HAMNET Report 29th March 2020

From the ARRL news and Dr Gordon Gibby, comes intriguing news that Amateur radio volunteers from around the world have volunteered to assist University of Florida Professor Sam Lampotang and his engineering team in their quest to rapidly develop an open-source, low-cost patient ventilator that can be built anywhere from such commonly available components as PVC pipe and lawn-sprinkler valves. The amateur radio volunteers are developing Arduino-based control software that will set the respiratory rate and other key parameters in treating critically ill coronavirus victims.

Multiple volunteers responding to a call for help from Gordon Gibby, MD, KX4Z, included noted software developer Jack Purdum, W8TEE, and  uBITX transceiver (micro-BITX) maker Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE. University of Florida physicians are working to address the critical legal aspects as the design moves closer to fruition.

The ventilator’s valves would precisely time compressed oxygen flow into patient breathing circuits under Arduino control, allowing exhausted patients with “stiff” lungs impacted by viral pneumonia to survive until their body can clear the infection. The software design team is also adding simple features such as an LCD display, encoders to choose parameters, and watchdog safety features.

 Thanks to Gordon Gibby, KX4Z for this report.

ARRL News further reports that The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has reported on how it’s addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, given the various restrictions in place to slow the spread of the virus. IARU said the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Headquarters in Geneva remains off limits to visitors until April 17 at the earliest. ITU has cancelled some meetings, postponed others, and converted others into online gatherings. IARU representatives are adjusting plans accordingly and following a similar pattern.

While Dayton Hamvention has cancelled its 2020 show, Europe’s largest amateur radio gathering, HAM RADIO in Friedrichshafen, Germany, is still on schedule for June 26 - 28.

IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications and Satellite Communications workshops set for May 30 – 31, in Trinidad and Tobago, will now be held online. IARU reports that interest and registrations have surged since this announcement. These workshops will be held in English, but preparations are under way for workshops in Spanish to be held later.

IARU Region 3 has cancelled its first Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) Camp that had been planned for early October in Rayong, Thailand.

World Amateur Radio Day on April 18 this year celebrates the 95th anniversary of the IARU’s founding. IARU has allowed that amateur radio “is the best way to practice social distancing.”

IARU Region 1 (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) has asked member-societies to “reconsider their position” on Field Day events over the next few months.

“Field Days bring radio amateurs together and, therefore, represent an environment where social distancing is difficult to achieve,” IARU Region 1 President Don Beattie, G3BJ, said. “We must recognize that many radio amateurs are in the older, higher-risk age groups.” IARU will not sponsor the Region 1 HF CW Field Day in June but said national societies have to make their own decisions as to whether their Field Day events will go forward.

Beattie said single-operator contests “remain a great way for those forced to stay at home to enjoy the magic of amateur radio.”

Thanks to the ARRL for these two inserts.

In the face of 1170 cases of COVID-19 reported by South Africa on Friday evening, and the news that only one of the two deaths referred to on Friday was positive for SARS CoV 2, (the younger lady that died, and her family all tested negative at the time of her death), we can draw a little hope from the fact that there are significantly more recoveries than deaths.

We know that the people who are most vulnerable to the virus are the elderly and the immune-compromised. What we didn’t take into account is that more men are dying than women.

Here’s what CNN had to say about the gender disparity:

In countries such as Italy, men represent nearly 60% of people who tested positive for the virus and more than 70% of those who have died, according to the country’s National Health Institute (ISS).

Even in countries like South Korea, where the proportion of women who have tested positive for the virus is higher than that of men, about 54% of the reported deaths are among men.

CNN teamed up with Global Health 50/50, a research institute examining gender inequality in global health, to unpack data from countries with high rates of confirmed coronavirus cases.

While it isn’t clear whether men are more likely to contract the virus, they are more likely to die from it, according to the data.

Across the countries for which we do have data – spanning nearly a quarter of the world’s population – we found that men were 50% more likely than women to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

While necessarily partial and incomplete, the results highlight what public health experts have been warning for some time, theorizing that it is not only biology but also gendered behaviours — the different ways in which men and women conduct their lives — which may play a significant role in the different mortality rate for respiratory diseases.

Men, and especially single men, are more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles. In America, for example, nearly five times more men than women smoke, and men drink almost five times as much alcohol than women.

Smokers tend to be the hardest hit, so it might be time to cut back on that habit.

It’s also not too late to start eating more veggies, and incorporating some essential vitamins and nutrients into your diet.

This is sage advice indeed, from 2oceansVIBE News.

And, as of the beginning of the weekend, we and half the world’s population (that’s three and a half billion people) are locked down wherever possible, trying to reduce the dramatic increase in numbers of cases in our countries, and “flatten the curve” so that our healthcare facilities will be able to cope with the serious cases.

America has surpassed both China and Italy, as the most infected country, but Italy’s death toll is close to 10000 as I write this. Desperate news of severe patients with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome not being able to be weaned off the respirators come from both Italy and Spain, and the sad realization is that the ONLY thing that will curb the numbers infected right now is isolation.


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