Koeberg Simulated Emergency Exercise 22nd September 2022

In line with regulatory compliance for the management of a nuclear power station, regular safety exercises are held which involve a broad range of different agencies, which come together to practice their response coordination activities for dealing with any emergency which may threaten the safety of citizens living in the vicinity.

This exercise was led and coordinated by the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre in Goodwood. Designated representatives from a broad range of agencies were assembled at Goodwood DRM to experience the full progression of the exercise from the first initial contacts, through the escalation levels, coordination, and the stand down and debriefing. Not only were there representatives participating from various provincial and city departments responsible for health and safety, water and sanitation, traffic services, environmental affairs and tourism, education, emergency medical services, recreation & parks, fire & rescue, agriculture, corporate media, human settlements, but also agencies such as HAMNET, Robben Island Museum, the SPCA, SABC media, SA National Defence Force, SA Police Service, Golden Arrow Bus Services, MyCiti busses, and a Koeberg technical advisor. As the Strategic Room was fully occupied, an upstairs auditorium was utilised for the monitoring by agencies such as the National Nuclear Regulator and others who could listen in to all the communications and watch the proceedings on projection screens which mirrored the video wall in the Strategic Room.

On Thursday 22 September 2022 the exercise was triggered in the early morning with an Unusual Event being declared by Koeberg to the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre, for a simulated problem involving their pressurised water systems. This level is also triggered by anything unusual, such as a veld fire in their vicinity, jellyfish blocking a water cooling intake, etc. The Koeberg Station would normally try to deal with this alert level resolution on-site themselves. Every written and verbal communication was preceded with the words “THIS IS AN EXERCISE” to prevent any misinformation being broadcast outside of the exercise.

Bulk SMS messages were received by all participants to inform them of the situation. Normally, if this type of situation had developed at Koeberg, it would have escalated over a period of 2 or 3 days, but for the purposes of the exercise the time scale was compressed, so a while later Koeberg simulated some containment issues based on the loss of Fission product barriers, and they declared an Alert event level which was sent out to us by SMS necessitating the onsite assembly of the role-players at the Strategic and Tactical Rooms.

From this point our various teams reported our arrivals, and updates were sent through, using formatted message sheets. HAMNET, according to its plan, dispatched two members with one being present for the Strategic Room, and the other ready to man the radio room if required. HAMNET also sent a message to state it had additional members on standby if required for deployment to areas that had lost communications.

The exercise escalated through the Site Emergency severity level to one of General Emergency where members of the public and schools were to be evacuated within a certain radius downwind of the Koeberg station with the assistance of two bus services. At this stage roadblocks and holding points were in place, a Mass Care Centre had been established upwind of the station, frisking for radioactivity and decontamination were being performed, dosimeters were issued, and Potassium Iodide tablets were being issued or administered where needed.

At midday, after the simulated emergency had been contained, we all received the stand down SMS, and a lengthy debriefing period started. Every agency gave their feedback and a critique of their own performance, including many suggestions for future improvements. There was unanimous agreement by all the agencies, as well as observers, that the exercise had been a great success.

The purpose of the exercise was not just to perform all the procedural steps as per the planning, but more importantly to see how all the different agencies cooperated together as a team, and also to forge relationships with those who we will be working together with in future, if any real disaster requires it. And to this end the exercise was also a great success.

HAMNET was not required to deploy into the field as part of this exercise, but the role we were prepared for, was to bridge any communication gaps that might have arisen resulting from flat batteries and a blackout situation for the cell-phone towers or the TETRA radio network. As recently as two months ago, HAMNET WC had done a hands-on demonstration to the City and Provincial Disaster Managements, showing that we could establish radio communications across the Western Cape Province in the absence of any telephones or Internet connectivity. This is also the reason the City of Cape Town DRMC had funded and set aside a dedicated radio communications room for HAMNET to manage on their behalf.

HAMNET Western Cape was represented by Danie van der Merwe ZS1OSS and Dave Reece ZS1DFR.

Included is a picture of our dedicated radio room at Goodwood Disaster Risk Management Centre, which has facilities for all the usual amateur bands, crossband relays and all the usual digital modes, as well as monitoring of Aircraft and Marine traffic. We are linked to the internet, and run Echolink relays from here.


