HAMNET is saddened to be losing our National Director, Paul van Spronsen ZS1V, who has announced that he wishes to stand down. Paul has directed a very tight organisation for the last few years, and has been responsible for the development of a well run, and slick emergency communications vehicle. After several years as Western Cape Regional Director, Paul was the natural choice to be elevated to National Director when Francois Botha stood down. Paul’s firm hand and fair management of HAMNET’s affairs have kept our flags flying high. On behalf of all HAMNET members, I thank Paul, and wish him well in his future endeavours.
On the other hand, HAMNET is very pleased to be welcoming Glynn Chamberlain ZS6GLN as our new CEO. Glynn is well known in all Divisions, and brings to the table his fair and dedicated approach to the principles of HAMNET, so we continue to be in good hands. Well done, Glynn, and best wishes for all success during your term of office!
The Indian area of Kerala was in the news last week too, with devastating monsoon rains flooding huge areas of the state, displacing thousands of people, causing landslides, and destroying infrastructure.
The Times of India reports that ham radio operators stepped in to provide vital connectivity.
A master control room was set up at district collectorate and amateur radio units were deployed at three taluk offices in Mananthavady, Sultan Bathery and Vythiri. “This will act as a standby communications network if other means of connectivity fail. At present, mobile and landline networks are fine, said district collector, A.R Ajayakumar.
The ham call sign of the District Emergency Operations Centre (DEOC) for flood management at collectorate is VU2PDA. The call signs for taluk offices are – Sultan Bathery VU2JLE, Mananthavady VU3AYR, and Vythiri VU2OJ.
Radio amateurs in the flood-stricken state of Kerala helped with rescue operations there, in part by tracing stranded people through their last mobile phone locations and sharing information with officials. Most telecommunication services in Kerala remain down. Accounts vary, but some 120 hams — and perhaps as many as 300 — were involved in supporting official rescue operations.
“Kerala has been hit by the worst flooding and landslides in 100 years, with six districts and neighbouring areas submerged in 7 to 15 feet of water that has spilled over from nearby rivers,” Suwil Wilson, VU2IT, told ARRL. “One million people are in relief camps, and more than 300 people are dead. Power and mobile communications in the affected areas are cut off.”
Wilson said he coordinated the statewide Amateur Radio response, which was managed by individuals without the involvement of any ham radio organization in India.
“Hams gathered at the Thiruvananthapuram District Administration office, where the District Emergency Operations Centre is functioning, and set up an Amateur Radio emergency communication control centre to work with the District Disaster Management Authority to support rescue and relief operations,” Wilson said, adding that hams from all over Kerala have been relaying reports of people stranded or in need of medical aid. “So far, hams have reported the location and other details of more than 15,000 victims stranded on roofs of houses and other buildings as floodwaters rose to the second floor of buildings.”
“At the control centre, we received messages relayed from other parts of the state and took further actions that resulted in the rescue of over 1,800 people,” Wilson said. “In many cases, the first information was relayed by hams, before any other agency did.”
After the rash of earthquakes which struck Indonesia over last weekend, the next area hit was Venezuela, which sustained a magnitude 7.3 quake on Tuesday the 21st at 23h31 our time. One and a quarter million people live within 100km of the epicentre, and Colombians felt the quake in Bogotá as well.
Karl Hleftschar, YV5YA, National Director of the National Emergency Network of the Radio Club Venezolano, reported that the YV5RNE Network is active on 7088 kHz.
Jose Rafael Gomez, YV1GEC, who lives in the Isla de Margarita, Venezuela commented that the earthquake felt strong, but until then, there had been no interruption of the electric power, or interruption of the gas service.
Roberto Rey, HK3CW, President of La Liga Colombiana de Radio Amadores, reported that in Colombia, “it was felt even in Bogota and was very prolonged.”
It is requested to keep the frequency round about 7088 kHz free of interference.
And on the 22nd of August, a RED alert for Cyclone Soulik-18 was issued, affecting South Korea, and then North Korea as it moved North East, and on to the Southernmost tip of Russia next door. Wind speeds were running at about 120 Km/s.
