VK5FIL Expedition to OC-261

More DX info from Charles. Lets hope the conditions are good and we can work them over here in the UK.

VK5FIL Expedition to OC-261/VKFF-0175 DX News
Update from Grant (VK5GR);
”Its not long now and we will be off on another adventure! Our 6 man team is in the final throws of preparing to depart Adelaide and head to Flinders Island off the coast of Eyre Peninsula! Almost all of the planning is complete and gear is being packed ready for the crossing in the barge. Lets hope for good weather!
If all goes to plan, VK5FIL should be on the air by ~0800z 14th April from IOTA OC-261 & VKFF-0175. We will have 4 stations operating at the homestead and a number of the operators are also bringing their portable parks equipment as well to activate VKFF-4307 and VKFF-1717 in the days that follow while we are there.

2023-2024 Mailing Costs and Statistics

Following on from the Bureau Returned post below, the following is copied from Tim’s (M0URX) website just to show how much the costs are for sending out the QSL cards for the 2023 to 2024 year.

As the 2023 – 2024 financial tax year comes to an end, it is time to take a look at how our mailing facility has worked over the last year. Overall 28,936 items of mail were posted at a cost of £26,359.90. We post QSL Direct cards, bureau parcels and magazines using the various products as shown in the table below. With 13,751 more items posted this year, with Solar Cycle 25 this last 12 months providing much increased propagation on HF.
DX’pedition QSL costs are very competitive as always and we welcome talking to DX teams about mailing your QSL cards in the future.

The past 12 months though have been financially very challenging, postage costs up 10%, pulp paper costs up 15% and Customs charges across the board on QSL bulk shipments in and out through customs have hit us very heavily. We have tried to keep our QSL charges down to the lowest we can.

Standard postal rates have increased significantly in most countries worldwide due to the dwindling number of letters posted globally as people use electronic technology which has largely replaced the postal system in recent years. This means that the postal costs are spread over much lower volumes both nationally and worldwide and THIS is the driver of increased postal costs. In our hobby we still use the mail system to ship our QSL cards and therefore we must expect that increase to hit us. As an example, Royal Mail letter volumes in the last 12 years have dropped from 14.3 bn down to 7.3 bn per year.

While most people use OQRS (Thank you) we still get a number of incoming direct letters. The problem being is that most of the incoming letters do not include the correct QSL costs, because most fail to read either my QSL policy or the DXpedition QSL policy. This increases our costs further and also costs us time as we have to email to let people know that they failed to QSL correctly. My advice is use OQRS ONLY!

More customs charges on Bureau shipments outgoing continue, many Bureaus refuse to accept the shipments and we will not guarantee any cards requested using the IARU Bureau system. Customs demand a recipient name on these shipments but the IARU refuse to provide this for GDPR reasons. Well, this will inevitably close the Bureau system as we know it going forward. Someone has to take responsibility for this if the Bureau cards are to be securely sent and received by the IARU Bureaus. It is now completely out of our hands. If you want a QSL card use the direct option on OQRS is the only advice i can give.
Enjoy your DX! We as a team promise to provide you with a QSL service that works for both the DX’er and the DXpedition Team.

Bureau Boxes Returned

The following are both taken from Tim’s (M0URX) website. Both these have been returned this week, this is not because of BREXIT but because of the International Customs Union not allocating a commodity code for “used postcard” so they can freely pass through the borders. The one from URE is a silly one as there is a customs declaration to the right of the sticker they have attached in Spain (the pink label).

Both Tim and Charles (M0OXO) have said it is now getting to the point where they will not accept cards through the bureau and they will soon be considering to not send out through the bureau due to the expensive costs – I will post a full update from Tim with the cost breakdown.

DARC Bureau Box Returned

One of the two Bureau parcels that we posted to DARC German QSL Bureau back in February has been returned endorsed as “Non Reclaimed” 
We are currently working with DARC to have this shipped back to Germany soon. Sorry for the delay this has caused. 





URE Bureau Box Returned again!

It is with regret that i report that the Spanish URE Bureau Box failed to get through customs for the second time. Endorsed “Missing Customs Declaration” I have reported this to URE. At this time we will not be sending this again.

Can anyone in Spain help?

We will now have to seriously consider if we are able to continue to accept ANY bureau requests in future?


7P8EI Now on Air

While out in Ireland at the DX Feile visiting my Irish friends, it was announced that the group this year (2024) would be making the trip to Lesotho7P – in Africa using the call sign 7P8EI . The group left Dublin on Monday to Heathrow, then had an overnight stay until their flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Once in J’Burg they then boarded a bus to take them to Lesotho arriving yesterday (Wednesday 20 March 2024).

