DXpedition ethics…Part II

Posted: February 8, 2017 in Uncategorized


In this installment of DXpedition ethics Part II, we will explore the subject of DXpeditions being harmed or disrupted by other DXpedition teams. This problem is not often discussed but is a real and emerging problem.

I know that the average DXer wants more DX and they often don’t concern themselves with the behavior and antics of various DXpedition leaders. The time has come for them to pay attention and to care about some of the things that are happening.

There has always been some level of competition among DXpedition groups or teams to make the rare activations. Some teams work together, complement each other and respect each other. My VP8STI/VP8SGI team was greatly assisted by the leading DXpedition leaders Ralph Fedor-K0IR, James Brooks-9V1YC and Gene Spinelli-K5GS.

In turn, I often talk about issues and problems with other DXpedition leaders that approach me. Most of us freely share knowledge, opinions and ideas.

There is a sense of good will and sharing. No one wants to see a team experience disaster or hardship. Well almost no one.

I was chagrined to learn in 2016 that a noted DXpedition Leader approached the owner of a ship I had chartered to take the VP8STI/VP8SGI team to South Sandwich and South Georgia Islands.

We had secured an ideal window for our charter in the Southern Ocean and we felt fortunate to secure that booking. I would later learn that an unscrupulous DXpedition Leader offered the ship owner considerable sums of money to cancel our booking and give him our advantageous slot for his DXpedition which was without a ship. Fortunately for the VP8STI/VP8SGI team, our ship owner was honest, ethical and beyond approach. He rejected the other DXpedition leader’s offer to “bump” our team from our charter.

This was my first experience with another leader or team trying to disrupt my DXpedition, however it wasn’t the last.

In March, 2016 after a sustained multi-year effort, David -AH6HY and I were able to get permission to bring a “large team” to North Korea for a DXpedition. As part of the conditions for our DXpedition, the North Koreans demanded that we make no publicity until after we made the activation. We agreed to those terms.

We started building a team of world class operators throughout April 2016 as well as procuring equipment and staging it in Beijing for our transit to Pyongyang.

Things were going very well when our DXpedition was suddenly and completely derailed when right after the International DX Convention, our plans were revealed on an Internet Blog. This information made it back to North Korea who then punished us by refusing to issue visas to several key figures leading the DXpedition. That and one other factor caused us to cancel the P5DX DXpedition.

We lost considerable personal funds as we had to abandon most of the gear we had purchased, shipped and staged in Beijing. The P5DX DXpedition was unequivocally sabotaged by another competing DXpedition team and it is due to their actions that a large scale successful DXpedition from North Korea did not take place in 2016.

In March, 2016, the Perseverance DX Group announced their plans to activate Central Kiribati as T31W. This announcement was made after some inquires to see if any other team was planning to make the same activation. In August 2016, five months after the T31 announcement by the Perseverance DX Group, 3Z9DX-Dom announced that his Rebel DX Group would visit Kanton Island in Central Kiribati in late September for a 4-6 week trip.

The Rebel DX Group’s T31T team was active for ten days and made 30,394 contacts from 10-160 meters. Following the T31T activation, the T31W team decided to cancel their planned DXpedition to Kanton Island stating the following: “Seven months after we announced T31W a 3-man team from Europe activated T31 and made a total of 30,000 QSOs. Of the total, 5,000 QSOs were with Europe where T31 is one of the most needed entities. Subsequently, they announced their intention to return to T31 in 2017 to finish the job. Based on these events it makes no sense for us to commit personal or donated funds to continue the project”.

In November, 2016 K0IR, K4UEE and LA6VM announced a major 20 man DXpedition to Bouvet Island scheduled for late 2017 or early 2018. They chartered a ship, complete with a helicopter and pilot to make the arduous and risky activation of Bouvet. The entire DX Community was elated at this news. Based on their proven track record with very extremely successful similar activations, everyone knew that we would be in for a great show with the activation of Bouvet. They began the long and arduous task of raising $600,000 with the team contributing over $300,000 themselves.

In January 2017, rumors began to swirl about another team possibly making an early 2017 Bouvet activation. Myself and other experienced American DXpeditioners were approached by Dom-3Z9DX of the Rebel DX Group. He was planning to charter a 70-foot sailboat and bring a team of 5-6 men to make a sudden activation in advance of the 3Y0Z team.

Later in January and February, Dom’s plans became public and he was actively recruiting amateurs on the Eham.net DX forum to join him for an activation of Bouvet. On January 10th, Dom posted on Eham “ I need 3 more people ( 6 people team) ready and willing to go for up to 7 weeks. Who not ask million questions, who is just ready to go”.

