Learn the art and "How To" of DXpedition Planning and Running Pileups!
Envisioned some 10 years ago and after 2 years of writing the material, DX University is now a reality.
DXpedition University ("DXU") is the first of its kind to provide a training ground for energetic radio amateurs wanting to learn the foundational methods and tactics of DXpeditioning.
A group of 6-10 hams will go to a proven site in Jamaica (6Y). Participants become part of a team, just like the World Record 6Y2A Team. Learning begins before the trip with planning procedures and continues through the Jamaica stay. With expert hands-on training, team members will be shown the essential skills needed to feel confident about venturing out on their own DX-oriented vacations and in their ability to run and control pile-ups. There is not only personal instruction, as hard copy manuals covering all aspects are also included. Besides setting up a complete multiple transmitter station and running DX pile-ups during the week, the team will participate in the A.R.R.L. SSB contest, with additional pointers provided real-time.
This is a learning environment and all questions will be answered and fully explained. The Jamaican accommodations are radio-oriented (not a luxury hotel) and include full time staff, transportation (private driver), plus side trips during the week.
Duration: 9 nights and 8 days of lessons and operating on the north coast of Jamaica
Date: Depart Miami on Sunday February 25, 2001, Return on Tues. March 6 2001 (see details below)
Cost: $1750 USD + your round-trip airfare to Montego Bay, Jamaica
Policy: Seats are generally offered on a first-come first-serve basis. In case interest is higher than can be accommodated, K2KW and N6BT reserve the right to select applicants.
How to sign up: To apply for a seat and join DXU contact Kenny Silverman, K2KW
DXU Instruction (at a minimum):
· DXpedition & Contest Expedition planning and organization
· Assessing equipment needs for DXpeditions
· Assessing local resources at your potential destination(s)
· How to assemble single and multi-station operations (you are going to set one up)
· Antenna selection for DXpeditions (you will participate in the planning)
· Antenna construction techniques for DXpeditions (you are going to build them)
· Propagation analysis (when paths are open, setting up an operating plan)
· Computer networking (using computers in single and multi-operator environments)
· How to efficiently run pileups (both modes)
· Packing and transporting equipment
· Personnel analysis and selecting team members
Included in the cost:
· All transportation while in Jamaica (private driver)
· Lodging in fully staffed ocean-front villas, based on 2 people to a room
· Three home-cooked meals a day + beverages (meals away from villa are not included)
· Daily maid service
· Expert instruction
· Instructions and critique on running pileups
· Hands on construction of expedition station
· BIG pileups, plenty of operating time, and M/M in the ARRL DX SSB Contest
· Tourist trip to Ocho Rios (Dunns River Falls) and surrounding area
· All antennas are provided by Force 12
· All coax, electrical cable, etc required for a multi-multi station
· Contest accessories: network cables, band pass filters, CT software
· Two amplifiers will be provided for low band use (other amps are optional, see below)
· Internet access (best way to keep in touch with loved ones at home)
· Assistance in license processing (6Y license is free from Jamaican Govt)
· Official DXpedition University team shirt
· DXpedition University Operating and Instruction Handbook
· Tips to villa staff, driver, or other in-Jamaica services used
· NOTE: radios and most amps are not provided (see below)
· Insurance of any kind (participant must sign "hold harmless" waiver)
· Transportation expenses to Montego Bay, Jamaica ($400-800 is typical from US gateways)
· Meals eaten away from the villa
· Tourist fee during sightseeing trips
· Insurance for flight, equipment, or personal injury
· Ham Equipment (see list below)
· Excess/overweight baggage expenses
· Laundry service (can be provided at nominal cost by villa staff)
· Jamaican airport/departure tax (paid at airport exit)
· Note: This trip is not intended to cover DXpedition goals and techniques that address remote or new DXCC countries. The goal for this trip is to get you started on the DX trail of easy or moderately accessible destinations.
Each ham must bring the following equipment at their expense and damage risk:
· Mid-level (or better) Transceiver with all optional SSB filters
(Radio must be from the approved list below)
· External power supply if required by radio
· Laptop computer (486 DOS-based is OK, with at least one serial port)
· Headphones w/ boom mic
· Cables for hooking up equipment
· Tools: small diagonal cutters or pocketknife
· Optional: Voice keyer would be very useful!
· Optional: Small amplifier (30L-1, SB200, etc.)
