HAMNET Report 27th March 2022

Our HAMNET National Director, Grant Southey, has passed on a message received on Thursday from Carlos Nora CT1END, who holds a similar post in Portugal, referring to a large amount of seismic activity on the island of Sao Jorge, in the Azores, where a group of radio amateurs are working to prevent damage and support emergency communications in the towns of Vela and Calheta. Carlos asks us all in Region One of the IARU to be aware of, and keep clear, the frequencies they will be using, namely:

80m – 3.750 – 3.760MHz. LSB (Overnight)
40m – 7.100 – 7.110MHz. LSB (During the day)
20m – 14.300MHz. USB (For outside the region)

The mid-Atlantic island has been rattled by thousands of small earthquakes in recent days, and there are fears that the more than 10,000 tremors recorded since last Saturday could trigger a volcanic eruption or a powerful quake. About 200 of the recorded earthquakes, with a magnitude of up to 3.3, have been felt by the population.

The region’s CIVISA seismo-volcanic surveillance centre raised the volcanic alert to Level 4 on Wednesday, meaning there is a “real possibility” the volcano could erupt for the first time since 1808.

Meanwhile, the chief of the United Nations announced a project on Wednesday to put every person on Earth in range of early weather-warning systems within five years as natural disasters have grown more powerful and frequent due to climate change.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the project with the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization aims to make the alert systems already used by many rich countries available to the developing world.

“Today, one-third of the world’s people, mainly in least-developed countries and small-island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems,” Guterres said. “In Africa, it is even worse: 60% of people lack coverage.”

“This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse,” he said. “We must boost the power of prediction for everyone and build their capacity to act.”

Early warning systems allow for the monitoring of real-time atmospheric conditions at sea and on land as a way of predicting upcoming weather events — whether in cities, rural areas, mountain or coastal regions, and arid or polar locations.

Expanding their use has taken on urgency because more lead time allows people to prepare for potentially deadly disasters such as heat waves, forest fires, flooding and tropical storms that can result from climate change.

A World Meteorological Organization report on disaster statistics released last year showed that over the last half-century or so, a climate or water-related disaster has occurred daily on average, resulting in an average of 115 deaths and R2 Billion in losses a day.

The U.N., its partners and many governments are striving to reach an increasingly evasive target of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Guterres has instructed WMO, the U.N. weather agency, to push forward an “action plan” on the early warning system by the next U.N. climate conference, which is scheduled to take place in Egypt in November.

WMO plans to build on some of its existing programs like a multi-hazard alert system for hazards such as tropical cyclones, flooding and coastal inundation, as well as an early warning system that helps inform people most at risk of some kinds of disasters, the U.N. said.

Here’s a bit of history of how time zones came to be established. Did you know that it was the study of Auroras that started the search for a worldwide time system?

Astronomers and meteorologists of the 1800s worked for years to understand the auroras, wondering if they were a feature of Earth’s atmospheric weather, of outer space, or, perhaps, something that straddled the boundary in-between. In the 1870s, the man leading the quest to understand the aurora borealis was Cleveland Abbe. As a meteorologist and astronomer, he was also involved in geophysics research, and a powerful solar storm in April 1874 presented him with a unique opportunity to study the northern lights.

On April 7, 1874, one of these storms caused a particularly memorable display and Abbe jumped at the opportunity to study the aurora, hoping to learn, if possible, its altitude above the Earth, and compare it to concurrent weather phenomena and magnetic observations.

To carry out this task, Abbe needed multiple data points – in other words, he needed observations from multiple sites across the country. Luckily, due to his position as a weather prediction guru, Abbe already maintained a network of contacts across the USA who helped him gather meteorological data for his weather reports. That night, Abbe put them to work observing the northern lights instead. This team was made up of about 80 public volunteers and 20 expert observers, making this project an early example of a “citizen science collaboration”.

The project didn’t all go as planned, however. The problem, Abbe discovered, was that these volunteers, scattered as they were across the country, took their observations using their own local time systems. As a result, comparing the observations to each other in order to draw useful conclusions was frightfully difficult.

A few years later, Abbe received a letter from a Canadian railroad engineer, Sandford Fleming, who was also trying to find a way to standardize time, in his case to keep cross-continental railroads running in sync. Together, Abbe and Fleming (among others) took their idea to Congress, petitioning them to legally establish time zones in the United States. The railways adopted them first, in November 1883. A year later, an international conference held in Washington D.C. established a global prime meridian for timekeeping at Greenwich. Over the next few decades, countries around the world began adopting time zones, in some form or other, based on this meridian.