Then the ARRL Letter for 22 August reported that ARRL Headquarters is in monitoring mode, as Hurricane Lane approaches Hawaii, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said, and Ham Aid Amateur Radio equipment is available for deployment.
Corey said the Hurricane Watch Net has a team on standby to assist with communication between Hawaii and the mainland, if needed. Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami is also standing by to assist with communication between the Central Pacific Hurricane Centre and the National Hurricane Centre. The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) is also keeping an eye on the situation, but has not activated. The VoIP Hurricane Net is also monitoring the situation.
The ARRL Hawaii Section is engaged with Hawaii Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and on standby to assist with shelter operations, if necessary. Volunteers are also assisting the National Weather Service and state emergency managers. At this time, no personnel or equipment is needed. Corey asked those in the affected area to alert ARRL of any communication issues that might evolve as well as any key information that could be shared via Amateur Radio networks.
The past ten days have indeed been busy for emergency communications operators!
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.
The ARRL reports that HAARP’s WSPR research campaign has yielded hundreds of reports of reception on the 40 and 80 meter amateur radio bands:
The ARRL story says:
Just-completed research at the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) transmitters in Gakona, Alaska, successfully took advantage of the WSPR digital protocol and the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network (WSPRnet) on July 30 through August 1.
University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Space Physics Group researcher and HAARP Chief Scientist Chris Fallen, KL3WX, told ARRL that the research — HAARP’s fourth research campaign under management of the University of Alaska Fairbanks — went well.
“My ‘citizen science’ experiments were funded by the National Science Foundation and were conducted for approximately 30 minutes at the end of each campaign day,” Fallen told ARRL. “They consisted of 2-minute transmissions using the WSPR digital mode in the 40- and 80-meter bands, with a 2-minute off period between transmissions.”
He said HAARP transmitted in full-carrier, double-sideband AM because it does not have SSB capability. HAARP operated under its Part 5 Experimental license, WI2XFX, with Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC to transmit on amateur bands.
“I systematically varied the HAARP transmission parameters, such as gain, net power, beam direction, and polarization, to see how they affected the reception reports collected in the WSPRnet.org database,” Fallen said. “During the 3 days, we gathered more than 300 confirmed reports of signal strength and location from nearly 100 unique participants throughout Canada and the US.”
Further news about HAARP comes from Webcenter11.com, which reports:
There’s a bit of lingering controversy surrounding HAARP that researchers are looking to put to rest. People have made science fiction-like assertions that the equipment at this site can control minds, alter weather, and even make a caribou walk backwards. Dozens of publications, and even a book, have been written about the conspiracies believed to be involved with HAARP, but officials at the university say these are false accusations.
The university acquired this facility from the military a few years ago to continue studying the highest level of the atmosphere where the auroras live. A strong aurora storm has the potential to interfere with radio communications, cell phones, TV broadcasts, and even electrical grids. Studying the upper atmosphere can help UAF understand how those aurora interactions work, and how they can prevent the interference.
HAARP can study the skies with an array of delicately tuned radio antennas that broadcast straight up in the air. The facility is located about five hours south of Fairbanks off the Richardson highway. It’s not usually open to the public, but on August 25, they’re allowing people to tour the site and learn more about what they really do out there.
“It’s an exquisite facility. It’s the best of its kind in the world, cost about $290 million to build and the university received it for free so we’re now trying using it to do basic research into the ionosphere,” said public relations manager, Sue Mitchell.
I’m sure this is the kind of Citizen Science Hans van de Groenendal ZS6AKV was writing about last week in the EngineerIT periodical. Let’s hope we can get this kind of research going in South Africa soon, too.
From the Hickory Record.com comes this interesting piece:
“(You may) have heard about the Navaho code talker soldiers that served during World War II in the Pacific arena of the war, but many people are unfamiliar with code talkers from numerous other Native American tribes that served in World War I and greatly aided Allied military efforts in the area of military communications.
