September 2020 Meeting – Don Robertson AREC National Director – followed by RemoteDX AGM

Due to the fact that we were still under Covid-19 Level 2 status, we were unable to meet on Sunday 20 September as planned at Waitohi (Johnsonville Library). Instead we had a face-to-face meeting at Bernard ZL2BD’s QTH at 1 Winsley Tce, Churton Park.

Don Robertson, National Director of AREC spoke about the restructuring of AREC and the opportunities available to members to be active in AREC and SAR.

We were also took time to discuss challenges Porirua City (Titahi Bay Branch 42) is facing with their proposed District Plan and to celebrate the Branch 74 (Wellington VHF Group) 50th anniversary. Branch 50 NZART assisted in getting the VHF Group underway, back in 1970. A celebratory cake cemented the celebration at 3pm alongside tea, coffee and egg sandwiches.

The Chair briefly updated members on the remainder of 2020’s programme of activities and members were queried as to who was planning to attend the Christmas Dinner.

At 2pm we moved into the AGM for RemoteDX. This included receiving the annual report from the Chair, approving the minutes of the previous AGM, confirming the annual financial statements, electing the next committee, considering minor amendments to the constitution, discussing the forward direction of RemoteDX and committing to a couple of substantial summer projects.

The meeting concluded with afternoon tea.

Mike ZL1AXG (Branch 50 Chair) and Don Robertson (Committee member of Branch 74 cut the cake)

50 Years for Wellington VHF Group

Wellington VHF Group was formally formed in August 1970, as a sub group of Wellington Branch 50. This August marks the 50th anniversary of this meeting, where Bill Hamer ZL2CD moved that the Group be formed.

According to the latest Q-Bit, the VHF Group is planning to hold a celebration to recognise reaching 50 years this August. They are looking for expressions of interest in the event.

They will hold their regular Thursday night meeting on the 27th August and dedicate the evening to short talks on events and projects that the Group has initiated, such as the Wellington Walkie, the UHF National System, Belmont repeater, ATV, various repeaters and other projects, even the DMR National System and the Colonial Knob project.

On Saturday evening, 29 August, they plan to hold a dinner as the main social event.

If you are keen to participate, the Wellington VHF Group would love to hear from you and if you have ideas to add, they would like to hear from you.

Please email the

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!