Curves / SPCA Womens Fun Walk feedback – 21 August 2016

Curves 1 (Small)Article supplied by Johan Mayer (ZS6DMX)

Background:

The world is a small place they say, and I tend to agree. It all started last year 2015 when Helen from Curves Beyerspark requested assistance from a handful of Amateurs via Martin (ZS6TMN) to help with a fun walk around the dam to raise funds for their charity as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle among women. Amateur radio operators became known to Helen via Hamnet member, Mina, (ZS6MNT), who at the time was an active member of the Curves Beyerspark Women’s Gymnasium. The fun walk around the dam was a big success, with members from Hamnet assisting and ensuring the safety of all participants.

The Planning:

It was with little surprise when Helen once again called on the team this year, and again requested the assistance from the Hams. This year however, they were planning on making it even bigger than before, by involving the local SPCA to raise funds for their spay clinic and also changing the venue of the walk.

Taking over from Martin (ZS6TMN). Johan (ZS6DMX) as well as Philip (ZS6PAJ) took charge and got involved with the planning and organising. Philip attended the final planning meeting together with Mr. Barnard (Barries) from Boksburg EMPD, playing a crucial role in making sure that the right plans were made to ensure a smooth and incident free day for all. Philip also oversaw the planning on the EMS side, to make sure that any medical incidents could be attended to if any happened.

Johan sent a request to local Hamnet members while Philip (who also took on the responsibility of being in charge of EMS for the day) organised students of Queens High school who were to support him on the medical response side of the event.

Leon (ZS6LMG) was asked to draw up a simple comms plan for the day and to register the event with ICASA. Comms where to take place on 145.425 between hams and 433.625 between EMS volunteers.

Martin (ZS6TMN) was put in charge to run the JOCC from his Vito Bus, as it is equipped with all radio equipment needed for the operation.Curves 2 (Small)

The Day:

The day started not too early, at 7:30 with Johan and Philip arriving at the Boa Vida Cafe in Boksburg with his crew of students, well branded and visible, ready for action. The other Hamnet members started arriving at about 8:00am.

Johan started distributing the radio equipment to the volunteers and briefed the team on where they needed to go for the day as well as duties. The antenna mast was also erected and connected to the radio gear in Martins Vito Bus.

Many of the people arrived there after, and at 9:00, the walk kicked off, with Hamnet volunteers at their respective points, ready for anything.

The route was along a closed off residential area, occupied by Marshals from Curves, showing the way for the participants. The 4 teams of medical students walked with the participants, so that they could attend to any problems if they happened. One EMPD vehicle was also present, patrolling and assisting participants when they walked next to one of the main roads leading into the closed off residential area.

Comms were perfect, with regular radio and progress updates being made to JOCC and teams. The organiser, Helen, was also updated regularly on the progress of the walk via radio.

About 2 hours had passed and all the participants were safely back at the Cafe, without a single incident reported. Everybody reported back at the JOCC for a debrief, where Johan thanked all who assisted for the day. He also gave his word of thanks to Philip, his wife Tarryn (and little one) and to the students of Queens High for their involvement, pointing out how pleased he was with their radio operating skills.

Everyone assisted in gathering and packing the radio gear, after which greetings were exchanged and each person parting way.

Helen has indicated that she was very impressed with the service rendered by the members of Hamnet and other volunteers, and noted that the feedback she received from the participants were very positive!

Letters of thanks were also exchanged afterwards between Helen, the SPCA and Hamnet.

SPCA Thank you – Hamnet Gauteng South

Curves Thank you letter

We look forward to next year, I have no doubt that the event will be even bigger and better.

Johan and Philip would like to thank the members of Hamnet as well as their wives and other volunteers for their support and dedication, this is what it means to serve our local community!

