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.