While most of the Eham.net comments seem to support Dom’s efforts to activate Bouvet a year earlier than the 3Y0Z team, one enlightened poster commented “ But isn’t K4UEE and team going to Bouvet in 2018? Why did Dom feel the need to go there too?  We lost one top expedition to T3 last year due to him going there first, I would be afraid to comment on his motivation to try to activate Bouvet even after a top team have announced plans to go there, there is lots of top 10 stuff to be activated there is no need for everyone to go to the same island”.

Having read the numerous comments about these DXpeditions, it is clear to me that the average DXer has no concern about one DXpedition team jumping out in front of a previously announced DXpedition. The average DXer seems to feel “the more DX the better”.

For the DXpedition leader, this has become a potentially big problem. When a DXpedition leader signs a boat charter contract there is often a non-refundable deposit to reserve the charter and allotted time. Our nonrefundable deposit for VP8STI/VP8SGI charter was $50,000. That means that if we had cancelled our plans due to another team jumping out in front of us, we the team would be on the hook for that $50,000.

When you have rogue DXpedition leaders boldly jumping out in front of previously announced plans, you basically have a situation where one leader is harming another team and causing potentially significant financial losses. The DXpedition leader can’t go forward with his plans because the need for contacts has been significantly diminished and he can’t get out of a contract because of a non-refundable deposit.

This can create real reluctance for future DXpedition leaders in making expensive and risky activations. Make no mistake, three of the issues I have outlined in my writing stem from one single group. If this nonsense continues, one DXpedition leader could find himself becoming a pariah in the global DX Community.

It’s time for the average DXer to sit up and pay attention to this behavior and not heap their blessings or support on those who would harm others for their own personal quest for glory.

“Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever” Napoleon Bonaparte.

What do you think?





  1. Al, N6TA says:

    If it does not seem ‘right’, it probably isn’t. Rushing to make a DXpedition to occur first after another has been announced does not seem ‘right’ to me. On the other hand, we do not need announcements of DXPeditions where there is no serious plan in process. We do not need placeholder announcements either.

  2. Alan Larson says:

    It seemed that the idea of going to North Korea was ill-advised from the start. Others had been deceived by the North Koreans in the past, and all advice seemed against even going to the country as a casual visitor. But you persisted, even though if there had been no announcements, the North Koreans could have just thrown you in jail as spies and confiscated your equipment. There would have been no announcements out to dispute this.

    The conflicts between DXpedition groups just shows that people are taking this all too seriously. I take a different view – a DX contact should only be valid for awards if it was with an operator who actually lived there regularly. Contacting someone who came to what is barely an island only shows that radio propagation can sometimes reach there – – it does not compare to working and getting to know operators in another country or area.

    We can put a dent in this abuse by getting the awards folks to rule that DXpedition contacts do not count for awards (such as DXCC, honor roll, etc.).

  3. 3z9dx says:

    Dear Paul

    Let’s start with T31
    As I said many times …the other T31 team should go there still. But no 😦 they ignored rest of the world feeling deceived, disappointed?! Why?
    There is a place for 5 more expeditions to T31, in fact it in terms of world most wanted T31 is now higher on the list than before my visit. ( Which cost very little by the way ) You seem to claim they are afraid because 3 guys did 31.000 QSO’s in 6 days? Im not sure that logic holds that my visit created problems for others or decreased T31 desirability perhaps its that they can’t get a ( big ) budget despite no dent in the world most wanted?

    Let’s go forward ..Why we have to spend 100$ for donation if someone can go there for a fraction of the cost? You have not mentioned how DX-pedition costs are spiralling out of control for reasons I can’t understand based on my own practical experience.

    You can’t blame anybody for doing no cost , low / no donation expeditions Paul . This is a free World . You can go ”almost” anywhere you want to, and you don’t need to announce or share the news with anybody.
    Personally, I don’t take too much account of other people plans, many people say they will do certain things all the time only to cancel them. How many people said they would activate Cocos Keeling ? For how long have you been saying you will go to P5. If you were asked to say nothing and tell nobody, only somebody you told could leak the plans.. Perhaps had you followed the DPRK requirements you would have completed your expedition ( who knows ) but it remains simpler of course to blame another. A lack of personal accountability you seem to criticise others for.

    I do my plans if you like it or not. Its very simple.. You don’t like it …don’t call.

