Fifty students in Dominica were introduced to ham radio on November 23, in the form of a simulated emergency drill conducted via the virtual Amateur Radio platform HamSphere. W1AW at ARRL Headquarters monitored the exercise. HamSphere is a virtual Amateur Radio transceiver, available for iOS and Android devices. Under supervision, selected youth teams competed for speed and accuracy in a hurricane emergency communication drill, dubbed “Haminica 2016,” while becoming familiar with the virtual version of Amateur Radio.
Sponsoring the project was Dominica’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (NTRC), and NTRC Executive Director Craig Nesty and Engineer George James, J73GJ, were on hand for the exercise. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, observed “Haminica 2016” at W1AW using the Hamsphere 3.0 platform. Well-known DXer Martti Laine, OH2BH — an enthusiastic Hamsphere supporter — and Brian Machesney, K1LI/J75Y, organized “Haminica 2016” and helped to conduct the Dominica exercise. While in Dominica, Laine celebrated his 70th birthday on the air as J70BH.
The exercise scenario was a hurricane about to make landfall on the island. Laine said that, at one point, the group conducting the exercise had to evacuate the station on short notice.
Laine said the NRTC is producing a video about the training exercise, and the event caught the attention of the national TV station, which reported the story in prime time.