List of Hamnet Members and other amateurs involved for the day:

JOHAN ZS6DMX

PHILIP ZS6PAJ

MARTIN ZS6TMN

MINA ZS6MNT

LEON ZS6LMG

LINDA ZS6LML

PIETER ZS6PHS

WILLEM ZS6WIM

 

Best 73,

For Hamnet Gauteng South,

Johan Meyer

ZS6DMX

ITALIAN EARTHQUAKE Days one and two

Day One

With over 120 people reported dead in today’s earthquake Alberto provided the following bullet points of information, all times are assumed to be Italian local time.

2 main cities destroyed : Amatrice and Accumuli –

3 teams from RNRE involved from this morning  –

HQ station IQ1HR working from 4 o’clock this morning on HF –

RNRE operating the satellite earth stations some of you may have seen at Friedrichshafen as support with VoIP phones –

Incident started from 3.36 this morning – The RNRE structure was activated from 4 o’clock via WhatsApp , SMS, mail and phone. 7060 is assumed to still be in use and strong aftershocks are still hitting the region. Thanks to all of you for your work today in informing your countries of the emergency operation. When I listened from my temporary QTH in IO70eb this afternoon I could not hear any QRM (or activity). Hopefully propagation will remain good to allow our Italian friends to keep their links and not suffer too much from the rest of the world.

Day Two

Alberto has provided the following points on the number of amateurs involved this morning.

– Deaths : Now reported as 250, significant aftershocks continue to hit the region.
– Radio amateurs involved  : 10 on field +10 outside field  with ;
– 3 mobile units with satellite stations and HF national net

Italian radio amateurs are likely to remain involved for some time. Although you can see from the TV reporters that there are good communications with the area , RNRE are kept available by their government to provide communications from the disaster are back to Rome if an aftershock causes more damage to communications systems.

73,
Greg, G0DUB
IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Co-Ordinator

 

AMATEUR RADIO active in ITALIAN earthquake

Amateur radio active in Italian earthquake.

Following the magnitude 6.2 earthquake which struck central Italy on 24 August killing 73 people, Italian radio amateurs are active in the emergency response.
Please keep 7060kHz clear along with other Emergency Centre of Activity frequencies in the 80 and 40m bands for emergency communications within Italy.
No external assistance is required at this time. The Italian radio amateur groups are following their planned response with their government.
Any requests for information on missing persons should be made via the Red Cross or other recognised relief organisations.

73,
Greg, G0DUB
IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Co-Ordinator

 

Kogelberg Kleinmond Wildrunner event 13 August 2016

Five HAMNET operators were requested by the event organizers and we had one extra operator.  The operators were Peter ZS1PDE, Alister ZS1OK, Phil ZS1VCC, Don ZS1DON, Douw ZS1DGK and Hendrik ZS1EEE who joined us for his first Hamnet sports event.  Don and Phil were mobile operators on the western side of the trail, whereas Douw and Hendrik were stationed near golf course, which was at the end of the descent down the mountain, while Peter and Alister operated the base at the event start/finish .  Multiple commercial VHF frequencies of the event organizers were used and one additional amateur simplex frequency was used as backup communications among the HAMNET operators.

With the splendid spring weather of the day, between two cold spells, the weather was ideal for an event of this nature.  The operators met with the event coordinators at 0700 for a kick-off meeting with some additional support options being suggested to provide improved event support and better radio coverage.

The event was concluded by 1330 and all departed with some taking the picturesque coastal route back via Gordans Bay to Cape Town.

Lessons Learnt:

At the base station we had two identical radios (Kenwood D710s) and identical antennas (X-50’s) with about 10m horizontal separation between antennas.  The one mast was about 1.5m higher than the other and had vastly superior performance than the lower antenna (full 5 bars versus 1 bar on the S-meter!).  There were houses with metal roofs in proximity to us, so next year we will relocate the Base to a potentially better site – and in doing so also move to a quieter spot in terms of PA systems and music from the event.

At the base we had a table set up outside the vehicles, but the noise and energy from the event was such that it was better operating from within the vehicle than sitting outside and enjoying the sea breeze and the view of the beach.  In noisy environments it is better to work from inside a vehicle.  Having a large A3 map on the table assisted with operational discussions.