The station was established by Alister van Tonder ex ZS1OK, now ZS2OK, and is currently managed by Danie van der Merwe ZS1OSS. Its call sign is ZS1DCC.

Report prepared by Danie ZS1OSS

SANLAM Cape Town Peace Trail 22 September 2018

Alister van Tonder, ZS1OK reports:

The 2018 Sanlam Peace Trail run took place on Saturday 22nd of September in support of the trail running taking place on the slopes of Lions Head and Signal Hill.  This event forms part of the larger Cape Town Marathon, which took place on the following day, Sunday 23rd.

The Hamnet operators consisted of ZS1JMT Michael and Virginia holding the fort at The Glen in the vicinity of the Round House Restaurant in Camps Bay, and the team at Signal Hill consisting of John ZS1JNT and Ian ZS1OSK, and with Alister ZS1OK at the base.  Matt ZS1MTF assisted by setting up a VHF/UHF cross-band repeater in a vehicle parked on the slopes of Table Mountain which provided a relay between The Glen and to the base located, located at the new Green Point Athletics Track, as well as to the Signal Hill team.  While there was no directly line of sight between the cross-band repeater to the base – it was well within the lee of Signal Hill, the cross-band repeater worked very well.  Matt set the VHF transmitter power to 20 watts which ensured that with the extra power a good signal was provided whereas the line of sight UHF link to The Glen was using 5 watts.

The base was operational by 05h30 with the comms being verified between the different locations by 06h00.  The start of the race was delayed by more than 30 minutes due to race safety issues, but once it started the well planned operating procedures by the race organisers ensured things went smoothly.

There were a handful of minor runner injuries, but overall no major incidents.  As with most competitive sports it was vital to verify runners were not taking short cuts or taking advantage, and matters of this nature took up some bandwidth.

The team of Michael ZS1MJT and Virginia were the first to stand down after the race sweep had progressed well beyond their location.  The team Signal Hill is very busy as both the long and the short course runners pass through their check point.   By the time the sweep passed the Noon Gun, they also stood down, since any injured runners would thereafter had to continue down the slopes rather than being taken back up to Signal Hill.   Support was concluded when the based stood down at 13h30.

This was the second year we have used cellular APRS for the race sweeps.  Last year we had some teething problems with the cellular APRS, but this year it worked really well and we had regular fixed interval position updates via aprs.fi for both race sweeps.  There were only small areas that did not have cellular coverage.

Yes, radio based APRS has its place – the race sweeps find the mangoes APRS radios bulky and heavy – but having cellular based APRS provided good operational feedback.  To provide effective VHF digipeater coverage for this event would be quite a daunting task, requiring many suitably located digipeaters.




City of Cape Town DRM Koeberg Nuclear Disaster Exercise 23 November 2017

Alister van Tonder ZS1OK writes:

HAMNET was invited to participate by the Disaster Risk Management of the City of Cape Town with their annual Koeberg Nuclear Disaster Exercise.  This was the first time we participated with this particular exercise and the second time we’ve participated with the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management exercises.

We had seven volunteers who participated, consisting of David zs1dav, Dean zs1kp, Hendrik zs1eee, Philip zs1pvv, Rob zs1sa, Stephen zs1bsw, and Alister zs1ok.

The exercise simulated a nuclear leak at Koeberg, and we had HAMNET personnel in the following roles:

  • Joint Operations Centre – Dean as a former mechanical engineer at Koeberg sat with the rest of the members in the JOC and from here all the aspects of the exercise was managed.


Figure 1. A view of the various role players managing the exercise from the JOC


Figure 2 The video walls inside the JOC depicting information relevant to the exercise

  • HAMNET Communications Room. Rob zs1sa and Stephen zs1bsw were behind the controls relaying messages as and when required, using the VHF/UHF and HF equipment.
  • Command Bus – David zs1dav represented HAMNET at the Command Bus, which at one stage departed at high speed to a new location quite some distance from where they were due them being put at “risk” by the a change in wind direction which carries “radiation” with it. Dave’s multi-faceted ability came to the rescue of some of the very hungry participants when he was able to open their tuna cans, which was part of the day’s ration packs, with his Leatherman.


Figure 3 One of the two locations where the Command Bus was parked, together with various role players also taking part in the exercise.

