HAMNET Report 10th September 2023


I cannot start this bulletin off without a brief tribute to Pierre Tromp ZS1HF, whose key went silent this week at a relatively young age after a chronic illness. Pierre was roped in to resuscitate and head the HAMNET division in the Western Cape by Bud Voortman, ZS1B, then Chairman of the Cape Town Radio club, in the late 90’s.

Pierre had a lot of experience with communications, both on VHF and HF, and developed the new HAMNET Manual which we used to train all prospective members here. He rapidly built a membership, and organized training events which solidified the Western Cape’s division into a dependable organization.

His military experience, his links with part-time military signalers, and his experience gained by doing long stays on Marion and Gough Islands, increased his knowledge of HF band conditions and expectations of successful propagation, which he put to use in advising HAMNET members thereafter.

He moved to Worcester, where he did his bit to keep a group of active hams enthusiastic about Emcomms, as well as contributing to the upkeep of repeaters in his area, in association with the Western Cape Repeater Working Group. In Worcester, he built up a communications business, supplying and advising on radios, antennas, coaxial cables and guying mechanisms.

He leaves his wife, Louise, ZS1ONI, and his children from his first marriage. Our deepest sympathies are conveyed to his surviving family.

GDACS is very busy this week, reporting on 4 mini-cyclones, and one flood, not to mention many earthquakes of magnitude less than 5, and one big one in Morocco. The big Cyclones we referred to last week have mostly dissipated, but Green alerts are out for Tropical Cyclones LEE and MARGOT in the Atlantic, presumably in the region of the Caribbean, but threatening no-one at the moment, and JOVA in the Eastern Pacific, also nowhere near land yet. Tropical Cyclone YUN-YEUNG, however, is in the northwest Pacific and is currently aimed at Japan. Watch this space.

John AE5X, writing in his blogspot, says that he has modified the magnetic base of his mobile antenna to accept radials.

Previously, whenever activating from the car, he either used no radials at all (10-20m) or connected one radial to the [radio’s] rear panel ground lug (when on 30/40m).

But ideally, radials should be at the base of the antenna.

The “mod” simply involved drilling a hole in the plastic base of the magnetic antenna. He did this from the bottom of the mount, up through the metal plate to which the coax shield is internally connected.

A 6mm bolt then extends through the hole, allowing him to secure a spade lug to which radials can be attached, along with a [tunable base coil such as] Wolf River coil (for 40m).

Two of the radials, each a 1/4-wave long on 40m, are now part of the mobile set-up.

Spots into Europe on 40m several hours before his sunset seem to suggest it works well enough, as do the faster autotune times of the tuner.

Of course, the other bands benefit as well from the more substantial RF ground than his small car chassis offers.

Thank you, John, for the useful tip. This may make a lot of difference to HF mobile in an emergency situation.

In its September 5 newsletter, the NSRI is proud to announce that, since the NSRI launched its Pink Rescue Buoy programme in 2017, more than 1600 highly visible, bright Pink Rescue Buoys have been strategically placed on signs at selected inland rivers, dams and beaches across the country, facilitating 157 recorded rescues by both trained rescue crew and members of the public.

One of the first of its kind in the world, this pioneering project has since been adopted in New Zealand, which identified a need for public rescue equipment and signage earlier this year after a father tragically drowned while attempting to rescue his daughter, who survived. Had he had access to a Pink Rescue Buoy, they may both have survived.

It’s for this reason that the NSRI celebrates the recent reports of a dramatic rescue involving two teenagers at Marine Parade beachfront in Hawks Bay, Napier, New Zealand.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 26 July, reports came in to rescue services, of two 19-year-old teenagers, a young man and a woman, who had got into difficulty in the water less than 200 metres from the viewing platform on the beach. The man managed to reach the shore, while the woman was attended to by two police officers – one a lifeguard – who used a flotation device (Pink Buoy) kept at the beach to keep her afloat while awaiting the arrival of the helicopter to lift her from the sea.

The fully clothed young woman was eventually winched from the sea by a rescue helicopter, and both she and the young man were taken to hospital. Thankfully, they were both discharged later the same day.

This is great news, and I hope that the Pink Buoy concept will rapidly spread around the world.

Finally, I want to tell you about a big DXpedition currently taking place. At least 33 operators from South Africa are currently in Europe, and will be operating intermittently over the next 2 months, attempting to impress the contest judges, with activities which can be followed on many digital platforms, both visually and by audio.

It appears there will be many other national operators in French-speaking Europe, all attempting to win the DX contest for the highest points scored during their respective DX interactions. Luckily, most of the activity takes place at night, when conditions are good, so both participants and reviewers will benefit from the convenience of the evening sessions.

These DXpeditions tend to generate a fair amount of national fervour, and we hope our operators will not disappoint our observers. Expect a fair amount of QRM from people who may be at the venue viewing during the DX contest.

Let’s be grateful to Marconi and Tesla for their development of RF technology which allows us to view this 8 week spectacle about 120 years later.

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