DX University™

  A Guide for DXers and DXpeditioners

Yet More on DXpeditioning Spending

The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 49 from the DX University™*


Although I had planned to digress into some history this week, as we begin to make plans for the DXpedition season, the topic of DXpedition funding comes up again. Though I have covered this particular angle before, something came up the other day, and I wanted to make a comparison.

Specifically, US Vice President Biden in response to a question from an audience member admitted last week that the availability of federally backed loans and outright grants has contributed to the vast increase in the cost of higher education in this country. The combination of large sums of money dumped into the higher education system and market-based institutions has led to greatly increased costs. Now perhaps uncharacteristically, I personally support significant spending for education. (We seem to have a severe shortage in the area of education.) The unintended consequence of almost unlimited funds leading to almost unlimited costs is not desirable, however.

The same economics come to play in DXpedition funding. The availability of excessive DXpedition funding may be leading to excessive DXpedition spending. Two years ago at the Visalia IDXC, addressing the DX Forum, I stated that “…as long as DXers make funds available, DXpedition organizers will spend the money.”

DXpedition organizers define ambitious projects. They make pleas for the funds, saying that if such funding isn’t provided, there will be no DXpeditions.

In an article just out in Carl Smith’s latest DX Magazine, Bill Horner, VK4FW says “You seriously need to get off your arse and put your hand in your pocket and show support.” There isn’t any mention or discussion of the details of the expedition, its goals, the number of operators, the length of stay, etc. Just dig down and support it.

The money comes, the expeditions are carried out and everyone is happy. Are they really? Big funding may make sense for large expeditions to the “Southern Islands.” Transportation is expensive as is incorporating 35 operators for 30 days. Yes, we need to make the most of the opportunities when going to these locations. But do we really need to work everyone 27 times? I wonder if many DXers might be really happy with two or three QSOs for Mixed, Phone and Digital modes and spend only $400K rather than a full-blown expedition for $2M.

It’s true that one way or the other DXers must support DXpeditions if they wish to have rare DX to work. The proliferation of Ham Radio and DXers in the world today – relative to 30 to 50 years ago is such the most of the stuff we need comes from the efforts of DXpeditions. At the same time, however, the popularity of the multi-band and multi-mode awards has spawned expeditions to very rare and even less rare destinations that by some measures are simply over the top in their scope.


If DXers do come up with the big dollar amounts required for several big DXpeditions per year, fine. If they do it without objections, even better. Will some DXers suffer from too few DXpeditions to destinations of lesser demand? Probably. As long as this scenario is sustained, that is fine.

At some point, however, more and more DXers will likely ask: “Why is it necessary to spend such huge amounts for major activity from the less rare locations.” Is it really necessary to have 40 operators for a month on a mid-latitude island spot at the cost of nearly $400,000? Though this type of mega-mega DXpedition has become popular, at some point we might find that it isn’t really necessary. The answer may well be that it isn’t.

It is still be possible to activate even the rarest places with more modest efforts, smaller boats and fewer operators, who work six-hour shifts and spend less time on the beach. While this type of operation might not be possible to fill all of your Challenge slots in one fell swoop, it will be possible to provide an all-time new one and a couple of extra QSOs for newer DX aficionados. Unlike the US Federal Government – with its unlimited resources (sarc) – DXers will at some point reach their contribution limit. “Are we there yet?”

*The DX University™ is a day-long learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. The next scheduled session is on Friday, 20 September at the W9DXCC in Elk Grove, Illinois. You are welcome to join us. For more information on this session, go to www.dxuniversity.com