    Should I tell the world ”Please do not go anywhere from top15 most wanted DXCC because I will go everywhere in 5 years? Is this the point? How many expeditions was cancelled at the last stage or last moment for many reasons? Why others can’t have a chance to work even a small team with 4 people ?
    What’s wrong to get 4 people and go to Bouvet for 70 000$? Why does it need to be more? Who benefits from the extra donations?
    Do you know that LICENSE and LANDING PERMIT for Bouvet is the easiest permit you can have in the world ! It took me three days to arrange it Paul…
    We had this conversation already on your blog some time ago…you were very negative about my P5 activity…but You were calling like crazy to get P5 in to the log….Don’t forget that I answered you even your comment hurt me for no reason.

    You as an experienced guy should tell the world to not be afraid of new ideas and new low cost ways .. Dont take everything so personally to have a fun every day , enjoy the LIFE ….don’t exist .

    • n6pse says:

      Dom, thank you for your reply to my blog posting. I appreciate your views and taking the time to respond.

      It’s difficult for me to see how you can’t see that you are harming these other group’s plans when you jump out in front of them with your smaller and much less expensive DXpeditions.

      Had you been successful at bringing 5-6 men to Bouvet, the 3Y0Z team might have had to cancel their plans. Who would be happy if that happened? We know from their history that they make really great activations and everyone has a lot of fun working them on many bands and modes. This is something that can’t happen as easily with a small low budget team.

      But as I asked you last night, why not work on the rare one’s where nothing has been announced? Why not try for Crozet or Kerguelen or the many other top entities where no one has announced plans to make an activation? Then no one can be upset with you and instead everyone can feel happy about your plans. This is the best result for everyone.

      Safe travels,

      Paul N6PSE

  4. mm0lid says:

    The more people doing dxpeditions to rare entities the better in my eyes.
    Nothing in law to say that more than 1 team cannot go to the same entity in a period.

    If all expeditions are valid and can work as much as possible then there shouldn’t be a problem.

    • n6pse says:

      Unfortunately, many DXers feel the same way that you do which only promotes the problems discussed in my blog.

      • mm0lid says:


        this was in no way meant to offend anyone.
        This is just from personal experience, if someone misses a smaller dxpedition, maybe a larger chance of working a larger one to the same entity within a period.

        I totally understand the logistical and money troubles that go into planning expeditions to rare entities and know exactly where you are coming from.
        What I mean is why should another team going to the same place announce put a downer on the plans.
        You go there, the community will still sponsor and donate in the hope of working you.

        Although not in the top 20 of most wanted entities, I will use Central African Republic as an example.
        There has now been 3 pretty successful expeditions there in the last 6 months.
        And on numerous occasions during the day, I see plenty of spots in the cluster saying tnx for ATNO or tnx for new band/mode.
        So even after 3 activity in 6 months its still sought after.

        So drawing a conclusion on that, a couple of teams going to a rare entity in the top #15 within the same year would still be very successful.

        That’s how I see it anyway.

        Would be nice for harmony and promotion of rare entities.

        Safe travels and best of luck in the future expeditions planned.
        Thank you for all you and your teams do for the “hunters” like myself.

        73 Scott

  5. Vic Rosenthal 4X6GP/K2VCO says:

    Judging by the disgraceful behavior common in pileups, the average DXer is less than a paragon of ethics and consideration. Why should we expect expedition leaders to behave better?
    But I completely agree with you.

  6. Bob says:

    My first reaction to this was that as a whole DXing is competitive. When chasing a dxpedition in a pileup there are many that make it before me. Sometimes the competition is so fierce that I never make it thru. I may not like it but I shake it off. Using this analogy I originally felt that this behavior of DXpedition teams that Paul describes is OK, the other DXpedition team beats our team to the punch. However………as Paul said there are other factors involved here, financial losses being a big one.
    I don’t know what the answer is to mitigate this behavior but this blog is a good first step. If more of the DX community is aware of the ramifications, it should help.


  7. N0UN says:

    It appears to me that when a DXpedition Team announces they’re planning on going to “X” a year, even two years ahead of the activation date, they are attempting to clear (and control) the way for their activation. I understand the process behind that. They want to maximize donations from individuals, foundations, clubs, etc. for their DXpedition, but also create some some excitement for DXers. By announcing a DXpedition a year or two ahead of time, they’re also hoping any other DXpeditioneers will step aside with any plans they may have. Many times (and for many reasons) those DXpeditions aren’t being pulled off after an announcement. I can think of quite a few where the DXpedition announcement came, but for some reason it inevitably wasn’t done. There’s a couple in the pipeline this moment that are not going to materialize. How fair is that to take donations, just for some uncontrollable (or controllable) action come to pass and have to cancel it?

