There is a very large segment of the amateur radio community that enjoys chasing lighthouses and lightships. And there are also a group of hardy operators who enjoy going to the sites of the many lighthouses and lightships throughout the world to activate them.
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or framework designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses. In older times the light was emitted from a fire and used as an aid to navigation and to pilots at sea or on inland waterways.
Lighthouses are used to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals and reefs, and safe entries to harbors and can also assist in aerial navigation. Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and replacement by modern electronic navigational aids. (wikipedia)
A lightvessel, or lightship, is a ship which acts as a lighthouse. They are used in waters that are too deep or otherwise unsuitable for lighthouse construction. Although there is some record of fire beacons placed on ships in Roman times, the first modern lightvessel was placed off the Nore sandbank at the mouth of the River Thames in England, placed there by its inventor Robert Hamblin in 1732. The type has become largely obsolete; some stations were replaced by lighthouses as the construction techniques for the latter advanced, while others were replaced by large automated buoys. (wikipedia)
The term ‘activation’ is used when amateur radio operators travel to the site of a lighthouse or lightship and establish a portable base of communications. These communications only require the portable operators to be within eyeshot of the lighthouse or lightship. Many times there will be more than one lighthouse at a particular location and the person communications with the portable operations will receive credit or a QSL card for prove of the contact.
Lighthouse activators as they are called are the folks that travel the coastlines of the world setting up portable operations. Sometimes a site like the photo above is used with a screened room or canopy is used to protect them from the elements. A great many lighthouse activations take place from within mobile radio stations where the lighthouse activators simply use their mobile radios and mobile antennas. And then there are others that will use the radios in their vehicles but will put up a more substantial antenna for better performance. The Tilt-N-Raise portable antenna mount was designed for such operations as these. All you need to do is find a good spot within eyeshot of the lighthouse or lightship, tilt the Tilt-N-Raise portable antenna mount over, slip in your antenna and raise the portable antenna mount up. Bingo, you’re in business in less than five minuets and the Tilt-N-Raise portable antenna mount will keep the antenna steady even with the windy conditions encountered at these lighthouse activations.
US or Foreign Lighthouses
One really attractive aspect of chasing lighthouse is that it isn’t just confined to working lighthouses and lightships in the United States. There is a contingent of folks literally around the world that go to great lengths (and expense) to activate lighthouses. These foreign lighthouses bring and added blessing in that they are sometimes at locations that DXers will work for credit for country awards as well as lighthouse awards.
And speaking of the awards, there are a lot of them. Too many in fact to go into on this page. The Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society sponsors a good many of these lighthouse awards. Some of the ARLHS awards are the Worked All States Awards, ARLHS Members awards and more. There are also awards given out for singular or multiple contracts with lighthouses in foreign locations. One such award is sponsored by the Radio Club Venezolano, but there are many others as well.
Obtaining lighthouse awards is as simple as submitting a list or collection of QSL cards to the issuing body to prove your contact with the lighthouses and lightships. QSL cards are printed acknowledgments of contacts between two amateur radio stations, the one below is an example QSL card:
In this QSL you will note that the lighthouse activator was KA1IOR who activated the East Chop Lighthouse. The location of the East Chop Lighthouse is in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Amateur Radio Lighthouse Videos
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