HAMNET Report 8th December 2019

Climate-fuelled disasters are forcing 20 million people to flee their homes each year, which is equivalent to one person every two seconds, a new report finds. The analysis found that floods, cyclones and wildfires are more likely to displace humans when compared to geophysical disasters or conflict.

While no one is immune to a changing world, the report discovered it is poor countries that are most at risk – even though they contribute the least amount to global carbon pollution.

The shocking report was released on Monday by Oxfam International, a charitable organization that focuses on the alleviation of global poverty.

The document, called ‘Forced from Home’, highlights statistics of climate related weather disasters that are pushing people out of their homes, which have increased five-fold over the last decade.

The group is now calling for ‘more urgent and ambitious emissions reductions to minimize the impact of the crisis on people’s lives, and the establishment of a new ‘Loss and Damage’ finance facility to help communities recover and rebuild.’

The report notes that people are seven times more likely to be displaced by cyclones, floods and wildfires than they are by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and three times more likely than by conflict.

Approximately 95 percent of people were forced to move due to tropical cyclones and storms from 2008 through 2018.  While no one is immune, people in poor countries are most at risk, the report warns,

‘People in low and lower-middle income countries such as India, Nigeria and Bolivia are over four times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather disasters than people in rich countries such as the United States,’ reads the document.

Chema Vera, Acting Executive Director of Oxfam International said:

‘Our governments are fuelling a crisis that is driving millions of women, men and children from their homes and the poorest people in the poorest countries are paying the heaviest price.’

The report notes that wealthy countries are burdening the poor ones with the cost of these disasters. The Oxfam analysis shows that economic losses from extreme weather disasters over the last decade were, on average, equivalent to two percent of affected countries’ national income.

Thank you to MailOnLine for this excerpt from their report.

Since Tuesday of this week, the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) has been reporting daily on the progress of Tropical Cyclone Kammuri-19 from East to West across the central parts of the Philippines. Wind speeds of 120 kph were expected to affect 4.7 million people, since the path of the cyclone was more predictable.

Greg Mossop G0DUB reported that he had been informed on Tuesday by Dani YB2TJV that the frequencies of 7090, 7095 and 7110 kHz were being used for emergency communications there. Dani requested all regions to be aware of these uses, and please to steer clear of the frequencies.

By Friday, Dani had informed Greg that Kammuri had crossed the Philippines, leaving behind severe flooding in the northernmost parts of Luzon (call area DU2), and that only 7095 kHz was being monitored by the HERO Net. Presumably, reports of damage and destruction will start coming in over this weekend.

Upon the request of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), the IARU tasked Brian Jacobs ZS6YZ and Leon Lessing ZS6LMG to attend the African Telecoms/ ICT Day 2019 commemorative workshop in Maputo, Mozambique from 5 to 7 December 2019.

The theme of the workshop was “Using Technology to Save Lives: Emergency Communications for Disaster Risk Reductions and Management”.

The aim of the workshop was to identify ways technology can be used to mitigate future disasters like Cyclone Idai and Kenneth,  that struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi earlier in the year. Some of these countries were without communications of any sort for up to 10 days, which is a major catastrophe.

Brian and Leon provided two presentations at the workshop that were prepared under the leadership of Don Beattie G3BJ the IARU Region 1 President and Hans Welens-Vrijdaghs ON6WQ the Region 1 STARS Working Group Chairman.

The first presentation presented by Brian discussed what amateur radio is, the role and value of amateur radio in an emergency, and where all other communications systems have failed.

This presentation was so well received, that the Mozambiquan regulator overnight initiated contact with the Mozambique Amateur Radio Society that had stopped functioning, and will now assist them to get on their feet again and to be in a position to assist the Republic of Mozambique with emergency communications.

Leon introduced the IARU STARS program to assist the ATU member states in re-initiating amateur radio or establishing amateur radio within their respective countries. Again this was very well received and after this presentation the Ugandan delegation requested information about their member society so that they could make contact with them and ensure that amateur radio takes its rightful place in the Ugandan emergency communications plans.

The Member of Parliament leading the delegation from Sierre Leone also requested information about their amateur radio society as they saw the value that amateur radio offers the country in times of emergency.

The workshop resulted in a strategy document with definite goals, outcomes and time lines for the ATU and Member States to develop cooperative and harmonised communications solutions encompassing all forms of telecommunications across all the African Regions.

These include the following technical areas:

  • Disaster and emergency telecommunications capacity and strengthening.
  • Radio Spectrum Management (emergency/universal) frequency harmonisation for Public Protection Disaster Response (PPDR), including free of cost allocation for the foregoing.
  • Regional equipment type specification and approval and licensing.
  • Cross-border customs and immigration arrangements and protocols for disaster personnel and emergency equipment.
  • A Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).
  • Regional Early Warning Systems (EWS).
  • A National Emergency Telecommunications Plan (NETP).
  • The Tampere Convention, including ATU Member States ratification, and the application of the relevant parts of the agreement.

The contribution from the IARU/SARL/HAMNET team was very well received and gave the ATU Member States a new positive perspective on amateur radio and their role in emergency communications/ ICT.

Thanks Brian for this comprehensive report.

Finally, here is an advance warning of Tropical Cyclone BELNA-19, tracking South West down the Western shores of Madagascar, and due to hit land tomorrow (Monday). If you hear any emergency traffic on 40 or 80, please respond if appropriate, or keep the frequencies clear. Thanks very much.

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

HAMNET Report 1st December 2019


Let me start the bulletin this week, by congratulating Grant Southey ZS1GS on his recent appointment as temporary National Director of HAMNET, after the retirement by Glynn Chamberlain due to pressure of work. Grant is a worthy successor to Glynn, and we hope he fits in so well, that his appointment becomes permanent.

At the same time, may I welcome Michael Taylor ZS1MJT as newly appointed Regional Director for HAMNET in the Western Cape? Michael comes with a lot of experience in organizational skills, particularly in motor sports events, and also a very practical approach to all situations. His skills in “making a plan” are phenomenal, so we trust he will guide HAMNET WCP to greater heights, as we respond to the requests for assistance in the Western Cape.

Now for some bad news. I’m sorry to have to tell you that Lewis, the Koala, badly burned in an Australian bush fire, did not recover from his burns. He had been taken to an animal hospital last week after a woman plucked him from a tree in burning bushland in New South Wales.

Video of the rescue, which shows Toni Doherty using her shirt to wrap up the koala, was viewed globally. Vets said the marsupial was sadly put down because his burns were not improving.

