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.