Grupo de Radioaficionados para Operaciones Satelitales (GROS) Coordinator Raydel Espinet CM2ESP comments on the use of amateur radio satellites for emergency communications and describes how an amateur satellite was used in a Civil Defense exercise on May 18-19, 2013.
About the topic of satellites and emergencies I think satellites are an option very important to consider when there is no more available. In case of HF propagation blackouts or poor conditions and when local VHF and UHF repeaters fails, satellites can bring help, specially from light weight battery run portable stations.
Here in Cuba we do every year an emergency rehearsal exercise named “Meteoro” which is organized by Cuba’s Civil Defense to simulate catastrophes and other actions relevant to the upcoming hurricane season.
This weekend (May 18th and 19th) was held the 2013 Exercise, like always Cuban Ham Radio Operators are invited to participate as an important asset during emergencies. But by first time ever on the Civil Defense National Headquarters were is installed amateur station CO9DCN we do a short and simple satellite demonstration to the Civil Defense authorities.
The short demo was just a simple “hello” exchanged between CO6CBF (Hector) in Cienfuegos Province and CM2ESP/Portable (Raydel) in the Headquarter’s backyard. Hector had done previous years demos for his province’s civil defense authorities, but this was the first time a demo was done at the National Civil Defense Headquarters. As HF propagation was terribly bad that day due to the recent solar flares the Civil Defense Authorities were very pleased with our short demo proving that satellites can be an alternative when ground and ionospheric propagation are disrupted.
The Press publish a short report about the amateur radio importance on emergencies and there is also a short mention in paragraph three of the very first satellite contact.
The news report can be found here
It is in Spanish only, but Google translator works fine http://translate.google.com.cu/translate?hl=es&sl=es&tl=en&u=www.ain.cu%2F2013%2Fmayo%2F19ya-meteoro_reduccion_desastres.htm
On the picture featured on the news report from the Cuban News Agency you can see CO9DCN Club Station (Defensa Civil Nacional – National Civil Defense) being operated by CO2OT in digital modes and CO2JC in voice communications. The satellite demo was done portable on the backyard on Sunday at 14:10 UTC during a SO-50 pass, the press arrived one hour after the satellite pass so unfortunately there is no photo available.
AMSAT Bulletin Board (AMSAT-BB) http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/tools/maillist/