HAMNET Report 2 December 2018

Greg Mossop says he has received further information on the NATO Exercise Vigorous Warrior in Romania next year from Adrian YO3HJV.

The exercise is co-ordinated by the NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine (NATO MILMED COE) and the general framework of the exercise is the intervention of military forces in a disaster scenario, assisted by civil resources.

The scenarios for Amateur Radio involvement are still being developed, but will exercise communications inside the exercise area and possibly externally.
This is where it is hoped other countries can be included.

One possible scenario could be that there are interruptions in communications between national command centers and their teams participating in the exercise.  We could help by transmitting information via HF to the organizations involved, using WINLINK, PACTOR, or another suitable digimode.

Following some experience from the Malta/EU exercises, there will need to be some preparation before the exercise, so that the radio amateurs who will operating in both the exercise area and the national command centres are accredited in advance, and given any appropriate contact details, so that the messages can get to the destination with some trust.

A list of other European country organizations who have indicated their interest in  taking part, includes

The Dutch Amateur Radio Emergency Service (Secretary Jan Rozema PA7O); the Radio Amateur Association of Greece/Emergency Service (Board member Sotirios Vanikiotis SV1HER); Belgian Emergency Radio Service (Secretary Karel Cornelis ON7TA); EMCOM Spain (Jose Antonio Mendez EA9CD); and Slovenia (Tilen Cestnik S56CT)

Greg G0DUB thanks these countries who have thus far shown interest.

Between 19h29 our time on Friday evening, and 07h30 on Saturday morning, the South coast of Alaska near Anchorage was struck by 9 earthquakes, of magnitude 4.5 or greater, all between 20 and 40km below the ground, and threatening about 400 000 people living within 100 km of the epicentre. The first shock had magnitude 7,  and  ripped across the Anchorage area on Friday at 19h29. Buildings wobbled, roads cracked and thousands lost power during the morning commute.

After peaking above 50,000, the number of customers without power dropped to about 25,000 in Anchorage and neighbouring areas by Friday evening, Anchorage officials said at a news conference. The public radio station fielded multiple calls about the cleanliness of the water supply, with some residents reporting reddish-brown water coming from their taps. Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility reported more than two dozen mainline water breaks and the city advised residents to boil their tap water as a precaution.

The Federal Aviation Administration declared a ground stop at the airport after the earthquake. At 11:30 a.m. Anchorage time, the FAA said it had begun letting flights depart from the airport, but the ground stop was kept in place for arrivals.

The National Weather Service in Anchorage briefly suspended operations on their Friday morning after a tsunami warning was issued. All of the office’s duties were handed over to the Fairbanks office, and the meteorologists and staff evacuated. Operations resumed at the Anchorage office after the warning was cancelled.

Friday’s quake occurred on a fault line between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, the USGS said. The rupture between the faults occurred in an area where the Pacific plate is moving underneath Alaska. Anchorage was severely damaged in March 1964 by the Great Alaska Earthquake, a 9.2-magnitude quake with its epicentre about 75 miles east of the city. That quake, which lasted for about 4½ minutes, was the most powerful earthquake recorded in U.S. history. It destroyed a major part of downtown Anchorage and caused a tsunami that ravaged towns on the Gulf of Alaska and beyond.

Thank you to the Washington Post for the majority of this report.

Now, doffing my HAMNET hat and donning my MEDICAL one, I wish to tell you that reported measles cases spiked in 2017, as multiple countries experienced severe and protracted outbreaks of the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Because of gaps in vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks occurred in all regions, while there were an estimated 110 000 deaths related to the disease.

Using updated disease modelling data, the report provides the most comprehensive estimates of measles trends over the last 17 years. It shows that since 2000, over 21 million lives have been saved through measles immunizations. However, reported cases increased by more than 30 percent worldwide from 2016 to 2018.

The Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Europe experienced the greatest upsurges in cases in 2017, with the Western Pacific the only World Health Organization (WHO) region where measles incidence fell.

“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving, measles elimination,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease. It can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis (an infection that leads to swelling of the brain), severe diarrhoea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent visual loss. Babies and young children with malnutrition and weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to complications and death.

The disease is preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. For several years, however, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85 percent. This is far short of the 95 percent needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people, in many communities, susceptible to the disease.

“The increase in measles cases is deeply concerning, but not surprising,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Complacency about the disease and the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, a collapsing health system in Venezuela and pockets of fragility and low immunization coverage in Africa are combining to bring about a global resurgence of measles after years of progress. Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems.”

The agencies also call for actions to build broad-based public support for immunizations, while tackling misinformation and hesitancy around vaccines where these exist.

The misinformation referred to, is a illogical claim that measles vaccines have a chance of causing Autism Spectrum Disorder in children. This is a totally disproved  rumour based on false evidence debunked about 40 years ago.

PLEASE immunise your child against measles. He or she will not get Autism Spectrum Disorder, but he or she may well die of measles if not immunised!

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

HAMNET Report 25 November 2018

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) announced a red alert yesterday for Tropical Cyclone USAGI-18, crossing the Southern coast of Vietnam, with winds in the region of 130 km/h, and heading North-West. 1.3 million people are in the direct path of the storm, and 31.6 million are within range of the tropical depression. By Monday the 26th, the storm will have entered the bottom left corner of Cambodia, and hopefully crossed the coast out to sea West of Cambodia.

Now, from spaceweather.com comes news of an exciting event this week.

For the first time ever, cubesats are approaching Mars. Their mission: To experience “7 minutes of terror”. If all goes as planned, on Monday the two tiny spacecraft will watch NASA’s InSight lander touchdown on the Red Planet, relaying updates to Earth in near-real time.

