As Chief Financial Officer and fundraiser for the upcoming FT5ZM DXpedition, I am deeply involved in the subject of DXpedition costs and financing. I have served in the same role for numerous high-profile and expensive DXpeditions to very rare DX entities. Examples are 3Y0X, K5D, and HK0NA.
However, the article written by Don Greenbaum, N1DG and published in several publications is the definitive work on the subject of DXpedition costs and financing. If you have not seen it, it’s available on the NCDXF website at: http://www.ncdxf.org/pages/dxresources.html.
Don points out that DXpeditions to the Southern Oceans are the most expensive mainly because they involve a vessel charter. In his study, those charters averaged $260,000. However, three of the six DXpeditions included in that study took place 13-15 years ago and costs have risen significantly since then. See Ralph – K0IR’s article on this website entitled "Why Does This DXpedition Cost So Much?" It was posted in the "News" section on 21 June 2013 at www.amsterdamdx.org. It details our current, up to date vessel charter costs. They represent 75% of our $400,000 DXpedition budget.
Now, to really put DXpedition costs in perspective, let me share some simple math with you. At FT5ZM, Let’s assume we are on the air for 14 days. That allows two days for set-up and two days for take down. That equates to 20,160 minutes on the air. If our budget is $400,000 (not including operator travel costs to Perth and back), then our time on the air costs $19.84 per minute. Yes, $19.84 per minute on the air !!!!!
Let’s take this a bit further. Assume we make 100,000 QSOs, (a worthy goal for a #4 "most-needed"). The cost per QSO works out to $4.00. Yes, $4.00 per QSO !!!!!
Now, for some good news, the DXpedition operators will pay about half of that. This means however, our sponsors including DX Foundations, DX Clubs and individual DXers worldwide need to pay the remainder. So, when deciding not if, but how much support you will offer FT5ZM, ask yourself:
How many QSOs am I going to make? How important are those QSOs to me? Am I paying my fair share of the costs? Our DXpedition leader K0IR has often joked that if every DXer would give up a cup of coffee for each QSO with FT5ZM and send that money to support the DXpedition, we would not have to worry about our expenses. You know, he is right.
73 and CU in the pileups!
A DXpedition tent or shelter is a noisy place. A generator is roaring outside, team members are carrying on conversations, SSB operators are speaking loudly into their mics, and someone unplugs his headset to let everyone hear the magnitude of his pileup. And in the middle of all this you’re straining to pull out a weak signal amid the QRN and QSB on 160.
We have excellent receive capabilities with the K3’s, the DX Engineering 4-Square receive antenna, and Beverages; but we wanted to go one step farther. We wanted the best headsets we could find. But, they had to include a good microphone, they needed to be comfortable, and they needed to be extremely durable. We could not have ear pieces falling off half way through the DXpedition.
We felt we found the answer to our needs in the Radiosport RS60CF headset. It would allow us take full advantage of diversity receive capabilities of the K3, provide an auxiliary PTT if our footswitch failed, provide an auxiliary audio output for a second listener, and it’s comfortable ear muffs would provide a 24 dB reduction in ambient noise levels. To top it off, the RS60CF is battleship strong.
Arlan Communications very generously offered to loan the FT5ZM team an RS60CF headset for each of the operating positions. Please tell them, “Thank you helping to give FT5ZM good ears.”
Ralph – K0IR