  • Hendrik zs1eee and Philip zs1pvv were stationed at the Koeberg Volunteer Centre from where they operated on both VHF/UHF and HF.
  • Alister zs1ok was a part-time roving participant during the event. One of the advantages of living in Cape Town was setting up a cross-band repeater on Blouberg Hill .


Figure 4 A cross-band repeater set up on Blouberg Hill – with a magnificent view from there


In general the exercise and the HAMNET participation went off well.  Everyone learnt a great deal in various ways, and since this was the first exercise of this nature with the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management there are several areas where we could definitely improve on.

 Feedback, Suggestions and Improvements

We would love to get more HAMNET operators to participate, despite the exercise being run during normal working hours.

We need to make use more of digital technologies, in particular systems that can be used to send text to other operators or participants.  This requirement is particularly relevant for information or formal communications issued from the JOC and the HAMNET Comms Room.  Using text based system is the best way to keep operators well informed without interrupting them with their parallel activities. An operator can re-read a text message rather than having to request a voice message to be resent for clarification.  Specific terminology can be used in a text based message which would be more difficult to convey in a standard voice message.  The other major advantage of a text based system is that it automatically provides a log of all messages, communication and whatever else needs to be recorded.

In prior discussions with ESCOM they expressed specific interest in HAMNET’s ability to offer backup communications because of their ability to transfer text messages and files (using digital modes, e.g. fldigi) as well as sending of emails (e.g. using Winlink) via radio.

The ability to provide nomadic HF comms rather than mobile HF comms.  We generally do not require HF comms to be used while driving a vehicle.  In this context an HF station requires the ability to up and leave to a new location within minutes.  The operator should therefore ideally operate from their vehicle or a go-box and all that is required is to pack away their HF antenna.  The operator must be able to set up to use 80m and 60m comms with the current propagation conditions.  During winter months being able to use 160m would also be required.

HF comms is important to test and maintain since there is a requirement with certain of the Koeberg exercises for the Koeberg region to be “vacated” and for the command teams to relocate to rural areas such as Citrusdal, Mooreesburg or even Ceres to get away from “nuclear fall-out and contamination”.  During such events it is vital to maintain comms via HF due to these areas not necessarily being served via VHF/UHF repeaters.

During a real Koeberg incident HAMNET would be required to assist for several days.  It is therefore important having sufficient HAMNET volunteers to permit operations to run over multiple days using 12 hour shifts.

  1. JOC – Joint Operations Center

Meticulous notes were maintained by Dean during the development of the exercise.

It was felt that using an electronic version of this which could automatically share vital information with all the HAMNET role players and would be of much more value than only using voice communications.

This concept was reinforced by the fact that it is impractical to use radio communication (handheld radio) in a controlled environment such as the JOC, and the audio from the radio caused disruptions.  Even using a headset with the radio was said to be impractical in this setup.

  1. HAMNET Communications Room

At least two operators are required for the Control room as there is just too much happening in parallel for one operator to manage appropriately.

Since it was the first time that both Rob zs1sa and Stephen zs1bsw operated from the HAMNET communications room they were not very familiar with the facility’s equipment despite them being skilled amateur radio operators.  During an emergency it is vital for operators know their equipment well and are able to optimally use the equipment.  It is not a static operating environment and there are ongoing changes required on the equipment.

Despite having sound dampening facilities, which is ideal for a very active comms control centre, the one drawback of the facility is that it is isolated from where real the rubber hits the road.  As a result they have insufficient information about the development exercise.  Having the text based system mentioned above would also greatly assist.

  1. Command Bus

It was the second time David zs1dav has been with the Command Bus and fortunately the staff operating from the bus were well informed of his presence and his role.  Since the bus may be redeployed to more suitable or different locations at any time it is vital for this HAMNET operator to be set up and proficient at using mobile comms.  Even their HF equipment needs to be setup such that they can redeploy at short notice – and merely recover their long wire antenna deployed from their vehicle.

  1. Volunteer Centre

Hendrik zs1eee and Philip zs1pvv are quite adept at setting up a station in a new location.  This was their first involvement at this facility and as we also intended testing HF communications, the HF antenna had to be set up in a manner that the environment remained safe for other staff participating in the event.  We did not want people to get RF burns from the antennas.