Note: The above equipment must be provided by each participant at their expense and damage risk. If excess baggage costs are incurred bringing the mandatory equipment, it is at your own risk and expense. It is our belief that the mandatory equipment, clothing, and personal items can easily be accommodated as checked and carry-on luggage. If carefully planned, even a small amp (SB200, 30L-1, etc) can be included in the approved airline luggage limits (2 checked bags @ 70 lbs per bag + 1 carry on bag per person). Any equipment damage during transit or ham operations is the responsibility of the participant.
Approved Radio List:
Kenwood TS850, TS870, TS930, TS940, TS950
Yaesu FT920, FT990, FT1000, FT1000D, FT1000MP
Ten Tec Omni 6, 6+
(if your radio is not on the list, you must get approval from K2KW or N6BT – no exceptions)
Mini or mobile transceivers like the FT100, FT900, TS440, TS570, IC706, etc. are NOT acceptable. In a DX multi transmitter environment a more robust receiver is required along with the optional SSB filters.
Each participant will apply for his/her own Jamaican Amateur Radio license. When you submit your license application, make sure you attach a cover letter stating you want your equipment (and serial numbers) listed on the license. This will help with Jamaican customs official if they inspect your luggage. Based on the limited time to departure, you MUST Fax your license application as directed on the license link.
Outside the contest, you will operate as yourcall / 6Y5. Personal “6Y5XYZ” calls are not issued.
For the contest, the group has been assigned 6Y8A.
6Y8A QSLs are handled by Kappy WA4WTG, our long time QSL manager. Kappy will be glad to handle your QSLs for this operation if desired.
How big are the pileups from Jamaica?
Big. Really BIG. The location we have found has a water path to Africa, EU, USA, JA, and Oceania. Combine that with efficient verticals (which are our predominant antennas), and the pileups are deep. For someone who has never operated on the DX end, the thrill will be amazing. FYI: the pileups on 10m are huge. You have been warned :- )
What clothing to bring?
Official Dress Code: shorts/bathing suit, T-shirts, sneakers, hat, and sunscreen.
Dress Code for Fancy Occasions: a clean T-shirt and shorts!
Hey, we’re on a DXpedition to a tourist destination… you will not need any other kind of clothes. If you want to dress up and eat out in fancy restaurants, this is not the trip for you.
Suggested Clothing and Personal Items to bring:
· 4 Pair of shorts
· 2 bathing suits
· 6 T-shirts (pay staff to clean laundry at half way point)
· Socks and underwear
· Long pants (jeans) and long sleeve shirt for working in sun or cool evenings
· Traveling shoes/sneakers
· OLD pair of sneakers for working (ones you are willing to throw away after trip)
· Lots of suntan lotion, and SPF lip balm
· 1-2 hats
· Flashlight w/ extra batteries
· Camera and film
· Medical items
· Personal toiletries
· Passport and ham license
· Money for personal expenses and gifts. $300 should be more than enough. USD are accepted at most locations, and so are credit cards.
We suggest that all participants arrive in Montego Bay Sunday Feb 25 at 7PM Sunday evening local time. The airline of choice is American Airlines since they have good connecting flights to get you to Montego Bay in one day from the west coast, or any other US gateway city. We suggest departing Montego Bay around 1:30PM on Tuesday March 6, again American has good connecting times to get people back to the west coast by 11PM. Many other airlines do have flights to Montego Bay, but we are hoping most participants will arrive at the same/similar time which will make transportation easier.
Here are the recommended American Airline flights:
Miami (MIA) to Montego Bay (MBJ) on Sunday, February 25 2000
Flight 1791 departs MIA at 5:05pm, arrives MBJ at 6:55pm
Flight 1152 departs MBJ at 1:52pm, arrives MIA 3:36pm
* Ask for a seat in the BACK of the plane, so you can board first with your overhead luggage
What are the villas like?
We are staying in a small community on the north side of the island called Discovery Bay, just a short distance from where Christopher Columbus landed. The villas are about a one hour drive east of Montego Bay International Airport, and about 45 minutes west of Ocho Rios. The neighborhood is very quite.
The fully staffed villas are basic, but all necessities are there (showers, bathrooms, comfortable bedding, sheets, towels, electricity, kitchen etc.). Staff includes cook, maid, and grounds keeper. There is always a strong breeze blowing, so air conditioners are not necessary. Since there is a lot of salt-spray by the ocean, the villas do show signs of weathering.
We rent two adjacent villas (3 bedrooms each), though ham radio operations are run from only one villa. Each villa has about 200' of coastline, and on either side of the villas are vacant lots each containing an additional 400' of coastline. The villas are about 100' from the edge of the Caribbean, although the coast is rocky! There is a 300’ high cliff behind the villa, making it a very quite location, perfect for the ARRL DX contest.