For the mobile operators a new position was used for the first time, but fortunately DON ZS1DON had the perfect vehicle for the bundu-bashing that was required to reach the operational point subsequent to the heavy rains of the previous days.

Source: Alister van Tonder ZS1OK
 

REPORT 2016-08-21

Amateur Radio volunteers this week responded to help, after flooding of historic proportions struck parts of Louisiana and Mississippi over the weekend in the wake of torrential rainfall. States of emergency were declared in both states, the federal government has declared Louisiana a major disaster area, and the Louisiana Emergency Operations Centre was at full activation. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, visited the stricken region on August 16. Louisiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was activated, and Section Emergency Coordinator Adam Tamplain, KD5LEH, put out a call for volunteers to support communication at Red Cross shelters in the hard-hit Livingston Parish and Baton Rouge area. On August 16, the Red Cross was still requesting shelter operators. Although some residents were being allowed to return home at mid-week, about 4000 people remain in shelters.

“While we have had an increase in response from the South Eastern area, it’s still not quite enough,” Tamplain said on Tuesday. “Alabama ARES is attempting to put together a team for us. We have seen support from Southwest Mississippi as well. We had Operators at Red Cross New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge today.” Tamplain said a dozen or so operators were staffing eight shelters; nearly 30 remained open at mid-week. He asked additional volunteers to check in at Red Cross Headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Services, Operations, and Logistics Brad Kieserman called the Louisiana flooding the worst natural disaster to strike the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Area waterways have reached record flood levels, affecting some 135,000 households and displacing thousands of residents. More than a dozen have died. Roads, including parts of Interstates 10 and 12, had to be closed, and some highways remain impassable. Most conventional telecommunication systems have remained operational. Thank you to the ARRL Newsline for this information.

Meanwhile in California, raging fires have caused the evacuation of more than 50,000 people, with huge loss of homes and property. The fire has spread fiercely in all directions, and thousands of houses have been destroyed, the fire being too strong to be contained by burning firebreaks, and flying fire aircraft dumping water on the fires. The flooding in Louisiana has overshadowed the fire problems in California in the news.

In London, an Indian-origin student has developed a novel drone platform called Exigency, that provides temporary communications immediately after the occurrence of a natural disaster, allowing victims quickly to contact family and rescue groups. This in turn allows organisations to set up evacuation camps quickly too. Basically, it is a cell-phone repeater on a drone, which can immediately be flown above a disaster area, allowing stranded or injured people the ability to have cell-phone coverage, even though ground-based systems have been disabled.

And at the Tokyo HamFair of 2016, Icom has provided excitement with 4 new products, some of them very appropriate to emergency communications ops. The most obvious is the new ID-51E PLUS 2 D-Star handheld, with lots of digital facilities for data transfer from an event or disaster scene. But the two highlights are the new IC-7610 base station, an upgrade to the IC-7600, and the IC-R8600, a very wide-band receiver, in the mould of the 7300, but with receive range from 100kHz to 3 GHz, and reception of all digital modes, to replace the aging R8500. Few details of the 7610 have been released, but it appears to have 2 antenna outputs on the back, all the options of the 7300 on the front panel, and what looks like a USB socket on the front, perhaps for a USB keyboard. You can Google IC-7610 to see a video of the fair on YouTube. A Yahoo group has already sprung up to post news of the 7610 to the eager enthusiasts. I hope it is the Software Defined Radio with the extra features that 7300 users have been wishing for.

Hamnet Western Cape’s bulletin this past week at 19h30 on Wednesday the 17th had its range of reception extended, by a crossband repeat on to 434.600 MHz, from whence it was picked up by the linked repeater system in the Western Cape and re-transmitted on 145.675 from the Jonaskop site, on 145.650 from Riversdale, from 434.800 at Dana Bay, and finally 145.700 in George. The relay also went North West via UHF links to the Piketberg repeater on 145.625. Two VHF repeaters, namely the 145.600 on Hanskop and the 145.650 on du Toit’s Kloof were unlinked, to leave important voice channels over the Hottentot’s Holland mountains and in the direction of Worcester open. HF communications have become so bad lately that our outlying areas have no reception on 40 or 80 metres, as in the past. If you live in outlying areas of the Western Cape, and previously listened to our bulletin on HF, consider looking on your nearest repeater for a relay.

