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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.




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.






Hamnet KwaZulu Natal is busy this weekend supervising the isiMangaliso 4 stage Mountain Bike Tour. Keith Lowes ZS5WFD reports that the race allows Mountain Bikers access to areas within iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, far off the normal tourist routes, allowing riders to experience the values this park has to offer. iSimangaliso is among the most diverse parks in the world with eight interlinking ecosystems, one of the highest bird counts in the country, incredible plant and game species biodiversity, including all of the Big Five, and superlative natural beauty. The third stage the route transits through Phinda Private game reserve, Big 5 country, after traversing the False Bay hiking trails and St Lucia lake single track and exiting onto the Mzinene floodplain. This is an amazing opportunity to experience and one that will never be forgotten.


The iSimangaliso Mountain Bike Event aims at raising awareness and funds towards the protection of rare and endangered species within this world heritage site. It will enable riders to experience the world heritage values for which iSimangaliso was inscribed - biodiversity, interlinking ecosystems and sense of place – using existing management tracks, animal paths, jeep tracks and secondary gravel roads.


This year the route will be ridden in the reverse direction to the previous 2 years, starting from St Lucia and ending in uMkhuze Game Reserve at the Mantuma camp. Keith reports that 10 operators will be deployed around the route on the various days, in a ops plan devised by Mike Kramer ZS5MB, Assistant Provincial Director of Hamnet for Zululand..Thanks for the information, Keith.


Atlanta in Georgia does it much larger, and there they provided 50 ARES members to help supervise 60,000 runners taking part in the Peachtree Road Race on Independence Day the 4th July. This year a thunderstorm during the start caused 25,000 starters to be held back in shelters until the storm had subsided 30 minutes later. All contingencies were thought of, and emergency management officials, Police and Fire officials, and public safety agencies all contributed to a safe race. A total of 5000 volunteers monitored the race from various agencies.


Last weekend's International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend saw a total of 506 stations activated around the world, in 32 countries. Our coastal lighthouses were activated, as I noted last week, except that the Hamnet group operating ZS1FUN on Dassen Island were prevented from reaching the 2.6 square kilometre island by big swells and bad weather. Instead, they installed their station at the NSRI's station 34 at Yzerfontein, and had an even better weekend, because they were able to establish a rapport with the NSRI there, which augurs well for future cooperation between Hamnet and the sea rescue organisation, something I've previously noted to need support. So well done to Grant and his merry band for turning a disappointment into a challenge.


United Nations officials say that more transparency from Chinese authorities on the handling and storage of hazardous waste in Tianjin could have mitigated or even prevented last week's disastrous fire and explosions. Clean up efforts have been complicated by heavy rainfall on the remains of the industrial site, with anxiety in the area mounting over the extent of contamination. Officials have insisted that the city's air and water are safe, but locals have voiced scepticism. Meanwhile, four new fires were reported 2 days ago, within the disaster zone, and in the devastated car parking lot. Technicians have detected levels of cyanide as much as 356 times the safe level within the evacuated zone, although no abnormal contamination was found outside the zone, according to state media reports.


Also in the Far East, severe floods in Myanmar's farmlands have submerged more than 200,000 acres of fields, and damaged essential infrastructure and thousands of homes. The International Telecommunications Union has deployed emergency telecommunication equipment there, including Iridium satellite phones, Inmarsat terminals, accessories and laptops, to support rescue and relief coordination efforts. Similar emergency equipment has been sent to Malawi, Vanuata, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mozambique and Nepal this year, according to the ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.


It is this same International Telecommunications Union that the International Amateur Radio Union reports to, and who decides whether we radio amateurs have frequencies to use. It is essential that we retain our membership of the IARU, to bolster our claim on the frequencies, so valuable in the commercial radio world, that allow us to continue our rescue services. Please support your amateur radio body in South Africa, the SARL, and thus ultimately the IARU's place in the International Telecommunications Union.


This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR  reporting for Hamnet in South Africa








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This page last modified: 3/12/2013