InSight is the latest NASA probe to land on Mars–or disintegrate in the attempt. On Nov. 26th, it will tear through the planet’s atmosphere in a fireball, shedding more than 12,000 mph of velocity in just under 7 minutes (during which time NASA will be unable to receive signals from it! These are the “7 minutes of terror”.). NASA hopes InSight will touch down gently on the plains of Elysium Planitia where it can drill into Mars, using seismometers, heat flow sensors, and radios to study the planet’s interior.

Officially the two cubesats are known as MarCO-A and MarCO-B, but JPL engineers have nicknamed them “WALL-E” and “Eva.” They were launched alongside the lander on May 5, 2018. Mission controllers weren’t even sure the tiny spacecraft would survive the journey across interplanetary space–but they did. Now they will act as radio relay stations. Instead of waiting several hours for InSight to report back to Earth, WALL-E and Eva will relay entry, descent and landing data much sooner. This is the first time cubesats have travelled beyond Earth orbit, so it will be a significant achievement if they succeed.

NASA will broadcast the landing on NASA TV starting at 2 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 26th. That is 9pm, our time, so do go to NASA TV and watch.

And for an entertaining description of InSight’s mission to Mars, go to TheOatmeal.com, choose “Comics”, and watch “A mole will land on Mars”.

Carly Zervis, reporting in the Citrus County Chronicle, has reported on Fred Moore, who is a longtime amateur radio operator, and who, earlier this month, played a role in getting medical assistance to a crew member suffering chest pains aboard a sailboat in the Atlantic.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a kid,” Fred said. “I first got licensed as an amateur radio operator when I was about 13 or 14 years old.” He liked it so much he made it a career as chief engineer at several radio stations in the Philadelphia area and in the Merchant Marine as a radio officer.

Now, retired and a member of the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN), Moore volunteers his time and years of experience to help radio operators aboard anything afloat and equipped with a radio to communicate with anybody they need to talk to on land. On Nov. 9, a crew member on the Maria Elena needed help.

“There was a vessel off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, who had on board a crew member who had began to suffer chest pains,” Moore said Monday. “He had training himself, as an emergency medical person, so he knew kind of what was happening to him, and he said ‘I’ve got to get off this boat, or I’m not gonna see tomorrow, maybe.’”

But given the boat’s location — 300 miles east of Bermuda — calling 911 wasn’t an option, so the captain got on the radio.

“He came up on a frequency on which the MMSN operates and explained what was going on. He was talking to somebody up in Wisconsin, but the signal began to fade, and I happened to have the radio turned on and on the right frequency, and I said ‘I’ve got to help this guy,’” Moore continued. “So I called him. It happens I had talked to the captain of that boat previously, in previous years. He explained to me what was going on, and said, ‘could you get us some help?’”

Moore patched the captain through to the U.S. Coast Guard, allowing them to communicate directly via his home radio station, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

“We decided it might be a good idea to establish a schedule to maintain contact over the next several hours, to see how the patient was doing and how the Coast Guard was progressing in getting a facility available to offload this guy. So that’s what I did,” he said. “It started around midday and went into the evening hours, and by 9 or 10 the following morning the Coast Guard managed to have a rescue vessel come alongside. They moved him to the rescue vessel, and then he was offloaded from the rescue vessel to a helicopter and taken to a medical facility.”

“The assistance we received from the ham radio operator[s] was crucial in helping us communicate with the vessel’s crew,” U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Unser said in a press release after the crew member was evacuated. Unser was the search-and-rescue coordinator for the incident.

As for Moore’s role in the man’s rescue, it wasn’t the first time he’s provided aid via radio. As a volunteer with both the MMSN and the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), he’s assisted with calls for help as well as larger disasters, including after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

According to an article by the American Radio Relay League, Moore was one of three amateur radio operators who assisted significantly with the communications effort after the earthquake.

Fred is definitely an asset to Amateur Radio and Emergency Communications..

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

HAMNET Report 18 November 2018

Brian Jacobs, ZS6YZ, reports that, on 4 November a combined team comprising members from HAMNET Gauteng North and South and some non-HAMNET members from Pretoria provided communications for the 2nd Tshwane Classic Total Road Closure event in Pretoria.

The Tshwane Classic attracted over 6500 riders on the 60km and 98km routes with additional riders in the 20km and the 5km and 500m kiddies race. The 20km route followed a short section of the 98km route before turning around and ending at the Voortrekker Monument again and the Kiddies races were in and around the Monument grounds.

It was an early start for the team with the briefing session at 04:30 on the Sunday morning.

The race started at 05:45 with the Elite 98km cyclists leaving the Voortrekker Monument travelling South and West through Centurion before turning North on the R511 towards Hartbeespoort Dam. At Pelindaba the route again turned East and the 98km riders joined up with the 60km riders approaching Pelindaba from the East. From here both the 98km and 60km participants followed the same route back to Pretoria, passing through the city centre, over the very steep Tom Jenkins Drive, past the Union Buildings and then back through the city centre before attempting the final steep uphill to the finish at Freedom Park. All that was left was a short downhill back to the Voortrekker Monument.

The team manning the JOC had their hands full to start with, and needed to deploy HAMNET members to help control traffic at the start as the Tshwane Metro Police Department were late in deploying their units to the various positions. As the race progressed the situation improved until the lead riders reached the city centre where the JOC again needed to urgently deploy HAMNET members to provide situation reports at various intersections, so that the JOC could get the TMPD to deploy the necessary units to the hot spots, where the Minibus Taxis provided the greatest challenges. The field units also had their hands full at times, but in the end the cycle event was a great success.

The route along the R511 through the Hennops Valley provided some communications challenges with the Skurweberg mountain screening off the   145.750 MHz repeater in places. The Magalies Radio Amateur Club kindly made their 145.750 MHz repeater available to HAMNET for the event, as it provided the best overall coverage. The Pretoria Amateur Radio Club kindly allowed all the Sunday morning bulletins and programs that normally made use of the 145.750 MHz repeater, to be transmitted over their club repeater.

