HAMNET Report 31st July 2022

There have been two major earthquakes around the Pacific Rim of Fire this week. The first was a magnitude 5.7 in Ecuador, just south of its border with Colombia on Monday the 25th, and at a depth of 10Km. Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute reported eight aftershocks of magnitude 4 or greater.

The US Geological Survey estimates that up to 1000 people experienced very strong shaking, and up to 59000 strong shaking. Injures to 8 people were reported, and 350 houses damaged or destroyed.

The second more severe earthquake struck on the West coast of the Cordillera Region of Luzon in Philippines, with magnitude 7.1 on 27th July, and also at a depth of 10km. A population of 157 thousand people in the area was exposed to shaking of at least magnitude 7, and 15000 people were displaced by the damage which occurred. At least five aftershocks of 4.5 magnitude or greater were reported in the next 24 hours.

In a world of runaway wildfires, as temperatures soar, it’s good to hear that radio amateurs helped prevent one. The ARRL Letter of this week reports that, while participating in the Black Hills Amateur Radio Club’s annual Summits on the Air (SOTA) event in South Dakota on July 16, 2022, two amateur radio operators helped spot a potential forest fire.

Ryan Lindblom, KE0LXT, President of the Black Hills ARC, and Christopher Jaques, KD0RAS, had made their trek to Cicero Peak. Just before heading back down, they noticed what might be smoke or dust to the south near Hot Springs. Lindblom made a contact on their simplex frequency to ask a local amateur radio operator if there had been any reports of Forest Service activity in the area.

An off-duty ranger, who was monitoring a local ham repeater from his home, and who heard the traffic from Cicero Peak, called in the alert. A fire crew and a helicopter were able to contain a small fire 2.5 miles south of Pringle, South Dakota.

Ward Hall, WC0Y, attending the Black Hills SOTA weekend for his second year, reported that a forest ranger on Bear Mountain stepped out of the ranger tower to greet him, but at the time, was busy monitoring firefighting traffic.

“I could hear the radio activity while I was on the ground near the tower,” said Hall. “The ranger later told me that the Forest Service was alerted to a small fire when an off-duty ranger was monitoring a local ham repeater and heard the traffic from Cicero Peak”. Hall said the ranger credited the ham activity for an early alert that allowed them to address the fire while it was small. “He was very appreciative of how the ham activity helped them and asked that I pass it on,” Hall added.

ARRL Dakota Division Director Bill Lippert, AC0W, applauded the work of the amateur radio operators for early reporting of what could have been a major fire, as well as credited the Forest Service for their quick response.

On the redcross.org website, Rick Steeves notes that “Information technology and communication are so important in the wake of a disaster”. As a member of a Red Cross international crisis response team, Steeves and his colleagues are often on the ground within 24 to 48 hours after disaster strikes to set up satellite communications, ensuring responders and those on the ground can get the critical supplies and relief they need.

“Our work lays the foundations for other humanitarian teams focused on food, clean water, shelter and other necessities after a major international event,” Steeves said.

At a recent week-long training, Steeves and 20 of his Red Cross colleagues gathered to share best practices. Rustam Makhmudov, who organized the training for the Red Cross, says that practicing the logistics and troubleshooting the technology before a disaster is critical to the success of any international operation.

“The main goal is for our volunteers — old and new — to walk away with tangible skills to take to the field. We are also building a team spirit and enthusiasm that we bring to the work. The more we do this in training, the better we can help people when disaster strikes,” he said.

Rather than in the mountains of Nepal or the coast of Mozambique, volunteers from around the country and Haiti gathered in Maryland to set up telecommunications gear and troubleshoot equipment. The goal was to simulate field conditions during an international crisis such as a hurricane, typhoon or earthquake. They worked with three satellite terminals to practice support for a basecamp for a hospital or field operations hub.

According to Makhmudov, simulating field experiences with volunteers is a critical component of the training. “Due to COVID, our team hasn’t been able to gather and share best practices for some time. During a crisis response, the situation on the ground is complicated and fast-paced. One of the best ways to learn and prepare is to do hands-on practice with the equipment,” he said.

Makhmudov said it takes time to position the ground terminal at the proper angle. “That’s the trickiest part of working with this equipment because we have to pinpoint exactly where the satellite is to establish a connection,” he said. Once they establish a connection, responders can link to the outside world. “Communication is everything. It helps other responders during the disaster successfully accomplish their mission and help those who need it most,” he said.

