DXpedition Resources (cont.)

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Picking Your DX Destination

Announcing (Publicizing) Your DXpedition

DXpeditioners Guide

Need a QSL Manager for your expedition?

Licensing

Announcing Your QSL Information

Travel Documentation and Money Matters

DXpedition Sponsorship

 Maps & True North

IOTA Resources

Health, Emergency, and Severe Weather

Operating Tips and Utilities

DXpedition Check List (under construction)

DXpedition Planning Tools

Airline Resources

Shipping Equipment, Customs issues - Tips

Vertical Antennas by Team Vertical (6Y2A)

Negotiating with Hotels, an article by NA7DB

 

Never Pay Airlines Overweight Charges, an article by NA7DB

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Picking Your DX Destination: You should pick your DX destination just like you would any other vacation - you need to think about the things that are important to you, and make sure your DX Destination meets your criteria. Here are some things to consider when selecting your DX Destination:


DXpeditioners Guide:


Critical DX Vacation Planning Items:

 



Licensing: You are personally responsible for obtaining your ham radio license. For the Rent-a-QTH's, your license can often be arranged for you. As with other information in the web site, I have no further insight into licensing than the information provided. The best place to start looking into licensing is the ARRL Overseas Operating Web Site. Also, the OH2MCN web site has a lot of licensing information. Warning--Licensing can often take months to accomplish! Allow as much time as possible to process your license.

CEPT Countries: Many DXpedition locations are covered under the CEPT agreement, which greatly eases the requirements on licensing. NOTE: Importation of equipment is NOT covered by the CEPT agreement--you must still take proper action to make sure you can bring your radio equipment into the country.

IARP Countries: An agreement between a number of countries in North and South America for allowing hams to use their existing license. NOTE: Importation of equipment is NOT covered by the IARP agreement--you must still take proper action to make sure you can bring your equipment into the country.

Reciprocal Licensing for USA hams can be found on the ARRL web site


Travel Documentation

Passports: Most DX countries require a valid passport for entry, and in most cases, the passport needs to be valid for 6 months after the time of entry.

Visas: Some countries may even require a visa before arrival. Consult your travel agent regarding travel documents, visas, etc. For most common tourist countries, you will be issued an "airport visa" at the time of entry - no advance paperwork is required.

Check Visa Requirements - This web site tells you the visa requirements from any country to anyplace!

Traveldocs - Travel document information mostly for US tourists, but has a wealth of local tourist information. Offers passport and visa expediting service.

G3Visas - U.S. passport and visa expediter.

U.S. Visa Helper - Fee based assistance for US residents seeking visa processing assistance (not an expediter)

Need a visa fast? "Visa Expediters" that can be found in the major US cities. They will do all the legwork required to get your visa (sometimes getting visas can be a complicated and time-consuming process).

Bureau of Consular Affairs - Largely US based information on travel warnings, US Embassy info, Lists of Doctors/hospitals overseas, passport info, and general travel tips etc.

World Travel Watch - News updates for travelers.

Money Matters:

To convert currencies, try: Currency Converter by Oanda

Another currency converter at: http://www.xe.net/ucc/

Visa (Credit Card) ATM Locator: http://www.visa.com/pd/atm/main.html

Changing Money: While many travelers still take travelers checks, one of the better ways to get local currency is with ATM machines, which are nearly everywhere. An ATM machine gives you about the best exchange rate you can get, even including your bank's usage fee. Only drawback is a typical $300 limit per day. Also pay with credit cards as much as possible, again to get the best exchange rate and for purchasing protection. Unfortunately, many off the beaten path locations only accept cash.


Health, Emergency, and Severe Weather

Health:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO) - International Travel Information

International Society of Travel Medicine - List of travel medicine clinics around the world

U.S. State Department Travel Warnings: International travel can be hazardous. Before venturing outside your home country, check the U.S State Department Travel Warnings for country information.

Healthy Flying - Fantastic information on staying healthy while flying - a must read!