Today they started their operation on 10M SSB, with more bands to follow throughout the day. Though not a new one for me I will try to work them on a few bands to fill some band slots especially on CW and Digital modes. QSL route is via Charles, M0OXO, via his OQRS system. Good luck guys and hopefully see you in Friedrichshafen in June. 

Bouvet 3Y0K 2025 & Peter 1 2026 Update

Today we have had an update posted by Ken, LA7GIA, the team leader on the upcoming expedition to Bouvet in January 2025, on the website and his Facebook page.

Bouvet 2025

Peter 1 2026

”I want to share some updated information about 3Y0K Bouvet
Our plans are firm and we have everything setup for the January 2025 trip where we plan to depart early January.
We have set all contracts we need which includes vessel contract but also a logistics and landing contract, and we’re the only group with a valid DXpedition license for that period. No other group has a valid license, as such there is only one team with an official plan and with all license and contracts in place.
However, the fundraising has been a bit bumpy and this has impacted the Bouvet DXpedition negatively. All major EU clubs have supported us with the amounts we have asked for, but some major US clubs are on the sideline. Due to this we have made the following decisions
* Bouvet vessel inspection and deposit have been postponed with two months until May 2024
* ALL purchases have been postponed until May.
* The remote RIB operation has been cancelled, there is no time to deal with that. The 7 man team will operate locally on the island with 6 radios and amplifiers and there will be NO remote radios.
* Budget has been cut to bare minimum of what we need and reduced to $400,000, we can only spend more money if we get sufficient support.
The team needs more support, and with the adjustments we still need *a minimum of $85,000 to make it to Bouvet*. We ask all individuals to continue to support our mission to activate Bouvet and Peter I Island. Our Peter I DXpedition plans are on track. We have a letter of commitment from the owner of the vessel and we are waiting for the landing permit to be issued by NPI. We will execute Peter I through an experienced expedition company with previous experience from Peter I Island. The expedition leader and the pilots have landed several times on Peter I. We expect to be in the position to sign the vessel contract shortly.
However, at this stage it is important to understand that Bouvet is the priority and should we have to postpone or cancel the Bouvet DXpedition due to lack of donations, this will also similarly impact Peter I. We are in a good position to execute Peter I as we have signed a sponsor agreement, and together with the 19 operators participation fee we have already secured 80% of the Peter I budget.
But, Peter I DXpedition will not take place unless we raise sufficient funds and activate Bouvet. We will use March and April to see how much of the $85,000 we can raise, and will make a decision in May depending on the funds raised.
We’re inviting all individuals who want to see Bouvet activated again to support our DXpedition, please visit Donation Form – 3Y0K Bouvet Island DXpedition 2025 ( https://3y0k.com/donations/givewp-donation-form-2/ ). You can also donate directly via paypal donate@3y0k.com
73 Ken, LA7GIA”

New QSL Card

Seeing as it has been a number of years since I last had a QSL card designed, I thought it was about time I got a new one for myself. My friend Marcel, PD3MR, designed the front and I used some of my own photos on the back – sending them to Charles, M0OXO, for his QSL printer to design the rear. I am hoping to have them soon so look out for them in the mail if you request one.

Spain Bureau Parcel Return

Today Tim, M0URX, posted this on his website. It is ridiculous that the World Customs Organisation and IARU cannot get together and sort the issue out. 

Unfortunately we have been unable to get the latest Bureau parcel to Spain URE. Spanish customs have returned the parcel as “Missing Customs Declaration” despite the declaration being right next to the return label. Bureau system is in crisis!

We cannot guarantee the Bureau route. If you need a QSL – REQUEST DIRECT. This is happening all too often now and I reported the problems to IARU as long ago as 2017 that this was going to happen with the World Customs Organisation new regulations. Sadly there is nothing we can do. Is it time now to stop Bureau requests? Because i see no other way forward.

Not allowed to send as GIFT, Not allowed to send as DOCUMENTS. Must have value but how do you value something with no value and how do you provide an invoice if the recipient (The IARU Bureau) did not pay for a product? Complete FARCE.

QSL Cards Posted to World Bureaus – Friday 23rd February 2024.

Today (22 February 2024) myself, Charles (M0OXO) and Tim (M0URX) met at Tim’s house to prepare their QSL bureau mailing. We box or envelope each bureaus cards ready to go to the Royal Mail sorting office in Coventry the following day. Below are the numbers taken from Tim’s website.

