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Heard DXpedition Restructuring

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 44 from the DX University™*


Following the announcement that the [now] 2015 Heard Island DXpedition will be restructured, several questions arise. One obvious option for a restructured expedition to Heard would be to field a smaller team – 4 to 6 operators – for maybe 30 days. Longer expeditions usually offer a better chance of good propagation. Such a configuration would also require a smaller, less expensive vessel. Assuming fewer operators and stations will be available, however, how should the operating strategy be designed? Should the organizers still try to maximize the number of QSOs as has become “traditional”? Or should some sort of preference be given to those who have never worked Heard?

For an entity that will not have been active for 18 years, aiming for the maximum number of QSOs seems not to be the best option. The demand for even one QSO will be too great. Traditionally, limited expeditions (as opposed to unlimited expeditions) to new or otherwise extremely rare entities attempt to maximize the number of different (unique) callsigns. In trying to optimize the number of unique callsigns, the planners might ask these questions:

1)      Considering the limitations of the operation, should we try to limit the stations worked to those who need Heard for an all-time new one for perhaps for a week or two?

2)      Would DXers who already have credit for Heard be willing to stand-by and allow others to make their first QSO?

3)      Would DXers financially support the DXpedition even if they might not be able to log 10+ band-modes?

4)      And, overarching: What should be the goal of the next Heard Island DXpedition?

Right away, one wonders how the DXpedition operators might be able to limit the stations worked to those who have no previous Heard Island credit. Perhaps some sort of database of those who have previously received credit might be employed. The DXCC system can’t (easily) produce such a database, and even if it did, not all DXers worldwide participate in the DXCC program, so no appropriate database really exists. Even if the data did exist, enforcement would be difficult at best. With some coaxing, the DXCC system can tell us how many DXCC participants need a particular entity, however.

Could QSOs be limited to optimize the number of uniques in the DXpedition log? Perhaps any band dupes might be rejected for the first week or two. Perhaps with adequate networking, the DXpedition log could be configured to flag those DXers who were already in the log on any band. But, this is problematic as well. Dupes are always a problem. Contesters know well that it is far more efficient to work dupes, rather than to argue with DXers about what is in their respective logs. The DXpedition log might have my callsign, but I might not have thought that a QSO took place, and consequently, I might not have logged the QSO.

Neither of these techniques would seem to provide the desired results. Another approach might be to appeal to the generosity of DXers: Ask DXers around the world to refrain from working the DXpedition for a specified period of time in order that others in need might be able to more easily make their QSOs. Already, I have heard through several channels that standing by might be acceptable as long as the DXpedition did not operate on a band needed by one of these operators. Many DXers would refrain, others wouldn’t. This technique might reduce the number of unnecessary QSOs during the initial periods, but would it be enough?

Probably the most effective method of limiting QSOs to those who need it most would be to use the technique that has been most used historically: Operate at the beginning of the operation on as few bands and modes as necessary. Using an extreme to illustrate the point, with only two operators, one station could operate only on a single band. In such a case the only stations worked would be uniques or dupes!

Such an extreme is not necessary, of course. Four operators running two stations – one CW and one SSB – could operate on the best single band until the demand for a “new one” diminishes. With six operators and more stations, two stations could stay on one band continuously, while other bands could be run by the third and perhaps – intermittently – fourth station. Again, the key to maximizing uniques is to stay as much as possible on the fewest bands and modes.

A minimum of two operators per station is required on a long-term basis. Sleep and other necessities dictate this routine. With six operators, a reasonable scheme would be to operate three and intermittently four stations on the two best bands twenty four hours per day, seven days per week until the rate of unique QSOs drops below some pre-determined level. (Keeping track of the number of uniques worked should be easily done.)

An alternative might be to designate on of the two best bands as the “all time new one” band, asking the others to call on the second band only. This technique was used at ZA1A in Albania by asking Europe to work ZA1A on 40 meters, while the 20M station was dedicated to working the Americas, Asia and other areas of the world. The technique was very effective.

Do you need Heard for an all-time-new-country (entity)? What are your thoughts on how it might be done? Let me know what you think. Write to n7ng@arrl.net or leave a message at the DX University site below.

*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. The second Visalia 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