Jupiter Research Foundation Amateur Radio Club (JRFARC) has integrated an HF transceiver with an autonomous ocean-going drone. Our mission is to deploy a ham radio station that roams the world’s oceans while providing an opportunity for amateur radio operators everywhere to make contacts with rare locations.
Our sponsor, Jupiter Research Foundation (JRF), has loaned JRFARC a Wave Glider and donated some radio equipment for this effort. Our club members have assembled a specialized waterproof ham radio payload and antenna system for the Wave Glider. We’ve used a combination of off-the-shelf and custom software and hardware to allow the system to operate autonomously for months at a time.
We originally launched the system from the Island of Hawaii in January of 2016 onboard a Wave Glider SV-2. After a nearshore ‘shakedown cruise’ of about one month, we brought the system in for some tweaks. We’ve had it in the nearshore waters for a few more test cruises throughout the summer of 2016 and 2017. In the late summer of 2017 we built a second version of the HF Voyager to be deployed on an SV-3 model Wave Glider. It has been sailing in the near-shore waters for the last few months for testing.
We sent this new Voyager out to the open ocean on its way to California on January 15th, 2018 as a passenger on the JRF HUMPACs mission. As they search for ‘missing’ humpback whales, JRF’s pilots will guide HF Voyager to sections of the Equatorial North Pacific that are not normally available to ham operators. The station will use FT8 and PSK-31 on the 20 meter band as its primary operating modes. You may also find it using WSPR in times of poor propagation.
The club plans to give a certificate of recognition to operators worldwide that have a confirmed contact with the HF Voyager. In the future we hope to collaborate with Amateur Radio organizations and publishers to sponsor operating events and contests for HF Voyager contact milestones. Gridsquare collectors, maritime operating fans, Islands on the Air participants, and all other hams interested in this unique opportunity to make a contact with an autonomous roving maritime station should find this to be an exciting new aspect of their favorite hobby.
Be sure to check out our HF Voyager Blog for updates and schedules.
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