Thursday, May 03, 2007

Preliminary thinking and planning for St. Kitts

We flew over the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis (NA-104) on the way back from Montserrat. It was the island of Nevis with its enormous volcanic crater that captivated me. Stupidly, I did not have my camera out or I would have eagerly snapped a picture. Hence, I can only provide an approximation of that glorious view through the miracle of Google Earth.

If you have not been using Google Earth begin now. This is an incredibly powerful system that allows you to get a very clear idea about the area you will be visiting. For example, if you visit the web site for our villa on St. Kitts you will see terrific pictures of the property both inside and out. Using just a few hints from the picture I was able to precisely identify the villa in the satellite view.
I now know where my neighbors will be (behind me, mostly) and even have a general idea about the topography of the area. The last step is to obtain a topographical map of the area to fill in all the details. I have been buying my maps from The St. Kitts and Nevis maps can be found here. I ordered both maps in early March but thus far only one has arrived (the other is backordered). Again, start your planning early. Order things you need early.

Every 100 Pound DXpedition should have goals and I've been thinking about my goals for this trip. As I've said before, goals help focus the planning process for everything from the selection of your destination to the equipment you'll bring. Having goals and a good plan also helps ensure that you won't have regrets about missing an opportunity. Of course, once you've made your goals you can relax!
I've not decided on goals for this trips yet. The point of the trip is to participate in the CQ World Wide DX Contest but beyond that I've not decided anything regarding the number of QSOs I hope to make, or awards I might qualify for such as WAS, DXCC, or even WPX. There are also contest-specific records that I could consider chasing. The North America SSB Records page has the following for low power and QRP entries (the only two categories I would be interested in competing):

L Low Power | Q QRP
Category | Call | Score |
QSO's | Zones | Countries | Year record set

L V44NK 127,566 857 33 81 95
L28 V47TV(OH3VV) 857,934 3284 31 95 91
L21 V47NK 67,320 660 16 35 96
L14 NC2N/V44 7,595 127 14 35 04
L7 V49A(EW1AR) 135,408 705 18 75 05
L3.7 V49A(EW1AR) 40,227 298 16 53 04

Q21 V44/EW1AR(NC2N) 15,708 117 14 37 04

The low power single band record for 20m looks pretty low. I believe I could easily break that. Also check out the QRP entries. There is only one! Only the single band (15m) entry from 2004 is there. Any QRP entry this year would set the record.
Working the contest QRP would be fun, but would make all my other goals difficult to achieve. Further, the right way to approach a serious QRP effort is with a big antenna with lots of gain on a nice tower with a rotator. I have none of that. So, I guess the QRP record will need to be set by somebody else!
Note that a couple of these scores put up by V44NK, including the top score for low power, were done at low points in the solar cycle. Could I beat the top low-power score? That is something to consider.

Finally, I'm still mulling over the equipment selection for the trip. The Mosley Mini-32-A was ordered 5 weeks ago (that might be arriving soon!) and I still plan on bringing that, but little else has been finalized. With the new Elecraft announcement I'm not even sure what radio will be going. (Jeff (KE9V) is certainly cheering me on to buy the new rig.) There are lots of reasons to strongly consider it. I will defer that discussion until tomorrow's entry.


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