HAMNET Report 9 June 2019

Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, Divisional Director of HAMNET KwaZulu Natal reports that they provided support for the Standard Bank 70.3 Ironman held in Durban on Sunday 02 June 2019.  The race consisted of a 1.9Km swim, a 90.1 Km Cycle ride and finished off with a relaxing 21.1Km run along the Durban beachfront.

A total of 10 operators were stationed at points covering the route, with Justin ZS5KT on foot with the Race Director, who covered a distance of 22Km foot-mobile by the end of the day.  There were 2 operators in the VOC  (Provincial Director Keith Lowes ZS5WFD assisted by Ugo ZS5UGR), Craig ZS5CD at the cycle turnaround point at the M4/ Umdloti , whilst Geoff ZS5AGM and Val ZS5VAL were at the other end of the cycle route in Sandile Thusi (Argyle) Road.

Troy ZS5TWJ was positioned at the race penalty tent in the parking lot of Suncoast Casino, Wayne ZS5WAY was on the run route at Blue Lagoon,  Terry ZS5TB at the Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club, and Deon ZS5DD at Ushaka Beach.

90% of communications were handled on 145.525 Simplex, with the 145.7625 repeater used to communicate with Craig ZS5CD at Umdloti.

Keith reports no serious race casualties and thanks all those who volunteered to help with this annual race.

He and his band of merry men in HAMNET KZN are busy again today shepherding the Comrades runners on another up-run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. We hope the weather is acceptable today, and the race goes well. Keith says he will send me a report on the Comrades for inclusion in this bulletin in the coming weeks.

Greg Mossop G0DUB, the IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Co-ordinator, has released the schedule for the Emergency Comms meeting to be held at Friedrichshafen on the 21st of June.

After a welcome and a short region 1 report, Greg will lead a discussion on what use we can make of Satellites for Emergency Communications, including Low Earth Orbit and Geostationary satellites. This will be followed by another open discussion on HF conditions and weak signal message modes like JS8call.

Then Alberto IK1YLO will show a 6 minute film about the North East Italian Flood Exercise of 5-9 June 2018, followed by an update on their national DMR project.

Ron 4X1IG will talk about a contest as a drill, and then Oliver DL7TNY will introduce the attendees to AREDN data networks.

After a short open forum to answer any remaining questions and for guidance for new groups, Greg will discuss how EmComms would respond to a power grid failure.

All in all a useful meeting, and I’m sorry that we may not get to hear about the entire proceedings.

Southgate Amateur Radio News reminds us that the Hara Arena used to be the venue for the Dayton Hamvention before it took up residence at the Xenia Fairgrounds, also in Ohio.

This week, just days after the Xenia Hamvention was over, word was received that Ohio ARES was activated after a tornado badly damaged Hara Arena in Trotwood on US Memorial Day.

According to a report from WHIO TV, Hara Arena suffered extensive damage. Drone video showed that the roof and side of the structure had been blown off in several places. Hamvention relocated to the Xenia Fairgrounds in 2017, after Hara Arena shut down the previous year.

The Hara Arena damage apparently resulted from what CBS News called “a large and dangerous tornado” that struck Trotwood. Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL, said ARES counties and districts activated that evening after nearly 40 tornado warnings were issued across the state.

It must have been a wild and dangerous time for the residents of Ohio.

Reporting on another disaster, the IOL website says that social media was the unsung hero of the 2017 Knysna fires and an independent disaster report released on Thursday recommends that municipality communications teams should make more use of social networking to improve communication with the public.

According to Richard Walls, who heads up Stellenbosch University’s Fire Engineering Research Unit (FireSUN), social media was extensively used during the incident. Walls, who delivered a slide presentation during the launch of the report, said that while “Facebook was used more by Knysna residents tracking the fire, Twitter was used more in the relief efforts that followed”.

The report, Minimising The Risk And Impact Of Another Mega-Fire In South Africa, recommended that “municipality communications teams must identify high-profile social media influencers and enlist their support in spreading messages and directing users to information sources”.

Another key recommendation was that insurers develop more affordable insurance products for the so-called missing middle, the households which are not sufficiently impoverished to be supported by government welfare, but which are not able to afford insurance. Communities could also join the local Fire Protection Association (FPA), the report said, and participate in setting up fire-wise communities. Residents and landowners should work with FPAs to map and monitor the extent and densities of invasive alien plant re-growth accurately.

This is fundamental to determining the amount and duration of funding required to control the massive regeneration of invading plant species after fires.

Other recommendations in the report commissioned by short-term insurer Santam included managing or controlling the presence of fire-prone vegetation and other combustible or flammable material on tracts of land, attending to all fire call-outs even if they don’t appear threatening, and focussing more on public education and awareness programmes on the risks associated with wildfires.

The Knysna fire was the worst wildfire disaster in South Africa’s history. The report found that its severity was caused by a cocktail of factors including drought, low atmospheric humidity, strong winds and abundant fuel.

Thank you to IOL for those extracts from the report.