QSL cards have been posted to World Bureaus – Friday 23rd February 2024.
This mailing is a joint mailing between M0OXO Charles & M0URX Tim. (also thanks W3KX Frank & G1VDP Chris)
I would very much appreciate feedback from you when the QSL cards start arriving at World Bureaus or received by hams around the world?
Delays are due to issues caused by the World Customs Organisation regulations. Please remember that with the new customs tax we cannot guarantee that the parcels will get through to your bureau. We now suggest sending only direct QSL route. All bureau requests are at your own risk.
The parcels are sent by Priority Business Mail to get to the Bureaus quickly.

Total amount of QSL cards dispatched: 19,584
Via M0URX 4,887, Via M0OXO 14,697.
Total Weight: 91.586 kg gross weight
Total Shipping Cost £478.60: £5.22per kg. (91.586 kg gross weight)
Average postage cost 3p per QSL card. Dispatch listed below in grams to each destination.
The below volumes are measured in grams per parcel,

UK United Kingdom 3,020


Andorra 7
Austria 2,400
Belgium 1,400
Bosnia 48
Bulgaria 373
Croatia 685
Cyprus 7
Czech Republic 1,590
Denmark 145
Estonia 92
Finland 700
France 2,440
Germany 17,000
Greece 390
Hungary 1063
Italy 5,690
Ireland 319
Latvia 76
Netherlands 2,260
Norway 328
Poland 2,440
Portugal 309
Romania 269
Slovenia 530
Spain 3,330
Sweden 1,010

Rest Of The World
Argentina 387
Australia 238
Belarus 40
Bosnia Herzegovina
Brazil 207
Canada 555
Chile 12
China 343
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Faroe Islands
Falkland Islands
Hong Kong
India 13
Indonesia 295
Israel 88
Japan 14,160
Kazakhstan 73
Kuwait 13
Liechtenstein 9
Lithuania 205
Luxembourg 210
Macedonia 21
Malaysia 10
Mexico 36
Moldova 7
New Caledonia
New Zealand 44
Panama 8
Qatar 6
Russian Fed 1,310
Saudi Arabia
Serbia 254
Singapore 10
South Africa 29
South Korea 332
Sri Lanka
Switzerland 600
Taiwan 28
Thailand 98
Turkey 11
United Arab Emirates
Ukraine 895
Uruguay 8
Venezuela 7

USA W0, W1, W2 W3, W4, WW4 W5, W6, W7, W8, W9 4,990g

Chasing DXpeditions

After not having any multiband antenna to chase DX on bands other than 12M, I finally took the plunge and bought a Sigma SE HF X-80 vertical. This arrived on Wednesday morning and with having the day off work was in the air within 30 minutes of starting. I have mounted it on a metal clothes post so the base is about 6 feet off the ground. It is a compromise antenna covering 80 through to 6M, although it does need an external AMU to allow it to be used in the recommended bands. I have found that the internal tuner of the Icom IC7300 will work and pull in the antenna on 30M to 6M, and it seems to be working well.

One of the main DXpeditions that are taking place at the moment is to Guyana by 4 young amateurs including a friend of ours, Jamie (M0SDV), and they are doing very well. They have been on all bands and have made over 24,000 contacts since starting on Wednesday (14th February 2024). Praise from all quarters as to how they have controlled the pile ups. Even my little signal has made it through the crowds, these guys are the future of our hobby and long may they continue. 

This team are not the only ones at the minute. There is also a group who are on from Robinson Crusoe Island, part of the Juan Fernandez Islands group (IOTA; SA-005), using 3 calls – CB0ZA, CB0ZW, and CB0ZEW. The CB0ZEW call is one of the latest innovations within the hobby where a full station is set up so it can be operated remotely. In other words I could sit here at home and operate using the equipment on the island over the internet. Not a good way in my opinion, but again this looks like it could be the way to go for DXpeditions to some of these remote places on our planet.

RIP Bob Alphin, K4UEE

The amateur radio community is mourning a true gentlemen, DXer, and DXpedition Organiser today. Last night (10/02/2024) the news came out that Bob Alphin, K4UEE, had become a silent key. Many tributes have been paid to him on social media and DX sites. Myself I can only echo the sentiments made by others. I first met Bob at one of the HF Conventions at Wyboston Lakes, he had returned earlier in the year from 3Y0X, Peter 1st Island, in the Antarctic region and gave a presentation of this expedition. We then shared a couple of beers and chatted in the bar later that evening. As I say a true gent as he regaled stories with myself and Tim, M0URX, two people who he had only just met face to face.

RIP Bob, until we meet again.