The term DXpedition refers to what is considered to be an ‘exotic locale’ by an amateur radio operator, or HAM radio operator.
Another way to think about this, is as a holiday or trip where the end destination in mind is not necessarily visited for its local culture or its climate – but rather for the opportunities it might present to a radio operator.
So what might we consider to be a DXpedition and why might you want to get involve?
Holidays for Radio Operators
One type of destination that someone might be interested in visiting as a radio operator, is somewhere where they would be able to pick up a range of interesting radio signals. The nature of shortwave radio is that it travels in straight lines and so can only cover a certain distance. At some point, it will reach the horizon and then disappear into space.
However, certain points that are particularly high up for instance, or that have favorable topography, might be able to pick up more shortwave radio signals.
Or perhaps you want to visit a location where you would be able to broadcast to a particularly large area? Again, this would often mean somewhere that is high above sea level, such that the signal could travel over any obstacles and also reach other highpoints by travelling above the curvature.
You might also wish to travel somewhere that has particularly interesting broadcasts, or you might simply wish to listen in on some local radio and speak with some local stations using your handheld two-way radio.
In some cases, the DXpedition will be interesting for precisely the opposite reason: because it is highly remote meaning that there are fewer other operators in the area.
Think of it like ‘radio tourism’.
Some Expeditions however are arranged and therefore provide you with some guaranteed experiences while presenting less for you to organize and research yourself.
DX World is one such organization that has a website with a weekly bulletin of upcoming events. Likewise, 425 DX News also has a weekly email bulletin informing of any DXpeditions that are on air at a given time.
Of course, with these being radio operators, the expedition will usually be broadcast. You can then either make the same trip in order to enjoy the broadcast where you’ll be able to pick up the signal, or you can try to listen in from a distance – DX of course is shorthand for ‘distant’ after all!
The earliest DXpeditions were nothing more than exploratory and geographical expeditions where one or more radio amateurs would participate to offer long-distance communication. These occurred in the 20s and 30s – fellow radio amateurs would then contact them from back home in order to contact another country.
The Antarctic expeditions of Admiral Byrd are just such an example. The activity of ‘dedicated’ DXPeditions however was pioneered by the one-time ARRL president Robert W. Denniston.
This is just one of the many amazing things you can do with radio – visit far off lands simply by listening in to a two-way radio, or communicate with an entirely new culture with what is essentially a souped-up walkie talkie!