265 and declare to the world that the SATURN NET was down 2 at 14.263. What a mess. So much for working VK9DLX on 20 Meters this morning.
Even though the SATERN NET was told several times (by several Hams) that less than 2 KHz was too close, the net controller (N3HBX) continued the net on 14.263 anyway, thus wiping out any chance to work Lord Howe on 14.264.9 (listening up). By the time the net concluded at 1538Z, propagation to the South Pacific was lost. No chance to pick up LHI on 20 Meters SSB today.
And now the interesting part.
I went down 2KHz below the SATERN NET to 14.261 and asked five times if the frequency was in use. No replies whatsoever. I inserted my 2.0KHz SSB filter, shaped my notch to remove the splatter from above and called CQ. I figured if they felt 1.9KHz separation was good enough, a little more at 2KHz would be fine too.
It didn't take long (seconds) for N3HBX (SATERN net control) to come to 261 and tell me that they had a net up 2KHz and that I was wiping them out.
My simple reply was that there's a Lord Howe station on 264.9 and they felt firing up 1.9KHz away was good enough, so given they gave Lord Howe 1.9 KHz, I gave the SATERN NET a full 2KHz.
Over the next 15 minutes (and in between the kibitzers from the SATERN NET), I did manage to work a low power California mobile and a Ham in Ohio that just installed his new G5RV antenna. I'm pretty sure I made my point because I went back up 2 after completing my QSO's and heard this:
I do give N3HBX some credit though as he did acknowledge I was 2 KHz away, and not transmitting on their frequency as he first insinuated.
Maybe the SATERN NET should take some of their own advice? Here's another net controller (W0HMS) just moments later explaining how they usually move 3KHz:
In a nutshell nobody won on 20 Meters today. IF the SATERN NET had moved 3KHz away (or farther), many stations would have been able to work Lord Howe. Even though the SATERN NET surely is an important part of radio communications, a bunch of guys spending their money to operate from Lord Howe Island and further the hobby is not to be dismissed either.
Now that you've read my ramblings, get away from your computer and go work some DX!