“[Our] number one goal is animal welfare, so it was on those grounds that this decision was made,” said Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

The 14-year-old Koala had significant burns to its chest, feet and other parts of its body, vets said.

The hospital has treated dozens of koalas injured from the bushfires which have burnt through more than a million hectares in New South Wales alone.

Our respects go to Lewis, and to the vets who tried their best to save him.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) has reported a red alert for a Tropical Cyclone, named KAMMURI-19, about 2 days due East of the central parts of the Philippines, expected to hit the East Coast at about 02h00 our time on Tuesday. There is a fairly wide range of uncertainty over precisely where it will hit the mainland, but some 28 million people are within that trajectory of the 120 kph wind zone. The path calls for it to cross directly from East to West across the Central parts of the country, hopefully losing strength as it crosses the land.

Please be mindful of emergency comms traffic on 20, 40 and 80 metres, if you are working these frequencies.

ScienceNews reports that Ultima Thule is no more. The remote solar system body visited in January by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft now has a proper name: Arrokoth.

The word means “sky” in the language of the Powhatan people, a Native American tribe indigenous to Maryland. The state is home to New Horizons mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.

NASA announced the name change on November 12, with the consent of Powhatan tribal elders and the International Astronomical Union, the organization of astronomers who, in part, oversee celestial naming conventions.

Arrokoth (pronounced AR-uh-koth), a flattened two-lobed body in the Kuiper Belt of icy worlds beyond Neptune, has been through a couple of names already. Up until now, its official designation had been 2014 MU69. In March 2018, the team landed on the nickname Ultima Thule, a Latin phrase that signifies a place beyond the known world.

“[Ultima Thule] was, as we said, always a placeholder we would discard once we did the flyby,” Stern says. The New Horizons spacecraft — originally sent to check out Pluto and its retinue of moons — is still transmitting data from its January 1 flyby of Arrokoth and will continue to do so for at least another year, Stern says. By then, the team will have begun hunting for a possible third target, a search they can’t start until Earth gets to the other side of the sun next summer and New Horizons once again becomes visible at night to telescopes.

ScienceNews also notes that, for the first time, a chemical potentially responsible for widespread vaping-related lung injuries and deaths in the United States has been found in lung fluid from patients.

Researchers detected vitamin E acetate, widely used as a dietary supplement, in every sample of lung fluid collected from 29 patients suffering from the severe illness, health officials announced in a news briefing and a report. Vitamin E acetate is also an ingredient in some skin care products but could be toxic when inhaled.

“We are in a better place than we were two weeks ago, in terms of having one very strong culprit of concern,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “We still have more to learn.”

CDC researchers obtained broncho-alveolar lavage fluid, a sample that contains fluid from the lining of the lungs, from health care workers caring for patients with the injuries, called e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury, or EVALI. Twenty-nine patients from 10 states provided the specimens. Vitamin E acetate was the only chemical detected in all of the fluid samples, CDC researchers reported online November 8 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vitamin E acetate was previously identified by health officials in some vaping products used by patients

Vitamin E acetate is used as a diluting and thickening ingredient in vaping products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Most EVALI patients have reported using vaping products containing THC; some also used nicotine-containing products. Although vitamin E acetate is considered safe when used in skin creams and as a dietary supplement, research indicates that it could be harmful when inhaled.

The researchers also tested for, but did not detect, other chemical additives that are used as diluting ingredients, such as plant and mineral oils.

Schuchat called the findings a “breakthrough,” but said that more work needs to be done to understand how vitamin E acetate is harming the lungs. And it’s still possible that more than one ingredient could be responsible, she said.

By the 5th November, 2,051 patients with EVALI had been reported in all states except Alaska, and 39 people had died.

Thanks to ScienceNews for these reports.

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

HAMNET Report 24th November 2019

The ARES E-letter reports that twenty-four operators from the Tallahassee Amateur Radio Society (TARS) and the Thomasville Amateur Radio Club (TARC) provided communication support for the Capital City Cyclists (CCC) 35th annual Spaghetti 100 Bicycle Ride on November the 9th. The Spaghetti 100 funds the Kids on Bikes program, which teaches hundreds of elementary school children how to ride a bike and ride it safely in traffic. It also helps to support the Trips for Kids chapter, which takes disadvantaged youth on bike rides on local trails.

The hams used one of the TARS VHF repeaters to provide communications for safety and logistics, as well as for the medical and mechanical teams. The ham radio support was vital for this 100 mile route on the back country roads of northern Florida and southern Georgia where cell phone coverage is very sparse. “When All Else Fails” came to mind when the land line at the location serving as the ride’s headquarters was out for several hours leaving Amateur Radio as the only communications service for some areas. “In addition to the thanks given by most of the bicyclists as they passed by, event sponsors expressed their appreciation for the work of the ham radio volunteers and were impressed with the capabilities of Amateur Radio,” Communications Coordinator Stan Zawrotny, K4SBZ, said.

Thank you to ARES for these notes.

Now from universetoday.com comes a story that is blowing my mind.

On May 20th, 2018, the China National Space Agency (CNSA) launched the Queqiao spacecraft, the vehicle that would deliver the Chang’e-4 mission to the Moon. This vehicle was also responsible for transporting a lesser-known mission to the Moon, known as the Longjiang twin spacecraft. This package consisted of two satellites designed to fly in formation and validate technologies for low-frequency radio astronomy.

While Queqiao flew beyond the Moon to act as a communications relay for the Chang’e-4 lander, the Longjiang satellites were to enter orbit around the moon. On July 31st, 2019, after more than a year in operation, the Longjiang-2 satellite deorbited and crashed on the lunar surface. And thanks to the efforts of spacecraft tracker Daniel Estévez and his colleagues, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was able to photograph the impact site.

Among amateur astronomists and citizen scientists, Daniel Estévez is a well-known figure. In addition to being an amateur radio operator with a PhD in Mathematics and a BSc in Computer Science, Estévez is also an amateur spacecraft tracker. It was he who, in May of 2019, made an official estimate on when the Longjiang-2 satellite would crash on the lunar surface.

Based on his calculations, he determined the impact would take place somewhere within Van Gent crater on July 31st. This small impact crater is located on the far side of the Moon and is situated to the south and southeast of the larger Konstantinov crater. These results were then passed on to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team, who made sure their instrument was trained on the coordinates.

On October 5th, 2019, the LRO passed over the site at an altitude of 122 km and snapped several images of the surface. After carefully comparing them to pre-existing NAC images, the LROC team was able to discern the presence of a new impact crater that was roughly 4 by 5 meters in diameter and about 10 meters in depth.

