Resilience Project

Branch 30 Resilience Project

Updated: 15 December 2019

After a Presentation to Branch 30 last year by Glenn Mitchell (Emergency Management Otago) on the AF8 project and his request for assistance from Otago Hams, we have had to look at all our systems.

The worst case scenarios for Otago, post AF8 are:

  • Probable prolonged loss of power across the whole of South Island
  • Severe damage to SI fibre networks and total loss of all Cellular Networks
  • Severe damage to critical transport routes ie: all alpine passes, Kawarau & Cromwell Gorges, Lindis and Haast Passes and Devils Staircase.

The most valuable infrastructure resource in a large scale emergency is COMMUNICATIONS.

Current State of our networks.

685 and 6775: The only Solar powered sites in Otago.

690 and 675: are both located at Kordia sites which have GenSets and may last 30-50days.

Highcliff: We have nearly completed a solar system to power 665, APRS an ESB AREC/LandSAR repeater plus some IP services 24/7. We plan to add DTMF control to light up one of the DMR repeaters if needed for short term events.

All other Sites and Services: Mains powered with minimal battery capacity. Work needed!

So our general plans are:

  • To upgrade many Amateur services (voice and IP) to be independent of mains power.
  • To educate and assist individual operators to install backup power resources
  • Install new resources to provide wide area communications for both voice, data/email
  • Link these to EOC’s across the south and provide reliable external data communications, possibly adding some public access via Emergency only WiFi hot spots.
  • Spread the message to other Branches to build resilient and flexible resources.

And build resources for our own personal and family use in case of a big event.

Work to Date:

BR30 have visited the Dunedin Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Moray place to take in their resources and also understand their role in case of large events. Glenn also gave us a demo of D4H, a software suite installed by all Otago Councils to assist in event co-ordination.

BR30 have had a number of meetings focussed on simple solar systems for home and network sites and discussions to focus on priorities for improving our radio sites.

Terry and Matt Alley (Emergency Management, Central Otago) ran a Branch 61 meeting in Alexandra to highlight the AF8 event and where we might be able to assist.

BR30 in July 2019 passed a motion to support a Resilience project led by Terry ZL4TAE and in August approved expenditure of $1500 for Solar support at our repeater site for 665, APRS and ESB repeaters. At subsequent meetings, AREC offered to fund more solar capability and a modest battery bank is approved and underway soon.

An APRS upgrade to the APRS will reduce power consumption and allow DTMF control of some services at the site. The transmissions will report site conditions such as battery voltage etc.

In Oct 2019, TT ran a talk for the Branch 64 monthly meeting in Oamaru.

Next in the queue: Solar power our Queenstown cross-bander link site and then…. Come along on Feb 26th to help us think out future plans.

In Queenstown, Russ ZL4JW has resolved RFI issues at the 685 and 6775 sites, our only solar powered services in Otago! You now need 88.5 Hz CTCSS tone on transmit.

Future projects:

An On-line spreadsheet Solar Calculator to assist in determining how much Solar and Battery power you may needed and look at the battery lifetime if power is lost.

Keep the News page fresh and updated regularly on this website to communicate what’s up.

Zoiper. Russell ZL4JW is totally supportive of AR resilience efforts. The key idea is to enable a valuable radio communication resource to be used in an emergency, ie your Smartphone. To this end, as proof of concept, he has a server handling registration of VOIP phone calls. A small number of us are now connected using Zoiper, a free App allowing phone to phone calls using Wi-Fi or Mobile data. An info sheet and Rego Form is available. Have a read, call Russ or Terry if you have any questions. GET IT GOING! Give us a call. We will distribute a list of users among those connected.

The next ideas are to consider development of a new App to allow VOIP calls and Texts (which is independent of a provider who may seek to change or control their App for commercial or other purposes). We would also like to add more Registration Servers in case the IP links across the province are broken. These can be Raspberry PI devices.

IP Network.  Russ ZL4JW is keen to support an Off Grid wireless IP network across Otago and Southland, linking Queenstown and Wanaka to coastal Otago and Invercargill with possibly satellite backhaul to the Web. Just now, only ideas exist for extending past Russ’s existing WISP at Countrynet. To this end we have scheduled a Wed Club meeting on Feb 26 2020 to consider issues and options for deployment of voice, IP comms across the province and funding for these.

There is little real Amateur Radio need for any of this but we are simply trying to stay ahead of a probable large scale event to assist CDEM across the province. If we have no infrastructure the how can we possibly contribute?

Winlink.  Winlink is a Packet Radio based email messaging system. It is recognised and supported by the ITU, the highest level of global telecommunications for EMCOMMs. Two Winlink nodes are active in NZ, at Kaeo (ZL2SEA) and Branch 65, Papakura run by Nigel Goldstone, primarily for marine users.

The reason for considering this idea is that voice traffic can reliably support 30 wpm max whereas an email message in the digital domain can reliably support up to 1000 wpm.     (More about Winlink and & controversy in USA re digi modes)   (Winlink exercise Finland, Quite Good)

After the BR 30 network upgrades in 2019/2020 we may consider a Winlink node near Dunedin. We would like to enable HF/VHF packet style comms from Amateurs to our Dunedin EOC with reliable backhaul by HF and/or Satellite comms for email messaging to the world. No plans yet, just ideas.

Lastly. We plan to seek external funding (for our Clubs and for individuals) for projects and training to enable these ideas. Future upgrades will be for our Otago Infrastructure and for individual Hams.

We are also mindful that the event we plan for might not be the event we get but AF8 will likely present all our worst case scenarios. It is now 12 years overdue and will probably be a whopper at magnitude 8.2. Remember, if we are not prepared, all our capabilities are a dead loss.

The AF8 Website can be found at:

And must see links to short videos: