DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

A Retrospective on Mega-DXpeditions

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 43 from the DX University™*


The rescheduling and restructuring of the 2014 Heard Island DXpedition might give us pause for additional thought. Even with the prospect of combining interests with ham radio and scientific endeavors, the cost of a vessel adequate for the Heard Island DXpedition seemed astronomical – more than USD 1 million. It is definitely [past] time to rethink some of the methods and procedures that we use to plan and finance major DXpeditions.

A discussion of DXpedition funding began in earnest at the Visalia International DX Convention in 2012. That discussion was continued at Dayton the same year with the presentation of a study presented by Don Greenbaum, N1DG (www.ncdxf.org/officers/n1dg.html). Don’s presentation gave us data relating to the sources of money that has funded recent DXpeditions. The data revealed that a majority of DXpedition funding comes from North America. While that probably isn’t a surprise, there has been discussion about why more contributions aren’t coming from Europe and Asia. I am not prepared to continue that discussion here except to say that while true, there are important reasons for existing contributory patterns. There is some evidence that these trends might be changing, however.

So far, the conversation seems to have centered on how to raise more and more money for more and more complex DXpeditions. Yet little discussion has been heard about rethinking the nature of these expeditions.

DXpeditions to destinations on land and in the mid-latitudes can be relatively inexpensive, but some expeditions to these locations have probably been considerably more expensive than necessary. Some seem to aim at removing the entire demand for the entities as though these locations would not be active for another twenty years. Assuming this level of infrequency makes sense when considering the far-southern ocean areas of the world, but it does not make sense – to me at least – when considering destinations on land and in the mid-latitude ocean areas.

There is no question that transportation is far more expensive than it has been in the past. But there is also no question that the expectations of DXers are far more extensive than they have been in past years. With the DXCC DeSoto Cup and Challenge awards, not to mention the Club Log competitions, DXers now expect to work all bands and modes easily in one fell swoop. “Got that one on 26 band-modes; what’s next?” Is it really necessary to spend up to USD 5 per QSO for operations to easier-to-access locations?

Expeditions to the far-southern latitudes are necessarily difficult, and require transportation and logistics far more expensive than the usual, easier destinations. But, mega-expeditions to less difficult places aren’t really necessary. Simply put, I believe we need to re-focus our thinking toward less expensive endeavors. I have said that as long as the money becomes available, it will be spent. But, how long can this escalation continue?

If you care to comment, write to n7ng@arrl.net or leave a message at the DX University site.

*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. The second running was held at the convention center in Visalia California on Friday, April 27, 2013. More than 120 DXers participated. The next session will be at the Rocky Mountain Division Convention in Estes Park, Colorado. You are welcome to join us at future sessions. For more information on upcoming DX University sessions, go to www.dxuniversity.com