Thursday, March 15, 2007

It looks like I might actually get to be DX!

We're still working out some of the final details, but it looks like Sharon and I, along with two of the three couples who went to the Outer Banks with us a couple of summers ago, will be spending a week on vacation in Grand Cayman. Cayman is not particularly rare as DX entities go, but I know that anytime I hear someone on with a ZF prefix on the air there is generally a pretty good-sized pileup, so I figured that if I can operate a little radio now and then, it should be a lot of fun. Fortunately, the couples that we're going with already know about "that radio thing" that I do so I don't have to explain the whole thing to them.

Aside from the actual trip logistics (which are relatively trivial, compared to going to really rare places; Cayman is an extremely civilized place with direct air flights from the US, modern electrical and telecommunications facilities, etc.), what I'm working on now is starting to get the licensing paperwork taken care of and figuring out what gear to take.

As for the paperwork, I emailed the folks who are in charge there around a week ago, and while I haven't heard anything back yet, I know that things move a bit slower in the islands, so I can be patient.

From an equipment standpoint, I'm going to bring my Icom 706 MkIIG along with a relatively lightweight switching power supply that I picked up a few years ago (same one I took to the Outer Banks.) That was the easy part, trying to figure out what to do about antennas was a little more difficult, since I don't have a lot of details about the place we'll be staying yet. I was originally thinking of bringing a G5RV (either full-sized or "shorty"), but that means that I'd need to bring a tuner, and it also means that I need to be able to string it up. Bringing along a dipole or two cut for specific bands generally solves the tuning problem, but still presents the "how do you get it up in the air?" problem.

After a little research, I've decided to purchase and take a Buddistick which is sort of the baby brother (vertical only) of W3FF's Buddipole. The Buddipole has some advantages over the 'stick in terms of flexibility of use, but the stick, with accessories, breaks down into a bag that's just over a foot long, making it pretty easy to travel with. I've had a couple of emails back and forth with Budd, W3FF, who founded the company (his son Chris now runs it), and he gave me a couple of great tips for configuration. I'm anxiously awaiting the arriving of the antenna so that I can start to play with it a bit. It does need per-band adjustment, but I'll bring my Autek VA1 antenna analyzer with me (which is also very small) which should make any adjustments a snap.

That's about it for now, hopefully I'll be able to get the licensing process started soon, since I expect that will take a while to get through. Just a quick addendum: The site that I used for info about the licensing process is OH2MCN's Worldwide Licensing Website, which has an amazing amount of information about getting licensed pretty much anywhere in the world.

BTW, if anyone reading this has any comments/suggestions/whatever, particularly about operating from Cayman, but about this kind of "lightweight vacation style" operating, please do let me know!

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