“On Aug. 21, 1918, British forces were attacking German positions along the Western Front in northern France in an assault that was part of the Somme Offensive. Cherokee soldiers from western North Carolina were in the 119th and 120th Infantry regiments attached to the British forces. During this conflict, the Allies discovered that the Germans were intercepting Allied telephone and radio communications and using information gleaned from those calls to locate and attack Allied forces.
“On the spur of the moment, the Signal Corps decided to use Cherokee troops to pass coded information via telephone and radio since they rightly deduced that the Germans would not be able to translate the Cherokee language. This particular battle in the Somme Offensive was the first known modern use of Native American troops for code-related linguistic purposes. Code-talking troops from other Native American tribes were also utilized in other World War I battle locations and served in such capacity for the remainder of the war.
“Prior to the British using the Cherokee code talkers, the Germans had broken every Allied code type used and regularly intercepted the more physical means of information distribution as well. Codes transmitted by Native American code talkers were never broken and caused much confusion for German decoders who did not realize they were hearing an indigenous American language.
“The success of Cherokee, Choctaw and other tribal code talkers in World War I inspired the U.S. military forces to use Navaho and other Native American tribes as code talkers during World War II.”
That battle, during which Cherokee code talkers were first used, took place one hundred years ago this coming Tuesday the 21st of August.
And, yes, it would appear that your teenage children are not the only ones capable of talking an indecipherable language!
It has been a long time since I commented on the dam situation in the Western Cape. The winter rains have been average so far, after that one short but very sharp rainy week or two, but storage in our major dams has risen to an average of 53% this week, up by 2 percentage points on last week, and almost double the 29% at the same time last year. However, in comparison to the last 10 years or so, only last year’s rain harvesting was worse than our current one, so we are not out of trouble down here yet. However, I must point out that many areas in the Eastern and Southern Cape are now in a worse position than we are, and help in the form of basic foods and animal feeds are urgently being transported to these areas. Please keep current with the drought and famine situation in our land, and offer assistance if you can?
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.
As Radio Amateurs in Indonesia responded for the second time to an Earthquake in the Lombok area on Tuesday, the Indonesia Amateur Radio Organisation, or ORARI, asked all amateurs please to take care to avoid causing QRM to their activities on 7.110MHz, and emergency activities on satellite IO-86.
The second powerful earthquake in the area killed at least 98 people and seriously injured more than 200 others. The electricity supply in the area was disrupted and the ORARI of West Nusa Tenggara Region, led by YB9KA and YB9GV, have taken action to cover areas with no cellular coverage, including taking battery supplies to affected repeaters. At the moment four repeaters are operating in the disaster area, and ORARI HQ has asked their Bali Island Region (the closest area) to provide further repeater support for use during emergency communications in Lombok.
ORARI HQ has also issued an official request to the nearest region, to help with both logistics and personnel to Lombok, designated a National Frequency for the Lombok Earthquake at 7.110 MHz for HF, VHF on 145.500 MHz Simplex and 147.000 MHz Duplex, and also to activate the ORARI Satellite LAPAN IO-86, to assist with communications.
The Central Java Region of the Indonesian Search And Rescue Council has sent a group of rescuers and vehicles, lead by YB2QC, the Operation and Technical Head of ORARI, to join the National Rescue Operation in Lombok, and ORARI Jakarta is also arranging the delivery of logistical assistance to Lombok.
And after this report, news came in on Thursday of a third earthquake in the region, magnitude 5.9, and likely to affect nearly 3 million people living within a 50km radius.
Dani reports again: Entering the sixth day of post-Earthquake 7 SR which shook the region in West Nusa Tenggara and Bali, emergency handling was further intensified. The emergency response period for handling the impact of earthquakes in West Nusa Tenggara ended on 08/08/2018. However, considering the many problems in handling the impact of the earthquake, the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara finally decided to extend the 14-day emergency response period, which is now calculated from August 12 to the 25th, 2018.
