15 December Update

Branch 30 AGM: This was will be held at the Clubhouse, Wed 4 December. There were some constitutional amendments to shift our Balance date to 31 March which were passed. The consequences of this are that the next subs round is 18 months away in 2021. No subs in 2020! This new balance date allows our team to prepare financial and other reports at a less busy time of the year and also meet our obligations to do so in a timely manner.

Another amendment defined the term of ‘Immediate Past President’ as one year. Until this amendment was passed, Alan ZL4FM was IPP indefinitely or at least till a change in President took place.

VHF Field Day 2019. ZL4AA was active again at Mt Cargill. Terry ZL4TAE and David ZL4DK did their best with poor propagation and lower numbers of people participating. 6 was very poor with only a couple of ZL3 contacts. 2m perked up a wee bit on Sunday and just over 100 contacts. David tho was especially delighted to work Roger ZL3RC who operated portable on 5GHz on Sunday so we made 2 contacts at 59 both ways. The few 5GHz contacts were worth more points than 100 contacts on 2m!

We have been doing VHF FD for about 13 years now. Best 2m DX: ZL1GSG, Turoa Ski Field. Our best 6m DX: Mexico.   

Many thanks to Kevin ZL4QD our Contests Manager who gave us a hand to rig in trying windy conditions and de-rig in a real hurry as a wonderful thunderstorm approached. FD’s, never boring.

Branch 61 annual Xmas Social function: To be held this year at the home of Randolph ZL4WAN in Wanaka on Sunday 15 Dec. This is a Pot Luck lunch, and BYO liquids.

CDEM DMR Network: CDEM are currently working with a local business to roll out a VHF DMR network with IP linking across the whole of Otago. Many sites are operational but there are roadblocks at some locations where co-siting agreements are being be re-written.

When the network is bedded in, we should be able to enter into an agreement to access the network and CDEM locations throughout Otago.

Stephen ZL4SLG reports:

Otago Rally 2020: Is likely to be run to the south of Dunedin and dates are April 3 – 5th, Fri – Sun and is being held a week earlier than usual.

CIMS 4:  Both Stephen and Hamish took part in CIMS 4 training recently. Good work guys. CIMS is a structure and management tool for running SAR operations which are controlled principally by NZ Police. This is a good step for AREC and our crew and will allow them deeper involvement in SAR Ops.

ECU:  Some discussion on ownership of this vehicle. Apparently it was (and may still be) a bare leased vehicle. At the outset, the Alexander McMillan Trust funded the construction of the rear cab for AREC so we really do have a vested interest in the ECU. There is still no internal radio fit-out though this is planned one day. Current plans are to transfer ownership to ORC as a Regional asset. Then we may see some radio equipment installed.

From the Nov AREC Meeting

Publicity: Some discussion re publicity for the Club and AREC in particular. Kay suggested Brenda Harwood, Bruce Munro was also mentioned. TT suggested an ODT feature jointly between Us, LandSAR, MSAR Surf etc. 

TT is going to continue work on this NEWS page on this website. (He refuses to interact with a prominent social media outfit due to the positively malicious way they treat their users and sell YOUR personal data for their own commercial gain). 

One of our Sunday Net participants suggested we train disabled people to use radios for safety purposes. This will boost our capabilities and also our potential for funding for future projects.

And then he audaciously suggests a Podcast to get across the ideas behind our Resilience Project and the reasons we are doing it!

Thanks Terry, ZL4CEL great ideas. Now who might like to help plan and make this happen?

2 Metre Repeaters 685 / 6775 and Linking.  Russ ZL4JW has visited both sites in early Dec. Mission Accomplished! We have tails back and 88.5 Hz CTCSS tone is needed on Tx for both channels and our local cross-bander. Our Ranfurly correspondent confirms it’s all working well. RFI Issues at both sites saw lots of noise transmissions and loss of battery capacity at both sites.

More Resilience Presentations.  TT talked about his recent presentations to BR64 (North Otago) and the AGM for Otago Maritime VHF Assn recently. The latter Assn is interested to bolster their 4 repeater Maritime network along the same resilience lines. Currently the Assn is in talks with CDEM with a view to a joint project to solarise the MM60 and ESB75 CDEM repeaters above Corstorphine. The Site owner is happy in principle. We are at the stage of measuring up and then taking design proposals to the Landlord and maybe consents process.