Staying Healthy in Asia, Africa, and Latin America - Detailed information by Moon Books on immunizations, malaria, blood transfusions, and tips for identifying symptoms of dangerous illnesses

The Lonely Planet Travel Guide has a great web resource on health issues - click here 

Emergency Nets:

Caribbean Maritime Mobile Net (for disaster help in that area): http://www.viaccess.net/~kv4jc/

Maritime Mobile Service Net (for disaster help on high seas on foreign lands): http://206.202.0.2/~mmsn/

Pacific Seafarers Net: http://www.wcinet.net/~aspect/sf.htm

Maritime Mobile Service Net: http://www2.acan.net/~mmsn/mmsn.htm

 

Severe Weather Websites and On-Air Nets:

National Hurricane Center (NOAA): http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Hurican Net (Hurricane Net) - Spanish/English: http://www.huracan.com/

Skywarn Severe Weather: http://skywarn.isla.net/

Amateur Station at the National Hurricane Center, FL: http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/w4ehw/

Hurricane Watch Net: http://www.hwn.org/

National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/

Caribbean Hurricane Network: http://stormcarib.com/

 


DXpedition Check List: (under construction)

Plastic trash bags for wet clothes, waterproofing etc.

Small operating lamp

 

 


Announcing (Publicizing) Your DXpedition: Getting the news out that you're going on an expedition is a key part of building the excitement and awareness of your operation. It also allows you to let others know about what frequencies, modes, and bands you will be operating on, as well as your QSL information. The following list has most of the major DX News Bulletins:

425 - 425 DX News from Italy

DXNL - DX News Letter (DL9GOA/DL7VOA)

59(9) - The 59(9) DXReport

WorldRadio Magazine

59 Magazine - Japanese Magazine Email: ja1ely@bb.mbn.or.jp

Japanese CQ Ham Radio - Email at: jp1nwz@cqpub.co.jp

ADXO - NG3K List of DX Operations

NCJ - National Contest Journal

ARLDX - ARRL DX Bulletins

QRZ DX / DX Magazine

Daily DX - The Daily DX Home Page

OPDX - The Ohio/Penn DX (OPDX) Bulletin

Eham.net Ė Ham radio on the net

The NCJ also has a good DXpedition List of people to notify.

Announce your DXpedition to everyone! Click on the following link to easily Email most of the DX Publications listed above†††††† (currently the ARRL DX Bulletin and Eham.net are not included in this Email notification)

Notify All DX Publications!

 


Announcing Your QSL Information: In addition to getting the word out to the DX newsletters, you should also submit your call and QSL information to the major on-line callbook servers and QSL manager databases. Here are a few of the major QSL and Callsign databases:

Buckmaster - Buckmaster Callbook Server

OK1RR - OK1RR's QSL Manager Database

DX Central - DX managers & QSL INFO

Pathfinder - QSL information from web sources

eHAM - eHAM.net Callbook

QRZ - "QSL Corner" from QRZ Online

IK4LZH - 425 DX News QSL INFO System

T77WI - T77WI's QSL Lookup Page

Go List - Go List, QSL Manager List

WM7D - WM7D.net Callsign Database


 

Need a QSL Manager? Bob Schenck, N2OO/9M6OO/V85OO, announced the formation of "The QSL Manager's Society". This will be a web based "organization" that will act as a "point of contact" for quality QSL managers, and for DXpeditions or DX stations looking for one. It will also provide a central source of information useful to any QSL manager. Please visit the web page at:    http://www.qsl.net/qslmanagers

 


 

DXpedition Sponsorship: If you are going to a very rare location, you may be able to secure funding from the following foundations. Frankly, most of the locations listed on this web site do not fall into the very rare category. If you have not sought sponsorship before, in reality, only a small percentage of the cost of the operation ever gets covered by sponsorship. Most expedition costs are covered via the operators, and to some degree, with donations enclosed with QSLs (but even that is decreasing too with higher usage of SASE's). You may also be able to obtain sponsorship from the major equipment manufacturers, as they may be willing to loan you equipment.

Chiltern DX Club - The UK DX Foundation

European DX Foundation (EUDXF)

Clipperton DX Club

German DX Foundation

Danish DX Group

International DX Association

DX Lovers Foundation

International Radio Expedition Foundation

 

Northern California DX Foundation

 


IOTA Resources: The following web pages are good sources of information on IOTA operations and information. If you are going on an IOTA trip, you should also announce your operation to these groups.

425 DX News IOTA Page

IOTA-Post, For the Islandhopper & Islandchaser

Geographical Data Pool by DC3MF

New IOTA help listings by WD8MGQ

Islands on the Web

RSGB IOTA Manager by G3MKA

DK6AO's IOTA-DL-Page

W9DC Island Awards Resource

US Islands Award Program

 


Operating Tips and Utilities

Split Operating Tips in Pile-Ups - Commentary by KH2D in the Pacific Radio Waves Newsletter

http://www.guam.net/pub/midxa/nl/nl_apr98.html 

The Price of Operating a Pileup by CT1BOH: http://www.contesting.com/articles/1

NCDXF Beacons - great way to determine if the band is open: http://www.ncdxf.org/beacon.htm

Beacon Clock (freeware): http://www.huntting.com/beaconclock/index.html

Active Beacon Wizard (freeware): http://www.taborsoft.com/abw/

The World Clock: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/

Calendar Zone: http://www.calendarzone.com/

Gray Line Program by ex UR5EMI (now in VE3): http://www.netvampire.com/ham/

SM7PKK DX-pedition Site and Operating Tips: http://home.swipnet.se/~w-17565/


DXpedition Planning Tools

DXpeditioning Behind the Scenesóbook by G3NUG, G4 JVG and the 9M0C DXpedition team.