This places the new crater just 328 metres from Estévez’s estimated crash site. Based on this proximity to the estimated coordinates and the size of the impact crater, the LROC team indicated that they are “fairly confident that this new crater formed as a result of the Longjiang-2 impact.”

On his website, Estévez captured the significance of this event eloquently and was sure to share the credit with those colleagues who helped make it possible:

“This is amazing, as in some way it represents the definitive end of the DSLWP-B mission (besides all the science data we still need to process) and it validates the accuracy of the calculations we did to locate the crash site. I feel that I should give due credit to all the people involved in the location of the impact.”

Moreover, it demonstrates the important role played by amateur astronomers and citizen scientists in the current era of space exploration. Kudos to Estévez and his colleagues! Not bad for an amateur tracker!

May I suggest you point your browser to universetoday.com, and scroll down to the entry dated 19th November, of the discovery of the crash site, to look at two photos, taken 3 months apart, of that crash site, clearly showing the crater formed between the times the two photos were taken?

Just to make the point, this amateur’s estimation was just further than 3 rugby fields out in his calculation of where the failing Chinese satellite was eventually going to hit the moon, about 384400km away, on the far side, which has been seen only in photographs, and without knowing the true topography of the surface in the area! Phenomenal!

Equally phenomenal is the fact that the camera on the orbiter could clearly define an area 4x5m (probably smaller than the room you are sitting in as you listen to this), from a distance of 122km above the moon’s surface!

We end with a good news story from Australia. CityNews reports that, during an Australian bush fire, a lady heard an aging Koala bear wailing in pain, hanging from a tree trunk, very close to the intense heat of the fire, and clearly having already sustained multiple burns on his body.

Toni Doherty took off her tee-shirt, caught the koala with it to try to put out its burning fur, and rushed it to a water source, where she was able to douse the flames on the fur of its back legs, cool its burns, and give it life-saving water to drink.

The little guy, since named Lewis, estimated to be elderly in Koala terms, was rushed to an animal welfare hospital, where he was given oxygen via face mask because of singe wounds to his lungs, and found to have partial thickness burns on many parts of his body, including his snout, and more severe burns on his hands and feet. It appears he is slowly starting to recover, and back to eating his staple diet of Eucalyptus leaves!

Lewis seems to have been lucky. The news reports from Southern Australia estimate that up to 350 Koalas may have died already, in the multiple big bush fires currently affecting those parts of the continent.

Altogether now – “Ag man, Shame”!

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

HAMNET Report 17th November 2019

The weather in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands has been a strong topic of conversation this week after a tornado ripped through the New Hanover areas of Thokozani and Mpolweni on Tuesday. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said several homes and public infrastructure were damaged, and scores of people were hurt.

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka, said preliminary reports received by the department indicate that a number of people who sustained injuries in the incident are receiving medical attention from surrounding hospitals.

“A number of homes have collapsed, countless trees have been uprooted and the electricity supply in the area has been interrupted. Our teams are working hard to provide support to the affected communities,” said Hlomuka.

He said there are fears of missing people and possible deaths, and urged residents to be vigilant as the risk of heavy rains and severe thunderstorms continue to pose a serious danger to the province.

And on Wednesday, another tornado tried to touch down in the midlands, while heavy rains saturated large parts of central and coastal KZN. Low-lying areas quickly filled up, and gardens and roads were underwater by Wednesday evening.

Further forecasts of very heavy rain for Thursday and Friday fortunately didn’t materialize, as clouds and humidity were driven off the coast by late Thursday, resulting in a cloudless Friday.

The synoptic charts are starting to show the usual Spring and Summer low pressure trough, laying diagonally across the country, from Northern Namibia and Botswana, down to Eastern and Southern KZN, with high pressure cells off the Western and Eastern coasts of our country keeping all cold fronts firmly South of the country.

It would appear that the rainy season in the South West of the country is over, while the unpredictable summer storms start to make their presence felt in North Eastern areas. We trust that there will be enough rainfall to provide the farmers with good harvests.

Alex Schwarz, VE7DXW, has theorized for some time now that his RF-Seismograph, initially aimed at indicating band openings, seemed also to act as a real seismograph of sorts, with effects of earthquakes affecting HF noise levels and actually briefly enhancing HF propagation. Schwarz has some support from Professor Kosuke Heki of Hokkaido University in Japan, who has been researching whether changes occur in the ionosphere as a result of an earthquake.

The work of both citizen scientist Schwarz and space geodesy expert Heki caught the attention of Hackaday, the online publication with a stated goal of promoting “the free and open exchange of ideas and information.” A November 12 Hackaday article, “HF Propagation and Earthquakes”, outlines the observations of both men. According to the article, Heki “knew that changes in the ionosphere can affect GPS and GNSS receivers on the ground, and with Japan’s vast network of receivers to keep track of the smallest of movements of the Earth’s crust, he was able to spot an anomalous build-up of electrons directly above the devastating 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, that preceded the earthquake by 40 minutes.”

Heki’s theory is along these lines: Chemical bonds in the rock — specifically peroxy bonds between two oxygen atoms — are broken by microfractures, leaving one side of the peroxy bond with excess electrons and the other with a positive hole. “These holes tend to migrate from high stress to unstressed areas of the rock, which leads them to eventually reach the surface, leaving it with a net positive charge,” the Hackaday piece says. “As stress in the rock below increases, the number of positive holes reaching the surface rapidly multiplies, drawing electrons from the atmosphere to balance the charge. The moving charges generate an enormous electromagnetic field that can reach all the way up to the ionosphere, creating just the kind of anomalies that Professor Heki observed.”

This week, Schwarz reported that the US Geological Survey recorded nine “significant earthquakes” on November 11, eight of which also were recorded by his RF-Seismograph. According to Schwarz, several small quakes early in the morning “opened the 40-meter band slightly, but the precursor of the quake [in Neiafu, Tonga] created a disturbance starting 4 hours prior to the quake and a total radio blackout between 03h30 UTC and 05h50 UTC. The quakes in late morning did not have a great effect on the local propagation. The one from Vanuatu created 80-meter propagation for 10 minutes only. At 23h40 UTC, another quake from Indonesia opened the 30-meter band again,” Schwarz said.

The Hackaday article concludes, “Clearly, the RF-Seismograph is not yet ready to claim to have a solid predictive ability for earthquakes. For that matter, Dr. Heki’s space-based observations aren’t ready to stake that claim either. But it certainly looks like ionospheric changes can be correlated to earthquakes, both in time and space…”

And lest you think the earth’s mantle is a settled place, may I report that 46 earthquakes around the globe, with a magnitude of more than 4.5 on the Richter scale, were reported in Friday’s global disaster news! Our planet is indeed restless.

