This is one Rebel’s observation/opinion, and one Rebel’s only.
The Ham Community at large has it ass backwards and is being played.
DX Foundations have recently spent thousands, no make that tens of thousands, no make that HUNDREDS of thousands – to fail. The spectacular failure of 3Y0Z has harmed the Ham Radio community deeply. Deeper than anybody wants to talk about above a whisper for fear of being heard (or blacklisted). An $800,000.00 DXpedition failed? How does that happen? Sounds like a government program.
Because of that specific failure, a couple large Ham Radio Foundations have tightened their purse strings. That DXpedition lost a shitload of other people’s money and a boatload of future support. And they’ve made it clear they are not going back to Bouvet anytime soon. One and done.
And now that failure has a few other DXpeditioneer groups searching for alternative funding sources since those few foundations and hundreds of donors took the hit and closed up shop.
One source that I am 100% personally behind is the “pay to play” model. If a DXpedition now has to pay all up front costs out of their pockets because these foundations and clubs choose not to fund, well then the DXpeditioneers should be able to recoup some (if not all) of their costs on the back end. The days of $25 QSL’s are right around the corner folks. We saw it with Kosovo Z6 for quick $20 LoTW confirmations (also reported as helping the club buy equipment). We saw $10 QSL’s for 4B4B Revillagigedo and I haven’t seen any complaints. If you needed it, you paid the $10 for the confirmation. I just did it a few days ago with Mount Athos – I worked Monk Apollo on 20M CW – I sent $10. It’s my prediction if the foundations and clubs don’t make it easier for DXpeditioneers to get funding, the costs associated are gonna’ fall to the people who want that LoTW or QSL card confirmation. And that group is the group that works the DXpedition. It’s only fair. Work the DXpedition – share the cost. Don’t work the DXpedition – don’t share the cost. Need a confirmation? Pony on up to the bar and buy a beer. Nothing is free.
This pay to play model also opens up another source of funding. Angel investors. Notice I didn’t say Angel donors, I said Angel investors.
With a pay to play model for some of the top 10 DXCC locations, large investor(s) can front the loot, then recover (with interest) on the back. An example may be well known DXpeditioneer “Sam I Am” and a couple of his Buddies need 50K to pull off a destination. Angel Investor Man fronts the 50K for 120 days at say 18% interest. Pays 50K up front, gets back $59,000 a few months later. Sam I Am and his crew make 35,000 Q’s, of where 10K are unique and collect $20 per confirmation. 10,000 QSL’s at $20? 200K. Do the math. It’s already been done on a smaller scale, you just didn’t know about it.
Worried about burning that Angel investor? Nah, nobody was worried about those foundations losing a hundred thousand or more now were they? That’s a risk the investor takes, not you.
And before you say, “Pay to Play, Angel Investor, that’s not the way it’s done, that’s bullshit”, etc. – well, if I read the Baker update correctly, we just saw the first DXpedition drop 6,000 uniques via FT8. Now, I don’t like FT8. In fact I think it’s bad for the hobby, but guess what? Times are changing. Those 6K new uniques didn’t work Baker on CW, SSB or RTTY – so that’s 6,000 more folks that will GLADLY send $10 or $20 for confirmations – At $20 each, that’s $120,000.00 just from uniques in the FT8 log. That’s how you recover an investment with FT8 – whether you (or me) like it or not.
Free LoTW, buro, $1 OQRS – fuhgeddaboudit! You best be aware you already spent thousands on equipment to catch the fish, but if the foundations and clubs aren’t going to fund the fish, what kinda’ fishing rod you holding in your hands now?
In the meantime while future DX funding gets sorted out, if you want to help the Rebels get to Bouvet, hit one of the donate buttons and we’ll make you infamous on our Rebel Sponsor Page, thanks. If you’re an investor, get a hold of us, we’re looking for a few more Rebels.
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