Create your own sunrise and sunset tables: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/AA/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html

NOAA Sunrise/Sunset Calculator: http://www.srrb.noaa.gov/highlights/sunrise/gen.html

Sunrise and Twilight Calculator: http://www.mindspring.com/~cavu/sunset.html

Propagation Information: http://dx.qsl.net/propagation/propagation.html

Great Circle Maps (on-line map creation): http://www.wm7d.net/azproj.shtml

Great Circle Maps by SM3GSJ (GCM Win is the name of the software): http://hem.passagen.se/sm3gsj/

Beam Heading Chart - create you own beam heading chart on-line: http://mdxa.org/cgi-private/dxcclist.pl


Shipping Equipment - Tips

Shipping Antennas: The web author uses SKB brand hard-sided golf club carriers to transport all antennas. They can often be purchased in the USA for $100-125. Normally we use the Standard Size SKB carrier which meets ATA airline shipping specifications. The internal dimensions are 48" long, and 12" across. The bag easily holds 70 lbs. of antennas (maximum per bag without extra charges), has large wheels, 3 locks/latches, good hinge, and 2 handles. These types of carriers are so common, that we never get questioned what's inside them. You can see pictures of the cases at: http://www.skbsports.com/golf/golfcase.html In all our travels, only one case got slightly dented, and I think we lost one handle. That's not bad for the number of trips we have taken with these carriers.

Additional tips for transporting antennas can be found at: http://www.qth.com/ka9fox/ship_antenna_on_airplane.txt

Shipping Equipment: The web author and the HC8N and 6Y2A teams use the Pelican 1650 case to transport most major equipment pieces. Some larger (taller) amps will not fit in the case, but it's fine for most transceivers, and Amps like the Alpha 76 size. The cases are watertight, airtight, have 7 secure latches, 2 places for locks, wheels, and 3 handles. This is about the best shipping case you can find (itís inexpensive and tough!). The only drawback is the case weighs about 22 lbs empty.

The 6Y2A and HC8N teams have had little problems transporting equipment... that said, others have had damage to their equipment, notably the FT1000MP. The MP is a tight fit into the Pelican 1650 case. While I donít know for sure, I suspect the damaged units were a result of using the lower-density foam that can be ordered with the Pelican case (Pelican calls this "Pick-n-Pluck" high-density foam, but it isn't dense enough!). In addition, the rigs are probably oriented the wrong way in the case (read more below). Many of the HC8N and 6Y2A members have HIGH-DENSITY foam inserts specially designed for the equipmentÖ in the USA, we go to a foam specialist, and the cost is typically $125 (in No. California) for a custom high-density foam design for each piece of equipment that goes into the Pelican. Depending on the equipment, sometimes the original factory packing foam that comes with the equipment can be used (it's made for shipping that equipment, so it will be fine!). My JRC JST-245 with factory foam, and the RF deck for the Alpha 76 with factory foam, fits perfectly into the Pelican case, with room to spare.

One of the key things when packing equipment is to use truly HIGH-DENSITY foam (it is difficult to compress this stuff with your fingers). Low-density foam allows the equipment to move when it's dropped, and I suspect the movement is what allows damage

Packing the 1000 MP in the Pelican 1650:

If not packed correctly, the MP's front tuning knob typically gets pushed into the radio, making the rig totally inoperable. In addition, often the coax connectors on the back of the radio get pushed in too. Many people who went to WRTC 2000 had broken MP's when they arrived in Bled - with the only solution of sending the rig back to Yaesu, or selling it for scrap. What happened? Most shipping specifications call for 2" of foam padding beyond the farthest point of the equipment. The MP inside the 1650 does NOT have 2" clearance (see photo below). The key to packing the MP in the 1650 is to face the knobs as shown in the photo Ė you want them to have max padding just in case. That said, remember the foam should not touch any knobs or connectors Ė only the case should contact the foam.

