Tom Butt
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  The Plot Thickens - Mysterious Electronic System Hidden on Nichol Knob
August 22, 2020

Beginning August 2, 2020, the East Bay Regional Parks District brought in hundreds of goats to chomp down grass and brush to reduce fire danger in parts of Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline.

Figure 1 - Goats o the north side of Nichol Knob on August 2, 2020

Goats are incredibly efficient at taking down brush, even the stubbornly resistant French Broom plant, which is toxic to some most livestock.

A particularly dense French Broom thicket on the north side of Nichol Knob below the EBMUD underground reservoir revealed a curious sight after the vegetation was stripped by the goats.

An electronics system, consisting of a solar collector, a receiver or transmitter, a cabinet of electronics, lots of wires and cables and a post mounted equipment bracket was revealed, all spread out over about 200 feet. The components had been camouflaged and the cables shallowly buried. Until the goats came, the system was well concealed. For a detailed video, see

The transmitter/receiver dish was aimed at approximately the intersection of Wright Avenue and 4th Street. The post mounted equipment bracket, which may have held a camera was aimed west through a notch in the trees towards the Chevron Long Wharf, Red Rock Island and the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.

Figure 2 - Solar panels and transmitter/receiver dish

Figure 3 - Electronics Cabinet

Figure 4 - Post-mounted equipment bracket

Clearly, whoever installed this system did not want it to be found. Out of curiously, I contacted EBMUD, who sent security staff out to look at it. They said it was neither EBMUD nor EBRPD equipment. I was told they also had Richmond Police check it out.

Beginning a couple of days ago, I posted an inquiry on Next Door, and to date there have been 175 responses, with several suggestions of agencies that might be involved, including BAAQMD and the ALERTWildfire camera system. I contacted both.

ALERTWildfire has a camera of top of Nichol Knob mounted on the communications tower. I talked to a representative of ALERTWildfire early yesterday afternoon, and although it was not their equipment, he was so curious that he told me he was going to come check it out. By the time he got there in late afternoon, it was all gone!

Someone had policed up the whole system, even pulling concrete-anchored posts out of the ground!

So, the mystery endures. There have been many theories posted on Next Door, including:

  • NSA
  • BNSF
  • A repeater
  • A foreign entity trying to steal trade secrets from Chevron
  • Wifi for a homeless encampment
  • Eavesdropping on nearby wifi
  • Space weapon
  • Space Force
  • Bay Area CA Earthquake Monitoring System
  • Internet Archive
  • Wildlife camera

Anybody know what this was? All theories are welcome.