Conditions in the field reveal many problems, such as the victims who still have to be evacuated, refugees who have not been handled adequately, the aftershocks that are still going on, and even earthquakes that damage and cause casualties. With the establishment of an emergency response period there is easy access for personnel deployment, resource use, budget use, procurement of logistics and equipment, and administration so that the handling of disaster impacts becomes faster.
The number of earthquake victims continues to increase. As of today (Saturday 11/08/2018), 387 people are recorded as having died.
Mr. Erdius (YBØQA), as Head of Operations and Technical Affairs on behalf of ORARI HQ, has sent 1 unit of VHF Repeater and 10 VHF Handy Talkies, to facilitate communication in all fields.
This update was received on August 11, 2018, 20:39 Local Time (13:39 UTC) from Dani YB2TJV.
The ARRL reports Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) volunteers have pitched in to assist where needed to provide or support communication as catastrophic wild-fires have struck California.
Volunteers from multiple ARRL Sections in the state have stepped up to help, as some fires remain out of control. The fires have claimed several lives, destroyed more than 1,000 homes, and forced countless residents to evacuate, including radio amateurs.
ARRL Sacramento Valley Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, said this week that things have calmed somewhat compared to the past couple of weeks, with American Red Cross shelter communicators stepping down after 10 days of support. Initially, there were four shelters in Redding. On August 5, the Shasta-Tehama ARES team was able to take its communications trailer to Trinity County to support a shelter in Weaverville opened for Carr Fire evacuees, he said.
CalFire reports that the Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties covers more than 167,000 acres and is 47% contained. Evacuations and road closures are in effect. At one point, more than a dozen ARES volunteers from Shasta, Sacramento, Butte, Placer, and El Dorado counties were working at shelters opened in the wake of the Carr Fire.
Kruckewitt said Winlink was the go-to mode, as fire has damaged several repeaters and no repeater path exists to the Gold County Region of the Red Cross in Sacramento.
Thank you to the ARRL news for this coverage.
BBC News reports that the Parker Solar Probe, set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida yesterday, Saturday the 11th, has been delayed for 24 hours.
It is now scheduled to blast off – on board the mammoth Delta-IV Heavy rocket – this Sunday morning. The probe is set to become the fastest-moving manmade object in history. The rocket was on the launch pad when the countdown clock was interrupted, as officials investigated an alarm. NASA had a weather window of 65 minutes to launch, but the time elapsed before the issue could be resolved.
The probe aims to dip directly into our star’s outer atmosphere, or corona.
Its data promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun’s behaviour – assuming it can survive roasting temperatures above 1,000C.
The Delta will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System, enabling the Nasa mission to zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that.
Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much of the important activity that affects the Earth seems to originate.
The probe will dip inside this tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions, and getting to just 6.16 million km from the Sun’s broiling “surface”.
“I realise that might not sound that close, but imagine the Sun and the Earth were a metre apart. Parker Solar Probe would then be just 4cm away from the Sun,” explained Dr Nicky Fox, the British-born project scientist who is affiliated to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
“We’ll also be the fastest human-made object ever, travelling around the Sun at speeds of up to 690,000km/h.”
Wow! I doubt if any traffic cops will catch that one for speeding!
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.
Writing in EngineerIT, Hans van de Groenendaal reports that two South African amateur radio associations, the South African Radio League (SARL) and AMSAT SA, are planning to launch an umbrella association that will link up with scientists in various electronic and physics disciplines to enhance research opportunities. The two organisations are currently involved in propagation research on 5 MHz, and a study of the rapid increases in the radio frequency noise floor, its causes and possible mitigation, and the possible slowing down of the noise pollution which will ultimately render the radio spectrum useless for communication, particularly for weak signal communication.
The new organisation will be known as Amateur Radio Science Citizen Investigation, or HamSCI SA. The concept of HamSCI was started by US scientists who study upper atmospheric and space physics and who are also licensed radio amateurs. HamSCI SA will be a platform for the publicity and promotion of projects that are consistent with the following objectives: to advance scientific research and understanding through amateur radio activities; to encourage the development of new technologies to support this research; and to provide educational opportunities for the amateur community and the general public with a main focus on the youth.