There are no sandy beaches in walking distance, and ocean access is only possible from a neighboring villa (it’s too rocky in front of our villa for safe ocean access). There is a nice lawn between the villa and the ocean, and each villa has it's own pool and lounge chairs. The house is mainly run on 110v, though 220v is available (with local Jamaican plug) to each room if required, and 220v is provided for amplifiers.
For swimming or snorkeling from a beach, it is just a short drive into Discovery Bay. Howard the driver will be glad to take you there.
The villas have been the base of operations for 6 radio expeditions (6Y4A, 6Y2A, 6Y8A) over the last 3 years. They are well proven locations, and the staff is used to amateur radio operations.
For the most part this is a Ham Radio intensive trip. A few side trips will be included to Ocho Rios, a visit to a local market, and an exploratory trip to identify new villas for ham radio operation (training exercise). Gift shopping can be done in Ocho Rios, or on the way to the airport when we depart (make sure you leave extra room in your suitcase for gifts!)
Three home-cooked meals a day (including soft drinks and beer) are included in the cost of the package. Restaurant meals eaten away from the villa are not included (only an occasional lunch and dinner are might be eaten away from the villa). The meals will be served buffet style and include both Jamaican and American cuisine. Special dietary needs will gladly be accommodated, but please let K2KW know in advance. All meals will contain large portions of vegetables and fruit.
Local Transportation in Jamaica:
We will charter a 12 passenger van with a private driver for all local transportation needs. Howard the driver will pick us up at the airport, and also take us where ever we want to go during our stay. The radio equipment will not fit in the van, so we have arranged for a truck to transport the equipment to/from the airport. All van and truck costs are included in the trip cost.
Safety in Jamaica:
As long as you stay in the tourist areas you will be as safe as can be expected in any tourist location, though petty crimes do happen. When walking around the tourist area or in the open markets, be wary of pickpockets. The neighborhood around the villa is a quiet bedroom community where crime is minimal. In the past 6 operations, we have not had one single problem. During our stay, the villa staff is always there, even if we go out for a day trip.
This trip is geared towards healthy and mobile people since physical work is expected from individuals. Our villa (as well as most Jamaican facilities) is not handicap accessible.
There are no specific health issues to be concerned with while in Jamaica. While the tap water is considered safe to drink, we suggest using bottled water (provided) for all drinking and for brushing your teeth.
The U.S. State Department Travel Information can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/jamaica.html
Smoking is NOT allowed inside the villas.
Local laws are very strict regarding the purchase and sale of illegal drugs. No assistance will be provided if you are detained by local police in this regard. The use, purchase or sale of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited on our trip.
Day 1 Sunday:
· Meet in Miami and fly to Montego Bay in one group
· Driver and truck meet us at airport, and take us to villa
· Dinner/snack will be waiting when we arrive at the villa
Day 2 Monday:
· Review schedule for the week
· Lesson: Antenna selection for DXpeditions
· Review antenna layout plan
· Install high band antennas
· Install at least 3 stations
· Lesson: Theory of running pileups
Day 3 Tuesday:
· Lesson: Pileup demonstration and analysis + Using your radio in pileups
· Install low band antennas
· Lesson: Equipment for DXpeditions
Day 4 Wednesday:
· Visit local market (if desired)
· Lesson: Personal operating critique and analysis
· Go snorkeling
· Lesson: Computer networking
Day 5 Thursday:
· Lesson: Propagation Analysis and Band Planning
Day 6 Friday:
· Lesson: DXpedition planning and organization
· Review strategy for contest
· ARRL SSB Contest starts at 7PM local
Day 7 Saturday:
Day 8 Sunday:
Day 9 Monday:
· Take down most of the station, leave 2 radios and antennas operational
Day 10 Tuesday:
· In early AM, pack up last two antennas
· Clean shack area
· Leave for airport in morning
· Last minute gift shopping if required
· Each participant must sign a "Hold Harmless" waiver
· Cancellation Policy: If trip participant cancels for any reason, a full refund will be given ONLY if another participant is found to fill the slot. Otherwise, a fee of $640 will be kept, which is the cost of the villa sleeping accommodations for 9 days. If the trip Organizers cancel the trip for any reason, all payments received for the "In Jamaica" portion of the trip (ie any portion of the $1750 fee) will be reimbursed in full. If the trip Organizers cancel the trip for any reason, any costs for airline ticket reimbursement or change fees are the responsibility of the participant.
73, Kenny Silverman, K2KW
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