The ARRL Letter notes that December 11 marks the 98th anniversary of the success of ARRL’s Transatlantic Tests in 1921, organized to see if low-power amateur radio stations could be heard across the Atlantic using shortwave frequencies (i.e., above 200 meters). On that day, a message transmitted by a group of Radio Club of America members at 1BCG in Greenwich, Connecticut, was copied by Paul Godley, 2ZE, in Scotland.

While the first two-way contact would not take place until 1923, the 1921 transatlantic success marked the beginning of what would become routine communication between US radio amateurs and those in other parts of the world — the birth of DX.

To commemorate this amateur radio milestone, Maxim Memorial Station W1AW will be on the air through the day on December 11 with volunteer operators. The goal is to encourage contacts between radio amateurs in the US and Europe while showcasing the significance of the transmissions that pioneered global communication and laid the groundwork for technology widely used today.

The event will run from 13h00 until 00h00 UTC. Some details are still being worked out, but operation will focus on 40 and 20 meters SSB.

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

HAMNET Report 10th November 2019

Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, he of HAMNET KwaZulu Natal fame, has written me a disturbing report of the Amashovashova Cycle race held last month. He writes:

“Justin ZS5JW and I attended the de-briefing of the event on Wednesday 6th November.  Justin worked in the main Durban JOC on race day.

“Weather predictions for Sunday 20th October had been reported to be favourable with the possibility of light rain in the afternoon. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.  From early in the morning you could feel the humidity building and by 08h00 it was already at very uncomfortable levels.  This resulted in numerous medical cases being treated for heat exhaustion.  Water shortages were also being reported from refreshment tables, although they had plenty of other soft drinks available.

“Unfortunately the event resulted in one casualty suffering a suspected heart attack and being attended by our Roving Patrol crewed by Deon ZS5DD and Dawie ZS5DDB  (Incidentally Dawie had only written the RAE on the Saturday preceding the race).  Deon reports as follows:

‘At approximately 12:35 pm whilst travelling Eastbound on the M13 approximately 100 meters before exit 28, we came across a cyclist that was lying on the ground.

‘He was being assisted by a bystander who had arrived in a vehicle that was parked next to the road.

‘We stopped to investigate and it soon became apparent that the cyclist was in serious need of medical assistance. We then requested medical assistance from Justin ZS5JW at Durban JOC.

‘We started assisting the bystander who had control of the scene, and who confirmed that the cyclist was breathing although his pulse was weak.

‘We assisted the bystander and after 5 minutes he pointed out that the cyclists pulse had stopped and that we should initiate CPR. We confirmed that there was no pulse and assisted with CPR, ZS5DDB, ZS5DD and the bystander taking turns.

‘Shortly after starting CPR a cyclist arrived (race number 2302) who clearly had medical training. He took over the scene and we continued with CPR under his direction.

‘We followed up with the JOC on the ambulance that arrived approximately 15 minutes later, and whose staff took control of the scene. The paramedics from ER24 defibrillated the patient and loaded him into the ambulance as it was extremely hot outside.’

“Unfortunately we learned later that the patient was declared deceased at hospital.  We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

“The race Safety Officer, in conjunction with Ethekwini Disaster Management, made the decision to cut the race off at 12H00 outside Kearsney College in Botha’s Hill, and arrangements were made to supply buses to transport those competitors through to the finish at Suncoast Casino.

“Some of the resolutions taken at the debriefing:

  1. As a result of problems encountered on the 160Km route, this will be discontinued for next year, as the logistics required to manage this part are not sustainable for the number of participants that entered.
  2. Water table managers will be appointed by the organiser and not the water table sponsors, to ensure that sufficient supplies are on hand, as it is extremely difficult to move supplies between points once the race is underway”.

Keith thanks the operators that worked under extremely hot and uncomfortable conditions and in particular Willem ZS5WA, and Justin ZS5JW assisted by Kimmy ZS5KIM, who were put under extreme pressure, handling all of the requests, and who updated on incidents being reported through to the respective Pietermaritzburg and Durban controls.

The date for next year’s event has been confirmed as 18th October 2020.

Thank you for the full update, Keith.

Jim Wilson, K5ND, writing in the soon-to-be issued December QST Journal, reports on the 24th World Scout Jamboree, attended by 42000 scouts, both female and male, from 152 countries.

The theme was “Unlock a New World”, which was easy to do at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in West Virginia. Among many other activities offered by the reserve, the Jamboree program activities covered a wide range of options, from exploring cultural differences, to working with robotics and technology, to examining sustainability programmes.

Amateur Radio has been a part of the World Scout Jamboree experience since 1947 in France with F9CQ/JAM. For 2019, the call sign NA1WJ was selected to demonstrate that this was a World Jamboree hosted by a North American team. The operation was hugely successful. Thirty-three staff members from Australia, Canada, Chile, Finland, Germany, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zimbabwe came together to mesh different cultures and approaches to Scouting and Amateur Radio.

As a result, we introduced Amateur Radio to over 3,000 of the Scouts from around the world and completed over 4,000 two way contacts that covered 86 DXCC countries.

Scouts were given a brief overview of Amateur Radio and guided to an operating position, where a control operator took over to describe the equipment and the contact procedures. At that time, many stations in the ham community were standing by to provide the other side of the contact. Each Scout was able to get on the microphone, fill out a logbook card with the details, and receive a commemorative NA1WJ coin provided by Icom America on the way out of the tent.

We used the Icom IC-7300 for our HF stations, with their small footprint and easily viewed spectrum scope. We had separate stations for 40, 30, 20, and 17 meters. We also used Icom ID-5100A’s for 2 metres and 70 centimetres, working repeaters with Echolink and D-STAR. The IC-9700 was put into play for frequent satellite contacts.

Antennas included a rotatable 40-meter dipole, C3S triband Yagi, and a special 20/17- meter dual-band Yagi. In addition, we used dipoles for 30 and 80 meters as well as a 6-meter Yagi.

During the Jamboree, amateur radio direction finding, or foxhunting, activities were run, four pico-balloons with amateur radio payloads were flown, and a contact with astronaut Drew Morgan, KI5AAA, on board the ISS, was made.

The Scouts came away with a superb hands-on introduction to Amateur Radio. We hope that we planted seeds that will encourage them to investigate further the science, technology, fun, and magic of Amateur Radio when they get home.

Thanks to Jim, QST and the ARRL for this report.

