New Zealand Net News Nr 27, 18 April 2020

This is a fortnightly newsletter about the New Zealand Net.
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It’s been more than three weeks now, so how are you coping with the COVID-19 lockdown?

There are plenty of special “STAYHOME” callsigns on the air, including one in Australia. On you can use the wildcard search *stayhome to get a list, which numbered 39 last time I checked, including quite a few in sought-after DX locations.

Net activity has been picking up, with 12 stations during one recent session. As well, a few people have been logging into the ZOOM video conferences that coincide with each net session, getting a view of others’ shacks and often sticking around for a few minutes to chat after the Net.

Ambidextrous Net Controller

Thanks to ZOOM, we have a video of a recent NZ Net that shows how Dave ZL4LDY runs the Net, taking notes on his 60-year-old Perkins Brailler.

The video is slightly edited to about 12 minutes long. If you watch the part where Dave sends the QNS, you’ll see him reading Braille with his left hand while keying with his right.

“And that’s how it’s done,” says Dave, who has obviously been doing this a long time.

Also making a cameo appearance is David ZL2WT who does a QNG.

Play the antenna game

In the last newsletter I announced our new “Guess that antenna” game.

Here’s how it works: you send me a photo and description of your 80m antenna, and then we see if the other Net members can identify you based on your antenna.

Here’s the first challenge:

NZ Net Antenna GameThis 10m tall mast supports two separate antennas. The 80m and 40m inverted vees each have their own balun and coax, and are arranged to help guy the mast.

Whose antenna is this? One way to find out would be to ask everybody on the net what kind of antenna they’re using. 🙂 Or, you could just…

» Hear the answer

How did you do? If you haven’t sent in your antenna photo yet, please do so!

Back Yards on the Air

Some of the SOTA ops were finding it hard to cope while confined to their homes, so have come up with the idea of Back Yards on the Air, which will be tomorrow (Saturday 18 April, which is also World Amateur Radio Day).

It’s a casual day of operating, not a contest, and Richard ZL4FZ tells me he plans to be on the air for this, so please give him a contact – on CW of course. 🙂

Details on this are in the latest Infoline from NZART.

ham radio logbookLogbooks anyone?

While googling for something else, I stumbled on something that surprised me: New Zealand online retailer Mighty Ape sells ham radio logbooks.

In addition to the obvious question “does anybody actually use a logbook these days?” is the question “how many do they sell at $26 each?”

Do you use a logbook? Have you purchased this one?

A personal milestone

VE3GEI in early 1970s22 April 2020 will be 50 years since I passed my first amateur radio exam, in Toronto.

That first licence permitted use of CW only and, although I went back to the Radio Inspector a year later and passed the Advanced exam which enabled me to use ‘phone, I still spent most of my time on CW, using the gear pictured, which was tucked in a corner of my parents’ basement.

The bug in the photo is a nickel-plated Wilcox (made in Toronto almost 100 years ago) and I still have it.

Net Tip: Radiogram punctuation

I was recently asked why we spell out punctuation in a radiogram – e.g. COMMA, QUERY and STOP – instead of using punctuation symbols.

Nelson Ross explained it well in his 1928 book How to write telegrams properly (and there many other historical accounts that make fascinating reading for any CW op) but let’s look at a recent example from NZ Net.

In a trivia question message, I sent:


Here are a couple of reasons for spelling out the punctuation:


The “?” symbol in Morse is <IMI> but unfortunately this is also the “repeat” prosign. When I sent the message above I used <IMI> to indicate that I was repeating each of the branch numbers:

... 61 <IMI> 61 COMMA 49 <IMI> 49 AND 72 <IMI> 72 ...

So, when formatting a radiogram, <IMI> means repeat and we use “QUERY” instead of a question mark so the difference is clear.

Word counting

The “Check” numbers for the message above were 23/19 and you can see that there are indeed 19 words in the text.

I once knew an op who used punctuation symbols in radiograms. So he might have sent the above message as:


In this case, I would count “BRANCHES?” as one word, but that seems strange, since it’s a bit more than a word.

Or he might send:


OK, so now “BRANCHES” and “?” are two words?

Or, he might leave a space between “BRANCHES” and “?” but not as long as a proper word space, so I would have no idea whether I was supposed to count it as one word or two.

Even when I did my best to count words based on the spacing in his message, my count never matched what was in the message header. So perhaps the op was unconsciously adding spaces where he didn’t have them in the original text.

(That’s really easy to do, I find. Whenever I send something like “MARITIMERADIO.ORG” or “3535.0” I have to work very had to keep the spacing even, as I naturally want to leave a word space after the dot <AAA> because I am so accustomed to doing that when using the symbol as a fullstop in plain language text.)

The moral of all this is that we want it to be simple and easy for the receiving op to count words, and confirm that the count matches the check numbers. So please spell out any punctuation in a radiogram.


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 see you soon on the NZ Net!

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