Wintery weather around the country isn’t over yet, although a low-pressure trough, extending from mid-Namibia diagonally down to the Eastern Cape was visible on Wednesday’s weather satellite’s pictures, suggesting Spring conditions. Twenty millimetres of rain is to fall over 100% of the Western Cape today, brought by a very impressive cold front, which may have lots of cold air behind it to chill the Western half of the country, and make the closing down of the Lighthouse stations soggy affairs. In contrast, KwaZulu Natal has had early Spring rain this weekend, spoiling the cricket a bit yesterday, so dangerous driving conditions are still being experienced on the roads. Please exercise caution, drive with your headlights on all the time, and remain radioactive for the sake of your fellow countrymen.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

REPORT 2016-8-14

Keith Lowes ZS5WFD did in fact send us a report of last Sunday’s Kloof Conservancy Three Falls Trail Run. 303 entrants ran the full race, and another 76 did the fun walk. The weather was good for the race, and all went well, apart from a female runner who broke her ankle in the splash at the river crossing. Brad ZS5Z assessed the situation, notified the JOC, who then mobilised Rescuetech and ER24 to extract the runner, stabilise her injury and convey her to hospital. Another call for a runner possibly in difficulty was cancelled after her husband came to her rescue. The Joint Operations centre was stood down at 12h15, and Keith expresses his thanks to all from HAMNET KZN for their help.

If you thought HAMNET’s influence extended only as far as South Africa’s borders, think again. Grant Southey ZS1GS, HAMNET WC Regional Director is on holiday in England, and was sitting in a park enjoying a cup of coffee with his wife Elizabeth ZS1XS, when a child at a nearby table started choking on a sweet. As the little girl starting going blue, her mother tried to dislodge the sweet unsuccessfully. Grant quickly sized up the situation, went across to their table, and, after two attempts at the Heimlich Manoeuvre, succeeded in dislodging the sweet from her throat. Daughter and Mother quickly recovered their composure, and soon left the park.

In typical philosophical manner, Grant pondered on the fact that first aid takes no holidays, and that we all ought to be competent to give basic help if needed. The Heimlich Manoeuvre is a simple life-saving procedure, and it behoves us all to understand how to do it, because a life is so easily lost, and so easily saved if this technique is adequately employed. Well done, Grant, and somewhere, there will be a mother who will one day tell the story of an unknown South African who saved her daughter’s life!

South Africa has at least three Ionosondes, vertically directed transmitters and receivers for assessing the ionosphere, and predicting propagation patterns for the benefit of all agencies transmitting radio signals, including radio amateurs. The biggest Ionosonde in the world has recently been recommissioned in Alaska, at its High Altitude Auroral Research Programme, or HAARP, facility. Originally managed by the US Air Force, it has now been acquired by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and its Geophysical Institute is preparing it for a new sponsored research campaign to begin next year.

Some instruments at the site will need repairing or replacement, the optical instruments will be returned to the site, and exotic equipment such as riometers, a UHF radar, and a flux-gate magnetometer will be brought up to speed again. An increase in amateur radio’s involvement is also planned, and other science instruments are on the drawing board for the future. One or more ham stations may be installed at the site.

The University describes HAARP as “the world’s most capable high-power, high-frequency transmitter for study of the ionosphere.” Built in three phases, starting in the early 1990’s and continuing until 2007, at a cost of some $300 million, HAARP over the years has inspired a wide range of conspiracy theories that became grist for late-night radio talk shows. Some have claimed that HAARP’s transmitters and 30-acre antenna farm — capable of generating up to 5 GW Effective Radiated Power — have been used to control the weather, while others have argued that HAARP has caused earthquakes!

