NZ Net News 116, 30 Sep 2023

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Featured key

Australian-make Autoplex semi-automatic telegraph key

Photo: VK2IXV

By Herman VK2IXV

I was lucky to obtain this unusual Australian-made semi-automatic Morse key. The Autoplex bug was made by John “Jock” Vaile in the 1950s.

Its nameplate reads: J. VAILE BF 8147 AUTOPLEX Leslie CRT., BURWOOD, VIC. Presumably BF 8147 is the telephone number.

I had never seen one before, except pictures and description in Morsum Magnificat, number 89 pages 41/42 and in Lynn Burlingame N7CFO’s newsletter 37 page 464.

John Vaile was born in the State of Victoria in 1915. He was a fitter and turner by trade. His amateur radio callsign was VK3PZ. Like his fellow Victorians Shurdot and Paruscio, he made his own semi-automatic keys. He produced about 50-100 Autoplex bugs from the early 1950s until the early 1960s.

They were very popular with the Victorian Police Force and other radio operators. He also sold them to Marine radio operators of US Naval ships and other ships in the port of Melbourne.

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

Quick notes

Bugs Bunny with a bug key, saying 'Say Doc, what did you say these keys were called again?'30 September is the 30th anniversary of the final day of operation for coast radio stations Auckland Radio ZLD and Wellington Radio ZLW. The closure of the two stations also meant the end of Morse Code for ship-shore communication in New Zealand, although the Cook Strait ferries continued to use it to communicate with each other for another two years, until their radio rooms were closed.

The next session of the NZ Net, on Monday 2 October, will be our monthly Straight Key Monday.

Photo flashback

Peter Baird at Wellington Radio ZLW

Photo: Evening Post

Peter Baird, acting manager of Wellington Radio ZLW, is pictured at the W/T desk on the station’s final day of operation, 30 September 1993. Read more at

Peter became a Silent Key on 26 September, aged 77.

Hamfest treasure

Selection of old books called Perpetual Troubleshooters Manual, see at Shelby Hamfest 2023

Photo: K4NYW

One of the big US ham fests is held every Labor Weekend (first weekend of September) in Shelby, North Carolina.

Nick K4NYW posted photos from what we in NZ might call the “junk sale.” I’m glad I wasn’t there – as I probably would have wanted to buy everything. 🙂

The photo above caught my eye, as it seems to sum up my ham career pretty well.

See all the photos.

RFI from GKA

1973 news clipping reports that GKA could be heard on a local person's electronic organ

7 February 1973. Courtesy Larry Bennett on the Portishead Radio GKA Facebook page

Morse challenge

Here’s a recording of Wellington Radio ZLW on 30 September 1993.

Your challenge: What is upon us?

Please send your answer to ZL1NZ via email.

Answer to previous Morse Challenge

In the message broadcast by KPH, what was being kept alive? “The traditions of maritime radio”.

The correct answer was received from VK3DRQ, VK6RR, ZL1ANY, ZL1AYN, ZL2GVA.

Video: Scenes from Auckland Radio ZLD on its final day

See more at

Advertising archive

QST advertisement for Johnson Viking 1 transmitter, June 1952

QST, June 1952


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)
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