Operator or Station Awards?

I recall a fellow Ham at the University of Texas Amateur Radio Club (N5XU, then W5EHM) back in the 1980’s who declined to make a contact at the club station using his own callsign with some semi-rare DX station. His stated reason was that he wanted to make that contact with his home station instead of the club station. I’ve pondered that decision over the years since.

What does an Amateur Radio award like DXCC commemorate? Is it an achievement of a single operator? Or does it signify an accomplishment of a station’s antennas and radios?

The answer I think can be both. Or either. Really, it’s up to you.

I’ve moved and set up my own stations a few times over the years. None of those home stations have even been average in terms of capabilities. All of them have been below par with antennas hidden in attics or made practically invisible to neighbors. For me personally, if there’s a station I need for DXCC then I’m working it. Regardless of what station I happen to be operating. I simply don’t have the time to wait for the ideal situation where I can work that All Time New One (ATNO) from my home station. That opportunity may never come.

KA5WSS Operating Desk
The very modest KA5WSS operating position.

But I understand the allure of wanting to achieve something and to do so from a station constructed with my own hands. Partly due to Worked All States (WAS) rules and partly because I wanted to, all of my WAS awards are based on stations made from my own home station in Sonoma. There’s a different kind of satisfaction in that.

Different awards have different rules regarding valid contacts. Some, like DXCC, allow any contact made from stations within a country. Others, like WAS, limit the geographic area in which stations used to make contacts are allowed. There’s even been some controversy recently remotely controlled stations and whether contacts made with them should count for DXCC credit.

My simple philosophy is this: work them all, whenever and however you can, within the rules. You can always double back and make contact from a station of your own making later, if that opportunity arises.

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