Amateur Radio Southern NEWS: Nov 2021

HWB Project

The new HWB Cross-bander project is chugging along with Neill ZL4UC preparing the Site and the equipment is in TT’s workshop. Stage 1 came together on 3 Nov with the 830 repeater On Air for testing. Stage 2 to add the VHF radio went well and Martin ZL4JH helped with On Air tests. All very good. If all goes well it will be On Site and On Air by mid Nov.

The VHF radio will scan for sigs from 685 Q’town or 700 Alex and the UHF side is a 25 watt repeater. An 88.5 Hz tone is necessary on your mobile Tx and Rx. Initially there will be no provision for Dunedin callers on UHF to select 685 or 700 as output. It defaults to 685. However any calls on either VHF repeater will come through UHF and locals can reply until the VHF Scan resumes after 26 seconds of no signals (On VHF or UHF).

Yagi Build Adam ZL4ASC

FINALLY between lockdowns and Adams work exploits this project is completed with 17 new low noise CFA yagis built for the 2m band. Their performance is really impressive (and built for use on tanks!). An excellent project thanks Adam who sourced materials and led the construction teams. Some are intended as a single yagi and a couple are plotting to hang up 4 stacks.

Lawrence Rally Nov 6th

The rally briefing was held on 3 Nov and all the crews were raring to go. Garth Tyrell filled in a few blanks and although we had offered to assist with running timing, Garth admitted they had many OSCC members offer their services for those roles. The Rally and Comms went well and an incident at the end had us scrambling for resources for a while.

“Dunedin Calling” Award

Brent and a friend developed an Award Certificate and numerous stations have hit the 10 points to work a rostered ZL100DN station or a ZL4AA station or a Branch 30 member thru November. All this to celebrate 100 years of Radio Broadcasting. Get stuck in. Call NOW, this offer not available in stores.

Developing our AV /Zoom project

Allan ZL4MD has setup a PC at the front desk with AV outputs to a monitor and speakers and a separate feed to the Data projector. Next is to acquire a wide angle camera and mount it near the servery to show the clubrooms interior and the Presenter. Charlie ZL1VR has donated an audio mixer, Peter ZL4LV a BK44 directional Mic. The idea is for any presentations to be able to be easily broadcast via Zoom. We are very conscious that all other clubs in the South are struggling for members, finance and resources and we are doing our best to try and increase our reach to any interested Hams. In future we will ask Presenters to bring their material on a USB stick and work thru this PC. Sincere thanks to Alan ZL4FM for extending his firms Interweb connection to us and all those contributing to the project.

Clubs PC and IT developments

Allan ZL4MD led a small crew to install W10 updates more RAM and a range of software on the 3 club PC’s. LT Spice, the Antenna Handbook and antenna design software are loaded. An email account is also live: zl4aalab at g mail etc allows you to send files to these machines or send your work home.  TT is planning to upload project docs relating to our systems at KRD, HWB and Saddle Hill to the matching g…. docs account. 

Central Otago Branch AREC group

Branch 61 Central Otago is a small club and hold meetings infrequently. A number of Ops (5) have put their hands up to form an AREC group. TT is Group Leader with Russ ZL4JW (Deputy, Lakes District) and Bill Smith ZL2BGX (Deputy, Central Otago). Jim Davies ZL4JI and Chris Rae ZL4RA have also joined and are to be formally inducted as AREC develops.

We have also good links to COSAR and are working on maintenance, radio checks and a re-programming project for them. Thanks guys, looking forward to seeing you at the Wakatipu District SAREX in Nov.

Ham Cram

David ZL4DK and helpers got 6 people thru the Ham Cram at the end of October. A notable 100% pass rate. (No-one achieved 100% though), it was rated as a ‘real stinker’ and the random question bank pulled every curly question available. Lee Ann ZL4LEE is a regular at our meetings, Sean ZL4SX, Doug ZL4DAT and Brian attended the Rally briefing meeting and met many of our regulars. Congratulations to all who passed and to the team that made it happen and we welcome to our club all the new ‘Hams’.

Clubhouse R and M

Kevin ZL4QD asked his nephew Marcus to take to a dodgy part of our clubhouse roof. About 3 metres of iron and flashings have been replaced. This has stopped the persistent leak above the servery for a modest sum. Thanks Marcus.

Jaycar Arduino night

Late Oct we had Colin and Murray from Jaycar pull 20 Arduino based Snake Game kits out of their hats. All present followed the instructions and all produced snakes! David hit the top score with 560. Darned if I could get past 60. Murray also talked about his interest in the Tiny GS (Ground Station) project. This uses a QRP transmitter using LoRa technology. You assign it a name, enter your location and look up the Tiny GS website:  for people receiving your signal direct or via a cubesat on 433 MHz. This sparked a lot of interest. Thanks Colin and Murray for an excellent night.

AREC Leaders Meeting Dunedin Oct

AREC top shelf came to Dunedin early October. CEO Don ZL2TYR, Training Manager Steve ZL2UCX and Project Manager John ZL2XJ gave us a thorough ‘heads up’ as to what has happened and what is to come. The major items are: Rollout of Office 365 to Leaders and Deputies to facilitate management communications, a Training programme for existing and many new Ops to AREC, the PPE rollout to clearly identify our people when on the job, an AREC handbook, a HSW programme to assist all with such issues and a means to define who or what is the Lead Agency in any Operation or Training.

