HAMNET Report 21st November 2021

Southgate Amateur Radio news says that the German Amateur Radio community reports that the flood disasters in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate have shown that functioning communication in crisis situations is of great importance, but not a matter of course.

A translation of the DARC post reads:

The DARC department for emergency and disaster radio has taken the knowledge from the affected areas as an opportunity to develop a concept for future support of the population in such emergency situations.

“In times of prolonged communication failure, the unit would like to be prepared in order to be able to support the population and independent helpers on site. That is why we created a concept that many external helpers from business, aid organizations, the fire brigade, the German armed forces and politics helped develop,” explains Oliver Schlag, DL7TNY, the DARC’s federal officer for Emergency and Disaster Radio eV.

The focus here is both on building up and maintaining a base of material at the federal level as well as expanding the regional emergency radio groups. The aim is to build up a pool of material and helpers, who can then set up and operate a temporary network with access to the Internet, for example, for the citizens in damaged areas.

In the coming months, the volunteers will set up the prototype of such a regional emergency radio group and its material, at the federal level. For the first steps, the unit uses the additional financial resources from the [DARC] Pro membership. The DARC board has decided that the money will be used to support this project in the coming year. In order to achieve maximum dissemination and response from the public, the prototype is to be presented nationwide in the second phase. The aim here is to find external donors for the expansion of the prototype to cover the whole of Germany.

“An active emergency radio that broadly supports society is good evidence that we radio amateurs can use the frequencies assigned to us responsibly and in the interests of the community. But we are also dependent on help from business and politics”, concluded the DARC emergency radio officer.

EOS science news reports that Zimbabwe plans to launch its first satellite, ZIMSAT-1, in February 2022. The CubeSat will host a multispectral camera and image classification tool, as well as a device to transmit and receive signals from amateur radio operators. Scientists said these tools will allow stakeholders more quickly and fully to assess data for issues like ground cover and drought.

ZIMSAT-1 is the latest mission from the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) project, a multinational program to help countries build their first satellite. ZIMSAT-1 was built by Zimbabwean engineers working with the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch it. In addition to the satellite itself, BIRDS supports a free app (BIRDS-NEST) with which satellite images from ZIMSAT-1 can be downloaded onto smartphones.

ZIMSAT-1 will be a capstone to Zimbabwe’s fast growing space program, which was established in 2018 as the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), housed at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare. In 2020, ZINGSA was allocated $7 million.

Wilfred Nunu, public health lecturer at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, welcomed the launch of the satellite as “a good idea…. It is also a positive step towards ensuring we have access to data for most of our projects in line with remote sensing.”

Nunu said he is “100% likely” to use data from the satellite. “We usually struggle to download data, particularly in our projects relating to land use and land cover changes for a wide period of time. We also do drought monitoring in light of climate change,” he said.

Twenty-two years after South Africa launched the first African satellite, SunSat-1, the continent’s satellite fleet stands at 44. African countries including Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Sudan have successfully launched satellites.

Thanks to EOS for these excerpts from their report.

Now here are some notes after a sports event that all radio amateurs who are willing to help their local community will recognise as typical of their Emcomm activities.

The ARRL Newsletter for Thursday the 18th says that Twenty-two radio amateurs from the Western Placer Amateur Radio Club (WPARC) in Lincoln, California, provided communications and other support for the Rotary Club of Lincoln Tour de Lincoln charity bicycle event on October 30. The Tour de Lincoln consists of three routes — 25-kilometre, 50-kilometre, and 100-kilometre rides through the hills of Lincoln, California. At least 425 riders participated in this year’s event, with 230 of them on the 100-kilometre route. The mayor of Lincoln participated in the 50-kilometre ride. This was the 14th year that WPARC volunteers have supported the event.

“Our goal is to help the cyclists, their support crews, and their families have a safe and enjoyable event,” said Roger Brunnquell, K6OU, the club coordinator for the event. “Similar to a real emergency event, we have to be flexible in our planning and execution.”

“This year, we had 14 support and gear (SAG) units on the course and hams at the three rest stops,” Brunnquell said. “All ham radio vehicles on the course and at rest stops bore SAG signs printed on bright orange cardstock so riders could flag them for help,” he explained.

“We take our responsibilities very seriously, but have a lot of fun at the same time. One of our rules as a club is that we never leave [our assigned positions] as long as there is a rider on the course,” said Michael Buck, K6BUK, who leads the net control team for the event. “At net control, we log the time and content of every communication.”

The Net Control Station (NCS) was located at the event’s base and the riders’ starting and ending point. The experienced team of three net control operators set up a station, ran the event, and interacted with the event director, from coordinating vehicle rollout to staffing rest-stop relay stations, checking out first aid and mechanical kits, and preparing for the event.

After 20 years of assisting at the Two Oceans Marathon, every word of the report resonates with me, and probably, for similar reasons, with most of you.

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