Ignoring these idiocies, HAARP is aimed at studying the properties and behaviour of the ionosphere. Operation of the research facility was transferred from the US Air Force to the University of Alaska Fairbanks last August, allowing HAARP to continue exploring ionospheric phenomena via a land-use cooperative research and development agreement. — Thanks to the ARRL Letter, Chris Fallen, KL3WX, Steve Floyd, W4YHD, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks for these notes.

Francois Botha, ZS6BUU, has posted a reflection on our Facebook page this week, that Winter will soon be over, and that berg winds in the Eastern half of the country will bring the risks of veld fires to those areas. He pleads with us all not inconsiderately to flick those cigarette butts out of the car window, because of the potential danger to the country-side. We all join him in hoping that early Spring rains will bring relief to the many drought-stricken and devastated areas of our country.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

 

REPORT 2016-08-07

As promised, we start with the report from Dave Higgs ZS2DH, on the VW rally held around the Bay West Mall on 15th and 16th July. This is an old favourite event in the Eastern Cape, and HAMNET Eastern Cape’s Deputy Director, Tony Allen ZR2TX is to be congratulated on the degree of planning he put into it. The Lady’s Slipper and Longmore repeaters were used on VHF, and the JOC inside the Bay West Mall used a UHF link to a cross-band relay in a vehicle outside the Mall to link to the repeaters.

Twelve stages, lasting from a few km, to 43 km in the Longmore forest took place, and all the mobile officials in the race, from Clerk of the Course to the PA van were manned by amateurs, as well as the start and finish of every stage, and even some mid points along the way. All in all, 30 operators assisted, some of them doubling up their duties at more than one spot. Some of the operators were brand new hams, having just written their exams and earned their licences.

Tony ZR2TX, supported by Patsy ZS2PTY, managed the Joint Operations Centre, and handled the ordinary traffic as well as emergencies, with aplomb. The race organisers thanked HAMNET EC and PEARS for their support over the last 34 years. Special mention was made of Bill Hodges, ZS2ABZ who has been involved with all but last year’s event, when he was ill. Well done, Bill, and congratulations to all the other operators too.

ZS2DH has also brought to our attention, the Trans Baviaans Mountain Bike race, which has grown to become a two weekend event, over the weekends of the 13-14th August and the 20-21st August. HAMNET and PEARS members provide communications via a digipeater network through the length of the kloof, with a Venue Operations Centre near Patensie, and a VHF/UHF repeater network for voice traffic. The Longmore repeater will again be involved, and matrixed with several temporary voice repeaters for awkward spots in the 230km race.

ZS2-land enjoys this wilderness event, with operators camping over at their various spots, and emergency traffic, times of arrival and departure of teams, withdrawals and general logistical communications receiving radio preference. APRS will be used to track the Medics and other mobile assets in real time at the Ops Centre. Good luck to all the Eastern Cape operators for these two weekends.

Keith Lowes ZS5WFD, from KwaZulu Natal, tells me HAMNET KZN will be providing the communications for the Kloof Conservancy Three Falls Trail Run, taking place today the 7th August, starting at the Forest View Primary School, through the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, and ending at the school again, a distance of 18.6km. This is the fifth time the race is being run, and started at 06h30 this morning. There is a challenging river crossing, the river being swollen by the recent rains in KZN. Communications will be on the 145.625 Highway Amateur Radio Club repeater, with additional links via the Ezemvelo Wildlife repeater system to the Joint Operations Centre. Hopefully I’ll have a report-back for you in a future bulletin. Thanks Keith!

International news comes via Greg Mossop G0DUB, from IARU Region One, regarding Tropical Storm Earl, currently heading across Central America affecting the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. IARU Region 2 has requested that attention is drawn to the following frequencies used by nets in North and Central America to track and deal with the consequences of these severe weather events. Radio Amateurs in Region 2 play their part in gathering and distributing information for the weather and emergency services as they do every year.