John was aware of our Resilience Project and told me of an HF IP linked project using Codan DV products in AKL, WLG and CHC and might get extended to Dunedin. Also on the list is a national Comms Plan in case of medium or large scale events.

The issues around the failure to pass tracking data through the existing DMR repeaters (EE122, EE196) has been identified and AREC are financing a project to engage the manufacturer to develop  a firmware fix in their radios. This will be a very good result for SAR activity in the future.

Regional SAREX Nov 13th

NZSAR funded the Wakatipu SAREX in the lower eastern Routeburn Valley. Terry ZL4TAE (GL, Central Otago) ably assisted by Russ ZL4JW and new to AREC, Bill ZL2BGX (Alex) and Jim ZL4JI (Qtn) attended the event with Lindsey ZL4KS (Dn) and Brendan ZL4BDS (Ingll) observing. 2 portable repeaters were deployed by a B2 Heli on top of Sugar Loaf after the pilot Nick backed away from a preferred site on the south side of the Valley due to turbulent winds. ZL4KS was relieved to land safely! The event went very well, the teams well prepared for wet (what!!) conditions. The only comms wrinkles were 2 periods of rain static and muffled audio due to rain in some speaker-mics. Easily fixed and a lesson learned by all teams. Jim and Bill gained valuable experience in forward base Ops. BR61 supplied all SAR Base radio gear and have ideas for improvements.  Some teams reported “best comms ever”.

Nifty Device Dept

A member of the Invercargill LandSAR team had a 3D printed device over the coax to his teams Floppy Jims. This had a hex hole, slipped over the SMA nut nicely and made the task of fitting the SMA onto the TP’s real easy, Well Done!

New SAR Repeater

While on such matters, Catlins/Owaka and Clutha District SAR groups jointly funded a project to install a new FM repeater on EN79 on a hilltop north of Hunt Road up the Owaka Valley. It has quite good coverage. I chatted with Greg Ramsay while en route to the South Otago stages of the Rally of Otago and noticed only a few holes south of Momona. Much assistance was rendered by Adam ZL4ASC and Max Corboy. Use of NB and a 138.1 Hz tone is necessary.

ROK Site and Mt Alfred

Russ ZL4JW’s ROK site had 2 weather related issues this winter. It’s located at 1000m altitude. 2 PV’s were blown off the array frame in June and lightning or arcing loose cables from the missing PV’s seems to have caused the Netonix switch to blow its mind. No acid needed! All services are back on air and the IP link from QTN to Peters place is functional. Some mechanical work is needed to allow the dish at Peters QTH to be pointed in the right direction for best throughput. Early Nov saw Russ and Jim install a new DMR repeater on Mt Alfred, This is linked via REM and MTSB to ROK sites. Huge coverage. Handheld coverage to the eastern Routeburn shelters was verified during the recent SAREX (but not used for the event).

Multimode on Bluff Hill

Dan ZL4DE reports:   “Bluff Hill 5775 is now a Multi Mode repeater with FM and DMR modes activated. Other modes DSTAR, P25, NXDN, and C4FM Fusion, can be turned on when required. Due to the club and majority of hams owning DMR equipment, having the other modes turned on atm doesn’t make sense. Another idea is that other repeaters could potentially host the other modes if the interest is generated. Please note, the FM Mode is Narrow Band (to safely contain the digi modes) and 88.5 Hz tone is needed on Tx and Rx”. A viewable dashboard here:

Did you know?

There were two massive solar storms and CME’s around Halloween in 2003. This stirred up our upper atmosphere and almost all LEO’s went missing. Massive efforts were needed to track and trace them, some were lost due to radiation damage and/or internal failure. Some were displaced by up to 15km. Space is not a benign place, be careful out there. (ref 18 Nov 2021)

Our Wed Meetings

Its just great being able to interact at the clubhouse but what lies ahead in these times is rather uncertain. This year we have had some great presentations eg: Prof Mark Stirling (Otago University Geology Dept) on the seismic hazards facing the Otago Province (It’s a bit scary actually even if the Alpine Fault is ignored). More research is in the wind to chase down the rupture intervals for known fault structures across the South. But the really scary thing is an AF8 event (due pretty much any day now…). Within 50km of this expected mag 8.2 rupture: “all bridges wrecked, few structure remain standing” is a thought provoking comment. Every one of us needs to make preparations for your own supply of fresh water, food, meds, waste disposal and have some resources “Off Grid” in case we lose power and fibre telecommunications.

Paul Denys gave us a great talk about his field of Geodetics (earth deformation studies). Did you know that the Kaikoura quake series caused every part of NZ to move? Even the Chatham Islands moved 2-3mm and Dunedin about 10mm.

Brent ZL4KT gave a talk about using an SDR dongle to track satellites and decode data. This was really interesting and inexpensive. David ZL4DK gave a number of tech presentations via Zoom. There is more to come next year.

Branch 61 ZL4OO December gathering

The clubs annual Pot-Luck will be held at the QTH of John Lochhead, ZL4QS in Alexandra. From 1200 Hrs on 12th Dec. Please bring your own beverages. A brief interlude will allow for Branch 61 members to hold an AGM.

Anyone looking for more information, please contact TT.

Terry Thomas ZL4TAE, Vice President Branch 30, ZL4AA

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