HAMNET Report 13th November 2022

Emerging from a landscape torn apart by flooding and surge winds during the two worst tropical cyclones Mozambique has ever faced, the Government of Mozambique and its partners have placed disaster-risk-reduction at the core of its agenda. African nations gathered in Maputo earlier this year to hold climate talks ahead of COP27 which kicks off in Sharm el-Sheikh today.

Reliefweb.int reports that, more than ever, resilient telecommunications capability in the face of disasters is critical.

In times of crisis, amateur radio communications play a vital role. Ham radio provides a lifeline to assistance, information, and emergency coordination.

The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), the World Food Programme’s Technology division in Mozambique, and the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction, have supported the National Institute of Communications in Mozambique (INCM) to set up a prototype ham station in Maputo, capable of reaching any location in the country.

More ham radio stations will follow across Pemba, Beira, Niassa, Lichinga, Tete, Zambezia and Inhambane provinces.

“Together, we assessed the needs and drafted a national action plan for telecommunications preparedness in Mozambique. Setting up a ham radio network complete with licensing and capacity building is one of 18 planned projects,” said Sudhir Kumar, ETC Preparedness Officer.

Already, 12 key responders from the INCM have been trained in using ham frequencies and equipped with licences to use amateur radio – a first for Mozambique. Previously, certification for Mozambicans was only possible to obtain from neighbouring South Africa, or even further afield.

Now, any responder with a license can join the disaster resilience movement via amateur radio.

“Ham operators are volunteers and can take their equipment and set up base in a government office or response staging area and provide communications from there. This makes amateur radio particularly useful in an emergency,” said Kumar.

Mozambique’s young people, who account for more than half the country’s population, are gearing up to join these telecommunications preparedness efforts.

In the aftermath of cyclones Idai and Kenneth, young people in Mozambique faced devastating hardships. In the districts of Chimanimani, Chipinge and Mutare, 60 percent of those impacted by the disaster were children. Across the country, thousands of classrooms were damaged or destroyed and the education of half a million children and young people was disrupted.

Students of electronics and communications engineering at the ‘Instituto Superior de Transportes e Comunicações‘, a college in Maputo, will join a planned workshop delivered by the ETC and WFP Mozambique on using amateur radio in the context of disaster response.

I expect South African Emcom operators will hear these stations on the air from time to time.

Amateur radio operators will join a powerful international network tracking NASA’s Orion spacecraft after it launches to the moon this month.

NASA officials announced that a network of 18 volunteers, organizations and space agencies will help track Artemis 1. Artemis 1 will carry an unmanned Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit on a Space Launch System rocket (SLS) launched from Earth. The shortest start date is November 14th. That is tomorrow.

NASA officials said selected volunteers, including two members of the radio amateur community, “will receive Orion’s signals and use their respective ground antennas to passively track and measure changes in the signals transmitted by Orion. We will prove that it can be done.

“These measurements will be taken during three different phases of Orion’s approximately 25-day mission: on the journey to the moon, during orbit of the moon, and during the journey back to Earth,” said the agency official.

NASA collected suggestions in a Request for Information published in August. Data collected from participants will be transmitted to the agency’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program. The goal is to improve tracking information for future deep-space missions.

Thank you to the website bollyinside.com for excerpts from their report.

ARRL News reports that Amateur radio emergency communications volunteers have been busy preparing for another potential hurricane as Tropical Storm Nicole crossed the Atlantic.

As of 4 PM EST (2100 UTC) on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, the NWS National Hurricane Centre (NHC) was tracking Tropical Storm Nicole about 90km east of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, and 200km east of West Palm Beach, Florida. With maximum sustained winds near 120km/h, the large tropical storm was expected to become a hurricane as it headed to Florida that night, where 45 counties were under a State of Emergency.

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM EST on their primary frequency of 14.325 MHz. The net disseminates the latest NHC advisories, and obtains real-time ground-level weather conditions and initial damage assessments from amateur radio operators in the affected area, and relays that information to the National Hurricane Centre (WX4NHC). Activation on their 40-metre net on 7.268 MHz began at 4:00 PM EST. The nets were expected to remain active on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz for as long as propagation allowed or until their services were no longer required.

Thanks to the ARRL for this summary of Hurricane Watch activity.

Nature.com says that, for astronomers who are sighted, the Universe is full of visual wonders. From shimmering planets to sparkling galaxies, the cosmos is spectacularly beautiful. But those who are blind or visually impaired cannot share that experience. So astronomers have been developing alternative ways to convey scientific information, such as using 3D printing to represent exploding stars, and sound to describe the collision of neutron stars.

On Friday, the journal Nature Astronomy published the latest in a series of articles on the use of sonification in astronomy. Sonification describes the conversion of data (including research data) into digital audio files, which allows them to be heard, as well as read and seen. The researchers featured in Nature Astronomy show that sound representations can help scientists better to identify patterns or signals in large astronomical data sets.

The work demonstrates that efforts to boost inclusivity and accessibility can have wider benefits. This is true not only in astronomy; sonification has also yielded discoveries in other fields that might otherwise not have been made. Research funders and publishers need to take note, and support interdisciplinary efforts that are simultaneously more innovative and inclusive.

Somebody should tell them that radio amateurs have been “guilty” of sonification for about 120 years!

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