Radio Amateurs in Region 1 are reminded it is possible to cause unintentional QRM to these nets so please listen carefully if operating near these frequencies which have been activated due to Tropical Storm Earl:

Mexico: 7.060 & 3.690 MHz

Guatemala: 7.075 MHz

Belize: 7.177MHz

USA Hurricane Watch Net: 14.325 MHz

Greg has also notified us of further frequencies used in the Caribbean and surrounding areas during the Atlantic hurricane season in previous years, and asks us to think twice before calling inconsiderately on these frequencies. The list is quite long, so please go to the HAMNET website, at www.hamnet.co.za to see the complete list on the homepage. Thank you.

Then, for HAMNET Western Cape members, invited to a lecture at the Mountain Club of South Africa’s clubhouse, 97 Hatfield St, Cape Town, on Hyperthermia, and the management of the overheated athlete or rescue victim, please note that the date of the talk has been moved forward from the 10th August to Wednesday the 17th August at 19h00 local time. The talk will be given by Ross Hofmeyr.

Finally, HAMNET South Africa would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the new Council of the SARL on their election in the last two weeks, and wish them well, as they handle the nitty-gritty of running the affairs of the radio amateur community. HAMNET assures them of our total support, of course, and we will not hesitate to provide the emergency communications wherever we are needed.

HAMNET would also like to thank the outgoing Council for their years of service to the hobby. We hope to hear you all on the bands for a change, instead of beavering away at the administration all the time!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

Tropical Storm EARL

The text below has been published to www.iaru-r1.org following a number of announcements/emails from IARU Region 2 today.

73,

Greg, G0DUB

IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator

“Tropical Storm EARL is currently heading across Central America affecting the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. IARU Region 2 has requested that attention is drawn to the following frequencies used by nets in North and Central America to track and deal with the consequences of these severe weather events. Radio Amateurs in Region 2 play their part in gathering and distributing information for the weather and emergency services as they do every year.

Radio Amateurs in Region 1 are reminded it is possible to cause unintentional QRM to these nets so please listen carefully if operating near these frequencies which have alerted due to Tropical Storm EARL:

Mexico: 7.060 & 3.690 MHz

Guatemala: 7.075 MHz

Belize: 7.177MHz

USA Hurricane Watch Net: 14.325 MHz

For the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season, Radio Amateurs are reminded of the following frequencies which have been notified from previous seasons:

Caribbean Emergency & Weather Nets: 7.162 & 3.815 MHz

Eastern Caribbean Narrow Band Emergency System Net: 7.036 MHz USB(Olivia & MT63) Caribbean Emergency: 14.185 MHz

Republica Dominicana: 7.065 & 3.780 MHz

Cuba: 7.045, 7.080, 7.110, and 3.740 MHz

Central America: 7.090 & 3.750 MHz

Nicaragua: 7.098 MHz

Panama: 7.085 MHz

USA:

Maritime Mobile Service Net: 14.300 MHz

Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN): 14.265 MHz

Other local emergency communications groups may also activate if a hurricane approaches their area and those frequencies would be announced at the time.”

 

REPORT 2016-07-31

We start our bulletin this week again with weather news. The cut-off low pressure cell stationary over the centre of the country for most of the week resulted in dramatic weather. Last weekend’s severe weather warning told us to expect heavy rain in the centre of the country, spreading westwards, and they weren’t wrong. Large areas of KwaZulu Natal were hit by downpours in the region of 250mm of rain within 24 hours, starting on Monday evening.

Keith Lowes ZS5WFD posted pictures of flooding in Amanzimtoti, and a bakkie stranded up to its windowsills in water in a street there. Other pictures of Amanzimtoti showed the railway station totally submersed, and low-lying gardens in the South Coast areas were knee-high in water. All the local streams and rivulets were turned into raging torrents as the water sought escape routes.

