HAMNET Report 12th January 2020

Anette Jacobs, ZR1D, has sent a very nice summation of activities in which HAMNET Gauteng South participated last year. Some of them were referred to in previous bulletins, but I thought I wouldn’t carve up her report, so here it is:

The cycle races went very well, as usual the guys doing an excellent job. We remember the incident when a motorist attacked Johan ZS6DMX – it was serious but we still had a laugh afterwards. The members acted effectively during the cycle races and where needed, serious cases were dealt with quickly and effectively, thanks to our training. We would like to thank our team in the JOC for responding quickly to the information provided from the field and making sure that every incident was taken care of.

Our meetings every month were all about training. The dedication and effort that Glynn ZS6GLN, Leon ZS6LMG, Johan ZS6DMX and Pieter ZS6PHS put in is highly appreciated. It enables us to enter a situation with insight without negatively affecting ourselves and other people’s lives. Where members could not attend in person, they attended via Discord.

At Hobby-X we received a lot of inquiries about what HAMNET does and what it entails.

The effectiveness of QO-100 was tested with a link from the Wolkberg to Johannesburg, and Leon ZS6LMG and the team also successfully demonstrated being able to provide a video feed via the satellite to the ARCC.

A highlight was when Brian ZS6YZ and Leon ZS6LMG represented the IARU at the ATU Workshop in Maputo early in December. Brian and Leon presented 2 papers during the workshop that were so effective that they resulted in several African States making inquiries about Amateur Radio Member Societies in their own countries, with the intention of getting amateurs involved in their emergency communications plans. Gary Immelman ZS6YI, the only living founder member of HAMNET, and several HAMNET Gauteng South members welcomed them back at OR Tambo.

Sadly, Deon ZS6DAB was shot when he was caught in the middle of a cash-in-transit heist. Again thanks to training, Deon was in hospital in record time and HAMNET members assisted the SAPS to cordon off the scene to enable them to do their work. HAMNET also prepared a helicopter landing zone so that another victim could be airlifted to hospital. Fortunately everything went well and Deon and the other victim are in full recovery. Thank you Leon, for arranging for Chaplains to comfort the victims and their loved ones.

The other sad incident was on the Sunday when 3 youngsters went for a swim in the Blesbok Spruit and got into difficulties. Two of them were saved but the third person unfortunately drowned and was recovered the following day. Again, HAMNET members, through their training, were able to assist and arrange Chaplains and provide waterproof radios for the SAPS divers to use.

When the children of Henri ZS6IIX’s vehicle broke down when returning from the coast, all it took was a phone call to Keith Lowes ZS5WFD from HAMNET KZN, and Koos de Kock ZS5KDK responded to assist them and get them on their way again. This is the type of camaraderie that exists between the HAMNET members.

And lastly to close the year off, a number of the operators responded today to the incident where the Transnet fuel line had caught fire in Alberton, and assisted the fire department, by providing them with handheld radios that they could use effectively to coordinate their firefighting efforts.

Thanks, Anette, for the very nice description of your Division’s efforts in 2019.

Now here’s some useful news for all you fellows that don’t know what to do with your stockpiles of used Uranium!

The website Phys.org reports that chemists have found a new use for the waste product of nuclear power—transforming an unused stockpile into a versatile compound which could be used to create valuable commodity chemicals as well as new energy sources.

Depleted uranium (DU) is a radioactive by-product from the process used to create nuclear energy. With many fearing the health risks from DU, it is either stored in expensive facilities or used to manufacture controversial armour-piercing missiles.

But, in a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Professor Geoff Cloke, Professor Richard Layfield and Dr. Nikolaos Tsoureas, all at the University of Sussex, have revealed that DU could, in fact, be more useful than we might think.

By using a catalyst which contains depleted uranium, the researchers have managed to convert ethylene (which is defined as an alkene used to make plastic) into ethane (which is an alkane used to produce a number of other compounds including ethanol).

Their work is a breakthrough that could help reduce the heavy burden of large-scale storage of DU, and lead to the transformation of more complicated alkenes.

Prof Layfield said: “The ability to convert alkenes into alkanes is an important chemical reaction that means we may be able to take simple molecules and upgrade them into valuable commodity chemicals, like hydrogenated oils and petrochemicals which can be used as an energy source.

“The fact that we can use depleted uranium to do this provides proof that we don’t need to be afraid of it, as it might actually be very useful for us.”

Working in collaboration with researchers at Université de Toulouse and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Sussex team discovered that an organometallic molecule based on depleted uranium could catalyse the addition of a molecule of hydrogen to the carbon-carbon double bond in ethylene—the simplest member of the alkene family—to create ethane.

Prof. Cloke said: “Nobody has thought to use DU in this way before. While converting ethylene into ethane is nothing new, the use of uranium is a key milestone.”

So maybe those buried concrete silos of used Uranium won’t be necessary anymore.

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