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

HAMNET Report 3rd November 2019

Brian Jacobs, ZS6YZ reports that the Carnival City Macsteel Cycle Race took place over the weekend of 26th and 27th October 2019.

HAMNET Gauteng South was tasked with handling the communications for the event.

On Saturday 26th October, the Mountain Bike Race was run, starting and finishing at Carnival City. The Mountain Bike Race normally does not require too many resources and the team that handled the race consisted of Pieter ZS6PHS, Diederich ZS6DVL, Ettienne ZS6ET, Channette ZS6CAC, Neil ZS6NBX, Neil ZS6CKC, Henry ZS6IIX who ran the JOC, and Leon ZS6LMG. Even though it rained during the event, the day was successfully completed with no major mishaps.

Sunday 27th October saw a much larger team converging on Carnival City around 04:00 in the morning to set up the JOC and attend the briefing session at 05:15. The team was now Leon ZS6LMG, Linda ZS6LML, Johan ZS6DMX, Pieter ZS6PHS, Diederich ZS6DVL, Hannes ZS6EMS, Ettienne ZS6ET, Channette ZS6CAC, Neil ZS6CKC, Eugene ZS6ECJ, Brian ZS6YZ Don ZS6SSR, and Henry ZS6IIX.

Linda, Channette and Henry were responsible for handling all communications at the JOC, while the rest of the team manned the four water points, the 4 way stop on the Heidelberg road where the long and short routes split and later joined again, and the various roaming duties, such as following the lead cyclists, and responding to incidents along the route. Radio communications proved challenging at times including interference on the UHF repeater and keyed microphones being sat on. Despite these challenges the day was successfully completed with the HAMNET team sweeping the route and ensuring that even the last cyclist safely made it back to the finish.

Brian thanks all who participated and helped to make the event a success.

Now, here’s an unusual service that Amateur Radio can provide. News10 reports that local amateur radio operators will be staked out at bridges and overpasses over the Thruway across the Capital Region of New York State this Halloween.

The volunteers are trying to deter kids and young adults from throwing pumpkins on to traffic. Several cars and trucks have been hit in the past, causing injuries and car wrecks.

Hundreds of ham radio operators throughout the region are working with Troop T of the New York State Police to patrol those areas.

Episode 24 of TX Factor is a Hamfest 2019 special, reporting on some of the eye-catching products and services on display at this year’s event in Newark, says Southgate Amateur Radio News.

The videoblog investigates the current state of HF propagation, and celebrates 50 years of Nevada Radio, while Mike G1IAR tries out a few solder stations, and Bob G0FGX goes all soft over the Vintage Military Amateur Radio Society’s vintage AM radios.

And to cap it all, there’s a demonstration of the latest rig from Yaesu.

Google TX Factor, or search for it on YouTube, to view the programme.

MyBroadBand reports that South African car thieves are using sophisticated hardware and techniques to bypass vehicle security systems and steal cars in minutes.

A recent report from IOL detailed how a criminal syndicate in Durban used diagnostic key readers to steal cars that use transponder or chip keys.

After a spate of car thefts in the last few weeks, the police and the Amanzimtoti Community Crime Prevention Organisation (CPPO) arrested four men they suspected were behind the incidents.

The police also seized a load of car theft tools, which included 15 computer boxes, 35 ignition switches, and a walkie-talkie capable of scanning police radio frequencies.

Since the 1990s, many cars have used transponder or chip keys linked to their on-board diagnostics computers.

These keys contain a computer chip which is used for authentication. Once plugged into the ignition, the Engine Control Unit (ECU) transmits a code to the key.

A key with the correct code will respond with a message to the ECU that allows the car to start.

To program these keys, a number of diagnostic devices have been developed, which can be used to extract data from the vehicle’s computer box.

Variations of the devices are used by locksmiths to copy keys for customers who need to replace a lost key or remote.

It is worrying to note, however, that these devices can easily be purchased online.

A security company based in Gauteng told MyBroadband that car thieves in the province have been caught using similar techniques.

One of these techniques involves using old on-board diagnostic computer boxes.

The thieves pull these boxes from old vehicles in scrap yards or grab them from cars stolen in an earlier incident.

They then use the diagnostic key reader to extract data from the computer box and use this information to recode a stolen or purchased programmable key to link with the particular box.

When the criminals head out to find potential targets, they take the reprogrammed key and linked computer box with them.

Once they break into a car, they quickly switch out the installed computer box with their reprogrammed hardware.

After this is done, the reprogrammed key can be used to start the ignition, lock or unlock doors, and control the alarms.

If the criminals struggle to replace the computer box, they also often have a set of different ignition switches on hand.

Replacing the car’s ignition switch with their own simply allows them to use a key that already fits into the switch.

The security company added that police often find illegally-acquired hand-held radios in the possession of car thieves..

Certain versions of these devices are capable of receiving transmissions on radio frequency bands dedicated to emergency services like the police.

Purchasing one of these radios usually requires an amateur radio licence, but the security company noted that these could easily be bought illegally from several shops.

The report also has pictures of a collection of keys, computer boxes, ignition switches and hand-helds that were seized in Amanzimtoti.

Finally, HAMNET South Africa would like to congratulate the South African rugby team on winning the Rugby World Cup yesterday. It was a hard-fought final, and a fine end to a very entertaining rugby competition.

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

HAMNET Report 27th October 2019

Anette Jacobs, ZR6D, has reported on the BACAR 7 Launch on 12th October 2019. She writes:

“A number of people spent really late nights doing final preparations in the week preceding the launch of the BACAR 7 that took place on the morning of 12th October 2019.

“Members of HAMNET GS were already up and on the road by 03:00 in the morning.  The HAMNET GS chase team consisted of Leon ZS6LMG, Johan ZS6DMX, Diederich ZS6DVL and Wilhelm ZS6WBT.

“There was quite a brisk breeze blowing and the temperature on the ground was quite chilly when the payloads were put in the order in which they will hang from the balloon, and connected together. Not long thereafter the balloon was filled with hydrogen and the payloads were attached.

“At just around 07:00 the balloon was released and the payloads gracefully lifted skywards. The balloon flew well and headed in the direction of the Kriel power station.

“The chase teams comprising of Secunda Radio Club and HAMNET Gauteng South members also departed, and then activity on the airfield seemed to slow down as everyone monitored their payloads, telemetry data, SSTV transmissions, transponders and APRS.

“The various groups were watching the activity and performance of the payloads. The Jeugland High School’s payload was a SSTV transmitter, and there was a scurry of activity as all the youngsters pointed their AMSAT SA dualband Yagi antennas towards the balloon to receive the signal and decode it on an App on their phones held close to the speaker of their handhelds.