A Red Cross volunteer since 2005, Julie Bradley deployed to Myanmar, Nepal and Puerto Rico as an Information Technology Emergency Response Unit responder. She says that she’s shown up at a disaster and been told that medical professionals are waiting for the internet to be restored so that they can perform a life-saving operation.

“This puts the importance of our work in focus. Simply put — people’s lives depend upon us,” she said.  Bradley says that she and her fellow Red Crossers enjoyed the training and are ready to go out into the field. “We do this work because we like to feel valued and appreciated. We like to feel like we are a part of something larger than ourselves. After this training, we are prepared,” she said.

Thank you to the American Red Cross website for excerpts from their article.

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

HAMNET Report 24th July 2022

Across Western Europe, the wildfires continue. Portugal reports five active fires, and several deaths, including a firefighter aeroplane pilot, and a tally of 728 firefighters deployed in the five areas.

Spain is experiencing at least 30 active fires, and at least 7500 people have been evacuated away from the danger areas. Two deaths were reported on Wednesday.

In France, more than 19000 hectares of vegetation has been destroyed since the 12th of July, and about 43000 people have had to be moved to safety.

The fire risks in all these countries are reported to be extreme, as the heatwave continues, and the vegetation remains tinder-dry.

And north-eastern Italy, Greece and Slovenia are the latest countries to be experiencing wild fires, according to reports from GDACS on Thursday and Friday.

Psychology Today has an interesting article on the positive effects of being exposed to a major stressful situation.

Mark Travers says that a new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin informs us that the aftermath of a mass trauma or natural disaster could benefit an individual’s mental health because of “psychosocial gains from adversity.” The study suggests that these benefits could be a direct result of a spike in perceived social support and social resources.

Lead author Anthony Mancini of Pace University in New York cites the example of the Virginia Tech campus shootings, which inspired his research, to illustrate this concept.

A study conducted at Virginia Tech on participants with anxiety and depression before the shootings happened revealed that nearly half of the group showed significant improvement in their mental state in its aftermath.

After realizing that this wasn’t an uncommon phenomenon and formulating the “psychosocial gain from adversity” theory, Mancini got the rare opportunity to test it out in real-time, using the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York.

Mancini and his colleagues were conducting a study on adaptation to college, which placed them in the unique position of having already conducted an assessment of the student body before the hurricane hit, which they were able to repeat in its aftermath. The team went a step further two semesters later, studying another cohort of students which had not had any hurricane exposure.

“Both comparisons showed that the hurricane cohort was doing better,” Mancini reports. “When we compared their functioning before and after, the hurricane cohort experienced reduced distress, negative emotion, and attachment avoidance.”

The students also reported an increase in social support. The hurricane cohort, compared to the cohort one year later, had more social support, less attachment anxiety, and less attachment avoidance. This means that the hurricane cohort was actually better off as a result of the hurricane.

Mancini explains that our instinct to affiliate with others after disaster exposure most likely has evolutionary roots, is related to the attachment system, and helps us cope with adversity generally. “Because social behaviour and relationships are critical to mental health, stress can then have surprising benefits on our level of distress, our concerns about our relationships, and the level of responsiveness we experience from others,” he explains.

For anyone who has weathered a natural disaster or faced a similar stressor in their life recently, he has the following advice: “Obey the instinct to affiliate with others after stressful experiences. They will likely be receptive and you may find that you have forged a new relationship or strengthened an existing one, both of which will be to your benefit in the future.”

Thanks to Psychology Today for these excerpts.

In the light of the glancing blows the earth received from a coronal mass ejection this week, which could have had a serious impact, The Irish Times reports that an innovative plan by Irish scientists to provide an early warning system for the arrival of solar storms powerful enough to disrupt critical infrastructure on Earth — using six tiny satellites — has received European Space Agency (ESA) backing.

The Sun regularly produces solar eruptions in the form of flares, or bigger solar storms, which then travel rapidly across space and disrupt navigation systems, radio communications, power grids and spacecraft instrumentation upon reaching the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Surround mission, a collaboration involving scientists at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) and engineers at the University of Manchester is to explore new ways to track reliably the precise direction in which a solar storm is travelling.

Scientists understand that whether the storm’s magnetic field is pointing upwards, downwards, left or right determines whether it has a minimal or large impact on Earth. A major problem now is that because solar storm prediction is unreliable, there are a lot of “false calls” on how impactful a solar storm will be on reaching us.

