Our Branch 50 NZART which was to have been held 22 March has been cancelled

Coronavirus means that a number of members have decided not to attend. As we were unlikely to reach the required quorum we will be conducting the AGM via email and mail (for members without internet in their QTH).

An email and letter will be sent out to members in the next 48 hours describing the process. Those phoned on Saturday evening all supported an alternative AGM process given the extraordinary circumstances we face.

The agenda to be covered via email/postal voting will cover the following agenda items:

  • Receipt of annual report from the Chair (Mike ZL1AXG)
  • Annual accounts presented by our Secretary/Treasurer (Malcolm ZL2UDF) with special thanks to our Honorary Auditor (Glenn ZL2KZ)
  • Election of officers (Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, members of the committee)
  • Confirmation of other appointments (honorary auditor, equipment custodian, callsign trustee, AREC coordinator, publicity/membership officer, regional liaison officer )
  • Setting member subscription for the year
  • Any other business


Branch 50/74 Lunch and Shed Workshop Event

On 1 March from 12 noon -3pm we met over a light lunch at Mike ZL1AXG’s QTH.

The Branch 50 NZART Committee ordered in a light finger-food lunch (savouries and sandwiches) as we were hosting Branch 74 for a combined branches event. Disappointingly, only two guests showed up … they were our guest speaker for the workshop, and one Branch 74 member! Mike noted that the year had not got off to a good start with few turning up for the combined branches BBQ organised by Kapiti Branch. It appears many amateurs simply don’t want to come out any more to events. However, complacency may well spell the end of amateur radio as we know it. Member attendances at most branches appear to be plummeting, even those that still have 100+ members on their books. Things are getting tougher for ham radio, with suburban QRM often sending the meter over s9 on the low bands, the sunspot cycle likely to be at its worst for some years, and Councils getting tougher in their district plans on amateur antennas (see the recent decision by Kapiti District Council).

It is likely that something radical will be required to breathe new life into our pastime. Maybe the new IC705? (just kidding!).

Putting aside the challenges for our hobby, our special guest presenter – Charlie Morris ZL2CTM – talked us through his approach to building homebrew transceivers. Charlie has built many working transceivers and uses them regularly, including on tramps into the bush.

Charlie Morris ZL2CTM talking about the two most important books needed by home constructors surrounded by a collection of homebrew txcvrs for 80m – 20m.

Charlie has a range of experimental radios using quite different techniques. They are mostly built inside Sistema lunch boxes, with full visibility of the “inner workings”. He has a global following of QRP and homebrew affiacondos who follow his latest creations. For example, check out his videos on Youtube and this review of an SDR design on Soldersmoke:

Some wonderful hints were dropped, including a suggested order for constructing modules in the transceiver, how to use veroboard (matrix board) by placing all the components on one side of the board (the side with the tracks on it), how to bond a module to the ground plane so as to reduce the chances of unwanted feedback. Charlie also made a suggestion on how to switch the IF strip between TX and RX so you don’t crossover inputs and outputs using relays (hint: switch the mixer frequencies on your PLL device).

Charlie’s well received session ended with tea and coffee and a lot of chat amongst members with most members leaving around 3.45 pm. Charlie received many compliments and he provided a lot of stimulation for members. Maybe some of us will be buying those design manuals and building our own transceivers? For the Chair, it presents a challenge to move away (at least in the first stage) from a focus on getting the enclosure looking good, to coming up with new solutions to old problems by using a breadboard approach. i.e. it is time to use the box of processors being built up and have a play with a few IF strips, etc. Now if only there was time to do so!

What’s up for 2020?

We met at John ZL2XJ QTH (9 Ridley Green, Churton Park) on Sunday 16 February tod have a round table discussion on what each club member was looking for out the club for 2020 and what they could contribute.  There was an honest discussion of the falling membership and the need to focus on two priority areas: publicity and the need for regional coordination and regional activities.

Generally people were very happy with the esxisting programme of activities, but identified that this was not the issue – there was a wider issue at play around the public’s understanding about amateur radio in New Zealand and the aging of the amateur operator base. The meeting concluded with afternoon tea. Thanks to John ZL2XJ for hosting.