By Gus Browning, printed in 73 Magazines in 1966-06 reprint by PA0ABM Gus Browning story, Part 12 New preparations In the last episode my first DXpedition had come to an end. I think I had learned a lot on that trip. I found that I did not nvind traveling and really wanted more of it, in fact lots more of itI had finally got to the point where I did not mind in the least getting tangled up with the customs in tlie different countries. I had found that I could eat anything that anyone else could with no bad effects. I found that I was not effected with sea sickness at all Many more things were learned too, such as study the circuit in your rig so that you can troubleshoot anything that went wrong, take a few spare parts and of course spare tubes. Travel light, take yoiur equipment along with you as excess baggage and don*t under any circumstances ever let it get into the big custom houses in any country because these fellows at these places can't be made to rush and they have the big custom regulation books to refer to and they will read all the very fine print when you try to take your equipment out of their customs deparhnent. If you cannot afford to pay the excess baggage charges on your equipment you had better stay at home, since it does no one any good for you to be in some rare country and not have your equipment along with you to use. I had learned aU of this and a few hundred more similar things, and I sure did hope that some day I would get to benefit from what I learned along the way. When I arrived back home I immediately returned the equipment that had been loaned to me by a fine radio equipment manufacturer. The equipment had held up very nicely with the exception of some filter condensers blowing up on account of extremely high line voltages in a few places and I did have to use a number of the spare tubes. On this first trip I had used only half-wave dipoles,, horizontal ones at that, and was hoping someone would come out with a good vertical groimd plane, one that could be made up into very small sections and carried in a small canvas bagI found out that Hy-Gain and their Model 14AVS were the answer to my problem, this model has now been changed to their Model 14-AVQ which is eiven better then their older 14-AVS and this is the one I have been using ever since. It's very FB from 10 thru 40. Maybe their new model that goes thru 80 meters would be even better for a DXpedition and save a fellow from a lot of hard work when trying to get up an SO meter antennaPossibly they might even make up a sort of DXpedition special with the sections cut up in shorter pieces so it could be carried in a small canvas bag like the Model 14-AVQ I used on my last DXpedition. I admit a three element beam would be better, but for a one man DXpedition I can just picture the difficulties 1 would face in trying to get something like this up and down in one piece. You cannot see the difficulties you face when you have about 4 to 10 people tr>irig to help you put up an antenna when they cannot understand a word of English. Then there is the problem of "how will you turn it" when its mounted up in the top of an 80 foot coconut tree and anchored down on "W" land when the Europeans or Australians or South Africans are coming thru. Of course a good rotator would solve that problem. Then there is that other problem of paying all that extra excess baggage if you take the three-element beam and rotor, sometimes there is also the problem of length in some planes and also in every car that you might have to use in moving around in, in some countries. Another thing to consider when using a beam. It's turned on, let's say. W land and maybe at that time is also the best time for the VK boys, and you have the beam on W and you never know that this is the best time also for the VK fellows. In my opinion the only fair answer to the antenna problem is to use a vertical and give everyone a fair chance to work you, admitting that a beam would give your signals maybe one or two more S points. You are rare DX, so let the fellows dig a little for you, it sort of makes the chase more interesting if you are a little hard to work. With a vertical no one can say that you have any favorite directions, i'ts up to Ole Man Skip, and out of your hands. With two fellows a beam would be OK, if it can be turned with ease and doesn't happen to stay pointed at your favorite part of the world. For me it's a VERTICAL EVERYTIME. Well here I was back home from my first DXpedition and everyone asking me "when the next one, Gus?" My answer was always, I have the time but I don't have the money. This usually stopped most of them. But there was a few who said raising money was no problem at all, most of these never did go any further. Buck W4T0 was interested in another DXpedition since he bad handled the QSL cards for the first trip. I visited him over in Atlanta a few times, and after seeing what a busy fellow Buck was with all of his irons in the fire I came to the conclusion that Buck just could not spare the necessary time to get things underway again. About this time I received a telephone call from Ack W4ECI saying he was interested in taking up the chores involved in a DXpedition of major proportions. We spent many many hours with each other with quite a number of trips to Birmingham thrown in. This trip we wanted to be the real thing, we did not want any stumbling blocks in our way and we win lied tliis to be a smooth operation all the way. I had met any number of fellows who were interested in helping on a new DXpedition in many different ways. A number of fellows