HAMNET Report 27th September 2020

Greg Mossop G0DUB of IARU Region 1 has reminded directors of emergency communications agencies in Region 1 of the virtual meeting which is taking place today the 27th at 12h00 UTC. The directors have been sent the log-on details for the meeting, and subjects to be covered include

– Any issues to be raised at the IARU Region 1 Conference from 11-16th October.

– The document about Amateur Radio Involvement in Warning and Informing of Emergencies, found by Paul LX1HP

– Any exercises/events and incidents we have been involved with in the last year;


– A possible net/test on the QO-100 geostationary satellite.

I hope to have some notes to report on in future bulletins.

ARRL News says that the K1A special event September 25 – October 5, 2020, headquartered in Ames, Iowa, will be sponsored by the Amateur Radio Software Award Committee. Frequencies planned are 7.190 and 14.260 MHz

“The special event station promotes innovative, free and open amateur radio software,” the sponsor says. “The 2020 Amateur Radio Software Award recipient Anthony Good and his K3NG Arduino CW Keyer software project will be honoured during the event. Nominations for the 2021 awards will also be encouraged.

The Amateur Radio Software Award is an annual international award for the recognition of software projects that enhance amateur radio. The award aims to promote amateur radio software development which adheres to the same spirit as amateur radio itself: innovative, free and open.”

The 2020 ARRL ARES Simulated Emergency Test (SET) will take place October 3rd, 2020. This annual, nationwide exercise provides ARES volunteers the chance to test emergency-operating skills and communication readiness in a simulated emergency deployment.

“In this difficult time for group related events we can’t deploy to anywhere to train as a group so designated members will act as our served agencies, while others will report scripted traffic between stations,” stated Steven Wooten St Louis Metro ARES Emergency Coordinator. “Our served agencies include several national organizations including the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Salvation Army, as well as those from the County and City government.” He added, “We will be using Winlink, Ultra High Frequency (UHF), Very High Frequency (VHF) as well as High Frequency (HF) and DSTAR in both voice and digital modes to make contact and pass messages.”

When asked why exercises of this nature are important, Gary Hoffman, Assistant Emergency Coordinator Operations said, “Every exercise that we hold exposes new flaws in plans, preparations, and readiness. So why hold them at all? The first reason is to find and correct those flaws. They can never be eliminated, but the more of them that we identify and correct ahead of time, the fewer we will have to worry about when disaster strikes. The second reason is to acclimatize the emergency communications operators to the unexpected. Operators who have participated in lots of exercises become accustomed to failures and surprises. They tend to adapt to the unexpected more quickly and are less likely to panic than operators who have never participated in exercises.”

“The main purpose of the SET is to demonstrate our capabilities in a major event. When you conduct exercises, you build the skills to be able to handle emergency communications in the event the real thing happens.” Bob Gale, Assistant Emergency Coordinator Training and Exercises and a sixteen-year ARES veteran went on to say, “Exercises allow us to find the weak links in our ability to operate in an emergency. Better to find them when you have the time to make corrections.”  He concluded by saying “Being able to operate in an emergency requires knowing how to operate with very little forethought.  This ability only comes from this exercise.”

Thanks to St Louis Post-Despatch for this communique.

Here’s a story where the desire for, and ability to have, radio communications resulted in 2 youngsters going missing and subsequently being found. The ARRL letter says:

Late on the afternoon of September 16, the police department in Post Falls, Idaho, received a 911 call that two juveniles — ages 9 and 11 — were missing from a Post Falls residence for about an hour. According to the report, the pair had left home intending to play in the neighbourhood with some Family Radio Service (FRS) radios. Several patrol cars were dispatched to the area to conduct a visual search, and detective Neil Uhrig, K7NJU, responded as officer in charge due to his training and experience with missing person’s investigations. The initial search focused on a 2-mile radius from the missing kids’ residence.

One officer received information from witnesses that the pair was probably using FRS Channel 1 (462.5625 MHz). An officer returned to police headquarters to retrieve some FRS radios for distribution to the patrol officers, in the event they might be able to hear the youngsters talking.

Uhrig, meanwhile, pulled out his VHF/UHF handheld with the thought of setting up FRS Channel 1 as an auxiliary frequency, but without the manual at hand, he wasn’t able to execute the channel setup. But Uhrig did hear the Northwest Traffic Net (NWTN) that had begun at 6:30 PM on the local 2-meter repeater.

Checking into the net at about 6:45 PM, Uhrig explained the missing persons situation to net control station Shannon Riley, KJ7MUA, and asked if net participants in the Post Falls area with FRS capability could listen for the youngsters talking.

A number of stations promptly checked in to say they had FRS radios and were monitoring FRS Channel 1. It was assumed that only stations located near the missing youngsters would hear them, given the limited range of FRS radios.

Not long after 7 PM, Jim Hager, KJ7OTD, reported hearing children talking on FRS Channel 1. Uhrig went to Hager’s home to confirm his observation, and the patrol units were redirected to the new search vicinity. A short time later, the missing pair was found safe and returned home.

Uhrig said the most remarkable thing about the incident was that the missing youngsters turned out to be some distance from the original search area, and in the opposite direction from where they were thought to have been headed.

Net Manager Gabbee Perry, KE7ADN, said, “I’m so proud of what a superb job NWTN NCS Shannon [KJ7MUA] and all the operators did last Wednesday. It was a very unusual situation, but everyone had excellent focus and used their resourcefulness to help quickly find the missing kids.”

So the desire to communicate via radio caused the kids to go missing, but the ability to communicate via radio was what eventually found them.

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