NZ Net News 107, 27 May 2023

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Featured key

World War 2 compact morse key S81/24

Photo ZL1AJY

By Paul ZL1AJY

I assisted clearing out an old place in west Auckland. The basement was full of very old hardware – mostly scrap value.

I picked up this small key. Had to fit a new shaft bolt, new spring and tiny bit of wiring.

No brand name or marking, but I found this information online:

This is an original model of a small spy set morse code transmitting key S81/2R, and was used in the British spy sets A MK III and B2 Suitcase sets in the early 1940s. Later they were in Remote Control Unit L No.2 that was used with Wireless Sets No.62 and C12 from the late 1940s to the 1960s.The key and spy sets were designed by the late John Brown…

The B2 spy key (as above) has its bracket with gap adjuster on the right as you look at the key while operating. The post WW2 ones have this bracket on the left.

* If you have an interesting key for this feature, please send me a nice clear photo and a few words describing it.

Quick notes

clothes peg made into a straight keyStraight Key Night is Sunday 11 June. If you don’t have a key, why not make one? SKN details.

Gerard ZL2GVA has added a K1 to his collection of QRP rigs and checked into the net with it a few days ago.

This newsletter is being sent four days late because I have been unable to access the website since last Friday using my regular broadband connection. So, rather than wait any longer for the issue to be resolved, I have accessed the site using my mobile phone hotspot in order to publish the newsletter and trigger the email announcements. Apologies for the delay.

Museum Ships Weekend takes place from 0000Z 3 June to 2359Z 4 June. Get details.

Morse coders keeping lost art alive is a recent news article from Australia.

Artie Moore, the Welsh radio amateur who picked up the distress signals from Titanic (although the local police would not believe him until the Titanic story appeared in newspapers) led a life of numerous accomplishments, as revealed in this BBC article. Some experts think that Artie didn’t actually hear MGY directly but, rather, heard another ship relaying the distress message. I guess we’ll never know.

Photo flashback

Scientists with radio equipment listening to Sputnik

1957 – Scientists at the National Bureau of Standards Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, USA listen to signals from the Soviet satellite Sputnik I – the first artificial satellite. The woman is tuning (very carefully!) an R-390A receiver, which covers 0.5 MHz to 32 MHz.

Sputnik transmitted beeping or continuous signals on 20.005 MHz and 40.002 MHz and you can hear samples of both of them along with commentary from Caltech scientists. The Doppler shift is clearly audible.

SKN award honours NZ Net member

Marconi 365B key used by the late Bruce Scahill ZL1BWG

The Marconi 365B key used by the late Bruce Scahill ZL1BWG

New Zealand Straight Key Night is bringing back the Best Fist Award, which had been withdrawn several years ago.

The award, which is based on a vote by participating operators, will now be known as the Bruce Scahill Best Fist Award, in honour of Bruce ZL1BWG who was a long-time supporter of SKN and NZ Net, as well as other CW activities. Bruce died in December, not long after participating in the most recent SKN.

The next SKN will be on Sunday 11 June, so it’s time to start practising and, who knows, you could be the first winner of this award.

In another change, the QSY Rule will be returning for this SKN! (Sorry to any xtal-control operators!)

» Get all the SKN details

QNI from clubrooms

Masterton Branch

Photos ZL2KE

Recently Stephen ZL1ANY and Steve ZL2KE checked in to the NZ Net, rather late due to the difficulty of finding the correct antenna at the Branch 46 clubroom. This was at the end of the branch’s AGM. It was Steve’s first use of Stephen’s Chinese touch paddle, which he found surprisingly easy.

Morse challenge

Here is a recording of a New Zealand coast radio station calling a ship to receive traffic. Your challenge is to identify the coast station (name and callsign) and the ship station (vessel name and callsign). Just to make it interesting, the ship R/O makes an error sending the coast station’s callsign – but I’m sure you’ll work it out just fine.

Please send your answers via radiogram to ZL1NZ, or via email if no propagation.

Answer to previous Morse challenge

The audio recording in NZ Net News 106 was the final Morse transmission from Portpatrick Radio GPK. It made reference to “QTC NR1 from Samuel Morse” containing the question “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?”.

Correct answers were received from G4ETQ, VK3DRQ, ZL1ANY, ZL1BBW and ZL2GVA.

Seeking ops for CW display

1915 Double Current Key marked Walters EM Company

A 1915 Walters Double Current Key in the MOTAT collection. Photo: MOTAT

Peter ZL1PXBy Peter ZL1PX

The Franklin Amateur Radio Club heard recently that MOTAT (Museum Of Transport and Technology) in Auckland were planning a live event at their Telecom Exhibition Centre in June.

Mark Vincent at the Telecom Centre told me their Morse display is the most visited area, so Franklin club made the offer to give people a chance to send their name in Morse on HF at the live event. I am hoping NZ Net ops and others can help by replying to each name.

We will set up a random wire antenna and antenna matcher with a 100W rig and really have little idea in advance how well our HF transmissions will do but they should cover Auckland province at least. If we can QSO with some of you, the exchanges will be simple but bring joy to MOTAT visitors.

You will hear me key ‘hello from’ and then a MOTAT visitor will key in their name and a BK.

I hope you can send back a “Hello” or “Welcome” followed by the visitor’s name and a BK. I will translate for them – if I am fast enough – onto a card which they will take away with them which will include links to NZART.

Date: Sunday 18 June
Time: 1000 to 1400 hours
Frequency: 80m or 40m TBA
Station ID: ZL1SA

MOTAT staff tell me live events are usually well-attended as they include activities which they are not able to offer in their usual times. Live CW will certainly be an unusual one for them and I hope a lot of fun. My purpose in writing this is to ask if you are able to participate and we can get some interest stirring in ham radio and towards CW in particular.

Any questions, please email me.

Video: Squeeze keying modes

In NZ Net News 106 I posted a link to an excellent analysis of squeeze keying by Karl DJ5IL. He concluded that Ultimatic was the best squeeze mode, despite it being relatively unknown these days.

Someone else who favours Ultimatic mode is Ashley Feniello KK7HXU, and he has done two really good videos demonstrating the pros and cons of Ultimatic versus Iambic A and Iambic B.

To get the best understanding, I suggest you watch both videos. In the second one Ashley corrects a couple of things he said in the first – but that won’t make sense unless you’ve already watched the first one.

Ultimatic mode is available on the QCX Mini transceivers. Icom radios have Iambic B only. I don’t know about other manufacturers. External keyers are always an option, I suppose.

Advertising archive

Frost Fones headphones advertisement


If you have suggestions on how to make the NZ Net better, or things you’d like to see covered in these updates, please contact ZL1NZ. You might even like to write something for the newsletter.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear you soon on the NZ Net!

Neil Sanderson ZL1NZ, Net Manager
New Zealand Net (NZ NET)
3535.0 kHz at 9pm NZT Mon-Fri