Today, time zones are ubiquitous. Their origin is often attributed to the railroads, and that’s partially true, but it’s worth remembering that time zones also grew out of the needs of curious people attempting to understand our world and its place in the Universe. Cleveland Abbe and his small group of citizen scientists, who just wanted a better way to keep time while they watched the northern lights dance overhead, literally changed the world we live in. It’s a cheerful thought, and speaks to the power of curiosity and collaboration to make a difference.

Thank you to Universetoday.com for these excerpts from their article.

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

HAMNET Report 20th March 2022

Tropical cyclone Gombe turned into a dramatic affair, as the statistics after the event bear out. GDACS reported on Wednesday that 15 fatalities had occurred in Nampula province of Mozambique, and one person in Zambezia province was still unaccounted for.

Fifty people were injured and 11 630 displaced to evacuation centres. A total of over 100 000 people were affected and 10 811 houses destroyed, while another 11 882 houses sustained damage.

Meanwhile, in Malawi, the number of fatalities due to the passage of tropical cyclone GOMBE across the Southern Region was reported as 6.

I continue to be thankful that South Africa mostly seems to escape severe punishment from weather-related disasters.

A crowd funded scheme to start transmissions of Voice of America programming material has been started up, with the idea of broadcasting in the general direction of Ukraine and Russia, using a USA-based shortwave station with callsign WRMI.

This is in addition to the two transmissions by the BBC World Service in the afternoons and evenings, also with the hope of making civilians in Ukraine and Russia aware of reasonably unbiased news reporting.

Now, under the heading of Amateur Radio Public Relations, and from the ARES letter for March the 16th, this week, comes a report that, in 2021, the Rural Radio Preparedness Association, an ARRL affiliated club and sponsoring organization of Santa Rosa County (Florida) ARES, was donated funds to purchase a cargo trailer for use in emergency communications. Several members of the ARES team donated time and money to outfit the trailer.

In addition to emergency communications, one of the main goals was to use the trailer for public education of amateur radio and on 18th to 20th February operators had that opportunity at Pensacon. Founded in 2013, Pensacon is the premiere comic book and pop culture convention serving Pensacola and the Gulf Coast. The event draws 10,000 or more people each year with guests lining up for hours for a chance to meet their favourite writer or celebrity.

Recently the ARES group was donated a 17 metre pneumatic mast that was installed on the trailer to get height for antennas. Operators attached a dual-band J-pole antenna as well as a 20 metre long end-fed long-wire antenna for HF operations. Inside the trailer is an ICOM IC-7100 transceiver connected to a laptop. Over the course of the 3-day event, operators had the opportunity to show visitors how email can be sent without a local internet connection by utilizing Winlink. Visitors were amazed that this capability existed, and many were interested in learning more.

Setting up at conventions, festivals, and other events is a great way to help promote amateur radio in your community as an avocation and for emergency communications. If your club or ARES [think HAMNET] team has resources available, reach out to event organizers to see if you could set up a booth or your team’s communications trailer. Most events allow volunteer organizations to set up for free. While you’re at it, see if their event could benefit from volunteer communicators. Before committing, be sure that you have enough volunteers to support the event.

Thanks to the ARES letter for the suggestion.

The Times of India reported on March the 16th that a field operation on how to use amateur radio when all other communications are down, especially during natural calamities or other disasters, was held at NITK Surathkal. It was organised by the NITK Amateur Radio Facility, radio call sign VU2REC, in collaboration with Mangalore Amateur Radio Club, at the NITK Beach, [and] concluded on Sunday.

This event was a part of the ARSI Field Day Contest organised by the Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI), where VU2REC is also a corporate life member.
Such field events help in keeping the amateur radio volunteers ready for emergency communication that may be deployed during disaster relief operations.

Licenced amateur radio volunteers from Mangalore, Manipal and Udupi participated in this special field event. The focus was on deploying emergency communication stations in the HF range of the radio spectrum, which is typically suited for establishing point-to-point or point-to-multipoint communication across the globe, without relying on any type of service provider or agency. Such stations are self-sufficient, and do not rely on any support infrastructure. The beach location provided a natural setting, where electricity and shelters were absent, thereby simulating a minimalistic environment, to be one with the elements.

