On behalf of IOTA Ham operators WorldWide, the SouthEast Farallon Island - Project NA-178 HAMS HELPING HABITATS project (conducted by K6VVA & K9AJ) will assist the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge ("The Refuge") by transporting materials and equipment via helicopter from the mainland for an important habitat restoration project on SouthEast Farallon Island ("SEFI"), as well as the return of old unwanted infrastructure water pipe from the Island for disposal.
Additionally, we will be assisting the Refuge with maintenance of their photo-voltaic (solar power generation) system. Our helicopter will transport a sensitive computer, which cannot be transported by boat due to its fragility and insurance constraints. A technician will test the batteries and perform other critical critical on the island's power system. The testing will enable the Refuge to more accurately assess the condition of the batteries, and allow a much more precise estimate of when the batteries need to be replace. Since they are expensive and heavy to transport, this will ultimately result in savings to the tax payers.
All activities are a part of a "Cooperative Work Agreement" with the FWS/Farallon NWR which will provide significant benefit to The Refuge. While awaiting the completion of the battery testing and PV maintenance, K6VVA & K9AJ will make two-way radio contact with interested IOTA & other Ham operators in the United States, Canada, Japan and other countries as radio propagation conditions permit, using small footprint portable radio equipment and antennae in an confined area pre-determined by the Refuge Manager to be of non-interference to wildllife at the habitat. K6VVA plans to produce a video mini-documentary about the Refuge and the IOTA ham radio operations.
The "Cooperative Work Agreement" which will benefit The Refuge habitat on SEFI, is the culmination of two years of discussions, and many logisitcal details worked out subsequent to a joint meeting with FWS/PRBO representatives in April, 2005. There are very specific terms and conditions limiting our activity on the Island, which will be closely supervised by the Refuge Manager and/or her Designee(s) which is understandable.
When the Sunspot Cycle conditions improve for use of the 15m, 12m & 10m frequencies in 3 to 5 years, we hope the success of this particular cooperative mission with FWS may enable us to return to SEFI and provide another valuable HAMS HELPING HABITATS contribution to The Refuge.
Our transportation (including equipment) both to and from SouthEast Farallon Island must be done via (an expensive) helicopter. We will using a Bell "Long Ranger" from San Francisco Helicopter Tours, as they have "flotation" devices for over-water human transport. The FWS equipment & materials destined for SEFI will be transported in a cargo sling underneath an Aris Helicopter from a staging area at the Half Moon Bay airport.
(K6VVA Note:) I can't tell you how much I love the Kenwood TS-480S...it's one of HF radio's "best kept secrets" for home and portable operation. Being able to tilt the control head for just the right angle and feel is extremely important, and the display...the display is awesome (especially at night). I've always pictured the TS-480S QRV on The Farallons since the first day I set eyes on it at HRO, and also plan to use both of mine for portable SO2R contesting. The TH-F6A is also a great radio!
(K6VVA Note:) My Sigma 5 was the perfect choice for the small footprint installation parameters on SouthEast Farallon Island, and "helicopter friendly" for compact transport.
Although there are various existing communications antennas on the Island, serious concern was expressed by FWS & PRBO personnel about the height and horizontal component of any antennae due to the particular habits of a noctural species of bird at SEFI. The use of any guylines (even Dacron) appear to be unworkable, which necessitated exploring alternative options from the originally planned night-time use of a Force 12 Sigma 40-XKR (Remote 40-30-20 band changing) on 40 & 30 meters.
In the 48 years I've been a licensed ham operator, I have never heard of one single "bird strike" issue involving an amateur radio antenna or tower. Although we are faced with less than desirable restrictions for antennas, we hope to demonstrate that ham antennas are, in fact, "no problemo", and anticipate the Sigma 5 will serve us well for daytime use on the higher bands, although it must be taken down at night. Would we have liked to use a tribander at the U.S. Coast Guard Lighthouse on top of the hill? Of course, but this was not permitted for various reasons.
We will be operating from the "Carpenter Shop", a small building located at the East end of the Island on a cliff near the water with a wide-view clear path toward most of Europe, Africa, Canada, The U.S., Caribbean and South America. A/C power from the Islands Solar electrical system is fortunately available the the Carp Shop.
We plan to operate 24/7 during our limited time on SouthEast Farallon Island. Although subject to change, a copy of our intended operating shift schedule (.pdf file) can be accessed near the top of the page.
PACKET/INTERNET SPOTTING: It is anticipated that there may frequent spots posted to DX-Summit, etc., from members of the IOTA community who want to bring this rare opportunity to work NA-178 to the attention of others. We do not encourage abuse of such resources, yet also desire to assist FWS in their public outreach with information about the Farallon NWR. A URL to the official NA-178 Mission website which contains detailed Refuge information and additional reference links is on the main k6vva.com webpage. A suggested packet spotting post for K6VVA/6 would be:
(K6VVA Note:) I am personally dedicating this IOTA NA-178 trip in loving memory of my parents, Arthur & Marcella Hilding, who were both extremely supportive of my ham radio activity as a teenager. They also enjoyed seeing or talking with my good ham pals back then...Joe (now W1JR), "Big Jim" (now N6TJ/ZD8Z), "Little Jim", (now W6SC), Don (now N6DA) and Oliver, (now W6NV). My father was also an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard during WWII, and the USCG still maintains the Lighthouse on SouthEast Farallon Island. I will carry a small American Flag to the Island with me in honor of his USCG service to the United States of America. I am also thrilled that Mike, K9AJ, will be joining me!
The views and conclusions contained in this posting are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government.