And as predicted the rain spread Westwards, and the Eastern and Western Cape were lashed by heavy rain on Tuesday. Slopes of Table Mountain and Devils Peak received around 140mm of rain in 12 hours, and low-lying informal dwelling areas suffered severe flooding of their houses.

The mountains of the central Eastern Cape, Southern Free State and Lesotho continued to receive snow, and passengers on flights between KZN and the Western Cape were treated to the sight of a carpet of white covering the mountains on their routes.

Meanwhile, a tornado hit Tembisa on Tuesday afternoon, injuring 20 people. Some heavy transport vehicles were overturned by the wind, and part of the roof of Phumulani Mall was ripped off during the storm, while a local garage’s mini-supermarket was totally wrecked by the wind, and ambulances at the Tembisa hospital were damaged by fallen trees. Houses in Ekhuruleni were also severely damaged, and the community continues to count the cost.

All in all, a violent week, and the only comforting feature is the fact that dams are starting to fill in drought-stricken areas.

An article on victims of climate in Inter Press Service News Agency notes that climate change and related extreme weather events have devastated the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of most vulnerable people worldwide – by far exceeding the total of all the unfortunate and unjustifiable victims of all terrorist attacks combined. However, the unstoppable climate crises receive just a tiny fraction of mainstream media attention. “Every second, one person is displaced by disaster,” the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugees Council reports. “In 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”

As climate change continues, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards and the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee. “On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second of every day.”

“Climate change is our generation’s greatest challenge,” says Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which counts with over 5,000 humanitarian workers across more than 25 countries. The climate refugees and migrants add to the on-going humanitarian emergency. “Not since World War II have more people needed our help,” warned Jan Egeland, who held the post of UN undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief from 2003-2006. Food for thought indeed.

I remarked in a previous bulletin on work being done to provide VHF and UHF radios with digital voice capabilities satisfying protocols for all the different systems in the same radio. As NW Digital’s John Hays K7VE has said in talks at several ham gatherings, the protocols are “95% the same, and 100% incompatible.” They all rely on the same AMBE vocoder to encode and decode the digital voice, but they all package it differently.

In the ideal universe, it would be great to have one radio capable of running all the digital voice modes, along with analogue FM. That radio will hopefully soon exist.

An SDR radio, called Katena, is being developed by Bruce K6BP and Chris KD2BMH, to have as many digital modes as possible, but especially a version of FreeDV for VHF/UHF, using the open source CODEC2 vocoder and also the AMBE chip to do the other modes. In its third iteration, it is still encountering difficulties, so progress is slow.

Meanwhile, Wireless Holdings has announced the DV4mobile, which is a 20 watt mobile, on 144, 222 and 440 Mhz, with FM, C4FM, D-Star, DMRplus, dPMR, P25 and possibly NXDN. It will also include an LTE radio for connection to the cell network, and the software to let you keep using the digital modes through their networks the same way you use the various dongles now. However, the company is keeping their product under lids at present, so more detail is not yet available.

FreeDV is receiving attention from other developers as well, and will be a game-changer if it is successful. It is a bit narrower in bandwidth than D-Star, and uses TDMA as does DMR, technology which is already well developed.

A radio like this in the hands of a HAMNET rescuer would give him or her a huge advantage when it comes to providing communications on all systems needed.

I’ll mention the report by Dave ZS2DH, on the VW Rally held over the weekend of 15th and 16th July in the Eastern Cape in next week’s bulletin.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

REPORT 2016-07-24

Weather is the theme of this week’s bulletin. HAMNET is here to extend a hand of help if neighbourhoods or bigger areas are overwhelmed by floods, snow, power losses, and vehicle accidents associated with all of the above, hence the subject.

Since Wednesday, the SA Weather Service has been posting alerts, warning of rough seas and storm conditions, gale force winds and storm surges along the Eastern coast, as a result of Spring tide conditions adding to the frontal weather now passing. These coastal conditions are set to continue into the middle of the coming week. After the heavy rain of the end of this last week in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape is warning residents of possible heavy snowfalls in the Eastern high ground tonight, as well as heavy rain along the Southern coast from Monday onwards.