In light of the fact that a radio amateur in America was arrested in February on charges of broadcasting false weather emergencies such as tornado warnings, as well as threatening other operators who requested him to stop, PAhomepage notes that false information shared in this manner could reach many listeners.

Thankfully the airwaves are well regulated and these situations are rare. HAM radio is still a great backup for emergency situations.

Bob Folmar, a radio amateur in Sweet Valley, Luzerne County says that cell towers go down, due to hurricanes, floods and things like that. When they do go down ham radio operators are ready to help coordinate with local agencies as soon as they can.

Amateur radio operators can therefore provide vital backup communications for emergency service providers, when systems fail. The false weather warnings of the arrested ham are especially dangerous in these times of fake news.

The ARRL publication QST subsequently carried a report that the ham in question was found guilty of the contravention and given an appropriate punishment.

Finally, it seems a few HAMNET members around the country think that the hour-long HAMNET bulletin I transmit in the Western Cape on a Wednesday evening at 19h30 Bravo, is worth re-transmitting. [This just goes to prove that you can fool some of the people some of the time!]

Tony Mayall ZS5GR takes the news bulletin off Echolink at ZS1DCC-R, and retransmits it around KZN, and now Danie van der Merwe ZS1OSS tells me he is receiving it on an Open WebRx SDR receiver on the correct frequency, so you can listen by pointing your browser at https://bit.ly/hamnetwcbulletin . The bulletin goes out every Wednesday of the month except the first one, when HAMNET WC holds its member’s meeting, either at the Provincial Emergency Management Centre at Tygerberg Hospital, or (previously) virtually on the jit.si platform. We hope that further waves of Covid will not force us to hold meetings virtually again.

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

HAMNET Report 13th March 2022

By Tuesday this week, GDACS was starting to warn us of the arrival of Tropical Cyclone GOMBE, travelling like its two predecessors from East to West, mild in effect as it swept over the Northern tip of Madagascar, but gaining strength as it approached the coast of the Northern half of Mozambique.

At that stage wind speeds of 120km/h or higher were forecast, and about a quarter of a million people in its path threatened. By Wednesday, a red alert had been issued and the path of the storm was predicted to affect 1.3 million people

It was forecast to cross the coast of Mozambique midmorning on Friday, with maximum sustained wind speeds of up to 210km/h, and advance inland in a westerly direction. Very heavy rainfall, strong winds and storm surges were forecast over northern and central Mozambique until tomorrow the 14th.

Meanwhile, the Sun put on a magnificent display on Thursday the 10th, when it generated a coronal mass ejection which erupted from the sun throughout its 360 degree circumference. The Solarham.net website reports that a full halo coronal mass ejection (CME) observed on March 10th following a filament eruption has been modelled by NOAA/SWPC. They are predicting an almost direct passage past Earth by late on March 13th (this afternoon), and into the 14th (UTC). Aurora sky watchers should be alert later this weekend as Minor (G1) to Moderate (G2) geomagnetic storming may be possible once it arrives. Radio amateurs can also be alerted to higher Planetary K indices, resulting in radio blackouts or at the least poor conditions.

Solarham.net is managed by Kevin VE3EN, and he has updated all aspects of solar physics every day for at least 15 years. He posts pretty impressive pictures and graphics of solar status, and of course forecasts, for the coming few days. He does not do YouTube videos like Dr Tamitha Skov (spaceweatherwoman.com), but provides a far wider range of science than she is able to do in her 10 minute videos.

If you watch both of these sites every day, you will very quickly gain a great understanding into the way the sun makes, or spoils, our day for us!

Here’s a sensible story from Fort Bragg and Mendocino County in California. Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that the Redwood Coast Seniors facility in Fort Bragg now has both an amateur radio station and an amateur radio repeater covering the North Coast Area.

The advantage of amateur radio of course is that it works even when the phone, cell service, and internet are down. These radios link to the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the local sheriff’s department, and since the Senior Centre has its own generator, this amateur radio communications facility can operate when power, phone, and internet are unavailable.

The most recent addition is the repeater, previously housed in a private residence. Jonathan Peakall and Dennis Kelly, long-time amateur radio licensees, and John Skinner from the Senior Centre installed the equipment and the antenna last month. “This is a great location for the repeater, and we are pleased that the Senior Centre can host it for the community,” says Peakall.

