I warned you last time (here) that I started thinking about some things in Ham Radio…
Years ago I selected a stack of carefully treasured QSL cards, filled in the requiered documents and took the works to the ARRL DXCC Field Checker for Belgium. I paid a fee and received a certificate that is now framed and a part of the shack: “DXCC CW”. A while later I jumped on the LotW-bandwagon and got an endorsement for another few dozen entities. Honnestly: achieving basic DXCC means squat. It’s easy. Even 250 entitites CW only is easy. It’s easy with a setup like mine that is. Running QRP with an indoor antenna might be a bigger challenge.
A little harder but still quite manageable is 5 Band DXCC. Since I put up the 80m vertical and added a touch of QRO, even on 80m there is nothing hard about working 100 entities from here in EU. I have lost track of the score in paper cards let alone finding the cards. So thanks to LotW one day I achieved 5B DXCC CW. Nothing I consider special and I didn’t specifically work towards it – it just happenend along the way. And I was glad I discovered it, as you can read in my “5BDXCC in CW” post a few years ago.
So why not apply for the 5BDXCC award through the LotW system? A few clicks, a few bucks – et voilà. Not so it seems. I didn’t find a way to do this in one easy move. So I quit looking. Then I came across AE5X‘s post called: “Economics of DXing – the $200 5B-DXCC“. I quote:
For 5B-DXCC, the ARRL requires such an applicant to apply (and pay for) 5 separate DXCC certificates. You can then pay an additional fee for the plaque to adorn your I Love Me wall. The 5 certs cost $135, the plaque is $65. At first that sounded expensive since everything is virtual.
AE5X concludes that 200 US Dollars for LotW 5B DXCC is a bargain compared to ‘the old skool paper QSL alternative’ which takes longer and sending direct cards to rare entities with return postage for a few hundred cards is much more expensive. He’s right when you look at it his way.
But I look at it ON5ZO’s way, of course. 200 US $ for what? For another paper on my wall that apart from myself hardly anyone ever sees? As a written proof of me having 5x 100 entities confirmed on the 5 regular HF bands? My LotW DXCC standings table already shows it and is as good as a written proof! And a 5BDXCC plaque is something that you actually buy. I can go to the awards and trophy shop in the next town and have myself engraved a plaque for whatever achievement.
Furthermore I have a rule about money spent on the hobby. Every possible purchase or investment is checked against these simple conditions: “Will it bring me more DX? Will it improve my score in contesting? Will it enhance my fun on the bands?”. Well: 200 $ for 5B DXCC fails miserably on all three.