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The costs of journeys

SP9FIH/OA4 near the top of Nevado Ishinca (5530m) in Peru
The costs depend mainly on our future living conditions during the journey. It is obvious that there is a difference in price between a five star hotel and a pension. The difference is also between a price of a dinner in restaurant and the self cooked eggs with rice using a camp stove.

I did take a part in dozens of expeditions, both in mountains, tramping and DX expeditions. So I prefer the independence and simply living conditions in exchange for freedom and lower price. For example instead room with air conditioning – the mosquito net under the palm tree, without of course the coconuts on it. The main part of costs for expedition is the flight and extra charge for excess luggage, what is characteristic for DX expeditions.

The average cost of flight in Pacific region is around 1400 USD, the excess luggage can achieve around 600 USD. As I have mentioned the costs of living depend on conditions and a country. In Nepal, you can live and eat for 10 – 15 USD daily, but on Tahiti it is 40 – 60 USD daily. We can assume that the total costs should be around a few thousand USD, for expedition lasting 2 -3 weeks without extravagance (the beer every second day).

Dangers during the expedition

During the expedition, several dangers await for explorers. They depend on the region of the world. In the eighties of the twenty-century the German expedition sailing by yacht to Spratly was shot probably by the pirates who used the machine guns. Two of the explorers died, the yacht sunk, and the rest of them survived 8 days journey on raft, without food before the Japanese ship saved them.

The famous DX explorers Martti Lane OH2BH and Ville Hiilesmaa OH2MM, during their first DX expedition on Annobon (3C0AN) became infected by jungle fever (malaria) and they spent several weeks in hospital after the return.

The members of expedition to 3C0 were taken into the prison for several days, and I can assure you, that the prison in tropics is not a “holiday” like the cell in Poland. Ron ZL1AMO got sick during the last expedition and from that day he has been QRT. Baldur DL6SI was arrested and was on trail during his operation from Kos (Greece). Ted Thorpe ZL2AWJ and Chuck Swain K7LMU disappeared without trace after their operation from Willis Island FW8XX. Probably their yacht was destroyed in South Pacific cyclone.

You can say that the most dangerous things in politically unstable countries are diseases and attempts against life of explorers. The next dangerous group of things is the threat of loosing the equipment or its confiscation in some countries. There could be also the possibility of theft – it is hard to look after the whole luggage by one person.

In more difficult expeditions in arctic regions or travelling by yacht to the islands without the infrastructure, you can expect the sinking or damaging of the equipment.

The cases of extorting different kinds of payments (deposit for equipment, licence, electric energy bill, extra luggage) are less dangerous but money consuming.

During the antenna assembly some accidents may happen, and usually there are no doctors in tropics or the outpatient’s clinics are very primitive. Every year in tropical countries a dozen of people die because of falling coconuts from the palm trees. You must really be careful of that fact. Swimming in certain tropical areas could be dangerous (sharks, jellyfishes).

The equipment that I use during the expedition

I had an Icom 746 radio with me in my early trips, which unfortunately was too heavy for expeditions (now I have ICOM 7200). But the advantage of using that radio is the 6m band that it possesses, because 6m should be “served” during the DX expedition. The laptop is the most comfortable to log. The impulse power supply 115/220V is necessary because of its weight. “CQ Machine” is also necessary because sometimes nobody calls – most of new transceivers have it as built-in.

HF9V Because most of my expeditions were done by myself only, I used Butternut HF9V as the antenna. it is quite light, but the montage and setting-up can take several hours. Big amount of bolts, screw caps and brackets forces us to constant attention, because dropped those things on sand or grass are gone. Of course you must have some wire in order to try slopers or dipoles, because those kinds of antennas are better in some places.

During the expeditions FO0WEG and FO0POM, in which Rafal SQ9LR has taken a part, we had also three-bands Cushcraft beam – A3S. Nowadays Spiderbeam seems to be good solution inland. But at the seashore localization the verticals are as good as the directional antennas.

Summarizing it, for a single person expedition I recommend two types of antennas: battle creek or inverted L for lower frequencies and multiband vertical for higher frequencies and of course some wire, which can be used in slopers, dipoles or frames for reciting for lower frequencies. It is good to possess 500-600W light amplifier, but I have never had the one (!)

The QTH localization on the expedition

SP9FIH (9N7WE) on top of Mera Peak in Nepal – 6476m

A proper choosing of a place, from which we are going to transmit, is the most important. It is difficult for us because we do not know how our future QTH looks like. Internet, guidebooks and satellite pictures could be helpful.

It is good to choose a pension or a hotel at the seashore in order to set the antennas by water. You have to determinate the directions for most populated countries by radio operators and plan the antennas placement that mountains, woods or high buildings do not cover the essential directions. You have to remember that most of the expeditions will have short path and long path propagation in some directions.

The matter of different kinds of interference is also very important. In most cases, the place for expedition is in the country where the TV-sets and telephones are used but the quality of electrical installation is poor (e.g. aerial cable lines). Using the amplifier or even the barefoot, we can make enemies in a neighbourhood what can be dangerous for our antennas or even for ourselves. The best place for localization is the place, which is far away from people agglomerations.

DXpedition QSL card gallery where SP9FIH was an operator:

Some QSL cards received in my youth:

 QSL card from JY1
   QSL card confirming my QSO with JY1 – Hussein I – King of Jordan
3Y5X QSL card
  Once every 10 years you can work Bouvet Island
BS7H confirming QSO with SP9FIH
  Scarborough Reef seems to be one of those tension DXCC entities – both: politically and logistically