One of the drawbacks of using a cross-band repeater is that it does not provide any feedback (i.e. a whiplash) when pressing your PTT. Thus an operator using a cross-band repeater needs to have two radios – each one tuned to one of the frequencies of the cross-band repeater.  When transmitting on the one radio you should hear yourself on the other radio.

All the personnel at the Volunteer Centre were required to relocate to a new location necessitating moving the radio station elsewhere.  Thus this nomadic requirement makes the ability to have a go-box very practical.  Basically unplug your power (if you are only using mains), pack away your antenna, and load your equipment in the vehicle and move to the next location.

  1. Rover One

Alister zs1ok was mobile during part of the exercise, and being mobile leaves an operator with a limited ability to effectively participate with communications while driving.  You need a second person to assist –  either as driver or as communicator.  Particularly once you start using digital comms (text or graphics) it would be safer and better to have one to assist you.

Once again thank you to everyone on the team who made this event a learning event and an enjoyable one!!

Alister van Tonder  ZS1OK


A group of six Hamnet operators from the Western Cape, assisted with the event communications at the Kogelberg WIldrunner which took place in rainy conditions at Kleinmond on Saturday morning, 12th of August. The six operators consisted of: Matt (ZS1MTF) and Steven (ZS1DAD) who operated from a location where having vehicles with high ground clearance was essential. John (ZS1JNT) and Douw (ZS1DGK) operated from the golf course parking area while Peter (ZS1PDE) and Alister (ZS1OK) operated the base station located in the parking area of the Kleinmond beach and lagoon. It was the first time for Steven and John were involved in a trail running event.

Conditions were rather wet, with regular rain squalls during the event and this impacted the runners having to negotiate areas of large standing water in some of the trail areas. Because of the wet conditions we mostly operated from within our vehicles.

Fortunately there were no serious incidents during the event and support of the comms went off well without issues.

17-02-19 HGS “Ride for Sight:

100_1183On Sunday the 19th February 2107, Hamnet Gauteng South provided services to the annual Dischem Ride for Sight race held from the Boksburg stadium.

This year there were 31 operators manning 10 sweep vehicles, 5 water tables and 4 quantum busses with trailers to collect cyclists that had retired from the race. All driven by Hamnet members. The balance of the team set up, manned and operated the JOCC together with Helivac and the Road Rangers

This year proved to be a rather challenging race with many incidents being thrown at the team

DSC00061To start with, there were so many injuries and accidents early in the race that ambulances became scarce. At one incident there were 3 cyclists injured and eventually 2 were transported in one ambulance and the 3rd in a second ambulance. The other 3 responded to other incidents leaving the race with minimal available ambulances with incidents pilling up. A back up plan with the service provider is that they have a service level agreement with private companies like ER24 and Emergimed that if they need more ambulances, they call them in. This was done with 3 more ambulances being brought in and diving into the thick of it. Unfortunately, coming in out the cold, they did not know the route and there was no radio communications with them except by phone. Getting them to scenes was hard.

Another issue was the marshals / metro on the short route, made a complete error and directed arguably 80% of the short route race down the wrong road!!! Obviously, on that route, there were no marshals, and to add to the issues, they turned about 4km’s before their 1st water point, therefore missing out on their refreshment refills! Where they cyclists re-joined the race, they entered after WP4, so effectively; they did not pass one single water point during their slightly shortened race. Fortunately Shane (ZS6ZSB) who started sweeping that area noticed the error and called it in. This incident literally drew in 5 of our members to manage the incident. The team could not rectify it as they would never get the cyclists back on the route. So they completed a slightly shortened race, however, this also affected WP 6 at the stadium.

DSC00016At the same time, water point 1 was preparing to close down. Normally the excess refreshments in the WP1 truck are then sent to water point 4 who are at the same time getting desperate for a top up. Believe it or not, the truck would not start!!! To complicate matters, the stadium water point ran out of water and the next thing, Chris (ZS6COG) at water point 3 started asking for additional drinks!!! If anyone was monitoring, they would have heard all the discussion that took place. Suffice to say, that one truck at WP1 threw a very big spanner in the works. The water running out at the stadium water point was arguably a direct result of the short race missing their two water stops and probably being very thirsty for water at the end.

