NZ Net News 112, 5 Aug 2023

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Featured key

Dow Key bent bug

Photos: VK2IXV

Dow Key bent bugDow Keys were made by Paul Piel Dow in Winnipeg from 1943 to around 1957. The company later moved to the USA and became well-known among radio amateurs for its line of Dow Key coaxial relays used for T/R switching in the days of separate receivers and transmitters.

But, back to the keys. Our featured model, known as the Bent-Frame bug, has the entire mechanism tilted off vertical. The reason isn’t known for sure, but it may be that some operators found the key more comfortable to use. Another theory is that gravity helped the pendulum return to its rest position.

The key pictured here is a 1945 model in the collection of Herman VK2IXV. A left-handed model was also produced.

I asked Herman for his opinion of the Bent-Frame bug.

“Hard for me to judge,” he replied, “as I am left-handed on a right-handed bug. However, [it should be] good for improved ergonomics, even further improved with his next bug, the Universal Dow bug where the setting of the angle was far more flexible. All in all, Paul Dow was very forward looking.”

Dow’s Universal bug allowed the mechanism to be rotated for left or right-handed keying, and set to whatever angle the operator preferred. And he made conventional bugs too.

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

Quick notes

Yaesu FT-101EX in military green paint scheme

Latest NZ Army radio? No, it’s the work of Paul Harrold in Florida who refurbishes FT-101 transceivers, including custom paint jobs such as this.

Green CW? An article in the latest Branch 86 newsletter (Musick Point Radio Group) hints that the Green Radios group (GROTA) based in Christchurch may soon be using their old military radios on CW. For the past few years, the group has been conducting experiments confirming that radios such as ZC1s and 48 Sets are indeed capable of meeting their stated performance standard (communication over 3 miles by ground wave) when using AM. Now the challenge is to see whether they can achieve the greater distances claimed for these sets when using CW. I have every confidence they’ll succeed, and perhaps we can give them a hand. Keep your ears open for GROTA operations and give them a shout.

QNU ringtone. “Here’s something that every NZ Net member should have as his notification for texts (or Whats App / Signal),” says ZL2GVA. “I made this using an online morse generator.” Get the QNU ringtone.

Photo flashback

mystery object

Are you scratching your head? Our featured photo this time has no caption, because I’m hoping you’ll be able to guess what it was and where it was. Here are clues:

  • The photo was probably taken about 110 years ago.
  • It was taken in New Zealand.
  • It definitely relates to radio.

Send your answer via radiogram or email.

Introducing: Straight Key Monday

Straight Key Monday promo showing Daffy Duck pounding brassBy Graeme ZL2TE

Recently the net control operators met to discuss the operation of the NZ Net and what we could do to improve its attraction to Morse operators.

Some great ideas were brainstormed but we also want to hear from any operator what would be of interest to them.

I have agreed to trial one idea which is to operate with a Straight Key on the first Monday of each month. Yes, this will slow down the net and yes, the Morse may not be too good – but then, maybe my skill level will go up on my Straight Key as time progresses.

I am inviting operators who would like to have a go to join me with their Straight Key. It is not compulsory and maybe you would like to try some other unfamiliar key like a Sideswiper or a Bug, as this is a great opportunity to get on-air time to improve your skill.

If the idea fizzles out then no worries as we will simply try another idea. It is a concern that numbers checking in to the net are not growing, as developing skill and keeping in touch with your fellow VK and ZL CW operators is a lot of fun. I really look forward to 9 o’clock each night and regret the Tuesdays and Wednesdays where I can’t come on.

I’m looking forward to next Monday 7 August when I will be NCS as ZL2TE – on a Straight Key.

For sale: AR-88 receiver

AR-88 receiver with green/blue panel and cabinet, SSB adapter.This RCA AR-88D and its cabinet are a blue-green colour that I have not seen on others.

The solid yellow tuning dial (rather than alternating yellow and black bands) suggests an early unit. The front panel is unmodified but a previous owner has added an S-meter, audio squelch with adjustable threshold in a separate box, and an outboard product detector. The radio comes with a small speaker.

Built to the highest standards for signals interception in World War 2, AR-88s are excellent performers and lots of fun to use.

$100. Contact ZL1NZ. Pick up in Auckland only.

Audio challenge

It appears I accidentally deleted the audio challenge from the last newsletter. Sorry about that. Let’s try again, with a question about radiogram formatting.

In the following radiogram, how many words (also known as “groups”) are in the ADDRESS and how many are in the SIGNATURE? And, how is this reflected within the message HEADER?

Please send your answer to ZL1NZ via radiogram or email.

A little ditty

ZL2GVA found this, and said it reminded him of the ops who listen to NZ Net but haven’t yet checked in. (And we hope you eventually will – we’re not nearly as scary as we may sound!)

Text of a poem about CW called "Short Record"

Author unknown. Published in De Vonkenboer (‘the Sparks Worker’) by PA0BFN

Video: More wrist-mounted paddles

In NZ Net News 111 we featured ZL1ANY’s 3D-printed paddles, designed by KB9RLW. Here’s another take on the same concept, this time from IZ3GVL:

I am trying to figure out if these paddles can also tell you the time! 🙂

Net numbers

NZ Net stats to July 2023

NR54 R ZL1NZ 33/30 AUCKLAND 0900Z 1AUG23
ZL1NZ 21 ZL1PX 14 ZL2GD 11 ZL2GVA 17 ZL2KE 13 
ZL2LN 6 ZL2TE 13 ZL4KX 14 TOTAL 164 QTC 35

Advertising archive

RCA AR-88 brochure


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