Brian says a big “thank you” to all 16 operators that participated in the event, and to the local clubs for the use of their club repeaters.

Thank you, Brian, for all the details of a very successful event.

The eyes of the dwellers on the Indian sub-continent are on Cyclone Gaja, which crossed the country from East to West between Thursday and yesterday, with sustained winds in the region of 100 km/h, threatening the safety and shelter of 8.4 million people. The path crossed the provinces of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Writing in The Hindu, S. Prasad notes that ham radio operators from Bengaluru and Kollam in Kerala are in Cuddalore district for transmission of information from base stations to government departments. The district administration has set up the Ham Radio Communication Headquarters on the Collectorate campus.

Four operators from the Bangalore Amateur Radio Club, who arrived on Thursday, are stationed at the Collectorate while another group from Kollam-based Active Hams Amateur Radio Society has been sent to Chidambaram as a precautionary measure. The team from Active Hams Amateur Radio Society recently participated in the Kerala flood rescue operations and transmitted emergency communication during floods.

The team reached Cuddalore on Thursday to handle any emergency communication on the request of the district authorities. According to Govind Girimigi, Secretary of Amateur Radio Society of India, and whose call sign is VU2GGM, “nine ham operators have been stationed in vulnerable areas across the district to report disaster. We take orders from the officials concerned and communicate to the relief camps on VHF 145.000 MHz,” he said.

Ramesh, VU3VRL, another ham operator and treasurer of Bangalore Amateur Radio Club, said that, when secondary levels of communication fail and the authorities were restricted to particular channels in an emergency, ham radios step in to function as an alternative means of communication. “We have the liberty to shift within our own battery set up and communicate until the first line of communication is restored,” he said.

The Cuddalore district administration has launched FM Radio 107.8 MHz to ensure uninterrupted transmission of information, if other modes of communication fail.

Thank you to The Hindu for these notes.

Meanwhile, in California, Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) operators have been assisting in two fire areas. In Butte County, the uncontrolled wildfire destroyed the town of Paradise, covered some 125,000 acres, and resulted in at least 40 deaths.

The ARRL News says that more than 20 ARES members from five ARES groups were supporting the shelters. ARES members were also tasked by Red Cross to shadow Red Cross delivery vehicles to provide communication in the mountain areas to the shelters.

ARES communication at the shelters was carried out using voice, Winlink, and email to pass shelter counts, and tactical messages, between the shelter and the Red Cross Disaster Operations Centre and Cal Office of Emergency Services.

The Red Cross is supporting ARES at the shelters with hot spots and backup radios.

And, in the Woolsey fire, that swept through the westernmost portion of Los Angeles County, including Malibu, and the easternmost area of Ventura County in the ARRL Santa Barbara Section, the evacuation of more than 200,000 Los Angeles County residents was ordered. Evacuees included several celebrities, several of whom lost homes in the fire. Nearly 50 people have died in all fires.

“Nevertheless, governmental radio systems used by fire and sheriff held up well, even though cell phone and internet service went out in many fire areas because of burned utility poles,” Los Angeles Section Manager Diana Feinberg, AI6DF, said.

Our thoughts go out to the many who have lost all their possessions.

Thank you to the ARRL News for these extracts from their report.

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

HAMNET Report 11 November 2018

Today, I would like to share with you a sobering report of the stupidity of mankind.

Writing in New Times, Al Fonzi says:

A hundred years ago today, November 11, the cataclysmic “Great War” (the “war to end all wars,” aka, The First World War or World War I) came to a close as the warring powers signed an armistice at 5 a.m. However, the armistice would not take effect until 11 a.m., which meant life or death for thousands of soldiers. (A formal peace treaty, the Treaty of Versaille, would not be signed until June 28, 1919.)

Until another even greater war occurred barely 20 years later, the First World War was likely the bloodiest war in human history. The slaughter took place on an industrial scale never before experienced by humanity. Unfortunately, many generals were tied to the past and failed to recognize the revolutionary effect technology was to play during war in the 20th century.

WWI introduced not just the field telephone but wireless radio communications that outpaced the ability of any “runner” or military aide’s ability to send or receive messages from a commander to subordinates. It also introduced not only the airplane, but its use as “flying artillery” capable of bombing or strafing enemy positions far to the rear of front lines. It also introduced the use of poison gas, tanks, and the submarine. Most importantly for war on land, it introduced the machine gun, which was, next to rapid-firing artillery, the greatest innovation for killing on the battlefield. When integrated into defensive or offensive operations, the effect of these weapons was decisive on the battlefield.

World War I began in the first week of August 1914 and, by the end of October 1914, more than 325,000 combatants from all sides had been killed in action with three times that number wounded. Instead of a war of manoeuvring, vast armies with hundreds of divisions of troops (an average division consists of 10,000 to 15,000 men) had been mobilized, bogged down in a 600-mile-long trench system across western and central Europe and fed into a grinder that crushed men’s souls. The generals failed to learn and insisted that old tactics need not change, just urge the men forward. Disaster upon disaster became names associated with needless loss of life, such as Gallipoli, the 1915 amphibious invasion of the Dardanelle’s (300,000 casualties); the Somme in July 1916, where the British Army lost 60,000 men in a single morning between 8 and 11 a.m.; and Verdun in 1916, where virtually every French division served at one time or another and the souls of more than 600,000 French and German soldiers were lost. On the Russian front, casualties mounted into the millions as the Russian Czar’s generals herded Russian peasants into murderous machine-gun fire without regard for common sense, let alone strategy. On the southern front, Italian generals employed brutal discipline against their own troops, who were fighting Austrian troops in the Alps, hauling disassembled cannons up sheer mountain cliffs to create avalanches to bury their Austrian counterparts.