    I also know for fact there are DXpeditioneers that have big plans but do not announce them until just before an activation. Zorro’s (JH1AJT), Dom’s 3Z9DX, Vlad (UA4WHX) and Dmitry (RA9USU) activation’s come to mind. I personally know of at least two others that have plans, but have asked me not to announce their plans, so I don’t. These DXpeditions tend to cover their own costs up front, then attempt to reimburse after the fact with their QSL policy. They are not announced until days, sometimes even hours before an activation. Sometimes not at all. Remember 7O2A a couple years ago when Dmitry (RA9USU) showed up from Yemen for a contest? There was no announcement anywhere. He just showed up and gifted deserving Hams a QSO.

    There are several DXers across this world that do not operate on an announcement a year or two ahead. They may (or may not) have plans ahead of any announcement from somebody else, they just never state their plans. They do their own planning, pack their bags, grab a radio and go. Nobody’s announcement will stop them, nor should it. Just because we didn’t hear about it does that make them wrong?

    For me, the DXer that doesn’t do DXpeditions (never say never), I am of the mindset the more the merrier. There’s what – 50, 100, 250 at best worldwide DXpeditioners? There’s a couple million Hams looking for those 250 guys/gals. Me thinks we’re talking sour grapes here.

    Paul, we’ve had our differences and I thought we laid them to rest months ago, but now that you’ve shifted gears and rejoined the Ham Radio Community – in one of your first Blog posts back you’ve gone after Dom – my friend and a more than worthy DXpeditioneer who’s activated TI9, P5, T31 (and others). In my opinion, that’s just not cool.

    What’s going to happen next time you’re in front of a club or foundation trolling for DXpedition dollars and some of those board members remember how you threw 3Z9DX under the bus? Will that effect their decision? Can it happen to them? We know the answer to that already.

    It also sure doesn’t show well to the 2 million Hams across the world that there’s any continuity or cooperation in the 250 strong DXpeditioneer’s group. In fact, it appears fractured – and now after your Blog post – fractured for all to see.

    My two cents.


    • n6pse says:

      Wayne, I can’t think of any DXpedition group that announces their plans to make a rare activation more than a year out. Two years out is unheard of and unnecessary.

      When leaders are signing charter contracts for sums of several hundred thousand dollars, making an announcement a year in advance is necessary to begin the long and arduous fundraising process.

      I don’t have an issue with you currently. I did not mention you in my latest blog post. Recently, the pieces came together and we learned who was behind the demise of P5DX. That matter is not forgiven.

      Throwing Dom under the bus? The only one throwing Dom under the bus is Dom. I have outlined several issues which he was playing a key role. They are the undeniable truth. I am pointing out mere facts which even Dom hasn’t denied.

      Clearly, some guys have no issues with Dom’s methods. That’s part of the problem. I think that if he had made it to Bouvet, serious harm to 3Y0Z would have happened and that would have been on Dom.

      You and Dom make your own rules. Rebels as you say. Not everyone likes it. I am pointing the obvious out on my blog.


      Paul N6PSE

      • 3z9dx says:

        31.000 guys like it from T31 but 8 guys not like it ….this is how it looks like so far.

      • N0UN says:

        “I don’t have an issue with you currently. I did not mention you in my latest blog post. Recently, the pieces came together and we learned who was behind the demise of P5DX. That matter is not forgiven.”

        “Things were going very well when our DXpedition was suddenly and completely derailed when right after the International DX Convention, our plans were revealed on an Internet Blog. This information made it back to North Korea who then punished us by refusing to issue visas to several key figures leading the DXpedition. That and one other factor caused us to cancel the P5DX DXpedition.”

        Indirectly, you did mention my Blog post (since been deleted) – it isn’t hard to read between those lines – I remember it – even went back just now and re-read it from my archives.

        And well, you may have recently learned (or I suspect “best guessed”) where your leak was, but when somebody tells me something in confidence, I keep it in confidence. The persons who told me stated clearly they were under no “gag order” – I even asked them both. It wasn’t until number two confirmed, then I wrote my piece. If you believe what your team had told them was confidential, all I can figure was your team must not have conveyed that properly. They knew full well I would write it, and I knew, they knew I would write it. Like I’ve said before, it very well may have saved several American lives. Whether you choose to forgive them or not is up to you.

        Speaking of “reading between the lines”. Let me point out that Dom has already stated his intentions. As a matter of fact, several times and on several different media platforms. It appears to me not a single soul has picked up on it. Does that mean nobody can now go to the top 15 DXCC’s over the next 5 years without finding themselves being considered as a DXpedition leader that could find himself becoming a pariah in the global DX Community?