In the autumn of 2017, when the area had its devastating fires, the communications facility at Laughlin Peak was destroyed twice. There was no phone, cell service, or internet for two days, and limited to fire and police radio only in the central part of the county. Amateur radio operators provided communications during that emergency. Since coastal Mendocino County can be cut off in case of earthquake, fire, flood, or tsunami, it is essential that they can communicate with the outside world. The Fort Bragg Senior Centre is a part of that communication.

Those of you old timers who used to enjoy chasing broadcast stations on shortwave, will listen with nostalgia as I tell you that BBC World Service has started broadcasts for 4 hours per day in the general direction of Ukraine and Russia.

Fearing that biased news only may be getting through to the populace of both countries, and knowing that its websites with hopefully factual news had been taken down in Russia, the BBC World Service has started transmissions between 2 and 4pm local time in Ukraine on 15735 KHz, and between 8 and 10pm local time on 5875 KHz. Languages used will be both Ukrainian and Russian, and it seems the transmission will be made from Germany, aiming eastwards.

Now, from UniverseToday, we hear that NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon brought back about 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of samples, including rocks, rock cores, rock, pebbles, sand, and dust. Scientists have studied those samples intently over the decades and have learned a lot. But they haven’t studied all of the samples.

In an impressive act of foresight, NASA left some of the samples unopened and in pristine condition. Why? Because they knew the technology used to study the samples would only improve over the decades.

Apollo 17 was NASA’s final Apollo mission and the last of six that made it to the Moon and back. The mission returned to Earth with its samples just over 50 years ago. The three astronauts on that mission were Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt. Schmitt was a geologist and the only scientist ever to visit the Moon. The crew collected about 115 kg (254 lb) of lunar samples, the largest payload collected by any Apollo Mission.

Apollo 17 landed in the Taurus-Littrow Valley on the eastern edge of Mare Serenitatis. The mission had two main geological objectives: to obtain samples of ancient rocks from the lunar highlands and to look for evidence of young volcanic activity on the valley floor.

The astronauts put the samples in Special Environmental Sample Containers. The containers have seals to protect the enclosed sample from atmospheric gases prior to being opened in a vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Centre.

Fifty years have passed since Apollo 17 returned to Earth, and NASA has decided that now is the time to open the last remaining unopened lunar sample from the Apollo Program. The Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA) will unseal the sample. ANGSA is a team of scientists whose goal is to “… maximize the science derived from samples returned by the Apollo Program in preparation for future lunar missions anticipated in the 2020s and beyond.”

This foresight to have previously untouched moon samples to examine 50 years later is certainly to be commended.

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

HAMNET Report 30th January 2022

As mentioned last week, Tonga has been in a cleft-stick situation, needing aid from the world after their devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami disaster, but finding that all the nearby countries that can bring aid have sailors on board their ships suffering currently from COVID-19.

Two New Zealand warships were due to dock and unload their supplies without making any person-to-person contact with the Tongans, and now an Australian warship has also found 29 sufferers in its crew on their way to assist. So they will also offload their supplies, and leave immediately.

In turn, Tonga will leave the supplies on the harbour untouched for 3 days, to allow any viral contamination to die out before they will even consider coming near the supplies. Given that they have had one patient with COVID so far, the nation is totally naïve to the virus, and Omicron will burn through the population like wildfire if it gets a chance.

The volcano has burped and rumbled apparently since the original eruption, but not repeated its original outburst. Here’s hoping.

I mentioned Tropical Cyclone ANA last week, crossing Madagascar and then the Mozambique Channel to damage the East coast of Southern Africa.

Well, by Friday of this week, GDACS was reporting that, following the passage of the storm over Madagascar, at least 41 people had died there, more than 110,000 people were affected in seven regions and almost 72,000 were displaced. 90 accommodation sites were hosting 55,859 persons. The Analamanga region remains the epicentre of the damage, where 8,927 housing units were flooded.

In Mozambique, some 45,400 people were affected, 99 people injured and 15 people died. A total of 7,315 private houses were partially destroyed, and 2,765 totally destroyed. 12 health centres and 346 classrooms have been damaged, which impacted 27,383 students.