For the first time known, the cut off at WP3 was enforced by the JOCC as the temperatures were very high and again people dropping out. On the radio, a consistent chatter was heard from the busses reporting they were full and returning to base. Again, something completely new. Unfortunately we have 3 members with PDP’s and 4 busses. Hopefully next year we will have 4 PDP’s??? But this did not stop the team putting Hamnet guys in the 4th buss with the contracted driver.

Overall however, the race went exceptionally well in the eyes of the organisers who were ecstatic the way every had gone. In total there were 5700 cyclists who all had a great day out by the look of it.

The team was obviously tired from being up at 03h00 in the morning and returned home for a well-earned break.

Glynn Chamberlain


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REPORT of HAMNET WCP’s involvement in two cycle tours February 2017

HAMNET Western Cape was again invited to assist with communications during two cycling events in February.

The first was the el Shaddai 99er Cycle Tour, on 11th February, involving some 4000 riders and 14 mobile radio stations. The race started at the racecourse in Durbanville, and progressed out towards the R44 between Paarl and Wellington, before crossing the countryside along the Philadelphia Road, and then down to the N7 via van Schoorsdrift, before entering Durbanville again up Vissershok, a total distance of just over 100km. A shorter route trimmed off some of the circuit for the less ambitious riders.

The JOC was established at the Racecourse, where Metro EMS’ Disaster Bus and my ancient Autovilla were parked next to each other. The medical contingent for the race plus ambulance dispatch and sweep vehicle dispatch occupied the disaster bus, while Carol, ZS1MOM,  and I occupied the van under a roof for coolth, and ran the radio comms. We communicated with the ambulance and sweep dispatch by means of a handheld VHF radio. Two VHF repeaters in the Cape were isolated from the inked system for our transmissions, a simplex frequency between the rovers was organised in case one of them could not be heard at the JOC and needed a message relayed, and a mobile stand-in APRS digipeater was installed on the top of the Meerendal Hill by Alister ZS1OK, to give better APRS coverage to all the vehicles tracked. All the 14 rovers had trackers in their vehicles, and we installed portable trackers in the 5 rescue ambulances and the three organiser’s race marshal’s vehicles.

The day started cool, but rapidly became very hot, and by lunchtime, the temperature on Vissershok, where the last riders were entering Durbanville was 35 degrees. In fact the medical team pulled the last few riders off the race (in any case the cut-off would have disqualified them) before they finished the climb up Vissershok, because of the heat, and the risk of exhaustion.

There were no major incidents during the race, and the course was declared cleared before 13h00. My thanks to  ZR1FR, and ZS1’s AGP, MUP, JM, BTD, V, PXK, LN and his wife PTT, DAV, JNT, DUG, PVV, PDE, and of course, MOM and OK.

The second race was the Lion’s Journey for Sight and Service, held on the same Sunday as the Dischem ride for Sight in Gauteng, namely the 19th February. This race is usually held on the first full weekend of the New Year down in the extreme Southern Suburbs of the Peninsula. For some reason not clear to me, it was postponed to a week after the 99er, and then held roughly in the same area as the 99er had been! This had a huge effect on the entries and the enthusiasm of the riders, and the Lions are to be pitied for the hard work they put into a race that was never going to be very profitable for the charities usually supported.

The Race started and finished at Killarney Race track North of Milnerton, and the route followed the Contermanskloof Road and then Tiekiedraai over the Durbanville Hills to enter Durbanville up the well known avenue of trees. After circling around the centre of town, the riders left via Wellington Rd, turned on to Fisantekraal, and then out to the four-way stop at the R304, where they turned left and up to the crossing with the Philadelphia Rd at the Silos, left towards Philadelphia, and then left again to come down the Adderley Rd (M58), right on to Malanshoogte, and finally back to Killarney via the Contermanskloof Road again, a distance of 74km. A shorter route clipped off some 20km for the less ambitious.

For this race, we ran the JOC out of my Autovilla at Killarney, situated next to the medical and organiser contingents in a large workshop on the site. Eight rovers manned the route, Alister ZS1OK again installed his mobile APRS digipeater on Meerendal, and I managed the JOC on my own. We equipped two ambulances and the two back markers for the races with APRS trackers, so I could report to the organisers on the state of the race.