        I like you Paul. We’ve spoken on the phone, ironed out our differences as men and are mutually determined when it comes to DX, but your Blogging from your position as one of the few DXpeditioneers in the world is like Trump’s Twitter from his Presidential position at this point – it sounds like sour grapes. What exactly is gained by singling out a respected DXpeditioneer – on one of your first blog posts back?

        I am trying to figure the motive (and timing) behind your post, but all that comes to my little coconut is “sour grapes”.

        Maybe it’s me that is missing something here (that’s always a possibility, won’t be the first or last time).


  8. n6pse says:

    Wayne, you have given a sincere and heartfelt apology for blogging about P5DX before it was announced and I accepted that apology. But there is no question that information was fed to you to cause us harm, and it did. I don’t forgive those guys for doing that.

    As to whether your blogging about P5DX saved lives, we will never know how successful or tragic P5DX would be. There came a time when we had to cut our losses and cancel our plans. I have never revealed all the aspects of the demise of P5DX and don’t intend to.

    As for the issues I have outlined in my Blog, they are true. They happened and the DX Community needs to consider factors that they may not be aware of until now. I have a unique perspective to share with them and I do that on my Blog. I welcome dissenting opinions such as yours.

    73 Wayne,

    Paul N6PSE

  9. Jim says:


    You need to tell the complete true story about P5.

    The operation could have gone ahead but you ‘spat the dummy’ and cancelled the operation because you couldn’t go due dprk not allowing your visa.

    A very selfish act.


    • n6pse says:

      Jim (call sign unknown)

      You don’t have all the facts. And if you did, I don’t think you would be calling me selfish. While it is true that my visa for my third visit to P5 was denied, it was a team decision to cancel the P5DX DXpedition. We felt that we were taking too much risk when we could not get any funding in advance or any pledges of support if we were successful.

      The entire financial burden was on us.

      So having made nine total trips to the DPRK and spent tens of thousands of dollars of our own money on travel, buying equipment and shipping it to China, we as a team cancelled our plans. If that makes me/us selfish well then you aren’t among the deserving.

  10. 3z9dx says:

    nice try. what is your calling amigo?
    I would love to meet you face to face with your qsl card. And you Paul and your blog now touch the bothom… if you let this idiotic comments stays on

  11. Jun JH4RHF says:

    Let us think a bit different way.
    Of course, you have rights to go wherever you want. But more than one DXpedition teams do not need to go same place at same time.
    The world of DXpeditioners has limited resources. Human resources, funding, equipment, boat available… etc. Not all of us are millionaires, not all of us are pensioner.
    It would much better if we can maximize utilization of our limited resources. It is ok that two teams go to Bouvet, however, many DXers may be happier if one goes to Bouvet and one goes Peter I, for instance. It is pity if one team cancelled a DXpedition, no matter the reasons, and lost thousands dollars. It would be better if the lost thousands dollars could be utilized for some other DX activities, whatever it is.
    Unfortunately we are not in one single organization and we do not have any coordinator to coordinate all of resources in the world of DXpeditioners to maximize the total efforts to DX world. Each of us needs to think about it instead. You may not lose your money, but someone else may lose his money, which is pity for entire DX world.
    Maybe this is a good eye opener. It is a good opportunity to think the optimization of limited resources. Do not waste anyone’s resources.
    What do you think?

  12. Roger says:

    I am not involved with going on DXpediions. So much of the discussion on here is going “over my head”. I don’t have the type of finances needed to be involved in a major DXpedition to one of the top 10 or 20 entities. Also, my XYL’s health dictates that I couldn’t leave home for many weeks.

    There are complex geopolitical situations going on relative to getting permission to activate certain DX locations. Also, some locations are very expensive to access due to transportation issues such as renting helicopters, chartering ships, etc.

    I don’t think it is possible, even in principle, to keep DXpedition plans secret. Top DXers, that stage DXpeditions, meet at places such as Visalia. They compare notes. Someone hears scuttlebut via hallway chatter. Pretty soon rumors start to circulate.

    One takeaway I see from this whole fiasco is that it is ill advised to proceed with planning a major DXpedition with the idea that things can be kept secret. If the entire team is just one [or maybe two] people then it is possible to keep things under wraps. But if the group is six, eight, or ten people or more, and logistics involves stuff like requiring staging shipping containers of gear at distant locations, then up front financing is likely needed which means that the operation really has no choice but to seek funding from foundations as well as many individual contributions. Seeking financial input equates to the plans becoming public.

    I have been into DXing for about ten years. I finally made it to the bottom of the Honor Roll. I have sent financial support to many DXpeditions. All of them were announced operations. How in the world can guys like me support an operation if we don’t even know about it because it is secret?

