HAMNET Report 30 April 2017

While the rest of the world is concerned about the economy, weather, armed conflict and amateur radio conventions, the Philippines has quietly suffered a 7.2 magnitude earthquake 10km below the sea just off its Southern corner. It happened at 22h23 our time on Friday evening, and was close enough to the shoreline potentially to affect 1.8 million people within a radius of 100km of the epicentre. This magnitude is very similar to the earthquake which struck off the coast of Japan in 2011, creating the huge tsunami which damaged the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, and which is still being mopped up. I am aware of two slightly weaker aftershocks, but, so far, there have been no reports of major casualties, so I guess the tectonic plates didn’t shift enough to create waves or destroy infrastructure on shore. And across the Pacific, Chile suffered 12 earthquakes in one coastal area in the 24 hours to midnight on Friday, with magnitudes between 4.3 and 5.9.

The International Amateur Radio Union Region One emergency communications coordinator, Greg Mossop G0DUB, has announced the availability of a downloadable emergency telecommunications guide, developed to provide materials suitable for training Radio Amateurs to participate in emergency events, and guidance to the individual amateur radio operator who wants to improve his ability to participate in such events or to simply have a better understanding of the process.
The guide has been translated from English into Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian, and is available at www.iaru.org/emergency-telecommunications-guide.html, so please download yourself a copy and keep it for reference. Thanks to Greg and the IARU Region 1 team.

The Sixth of May sees the Annual General Meeting of the SA Radio League, but unfortunately not all HAMNET members will be able to attend. If you are not attending, please give your proxy to a Hamnet member who will be there. For best advice, please contact your regional director, who should be able to put you in touch with the member attending closest to you. Remember, 240 attendees and proxies are needed to vote on any motions, so every attendance or proxy counts. Your proxy holder may arrive at the AGM with his handful of proxies and register them, so you can arrange to email them to your representative before he or she leaves for the venue, and they can be printed out for delivery. You can also email them to the venue before the meeting starts. So please do that now!

In a very nice write-up in the “Off Grid Ham” blog, Chris Warren, the author, lists the dangerous practices and warnings that should be on a laminated plastic card with every generator ever purchased. The kind of generator you and I might purchase for use at home or while camping is not cheap, and deserves to be well looked-after, run regularly, and kept where it is easily accessible when needed.

The author has put together a short list of important safety points:

  • Always store your generator and accessories in a way they can be quickly & easily accessible under adverse conditions.
  • Always use the correct type and size cables or cords to power your equipment from a generator. Never plug two extension cords together in series.
  • Generators should be bonded to earth ground whenever possible.
  • A transfer switch is the best and safest way to connect a generator to multiple loads, in other words, to your distribution board. This should only be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • Generators are the number 1 cause of non fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. Please use some basic sense to keep the area around a running generator well ventilated and to assure you don’t become a statistic.
  • Hearing protection should be used when constantly around running generators.
  • The use of a cable with a three-pin plug on each end, so you can plug your generator into a wall socket and thereby activate your house’s electrical supply in reverse, is an extremely dangerous hack and should never, ever be used to connect a generator to home wiring, or anything else.

Thank you to Chris Warren for this summary.

It’s time to look at the average dam levels across the country again. All province’s dam levels are as good now or better than they were this time last year, except for the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. The Eastern Cape’s dams are steady at 62% full, compared to last week, but 9 percentage points lower than this time last year. The Western Cape’s dams continue to show a decline, by 1 percentage point per week, and are now at 21% full, compared to 29% last year. There is enough water to last the Cape Peninsula another 88 days, by which time we hope the Winter rains will have started. We were treated to a day of intermittent heavy showers on Wednesday just past, with an average of about 20mm of rain measured in the suburbs, and a good bit of thunder and lightning. The dam figures I just quoted were issued before Wednesday’s rain, so it remains to be seen if anything fell in the catchment areas of our main storage dams.

If you’re enjoying a well-earned long weekend on holiday this weekend, have a good time, and please drive safely when you drive home.

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