HAMNET Report 17 June 2018

It is reported in the ARRL Newsletter that Phoenix sailor and radio amateur Timothy Henning, KE7WMZ, has expressed his gratitude to the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN) for intercepting and handling his distress call on 14.300 MHz. Net control operator Harry Williams, W0LS, caught Henning’s call requesting assistance with an urgent medical condition on May 23. Henning, some 200 nautical miles south of Ensenada, Mexico, in his sailing vessel Victory Cat, reported that a severe vision problem had developed in his right eye, and he was seeking immediate medical attention and advice.

Williams contacted the US Coast Guard in Alameda, California, relaying all information concerning the medical problem and staying on the air with Henning for several hours. The Coast Guard, in turn, relayed the information to the on-duty flight surgeon who advised that Henning seek immediate medical attention at the closest port of call.

It was decided that Henning would continue on to Ensenada, and the Coast Guard arranged to have someone meet him there and transport him to the Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, while his wife stood by with the vessel at the dock.

Ultimately, it was determined that Henning had a detached retina, and he was transported to Phoenix for surgery.

“I appreciate, beyond words, that the Maritime Net was able to help us get in contact with the USCG and simply be at the other end of the HF radio, helping us through a challenging time,” Henning told the MMSN afterward. “I especially want to thank Harry, W0LS. He was extremely professional and invaluable in linking us effectively with the USCG. We were just completing our 10 years round-the-world sail voyage.”

Also in the Newsletter is a report that Iran apparently has found 10 metres an ideal spot to operate various radars. The interference was audible in International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU R1) and perhaps elsewhere in the world.

“Iranian radars were very active on our 10-meter band every day [in May],” reported IARU Monitoring System (IARUMS) Coordinator for Region 1 Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, in the IARUMS newsletter. “On 28.860 MHz, we could daily receive the strong and long-lasting signals. Other frequencies were used in [frequency hopping] mode.”

The list of additional Amateur Radio intruders on 10 meters included — or in some cases, no longer included — some of the usual suspects. Hadel reported that FM signals from Russian taxi dispatchers, driftnet fishery buoys, and Citizens Band “abusers” in Brazil have been operating on various 10-meter frequencies, “as usual.”

Meanwhile, some chronic intruding signals have disappeared. Among the missing is the 14.295 MHz harmonic from Radio Tajik on 4.765 MHz. Radio Hargeysa in Somaliland on 7.120 MHz is said to have been off the air for several weeks due to a transmitter failure. “We did not miss the transmissions,” quipped Hadel, who also expressed the hope that the broadcast battle between Radio Eritrea and Radio Ethiopia on 40 meters may now be at an end.

Thank you to the ARRL for these items.

And while we’re still in the Americas, this weekend sees the ARRL Field Day event, during which about 35000 radio operators are expected to go into the open air, and operate their stations off-grid, using batteries, solar power generators, and other enterprising power solutions to demonstrate their ability to maintain communications should there be no power. While they’re at it, they will be advertising the hobby to the general public by inviting them to visit their stations. I counted 19 press releases in American local newspapers, explaining the weekend’s activities, and inviting all and sundry to visit and take a look. Each field station will have a “GOTA” station, for “Get On The Air”, where non-licensed folk can operate a radio under supervision of a licensed operator, to get a sense of how it works. This is generally a hit amongst the youth, and results in many young people studying for and taking their exams to get on the air themselves. I wish South African Hams were this enthusiastic!

The Field Day ran from 12h00 yesterday to 12h00 today local American  time.

And the best news from HAMNET today concerns the excellent rains the Western Cape is experiencing at the moment. Cold fronts have been coming past at roughly 4 day intervals, bringing heavy downpours and widespread showers over the Peninsula, but also over the catchment area of our most important supply dam, Theewaterskloof, just beyond the Hottentot’s Holland mountains from us. This reporter has measured 91 mm of rain at home since the beginning of June, 20mm more than our usual average for June, and the month is just half way. Rainfall in the Theewaterskloof catchment area on Thursday alone was 93mm, and the dam’s level has risen by 4 percentage points in the last 4 days, to nearly 30% full, much more than this time last year or the previous year. More rain is expected today Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and again on Thursday. Although it is cold here, there have been no reports of winter snow yet, which always contributes hugely to our water reservoirs as it melts. Video clips of many, many rivers flowing strongly, often for the first time in years, are available on social media, and tomorrow’s dam level reports for the week just past will make interesting reading.

Of course, no-one is advocating relaxing the water restrictions here. We’re nowhere near out of trouble yet, and will need several years of good rains to replenish the dams to full again. I hope Capetonians will remain loyal to the 50 litres per person per day, for ever. This is not a difficult goal to aim for, as we’ve been doing it now for at least 6 months, so can easily carry on. The stress of living so close to the drought-limit has made us all appreciate the value of drinkable water, and how easy it is to waste water!

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