Latest News – 13 April 2020

Lets hope we can run our regular meetings again sometime this year.

Club Project Idea.

Recently a few were discussing a Yagi Build Project. Charlie ZL4CB and Brent ZL4KT were keen to go and TT ZL4TAE has purchased some nylon stock for element standoffs.

The first plan is for 2m band yagis. I personally like the YU7EF designs (www.yu7ef.com). I purchased locally a pair of 2m yagis about 13 years ago. An SWR sweep SWR revealed that they were tuned mid band and tuning was quite sharp and not very good for 2m DX.

A re-design and re-build based on YU7EF’s designs, adjusted for optimum tuning at 144.5 MHz made a big difference. The modelling showed more gain, increased bandwidth and a very good match and the results confirmed these. I even worked the Tekapo 680 repeater from Bannockburn that season.

Interested? Think about what size yagi you would like and we could look at buying alloy, fastenings and make insulators on a cost recovery basis.

Highcliff

Our first Resilience Solar Project is go for 665 and APRS and I have to say I’m delighted. David ZL4DK is making PCB’s for two related upgrades.

Allan ZL4MD is building a new APRS tray with much lower power draw and DTMF control to remotely activate the DMR’s, the ESB repeater and the IP gear. The APRS radio will transmit site data and also feed this to the APRS web site.

Number 2 project is a Top Up Supply (TUS). This will be a 30 volt mains supply at about 4 Amp and will feed the solar regulator via a pair of diodes. It will switch ON when the battery voltage drops and turn OFF when the sun shines. We could also fix this with double the battery capacity (expensive).

Number 3 project is a new aerial earthing panel. This is installed and bonds the mast, rack and incoming feeders. More earthing is needed at the hut and the pole.

Thanks to all who helped assemble and rig the solar array, run the cable, installation work in the hut and a good whack at the brrom a great club effort.

73  Terry ZL4TAE


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What’s happening with upcoming club meetings?

Hi

For the duration of the Covid-19 alert level 4 situation, the clubhouse is closed. On Wednesday nights, please tune into 690 instead from 7-30pm.    The consensus is the best computer program for group meetings is “Zoom” so we will be trying that first.  

Dave, ZL4DK will be emailing a link to use to join the “Zoom” net if you want to. You do not have to have “Zoom” loaded before hand but we suspect you will be able to join much more quickly if you do have it loaded. Make sure you use the right  download – various companies who want you to  load their utility functions always seem to get stacked higher in the Google search engine listing than the one you want. 

Anyway, this week the main Wednesday night activity will be similar to last week, except 30 minutes earlier as we will all be at home anyway, and then those that want to try will have an opportunity to practice with “Zoom”.

Stay safe – Ham radio is a great way to keep in touch.

73

Martin  ZL4JH (Secretary)


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COIVD-19 Latest Club News

Hi again every body

Its all changed again with the announcement of an immediate Level 3 alert as of noon today and Level 4, 48 hours later.

Hence, the club premises are closed for at least 4 weeks.

This Wednesday, please tune into 690 from 8pm and Dave ZL4DK will be leading a discussion on what we can do.

One of the options is the use of Skype so please make sure you have Skype loaded and if you have it loaded, that it is up to date. Also if data is a problem doing audio only connections reduces the data usage significantly. Note most of the Teleco’s have lifted all data caps but we can expect data usage to be very high and stretch Telco systems.

Skype can be used on Smart phones, Ipads etc,. as well as laptops and main computers and is a free upload.


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Rally Cancelled + Other News

For those that didn’t catch it on the club net last night:-

  • The car rally is cancelled.
  • Wednesday night the club will be open but it will be a discussion on how and what to do for the next few weeks on Wednesday nights with the Coronavirus Covid 19 problem.  The meeting will also be carried on 690 for those that wish to stay safe at home.

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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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