Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The arbitrary nature of amateur radio entities - or What's wrong with Rockall?
Looking over at Colin, MM0NDX's Hamspirit blog, I noticed some interesting comments from 'Island Man' regarding getting amateurs interested in his trip to Rockall.
"I think that the Ham Radio people need to consider carefully why Rockall is such a sought after location to activate, even though it is on Europe’s doorstep. If there are radio hams out there looking for a guaranteed tick they should forget about Rockall, but if they are looking for what could be their ultimate activation challenge anywhere in the world this trip is for them.
A challenge is never a guaranteed tick, this is what makes it a challenge. I would be amazed and disappointed to learn that there is no radio ham in the world who does not possess a sense of adventure and is ready to take on the ultimate of activation challenges – Rockall."
Interesting comments! Of course, the simple truth is that though Rockall would be an intriguing place to visit or indeed operate from, it's not a separate DXCC entity. What makes a DXCC entity is, of course, well-defined by ARRL's DXCC desk. To an outside to amateur radio, the rules may well appear obtuse and hard to fathom. Perhaps they are! Though you'd get a fair amount of interest in any operation from Rockall, it would not be DXCC interest.
IOTA is still more interesting! I have never quite forgiven the IOTA programme for its arbitrary nature (arbitrary to me, at least!). Back in 1989, we went to Porto Santo (CT3) which is some 40km from Madeira. I received a curt reply from the IOTA administrator at that time - that it was the same as Madeira. Really? It's 40km away! Why?
The point of course, is that IOTA is not wrong. They have to set their own rules for the programme. The same is true for DXCC or any other awards programme. It may be hard for outsiders to fathom - but as long as it's consistent to the programme, it probably doesn't matter.
Rockall would probably count for IOTA as long as the operation is 'authorised'. But though interest in IOTA is strong, it's a mere fraction of interest in DXCC.
As such, any operation from Rockall will be interesting, but from a mere awards point of view, is unlikely to set the bands on fire in the same way as an operation from, say, North Korea.
Funny old world! I wish Island Man and his team well. Rockall will prove a fascinating challenge - just getting there and getting on the air. I would be surprised if an amateur did not take up the challenge, but I'd be surprised if it was a 'regular' dxpeditioner. Rockall is a different beast.
Posted by Tim at 12:57 PM