Grant: K6TZ Amateur Radio Station at Chrisman California Islands Center

Grant Date: May 2021
Amount: $35,550

Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club (SBARC) has been invited by the Santa Cruz Island Foundation (SCIF) to build an Amateur Radio Station at the new Chrisman California Islands Center (CCIC) in downtown Carpinteria, California. SCIF will provide the rent-free space for the station in its fully renovated 5,000 square-foot gallery and archive. CCIC will be home to a museum-quality collection of artifacts from all of the islands off the coasts of California and Baja California, Mexico.

California’s coastal islands have a rich maritime history with strong ties to wireless communications dating back more than a century. Today, many of the islands are uninhabited and conserved through private land trusts or as part of the Channel Islands National Park or controlled by the U.S. military. The islands’ remoteness has led to the unique evolutionary divergence of island flora and fauna and earned them the nickname “California’s Galapagos.”

SBARC plans to assist SCIF in opening a window on these unique coastal ecosystems through the use of wireless technologies. The volunteer-built K6TZ Amateur Radio Station @ CCIC will offer visitors a glimpse of island life through island webcams, vessel, aircraft and wildlife tracking and other remote sensing technologies accessible over SBARC’s microwave data links. The station will double as an interactive exhibit to cast Amateur Radio and wireless technologies in a modern and exciting light for visitors of all ages.

The purpose of SBARC’s K6TZ radio station at CCIC is two-fold …

Firstly, the station will be prominently featured on the gallery floor near the main entrance to bring the wonders of radio technology to the visiting public through an interactive display. During hours when the station is not staffed with radio operators, visitors to the center will be able to interact with the station as an hands-on exhibit.

A customized touch screen will allow visitors to control an interactive presentation on Amateur Radio and wireless technologies and their importance to mariners, aviators, scientists and explorers who visit the many rugged islands off the California coast. This interactive component will be video-based on the 55” LED TV monitor at the center of the station. A computerized controller will synchronize accent lighting and CAT control of the station radios to incorporate the actual station components into the demonstration of the analog and digital capabilities of SBARC’s seven communications sites including AIS (marine vessel), ADS-B (aircraft) and emergency beacon (ELT/EPIRB) and amateur (APRS) tracking stations, webcams and other data systems throughout the region riding on the Club’s microwave data backbone. The demonstration will show how Club members as well as researchers use the information and data collected. There will also be a general overview of Amateur Radio communications with the intent of generating excitement for operation of VHF and UHF FM repeaters and worldwide analog and digital communications on HF.

Secondly, K6TZ at CCIC will serve as a fully-functional station for licensed SBARC members to operate analog and digital modes on HFVHF-UHF and microwave bands. Complete with a backup solar battery system and redundant fiber and point-to-point microwave internet connections, the station will be the nerve center for SBARC and SB Wireless. The Club will host member events and allow SBARC members to operate the station for leisure and contesting. The station will also be available to Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) members for emergency communications purposes. Remote operating capabilities will permit members to access and operate the station in absentia and video conferencing capabilities will allow members to speak with CCIC guests even when the station is not staffed.

Find out more about the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club at