HAMNET Report 1st March 2020

By the time you hear or read this report, the HAMNET National Meeting in Division Six will have come and gone. At least one of the Directors or Deputy Directors of each HAMNET division will have attended a pow-wow with Grant Southey ZS1GS, National Director of HAMNET that started on Saturday morning, and finishes at about lunchtime today.

On the agenda are discussions about HAMNET Identity kit, Uniforms, a Member’s Portal, membership cards, the matter of training, and ideas for events and exercises.

Each region will have delivered a 10 minute feedback report, and a description of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) will have been given.

On Sunday morning, a discussion of the way forward will be held, before the delegates find their way back to their regions, full of new and enthusiastic ideas. We hope to have a report back from our Regional director, Michael ZS1MJT, at this coming Wednesday evening’s HAMNET Western Cape meeting.

From Chris Warren, a radio amateur who publishes a blog called Off Grid Ham comes interesting news of a new technology to be used in generating electricity from the Sun. He writes:

Off Grid Ham first discussed perovskite solar cells in February 2017. This still-emerging technology uses perovskite-structured crystals to pull energy from different colours of light. Silicon panels by comparison make electricity from a narrow band of light. The process for making perovskite solar is also cheaper and more environmentally friendly than silicon. Lastly, perovskite is over 25% efficient versus 13%-17% for conventional panels.

One of the components of perovskite solar is lead. As most everyone knows, lead is a heavy metal that cannot be released uncontrolled into the environment. A broken or otherwise compromised perovskite solar network is a serious contamination hazard to soil and water. This is (or rather, was) one if the biggest obstacles to making perovskite solar a real product that can be placed on the market.

“Scientists at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. have developed a plastic film that will absorb and sequester the lead in the event that the panel is compromised.

“When we’ll be able to buy perovskite solar is still not determined, but with this development that day may come a lot sooner. The benefits of perovskite cannot be oversold. When this product hits the market, it’s going to be a game changer.”

Thank you, Chris for this excerpt from your blog.

In case you fellows out there think you’re too old to learn new stuff, here’s an item from the ARRL Letter for February the 27th.

George “Buck” Miner, K6RFE, of Sun City, Arizona, has been an active ham since earning his first license in 1956, upgrading to a General-class license 10 months later. It wasn’t until January the 26th 2020, however, that he upgraded to Amateur Extra — at the age of 94.

Miner began losing his sight at a young age and became totally blind when he was 27. That never slowed him down, however. Over the intervening years, he repaired TVs and sold, repaired, and installed two-way radios. He even managed a 200-acre ranch on the northern California coast, where he fished and dived for abalone.

Miner was a local celebrity, too, producing and hosting a live radio show in Eureka, California — “Chuck Star and his Rambling Guitar” — on which he told stories, sang, and played guitar. To facilitate living alone, he learned to cook for himself and has produced several “Buck’s Miracle Kitchen” YouTube videos that humorously demonstrate how he cooks without sight.

Miner has written several books, including an autobiography, My Darkness under the Sun. He’s also composed hundreds of songs, including “CQ Boogie,” and he continues to play his guitar and sing for fun and profit!

Thanks to Bob Ringwald, K6YBV for this report.

Tom Head, writing in The South African says that concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus have intensified this week, after new cases and fatalities were reported in Europe and Africa. The fatality count is rapidly approaching the 3 000-mark, and as of Friday morning, there is confirmation that the first two South Africans to contract the illness are being treated in Japan.

The pair was working on board a cruise ship in Asia. The vessel harboured passengers who carried the disease, and it spread to crew members and fellow tourists. A further 10 South Africans have been isolated, but tested negative for coronavirus.

On Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that the government would be repatriating 132 South African nationals from Wuhan, China. The city is seen as the epicentre of the outbreak, after the first confirmed cases came from there in November. But when they arrive, a few things are going to change.

In a statement issued by the presidency, Ramaphosa’s team confirmed that the returnees will have to spend three more weeks in another isolation facility, to completely limit any chance of coronavirus spreading.

Some people who’ve been in close contact with the victims can carry the illness without suffering from it. Only when their incubation period is over can the 132 return home and resume their normal lives.

With the threat of coronavirus now hitting us very close to home, there is an increased urgency for the government to table a clear and coherent plan for dealing with this outbreak. For the first time, legal frameworks and guidelines will be established to ensure the right protocols are followed.

A lot of what changes when those exposed to coronavirus come home takes place at a government level. Greater protections will have to be put in place for medical and SANDF staff tasked with monitoring the patients. After a few domestic scares last month, more measures will be put in place to keep hospital staff healthy.

We’re likely to receive daily briefings from the Health Department once “the Wuhan Clan” returns to South Africa and receives further treatment. The news coming out of our embassy in China – amongst other communication channels – has been a little sporadic. That will change as interest intensifies in our domestic cases.

A little bit of good news gleaned from the daily statistics posted on the coronavirus dashboard is that, with the death-toll standing at 2867 on Friday evening, 14 times as many people have recovered from the disease as have died from it. As things stand now, it seems 80% of all cases will recover, 14% will need hospitalisation, another 5% will need an ICU or a ventilator, and 1% will die. So be careful with your personal hygiene, heed the advice of the health authorities and you will be alright.

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