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

HAMNET Report 2 June 2019

NewsHub reports that Elon Musk has enraged astronomers around the world, who are warning his SpaceX company is putting the future of astronomy at risk. Musk plans to encircle the world with 12,000 Starlink communications satellites, and launched the first 60 into orbit a few days ago.

The satellites are high-reflective, and they’re currently lighting up the night sky with a spectacular ‘train’ of lights. But scientists fear his plan for space domination could have dramatic adverse effects on their research.

A number of senior figures say the satellites will cause a massive spike in light pollution in the sky, affecting the use of large, sensitive ground-based telescopes. “The potential tragedy of a mega-constellation like Starlink is that for the rest of humanity it changes how the night sky looks,” Ronald Drimmel, from the Turin Astrophysical Observatory in Italy, told Forbes. “Starlink, and other mega constellations, would ruin the sky for everyone on the planet.”

Mark McCaughrean, the senior advisor for science and exploration at the European Space Agency, warns a drastic increase in visible satellites is a “chilling thought”. “The more I think about this, the more of a disaster it seems and not just for astronomers,” he tweeted.

“Just trying desperately to scramble for any possible way this can go well,” agreed science writer Mika McKinnon.

US astronomy student Victoria Girgis took a photo of what they look like passing in front of her telescope with a 25-second exposure. The result was a night sky smeared with satellites.

And Royal Institution of Australia lead scientist Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University, warned the completion of the Starlink network will only make things worse. “A full constellation of Starlink satellites will likely mean the end of Earth-based microwave-radio telescopes able to scan the heavens for faint radio objects,” Duffy told ScienceAlert. “The enormous benefits of global internet coverage will outweigh the cost to astronomers, but the loss of the radio sky is a cost to humanity as we lose our collective birthright to see the afterglow of the Big Bang or the glow of forming stars from Earth”, he said.

Musk has defended his actions, variously arguing that the International Space Station also has lights, that his satellites won’t have any impact, SpaceX is working to mitigate any impacts, that even if they did have an impact it was for the “greater good”, and scientists need to upgrade their equipment anyway.

I, in turn, wonder what the effect on the Square Kilometre Array will be in Southern Africa. I am amazed that the concept of 12000 satellites, causing light and electronic pollution everywhere around the globe, got as far as the launch of 60 of them!

Writing for Phys.org, Mike Williams of Rice University says that wearable devices that harvest energy from movement are not a new idea, but a material created at Rice University may make them more practical.

The Rice lab of chemist James Tour has adapted laser-induced graphene (LIG) into small, metal-free devices that generate electricity. Like rubbing a balloon on hair, putting LIG composites in contact with other surfaces produces static electricity that can be used to power devices.

For that, thank the triboelectric effect, by which materials gather a charge through contact. When they are put together and then pulled apart, surface charges build up that can be channelled toward power generation.

In experiments, the researchers connected a folded strip of LIG to a string of light-emitting diodes and found that tapping the strip produced enough energy to make them flash. A larger piece of LIG embedded within a flip-flop let a wearer generate energy with every step, as the graphene composite’s repeated contact with skin produced a current to charge a small capacitor.

“This could be a way to recharge small devices just by using the excess energy of heel strikes during walking, or swinging arm movements against the torso,” Tour said.

“The nanogenerator embedded within a flip-flop was able to store 0.22 millijoules of electrical energy on a capacitor after a 1-kilometer walk,” said Rice postdoctoral researcher Michael Stanford, lead author of the paper. “This rate of energy storage is enough to power wearable sensors and electronics with human movement.”

The weekend of the 23rd to 26th of May was a busy time for the Peninsula Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) teams. Four difficult rescues took place, two of them ending badly.

On the 23rd, a team responded to assist a climber injured after some rocks had fallen on him at Llandudno Corner. A helicopter lowered rescuers to the site, where two victims were found. A climber with a minor ankle injury was hoisted out and delivered to the landing zone, while a second more seriously injured patient was immobilised and packaged for safe hoisting and delivery to the landing zone.

On the 24th, a man was discovered just off a path in Newlands Forest to be deceased, and was carried off the scene down to a Metro Rescue Vehicle before being handed over to Forensic Pathology Services.

On the 25th, a climber became stuck on a ledge after sustaining an ankle injury above Woodstock Cave on Devil’s Peak. Again, a helicopter evacuation was needed, and two rescuers were lowered to the ledge. The hiker was secured in a special “nappy harness”, hoisted to the helicopter, and delivered to the awaiting ground crew at the landing zone.

And, on the 26th, a report was received of a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation being attempted on a person who had collapsed in Tokai Forest. Rescuers were able to drive along the forest jeep tracks to reach the area known as “level four”, near where a middle-aged man was found to have suffered a cardiac arrest while mountain biking with friends. Members of that group had immediately begun CPR while summoning help. After more than an hour, attempts to revive him were abandoned by the Metro Medical Rescue Technicians, and he was declared dead on the scene. Police Services attended to the removal of his body.

WSAR conveys its sincerest condolences to the families and friends of these two men.

HAMNET in turn salutes the work of the groups of volunteers comprising WSAR who took part in rescuing or retrieving the various parties.

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