“Time literally flew by and before long the flight was terminated and the payloads started to descend by parachute.

“At around 08:49 the HAMNET chase team, Johan ZS6DMX and Diederich ZS6DVL reported that they had found the payloads that had safely returned to the ground. All the payloads were safely recovered and returned to the airfield.

“The Balloon achieved a height of 26,586m according to the flight controller log that was analysed afterwards.

“The Troposphere is around 17,000 metres high in the middle latitudes, and the balloon reached a height of 26,500m which is well into the Stratosphere, so that is quite an achievement.

“While not all payloads performed as expected, this is exactly the reason why these balloon flights are so important. Any payloads may perform well on the ground under controlled conditions and temperatures, but how do they perform in a near space environment?

“A lot of discussions followed as the payloads were examined, looking for possible causes of failure, particularly those payloads that did not perform as expected. There were also lots of discussions about what can be improved upon on the next flight.

“Planning has already started for next year’s BACAR 8 flight that will again be in October, but this time the launch will be determined by the Moon so that the Moon can be photographed in black space.”

Thank you for the report Anette, and well done to the crews!

News from New Era Live is that Namibia has achieved global maritime safety standards by upgrading its Navigational Telex (Navtex) System. The Navtex project is considered a major milestone for Namibia as a coastal state and budding maritime logistics hub.

“I have no doubt that the investment into this state-of-the-art system will not only up our game in safety on our shores, but keeps us compliant with international standards,” stated Walvis Bay Deputy Mayor Penelope Martin-Louw.

Navtex is a navigational system used on board the vessels to provide short range maritime safety information on coastal waters. Navtex forms part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) which was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in line with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) 1974, to which Namibia is a party.

GMDSS was developed to save lives at sea by modernizing and enhancing the maritime radio communications system through satellite and digital selective calling technology.  Unlike the old maritime radio communication services, GMDSS provides a more effective distress alerting system by increasing the probability that an alert will be sent when a ship is in distress; by increasing the likelihood that the alert will be received; increasing the ability to locate survivors; improving rescue communications and coordination; and providing mariners with vital maritime safety information (MSI).

Namibia is located near major international shipping routes and, over the last 10 years, the country has witnessed an increase in both visiting and passing maritime traffic. Global seaborne trade is expected to triple in the next 30 years, which means Namibia will experience greater opportunities as a port and coastal State, but also greater risks of accidents and incidents at sea. Namibia is well poised to take advantage of future maritime growth.

A new way of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of air could provide a significant tool in the battle against climate change. The new system can work on the gas at virtually any concentration level, even down to the roughly 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere.

The device is essentially a large, specialized battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air (or other gas stream) passing over its electrodes as it is being charged up, and then releases the gas as it is being discharged. In operation, the device would simply alternate between charging and discharging, with fresh air or feed gas being blown through the system during the charging cycle, and then the pure, concentrated carbon dioxide being blown out during the discharging.

As the battery charges, an electrochemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes. These are coated with a compound called polyanthraquinone, which is composited with carbon nanotubes. The electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily react with its molecules in the airstream or feed gas, even when it is present at very low concentrations. The reverse reaction takes place when the battery is discharged—during which the device can provide part of the power needed for the whole system—and in the process ejects a stream of pure carbon dioxide. The whole system operates at room temperature and normal air pressure.

In some soft-drink bottling plants, fossil fuel is burned to generate the carbon dioxide needed to give the drinks their fizz. Similarly, some farmers burn natural gas to produce carbon dioxide to feed their plants in greenhouses. The new system could eliminate that need for fossil fuels in these applications and in the process actually take the greenhouse gas right out of the air. Alternatively, the pure carbon dioxide stream could be compressed and injected underground for long-term disposal, or even made into fuel through a series of chemical and electrochemical processes.

Compared to other existing carbon capture technologies, this system is quite energy efficient, using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured, consistently. Other existing methods have energy consumption which vary between one to 10 gigajoules per ton, depending on the inlet carbon dioxide concentration.

Thank you to the website Phys.org for this insert.

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

HAMNET Report 20th October 2019

Adrian, YO3HJV, reporting to the IARU Region 1, says that last week, The Department for Emergency Situations (DSU) held a big exercise in two counties in Romania. The subject of this exercise was the cooperation between institutions and NGO’s to a forest fire situation.

The exercise took place in two remote areas in the West part of Romania in Hunedoara County and Caras Severin County.

More than 500 firemen, rescuers, Mountain Gendarmerie, Military forces, Aviation and Search and Rescue Dog organisations were involved.

We played an important role because the area was subject to intermittent mobile phone service and no TETRA network. Again, we used DMR in both sites and this helped us to provide both voice and GPS locations for the intervention forces.

In Hunedoara we used a single repeater for the whole area, and in Caras Severin we used two DMR repeaters linked via 3G, as the sites had some mobile signal.

The exercise was very useful both for us, to test our knowledge and technology, and for the IGSU to show them, directly at intervention forces level, how our systems work.

The short story is that we were extremely appreciated and we established a lot of useful contacts for future cooperation.

The network we used was based on SLR5500 repeaters, portable tripods with 5m telescopic masts and vertical antennas, DM4600 fixed radios and DP4801E portable radios. The software of choice was SmartPTT Enterprise.

Thank you to Adrian and Greg G0DUB for sharing that report.

Another report from Greg G0DUB, Emergency Communications Coordinator for IARU Region 1, says that the 44th HamRadio Exhibition at Friedrichshafen attracted 14300 visitors, among them around 27 Emergency Communicators from 14 countries who attended the IARU meeting for Emergency Communicators on Friday 21st June.

After the introduction and Region 1 report, there were interesting presentations followed by a good exchange of information in an Open Forum session which carried on beyond the official closing time of the meeting.

Mike SP9XWM and Cris SP7WME spoke about the use of new technology in exercises in Poland. There was then an Open Discussion on what use we could make of Satellites and other new modes for Emergency Communications, discussing Low Earth Orbit as well as Geostationary satellites, HF conditions and weak signal message modes (e.g. JS8call).

Alberto IK1YLO spoke about the NEIFLEX (North East Italian Flood Exercise) European Exercise of 5/9 June 2018 followed by an update on their national DMR project. Ron 4X1IG made a presentation on how emergency communications are being grown in Israel by using a ‘Contest as a drill’.

Oliver DL7TNY provided an introduction to AREDN data networks which got many attendees to look at the networks in practice on the DARC stand in the main hall.

An Open Forum was then followed by a short exercise on how we may respond to a power grid failure.

