NZ Net News 118, 28 Oct 2023

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Featured key

Oller telegraph key

Photo: Alan Larsen on Facebook, Oct 2023

This beautiful Swedish key, by Anton Öller, features two tapered shorting pins with insulated grips.

Article about Oller

Morsum Magnificat, May/June 2001

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

Quick notes

Jack-o-lantern with morse code carved in it instead of a face. Morse is BOO.I have just returned from 3 weeks visiting family and friends in Canada. The last few days were spent in Vancouver where it was amazing to see the elaborate Hallowe’en decorations on many houses. I don’t recall it being such a big deal when I was a lad. All we had back then was a carved pumpkin in the window with a candle inside.

Thanks to Grant ZL2GD for doing Wednesday net control duties during my absence.

Did you hear Steve ZL2KE’s FB radiogram during the 27 Oct net? The scrambled word quiz sounds like fun.

Photo flashback

1939 code-copying contest in Asheville, North Carolina

Morse Code competition in 1939. Photo: Whisnant family collection, Asheville Junction

I found this photo on the excellent blog of David Whisnant, who writes about his family and his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. David’s father was John Whisnant W4KI, an accomplished radio amateur who was president of the Asheville Amateur Radio Club in 1939.

As David writes:

John Whisnant’s most important duty as Asheville club president, it appears, was to plan and organise the club’s second annual Hamfest in mid-1939. His main promotional idea was to bring international code champion and code “key” developer Theodore Roosevelt McElroy to Asheville and feature him, ARRL champion LR McDonald, and others in a Morse code copying contest. Surprisingly, both men agreed to come…

Getting the young but already legendary McElroy (1901-1963) to attend was a coup. Starting as a Western Union messenger boy at 14, by seventh grade he could type 150 wpm. He won his first copying contest at age 11, at 56 wpm. Later he began traveling the country giving code-copying demonstrations, opened his own telegraph equipment manufacturing company in 1934, and by 1935 was world champion receiver. His technologically advanced, rugged and efficient MAC-KEY was widely adopted.

Four hundred hams were expected for the 2nd annual Asheville Hamfest on July 2, 1939.

Yes, 400 hams, and the photo of them gathered for dinner is quite impressive.

As you probably know, Ted McElroy didn’t disappoint the Asheville crowd. He set a new world record by copying 75 wpm in what was to be his final contest.

I highly recommend a visit to David’s blog to read more about his father and the famous 1939 Asheville Hamfest.

And what did Ted McElroy think of these code contests? Keep reading to find out…

Welcome ZL4BDG – Upper Hutt


Hello, I’m Ben. Neil asked me to write a few words about myself as an introduction.

I’m a relatively new ham. I got my license in 2019 and I started learning CW in late 2020. My motivations for learning CW were partially because I like a challenge and learning new things, but also because I like building electronic things and I thought CW would be a good place to start. Now I’m addicted (?) to CW because of its simplicity, and I seem to have more luck getting DX CW QSOs than when using SSB.

I live in Silverstream, Upper Hutt with my wife and two kids (3 and 6). I work in IT as a Solution Architect at ANZ. I also have an engineering degree from Canterbury University. When I started my career I was an embedded software engineer and I had aspirations at the time to be an RF engineer, but my grades were not spectacular and that career path never eventuated.

My shack is a modest setup. My antenna is an OCF doublet about 6 metres off the ground and my main rig is an IC-7300. I also seem to have caught the radio collectors bug and I’m slowly collecting QRP rigs of various shapes and sizes. I like to build a lot of my gear, mainly test equipment and antennas. Now time is not as plentiful as it once was to indulge in as many side electronics projects.

My journey to CW started with the YouTube lock down morse series, the National System morse training, ZL1PX’s QRS Net and then CW Academy. CW Academy was great fun, but very intense. I learnt a lot and managed to complete the advanced class. However I am very far away from being an “advanced” CW operator and my copying skills are rapidly evaporating sadly.

Everyone on the NZ Net has been very friendly and encouraging. My motivations for joining the NZ Net are to continue my CW learning journey, get better at CW, make new fiends and – most importantly – have fun along the way!

Strange QRN

On Monday 16 November, several NZ netters reported unusually high noise:

I believe it was Graeme who sent that he had a high noise level; it was unusually high for me also.

Strange conditions, Stephen ZL1ANY was not as loud as he should have been as we are both in Masterton, and some who checked in were down in the noise.

The K index was zero and I could not see any solar index that would indicate high noise.

After the Net I went on 10m CW and worked a number of stations in Finland, Norway, England, etc, however most of the signals sounded strange – hard to explain but not just QSB. There were stations calling me but they were QNP.

The ham solar prediction was only FAIR for 10m since the SN was lower than usual but there was DX about.

Steve ZL2KE


I would estimate last night as the highest QRN noise level I have heard in many years.

I couldn’t copy Stephen (who is weak with me at the best of times) and Graeme was 3×3. It wasn’t worthwhile logging in, as no signal I heard was better than R3.

The noise I was getting seemed to be lightning. I believe there is a lightning map available on the Interweb but I didn’t consult it.

This morning noise levels were back to “normal”.

Bede ZL4KX


Yes I had high noise as well on Monday, but could still copy all reasonably OK, but certainly down from usual. I also had a quick look further up and did hear activity on 10m, but didn’t work anyone.

Gerard ZL2GVA


I like to keep a clean and tidy shack. On the rare occasions when I achieve that goal, the shack seldom stays clean and tidy for long. Before I know it, the desk is covered in partially disassembled bits of gear with temporary cables running in all directions.

But one thing I do succeed at is purging my files of radiograms a few times a year. Anything older than about two months gets tossed out – unless it’s a particularly significant bit of traffic which might one day land in the NZ Net Archives.

A few radiograms sent from ZL1NZ in 2022

Pictured are the ones I kept from 2022 (these are just ones that I sent – messages received are in another file).

How about you? Do you keep files of your traffic?

Morse challenge

Your challenge is to tell me the three frequency bands on which HKC is listening, in this recording from the 1980s by W0TUT:

Send your answer via radiogram or email to ZL1NZ.

Answer to previous Morse Challenge

It’s a leaning rail for cyclists in Seattle. The code on the foot rest spells BIKE SEATTLE. These are located along Seattle’s bicycle paths and apparently allow cyclists with shoes clipped into pedals an easy way to stop and rest or talk with others.

Thanks to Steve ZL2KE for sending in the photo and receiving the replies while I was away. Correct answers were received from ZL1ANY, ZL1AYN, ZL2GVA, ZL2TE and ZL2TLL.

McElroy on code contests

Ted McElroy on code contests. A clipping from Radio magazine in 1935

Radio, May 1935

Video: Tommy Steele: The Dit Dit Song

Advertising archive

Eimac advertisement from June 1976

QST magazine, June 1976


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