HamSCI SA will be a means of fostering collaborations between professional researchers and radio amateurs. It will assist in developing and maintaining standards and agreements between all people and organisations involved. HamSCI SA will not be an operations or funding programme, nor a supervisory organisation. HamSCI SA will not perform research on its own. Rather, it will support other research programmes such as the SARL’s 5 MHz propagation study, the RF noises monitoring projects, and programmes funded by structures such as the National Research Foundation.
The SARL and AMSAT SA invite interested persons to join the HamSCI SA initiative and offer their expertise. “It will work (in) two ways”, says SARL president, Nico van Rensburg. “It will create interesting activities for radio amateurs, in particularly for the new generation of young people who have been bitten by the ‘radio bug’ but need more challenges than just communications. For the scientific community it means that they can involve many more people in their projects and make a contribution to make science popular.”
Since the beginning of the amateur radio service in South Africa in the early 1900’s, radio amateurs have made significant contributions to radio technology and the understanding of radio science. This work must be continued today, as the ITU Radio regulations state that a primary purpose of the amateur radio service is the continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art. Recent advances in the fields of computing, software-defined radio, and signal processing provide unprecedented opportunities to meet this mandate, specifically in the field of radio science. These opportunities are already beginning to be realised with the advent of systems such as the reverse beacon network (RBN), the weak signal propagation reporting network (WSPRNet), and PSKReporter. In addition, enabling amateurs to make and contribute legitimate scientific observations will expose amateur radio to a wider community of people interested in science around the world.
Many radio amateurs unwittingly generate a large portion of data during their regular amateur radio operations. A good example of this is the annual SARL High Frequency contest during which hundreds of radio amateurs transmit over a two- or three-hour period, logging the details of every contact they make. Similarly, on a world-wide basis (there) are international contests where thousands of radio amateurs are active over a 24-hour period. There is a massive volume of data collected, however it is unstructured and currently perhaps not that useful, scientifically speaking. This is where collaboration with scientists can make the difference.
The SARL is in partnership with AMSAT SA, who will drive the initial thrust to get HamSCI SA off the ground. If you would like to be part of HamSCI SA and be invited to their launch conference later this year send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org with HamSci SA in the subject line.
Thank you to Hans ZS6AKV for these extracts from his report. I sincerely hope this will generate a greater interest in using more science to further the aims and objectives of HAMNET, in serving the cause of our community.
And from the New York Times, Austin Ramzy reports that one of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time deepened Monday when the official government inquiry into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 released a 495-page report that gave no definitive answers as to the fate of the airliner.
The plane was heading north from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on March 8, 2014, when it deviated from its scheduled path, turning west across the Malay Peninsula. It is believed to have turned south after radar contact was lost and crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean after running out of fuel.
No significant pieces of the wreckage of the jetliner, a Boeing 777, have ever been found. Nor have any remains of the 239 people on board.
The absence of definitive answers in the report, which was released at a news conference, devastated families of the victims.
Intan Maizura Othaman, whose husband, Mohd Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan, was a steward on the flight, told reporters after a briefing for family members that she was angered by the absence of answers.
“It is so frustrating, as nobody during the briefing can answer our questions,” Bernama, the Malaysian state news agency, quoted her as saying.
The report offered no conclusion on what caused the plane to veer off course, cease radio communications and vanish.
The head of the safety investigation team, Kok Soo Chon, said the available evidence — including the plane’s deviation from its flight course, which tests showed was done manually rather than by autopilot, and the switching off of a transponder — “irresistibly point” to “unlawful interference,” which could mean that the plane was hijacked.
But he added that the panel found no indication of who might have interfered or why, and that any criminal inquiry would be the responsibility of law enforcement authorities, not safety investigators.
While Kok did not directly address theories that the disappearance was the result of pilot suicide, he said investigators were “not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot.”
The report detailed an extensive examination of the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and the first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid. The investigators “could not detect any abnormality,” Kok said.
An entirely unsatisfactory ending for the bereaved families of those lost in the disaster!
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.