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Emergency communication by amateur radio stations.
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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.






This is a busy amateur radio weekend for a variety of groups around the world. In the USA, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, or ARES, is hosting the Field Day contest, and a huge amount of preparation has gone in to setting up temporary stations in all sorts of unlikely places, using non-permanent antenna installations and battery operated radios, to practise the art of getting a message across error-free, in a time of need. Most stations are comprised of groups of amateurs, with a bewildering array of antenna types, a wide variety of radios, and an astonishing assortment of camping or bundu-bashing equipment, to keep them going for 24 hours of earnest fun. Other stations consist of individuals who have decided to hike solo into the mountains and run low power portable stations, usually on Morse code only, to demonstrate their competence. The last two week's editions of HamNation, available on YouTube, have spent the majority of their time discussing ideas and plans for Field day. We hope the entire group benefits from the experimentation and fun.


In Friedrichshafen this weekend, the largest Ham Convention in Europe is taking place, from the 26th to the 28th of June, with about 17000 visitors expected, and at least 200 exhibitors from 34 countries. This is the 40th annual convention held there, and more than 40 lectures and meetings will be taking place. An emphasis will be placed on satellites and amateur radio contacts with space, instruction and further education for radio enthusiasts, and a parallel-running Maker World exhibition. The amateur radio community in Europe may suffer a bit from frequency congestion, but they sure do benefit from exposure to such wonderful events. The International Amateur Radio Union Region One Emergency Communications Group are in attendance, and held an unstructured meeting on Friday evening at 17h00 to exchange information on National Emcomm activities. I may have some further news from this meeting for you next week.

Hamnet National Director Paul van Spronsen ZS1V has wisely started the ball rolling amongst the Provincial Divisions, asking all directors to make contingency plans amongst their members in case it is necessary to deploy radio stations to various key points, if load shedding or blackouts last longer than those to which we are accustomed. In that all radio amateurs subscribe to the code of ethics of support for their countries or communities in times of need, I urge you all, whether Hamnet members or not, to consider your station at home or in your vehicle, and make sure it will function well and effectively, if you have no power, or are asked to go to the aid of people in your surrounding areas. There are many sites on the web describing adequate go-kits, so read up on some of them for ideas, and please make sure you can be of help to the community if called upon so to do.


Then an announcement from the convenor of the Hamnet Winter Challenge exercise, usually held in late June or July, is that, for a variety of reasons, it has been decided to postpone the exercise to later in the year, perhaps around October. Those of you whose fingers drop off in cold weather, will be pleased to realise that it will be warmer and more comfortable in October, so this postponement is not necessarily so much of a tragedy!

From one of this week's Snow Reports comes the prediction of very cold weather and snow this weekend over Lesotho, and the Drakensberg adjacent to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. The heaviest falls are expected over Lesotho, but the Drakensberg will not escape the weather.


In happy news from RAYNET this week, comes the story of a Dumbarton amateur, Derek MacCallum, blind since birth, member of the Renfrewshire group of RAYNET for 30 years, and controller for Greater Glasgow for the last 12 years, who has been awarded an MBE by the Queen, for his charitable fundraising, in riding a tandem bicycle to tour around all six test match cricket grounds in Britain last year, and a Mad Football Cycle this year, around as many football grounds as possible in seven days. The other half of the tandem will be ridden by his RAYNET friend, Colin Young, and we wish them well in their endeavour. I wonder whether they will operate bicycle mobile as they travel?

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

























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This page last modified: 3/12/2013