However, this was the first race we have managed in Cape Town entirely on UHF repeaters. It being Sunday morning, the usual VHF repeaters were occupied with bulletins, and so we used the 434.625 UHF repeater on Tygerberg, which was pretty central to the course, and HAMNET’s portable UHF repeater at the same site as the
APRS digipeater, on 438.700MHz, to cover any gaps. It turned out that there were almost no gaps, and the route was well covered by the 434.625 repeater.

The entries for this race were far fewer, and there were no important incidents, so the field was back at the finish by about 11h00. HAMNET received grateful acknowledgments from the Lions organisers, and we in turn promised to be back for both races next year. Hopefully, the Lion’s race will be separated both geographically and chronologically from the 99er next year, to allow both races to benefit from the number of riders entering.

During the event, a call from Wilderness Search and Rescue was received for helpers to retrieve the body of a climber who had fallen on Table Mountain the night before. ZS1GS and ZS1OSK were given permission to leave their rover duties early, to be able to proceed to the call-out. Please see the report on that retrieval by ZS1GS on this same website.

My thanks go to ZS1’s LN and his wife PTT, PXK, EEE, PDE, YT, OSK, GS, BTD, and OK at the digipeater site. Without ZS1OK, neither of these races would have been as successfully marshaled as they were.

Value Logistics Fast One Cycle race 2017

Written By Riaan Greeff (ZS4PR)

HAMNET Gauteng South and HAMNET Vaal collaboration report

Members involved:

Gauteng South




Basic report timeline:

Early January 2017 the Gauteng South team invited the Vaal team to join in the operation for this event.  After initial arrangements, ZS6GLN, ZS6LMG, ZS6PAJ and ZS4PR met with the organisers of the event, as well as the Midvaal traffic and fire departments.   The function and capabilities of HAMNET was highlighted and the logistic arrangements were set.

The afternoon of 28 January was where the two HAMNET teams first came together.  The first initial planning arrangements were to set up the JOC, the two UHF repeaters, testing the VHF repeater ZS6VTB, and assist the organisers with WIFI and internet access.  In this regard it was clear from the go that the Vaal and the Gauteng South teams clicked extremely well and immediately worked together in a most efficient way.

The lead vehicles of the race organisers arrived on time and the APRS tracking units were also installed.  Having these many capable radio amateurs on hand to get the communications set up is proof of professionalism and respect towards the greater amateur radio directives of HAMNET.

By nightfall every task set out was completed and the APRS trackers were reporting positively.

The Vaal team decided to ensure that the fellowship and tummies will receive good support.  Saturday evening the braai allowed the teams to get to know each other even better, and Glynn made use of the opportunity to brief all on the task that lay ahead for the next day.

At 3 am Sunday morning the Vaal team was up and started preparing fresh hotdogs for everyone as breakfast.  4:30 everyone was up and busy with preparation of handhelds and radio equipment.  The ambulances of St. John Ambulance and ER24 were also equipped with radios and APRS trackers.  By 5 am the organisers had their briefing and by 5:20 the HAMNET team had theirs.

Everyone was ready to do their part.  Vaal saw the opportunity to learn from the Gauteng guys, and again the interaction between all the members was notably positive.

The race started on time and during the day the communications was well handled.  When an accident or incident occurred the message was clear and to the point effectively relayed to the JOC.  In the JOC there was represented an organiser, HAMNET, both ambulance services, traffic and fire department personnel.

Some areas had lack of coverage, but this was corrected fast by the re arrangement of operators at various points.  Managing over 3600 cyclists, the roving and lead and sweep vehicles were done in a positive and effective way.

By 1 pm the last of the cyclists arrived back at the raceway.  These allowed HAMNET to takedown and collect the hardware and equipment.

For lunch the Vaal team prepared scrumptious boerewors rolls with special sauce.  The HAMNET team were fed and then the project was closed.

A lot of positive feedback was received from the organisers and HAMNET in this region left a positive footprint on the community of Midvaal and Meyerton.

Riaan Greeff (ZS4PR)

Hamnet Eastern Cape Mountain Club exercise – report back

20161105_104608Hamnet Eastern Cape was approached by the Search and Rescue (S&R) team of the Eastern Cape branch of the Mountain Club of South Africa to assist in a training exercise by providing a communications network over the Groendal nature reserve outside Port Elizabeth.

