Dxpedition Cost Presentation, N1DG Don

Dxpedition Cost Presentation, N1DG Don
Traversing a money storm when planning a DXpedition
May 19, 2012
By N1DG, Don Greenbaum
Why This Discussion?
•  Financial transparency rarely done on DXpeditions.   It should be.
•  If more of the ham community knew the costs and risks involved in big ticket DXpeditions fund raising might be easier.
•  DX Foundations and Clubs can’t continue to do all the heavy lifting.
•  Not all Dxpeditions are alike.  One size does not fit all in donations.
DXpeditions go to pretty places. 
The financial story is not as pretty.
Types of DXpeditions
•  Visit a resident ham … Be happy, don‘t worry.  $
•  Fly-in.  Airline served, hotels, power. … Worry about excess baggage   $$$
•  Semi Remote Places, ship/chartered plane. … Worry about amplifiers sinking in the deep ocean $$$$$
•  The bottom of the W orld … Worry about needing an icebreaker $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Methodology of Survey
•  Examined 20 NCDXF funded DXpeditions since 1997.
•  Sent everyone same questionaire and invited outlier costs (ie. Unique to destination)
•  Confidentiality assured if requested.  Few did.
•  These 20 expeditions covered almost 2 million QSOs from the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Asia and Africa at a cost of $3 million.
Budget Considerations-Fly-in
•  Mostly Commercial transportation.
•  5 DXpeditions analyzed, 4W 6A, A52A, VU4PB, VU7LD, and VK9DNX.
•  These expeditions made 275,508 QSOs, average expedition 55,000.
•  Biggest budget: $90,000, smallest $17,000.
•  Average cost, $42,000, average cost per QSO: $.72.   Individual contributions: 11 cents per Q/36 cents per unique callsign.
Budget Considerations-Fly-in
•  Licensing in rare countries like this can be as much as 50% of the cost of the operation.
•  Shipping to some of these destinations can be significant due to import duties or unreliable shipping routes.
•  Travel and planning times short compared to other two levels of operations.
•  This group, on average, relied on the highest % of operator funding of the budget and the lowest ratio of NA stations worked.
Flyin:  The makeup of Sources of Funding

Flyin:  Geographic QSOs

Budget Considerations-Semi Remote
•  Private Charter of ship/plane, averaging $88,000.
•  9 DXpeditions analyzed: BS7H, K4M, K5D, T32C, VK9DW X, VP6DX, VP6T, ZL8R and ZL8X.
•  These expeditions made 958,607 QSOs, average expedition 106,512.
•  Biggest budget: $327,000, smallest $54,000.
•  Average cost, $145,000, average cost per QSO: $1.37.  Individual contributions: 33 cents per Q/$1.31 per unique callsign.
Budget Considerations-Semi Rare
•  Licensing could require lengthy approval processes from government and/or fish and wildlife authorities.
•  Travel and planning times significant.   Average travel time to and from these locations average 10 days. Most of these operations took a year or more of planning and fund raising.
•  This group, on average, had the highest % of North American contacts and the lowest % of costs by the operators.
Semi-rare:  The makeup of Sources of Funding
Semi-Rare:  Geographic QSOs
Budget Considerations-Southern Oceans
•  Ice breaker rated ship averaging $260,000.
•  Shelters and generators must survive harsh conditions.
•  6 DXpeditions analyzed: 3Y0X, FT5XO, VK0IR, VP8GEO, VP8ORK, and VP8THU.
•  These expeditions made 370,000 QSOs, average expedition 74,000.
•  Biggest budget: $475,000, smallest $160,000. Average team member contribution $12,700. 
•  Average cost, $323,000, average cost per QSO: $4.30. Individual contributions (pre/post): 52 cents per Q/ $1.69 per unique callsign.
Budget Considerations-Southern Oceans
•  Licensing long and tedious process.
•  Shipping and loading involves dealing with ports in South America with astronomical charges.
•  Travel times mean a commitment of team members in excess of a month.   In addition to large financial commitments to team, foul weather gear and airfare to departure points can add thousands in personal costs.
•  Individual donations in this group amounted to the smallest % of funding of any of the groups.
Southern Oceans:  Sources of Funding
Southern Oceans:  Geographic QSOs
Comparing Averages
QSOs, QSLing, Donations @ VP8ORK

Timing: Cash Flow for VP8ORK
Foundation Support
Larger Clubs

You want to go where?
If you REALLY want to go to VK0H?
•  Clear 3 years from your calendar.   Find 20 rich and competent operators who can take 6 weeks off of work.
•  Create a management team.   First, organize fund raising.  You are going to need $600-700,000.  The last group to go was in 1997 and the budget was over $300,000.  Things have gotten much more expensive.
•  Start to request donations of equipment.
•  The cost of a ship from VK (no ship can go to Heard if it has visited a French Island like last time) is going to cost at least $500,000.  You need a heli, add $100,000.
•  Survival tents, proper clothing, generators, fuel and shipping will easily run another $100,000.
Do you still want to go to VK0H?

Random Thoughts
•  Foundations and clubs supported 24% of the cost of the 20 expeditions analyzed.   If you supported one of the those mentioned above, thank you.  If you don’t, please consider joining one of the organizations.
•  A unique Q is worth 3 QSOs for contributions.
•  NA Foundations and clubs are 80% of the money pool to these expeditions.
•  NA QSOs were 36% of the total Q analyzed. W e clearly have an education process ahead of us if we want to see 3Y0/B or VK0HI again.