HAMNET Report 23rd May 2021

I’m sure that you, like me have been stunned this week to hear of the large number of civilian casualties incurred in this week’s hostilities between Israel and fighters operating out of Gaza. It is appalling to realize that it is impossible for two enemy forces, no matter which side you support, to engage with each other, without placing the lives and possessions of local civilians in jeopardy.

We have witnessed physical damage to buildings, roads and vehicles, heard reports of civilian men women and children being killed in collateral damage inflicted, and learned that hundreds of thousands of local populace have been displaced or had their homes destroyed during the offensives.

Let us hope that the flimsy cease-fire that went into effect midnight on Thursday can be made to last.

On the other side of the globe, GDACS has reported at least three major earthquakes in China since midday Friday, local time. The first was a Magnitude 6 quake at a depth of 10km very close to the Myanmar border, at 13h48 local time. There was limited public danger as a result of this one. A minute or so later a Magnitude 6.1 shock at the same epicenter, close to the Myanmar border was experienced. Population exposed this time was 423000, because the Richter scale is a logarithmic scale, and a decimal point in magnitude makes for a much stronger quake. The third quake was even stronger, a magnitude 7.4 version at 18h00 on Friday, but in a less densely populated area, and not threatening as many people.

At the time of compiling this bulletin, news of casualties had not filtered through, and I sincerely hope there weren’t any.

And, remarking on the double disaster in India this week, a blogger writing in the Times of India notes that Cyclone Tuaktae of the week was similar to Cyclone Amphan which hit Bengal last year. In both cases, disruptions were huge, but worse this time around, because of the huge Covid surge, with Cyclone Tauktae seriously disrupting operations at Covid hospitals that already have a high patient load, disrupting oxygen supply logistics, hitting vaccine cold storage, and raising the risk of Covid infection in evacuation shelters in the affected states.

In such a scenario, Central Disaster Relief has assured all help to the cyclone-hit states, including deployment of central forces and NDRF teams. This is welcome and all necessary assistance should be made available. However, over the long term, our disaster response systems need to be prepared to operate in multi-crises situations. For Covid may not be the last pandemic we see in our lifetimes with zoonotic diseases on the rise. Same is the case with climate change and the increasing frequency of natural disasters. Therefore, appropriate Standard Operating Procedures need to be developed to manage natural disasters in pandemic situations and other multi-crises events. The lessons from this pandemic period must not be forgotten.

The competitive swimmers amongst you will be interested to know that a one-way communications system has been developed so that coaches may talk to their swimmers while they’re in the water, without having to shout to be heard.

The Sonr system is designed to address that problem, using one-way radio communications. Invented by swimmer and entrepreneur Dmitri Voloshin, Sonr is manufactured by Moldovan company Simpal.

The system consists of two parts – a walkie-talkie held by the coach, and a waterproof bone conduction speaker/receiver worn by the swimmer. The latter device is slightly buoyant – so it will float if it comes off – and can be worn either under a swimming cap or clipped to the wearer’s goggles strap.

In order to provide the swimmer with feedback or instructions, the coach simply speaks into the walkie-talkie, with his/her voice being transmitted to the athlete’s receiver in real time. The system has a lateral range of 300 metres, plus its signal can travel up to 1 metre underwater.

Additionally, by selecting different frequencies, one coach can speak to as many as 30 swimmers at once. That said, they can still select any one of those people – or small sub-groups of them – and talk to them individually. The system can also be set to act as a metronome, providing audio signals that help swimmers time the pace of their strokes.

Thanks to NewAtlas for that information. The technique is so obvious that I’m having difficulty understanding why someone hasn’t thought of the idea before! I don’t know whether it can be used during a sports competition, but I expect the instructions would have to be encrypted to prevent other competitors from benefitting from opponent’s communications, if that were the case.

The annual American National Hurricane Centre station on-the-air test will be held on Saturday, May 29, 13h00 – 21h00 UTC. The WX4NHC operators plan to be working remotely again this year as the National Hurricane Centre plans to maintain all CDC COVID-19 pandemic protocols until the end of 2021. The yearly exercise takes place just ahead of the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, June 1 – November 30. Assistant WX4NHC Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, said the event offers an opportunity for radio amateurs worldwide to exercise the sorts of communication capabilities available during severe weather.

“We will be making brief contacts on many frequencies and modes, and exchanging signal reports and basic weather data (sun, rain, temperature, etc.) with any station in any location,” Ripoll said.

Participating stations may use HF, VHF, UHF, APRS, and Winlink, with WX4NHC HF activity centring on the Hurricane Watch Net frequencies of 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz, depending on propagation, and will operate elsewhere as conditions dictate. WX4NHC will also participate in the VoIP Hurricane Net, 20h00 – 21h00 UTC.

As for the upcoming hurricane season, Ripoll said, “Even if you are not directly affected by a hurricane situation, please volunteer to monitor and relay reports; just one report can make a difference and help save a life!”

Thank you to the ARRL letter for May the 20th for this insert.

May I end with an impassioned plea to all who are eligible, to register to be vaccinated against COVID as soon as possible? This disease is not going to go away until a majority of about 70% of us have either had it or been vaccinated against it.

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