The event took place on 5 and 6 November, with the Eastern Cape Hamnet team only being needed for the Saturday.

The idea of the exercise was to get various role players together to get on a first name basis with each other and to establish needs and resources. Hamnet Eastern Cape, along with some members of PEARS, provided radio communications over the entire Groendal nature reserve – linking teams on the ground to the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) and the other teams – wherever they were deployed.

20161105_095431This was achieved by deploying two cross-band repeaters – VHF simplex to the teams on the ground and linked by UHF. This gave the mountain club the ability to talk directly to teams involved in the exercise – wherever they were deployed.

The day started with everyone meeting at the Rooikraans picnic area in Groendal at 07h30. As soon as the helicopters (2 BK helicopters) arrived, the Hamnet members going to deploy the repeater network were loaded and deployed. Within minutes of us being dropped off at the various sites we had comms up and signal checks done. Signal reports suggested we had the perfect spots for the repeaters.

20161105_164634While this was happening, a JOC was setup – giving the mountain club maps of the area and radio hams to keep everyone in touch.  four hams operated the radios in the JOC relaying messages to and from the event organisers/JOC control.

After some additional training (how to enter and disembark a helicopter) the teams were ready to be deployed to various sections of the reserve. The exercise involved the teams (or sticks as they are called in S&R lingo) being dropped off, establishing their coordinates and sending in reports – everything from location to weather and visibility. Some basic drills for spotting were done and then it was getting a helicopter to pick them up and return to base.  The teams had to identify a safe Landing Zone (LZ) set up a windsock of sorts and navigate the pilot to their location using any and all means at their disposal.20161105_104450

As mentioned, radio hams  assisted in the JOC – relaying messages on behalf of the organizers. This gave a good sense of radio procedure to the teams who soon followed suit. Tactical call signs were used where appropriate and members within the teams rotated the responsibility of reporting in on the radio.

The two pilots (Havoc and Sandman) fitted in as if they were part of the team for ages! JOC and the teams can only say a huge THANK YOU to the pilots (and their engineers) for a totally top class performance.

20161105_095453Late in the afternoon, the exercise was suspended and the repeater network removed. The hams then “stood down” – meaning that we packed up and went home.



The mountain club and air force were to continue on the Sunday with some drills – hoists and more advanced helicopter work.

Talking purely from a radio perspective the communications network established was adequate, deployed in minimal time and stood up to the task at hand. It should also be said that as a team we were stretched in terms of equipment and it would be great to have a few more “repeater-in-a-box” solutions. If the area had been bigger, we might not have been able to cover it adequately.

This event was also registered as a training exercise with SARL and we believe it was hugely beneficial.

Curves / SPCA Womens Fun Walk feedback – 21 August 2016

Curves 1 (Small)Article supplied by Johan Mayer (ZS6DMX)


The world is a small place they say, and I tend to agree. It all started last year 2015 when Helen from Curves Beyerspark requested assistance from a handful of Amateurs via Martin (ZS6TMN) to help with a fun walk around the dam to raise funds for their charity as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle among women. Amateur radio operators became known to Helen via Hamnet member, Mina, (ZS6MNT), who at the time was an active member of the Curves Beyerspark Women’s Gymnasium. The fun walk around the dam was a big success, with members from Hamnet assisting and ensuring the safety of all participants.

The Planning:

It was with little surprise when Helen once again called on the team this year, and again requested the assistance from the Hams. This year however, they were planning on making it even bigger than before, by involving the local SPCA to raise funds for their spay clinic and also changing the venue of the walk.

Taking over from Martin (ZS6TMN). Johan (ZS6DMX) as well as Philip (ZS6PAJ) took charge and got involved with the planning and organising. Philip attended the final planning meeting together with Mr. Barnard (Barries) from Boksburg EMPD, playing a crucial role in making sure that the right plans were made to ensure a smooth and incident free day for all. Philip also oversaw the planning on the EMS side, to make sure that any medical incidents could be attended to if any happened.

Johan sent a request to local Hamnet members while Philip (who also took on the responsibility of being in charge of EMS for the day) organised students of Queens High school who were to support him on the medical response side of the event.