The war was truly global, with 200,000 Vietnamese troops providing battalions to the French on the Western Front and colonial troops fighting on behalf of their colonial masters in East Africa and the Arabian Desert. A Vietnamese soldier of note with the French on the Western Front was the future Ho Chi Minh, who led his people to drive out the French from his homeland in Indochina and would later wage a 10-year war against America and South Vietnam.

America mobilized for war in 1917, but also fought a hidden enemy in the form of the 1918 influenza epidemic, a pandemic that eventually killed more than 200 million people worldwide. American troops were especially susceptible. Of the 116,000 American fatalities in WWI, 53,513 were battle deaths but 63,195 succumbed to disease, mostly influenza. It was so virulent that a soldier could show symptoms at 6 p.m. and be dead before 6 a.m. the next morning. At Fort Devens in Massachusetts, soldiers in training died at the rate of 100 per day during the pandemic’s peak. The German Army was also affected; their March 1918 offensive ground to a halt when they exhausted their reserve divisions, which had been decimated by influenza, allowing the Allies to regain the initiative and launch a counter-offensive.

Although the armistice was signed at 5 a.m. on Nov. 11, no order was given to cease combat operations before it was to take effect at 11 a.m. As a result, for the next six hours, every gun on the Western Front continued to fire, (literally millions of rounds) as hundreds of thousands of soldiers continued to fight and “go over the top” in last-minute offensives ordered by the military high command.

Remember the sacrifices made by those soldiers of the Great War and all the ones that followed, this Remembrance Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, at the many memorials throughout the country.

On a much happier note, HAMNET Western Cape has already been approached to assist at the 2019 edition of the 99er Cycle Tour out of Durbanville on February the 9th. Arrangements are already in an advanced state amongst the organisers, and HAMNET will be drawn into the meetings in January 2019.

Then the most beautiful marathon in all the world, the Two Oceans Marathon takes place over Easter Weekend next year, and the race date is Saturday the 20th April. The organisation for that one starts before the previous race has been run, so you can rest assured that everything has already been taken into account for that one.

HAMNET Western Cape has also been approached to assist with the monitoring and reporting of those “magnificent men in their flying machines”, who take part in the President’s Trophy Air Race next year, near Saldanha Airfield between the 2nd and 4th of May.

There will be ten turn points along the 300 nautical mile route, some of which will need to be manned on the 3rd and 4th of May. Duties of the HAMNET ground observers include recording of the times as the aircraft pass the turn points, with directions and approximate heights, and reports back to the control station  over ham frequencies.

About ten operators will be needed to assist, and the organisers are already in communication with HAMNET Western Cape.

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

HAMNET Report 4 November 2018

Super Typhoon Yutu, which I mentioned last week having battered the Northern Mariana Islands, reached the Philippines this week, and Greg G0DUB mentions that he had been advised on last Monday by Dani YB2TJV that, to prepare for the effects of Typhoon YUTU in the Philippines, 7.095MHz is now in use by ‘Ham Emergency Radio Operators’ in the Philippines. The changing path of the typhoon had not pinned down the impact area but definitely the Northern and central part of Luzon would be affected. The strength of the wind had abated a bit to 130km/h, but at least 10 million people were threatened by that type of wind, as it crossed the Northern tip of the Philippines, and then veered to North-East along the coast of China. It is due to be between Taiwan and China today

Greg also mentions in another communique that Tilen S56CT reported that ARON in Slovenia were in a state of preparedness because of the bad weather last weekend. Flooding is now striking parts of NE Slovenia along the river Drava and high winds are also expected to cause problems in the Western part of the country.

ARON teams are QRV on DMR network TG 293112, VHF/UHF net-Echolink conference *SLOVENIA*, local repeaters and simplex channels and of course Winlink system. S50ARO monitors 3605 kHz voice as well. The channels are being kept active by sending a few radiograms on the 80 and 60 m band in MFSK32 mode with the content being weather forecasts with warnings.

Meanwhile in Greece nearly 50 earthquakes have struck the country since the 25th of October, with a magnitude just under 5.0 which is where property damage can occur. In Italy we also have flooding affecting Venice, with high water in the centre of town at 1.52m, but also in other parts of Italy, especially in Liguria with a sort of tsunami, and up to 12 people dead. Civil Protection is involved locally and at national level, and the critical situations were flood damage and electricity outages. France had snow and also suffered high winds and rain from Storm Adrian.

Europe has taken a battering, and Winter has hardly started there!

Wilderness Search and Rescue in the Western Cape has noted that Working On Fire (WOF) and other agencies are currently engaged in the containment of the raging wildfire in the mountains between George and Wilderness, and that the area has been closed off for a number of reasons:-

  1. It is very unsafe for members of the public to be in the area. The obvious fire and smoke hazard can be life threatening to any recreational outdoor user.
  2. The area must be clear of all civilians to allow the firefighters to concentrate on their job, which also includes starting secondary fires for the purpose of back burning. Being caught between two or more fire fronts will be a serious concern for the Wildfire Incident Commanders.
  3. The roads have to be free for the emergency vehicles to  use.
  4. It may happen that burning or burnt trees will be falling across roads.
  5. Firefighting aircraft are operating in the area as well.

The area mostly affected is the Outaniqua mountain range above George which is managed by Cape Nature (a signatory of Wilderness Search And Rescue).

WSAR asks the public to please be aware that this area is closed for the following activities until further notice:-

  • hiking
  • trail running
  • mountain biking
  • driving
  • and guest accommodation which may also be affected

Thank you to WSAR for these notes.

Meanwhile, Johan Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, has reported on the intense heat wave and gale-force winds in that part of the Western Cape, which have resulted in the devastating runaway fires, threatening the towns of George and Karatara in the Southern Cape area since October 24. An Amateur Radio Joint Operational Centre (JOC) was established on October 29, and radio amateurs were put on standby when parts of George experienced telephone and power outages in the Knysna area. Several new fires were also reported due to lightning.

At one point, those living in the affected areas were ordered to prepare for evacuation, although that order was later rescinded.