And, in Malawi, at least 11 people died, 107 were injured and nearly 217,000 people affected. In Chikwawa district, 10,159 people are hosted in 44 camps. Major identified needs are: food, clean water, shelter, health system support, and reconstruction of affected infrastructure.

As of Friday, no major impact was reported in Zimbabwe, but reports of infrastructure damage had been received.

All in all, this was no minor storm.

Coming from Honolulu, Hawaii News Now reports that the state has partnered with the Hawaii Foodservice Alliance to launch the first-ever “disaster recovery pod” to hold a stockpile of food in case of emergencies.

Officials said what they called the “pre-covery pod” can hold about 135,000 meals for vulnerable communities in the event a natural disaster shuts down ports.

The insulated storage container, in which food can be stored for up to 25 years, will be able to feed residents while supply chains are being restored.

“This gives us a really long shelf life. If you don’t have to use it, we don’t have to keep paying for resupply,” said Jennifer Walter of the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management.

“So, the most important thing is that it’s in place before something happens and we’re not waiting days or weeks for those resources to come in.”

The Hawaii Foodservice Alliance said it plans to donate the first pre-covery pod to the Waianae community where it will be maintained by the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Centre.

The company said it hopes the pod will be one of many that will be placed in various locations throughout the state.

What a good idea, provided of course that the storage for 25 years is hygienic and safe.

Here’s a nice story about a QRP operator who is nothing if not tenacious. From August 5, 1994, to December 20, 2021 — a span of nearly 10,000 days — ARRL member John Shannon, K3WWP, of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, made at least one CW contact per day while running 5 W or less to simple wire antennas. That includes one that’s in his attic.

Over the course of said 10,000 days, Shannon made 72,190 contacts with 20,098 unique stations. For at least 2,099 of his contacts, his signal travelled 1,600 or more kilometres per W, while another 24,098 were DX contacts made in 224 DXCC entities. He contacted all 50 states “many times over” — he made 3,819 contacts with stations in Pennsylvania alone, and 63 contacts with stations in Wyoming.

Shannon reports that the DX country he contacted most often was Germany, with 1,934 contacts. By continent, his contact totals ranged from 52,639 with stations in North America to 325 with stations in Oceania, plus 18 with stations in Antarctica. The number of contacts he made on each band used includes 19,279 on 40 meters; 15,459 on 20 meters; 28 on 60 meters, and 39 on 6 meters.

Within his first UTC hour of operation each day, Shannon logged nearly 73% of his daily contacts.

He also experienced a DX streak from March 1, 2013 through to August 1, 2018, which was a total of 1,980 days. During this time, he contacted at least one DX station per day.

Shannon said that the greatest satisfaction he’s derived from his operating streak is that other hams express that he inspired their interest in, and enjoyment of CW and/or QRP operating. Shannon said his streak is not over. He intends to continue making daily contacts for 11,000 or 12,000 days.

Thanks to the ARRL letter of this week for the excerpt. I can almost see all the CW operators in this country fist-pumping in the air, as I report on this!

And a weekly report back on WSJT, or rather JWST. The space telescope arrived at Lagrange point 2 on Monday evening, our time, and was directed to go into a little circular orbit around that spot, so that its solar panels on the “hot” underbelly of the telescope are mostly bathed in sunlight, allowing batteries to be charged.

For the next several months the angle of each of the 18 little hexagonal mirrors will be tweaked, so that they all reflect infrared exactly on to the same spot on the secondary mirror, and thence down through the hole in the middle of the primary mirror and into the sensor equipment area, behind the primary.

While this is on the go, the electronics in the sensor area will be cooled down from wherever they are now to about -266 degrees Celsius (or 7 degrees Kelvin), with the help of the Helium cooling unit, and then calibration of the instruments can begin.

Nerve-wracking stuff for the radio-astronomers, for whom no one single thing must go wrong now.

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

HAMNET Report 6th March 2022

From Australia we hear that, following extensive floods that continue to affect south-eastern Queensland and coastal New South Wales, the number of fatalities stands at 14 people.

According to media, around 500,000 people across Greater Sydney Area have been ordered to evacuate, as the Hawkesbury River reached major flood level at North Richmond. More than 300 schools in New South Wales remain closed and households along the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo Rivers have experienced power outages.

Water releases are occurring from several dams across south-eastern Queensland and eastern New South Wales, including those in Greater Sydney Area.

These are the areas of Australia currently experiencing the highest COVID numbers, so this is a double disaster for them.

Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ, our Deputy National Director of HAMNET, has sent out a message this week reminding all of the HAMNET 40m contest this afternoon the 6th March. He asks all regional directors to encourage their members to get on the air. It is a great opportunity to test out their stations and check out the propagation as well.

He notes that details of the contest are in the Contest Manual for easy reference, and hopes to make contact with many HAMNET members this afternoon.

Coincidentally, my Grandson turns two today, and I wouldn’t miss the candles and the cake this afternoon for anything! Happy Birthday, James!

The ARRL Letter of March the 3rd notes that Radio amateurs in Ukraine appear to be diligently maintaining radio silence as the state of emergency declared there just prior to the Russian military invasion remains in effect. A February 24 decree from President Volodymyr Zelensky included “a ban on the operation of amateur radio transmitters for personal and collective use.” The Ukraine Amateur Radio League (UARL/LRU) reported this past week that it has received many messages of encouragement from the worldwide amateur radio community.

“The LRU informed international amateur radio organizations about Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine,” said the message from UARL Vice President Anatoly Kirilenko, UT3UY. “To date, there have been many reports from radio amateurs around the world in support of Ukraine.”

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has adopted a neutral stance. “IARU is an apolitical organization focused on promoting and defending amateur radio and the amateur radio services,” the IARU said. “The amateur radio service is about self-instruction in communications and friendship between people.” IARU Region 1 has said it continues to monitor the development and expect all radio amateurs “to follow their national laws and regulations.”

IARU Region 1 also re-posted part of an advisory from the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club HF Committee on February 27. “Any radio amateur currently transmitting from Ukraine is risking his or her life. If you hear a Ukrainian station, do not broadcast its call sign, location, or frequency – whether on the band, in a cluster, or on social media. You may be putting lives at risk.” The DARC’s overarching advice is: “In the current situation, the best we can do is listen.”

Ukraine’s assigned amateur radio call sign prefixes include EMA – EOZ and the more commonplace URA – UZZ. Some stations with Ukrainian call signs may still be active, since an exception to the amateur radio ban was made for stations in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine (eastern Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), which have special legal status owing to Russia’s occupation since 2014.

The same Letter from the ARRL refers to work done in Spain. Their IARU member society URE reports that extensive work is underway to make URESAT-1 available before the end of the year. If all goes according to plan, URESAT-1 will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in October 2022.

URE says URESAT-1 is based on the architecture used in the AMSAT-EA GENESIS, EASAT-2, and HADES missions but with significant improvements, such as a 32-bit computer, and enhancements in the deployment mechanism, antennas, and batteries. URESAT-1 will carry a VHF/UHF FM ham radio repeater as well as digipeating capability of AX.25 and APRS. URE says the payload is not yet defined but could be the same slow-scan television (SSTV) camera that flies in HADES, a thruster, or some kind of experiment. One confirmed project is a chess game that will allow radio amateurs to play against the on-board computer via FSK telemetry.

Several radio amateurs are working on the project, and if it is completed by the time the satellite is due to be delivered, it will be included. URE has created a blog in Spanish, where the status of the project is being reported.

So for those of you who know your knights from your rooks, this might be good fun!

Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that 22 stations representing 14 countries in IARU Region 1 took part in a short notice exercise using the geostationary satellite QO-100 amateur radio transponder on 26th February.

IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Co-Ordinator Greg Mossop G0DUB has posted:

“This was the first of a number of smaller exercises, tests and meetings to be held by IARU Region 1 throughout the year, building on the earlier Global Simulated Emergency Tests to cover as many aspects of emergency communications as possible.

“The intention is to bring emergency communicators together more frequently to demonstrate how the Amateur Radio Service can work together as a global community and develop a common understanding of each other’s’ capabilities.

The exercise on QO-100 was felt to be a success with a number of formal messages being passed between stations along with some learning from the inevitable challenges of equipment failures, language barriers and co-ordination of an exercise whose coverage area extends from South Africa to the United Kingdom. Once all the exercise feedback is received, the next test on that system is planned to take place in October this year.

QO-100 brings another asset to the emergency communications toolbox in Region 1 and its presence is much appreciated.

It is hoped that all South African HAMNET regions will soon be equipped with QO-100 capable stations to be able to benefit fully from these exercises.

This is Grandpa-saurus Dave ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.