    If an operation is secret then this means that the operators can foot the bill. This is consistent with the situation that the operation is relatively inexpensive and/or the operators have deep pockets.

    73 Roger K5RKS

  13. Roger says:

    I have been thinking about various DXpedition groups co-ordinating plans in order to avoid potential conflicts. My previous comment really didn’t hit the nail on the head of the main issue.

    The crux of this whole issue involves the answer to the following question:

    “How in the world could potential conflicts and duplication be avoided if one or the other DX teams keep secret their plans to activate a particular entity?”

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

    • n6pse says:

      Roger, the crux of the problem as experienced by the T31W and 3Y0Z teams is that well after they announced their plans to make these rare and difficult activations, the Rebel DX Group has decided to jump in front of their plans and make their own activations before the previously announced activations could take place. Secrecy is not an issue with this activations. It is a lack of respect for what has already been announced.

      Paul N6PSE

      • 3z9dx says:

        Who told you we didn’t make a plans way before them?
        why you try to go to P5 If you knew that I’m going there? why you send application to KH1 if you knew that other teams did the same? what about if 3y0z will not get full budget and they will finally not go?? what you will say then?

      • N0UN says:

        I started planning a new tower with a new antenna OVER 3 years ago because I knew Dom’s Top 15 plans. I know the targets, I know the motive, and I know the timing – and I knew them over 3 years ago. There are several more that know exactly what I know. Others knew even longer than me. They have the same documents. This very second I am staring the latest revision right in front of my face. Just because it was not “announced” via some Ham Radio forum, publication, your Blog or my Blog doesn’t mean his plans don’t exist. And let me state for the record the best fireworks from the Rebel DX Group are still yet to come. This is going to happen again, I guarantee it. The funny part for me is Dom’s reactions when other DXpeditions have been announced after the fact. His reaction? “No problem, more is better”. One time after a friend of mine’s large DXpedition was announced I specifically asked, do you want me to say something to them, let them know you’re already going? His reply? And I’ll quote it from a message on my phone, “No, what if I not go for any reasons, and they not go then rest of Hams lose. I rather you not say anything so best chance somebody will go and make qso’s”. This is from a DXpeditioneer you are saying is a pariah of the community? Jumps in front? Shows no respect? Paul, you couldn’t be farther from the truth, or more wrong. What a shame.

  14. Roger says:


    P5 Operation —>

    My comments regarding “secret” plans were primarily directed to the proposed P5 operation. Taking an overview from 20,000 feet it appears that “secrecy” [or more specifically the lack of secrecy] was a key aspect of the costly P5 scenario your team experienced.

    All operations –>

    If teams never operate in secret then they are able to at least potentially negotiate in good faith regarding operations to the same DXCC location which may or may not be in conflict with each other. Also, teams can raise funds ahead of time if they announce months ahead of time. In addition, teams don’t have to worry about negative repercussions from host governments if “secrets” leak out.

    Bottom line: It looks to me like in virtually all cases secret plans do not enhance the DXCC program. But there are exceptions to this. There have been activations where guys just showed up and started operating and everything was FB.

    73 Roger K5RKS

    • n6pse says:

      Dom, there is a significant difference between the fact that multiple groups are often competing for permission to make various activations vs one group jumping in front of other groups that have already announced their plans. My estimate is that the top 25 entities all have some groups competing for permission. The Government or the decision makers who approve and issue the permission evaluate the various proposals and give the permission to whom they feel will meet their conditions whether it be a safe/prudent team, an environmentally sound effort etc.

      Most would agree that competition for permission is fair and proper. While jumping in front of another group’s announced activation is not.

  15. Roger says:

    DXing is a hobby. But that doesn’t mean that there are not “big ticket” issues at stake,

    This thread has caused me to reflect on situations where tens of thousands of dollars are potentially at risk when groups make non-refundable deposits as part of the preparations for operations to very rare locations which are hard to access because of transportation and/or regulations.

    It seems to me like some situations just spring up that could cause financial setbacks but they are unavoidable and/or uncontrollable.

    Say W1XYZ and his group has been working for several years on activating Podunk Island. Podunk is the #3 most needed country for DXCC. It has not been active since 2002. The governmental bureau that administers Podunk requires that any one landing obtain a charter boat and a helicopter and the boat has to be environmentally swept to remove any potential contaminating organisms.