“What we particularly care about is trying to triangulate their positions and track [solar storms],” says Prof Peter Gallagher, head of astrophysics at DIAS and its lead space weather research investigator. “You can then work out accurate arrival times at Earth; that’s the holy grail.”

The size of solar storms varies, says Gallagher, but some can be many times the size of Earth, and completely envelop the planet. “If they give us a glancing blow, they are not as effective, or ‘geo-effective’ we call it. If there is a full head-on impact, they will envelop the whole Earth, cause the Aurora Borealis, and problems with shortwave communications and GPS.”

When solar storms erupt they fire off electrons and protons held in a superheated gas (or plasma), which is carried across space by a solar wind — a stream of particles travelling from the sun at about a million miles per hour. The storms are a health hazard to astronauts and flight crews flying over the poles, where their impact is greatest.

The Surround mission is proposing to use a constellation of CubeSats better to track, monitor and predict solar storms. The plan is to launch six CubeSats, each with radio spectrometers to track the solar radio bursts associated with solar storms that can disrupt our global navigation satellite systems by interfering with radio waves. The CubeSats, which will each sit in separate locations in space, will combine to track solar storms from multiple angles.

I wonder if there is an English word describing to “triangulate” from six directions?

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

HAMNET Report 17th July 2022

In the face of the severe heatwave affecting much of Central and Western Europe, France, Spain and Portugal have been experiencing many wildfires this week. In Spain, temperatures in the low 40’s Celsius were measured on several days of the week.

According to the Portuguese National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ProCiv), 10 major fires have been burning across Portugal, and a total of 144 fires were registered on 9 July. These fires were mainly located in the central part of the country in the districts of Leiria and Santarém, involving 1185 firefighters, 237 vehicles, and with assistance from 15 fire-fighting aircraft.

On 9 July, Portugal activated the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) and made a request for assistance for 1 Aerial Forest Fire Fighting Module. In response, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) invited Spain to mobilise 2 Canadair airplanes, which were deployed to Portugal on the morning of 10th July.

Portugal continues to face an extreme fire risk in the upcoming days compounded by high temperatures, strong winds, low relative humidity and drought conditions. Considering this and the actual operational situation, the general response level was raised on 11th July from orange to red, and a Civil Protection Contingency Declaration Situation was issued.

As of 12th July at 7.00 UTC, there are about 27 wildfire events (of which three were active and ongoing and two were under control) across Portugal, including two events located north of Lisbon Capital City. Portuguese authorities have mobilised more than 2 000 firefighters. At least 26 people have been reported injured.

And, in France, forest fires have been affecting south-western France over the past 24 hours, causing evacuations and damage.

According to the Operational Centre for Inter-ministerial Crisis Management (COGIC), as of 13 July, there were two main active fires. So far, the burnt area is of approximately 1 400 hectares. For both fires 230 firefighters, two Canadair and two other aircraft were deployed.

COGIC reports around 6 000 evacuated people in one temporary accommodation centre in the area of La Teste-de-Buch municipality. In addition, the same source reports 520 preventively evacuated people in other areas.

By Thursday, Spain was reporting that several forest fires had reportedly broken out across Spain, resulting in evacuations. Firefighting operations continued to be hindered by weather conditions and lack of visibility limiting the performance of aerial resources.

According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), the fire risk was expected to be “extreme” to “very extreme” from 13-15th July over most of Spain, including the abovementioned areas affected by the ongoing fires.

Our man Greg Mossop G0DUB of IARU Region 1 has issued a directive about a “digital check-in exercise” he proposes to hold in our region from 08h00 to 11h00 UTC on Saturday July the 30th.

The objectives are to encourage the use of digital modes for message passing, to practice relaying messages that may have been received on other modes ( e.g. SSB/CW), and to reinforce the fact that the message format should not change between transmission modes or relays.

Frequencies to be used are those appropriate for the digital mode in question, according to band-plan convention, and the idea is that stations should send messages in plain text IARU format to one of the following destinations;

Winlink: G0DUB


e-mail: exercise@raynet-hf.net

The Subject line of the message must be in the format “//WL2K R/ G0DUB Chester GBR” allowing the message to be sent through ‘hybrid mode’

The Winlink protocol should whitelist the destination email address, set the message priority and show the callsign and city of the destination.

The body of the message is as described below.

APRS messages should follow the format specified in http://aprs.org/doc/APRS101.PDF page 75  entitled “NTS Radiograms”.

