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.