24 August 2007

Communications Plan

Having spent the majority of my military career doing "expeditions" and "deployments" with massive amounts of communications equipment to every place from desert, mountain and jungle locations, to Five-Star Hotels' roofs I consider myself to be very well trained at setting up emergency communications equipment, and operating under sometimes extreme or emergency conditions. At least twice in my life, I've operated radio systems while taking fire from enemy combatants. So... ok, let's just say that setting up a radio system, an antenna and a power supply ought to be an absolute cake-walk in a tropical destination. Ought to be.

Old habits, however, die hard. One of the things I used to do for deployments was to write up communications and operations plans for our communications units, and generally write trip reports after-the-fact, to provide valuable "Lessons Learn" information for the next groups of folks who would follow in my footsteps.

Thus, I have written a full blown communications and operations plan for "DX Jamaica 2007". Now, it might seem a little over-blown to do this, since there are only two operators, and only one of us is probably actually going to do most of the operations. On the other hand, my wife is learning the ropes, so it should give her some guidance, and for others who would love to do such a thing, a plan for them to examine and perhaps glean information from when they do their own mini-dxpedition.

That's what this site is about. I will be posting the plan here, in little pieces. For our purposes it is a full manual, containing even emails back and forth to the hotel where we will be staying, as well as emails and letters sent to the Spectrum Management Authority of Jamaica (the Jamaican equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission).

With a little luck, we will be getting our licenses in the mail sometime in the next couple of weeks so those can be published as well. I'm not 100% sure they will arrive in time, and this entire DXpedition is contingent upon a foreign government sending our papers in a timely fashion. Normally, in many countries it takes months to process paperwork.

In our case we knew we were going to Jamaica, but not exactly when. We also didn't know in the beginning we were going to do the DX portion of the trip. The plus side of all of this is very simple, we still get to spend a week in Jamaica on the beach and in the sun, enjoying ourselves even if we can't do the DXpedition.

Otherwise, we will definitely operate from the beach for three of the days of the trip. That part is going to be as much, if not more fun than other things we have planned. Below I am providing the first few paragraphs of the trip plan. This is so that others can know our thinking on what we're going to do. I'll publish more of it over the next few days, and remember that some things are definitely subject to change -- and probably will -- before the trip is over.

One last note... We will NOT be doing any blogging from Jamaica. The internet costs are somewhat prohibitive down there, cellular phones we use don't work on the island, and I'm going to have fun not to spend my time writing a lot. I might take a lap top and record a few things, but even my logs are going to be pen and ink and paper.

More to come!


Rick Donaldson
Amateur Callsign NØNJY

Operations Plan -- first paragraphs. (Photos later!)

October 2007 -- Runaway Bay -- Jamaica DXpedition

Purpose: This plan is to provide detailed planning information for the Runaway Bay, Jamaica DXpedition and resources required to support the objective of putting up basic High Frequency communications on an island in the Caribbean Sea from 12-14 October 2007. This plan outlines specific system requirements for one or two band operations. Purpose of the expedition is to make contacts to other continents from a 6Y location, and to enjoy a vacation on the beach.

Scope: This document describes the communications capabilities to be provided by the DXpedition during a portion of our vacation. The Operational DXpedition from Runaway Bay, St. Anne’s, Jamaica will be operating during daylight hours on the 20 meter band on 14.190 KHz (+/- 10 KHz) from approximately 1200 hours local (1700 hours UTC) to approximately 1600 hours local (2100 hours UTC) on Friday, 12 Oct 2007 and Saturday, 13 October 2007. Operations will be from approximately 1200 hours local to 1500 hours local time on Sunday. Equipment will be deployed each day prior to noon local time and packed up in the afternoon to prevent interference with hotel operations, and beach activities in the evenings.


JoAnne Donaldson, US Amateur Call: KBØIRW

Rick Donaldson, US Amateur Call: NØNJY

Visit Dates: Arrival 9 Oct 2007 – Departure 16 Oct 2007

Operational Dates: 12-14 October

Operational Times: 1700-2100 UTC on Friday and Saturday, and 1700-2000 on Sun

Frequencies: Split frequency operation during operations hours on 14.190 +/-10 KHz, TX, Listening 14.200 – 14.230 (+/- 10 KHz)

Radios: ICOM IC-735, Power Supply, Antenna

Associated Equipment: Minimum necessary to bring station online (Equip. Listing)

23 August 2007

Jamaica DXPedition 2007 (October)

Hi everyone;

I'm Rick, NØNJY, and I'll be your tour guide here for a bit.

What this is all about:

In August this year, my wife JoAnne (KB
ØIRW) and I have celebrated our 30th anniversary together. We're both Ham Radio Operators, and we're going to Jamaica in October to spend a week in the sun, at a cool little resort we found on the northern coast in St. Ann's, in a little area called Runaway Bay.

Being that we're Amateur Radio Operators, and this is a vacation for us, we're taking some ham radio gear with us. If you're reading this, you're MOST LIKELY an amateur too, so please bear with me while I explain what a DXpedition is to the non-Hams among us.

DX is a term we use in Amateur radio and shortwave listening to describe "Distant Listening". Pretty much anything you listen to on the shortwave is very likely "Distance" and thus, you are usually listening to a far away location.

Hams like to collect QSL cards, post cards, confirming contacts -- which many use just as "cool collector items". Many use them for awards, like "Worked All States" in the US, or "DXCC" which means they worked a WHOLE LOT of countries found on a DXCC listing.

Jamaica just happens to be on the DXCC list, and though it is not rare or anything, it is a DX location that European and American, as well as other countries Hams want to talk to.

So, JoAnne and I are going to try to oblige a few lucky people around the world on 12-14 October.

Currently, we're awaiting confirmation of our Jamaican operating permits, and I was in contact with the Spectrum Management Authority in Kingston this very week, who assured me we should very well have our permits in hand within the next couple of weeks.

I'll be posting operating information on this blog, as well as information for other hams should they want to do something similar in the future.

So -- basically this blog is a place for us to post information about the trip, and contact information for those of you wishing to make contact with us while we're in Jamaica this October!

I'll post more information later this week, or weekend regarding what we're planning and so forth.

Anyone interested in contacting me regarding the DXpedition can certainly write to me via my callsign @ arrl.net and I'll respond as soon as I can.

Until the next post,