Radio amateurs in the Southern Cape have been asked to make their stations available to support emergency communication, should commercial systems fail. Johan Terblanche, ZS1I, in Mossel Bay, who administers the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), reports that the Amateur Radio JOC is currently active on the AREDN Mossel Bay Mesh Network, Echolink, AllStar, Twitter, and Zello. The Amateur Radio JOC will remain active until all fires are brought under control. The death toll as a result of fires in the Southern Cape area now stands at 8, and more than 800 have been evacuated. Disaster relief operations continue. 

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

HAMNET Report 28 October 2018

HAMNET would like to congratulate the 79 new radio amateurs who passed their South African exams this month, and welcome them to the world of communications, electronics and experimentation. We hope you will stay with us for many seasons, and teach us as much as we can teach you. Selfishly, we hope some of you have already decided to join HAMNET, to use your skills in emergency communications and during sporting or community events. Welcome aboard, indeed!

In the wake of Category 4 Hurricane Willa, battering the Pacific coast of Mexico, Greg Mossop G0DUB posted news that The Federación Mexicana de Radioexperimentadores (FMRE), Mexico’s IARU member-society, is asking radio amateurs to avoid 7060, 7130, and 14120 kHz, where Category 4 Hurricane Willa emergency nets are operating (in Spanish).

As of 1200 UTC, on 23rd October, the storm was some 240 Km south-southwest of Mazatlan, with maximum sustained winds of 210km/h. Willa was moving north at 8 km/h and was expected to make landfall later that day along the west-central coast of mainland Mexico. Mexico’s National Emergency Net activated the nets yesterday. Alternate systems include IRLP, node 0077, and DMR TE 33450 of the FMRE.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) considers a Category 4 hurricane a “major” disaster, with “catastrophic damage” likely. Thanks to Benjamin Kuo, AI6YR.

Far away from the US mainland, American citizens are reeling from a direct hit by Super Typhoon Yutu.

Writing in Grist, Eric Holthaus notes that, during its landfall on Thursday, Yutu lashed the Mariana Islands with more than a foot of rain, coastal flooding in excess of 15 feet, waves the size of five-story apartment buildings, and winds of 290 km/h.

Saipan and Tinian are the two most-populated islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the central Pacific Ocean about 12800 kilometres from Washington, D.C. — nearly twice as far away as Honolulu. Both islands took a direct hit. About 50,000 people live in the Commonwealth, and after Yutu, they’re fighting for survival.

Most structures have lost their roofs, and even the leaves have been stripped from trees and bushes, local lawmaker Edwin Propst told the Associated Press. Closed circuit video from near the point of landfall showed an entire hotel lobby destroyed in seconds.

Just hours after landfall, local news reports said that food, drinking water, and fuel were already in short supply. “This damage is just horrendous, it’s going to take months and months for us to recover,” Propst said.

If recent history holds, he’ll be right. Yutu is the third tropical cyclone (the scientific term for typhoons and hurricanes) in just over a year to plunge a remote U.S. territory into humanitarian crisis. Last year, Hurricane Irma’s devastation in the U.S. Virgin Islands was eclipsed just days later when Hurricane Maria made a direct hit in Puerto Rico.

Like so many recent hurricanes, Yutu rapidly strengthened just before landfall, going from a Category 1 to a Category 5 in just 36 hours. Waters near Yutu were 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, consistent with the effects of climate change and a key factor in rapidly strengthening storms.

Residents of the Islands are set to be without electricity and running water for months, after the category 5 storm wiped out the territory’s infrastructure.

A US military plane is bringing food, water and other emergency supplies to the 50,000 people living on the islands.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) said it would aim to help restore power, reopen ports and airports and ensure mobile phone towers can operate on emergency power until utility services return.

At least one person was killed and several people were injured by spraying glass and other debris, as winds of 25 km/h pummelled the islands on Thursday.

The only hospital on the Northern Marianas said it received 133 people in its emergency room on Thursday. Three patients had severe injuries that required surgery.

A 44-year-old woman taking shelter in an abandoned building died when it collapsed in the storm, according to the governor’s office’s Facebook page.

The hospital in Saipan was running on backup generators but otherwise operating normally, said Esther Lizama Muna, CEO of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. She said she expects more patients to seek medical help on Friday and is worried the hospital could run out of medical supplies.

Yutu has now passed the Northern Mariana Islands by, and is plodding on across the Western Pacific, where it is still expected to bring powerful winds and torrential rain to the Philippines and Taiwan next week, endangering even more residents.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the third hurricane still in our minds, residents of the Florida Panhandle are still reeling from the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael. As a snapshot of where they stand now, 16 days after the storm, about 70,000 customers remain without power, some water and sewer systems are not working, and cellphone service is spotty.

A complete breakdown of communications during and after the storm crippled the emergency response, and now it hinders recovery.

It has been a major problem throughout the region, where hundreds of people have been reported missing because the phones aren’t working. It’s also hampered search and rescue operations because first responders can’t talk to one another.

Finally, Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) in the Western Cape were involved in two group rescues amongst hikers this week.

In the first, a group of hikers along the multi day Whale Trail in the De Hoop Nature Reserve Overberg, needed help on Tuesday, and two of them were casevacced to a hospital in Swellendam by the Air Mercy Service (AMS) rescue helicopter. The rest of the group continued on foot to a point where they were safely off the trail.

In the second, a group of 3 hikers on Table Mountain, who were unfamiliar with their route, became disorientated, and started to become dehydrated, in the hot sun on Friday the 26th. Rescuers drove up to the Back Table from Constantia Neck and proceeded on foot in the direction of the Smuts Track, where the group was found, assessed, found to be well enough to be walked out, and were proceeding towards Kitchen Ravine, when they were met by 4×4 support vehicles and brought safely down.

This week’s heat wave has indeed been intense in the Western Cape.