furnished me with some AM phone rigs and others furnished me with small power plants to sort of open the doors to the islands in the Indian Ocean area. Others furnished items that were badly needed by the fellows up in the Himalaya kingdoms, there were many people to write letters to so they would be ready for me when I arrived in their part of the world, I suppose all together 25 or more fellows helped me in many different ways and it was a very fine feeling to know that so many of the fellows were behind me on that trip. I don't think there will ever be such a trip that began with the boys sticking with me and Ack as good as that one. Everything went so smoothly all during the trip, thanks to all the planning by everyone. Even after the trip had been finished I never have heard any real complaints from anyone for being apparently deliberately not worked like sometimes they seem to be on some DXpeditions. My motto was work everyone heard, regardless of who they were or where they were located. This is even now still my molto and it will never change. I have been on the DX from both ends fur quite a number of years now and I know how the boys back here are sweating it out and how easy it is for them to misunderstand instructions given over the air with the QRM like it is most of the time. I was advised by many fellows to put off any further plans for any DXpeditions until the Sun spot situation improved, possibly they were right. But my viewpoint was why wait until later on when all the boys were so eager for the DXpedition to take place now. My policy has always been to strike when the iron was hot, and right then it was about as hot as it would ever be. I looked back in my log books at the last sunspot minimum and by looking at the log I would never have known there was a minimum if I was trying to find it by looking at my logs. Considering the number of QSO's I had during the trip I don t think there would have been many more if the siui spots were at their peak. Of course they certainly did affect the 15 and 10 meter contacts and 20 was open for shorter periods of time. But you know a fellow has to sleep sometimes and with the bands closing somewhat earlier than they would have been with a good sunspot count I did at least get a chance to sleep sometime. But both Ack and I thought it was worth a try and we continued our plans regardless of the mood of the sun. When Ack and I sent out some copies of our plans as to where we were planning on operating from I heard many remarks over ibe air from some of the boys such as: "Gus and Ack are dreaming." "this DXpedition will end in less than 3 months," "who do they think they are fooling", "this is a big joke," etc., etc. Well I think Ack and I fooled these fellows. Do you think I made a list of some of the stations making these remarks that I heard over the air? I certainly did not, but it would have made up a dandy little black list I guess. I am certain I left home on the trip I did not think it would ever be completed 100% as it was planned from the beginning. We were both very much surprised that it was concluded as well as it was. I did operate from many places I thought I would never operate from and I will admit I missed a few I thought I would get to. Things don't ever work out exactly like they were planned, at least not with me. When you leave the U.S. A. your plans have to be changed all the time. That is the way things are in the world and I suppose that's the way they will always be. But it does make things a little bit more inleresting I suppose. A surprise here and there makes life interesting I guess. Wouldn't it be great to go on a DXpedition some day with no plans whatsoever as to where you are going? Maybe one of these days there will be some Sugar-Daddy who will hand me an airline credit card, and a few handfuls of American Express money orders with instructions to just go where you want to go and operate as long as there Is pile lips, and then go to some other spot and do the same and to just keep going as long as you like. Boy that would be the DXpeditioners Dream, wouldn't it? Everything was going along fine with the plans and there was lots to do before I left the USA, Two full days were spent in Washington, D.C., getting visas for the countries I wanted to go to. Then there were all the health shots. Some of the vaccine could not be obtained here in Orangeburg, S,C., and had to be ordered from a larger city. I have forgotten the exact number of shots I had to take, but I felt like a porcupine for about three weeks. In the end I think all these shots did me a lot of good and probably prevented me from picking up a lot of bugs here and there. I am sure something or someone protected me from all the bugs I was exposed to in all the different places I have visited. Something also protected me from stomach disorders I am sure because it was my rule to eat whatever was served me. I used to sort of worry about drinking water, but to this day I have never boiled any before I drank it. On my last trip I did have some of those little pills to put in drinking water to purify it^ I think I used maybe one dozen of these pills on the entire trip. I usually gave them to some of the natives to use, explaining what they were supposed to do. I have found that any land of medicine is always very welcome in almost any country in the world and is usually a good item to use to sort of get them to open their doors to you. If when you go to Washington^ D,C. to get your visas and if yon have plenty of time to spend up there you can usually get a good letter of introduction from them (an ambassadors letter is the best) to their Minister of Communications. If you can just once get to see the Minister of Communications in a country and if you say the right things to him and can convince him that you are tr>infr to help their communications you are then in, because he is the man who eventually will make the decision as to whether you operate there or not. A lot of red tape can be saved by seeing the minister himself first. lie in turn will usually call one of his head men and let him take over. If the minister says, "go " you are all set and no one can upset your applecart. If I ever go on another DXpedition I want to spend maybe two full weeks in Washington visiting the ambassadors of the countries I want to operate from, with a good letter of introduction from a few U.S. Senators to him and if you are going to Moslem countries, a letter from your church minister if you are a Protestant or Catholic. If you are Jewish stay where you are .... A letter telling that you are a good, upright citizen from your chief of police helps a little also. Be sure it's written on the Police Department s stationery. If possible have a few Zippo lighters to pass out or if you are well fixed pass out a Parker 51 here and there. I have yet to see the opening where a direct bribe would have done the job, with one exception, and this one wanted $1,000 to open the door and we still have about 4,000 or 5,000 QSL cards for that proposed stop—We counted our chickens before the eggs were hatched. As a final send off Ack and I were at the Side Band Dinner in New York City and after that it was out to I die wild airport and on the way to just about the best DXpedition I think there ever will be. We had to buy in New York at the last minute a new power plant because we found out that all the equipment etc. we had shipped many months before were held up somewhere along the way to the Seychelles on account of a strike. This meant much more expenses in air freight. The power plant was shipped to Bombay, to be transhipped on to the Seychelles on the same boat 1 was going on. ADVICE to the DXpeditioner, be prepared for unexpected financial burdens, because they are always turning up when least expected. I suggest you figure what your trip will cost, taking everything you can think of under consideration and then add about 50% to your figures and you MIGHT come out OK (if you are very careful, that is). As a sort of warm up practice run and to let the boys know I was on my way I stopped in Monaco for a few days operation after a very short trip around portions of Europe. To the Hotel La Seicle in Monaco I went and as usual checked into the room they seem to hold for DXpeditioners (room #40), up went my antennas and the DXpedition was officially underway. This rime I was a little bit better prepared and instead of the KWM-S and the outboard VFO I had the "S" Line but only barefoot. As usual the very first night at about 2 AM, just like before the filter condensers in the PM- 2 power pack blew up on account of that high line voltage, but this time I had brought some 600 volt filters along with me, after substituting these for the 450 volt jobs in the power pack my filter condenser troubles were eliminated for the balance of the trip. Also I found that the power transformers get awful hot. and I would further recommend that you drill a great many holes all around it and bring along a good electric fan to make it run cooler. Everyone tells me these transformers are made to take a lot of heat but I like for them to at least be cool enough to put your hand on them without getting burned, A little breeze from the same fan around the final tubes certainly would not do any harm either. 1 am not much afraid of the heat from the tubes hurting them as I am from the heat doing damage to some of the other components. I think most of the ham transmitters on the market today are FB if they are used, let's say, for a few hours every day, but T don't think they are made to stand, say, 18 to 20 hours duty at a time, especially if the line voltage is on the high side and the cycles are 50 instead of 60 like we have here in the USA. It's 50 cycles practically everywhere. If your travel expense can stand a little extra weight I highly recommend that you take with your Powerstat that will operate from both 240 and 120 volts, with a built in voltmeter and a knob that's real handy to regulate the voltage. Let the equipment operate on 120 volts but have your Powerstat so that it can be changed from 120 to 240 volts easily without a soldering iron. Your little soldering iron can be a 120 volt one since you will have 120 available at all times by using the Powerstat. Remember you just cannot find 3-way plugs overseas, not of the type we use over here, so bring along a few of these, you can use them in all of your connections EXCEPT the connections to the power source, These oversea plugs can be of almost any size or shape and il*s practically impossible to have along with you a universal plug to fit them all. They can usually be bought overseas quite easily though, I myself have found that one set of your PowerStat wires should end up with a pair of Alligator flips on them, these clipped on a piece of solder can be made to fit almost anything you run into. Don't overload yourself with a big box of spare parts, because even then nine out of ten times yon will still not have what you need in case you really net into serious rig trouble Gus

Gus Browning, W4BPD

Hams - W4BPD - Gus Brwning 02
Hy-Gain 14AVQ (10 to 40 Meters) A Zippo lighter Parker 51 Deluxe Haven van Monaco