One of my other radio passions, as mentioned in the title of this Blog, is the IOTA Program. I do not normally chase IOTA with QRP, but it is challenging to me for other reasons. As we all know, DXCC expeditions to rare entities are usually well funded, may run for multiple weeks and employ the latest in HF Tranceiver technology, amplifiers and gain antennas. We also know that if we are patient we will get at least one QSO with these expeditions, if not 15. The bottom line, over the entire period of these mega expeditions, they aren't that hard to work.
IOTA Expeditions, the other hand, are a different story. First of all, the number of IOTA's is fixed at ~1,200. Accordingly, there are many more opportunties to activate an Island that is needed by a large percentage of the island chasing community. On average, while many of these operations run 100 watts, the antenna's and power supplies are portable and they will likely only be on the island for 2 to 3 days max. This makes the chase for islands much more of a challenge to me than DXCC. If you want to work an island you need in Indonesia that is portable with 100 watts, you must be much more keenly aware of propagation, long path, short path, greyline, etc.., if you want a QSO. There will be usually one station with a couple of operators, not 24-hour all-band operation. So the burden for working islands is much more on the chaser than the operator. I find this much more challenging than working stations that run 1KW, 24 hours a day.
I have activated 11 IOTA's in five DXCC countries including an all-time new one in Nicaragua, NA-209, H75A was the call. One thing I learned when activating these islands is that there were no sponsorship possibities if you put on a rare or new IOTA. In fact many organizations and clubs specfically prohibit contributions for IOTA only expeditions. So after our trip to H75A, the team decided we could complain or be a part of the solution. So we formed the Island Radio Expedition Foundation, Inc., IREF www.islandradio.org , to make grants to IOTA expeditions to new or rare IOTA qualifying islands. Over the last 10+ years, through the contributions of many, we have made $50,000+ in contributions toward these island expeditions.
As a part of this initiative, every year I sponsor the IOTA Bash. We have presentations, food and fellowship over a weekend. The BASH starts this Friday. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and learning about different parts of the world through these IOTA expedition presentations.
If you want to know more about IOTA you can check out their website at www.rsgbiota.org.