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

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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.


Listen to the weekly Hamnet report transmitted on Amateur Radio TODAY

9 February 2014

Listen to monthly Hamnet bulletin

1 November 2013


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.




Last week, I mentioned my belief that Hamnet and the NSRI should be more closely associated. Well, here's proof!

We start the news by conveying our congratulations to Trevor Brinch ZS1TR, on the commendation he received from the Chief Executive of the NSRI, Dr Cleeve Robertson, as  a result of the radio communications work he put in to help rescue the crew and the fishing vessel Maverick in distress at the end of 2013. Trevor used his communications skills both on Ham and Marine frequencies to pinpoint the position of the Maverick, and help the NSRI Rescue Vessel take it in tow, after it had lost power and drifted into a major shipping lane and almost been run down by a big vessel. This is typical of the sort of capabilities Trevor has, and he is a credit to Hamnet in the Western Cape. Trevor was presented with a Letter of Appreciation by the NSRI at the opening function of the 2015 Two Oceans Marlin Competition on 15th February.

A report sent to me by Chris Gryffenberg, ZS1COG, of Hamnet Gauteng South, tells us of the successful participation by his region's members in the Retina SA Ride for Sight Charity Cycle Race held last Sunday the 15th. 32 Hamnet operators were involved, setting up field stations and communications on multiple frequencies including cell phone channels. Sweep vehicles were manned and APRS was used to track vehicles. The Ekurhuleni Metro Police, Emergency Medical Services, the Road Rangers, and the Red Cross were included in the network. APRS was fed to the VIP tent and of course the VOC. As is common in such events, various operators identified shortcomings in their own set-ups, such as inadequate power output, propagation difficulties, and occasional equipment failure. That is what these exercises are for - to test the capabilities of the operators!

Today, the 23rd, the same division of Hamnet will be supervising the Carnival City/Mac Steel Cycle Race. Hopefully, a different group of Hamnet members will be testing their capabilities today. Thanks to Glynn ZS6GLN and Leon ZS6LMG for coordinating these races.

I was going to comment on the huge improvement in the guarantee of Eskom power during this week, and I was expecting that we might have a blackout-free weekend, but no such luck. Well, looked at logically, if we have to have load-shedding, I suppose it is better to have no power over weekends, when commerce and industry will be less affected. Majuba's power output is almost up to maximum now, and the morning and evening extra demand is better catered for. Medupi's number 6 unit is spinning at full revs, although it is not yet synchronised with the grid. In the Cape, Koeberg One is off for maintenance, and Koeberg Two will go off, once the first unit is back up and running in May, so the Western Cape will need support from the up-country grid for a long while yet. Generation improved yesterday afternoon, and shedding may be downgraded to stage one today.

We often complain about our hot Summers and our cold Winters, but we really have nothing to cry about. Spare a thought for the Eastern American States, which have received up to 4 metres of snow this week, and temperatures at record lows of 14 to 17 degrees below zero Celsius! Snow-ploughs can't even begin to clear that sort of depth of snow, so they'll have to wait a while for some melting to take place. I don't envy the poor victims, I assure you!

But locally, a new endeavour has been announced by the sponsors of, who have installed the first sponsored snow camera in the Upper Dargle area 1680m above sea level, in the KZN Midlands. The static picture will update every 5 minutes, and you can visit their website to view its images, as well as those of various webcams situated where snow often falls in South Africa, on It is hoped that more such snow cameras will be installed as time progresses.

May I remind you of the i-traffic website There you will find static pictures of all the road cameras in the major centres updated every minute, day and night.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa






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