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

HAMNET Report 21 October 2018

Our National HAMNET Director, Glynn Chamberlain, ZS6GLN has announced that the SARL council has appointed Grant Southey (ZS1GS) as the new HAMNET Deputy National Director. Grant will also continue as regional director for HAMNET Western Cape as well.

Glynn thanks Grant for taking on this role and looks forward to his positive attitude and enthusiasm going forward, and hopes we will all join him in welcoming Grant to his new position and give him all our support!

The ARES E-Letter notes that more vehicles have non-steel roof panels constructed of fibreglass, aluminium, or carbon fibre these days. This makes placing a temporary mag-mount antenna on the roof difficult. We have run into this issue several times in the past when our radio operators were riding in Support And Gear (SAG), sweep, or pace vehicles during special events or riding along with a Jeep Patrol in the mountains. Recently, John  was assisting a neighbouring ARES region with a special event and was riding in a new law enforcement vehicle that had an aluminium roof panel. The solution was to use an HT Window Mount Clip. There are BNC, SMA, and female SMA versions of this clip so you can easily attach an HT antenna and get it outside of the vehicle. It is small enough to throw in a ruck sack if you know you will be operating from a vehicle other than your own. Operators may find other uses for this mount such as to get an antenna outside of a room, or to get some extra height for an HT antenna. It may not have the same ground plane effects of a mag-mount, but it definitely works.

Thanks to John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, for this suggestion.

News4JAX reports that the North Florida American Radio Relay League is looking for local amateur radio operators to help facilitated communication in areas of the Panhandle hit hardest by Hurricane Michael.

“During the first 24-48 hours after Michael made landfall, the only communications that were available in several of the impacted counties was through HF (high frequency) radio and amateur radio operators,” said Scott Roberts, with the NFARR.

Several counties with damage to critical infrastructure remain without any form of communication. In some areas, the only method of communication between shelters and emergency management is through ham radio.

A handful of volunteers were deployed from Duval County this week to assist at shelters in the Panhandle. But more are needed to help relay information and direct resources inside the affected areas.

“If they need cots, more food, or they’re running low on anything, they would pass that information over radio to the state emergency operations centre, or the resource centres to get them sent to the shelters,” Roberts said.

Volunteers could be deployed for as long as seven days. They will need to bring their own amateur radio gear, as well as food, water, a sleeping bag and other personal supplies.

The 25-meter Dwingeloo Radio Telescope in the Netherlands has received photos of the dark side of the moon, transmitted by the Chinese Longjiang-2 lunar satellite (DSLWP-B), Lunar-OSCAR 94 (LO-94). One especially dramatic image shows the far side of the moon with Earth in the background, taken by the Longjiang-2 satellite and transmitted by an onboard Amateur Radio transceiver. The Dwingeloo Radio Telescope had been restored by the C.A. Muller Radio Astronomy Station (or CAMRAS) PI9CAM group.

“This image represents the culmination of several observing sessions spread over the past few months where we used the Dwingeloo telescope in collaboration with the Chinese team from Harbin University of Technology, who built the radio transceiver on board Longjiang-2, and with radio amateurs spread across the globe,” a CAMRAS report said. “During these sessions, we tested receiving telemetry through low-bit rate and error-resistant digitally modulated transmissions, as well as the JT4G modulation scheme designed by radio amateur and Nobel prize winning astrophysicist Joe Taylor, K1JT, for weak-signal moonbounce experiments.” Other images are of the lunar surface, lens flares, and the starry sky as seen from lunar orbit.

The Longjiang-2 transceiver was designed to allow radio amateurs to downlink telemetry and relay messages through a satellite in lunar orbit, as well as to command it to take and downlink images. Some Earth-bound radio amateurs and sky watchers have already received images from the moon-orbiting satellite.

Longjiang-2 was launched last May into a lunar transfer orbit and deployed as a secondary payload with the Queqiao relay satellite as part of the Chang’e 4 mission. The satellite will test low-frequency radio astronomy and space-based interferometry; no transponder is aboard.


In preparation for the mission and discussion of the possibilities of the antennas and receivers in the radio telescope, MingChuan Wei, BG2BHC, and Hu Chaoran, BG2CRY, both of the Harbin Institute of Technology, visited Harry Keizer, PE1CHQ, and Jan van Muijlwijk, PA3FXB, of CAMRAS.
The Chang’e 4 mission will mark the first-ever attempt at a soft landing on the far side of the moon. The Chang’e-4 lander and rover are scheduled to launch in December.

The spacecraft transmits on 70 centimetres (435.400/436.400 MHz) with 250/500 bps GMSK using 10 kHz wide FM single-channel data, with concatenated codes or JT4G.

Thanks to this week’s ARRL Letter for the report.

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


HAMNET Report 14 October 2018

At the top of the EMCOMMS list this weekend is news of Hurricane Michael’s effect on the Southern United States.

The ARRL reports that an array of Amateur Radio public service assets was active as Hurricane Michael — now a tropical storm — made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle on October 10, with devastating 250 km/h winds. The storm is believed to be the first Category 4 or stronger hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warned of life-threatening storm surges as well as hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall.

The Hurricane Watch Net activated on October 10th and closed operations the following day.

WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Centre, was active to receive observed weather information and data via Amateur Radio to aid forecasters.

The VoIP Hurricane Net activated on October 10th  to support communication with the National Hurricane Centre.

The Southern Territory Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) stood down on October 11th. SATERN was requested to provide Amateur Radio operators for Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa, as well as some local units in Georgia, and at Divisional Headquarters in Atlanta.

The ARRL North Florida and West Central Florida sections assisted SATERN with additional operators in Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa. North Florida Section ARES was at full activation.