Now Stephen’s eyes lit up. He is interested to explore installing EE122 DMR up there. The site illuminates a lot of the City and Taieri, perhaps the ideal site? I’m happy to open dialog with the site owner with a view to AREC co-siting EE122. CDEM are happy with the idea but it will take some work to make it all happen.

The next step at the Corstorphine site is to plan what we need and start work on a joint 3 party agreement and consult the Landlord.

While talking to Glenn at Emergency Management Otago last week, he is very happy to hear we have plans and are making things happen.

“A refreshing change after making many presentations to the people of Otago and seeing NOTHING happen to prepare for the inevitable BIG EVENT”. 

We have added a new Resilience Project page to ZL4AA and I will update as things happen. 

The whole resilience thing is really cascading!!!  

Zoiper Success. While we were banging away during VHF FD, Russ ZL4JW was telling us of torrential rain in Queenstown and news of flooding of L Wakatipu and Wanaka were lurking about. Then swollen rivers in mid Canterbury saw the south isolated bt Road, Rail and Fibre. The Spark network (and the others) were down and out for about a day, ie no fibre and no cellsites south of the Rangitata River. Russ noted that many of the Qt people registered on his Zoiper network were using this medium and nothing else was working.

Proof pudding that the Resilience resources he has promoted and implemented have been and could be of great value when a truly big event hits.

VHF DMR.  Stephen is about to experiment with Dan ZL4DE’s portable equipment on 2m. This kit uses 2 x TM8110 radios and a PI and can pass FM, DMR, D Star, P25 or Fusion digital modes. The key objective is to be able to handle tracking data from the SAR Tait handhelds. This has caused constant frustration as the LandSAR handhelds support tracking but the EE122 DMR equipment at Highcliff does not seen to. The over the Air interface is more or less standard for all DMR radios but the IP interface in behind has no standards and is handled quite differently between manufacturers.

There are very few Hams with VHF DMR radios due to the complexity of programming of the dozens of different makes/models. The lack of tracking capability is a compounding factor.

I have seen Dan’s portable unit, it is compact, and very light on standby power. This would also fit well with our Resilience ideas as every milliamp of current drain equates to 8760 mA-Hours of solar capacity per year.

Used TM-8110 Radios.  Terry has taken delivery of some used TM-8110 radios, some are committed to LMR customers and others we would like to see deployed for individual Resilience projects for Otago Hams.

TT proposes a joint project across Otago to seek funding to supply a Radio, Antenna and solar kit for some Central Otago/Lakes District Hams. The TM-8110 radio consumes 65mA. This is very much less than any other LMR Mobile I know of. Also it has a DB15 socket for external connections (audio, gate & PTT) and would make an ideal unit to use with Winlink for email style messaging. This is a real plus for our resilience ideas as we would have a standard hardware interface and will add future value in case we get to install a Winlink gateway for the South to support CDEM. 

See more about Winlink here.

The new solar array is up.  The array was assembled in Nov and raised with Neills winch propelled 4WD. Last jobs are to feed the cable into the hut, install TT’s DC Distribution panel to hold the regulator, fuses & relays (to allow us to remotely control a few services at the hut) and finally work out how/where to locate a battery bank then fit a junction box to make connections to the PV array. Our poor wee hut is starting to bulge at the seams. A small battery bank has been approved by the Committee to mostly finish the project, perhaps by Xmas.

Bede ZL4KX visited us while the array was going up. He is looking into forced ventilation of the hut. The commercial client’s radios are running hot which could lead to unplanned failure. A vent in the door is to be fitted soon and a fan on the roof are the next steps.

Many thanks to all who assisted, Dave ZL4SB, Allan ZL4MD, Graham ZL2CHAR, Bill ZL4OE, Neill ZL4UC as well as Frank and Finn Fahey and Mike Laba, our resident solar expert. 

Other work underground: Allan is working with the new Solar regulator so we can broadcast site data over APRS and Bede is keen to sniff the regulator with his Spec-An to evaluate what RFI it might generate. David and Martin a looking to continue work up the new Highcliff pole to bring that project to closure on 21 Dec.

PV’s.  Seven locals have purchased solar panels for resilience based projects, TT plans to purchase MPPT Solar controllers in Jan and to get these projects closer to completion.

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