NZ Net News 129, 30 Mar 2024

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Featured key

J-37 key mounted on timber, with its RM-28 cover beside it

J-37 with RM-28 cover (painted label version). Photo: VK2IXV

By Herman VK2IXV

One of my keys is a US Signal Corps J-37, made by Jesse H Bunnell, with a key cover type RM-28.

These keys, also known as RM28 keys, were part of the RCA 3U and 4U shipboard radio equipment on Liberty and Victory-class convoy ships mass-produced in the USA and Canada during WW2. 3U and 4U mean three or four units or frames in one console.

Decal on RM-28 key coverAfter the war, Liberty and Victory ships were sold to overseas shipping companies and became commercial cargo ships and occasionally passenger ships. In the 1970s most of those ships were scrapped although a handful became museum ships.

I remember using this key in the 1960s when I sailed as Radio Officer on two Dutch-owned Victory ships with 4U radio installations, namely Groote Beer (the former Costa Rica Victory) and Tjibodas (the former Kokomo Victory).

On top of the black plastic RM-28 key covers was either a kind of water transfer decal saying: “KEY COVER TYPE RM-28 Radiomarine Corporation of America New York, N.Y. Made in U.S.A.” (small photo) or later a shorter white painted stamp: “KEY COVER TYPE RM-28” (top photo).

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

Quick notes

Clock at 2100 hoursNew Zealand Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday 7 April. While the net is always at 2100 hours, local time, this will be 0900 UTC during the southern winter. Looking forward to better trans-Tasman propagation!

Cyclone Gabrielle response slammed. A new and independent review is highly critical of the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group’s response to Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023. As we all know, several areas lost all communications, although there was an HF amateur radio link between Wairoa and Palmerston North which handled some welfare messages using SSB. Something I think about a lot is how NZ Net, and its trained traffic handlers, could serve in an emergency. I plan to write more on this in future editions of NZ Net News, and would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Maritime Radio Day is 14-15 April, the anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic/MGY. All radio amateurs are welcome to participate. If you are a former ship’s R/O or coast station operator, then you are encouraged to register online, and the deadline for registrations is 1 April.

April is always a busy month for radio-related activities. One of those is International Amateur Radio Day on 18 April. Have you or your club made plans to mark this occasion? If so, I hope you’ll include some CW, and let us know how it goes.

The next session of NZ Net will be a Straight Key Monday (first Monday of the month).

Photo flashback

RCA 4U console of a Victory ship, with two RM28 keys.

Here is an RCA 4U console aboard a Victory ship. Two RM28 keys, as described above in our Featured Key, can be seen in the photo. These consoles typically had three keys, which were connected to the HF, MF and Emergency transmitters.

NZ Net joins CW Council

As we enter our sixth year of operation, NZ Net has joined other organisations as part of the International CW Council.

Founded in 2021, the ICWC comprises representatives from CW clubs world-wide. The Council’s goals are:

Logo of ICWC, comprising a globe drawing with the letters ICWC over it and a drawing of a straight key

  • Retention and growth of the use of International Morse Code as a mode of communication between amateur radio operators
  • Promoting and publicising the mentoring of prospective operators to learn International Morse Code and use it as a mode of communications
  • Providing outreach to amateur radio operators, who use other modes, to explore using CW
  • Publicising and promoting the use of CW as a mode of communications to social media, amateur radio and other well-known organizations, by providing resource information for them
  • Encouraging inter-CW Club cooperation and joint activities

NZ Netters may be particularly interested the the ICWC’s MST (Medium Speed Test), which is designed to encourage operation in the range of 20-25 wpm. This event is held every Monday and Tuesday, and the Tuesday event looks like a good one for New Zealanders, as it runs 0300-0400Z which should offer some decent propagation on the higher HF bands.

Thanks to Steve ZL2KE for proposing that NZ Net become a member of ICWC.

Hear more about the Council in the following report from Amateur Radio Newsline 2296 of October 2021:

Anniversary greetings for NZ Net

The following messages were received, marking the 5th anniversary of NZ Net on 25 March. Thanks Roy and Manny.

NR3 R VK6RR 18/14 GERALDTON 0800Z 25MAR24
NR11 R VK3DRQ 29/26 BLACKBURN 0610Z 24MAR24

Contest news

By Mark ZL3AB

The ZL3NB Memorial Sprints are held every Tuesday night in April at 8pm on 80m. The format is the same as in previous years: 30min of CW followed by 30min of SSB with an exchange of RST (always 599 or 5NN in CW) and your outside temperature.

Work as many stations as you can in one or both periods, once on each mode. This is a great opportunity to give contesting a go as this is a laid back activity with a stylised exchange and lots of friendly participants.


The RSGB Commonwealth Contest (formerly BERU) is seeking feedback on the contest rules and any other changes/ideas that might be helpful.

Especially valuable would be comments from CW contesters who do NOT regularly take part in the contest.

You can respond to or join the group or email the chair, Nick G4FAL.

Morse challenge

Please send your answer via radiogram or email to ZL1NZ.

Answer to previous Morse Challenge
The closing message from Bermuda Radio ZBM remembered “those mariners technology could not save.” Correct answers were received from VK3DRQ, ZL1ANY and ZL2GVA.

Video: The thrill of making contact

Video by John G4ETQ

Advertising archive

Advertisement from 1962 showing a BBC Monitoring site using GEC BRT400 receivers



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