The flat sides of the MP should be facing the walls that are the closest (front handle and rear hinge). If you use HIGH-DENSITY foam (do not the foam that comes with the case), and you orient the MP as described, you probably wont have a problem. The HC8N and 6Y2A team have been shipping their MP's this way and have not had a single failure. In addition, you should cut the high-density foam so the pressure is on the MP's CHASSIS and not the knobs or coax connectors. The tuning knob (or any protruding knob or connectors) should not be contacting the foam in such a way that pressure is put on them - the pressure should be put on the case of the radio only. (if you look at the design of your factory foam that your equipment is shipped in, you will notice that the foam does not touch any protruding knob). True High-Density foam usually comes in sheets, and is fairly expensive. But a properly designed foam insert saves you a lot of $$, time, and frustration in the long runÖ think of it as insurance. Our customized high-density foam inserts cost about $125.

 

ACOM 1000:Many ACOM users have asked me for details on how to pack their amplifier.For those of you not familiar with this amp, itís a great traveling KW amp.Itís built to handle varying voltages, you can ship it with the tube in place, and it puts out a cool KW (peaks at 1200w).Packing this amplifier is pretty much the same as the FT1000MP above.As always, you need to make sure that the packing material does not come in contact with any knob or connector.The foam should only contact the case.

Source of High Density Foam:I get this question all the timeÖ the DXpeditioners in Northern California use Bobís Foam Factory www.bobsfoam.com . Most likely you will need to find a local source for high-density foam.If there is no listing in the phone book for a foam specialist, try looking for a commercial equipment shipping company (just a suggestion).Some people have also used the foam that comes with their equipment.This foam is adequate, though if itís the blown Styrofoam kind (that breaks up into tiny little balls), this foam tends to break down quickly due to the movement within the Pelican case.This foam should last for a round-trip DXpedition Ė BUT I take no responsibility for this!Yes I have used this method myself, but these days I only go with custom made high-density foam. Often you can call the manufacturer of your equipment and order a new set of shipping foam.We did this a number of times for the FT1000MP before giving up (the foam would crumble too fast as noted above) and switching to the high-density stuff. The local mom & pop UPS shipping stores usually donít have any experience in shipping 30-50 lb pieces of electronic equipment, and I would not trust them.They also probably donít have foam that is dense enough for the application.

Pelican 1650:

You can see some manufacturers pictures of the Pelican 1650 case here: http://www.pelicancase.com/section3.htm (I do not recommend purchasing from this company, they just had good pictures for examples).

If you search the Internet, you might find one or two places selling the Pelican 1650 without foam for around $155 + shipping (and tax if applicable). Unfortunately, the price has been creeping up. There are a few places selling the 1650 with foam for around $180 + shipping and tax (remember, that we donít think this foam is adequate enough). After that, there are a few places selling the case in the $200-225 range. There are a lot of places that sell it for even moreÖ

USA Customs Tip (for USA residents only):

For those of you who have not taken equipment out/in of the country, you might be interested in obtaining a certificate that will eliminate any hassles upon returning to the USA. If US Customs officials suspect your equipment was purchased overseas, they will try to collect taxes from you. You could just travel with your US sales receipts, but I prefer not to. Or you can go to the customs office at any airport and get a "Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad". To obtain this certificate, you must bring your equipment to the customs office at any airport. They will look at the equipment, and record the equipment name and serial number on the form (I donít think sales receipts are required, as they presume that if you have the equipment in the USA, you already paid taxes on it. You might want to call the customs office before you go just to reconfirm).

By having this certificate, it shows that you have purchased the equipment in the USA, so airport Customs officials cannot ask you to pay taxes on it upon returning to the USA. This is not mandatory, but it is recommended on newer equipment (donít worry about old equipment, but it doesnít hurt to get it registered). A few times I have been hassled by US Customs officials when they thought I bought the equipment overseas... When I had the certificate, I just flashed it when they asked to search my stuff, and they just passed me through without examining any of the equipment.

If you do get one of these certificates, the certificate is good for life. Some customs officers do not know this, and have tried to take the certificate from me, thinking it was for one-time use. If they try to take it from you when you return to the US, politely tell them that you should keep the form, and it is good for life.

 


Airline Resources

Seating Charts for major airlines: http://www.tripspot.com/ask/seatingchart.htm

 


 Maps & True North:

USGS Information on map reading and finding true north on a map: http://mac.usgs.gov/mac/isb/pubs/factsheets/fs07999.html

Canada Geologic Survey information on magnetic declination: http://www.geolab.emr.ca/geomag/e_magdec.html