The next Ham Radio on the Bodensee is on June 26 – 28 2020 and will include another emergency communications meeting.

The third IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop (ECW) was held in Lima, Peru, earlier this month on the 3rd October, immediately following the 20th General Assembly of IARU Region 2. The Emergency Communications Workshop was sponsored by the Executive Committee of IARU Region 2, and hosted by Radio Club Peruano. Region 2 Emergency Coordinators and subject matter experts discussed recent incident responses with the goal of increasing the capacity of amateurs in IARU Region 2 to respond to large scale, multinational communication emergencies and disasters. The ECW provided an opportunity for leaders to network with the goal of increasing cooperation and collaboration for future responses. Twenty-three countries from around the globe were represented.

Among the many highlights of the workshop was a presentation on Winlink, the ever-growing hybrid Internet/Amateur Radio email network.

Thanks to the ARES e-Letter for this short report.

And the ever-willing Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, of HAMNET KwaZulu Natal, reports that HAMNET KZN had a last minute request from Daan ZS6CD from Nelspruit to assist the judges from the Endurance Walking Association of SA at a two day event being held on the Bluff in Durban on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th October that coincided with their AGM.  The participants were members of the SANDF, SAPS and Correctional Services.  44 teams, comprising 6 walkers each, and 65 individuals entered, making a total of 329 participants.

Week day events are always a challenge, with the majority of our members unavailable due to work commitments.  Ben ZS5BN, Terry ZS5TX and Rob ZS5ROB offered to assist, and Keith was able to take leave to assist on the Friday.

As things turned out, the Metro Police did not grant approval for the event to take place on Thursday, although the organisers had submitted their application at the beginning of May.  The situation was eventually resolved and an additional 10Km was added to the route that was approved for Friday.  The event started at 07H00 at the old whaling station, along to Brighton Beach, then out towards Mondi in Isipingo and finishing at the Bluff Military Base at around 16H00, a total distance of some 45Km.

HAMNET’s main function was to complete sequence sheets recording team/walker number/time in case of any team lodging a dispute, and reporting any medical emergencies.  Communications were via 145.500 MHz simplex.

Keith was pleased to report that only one medical case was reported, involving a walker who collapsed after climbing the stairs from Brighton Beach leading up to Airlie Road, and was transported to hospital suffering from dehydration.

A sincere vote of thanks was received from the organisers for HAMNET’s assistance at such short notice.

Well done to you and your helpers, Keith!

Keith tells us that HAMNET KZN will also be assisting with next Sunday’s “Amashovashova Classic” Cycle Event from the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, following the route of the Comrades Marathon, and ending in Durban. There will be four different races, two starting in Pietermaritzburg, one at Cato Ridge, and one at Hillcrest.

The 145.750 Midlands repeater and the 145.625 Highway repeater will give good coverage of the race. 15 operators will be deployed, and about 10,000 entries for the race have been received.

Good luck for this event, Keith – we look forward to a report-back in coming weeks.

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

HAMNET Report 6th October 2019

An Amateur Radio Emergency Network activated as Hurricane Lorenzo approached the Azores — an autonomous region of Portugal in the Atlantic. Amateur Radio volunteers worked with the government and emergency response teams, using VHF and UHF repeaters, HF, and Amateur Radio satellite. A request was issued for stations to yield to any emergency traffic coming in and out of the Azores (CU, CQ8, CR8, CS8 and CT8 prefixes).

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in the US reported that a hurricane warning was in effect for Flores, Corvo, Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira islands. Lorenzo, a Category 2 storm, was maintaining its strength as it headed toward the Azores, where it was expected to bring hurricane conditions to some areas early on Wednesday.

Lorenzo at one point was a Category 5 storm, the first ever recorded as far north and east in the Atlantic.

As of 18h00 UTC on Tuesday, Hurricane Lorenzo was some 385 miles southwest of Flores with maximum sustained winds of 160 kph, moving to the northeast at 40 kph.

Radio amateurs established HF inter-island links on 80, 40, and 20 meters — 3760, 3770, and 3750 kHz; 7110, 7100, and 7060 kHz; and 14 300, 14 310, and 14 320 kHz. The 20-meter frequencies were designated for communications with stations outside of the Azores.

Over the weekend, AMSAT-NA received a request from radio amateurs involved with emergency communications in the Azores to forgo operation of the AO-92 satellite this week. They asked that AO-92 remain in U/v to handle potential emergency traffic, with passes covering the Azores and Portugal the most critical.

Thanks to the ARRL News for this precis of their statement.

From Matt Hamblen, writing in FierceElectronics, comes the story of Pedro Cruz, who spent weeks after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in September 2017 helping bring food and water to people trapped in remote areas.

He quickly realized he could use an airborne drone to help, using its video connection to read dozens of messages painted on the ground asking rescue crews to bring water, food or medicine.

It wasn’t until nearly a year after the hurricane devastated the island territory in September 2017 that Cruz figured out a way to connect his drone to disaster aid through a computerized visual recognition tool.

Almost by luck, he said in an interview with FierceElectronics, he learned about an IBM Call for Code hackathon being held in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in August 2018. Developers were asked to find tech solutions for natural disaster preparedness, and as a self-taught developer, Cruz decided to join up.

Cruz ended up winning first place at the hackathon for a tool he introduced and later developed into DroneAid.

It uses visual recognition to detect and count emergency icons like SOS on the ground from video streams overhead. Then, it automatically plots the emergency needs on a map for first responders.

Following the hackathon, Cruz further developed DroneAid and later became a full-time developer advocate for IBM. On Wednesday, IBM also made DroneAid an open source project as part of its Code and Response initiative, a $25 million program to encourage development of open source technology designed to address global problems like disaster relief.

“Our team decided to open source DroneAid because I feel it’s important to make this technology available to as many people as possible,” Cruz said in a blog posted on Wednesday.

As a freelance web developer, he couldn’t reach clients for weeks after Maria hit. Just afterwards, he used his drone to locate his grandmother who waved from outside her isolated home that she was doing OK. Two weeks after the storm passed, “we would go out to the mountains in the centre of island and it still looked like the hurricane had passed just two days earlier…That’s where the inspiration for DroneAid came from. With a tool like this we can make our response a lot faster and many organizations can go out and help.”

Weeks after the hurricane passed, Cruz’s grandmother was hospitalized with a respiratory condition and later died. He later dedicated DroneAid to her memory.

Cruz plans to work from the bottom-up to get more people trained on using drones for emergency response. He has also worked top-down and has reached out to San Juan officials and the Red Cross. He hopes to talk to leaders in other cities about drone responses for all kinds of natural disasters.