    So let say that six months before the planned activation, and after the W1XYZ group has spent $50,000 that is mostly non-refundable, the government that controls Podunk decides to send some type of military or scientific group to Podunk. Some of the guys that are part of the group have ham licenses so they set up a station down there in a shack that is set aside to house scientific equipment that monitors the weather. They end up working 20,000 Qs over the period that they are there which is maybe six months. They are not hard-core DXers, and they don’t have honed pileup skills. But still over time they rack up some decent stats. Maybe they only work SSB on 20m and that’s it. Maybe they only work on Wednesdays for a ten hour stint and Sundays for a ten hour stint.

    Lets say W2ABC just happens to have some contacts via his job such that he knows the guys at the government agency that administers access for Podunk. Maybe these common contacts develop as a result of cooperative work on committees of the UN on topics such as the environment. W2ABC establishes these contacts after W1XYZ has begun its planning. W2ABC somehow gets permission to land on Podunk. He gets permission to go there with a group of 8 [or a group of 1] and all he has to do is pay maybe $5000 per person for room on the navy boat that is going to Podunk as part of routine government business.. The captain of the navy boat says the ham group can bring along up to x Kilograms of gear.


    There are a number of scenarios that could come up where some hams, including the mythical W2ABC group, might activate Podunk even though W1XYZ started planning first AND MADE THOSE PLANS PUBLIC. I think an impartial observer looking at this would not necessarily determine that W2ABC was being unethical. Wouldn’t there be some subclasses of scenario #2 which potentially could raise ethical concerns and some subclasses of scenario #2 which most hams would not deem to give rise to unethical behavior?

    73 Roger K5RKS OKC

  16. Dear Paul,

    I hope you’re well and doing the best you can. 🙂

    I always enjoy your articles on ethics etc, and recently published one of my own you may find interesting – its about the art of rag chewing.

    I don’t really know how to share things on WordPress etc, so I thought I would post a link here.

    I would be honoured if you would have a read and let me know what you think 🙂




    • n6pse says:

      Hello Jarrad, I have read your Blog and I find it interesting. Thank you for sharing the process of getting an XU license. I hope to visit Cambodia some day.

      Best wishes,

      Paul N6PSE

  17. Ken - LA7GIA says:

    ARRL is in charge of the DXCC program. Why can’t they keep track of the announced top 20 DXpeditions and chose the sequence of activations based on some criteria(s), i.e you need a permission upfront from ARRL to have your DXpedition valid for DXCC. In this case those who need funding needs to have it approved upfront by ARRL. Those that do not need funding or just want some fun are free to go anywhere but it won’t necessairly harm others and it might not be a valid DXCC operation. And same time – why don’t ARRL spend some money sponsoring the mega DXpeditions? Its their program. Thanks for an interesting blog, and good to see your back.

    • n6pse says:

      Hello Ken, thank you for your interest in my Blog. The ARRL does make infrequent financial support to DXpeditions in the form of the Colvin Award. You have to apply for it and it is given only to the ultra rare entities.

      I do not think that the ARRL or any other organization needs to be the “gate keeper” for DXpedition teams. I think that DXpeditioners need to respect each other and their announcements. Announcements should not be made until permission is given.

      Groups that are not respecting other group’s announced efforts or are causing harm to other activations should not earn our respect or financial support.

  18. N0UN says:

    N6PSE wrote: “I think that DXpeditioners need to respect each other and their announcements. Announcements should not be made until permission is given.”

    So I guess when you announced your Baker/Howland DXpedition without a permit in early March of 2016 for a Sept/Oct, 2017 activation (19 months, over a year and a half ahead?) – that doesn’t count? Somehow you’re exempt from your own opinions?

    Nor does the fact another well known group had already planned their Baker/Howland DXpedition before your announcement?

    C’mon Paul.

    Wayne, N0UN

    “March 7, 2016 — Hrane, YT1AD as leader and Paul N6PSE, Dave K3LP and Aleksey UA4HOX as Co-leaders, plan a large-scale DXpedition to Baker Island, part of the Baker & Howland Island, DXCC prefix KH1.

    The IOTA reference for Baker & Howland Islands is OC-089. WAZ zone is 31. Lat: 0.505365 N; Lon: -176.572266 W

    The expedition is planned for September/October 2017. Landing on the island requires a special permit USFW service. Permit coming soon.

    The team will be composed of members from WWDX, Intrepid DXers and other interested amateurs. More information coming in May 2016.”

    • n6pse says:

      Wayne, you are grasping here. I didn’t make that announcement, Hrane-YT1AD did. He made the last activation of KH1-Baker and he assumed the process was still the same. He was not aware that multiple groups had already applied for a permit including me.

      I don’t make announcements before permission is given and I don’t Blog about DXpeditions that have yet to be announced.