Between 11h00 UTC and 14h00 UTC, G0DUB will review all messages received and prepare responses/comments which will be sent from 14h00 UTC.

Participating stations should check in again with their digital systems between 14h00-17h00 UTC to pick up those responses.

Messages should be sent in plain text format, the content is not critical in this exercise. The key feature is that the message format is followed.

He then lays out an example of the format the message should follow, based on the specification mentioned above.

Stations will receive feedback that their original message was received correctly. If no feedback is received then the originator should email exercise@raynet-hf.net to report that two-way communication failed.


After the test, information will be compiled on how many messages were exchanged and how many were successful in meeting the exercise objectives.

We wish all participating stations success in formatting and sending their messages successfully, with a view to getting used to the protocol needed to ensure that the message is correctly received.

With the geostationary QO-100 satellite fresh in South African radio operator’s minds at present, an interesting article in Hackaday.com this week, by Dan Maloney gives us food for thought.

The problem is that Software Defined Radios which will transmit at 2.4 GHz, and receive at 10.45 GHz are few and far between, if price is any objection. The most available system is the ADALM PLUTO, which will do the job relatively cheaply, but at the price of frequency stability.

Dan says he was pleased to see that the problem of SDR frequency stability was tackled by using a GPS-disciplined oscillator. The setup uses the ADALM-PLUTO SDR transceiver and a precision oscillator from Leo Bodnar Electronics. The oscillator can be programmed to output a rock-solid, GPS-disciplined signal over a wide range of frequencies. The Pluto has an external oscillator input that looks for 40 MHz, which is well within the range of the GPS Disciplined Oscillator.

Setup is as easy as plugging the oscillator’s output into the SDR’s external clock input using an SMA to UFL jumper, and tweaking the settings in the SDR and oscillator. Not all SDRs will have an external clock input, of course, so your mileage may vary. But if your gear is suitably equipped, this looks like a great way to get bang-on frequency.

Hackaday.com’s blog for 13th July includes a decent picture of the PLUTO and the oscillator, and a video of the Leo Bodnar Oscillator in use.

It is an exciting area to be investigating, and IARU Region 1 is lucky to have the availability of the Qatar Es’hail 2 satellite parked in geostationary orbit above us for continuous use.

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

HAMNET Report 10th July 2022

Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, Regional Director of HAMNET KwaZulu Natal, has issued a report about the Scottburgh to Brighton Paddle Ski Race of last week. He says:

”Hamnet KZN provided eleven operators to ensure the safety of competitors for this event on Saturday 2nd July 2022.

“The event covered 46.5Km starting at Scottburgh on the lower South Coast at 07H00, a compulsory check-in at the beach in Amanzimtoti, then finishing at Brighton Beach on the Bluff in eThekwini (Durban) This used to be South Africa’s premier ocean paddle ski race, however, the effects of Covid 19, the recent floods and damage to infrastructure resulting in serious water pollution have certainly taken their toll.

“Only 10 Single and 23 Doubles entered the race. A number of potential entrants are also set to run the Comrades Marathon later this year and presumably this may have influenced their decision not to participate for fear of falling ill. A high E.coli count had been recorded and the public were being warned not to eat sardines caught in the recent sardine run.

“Hamnet KZN operators were positioned at key vantage points along the route and able to advise the control station at Athlone Park of any incidents via 145.550 Simplex.

“Communications were maintained with Inshore Rescue Boats(IRB’s) via a commercial simplex radio channel which proved to be a challenge as it was found out later that a number of their batteries had corrosion and would need to be replaced.  This event was a joint operation involving Hamnet KZN, Lifesaving South Africa, NSRI and eThekwini Lifeguards.

“I am pleased to report that no serious incidents occurred although a couple of competitors did end up on the rocks at Amanzimtoti and their skis broken in half.

“They were assisted by lifeguards who paddled out to them and brought them to safety.

“My thanks to all of those who assisted with the event, namely:

“Keith ZS5WFD, Duncan ZS5DGR, Roeloff ZS5RPC, Pravin ZS5LT, Ben ZS5BN, Troy ZS5TWJ,  Geoff ZS5AGM, Val ZS5VAL, Shaun ZS5SM, Kathy ZS5OL and Rob ZS5ROB.”

Thank you, Keith for the report, and well done to the skilled operators.

The ARRL Letter for 7th July says that Makani ‘Ino is Hawaiian for “big wind” and the name of Hawaii’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) upcoming hurricane emergency communications drill. The drill will assess the ability of amateur radio operators to establish emergency radio communications in the event of a severe infrastructure failure due to hurricane-like conditions.

