HAMNET Report 20th May 2018

I’d like to add HAMNET’s collective voice to the messages of sympathy to the family of Mike Bosch, ZS2FM, and to the radio amateurs of division two, on the devastating loss of such a giant amongst us. Mike’s advice and writings have been gold-standards in this country’s experience on the VHF, UHF and SHF bands, and we are going to be lost without him. He has inspired so many of us not to forget to use these bands, and, indirectly, contributed so much to emergency Communications in this country, because Emcomms predominantly run on VHF frequencies and higher. Rest in Peace, Mike, you will be sorely missed.


Greg Mossop G0DUB of the IARU Region One Emergency Communications division has announced the itinerary for the Friday afternoon meetings, to be held on 1st June, at Friedrichshafen.

He will start at 12h00 with his Co-ordinator’s report, and will be followed by a report of Polish-Emcomm activities by Michal SP9XYM, and Chris SP7WME. Next will come a report on the Austrian Exercise “Solar Flare”, followed by Alberto IK0YLO, talking on portable linked DMR repeaters. An open forum of about 45 minutes will end with a discussion of plans for next year’s meetings at Friedrichshafen. The meeting will wrap up at about 15h30, and, so far, has the blessing of the European Emcom agencies.

Meanwhile, The ARES e-Letter reported that, at the ARRL Member Forum at the 2018 Hamvention, outside Dayton, Ohio, Great Lakes Division Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, chairman of the ARRL Public Service Enhancement Working Group, talked about the dramatic changes that are occurring among agencies serving in the emergency and disaster response sector yesterday afternoon. He shared an update on planning for proposed new guidelines for participants in the ARES program, including plans for a new volunteer management software system, called ARES Connect. Upgrades to ARES training and resources will ensure the service continues to be a valuable partner for its served agencies into the future. The ARRL Member Forum was scheduled for noon on Saturday, May 19. A complete guide to ARRL activities, exhibits, and presentations at 2018 Hamvention is available at www.arrl.org/expo.

And don’t say you didn’t hear it here first! Watch for the Yaesu FTDX101D, still in prototype form, and the Kenwood TS-890S, after the Hamvention weekend, both of them hot off the press! So far, I’m not aware of a new ICOM rig announced at the convention.

The ARRL Letter for 17th May, reporting further on the volcanic activity on Hawai’s Big Island, says that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports active venting of lava and hazardous fumes continues, with no end in sight. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed after roads and trails were damaged. The Observatory this week increased the Aviation Colour Code to RED, due to increased ash emission.

FEMA reports that some 360 evacuees are staying in emergency shelters. Some 2,000 residents have been evacuated in all. “Twenty fissure vents have formed in and around the Leilani estates subdivision,” the agency said in its May 17 report. “Air quality in the southeast area of Lanipuna Gardens has been rated ‘condition red’ (that is: ‘immediate danger to health’) for high levels of sulphur dioxide. Volcanic-tectonic seismicity continues.”

The US Geodetic Survey has warned that new lava outbreaks could happen “at any time,” as well as “more energetic ash emissions.”

As we develop more and more powerful tools to peer beyond our solar system, we learn more about the seemingly endless sea of faraway stars and their curious casts of orbiting planets. But there’s only one star we can travel to directly and observe up close—and that’s our own: the Sun.

Phys.Org reports that two upcoming missions will soon take us closer to the Sun than we’ve ever been before, providing our best chance yet at uncovering the complexities of solar activity in our own solar system and shedding light on the very nature of space and stars throughout the universe.

Together, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Solar Orbiter may resolve decades-old questions about the inner workings of our nearest star. Their comprehensive, up-close study of the Sun has important implications for how we live and explore: Energy from the Sun powers life on Earth, but it also triggers space weather events that can pose hazard to technology we increasingly depend upon. Such space weather can disrupt radio communications, affect satellites and human spaceflight, and—at its worst—interfere with power grids. A better understanding of the fundamental processes at the Sun driving these events could improve predictions of when they’ll occur and how their effects may be felt on Earth.

“Our goal is to understand how the Sun works and how it affects the space environment to the point of predictability,” said Chris St. Cyr, Solar Orbiter project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This is really a curiosity-driven science.”

Parker Solar Probe is slated to launch in the summer of 2018, and Solar Orbiter is scheduled to follow in 2020. These missions were developed independently, but their coordinated science objectives are no coincidence: Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter are natural teammates.

A new water-based battery could provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy for later, researchers say.

The battery stores energy generated when the sun is shining and wind is blowing, so it can be fed back into the electric grid and redistributed when demand is high.

The prototype manganese-hydrogen battery, reported in Nature Energy, stands just three inches tall and generates a mere 20 milliwatt-hours of electricity, which is on par with the energy levels of LED flashlights that hang on a key ring.

Despite the prototype’s diminutive output, the researchers are confident they can scale up this table-top technology to an industrial-grade system that could charge and recharge up to 10,000 times, creating a grid-scale battery with a useful lifespan well in excess of a decade.

This technology is still in its infancy, but looks very promising, and may provide a very cheap and reusable technology we’ll all be using in the next ten years, so watch that space!

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