One discovery Cruz made early on was that artificial intelligence computer vision systems needed to read a standard set of icons asking for assistance instead of reading handwritten messages on the ground in various languages through optical character recognition. He settled on eight different icons – such as SOS, OK, food, water, medicine – drawn from a recognized set of icons used by the United Nations. They can be printed on mats that are distributed prior to a storm or spray-painted or drawn by hand.

Cruz explained that a drone can survey an area for the icons placed on the ground by people in need or community groups. As DroneAid detects and counts the images, they are plotted on a map in a Web dashboard to help first responders prioritize needs. The AI model has to be trained on the standard icons to be able to detect them in low light and faded conditions.

When the AI model is applied to the live stream of images coming from the drone, each video frame is analysed and, if any emergency icons are found, their location is captured and plotted on a map. Any drone that can capture a video stream can be used.

The Disasters Emergency Committee tells us they launched the Cyclone Idai Appeal on 21st March 2019, after the cyclone swept through Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Across the three countries, at least 900 people were killed and around three million were left in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Just a few weeks later, Cyclone Kenneth followed, further weakening Mozambique’s ability to respond to the destruction. This was the first time in recorded history that two strong tropical cyclones hit Mozambique in the same season, further weakening the country’s ability to respond to the destruction caused by Idai.

Idai brought strong winds and widespread flooding, ripping apart roads, bridges, houses, schools, and health facilities and submerging vast swathes of agricultural land.

With the aid effort fully underway, DEC charities, working closely with national partners to support government-led relief efforts, are prioritising the delivery of clean water, and building toilets and handwashing facilities to tackle the outbreak of cholera. They are also delivering emergency shelter materials and blankets, foods such as pulses and maize flour, and urgent health assistance. Focusing on longer-term food security and rehabilitation of livelihoods is paramount and some members are already providing seeds and tools to communities.

The DEC fundraising appeal raised £43 million in all, a tidy sum indeed!

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

HAMNET Report 29th September 2019

Reporting in Psychcentral, Traci Pedersen notes that, when a natural disaster strikes, women are quicker to take cover or evacuate but often have trouble convincing the men in their lives to do so, according to new research led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The study, which focused on how gender influences natural disaster response, also found that traditional gender roles tend to resurface in the aftermath of disasters, with women relegated to the important but isolating role of homemaker while men focus on finances and lead community efforts.

“We found that there are many barriers that disadvantage women in the event of a disaster, leaving them behind when it comes to decision-making and potentially slowing down their recovery,” said lead author Melissa Villarreal, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology and research assistant at the Natural Hazards Centre.

The findings, published in the journal Disasters, are the latest in a series of studies that have found that women tend to have a higher perception of risk, but because they are framed as “worriers,” they are sometimes not taken seriously.

“Women seemed to have a different risk perception and desire for protective action than the men in their lives, but men often determined when and what type of action families took,” Villareal wrote. “In some cases, this put women and their families in greater danger.”

For the study, the researchers analysed in-depth interviews with 33 women and 10 men across two Texas towns.

The participants were asked about their experiences in the midst of, and the year after, the disaster. While the circumstances surrounding the events were very different, common gender-influenced patterns emerged.

“We often assume that men and women are going to respond the same way to these kinds of external stimuli but we are finding that’s not really the case,” said co-author Dr Michelle Meyer, associate professor and director of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Centre at Texas A&M University.

Female participants also reported that recovery organizations tended to call the men of the household to find out where to direct aid, even when women had filled out the forms requesting it.

“Eliminating the male head-of-household model is crucial for speeding overall household recovery,” the authors conclude.

During recovery, women were often charged with “private sphere” tasks like putting the house back together and caring for children while schools were closed, but they often felt excluded from leadership roles in community recovery projects.

“If your perspective is not taken into consideration and you feel isolated, that can impede your mental health recovery,” said Villareal.

Villareal recently embarked on a separate study, set in Houston, looking at the unique challenges Mexican immigrant populations are facing in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which hit the region in 2017.

Ultimately, she would like to see government agencies consider gender differences when crafting disaster warnings, and prioritize providing childcare post-disaster so that women can play a greater role in community efforts.

“If we can put racial and gender forms of bias aside and listen to all the people tell their stories about what is affecting them, that could go a long way in helping communities recover,” said Villarreal.

This week’s follow-up on the vaping illness from the CDC says that they received complete sex and age data on 373 cases. It says two-thirds (67%) of cases have been identified in people aged 18 to 34 years, 16 per cent are younger than 18 years and only 17 per cent are 35 years or older. 72 per cent are males.

Authorities say they have still not identified a specific cause of the lung illnesses, but most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), many patients have reported using THC and nicotine and some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

In a statement, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield encouraged people to consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products, and said efforts are needed in particular to reduce the use of e-cigarettes in young people.

Please continue to think twice before you use these devices.

Dave Swartz, writing in North Forty News, talks of Radio Station WWV, one of the oldest radio stations in the world, celebrating its 100th anniversary on 1st October 2019.  The radio station is best known for the broadcast of the national time standard, the “Atomic Clock”, which is closely synchronized with Universal Coordinated Time, or UTC.  WWV also provides frequency standards for radio communications as well as other services.

Amateur Radio operators have used WWV as a standard for radio and frequency calibration since its inception in 1919.  To recognize the historical, cultural, and scientific importance of radio communications and the critical role WWV plays, the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club and the WWV Amateur Radio Club are sponsoring a special event amateur radio station, call sign WW0WWV (that’s W -W – zero – W – W – V).

The station will make as many amateur radio contacts as possible over a 5-day, 120-hour operating period, starting at 6pm Friday, September 27, and going through 6pm on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.  The special event station will operate from the WWV site.

WWV was licensed and broadcasting a full year before the first commercial radio station in the country, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Early broadcasts were experimental in nature, but also included the first announced broadcast of music to the citizens of Washington, DC.  As commercial radio emerged, there was a need for frequency standards across the radio spectrum, and WWV filled that roll.  In 1944, WWV added the national time standard and has provided that service for the past 75 years.

We take for granted the incredible world we live in, made of matter and energy.  It’s the energy that is continually spreading out throughout the Universe, moving away from its source via electromagnetic waves at the speed of light.  It was 1865 when these waves were first theorized, and radio one of the first waves to be studied and understood.  WWV ushered in electromagnetic waves for the people and the start of the Mass Communication and Technology as we know them today.  There are only two things in the Universe:  matter and energy.  WWV is all about harnessing energy to communicate to the masses.

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