HAMNET Report 28th June 2020

Southgate Amateur Radio News says that the Radio Amateur Society of Australia is pleased to announce the release of a new E-magazine for Amateur Radio in Australia.

The magazine, QTC, named after the Q-code “I have a message for you” will be published every two months.

In this first issue of QTC, they have news and updates about regulations, and information on their 60m submission in response to the ACMA’s Consultation paper. There’s a “Getting started” regular column, with this issue covering HF DX-ing.

There’s also a regular column on how you can deal with QRM and RFI in your shack. This month they have a feature technical article on 3-Phase Power Converters.

QTC may be downloaded from https://vkradioamateurs.org/qtc-e-magazine/

In passing, this first issue is free to download, and there is a link in the editorial to ask to be added to the distribution list. I have done so and await confirmation.

Here is news of some interesting benevolence in this troubled world. Business Insider says that Sergey Brin, Google’s cofounder and the eighth-richest person, has a secret disaster-response team, according to The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast’s investigation found Brin was the sole donor to a disaster charity called Global Support and Development (GSD). The Daily Beast identified Brin as the company’s sole donor through a California court filing.

The company’s staff, almost half of whom are ex-military, are deployed to disaster areas to clear debris and use high-tech solutions to assist victims. GSD is headed up by Grant Dawson, an ex-naval lieutenant who was on Brin’s personal security detail for years.

The idea for GSD was apparently sparked in 2015 when captain of Brin’s superyacht “Dragonfly” was sailing past Vanuatu, which had just been hit by Cyclone Pam. The captain contacted Brin to ask if anything could be done to help and Brin then got in touch with Dawson.

Dawson said in a speech in 2019 about GSD: “So I grabbed a number of Air Force para-rescue guys I’d been affiliated with from the security world, and a couple of corpsmen out of the Seal teams … We raided every Home Depot and pharmacy we could find and on about 18 hours’ notice, we launched.”

The Daily Beast reported that GSD now has 20 full-time staffers, plus about 100 contractors working for it.

The Daily Beast said that, like at Google, GSD’s employees enjoy perks, including strawberry ice cream and fresh laundry aboard a superyacht while working in disaster areas. In addition to military-trained staff, the charity has access to sophisticated technology including drones and sonar mapping.

Since 2015, GSD has assisted during several disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. Now the company says it is lending a hand during the coronavirus pandemic by helping set up testing in California.

Philanthropy of this nature is always gratifying to hear of. May it long continue!

Bloomberg is reporting that Japan natural disaster evacuation plans need an overhaul as the country heads into its rainy season, experts warned, saying crowded conditions could spark coronavirus clusters that grow into another wave of infections.

The period of heavy precipitation, which typically triggers floods and landslides — often forcing hundreds of people to take shelter together in gymnasiums — has already settled in in some parts of Japan. Failure to prepare, risks reigniting the disease, just as cases decline across most of the country and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to remove more restrictions and help the ailing economy.

“If a lot of people gather in a small evacuation centre and somebody is infected, a cluster will occur and the infection will spread,” said Ichiro Matsuo, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo centre for integrated disaster information research.

Matsuo compared conditions in shelters to those aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, where the virus quickly spread to more than a quarter of the crew. Singapore’s foreign worker dormitories have posed a similar problem, representing more than 90% of the Southeast Asian city-state’s confirmed coronavirus cases.

Japan was the country most affected by extreme weather events in 2018, according to Germanwatch, a non-profit organization that tracks global climate risks. The rainy season, which generally ends in mid-July, is followed by typhoons, which have become more damaging and unpredictable as the climate changes. Earthquake evacuees often need to shelter away from home for long periods, worsening the health risks.

Of course, Japan isn’t the only country experiencing severe rainy weather. GDACS reported Friday on flooding, in Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, European Georgia, Norway, Poland, Republic of Serbia, Romania, and India, and a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in southern Oaxaca State in Mexico. All these countries have reported some casualties in their flood reports.

Now HAMNET Regions 3 and 4 are the organisers of this year’s HAMNET Winter Exercise, to take place over the weekend of 29th and 30th August. This is not a contest, and there will be no winner. The organiser’s booklet has been released, and the idea is that, within the confines of the COVID-19 lockdown protocols current at the time, each HAMNET region should have at least one participating team, consisting of a VHF station located in an urban setting, and an HF team, in contact with them, but situated out of town, where QRM is less likely to interfere with communications. No list of teams or their coordinates will be issued, and the idea is that each team waste no time in finding out who is out there, and what frequencies they are capable of. Then the Exercise Director will start sending emails at various times to the VHF teams with specific tasks that will need to be executed, and the results relayed to another region by HF, to be logged back on to the internet by the receiving VHF station.

And to make it more interesting, there may be no use of the electricity grid for any of the tasks, on the internet, in town, or out of town. Not even to cook, or provide lighting. Battery, solar, vehicular or generator power is permitted however.

Slap bang in the middle of winter, it should be an interesting weekend!

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