Miller Norton, W4EMN, the Communications Watch Officer at the Duval County Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Jacksonville, Florida, was monitoring SARnet  — a UHF-linked repeater network in Florida — when he heard an urgent call for help that needed to be sent to the State EOC in Tallahassee. All other forms of communication were out, and Norton was able to relay the message via Amateur Radio. He also passed along messages and requests from the Jackson County EOC to the American Red Cross. Norton said officials in Tallahassee and Jackson County were both incredibly grateful for the way the SARnet system functioned during the weather emergency.

Jackson County Emergency Coordinator Ricky Whittington, KD4AST, was deployed to the county EOC in Marianna.

“We took a direct hit by the centre of the storm at 220 km/h,” he told Clay County ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator and Public Information Officer Scott Roberts, KK4ECR. “[The] county maintenance building across the road from the EOC was picked up and slammed into the north side and over the roof of the EOC just prior to the eye passing over.”

The incident took out the HF antenna, which has since been restored. Whittington said the internet failed, as did cell service for a while. Hams have been passing material and resource orders to the State EOC via HF and SARnet. Whittington reported “total devastation of Bay, Jackson, and Gulf counties,” with loss of electrical power and water service, in addition to damage in Franklin, Holmes, and Leon counties. “[The] only mode of communications after the eye came across was ham radio, until we got minimal cell service a few hours ago,” he reported.

The ARRL Emergency Response Team has been coordinating with Field Organization leadership in ARRL Sections affected by the storm, as well as with WX4NHC, the HWN, VoIP Hurricane Net, Department of Homeland Security SHARES, and US Army MARS.

Thanks to the ARRL for the report.

As of Saturday afternoon, the death toll from Hurricane Michael stood at 14.

A message from Greg Mossop G0DUB of IARU Region 1 says that it is a busy weekend in the Region with two major exercises and at least one emergency happening.

In Oman Younis A41MA reports that as Tropical Storm Luban heads towards Oman and Yemen, the National Committee of Civil Defence has deployed resources to the South of the country ready to deal with the flooding predicted to hit the area. An initial four amateur radio volunteers are present to help provide links to any isolated locations. This operation is initially on VHF but HF is ready to be used if required. Storms in this area generally go under-reported but are just as severe as other disasters with the previous two tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea claiming nearly 300 lives.

In Spain, their ‘Field Day 2018‘ exercise took place yesterday ( 13th October ) with a focus on Net Control activities. HF was expected to be in use on 7110, 7145, 7175 and 14315kHz. Winlink and VHF/DMR was also to be used

Finally Radio Amateurs in Romania are participating in an European Community Exercise in their country. ModEx 2018 will call for the use of 3710 and 7130kHz along with VHF/DMR.

All exercises and actual emergencies should be expected to identify as ’emergency exercise’ or ‘exercise’ on the air. When these events are watched by representatives from our Administrations, it is important that Amateur Radio is seen positively, so please allow the operators room to operate.

And Jose Mendez EA9CD informed us yesterday about the start of that FIELD DAY 2018 in Spain, where there were several special stations on the bands on 20m, 40m  and on UHF, VHF and 6m, in addition to the DMR, C4FM and D-star modes. Links were also to be made via Winlink, and a Hamnet Network was deployed by EG5FD to provide data support. This exercise ended at 16h00 UTC last night.

And in the city of Palu on the island of Saluwesi in Indonesia, 2 weeks after the earthquake and tsunami, the “Save the Children” organization is still receiving 20 missing-children reports a day. These are children separated from their parents, or amongst the estimated 5000 people buried in the landslides mentioned in last week’s report, or children being looked for by concerned relatives other than parents, who are desperately hoping the children have survived, even though their parents are missing presumed dead.

The overall number of children still missing is believed to be in the thousands. It’s unclear how many are still alive. An unknown number of bodies remain buried beneath neighbourhoods where the soil liquefied after the quake.

Unidentified children live in tent cities in several aid stations for separated children that humanitarian groups have set up across Palu, the city closest to the earthquake’s epicentre, looked after by social workers and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund officials. The monumental task of reuniting families or managing orphaned children is going to take a long time. We can only applaud the wonderful dedication of these conscientious workers.

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

HAMNET Report 7 October 2018

NHK World reports that, a week after the twin disaster decimated the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia; the death toll continues to rise. Officials now blame the earthquake and tsunami for the deaths of more than 1,500 people.

Muslims gathered on the island of Sulawesi for Friday prayers where they mourned the dead and prayed that more people would be found alive. But emergency crews continue to pull more bodies from underneath the rubble. Officials say one of the dead was a South Korean man who was taking part in a paragliding event.

There is a huge need for first aid supplies. A hospital in one of the hardest-hit cities of Palu is flooded with patients. Doctors say they don’t have enough staff to deal with them. They also warn that many are at risk of infection. Complicating matters, some patients are afraid to be treated indoors after seeing so many buildings collapse.

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake triggered a tsunami that wiped out thousands of homes and buildings. Indonesia’s authorities are working with Japanese experts to investigate the mechanisms of how the quake caused the deadly wave.

And NDTV reports that the city of Palu on Sulawesi island has been left in ruins after being hit by the 7.5 magnitude quake and the  wall of water, which flattened homes, ripped up trees and overturned cars.

After days of delays, international aid has finally started to arrive in the disaster zone, where the UN says almost 200,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Survivors have ransacked shops and supply trucks in the hunt for basic necessities, prompting security forces to round up dozens of suspected looters and warn that they will fire on thieves.

Authorities previously set a tentative deadline of Friday for finding anyone trapped under ruined buildings, although chances of pulling survivors alive from the rubble at such a late stage are almost zero. Local military spokesman Muhammad Thohir said that the death toll had risen to 1,558, up about 100 from the previous official figure.

Over 100 people are still unaccounted for, while hundreds of bodies have been buried in mass graves in a bid to avert a disease outbreak from corpses rotting in the tropical sun. Search efforts focused on eight key locations on Friday, including a beach and the Balaroa area where the sheer force of the quake turned the earth temporarily to mush.