In addition to testing two-way radio communications, the drill will also use Winlink Global Radio Email® to send and receive messages from surrounding islands and participating agencies. Radio operators will first use radio, and then they’ll send simulated digital messages using Winlink for reports and requests for assistance.

Hawaii ARES Public Information Officer Michael Miller, KH6ML, said, “With this drill, we are also trying to increase the level of participation, so that all operators have the chance to develop the skill sets for real-world situations.” Miller added, “It is important for younger, or new, amateur radio operators to know they can use their digital skills in emergency situations.”

Miller also said they will be sending after-action reports to participating agencies, such as the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross, to help improve communications using amateur radio technology.

This is the second state-wide drill conducted by Hawaii ARES in 2022. Makani ‘Ino [takes place on] Saturday, July 16, 2022, from 9 AM to noon, Hawaii Standard Time.

The main question all bees need answered for them is: Where are those flowers and how far away are they? This is the crux of the ‘waggle dance’ performed by honeybees to alert others to the location of nectar-rich flowers. A new study in Frontiers in Robotics and AI has taken inspiration from this technique to devise a way for robots to communicate. The first robot traces a shape on the floor, and the shape’s orientation and the time it takes to trace it tell the second robot the required direction and distance of travel. The technique could prove invaluable in situations where robot labour is required but network communications are unreliable, such as in a disaster zone or in space.

If you have ever found yourself in a noisy environment, such as a factory floor, you may have noticed that humans are adept at communicating using gestures. Well, we aren’t the only ones. In fact, honeybees take non-verbal communication to a whole new level.

By wiggling their backside while parading through the hive, they can let other honeybees know about the location of food. The direction of this ‘waggle dance’ lets other bees know the direction of the food with respect to the hive and the sun, and the duration of the dance lets them know how far away it is. It is a simple but effective way to convey complex geographical coordinates.

This ingenious method of communication inspired the researchers behind this latest study to apply it to the world of robotics. Robot cooperation allows multiple robots to coordinate and complete complex tasks. Typically, robots communicate using digital networks, but what happens when these are unreliable, such as during an emergency or in remote locations? Moreover, how can humans communicate with robots in such a scenario?

To address this, the researchers designed a visual communication system for robots with on-board cameras, using algorithms that allow the robots to interpret what they see. They tested the system using a simple task, where a package in a warehouse needed to be moved. The system allows a human to communicate with a “messenger robot”, which supervises and instructs a ‘handling robot’ that performs the task.

In this situation, the human can communicate with the messenger robot using gestures, such as a raised hand with a closed fist. The robot can recognize the gesture using its on-board camera and skeletal tracking algorithms. Once the human has shown the messenger robot where the package is, it conveys this information to the handling robot.

This involves positioning itself in front of the handling robot and tracing a specific shape on the ground. The orientation of the shape indicates the required direction of travel, while the length of time it takes to trace it indicates the distance. This robot dance would make a worker bee proud, but did it work?

The researchers put it to the test using a computer simulation, and with real robots and human volunteers. The [real and human] robots interpreted the gestures correctly 90% and 93.3% of the time, respectively, highlighting the potential of the technique.

“This technique could be useful in places where communication network coverage is insufficient and intermittent, such as robot search-and-rescue operations in disaster zones or in robots that undertake space walks,” said Prof Abhra Roy Chowdhury of the Indian Institute of Science, senior author on the study. “This method depends on robot vision through a simple camera, and therefore it is compatible with robots of various sizes and configurations and is scalable,” added Kaustubh Joshi of the University of Maryland, first author on the study.

Hmm, I’m sure you’ll agree it is not only bees or robots that understand the meaning of the wiggling of backsides!

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

HAMNET Report 3rd July 2022

On Wednesday last, Greg Mossop G0DUB passed on a communique from Carlos Alberto Gonzalez, CO2JC, of IARU Region 2, reporting that Venezuela and Nicaragua were preparing for the second Tropical Cyclone of the season, not yet named, and asking for a range of HF frequencies to be kept clear of casual chatter, while emergency communicators were using them.

The Cyclone was entering the Caribbean Sea that evening, and the island nations were playing safe, rather than sorry.

By Friday, Carlos was reporting that the cyclone had passed close to, but not crossed the coast of Venezuela, and they were relaxing their frequency restrictions.

