HAMNET Report 18 March 2018

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, or GDACS, is reporting on Tropical Cyclone Eliakim, which since Thursday has been approaching the North-Eastern aspect of Madagascar. By 18h00 on Friday it had crossed the coast South of Maroantsetra heading South-West with winds in excess of 83kph, before turning due South on Saturday and losing some strength on its way to cross the coast again today (Sunday) at about midday. Intense rainfall could trigger flooding and mudslides, and evacuations are taking place in some areas. We’ll tell you of any loss of life and property we hear of.

From R&D Magazine comes an interesting development in the field of power generation in your rucksack.

Most soldiers carry a heavy burden in the field, including an 35 Kg backpack filled with essential supplies and tools. If that’s not heavy enough, soldiers often carry an additional 10 to 15 Kg in backup batteries to power their radios and other necessary electronics.

However, a new innovation offers a solution.

Lighting Pack—a 2017 R&D 100 Award Winner—is able to generate electricity as soldiers walk and run through the field, eliminating the need for them to carry batteries.

The backpack works by harvesting kinetic energy, while also reducing the heavy load soldiers have to carry around the field, said Lawrence Rome, PhD, the founder and chief scientific officer of Lightning Packs LLC, in an interview with R&D Magazine.

“Essentially in our backpacks there are two frames, there’s a frame connected to the person with a hip belt and shoulder straps and there is a second frame called a moving frame in which the bag is attached and the whole load sits there,” he said. “In normal backpacks, the two frames are locked together and move in unison.

“What we did is we suspended the moving frame from the fixed frame attached to the body by a spring mechanism,” he added. “So essentially as you walk up and down the moving frame moves in respect to the fixed frame and that generates electricity.”

By reducing the need for extra disposable batteries, soldiers using the backpack can opt to either reduce the overall weight of their backpacks or use the extra space to carry other necessary supplies. The pack also permits longer mission durations and reduces the demand for resupply operations.

In addition to providing a benefit for soldiers, the electricity-generating backpack could provide wearable, renewable electricity for disaster-relief workers operating in remote locations, as well as forestry service workers, medical aid relief workers, hikers, campers, and hunters.

Thank you to Keith ZS5WFD of HAMNET KZN for bringing us a brief report-back on Hamnet KZN’s involvement in last week’s rally:

He says “Ten operators assisted with the event which covered a total of 11 stages over the two day event which started on Friday 9th March.   Ballito Lifestyle Centre was chosen as Rally HQ with the top parking level area  being cordoned off for the use of rally support teams.  This gave a good opportunity for the general public to get up close and see the rally cars and their service crews at work. A shuttle bus service was also on offer to take the public to designated spectator points in the various stages throughout the two days.

“Weather conditions were very hot and dry on both days making for some difficult conditions for the radio operators at start and end of the dusty stages out in the sugar cane fields.

“A total of 20 teams entered on day 1,  9 teams in R2N Class with the remaining 11 teams in the Open Class.  I am pleased to report that no serious accidents or medical emergencies occurred, but only 11 teams completed the event, the majority having to retire with mechanical breakdowns.  It was also pleasing to note that no incidents were received of private vehicle incursions onto the live rally stages which was a problem encountered on the previous rally on the South Coast.

“The special stage on Friday night around the Ballito beach front drew a large crowd who came to see the blazing headlights, hear the screeching of tyres and the exhaust explosions around the very tight circuit.

“Communications between stages worked extremely well with probably 90% conducted on 145.550 MHz simplex.  From Rally Control I had direct communication with all but two operators, but Dave ZS5HN, strategically situated on a high point on both days, was able to relay their communications to me.  The previous monotonous task of passing stage book-in, start and elapsed  times was replaced by taking a picture of the time sequence sheet and sending it in via a WhatsApp group.  This eliminated any error from our side and the organisers were very happy with the result.

“A big thank you to all that assisted in making the event the success that it was.”

And thank you to you Keith and your team for ensuring the rally went off safely!

In case you thought the Western Cape had cornered the market on droughts, let me tell you that South Africa has declared that the drought afflicting Cape Town and other parts of the country is a national disaster.

The government announcement on Tuesday allows officials more easily to direct resources to drought relief and long-term recovery plans.

The government says the drought is especially severe in the three Cape provinces in the south of the country.

City of Cape Town warned for months of the threat of “Day Zero,” the date when the city would have to close most water taps because of the drought. However, the opposition party running the city said last week that “Day Zero” might not happen at all this year because of water conservation efforts.

The opposition Democratic Alliance says the government’s declaration of a national disaster should make relief funds available for affected areas.

Aid must therefore be equitably distributed among all the affected areas, to bring relief to all communities waiting anxiously for rain.

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