Leon (ZS6LMG) was asked to draw up a simple comms plan for the day and to register the event with ICASA. Comms where to take place on 145.425 between hams and 433.625 between EMS volunteers.

Martin (ZS6TMN) was put in charge to run the JOCC from his Vito Bus, as it is equipped with all radio equipment needed for the operation.Curves 2 (Small)

The Day:

The day started not too early, at 7:30 with Johan and Philip arriving at the Boa Vida Cafe in Boksburg with his crew of students, well branded and visible, ready for action. The other Hamnet members started arriving at about 8:00am.

Johan started distributing the radio equipment to the volunteers and briefed the team on where they needed to go for the day as well as duties. The antenna mast was also erected and connected to the radio gear in Martins Vito Bus.

Many of the people arrived there after, and at 9:00, the walk kicked off, with Hamnet volunteers at their respective points, ready for anything.

The route was along a closed off residential area, occupied by Marshals from Curves, showing the way for the participants. The 4 teams of medical students walked with the participants, so that they could attend to any problems if they happened. One EMPD vehicle was also present, patrolling and assisting participants when they walked next to one of the main roads leading into the closed off residential area.

Comms were perfect, with regular radio and progress updates being made to JOCC and teams. The organiser, Helen, was also updated regularly on the progress of the walk via radio.

About 2 hours had passed and all the participants were safely back at the Cafe, without a single incident reported. Everybody reported back at the JOCC for a debrief, where Johan thanked all who assisted for the day. He also gave his word of thanks to Philip, his wife Tarryn (and little one) and to the students of Queens High for their involvement, pointing out how pleased he was with their radio operating skills.

Everyone assisted in gathering and packing the radio gear, after which greetings were exchanged and each person parting way.

Helen has indicated that she was very impressed with the service rendered by the members of Hamnet and other volunteers, and noted that the feedback she received from the participants were very positive!

Letters of thanks were also exchanged afterwards between Helen, the SPCA and Hamnet.

SPCA Thank you – Hamnet Gauteng South

Curves Thank you letter

We look forward to next year, I have no doubt that the event will be even bigger and better.

Johan and Philip would like to thank the members of Hamnet as well as their wives and other volunteers for their support and dedication, this is what it means to serve our local community!

List of Hamnet Members and other amateurs involved for the day:










Best 73,

For Hamnet Gauteng South,

Johan Meyer


Kogelberg Kleinmond Wildrunner event 13 August 2016

Five HAMNET operators were requested by the event organizers and we had one extra operator.  The operators were Peter ZS1PDE, Alister ZS1OK, Phil ZS1VCC, Don ZS1DON, Douw ZS1DGK and Hendrik ZS1EEE who joined us for his first Hamnet sports event.  Don and Phil were mobile operators on the western side of the trail, whereas Douw and Hendrik were stationed near golf course, which was at the end of the descent down the mountain, while Peter and Alister operated the base at the event start/finish .  Multiple commercial VHF frequencies of the event organizers were used and one additional amateur simplex frequency was used as backup communications among the HAMNET operators.

With the splendid spring weather of the day, between two cold spells, the weather was ideal for an event of this nature.  The operators met with the event coordinators at 0700 for a kick-off meeting with some additional support options being suggested to provide improved event support and better radio coverage.

The event was concluded by 1330 and all departed with some taking the picturesque coastal route back via Gordans Bay to Cape Town.

Lessons Learnt:

At the base station we had two identical radios (Kenwood D710s) and identical antennas (X-50’s) with about 10m horizontal separation between antennas.  The one mast was about 1.5m higher than the other and had vastly superior performance than the lower antenna (full 5 bars versus 1 bar on the S-meter!).  There were houses with metal roofs in proximity to us, so next year we will relocate the Base to a potentially better site – and in doing so also move to a quieter spot in terms of PA systems and music from the event.

At the base we had a table set up outside the vehicles, but the noise and energy from the event was such that it was better operating from within the vehicle than sitting outside and enjoying the sea breeze and the view of the beach.  In noisy environments it is better to work from inside a vehicle.  Having a large A3 map on the table assisted with operational discussions.

For the mobile operators a new position was used for the first time, but fortunately DON ZS1DON had the perfect vehicle for the bundu-bashing that was required to reach the operational point subsequent to the heavy rains of the previous days.

Source: Alister van Tonder ZS1OK