HAMNET Report 2nd May 2021

Authorities in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius issued a disaster alert on Wednesday after heavy rains caused severe flooding making roads impassable to pedestrians and vehicles.

State-owned Vacoas weather station issued the alert and warned of impassable roads, thunderstorms and floods from torrential rains.

“Rainfall reached about 170 mm in the previous 24 hours, while thunder continued to rumble on the side of Plaines-Wilhems,” it said.

The warning noted that ”the atmosphere remains unstable over Mauritius and after a brief lull, very active clouds coming from the east will begin to influence the weather again. There will also be thunderstorms. Accumulations of floodwater have also been noted in the south, east and on the central plateau.”

Due to the unpredictable weather patterns, meteorologists from the Vacoas weather station told reporters they are not certain when the alert will be lifted.

Water sources, including rivers, have been polluted by the uncontrollable increase of rainwater and the water supply is irregular in several places in the east of the country due to the accumulation of mud in the rivers.

Invercargill Police SAR Coordinator Sergeant Ian Martin reports that a Southland hunter was found after spending multiple hours lost in the cold in the Hokonui Hills last week.

Gore Police and Eastern Southland Land Search and Rescue team were alerted to the lost hunter on 21 April, after he used his mobile phone to raise the alarm with his wife, who in turn notified Police at about 6.30pm. Police were able to determine the man’s location by getting him to make a 111 call from his mobile phone.

Ten Eastern Southland LandSAR volunteers assisted and Amateur Radio Emergency Communications volunteers also responded to the call-out. Three search teams walked through the area near Dolamore Park. The hunter was located at about 10.30pm; four hours after staff were first notified.

He was feeling the cold, but otherwise in good health, and very lucky, as he had very little food and insufficient gear to spend the night in the bush.

The ARRL Newsletter this week also reports on a Ham Radio Rescue scenario.

A back-country hiker was rescued from Great Smoky Mountains National Park with assistance from amateur radio after she became exhausted on the trail and possibly dehydrated. A member of the hiking group on the park’s Little River Trail, Tim Luttrell, KA9EBJ, put out a call on the evening of April 11 via the W4KEV linked VHF repeater in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, requesting assistance in extricating the injured member. No cell phone service was available at the location, and Luttrell’s signal was spotty at times, owing to the mountainous terrain.

Responding was David Manuel, W5DJR, who obtained more information and called 911, which routed the call to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Emergency Medical Service (GSMNP EMS). The national park EMS relayed through Manuel a request for the group to continue down the trail as far as possible to shorten the rescue time.

A medic with the Park Service search-and-rescue team subsequently reached Manuel by telephone, who served to relay questions to Luttrell. Manuel contacted members of the hiker’s family after Luttrell provided contact numbers. Manuel was asked to relay information for the family to arrange to meet in Cherokee, North Carolina, and be prepared to transport the distressed hiker’s vehicle to her home.

Manuel got a call from Luttrell indicating “all clear” shortly after 2 AM.

The injured hiker was hospitalized and required surgery and rehabilitation. ARRL Tennessee Section Manager Dave Thomas, KM4NYI, told ARRL that he’d learned another hiker in the same group was close to hypothermia by the time they were rescued.

Powerline (PLC) devices have been a problem for amateur radio for years due to the RF Pollution they can produce. Now DARC reports a large scale plan for PLC.

Southgate Amateur Radio News says the Japanese electronics group Panasonic is currently planning a breakthrough in large-scale applications and in private business.

As Heise Online reports, Panasonic wants to manufacture chips e.g. for street lamps and household appliances that can be networked via power lines. The range of the power line data network should be able to be extended to up to ten kilometres.

According to the Japanese plan, one billion chips are to be produced by 2030. Elevators, offices and apartments as well as new sensors could then be networked without additional cabling. Electricity companies could also use the technology efficiently to read smart electricity meters remotely.

My heart sinks at the thought of the amount of litigation that will be necessary to help fight this degree of RF pollution.

For those of you using, or interested in DMR (Digital Mobile Radio), Allan ZS1AL and Danie ZS1OSS have created a dedicated HAMNET Western Cape Talk Group 6550087, which should work for all DMR operators using the Bottelaryberg or Helderberg DMR repeaters in Cape Town, as well as countrywide. Most operators in South Africa monitor Talk Group 655, so it is suggested you call on 655, and then move to 6550087 for further comms.

Thanks to Allan and Danie!

If you’ve felt isolated and lonely sometimes during the Covid-19 pandemic, spare a thought for Astronaut Michael Collins who stayed behind in the Apollo 11 Columbia Command Module, while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969.

Once the lander had left Columbia, Collins orbited the moon on his own, and when on the far side of the moon, was totally isolated, and cut off from all humanity, with no means of contacting anybody, and the furthest humans had ever travelled from Earth. Collins later joked he was “glad to get behind the moon so Mission Control would shut up!”

He also said he remembered very little of the moon, but was struck by the view of the Earth, a tiny, shiny, blue sky’d and watered planet, white of cloud, with only a trace of brown land, all of which he described as “fragile”.

I think we can agree our Earth has become more fragile since he made those remarks. Michael Collins died this week, aged 90, the dimly remembered third crew-member of Apollo 11.

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