About 20 planes carrying vital supplies such as tarpaulins, medical equipment and generators are now heading from all over the world to the disaster zone after a long delay. Indonesia was initially reluctant to accept outside help, insisting its own military could handle the response, but as the scale of the devastation became clear President Joko Widodo agreed to allow in foreign aid.

Governments from Australia to Britain are flying in supplies, the United Nations has pledged $15 million to the relief effort, and aid groups including Save the Children and the Red Cross are also on the ground.

Members of International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society ORARI and other volunteers have been providing emergency communication for community and government interests. The quake and tsunami destroyed the city of Palu, completely cutting power and telecommunications.

New IARU Region 3 Disaster Communication Coordinator Dani Halim, YB2TJV, said Amateur Radio operators in Indonesia immediately responded to the unfolding disaster, establishing an emergency net on 7.110 MHz. Amateur Radio volunteers from other regions also pitched in to support radio communication for emergency news on 7.110 MHz and 7.065 MHz. Some radio amateurs with mobile stations have travelled to the affected region to help.

According to Budi Santoso, YF1AR, on Java Island, the local Palu ORARI representative Ronny Korompot, YB8PR, was among the first contacted. Through his mobile station, he reported on conditions, and the response, including evacuations. Sutrisno Sofingi, YB8NT, was also heard on 7.110 MHz using an emergency station he assembled at the disaster site. He said Amateur Radio was the only available communication with the outside world.

Amateur Radio also has assisted government agencies following severe damage to the telecommunication infrastructure. Hams operating on 2 meters were communicating information on which roads were open to allow traffic from the outside.

Halim reported that communication was established from the Luwuk Disaster Management Agency some 430 miles from the earthquake’s epicentre to obtain information on landslides and blocked roads and highways.

Salmin Sahidin, YB8IBD, in Southeast Sulawesi has been live streaming audio of the activity on 7.110 MHz via his Facebook page.

Thanks to the ARRL Letter for 4th October for these last remarks.

Here’s a story of an interesting experience. Dialogo, the Digital Military Magazine forum of the Americas, reports that Argentine and Chilean armed forces spent 10 days on the northern Antarctic Peninsula in a combined rescue exercise. The Argentine-Chilean Combined Antarctic Emergency and Rescue Patrol 2018 (PARACACH 2018, in Spanish) integrated army elements of both countries to improve response capabilities in rescue emergencies in Antarctica, August 20th-30th.

Under the coordination of the Antarctic Joint Command of the Argentine Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chilean Joint Chiefs of Staff, participants carried out Antarctic emergency operations, such as planning for search and rescue missions, navigation, injured recovery, and first-aid response. The patrol also walked over glaciers and frozen seas and coordinated radio communications.

The objective was to assess and increase military capabilities in Antarctic rescue operations. PARACACH 2018 also aimed at strengthening cooperation and bonds of friendship between both nations to face emergency situations in the inhospitable white continent. The patrol consisted of 14 members of both nations and 13 snowmobiles, each with sleds, and operated under temperatures of -20 deg C, and strong freezing winds. Wow – sooner them than me, I can hear you say!

HAMNET takes this opportunity to wish all RAE candidates everything of the best for the exam this coming Saturday. We look forward to seeing news of success soon on the SARL website, and invite all new radio amateurs to consider linking up with the HAMNET Directors in their Divisions, and joining the emergency communications arm of the SARL, to offer their services in case of need in the community around them. Details are available on the HAMNET page of the SARL website. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

SANLAM Cape Town Peace Trail 22 September 2018

Alister van Tonder, ZS1OK reports:

The 2018 Sanlam Peace Trail run took place on Saturday 22nd of September in support of the trail running taking place on the slopes of Lions Head and Signal Hill.  This event forms part of the larger Cape Town Marathon, which took place on the following day, Sunday 23rd.

The Hamnet operators consisted of ZS1JMT Michael and Virginia holding the fort at The Glen in the vicinity of the Round House Restaurant in Camps Bay, and the team at Signal Hill consisting of John ZS1JNT and Ian ZS1OSK, and with Alister ZS1OK at the base.  Matt ZS1MTF assisted by setting up a VHF/UHF cross-band repeater in a vehicle parked on the slopes of Table Mountain which provided a relay between The Glen and to the base located, located at the new Green Point Athletics Track, as well as to the Signal Hill team.  While there was no directly line of sight between the cross-band repeater to the base – it was well within the lee of Signal Hill, the cross-band repeater worked very well.  Matt set the VHF transmitter power to 20 watts which ensured that with the extra power a good signal was provided whereas the line of sight UHF link to The Glen was using 5 watts.

The base was operational by 05h30 with the comms being verified between the different locations by 06h00.  The start of the race was delayed by more than 30 minutes due to race safety issues, but once it started the well planned operating procedures by the race organisers ensured things went smoothly.

There were a handful of minor runner injuries, but overall no major incidents.  As with most competitive sports it was vital to verify runners were not taking short cuts or taking advantage, and matters of this nature took up some bandwidth.

The team of Michael ZS1MJT and Virginia were the first to stand down after the race sweep had progressed well beyond their location.  The team Signal Hill is very busy as both the long and the short course runners pass through their check point.   By the time the sweep passed the Noon Gun, they also stood down, since any injured runners would thereafter had to continue down the slopes rather than being taken back up to Signal Hill.   Support was concluded when the based stood down at 13h30.

This was the second year we have used cellular APRS for the race sweeps.  Last year we had some teething problems with the cellular APRS, but this year it worked really well and we had regular fixed interval position updates via aprs.fi for both race sweeps.  There were only small areas that did not have cellular coverage.

Yes, radio based APRS has its place – the race sweeps find the mangoes APRS radios bulky and heavy – but having cellular based APRS provided good operational feedback.  To provide effective VHF digipeater coverage for this event would be quite a daunting task, requiring many suitably located digipeaters.