Ham Radio Comes to Commonweal

by Kyra Epstein, Commonweal Communications

Two new antennas were hoisted near the historic “antenna farm” at the Commonweal last week.

For some years now, we have been working on plans for greater resilience in our community and at our physical site. With all of the changes happening in the world today, we want to make sure we can operate when and if the electric grid is turned off for short or long periods of time.

As part of that plan, we are touching back into the roots of our building at our Bolinas site — a site where Henry Marconi operated a telegraph transmitting station in 1913 — and have set up the equipment for radio communications via ham radio. This kind of amateur radio can be traced back to the late 19th century, and is a robust form of communicating directly between two people without global or highly complex systems in between.

When power is down, due to fire or utility prevention, or any other reason, homes and businesses can be left without internet. Local phone towers can lose power. Cell phone coverage can reduce dramatically. Our accustomed ways of communicating can be severely disrupted. 

This new equipment, and our official and FCC-licensed operator, Ken Adams, will allow us to communicate with our local community and with the larger community world wide during power grid failures and when internet or phone service is unavailable.

From Ken (ham radio call sign KM6WYJ), who is also The New School at Commonweal’s audio/video producer:

“We had a really great and productive day installing the new ham radio station equipment and antenna infrastructure today!

…I have to say maybe it was just a lucky day with long range radio wave propagation, but in the time I was listening on the 14mhz band while setting up, I was hearing stations quite farther away than what I experienced in my home temporary setup. 

I was consistently hearing Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alaska and quite surprisingly a fellow in Brazil who was coming through quite clearly from 4,500 miles away! 

So, much more to come and I’m really happy we’re off to a good start.”

This ham radio operation is separate from the KPH & Maritime Radio Historical Society that operates a morse code station in the back section of our building and that is headed by Richard Dillman.

We are looking to add new licensed operators from among the Commonweal staff and immediate community! Contact Ken Adams if interested

#resilience #hamradio #commonweal