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IN HAMNET's Amateur Radio Report........a week of much activity read more...........

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HAMNET is planning a national 24 hour communications exercise late October 2015.  This  is the fourth edition of the HAMNET Communications Exercise, which was previously held as a  "Winter Exercises" The exercise will be held from 12:00 on the 24 October until 12:00 on 25October 2015.


As in the past teams will consist of at least of  4 members, of which the leader and at least half the team must be  HAMNET  members. Teams may deploy themselves at any location and HAMNET are again hoping to activate as many Disaster Centres as possible. Entries will be accepted on a "first come, first serve basis" for locations, to avoid having teams too close to one another. Teams are encouraged to find locations that are of some interest and remote to their normal points of operation. 


The theme of the exercise will be “black out" where all stations are required to
operate all activities off the grid. This will include radio equipment, lighting, cooking and any other related activities. Remember that this is not a competition or contest, the exercise is held to afford teams an opportunity to learn about their capabilities and very importantly their short comings.


“In the past we used a point allocation system which has been abandoned in favour of a total outcome evaluation”, organiser Grant Southey said.  “The overall success will be judged on how teams co-operate with each other. Another new concept this year will be the "priority" messaging. At various times a random team will have to get a message through to another team. The messages and times will not be disclosed before the start of the competition and the teams must use all resources at their disposal (except telephones or cell phones) to get the messages through to another team. “


The organisers are trying to create a fun environment within which teams can operate to experiment with their equipment and test their capabilities and practice their emergency communications protocols. After the exercise a report should be submitted with the experiences of the teams, containing information including their location, team members, and equipment used as well as a recording what they felt worked for them and what they feel they need to improve on. “We hope to send out a questionnaire afterwards to help assess the organising and help to improve future exercises.” Grant said


The closing date is the end of September to allow the organisers to make their final preparations and distribute the information packs to team leaders. The entry form must be completed and sent to Grant, here to download form 


Something has gone terribly wrong. Normal ways of doing things are not working. The fastest way to turn an emergency into a full disaster is to lose communications.

Radio Amateurs understand emergencies. For over 70 years they have provided emergency communications for organisations. When normal ways of communication fail or get overloaded Radio Amateurs will be there.  

HAMNET, the National Emergency Communications division of the South African Radio League (SARL), provides communications for emergencies and can mobilise experienced communicators who with their own radio equipment will back up official channels or take over when all else fails.




The SARL represents all Radio Amateurs in South Africa at all levels of Government and through the IARU at the International Telecommunications Union.

Radio Amateurs or "Hams" use two-way radio communication to make contact with other radio amateurs all over the world. They are even able to use satellites and on occasion speak with astronauts. Radio Hams can do this from home or while mobile in cars, boats or on foot.

Radio Hams have a full range or communication modes at their disposal. These include plain voice, Morse code, numerous digital computer modes and even graphical modes like television. A licensed radio amateur is able to join in experiments using all these modes.





Chris Gryffenberg ZS6COG, Hamnet Regional Director for Gauteng South, has brought my attention to the warning issued by the South African Weather Service on 30th September. I quote "Extremely high fire danger conditions are expected over the Limpopo Bushveld, Gauteng, the extreme Eastern parts of the North-West Province, the Eastern parts of the Free State and the North-Western parts of KwaZulu-Natal." End quote. The bulletin continues by mentioning the recommendations that the Provinces should always ensure that the necessary firebreaks are in place, that the Fire Brigade Services Act provides for the establishment, coordination and standardizations of fire brigade services, but that local authorities are empowered to maintain these services, and that communication amongst members about fire hazards should be improved upon. A comprehensive list of strategies can be found in the monthly NAC advisory, available on


Grant Southey ZS1GS, Deputy Regional Director for Hamnet Western Cape reminds me that the closing date for entries for the Hamnet National Communications Exercise on 24 and 25th October, is tomorrow, the 5th October. The exercise has been widely advertised and publicised on the SARL Website and other bulletin platforms, so you should all know by now what the exercise entails. Please rush your last minute team and deployment plans through to Grant at by the end of Monday the 5th.

Then Rickus de Lange, ZS4A, Regional Director of Hamnet Free State, has asked me to request all ZS4 operators who were previously involved in Hamnet, and who are still interested in emergency communications, to contact Rickus on 083 3841497 or email him at, because he wants to re-establish the database of the ZS4 division. I thank you on his behalf.


Now for severe weather abroad. A red alert for Cyclone Mujigae moving North-West towards Vietnam and China was issued on 1st October. The cyclone currently has maximum windspeeds of 130kph, but at the time of the alert, had not yet struck the coastal cities of these two countries. The precise track of the cyclone is of course difficult to predict.

So too with Hurricane Joaquin, an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, with sustained windspeeds of 210kph, according to the National Hurricane Centre in Florida. The NHC said Joaquin would batter the Central Bahamas with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain and storm surges into the evening of October 1. The storm was expected to generate rainfall totals of 10 to 15 inches over the central Bahamas. The NHC has predicted that Joaquin would turn toward the west-northwest late on October 1, followed by a turn to the north and an increase in forward speed on October 2.


The 5-day projection for Hurricane Joaquin would place the storm off the coast of North Carolina as early as October 4 and headed toward Southern New England. States of emergency already are in effect in Virginia and New Jersey, but it's still unclear whether the storm will make landfall or remain offshore. Some ARES units are already preparing for possible activation and the South-Eastern Coastal states are battening down their hatches in preparation for a potential landfall of the storm over the weekend and into next week.


During Hurricane Warning Net activations, the net control station requests measured/observed "ground-truth" data from stations in the affected area. The HWN is available to provide backup communication to official agencies, such as emergency operations centres and Red Cross officials in the affected area. The net will also gather and report any information or significant damage, to FEMA officials in the NHC.  Stations should not check into the net unless specifically requested to do so.


The NHC said swells generated by Joaquin will affect portions of the Bahamas over the next few days and will start affecting portions of Florida's eastern coast and the US southeast coast by October 2. "These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions," the NHC predicted.


Greg Mossop G0DUB, the Emergency Communications Co-ordinator for Region 1 of the IARU, noted that Hurricane Joaquin is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 250 to 375mm over the central Bahamas with isolated maximum amounts of 500mm possible.  Rainfall amounts of 125 to 250 mm are expected over the South-Eastern Bahamas with 50 to 100 mm over the North-Western Bahamas. The Hurricane Watch Net is currently operating on 14.325 MHz until 01h00 UTC. They will resume operations on 14.325 MHz USB at 11h00 UTC Friday, October 2, 2015. The storm will be tracked as it moves along the East coast of the United States.


Greg has also relayed news from Ivan 9H1PI, who reported on the Earthquake exercise on the Italian island of Lampedusa, in which Maltese radio operators were involved. Murphy struck, as usual, and mobile phone connections were unstable, so all exercise emails were passed from Lampedusa to Malta via fldigi and flmsg, and replies returned the same way. Test messages were also passed to other hams who were willing to pass email messages on their behalf. An unexpected 1-hour power cut on Lampedusa resulted in the team borrowing a car battery to keep the base station going. Good constant signals between Malta and Lampedusa were maintained on 40 metres, whereas VHF or UHF signals were unstable in spite of the use of yagi antennas. The Maltese team operated with 2 persons per site in 12 hour shifts for the duration of the exercise which ended on 1st October.


And yet again, the Hamnet news team bites its collective nails before the clash between the Greens-and-golds, and the Bagpipe-blowers from up North. By the time this bulletin is aired, our fate will be known!


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


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