      As for competition for permission, its the Government authority that gives the permission to make these activations and I welcome qualified competition. No one has an exclusive on anything until a permit is granted.

      • N0UN says:

        Grasping? Weren’t you the Co-Leader of the DXpedition?

        My Answer: Wayne, YT1AD announced his Baker/Howland plans before he talked to me or applied for a permit. After he made his announcement, I informed him that I had already applied for a permit and was awaiting permission before any announcement would be made.

        Paul N6PSE

  19. Dave AA6YQ says:

    DXPeditions to difficult entities are expensive and risky. Large non-refundable commitments must be made. Donations to defray costs must be solicited beforehand, and the success of such solicitations depends on the anticipated demand for the entity.

    There are plenty of difficult entities that haven’t been activated in years.

    The DXpedition Leader whose primary objective is to safely activate a difficult entity for the benefit of DXers around the world would therefore

    – announce their destination and timing at the point in time where required permits have been received and significant non-refundable commitments are being made

    – never “jump” an announced DXpedition by arriving at their destination beforehand without the permission of the leader of the announced DXpedition

    If an online registry of such announcements would ensure awareness and prevent inadvertent “jumping”, one could easily be established and maintained.

    If a non-trivial fraction of planned DXpeditions cannot be publicized ahead of time for one reason or another, then either an existing worldwide DX organization or a small group of respected volunteers could serve to privately maintain the required “registry of planned DXpeditions”. An aspiring DXPedition Leader could check with this organization or group to see if his or her plans would conflict with an already planned DXPedition before making big commitments.

  20. TIM SHOPPA says:

    If there are multiple DXpeditions planned I will look at the individual plans and policies and sponsor and work the ones that look like the best match to me and my needs.

    And this won’t always be the first one. e.g. I didn’t put a lot of effort into sponsoring or working TL0A which was the first in a series of TL activations, but I did make more of an effort (including some extra donation) with TL8AO and TL8TT which came later.

  21. Lance says:

    Hi Paul,

    Many thanks for the information about the list of planned DXpeditions! I was not aware of that site, and have added my upcoming 6m EME DXpeditions to the list. I listed the operation on VHF and EME sites several months ago and announced it widely, but I see it was not included in the HF list you referenced.

    So far, I have not had any trouble with interference from HF DXpeditions taking place at the same time as my 6m EME DXpeditions, but it certainly is critical to avoid this type of conflict. A strong HF DXpedition operating near my planned site for 6m EME would completely remove any chance of success with my weak signal EME operation. The problem is exacerbated when I am traveling a long distance at great personal expense to activate rare DXCC to providce ATNO for all stations in NA and EU (as is the case with my upcoming VK9C and VK9X DXpeditions).

    Fingers crossed that I will be able to successfully complete contacts with many stations for their first VK9 on 6m 😉

    VY 73, Lance W7GJ

  22. Lee VK3GK says:

    Hi Lance

    The VK9XI team will be working together with you to to enable you successful 6m EME operation from Christmas Island in October 2017.

    One of the joys of being at “literally” the same place at the same time…..

    73 Lee VK3GK

  23. Jim Eppright says:

    “Jumping in front of” another DXpediton presupposes the existence of some generally accepted rule on the matter. I am unaware of any such rule as to DXpedition timing. Time is always of the essence in DXing. Sadly, as time passes DXers constantly moved into assisted living centers losing their stations, and even die. For many, a chances to get the last one, or the last one needed to make the Honor Roll, are fleeting. Other things being equal, a DXpeditoner putting on a rare one sooner rather than later is to be applauded. That some DXpeditioner puts a rare one on before someone else surely cannot be, in and of itself, unethical in any sense. 73 K5RX

    • n6pse says:

      So Jim, you find what 3Z9DX is doing is acceptable because some DXer might die or retire from DXing before the previously announced DXpedition can fulfill the need?

  24. Dave AA6YQ says:

    @Jim: the key point is to not activate an entity for which another team has already made non-refundable deposits to activate. The generally accepted rule on the matter? Common courtesy.

  25. Fred says:

    Sounds like a bunch of egomaniacs to me. I knew a small local group who planned to activate 3 Pacific islands. They tried to keep it a total secret, living in fear someone else would activate it before they did. They even tried to keep it from me, a long time friend. It became obvious their main objective was not enabling hams work a new one, but to bring attention to themselves. They even were hooting about getting their names, callsigns and photos in QST, wanting to be seen a famous DX’ers, lmao. They even wanted to activate Navassa, before ANYONE else gets there first. You see what’s driving them, right? They had no interested in activating it 2nd, the shine has worn off. I feel some of that is going on with this thread.

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