Monday, January 01, 2007

Goals and packing

I spent a fair amount of time today doing the big sort of the equipment to go to Montserrat. This is not the final sorting, as that can only come after the other team members declare what they are bringing, and the full group planning has been done. Still, I thought it would be good to at least see where I stand.
The new Pelican case (model 1610) was filled first. I removed the foam completely except for the piece that fits in the lid. Perhaps I could have even purchased the case without foam, had I been thinking about the problem harder. I wrapped the IC-7000 and Alinco power supply in towels and placed them in the bottom. The bag containing the sound mixer, its power supply, and all necessary patch cords was next. Then came the bag with the Heil headset, foot peddle, new Shure microphone, and a bunch of other stuff. I know it is over 50 pounds. {sigh}
I emptied out the golf bag and started filling it with the long pieces that won't fit in regular luggage.
Even after going through this sorting and weighing exercise several times before, I'm still tempted to fill up every empty place in every bag with something heavy. It usually starts with thinking, "I could use that", or, "that would be handy." I dropped in the big Buddipole system, the small Buddipole system, and a bunch of other stuff into the golf bag. It only took a few moments to blow my weight budget completely. That's not the way to approach the problem. The way to do this is:
  • Understand your goals -- I've said this before but it bears repeating. I've not stated my goals for this trip, at least not here in the blog, and I wasn't using this understanding to help with the equipment selection. That was a mistake.
  • Coodinate with others -- I'm not the only guy going on this trip. It doesn't make sense for all of use to bring, say, an antenna analyzer or tool kit. I've got a tool kit packed, but it might not be needed if somebody else brings one.
  • Use local materials -- Using local materials is not cheating! The Buddipole can be mounted on top of a painters pole. It isn't absolutely necessary to bring masts or tripods if we knew we could get long poles on the island. There are also materials left from hams that had done previous DXpeditions to Gingerbread hill. I received a note from a fellow just this weekend that said he left, "... [a] Kenwood TS-570DG, power supply, Mosley CL-33 tribander, Vibroplex paddle and old Heil headset microphone in the Heavenly Suite at Gingerbread Hill for the use of future visiting hams." While we will wish to make as many contacts as possible with Buddipoles, I'll make use of anything else that helps me make QSOs. I don't need to bring it to use it.
Let's review the goals I stated earlier:
  • Make QSOs
  • Make a DXpedition Video DVD
  • Execute on the Public Relations tasks
The DVD and public relation items are clear enough. The first point, the Make QSOs has been a little vague. Let's clear that up now. Here are my goals for the trip (the other group members and the group as a whole will have their own goals):
  • Worked All States (WAS) -- I'd like to work all states while on the island. Whether or not I actually get QSL confirmation, electronic or paper, is out of my control. I just want to have this in the log.
  • Worked All Continents -- This seems straightforward and I hope to have this one in the book on the first day.
  • 1000 QSOs -- Even at the bottom of the solar cycle, and without amplifiers or big antennas, I should be able to do this. That would be about 150 QSOs per day during the seven days on the island.
I've also got some stretch goals, goals that I might not achieve, but I'll be shooting for anyway.
  • 2000 QSOs -- This means making roughly 300 QSOs per day. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but if conditions are particularly favorable, and if I get a couple of good runs going, this might be possible. Certainly this would go a long way of proving the veracity of our assertions that lightweight operations can also be productive operations with the right planning and execution.

  • DXCC -- Again, I can't guarantee that I'll get all the cards or electronic confirmation for DXCC, but I can put it in the log. Getting the wall paper, though, would be really sweet!
Today's posts had a lot of lists. Perhaps that's a sign that some of this was overdue. I had waited to finalize some of these goals until I had seen what the Sun might be doing. If solar conditions looked dicey, I may have backed down on some of this, but as of today, things look like they might be OK. I certainly believe that my main goals are possible to achieve, and the stretch goals may be possible as well.
I'll bring home the scale from work tomorrow night, weight everything again, and go down the list of things I know I need. This is an iterative process. Once I've got a set that seems reasonable, I'll update the equipment spreadsheet. We'll begin group discussions with the next conference call on Sunday.


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