Carlos said further that Colombia’s network on 7060 KHz was active, that Costa Rica was spared, but that Nicaragua had declared a red, or maximum, alert at their southern border with Costa Rica, and an orange alert for the rest of the country. Costa Rica was to start constant monitoring from Friday the 1st starting at midday their time. Guatemala was also activating a preventative network, with a view to aiding their various neighbours if required.

There has been no further word of the cyclone itself, so, at this stage, it all seems to be proactive, rather than reactive.

On the other side of the globe, Tropical Cyclone CHABA-22 started bearing down on the coast of China on Wednesday, with estimated wind speeds of about 120km/h, threatening 6.17 million people in its path. It was predicted to reach the island of Hainan yesterday the 2nd, strengthening as it progressed, and causing heavy rainfall and strong winds over Southern China, in Guangdong Province.

Reporting from England, Dr Corwin Wright, of the Centre for Space, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Bath, says that the January volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered a tsunami was among the most powerful ever recorded, sending shockwaves around the world and into the edge of space, according to new research. It was as big as notorious Krakatoa in 1883 and sent gravity waves reverberating around the Earth reaching more than 60 miles into the upper atmosphere.

The volcanic eruption was hundreds of times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. It affected radio communications, GPS systems, telescopes, and even weather systems.

“This was a genuinely huge explosion, and truly unique in terms of what has been observed by science to date. We have never seen atmospheric waves going round the whole world before, or at this speed – they were traveling very close to the theoretical limit,” says lead author Dr Wright in the statement. “The eruption was an amazing natural experiment. The data we have been able to gather on it will enhance our understanding of our atmosphere and will help us improve our weather and climate models.”

After a series of smaller events beginning in December, Hunga Tonga blew on January 15, 2022, producing a vertical plume that rose more than 50 km into the sky. Heat released from water and hot ash fuelled gravity waves on Earth for the next 12 hours.

There were only three confirmed deaths, which is a miracle given that whole communities were left under a blanket of volcanic ash and mud from the massive tidal wave that followed. About 84 percent of the total population of the Island nation of Tonga was affected.

As predicted, in the week after the ARRL-sponsored Field Day exercise in the U.S., the online news has been full of report-backs, too many to read and mention. There were upwards of 2400 stations on the air over that weekend, and the ARRL letter of Thursday the 30th June reports that it had already received logs revealing 517000 contacts made in the 24 hour period.

Many amateurs took the time during the exercise, and afterwards to make videos, which they have posted on YouTube, reporting on their successes and failures, and showing off their very swanky radio gear. If you have the time and the inclination, go to YouTube, and type “ARRL Field Day 2022” into the search bar, and you will find many reports to digest and enjoy.

In a separate report in the ARRL News of 30th June, mention is made of a 2 day exercise by radio amateurs, joined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), local and county law enforcement agencies, and the EmComm Training Organization (ETO) for participation in a functional earthquake exercise in southern California, known as SoCal Shifting 2022.

The goal of the exercise, which took place on June 18th and 19th, was to test the operational capability and readiness of the Winlink Global Radio Email® system using amateur radio frequencies.

Oliver Dully, K6OLI, District Emergency Coordinator of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) Los Angeles Northeast District, said the exercise came together quickly over 5 days, with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Disaster Communications Service (DCS), the San Diego ARES, and the Ventura County ARES.

Dully said, “Amateur operators routinely hold weekly tests but need to be network-aware and used to the battle rhythm during emergencies to move traffic in [a] more timely manner.”

The exercise scenario included a cluster of earthquakes occurring on June 18 at 10:18 AM Pacific Standard Time, and amateur radio operators were asked to send a series of messages ranging from a “Did You Feel It (DYFI)” report to a Field Station Report (FSR).

Dully said the exercise was a great success, stating: “Participants were only given a short 3 days’ notice, so the great success of the SoCal Shifting 2022 functional exercise again demonstrates the value of regular, mission-focused training and collaboration.”

Dully said the numbers from the final after-action report were outstanding:

The ARES Los Angeles Northeast District tactical call sign received 372 messages from 101 participating stations during this exercise, all via Winlink.

Regrettably, Winlink and its superb features are not sufficiently popular or understood by Emcomm operators in this country. I hope that this lack of use can be remedied in future.

We end with a quickie. The Daily Maverick reported this week that more than 2000 spinoff technologies have resulted from NASA space missions. This ranges from memory foam to cochlear implants, and is good information for the next time that somebody tells you that space exploration is a waste of money!

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