DX-pedition Trends in 2017 and Beyond

The venerable Ten Tec Orion II, one of my all time favorite ham radio rigs

People and radio gear have changed quite a bit since 2001 (when I got back into ham radio after a lengthy absence) – we have lost both as they have gone SK, and we remember them fondly. I’m glad that I was part of Ten Tec’s zenith, and also got to meet OT DX-ers like Chuck, K6RK, Earl, K6SE at a Visalia Top Band Dinner. There are many others, but these two stand out. When I was a teenager, it was Heathkit and I got to meet Bob, W2LV, who worked on the first antenna system installed on the Empire State Building in NYC. Bob worked with Major Armstrong and even knew Marconi – so that was pretty neat.

Anyway, looking forward, after VK0EK, (which happened in what will go down as perhaps the most amazing quarter in the history of DX-ing – when 5 of the Top Ten Most Wanted entities were activated) – and funded with large grants from the NCDXF and many other clubs and foundations – I don’t think we will ever see that again. That was “the perfect storm” in many ways. I’m also very glad that I was part of that.

2017 has proven to be a much “quieter” time for Mega DX-peditions, and I am sure that 3Y0Z will end up with some “changing of the guard”. I also think that 3Y0Z and the KH1 DX-pedition – which have received $100K and $75K grants respectively prove a trend that I expect is happening right before our eyes:

  1. There are few mega DX-peditions because places are getting much harder to activate – due to cost and just plain old access
  2. Some of the well known DX-peditioners have retired from DX-peditioning, and more will follow soon
  3. There is still exciting activations – by smaller teams (less than 10 people), and some just a few operators

I think if someone were starting in the DXCC program today that Honor Roll #1 would be nearly impossible. But I also see very few young people getting into DX-ing anyway, so I do think DXCC is an anachronism. I expect that I will be one of the last to make Honor Roll #1, and that those close will also make it in the next 10 years. After that, I think even making Honor Roll will be a trick – for anyone starting DXCC now.

I have read about one ham making Honor Roll in 7 years – but he started in 1957, and had those amazing high sunspot years – including 1959, the year I was born. It took me 11 years starting in 2001 – and I really don’t think this will be possible in that amount of time – that I might also be one of the last to do that – and even if you have a much better station than mine – what governs this is cost and access to activate so many that seem all but off limits. I feel like I’m lucky to have a shot at Bouvet with 3Y0Z, and I expect that Glorioso will be tough to get access by the French Team. I think their priority was Crozet – and they couldn’t get access, so they settled on St. Brandon.

As far as DX-pedition of the year goes, my money is on 3Y0Z for this next cycle, and the French Team vs. the KH1 Team for the next cycle. What’s interesting is that 3Y0Z is so “epic” of an activation – as long as they pull it off as they have so many others, they are a “shoe in”.

dxcc_history

One trend for sure – there will be a migration to the low bands – I know this just from the response I received at my Pacificon 2017 Antenna Forum presentation on Lowband Antennas. I expect there are a lot of people like myself – where the final DXCC pursuits are taking place on 160M and other low bands.

I’m very glad that I did jump into DX-ing in 2001 – and “Made Hay While the Sun Shone” . . . I feel like Im at the tail end of something that has been in play since 1930 or so – with a break during WWII, but I do feel like I have been part of a fun era in the history of radio – one that “kids these days” will never know or understand.

2 Comments on “DX-pedition Trends in 2017 and Beyond

  1. Hey, I get it! But I am also 36, so (as I increasingly am coming to realize) not exactly a kid anymore. Although I feel like one at any DX convention.

    Speaking of feeling like an anachronism, I got into the hobby in 1994 when it was already passé to most people my age. Ever since, I’ve never felt quite like I fit because I have so few peers my own age.

    You’ve spoken in the past about guys rushing to finish up their DXCC since they feel like the clock is ticking. I feel that same ticking, since I depend on older ops to have somebody to work!

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    • You will get to Honor Roll no problem because you are far enough along.
      There are still enough DXpeditioners in their late 50s and early 60s to keep this going for at least 10 years. Some of these guys have been understudies to those famous DXpeditioners who have or will soon retire.
      The name of the game will be cost and access, at least for the next 10 – 20 years.
      I’m being a little optimistic, I see things being fine for 10 more years, after that, its way too hard to tell.
      Of course, the ARRL might be forced to change the rules when it gets impossible to get to Honor Roll. Honor Roll #1 is not nearly as important.
      My opinion only of course.

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