KH7Q Operates from Kalaupapa in 2011
From August 25 to 29, 2011, five Oahu hams visited Kalaupapa peninsula and settlement on Molokai to participate in the 2011 Hawaii QSO Party, activating one of the smallest and rarest counties in the U.S., Kalawao County.
Bev Yuen AH6NF, Ron Hashiro AH6RH, Joe Speroni AH0A, Kimo Chun KH7U, and Jim Yuen WH6GS all members of the Ko`olau Amateur Radio Club, spent many months planning the trip not only to operate there, but to assist the National Park Service and Department of Health staffs in setting up ham radio emergency communications capability.
During the recent tsunami following the earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011, residents of Kalaupapa had to be evacuated in the middle of the night to higher ground on the peninsula with little connection with the outside world. This sparked the interest in having ham radio as a backup communications plan. Although some residents were hams in the 1940-50’s, and possibly into the 1980s, there have been no hams living there in recent years.
As a result of the visit three Kalaupapa staff are now newly-licensed ham radio operators: Steve Prokop WH6DTS (General), Lionel Kaawaloa WH6DTZ and Rafael Torres WH6DUP.
For the HI QSO Party, we set up on the Paschoal Hall (auditorium) lanai in the center of town with vertical antennas in the open field next to the hall. Antennas, all mounted on collapsible fiberglass poles, were:
Our rigs were:
Both stations were on the air Friday afternoon, ready for the HI QSO Party at 6:00 PM Friday evening, operating multi-multi as KH7Q. Twenty meters was open to the mainland, later to Europe. Forty meters was marginal. About 11 PM the bands were slow so we shut down for rest. We were back before dawn on Saturday morning on 20 meters for the opening to Europe and the US mainland. Fifteen meters opened later in the morning/afternoon, but there was not much on 10 meters. We worked both SSB and CW during the day from our main station with the amp. A second barefoot station barefoot was less effective.
We encouraged residents to visit our stations and to see what ham radio was all about. A couple of them even operated. Thanks to those who were calling us for being patient with these inexperienced operators. We always had someone there to explain what the operators were doing. And, each of our stations had 2 headphones and external speakers to accommodate guests. One of the residents who had not been on the radio for more than 40 years took the mic and was delighted to again be on the air after so many years.
We finished with more than 750 QSOs with 47 US states, 42 countries and all continents except Antarctica. We were on 15, 20 and 40 meters, and a little 10 meters, mostly SSB, but also CW. We took time to attend church services at historic Siloama church, spent a few hours fishing and walked around town to take photos. On Monday, we installed 2 UHF/VHF radios in vehicles, checked connectivity with repeaters on other islands and worked with the new hams there to get them on the air and familiar with the new equipment.
Although our total number of QSOs was lower than we would have liked, we were pleased with our overall results. We left with plans to come back to assist the residents with more ham radio training and to activate Kalawao County again soon. Hopefully, it will not be long before we get back.
We are grateful to the staff of the Kalaupapa National Historical Park and the State of Hawaii, Dep’t of Health for their assistance and hospitality. Without their support, this trip would not have been possible. Also, thanks to the residents of Kalaupapa for their warm welcome. We also thank numerous KARC members and others who provided equipment, advice and assistance to the group. QSL via KH7Q or AH6NF (QSL manager for KH7Q).
|The group at the Kalawao Lookout. L. to R Bev/AH6NF, Kimo/KH7U, Joe/AH0A, Ron/AH6RH, Jim/WH6GS.|
|Paschoal Hall (auditorium) in the center of town. Our operating site
was on the lanai on the left side of Paschoal Hall. Vertical antennas
can be seen in the field in the foreground.
|Our operating site on the front lanai of Paschoal Hall.|
|Kimo/KH7U (foreground) and Ron/AH6RH (background) operating
in the contest.
|Installing UHF/VHF radios into park service trucks.|
|On our tour of the peninsula, we visited St. Philomena Church with
Father Damien’s (now St. Damien) grave on the side.
|Peaceful walk along a typical residential street in Kalaupapa town,
with the cliffs in the background.
|Kalaupapa store and gas station.