Then the Snow Alert forecasts snow occurring on the Western Cape ranges from Saturday morning, starting to spread to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Drakensberg and high ground around Kokstad, and to the KZN Midlands by Saturday evening. Today, the snow will spread further into the Northern Drakensberg. Heavier falls in the KZN Midlands, the entire KZN Drakensberg, most of Lesotho, and Western KwaZulu Natal will occur this afternoon, and the Eastern half of the Eastern Cape.

Piet Badenhorst has posted a summary of the forecast in the van Reenen’s Pass area on Hamnet’s FaceBook page. He says sleet will fall this afternoon, turning to heavy snowfall this evening and tomorrow, possibly closing van Reenen’s Pass to traffic by lunchtime today. Falls of up to 1.5m may be experienced in the Drakensberg, and motorists and long-distance truckers should avoid van Reenen if possible, to avoid being stuck in stationary queues. He also says the extreme weather is due to the faster than expected passage of the cold front that hit the Western Cape on Wednesday evening, across the country.

Some of the snow in the KZN Midlands will be replaced by rain on Monday and Tuesday, but Lesotho, the KZN Drakensberg and the Hogsback area will not be so lucky. By Tuesday, it could start snowing on the Western Cape peaks again, spreading to the Sutherland area and possibly Calvinia, but slowly clearing by Wednesday.

Bearing all this threatening weather in mind, and further bearing in mind the tragic violence that has been playing out internationally, and which has the potential to spread to South Africa, it occurs to me that all HAMNET members, and in fact all radio amateurs, should never be without our handheld radios as we go about our daily lives, to be another chain of contact in case of local or general catastrophe. And if we are not out and about, but at home keeping warm, we should have our VHF radios on and programmed to the local emergency traffic repeater, or simplex channel, and our HF radios monitoring 3770kHz and 7110kHz lower sideband all the time, to catch that call for help when it comes through.

Our new HAMNET website, at http://hamnet.co.za, carries an interesting account of a motorbike accident rescue achieved by Matt ZS1MJJ and Paul ZS1V. Matt says he encountered a riderless motorbike flying through the air as he drove on the way to Gordon’s Bay this past week. Stopping to investigate, he found the rider some 10 metres away, lying face down in water, and unconscious. Matt called for assistance on the 145.600 repeater, and Paul heard him, disabled the link of the 145.600 repeater to the entire South and West Coast chain by using the correct DTMF tones to isolate that specific repeater, and called through to the Somerset West Neighbourhood Watch Control Room, who then called an ambulance service and the Police, both of which quickly arrived on the scene. Thus was the rider’s life saved, thanks to a working repeater system, a pair of reactive HAMNET members, and the assistance of the Neighbourhood Watch Control Staff. Well done, Gentlemen!

A report-back of the major earthquake disaster exercise held on the West Coast of the USA has been published on several sites. A Magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami was announced to have struck the Pacific Northwest, causing a blackout of all conventional communications channels. ARES and RACES organisations in Oregon and Washington states, the ARRL’s headquarters’ station, and stations in Langley, British Columbia, which was holding its own coastal exercise, were all linked.

“Overall, our objectives of being able to communicate with external agencies via voice and Winlink were achieved,” Monte Simpson, ARRL Western Washington Section manager said. “It was great to be able to participate in an exercise of this magnitude to get a feeling of what it would be like to have this many people trying to send and receive data. All of our operators felt this was very beneficial.”

Simpson said that including Amateur Radio as “an actual functional part” of the exercise was a big plus, and that the participants felt they were “actually part of the team and not some auxiliary group that was being tolerated.”

Among his recommendations, Simpson said there should be more standardization on language and forms, as well as coming up with a method of establishing contact with communities that lack communication if repeaters go down. He also advised that ARES and RACES teams exercise their equipment on a regular basis, to avoid unexpected outages and failures during a real-world event. Good advice that we here in South Africa should follow too.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.