HAMNET Report 3rd November 2019

Brian Jacobs, ZS6YZ reports that the Carnival City Macsteel Cycle Race took place over the weekend of 26th and 27th October 2019.

HAMNET Gauteng South was tasked with handling the communications for the event.

On Saturday 26th October, the Mountain Bike Race was run, starting and finishing at Carnival City. The Mountain Bike Race normally does not require too many resources and the team that handled the race consisted of Pieter ZS6PHS, Diederich ZS6DVL, Ettienne ZS6ET, Channette ZS6CAC, Neil ZS6NBX, Neil ZS6CKC, Henry ZS6IIX who ran the JOC, and Leon ZS6LMG. Even though it rained during the event, the day was successfully completed with no major mishaps.

Sunday 27th October saw a much larger team converging on Carnival City around 04:00 in the morning to set up the JOC and attend the briefing session at 05:15. The team was now Leon ZS6LMG, Linda ZS6LML, Johan ZS6DMX, Pieter ZS6PHS, Diederich ZS6DVL, Hannes ZS6EMS, Ettienne ZS6ET, Channette ZS6CAC, Neil ZS6CKC, Eugene ZS6ECJ, Brian ZS6YZ Don ZS6SSR, and Henry ZS6IIX.

Linda, Channette and Henry were responsible for handling all communications at the JOC, while the rest of the team manned the four water points, the 4 way stop on the Heidelberg road where the long and short routes split and later joined again, and the various roaming duties, such as following the lead cyclists, and responding to incidents along the route. Radio communications proved challenging at times including interference on the UHF repeater and keyed microphones being sat on. Despite these challenges the day was successfully completed with the HAMNET team sweeping the route and ensuring that even the last cyclist safely made it back to the finish.

Brian thanks all who participated and helped to make the event a success.

Now, here’s an unusual service that Amateur Radio can provide. News10 reports that local amateur radio operators will be staked out at bridges and overpasses over the Thruway across the Capital Region of New York State this Halloween.

The volunteers are trying to deter kids and young adults from throwing pumpkins on to traffic. Several cars and trucks have been hit in the past, causing injuries and car wrecks.

Hundreds of ham radio operators throughout the region are working with Troop T of the New York State Police to patrol those areas.

Episode 24 of TX Factor is a Hamfest 2019 special, reporting on some of the eye-catching products and services on display at this year’s event in Newark, says Southgate Amateur Radio News.

The videoblog investigates the current state of HF propagation, and celebrates 50 years of Nevada Radio, while Mike G1IAR tries out a few solder stations, and Bob G0FGX goes all soft over the Vintage Military Amateur Radio Society’s vintage AM radios.

And to cap it all, there’s a demonstration of the latest rig from Yaesu.

Google TX Factor, or search for it on YouTube, to view the programme.

MyBroadBand reports that South African car thieves are using sophisticated hardware and techniques to bypass vehicle security systems and steal cars in minutes.

A recent report from IOL detailed how a criminal syndicate in Durban used diagnostic key readers to steal cars that use transponder or chip keys.

After a spate of car thefts in the last few weeks, the police and the Amanzimtoti Community Crime Prevention Organisation (CPPO) arrested four men they suspected were behind the incidents.

The police also seized a load of car theft tools, which included 15 computer boxes, 35 ignition switches, and a walkie-talkie capable of scanning police radio frequencies.

Since the 1990s, many cars have used transponder or chip keys linked to their on-board diagnostics computers.

These keys contain a computer chip which is used for authentication. Once plugged into the ignition, the Engine Control Unit (ECU) transmits a code to the key.

A key with the correct code will respond with a message to the ECU that allows the car to start.

To program these keys, a number of diagnostic devices have been developed, which can be used to extract data from the vehicle’s computer box.

Variations of the devices are used by locksmiths to copy keys for customers who need to replace a lost key or remote.

It is worrying to note, however, that these devices can easily be purchased online.

A security company based in Gauteng told MyBroadband that car thieves in the province have been caught using similar techniques.

One of these techniques involves using old on-board diagnostic computer boxes.

The thieves pull these boxes from old vehicles in scrap yards or grab them from cars stolen in an earlier incident.

They then use the diagnostic key reader to extract data from the computer box and use this information to recode a stolen or purchased programmable key to link with the particular box.

When the criminals head out to find potential targets, they take the reprogrammed key and linked computer box with them.

Once they break into a car, they quickly switch out the installed computer box with their reprogrammed hardware.

After this is done, the reprogrammed key can be used to start the ignition, lock or unlock doors, and control the alarms.

If the criminals struggle to replace the computer box, they also often have a set of different ignition switches on hand.

Replacing the car’s ignition switch with their own simply allows them to use a key that already fits into the switch.

The security company added that police often find illegally-acquired hand-held radios in the possession of car thieves..

Certain versions of these devices are capable of receiving transmissions on radio frequency bands dedicated to emergency services like the police.

Purchasing one of these radios usually requires an amateur radio licence, but the security company noted that these could easily be bought illegally from several shops.

The report also has pictures of a collection of keys, computer boxes, ignition switches and hand-helds that were seized in Amanzimtoti.

Finally, HAMNET South Africa would like to congratulate the South African rugby team on winning the Rugby World Cup yesterday. It was a hard-fought final, and a fine end to a very entertaining rugby competition.

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