NZ Net News 56, 29 May 2021

This is a fortnightly newsletter about the New Zealand Net. If you would like to be notified by email when a new edition is published, please contact ZL1NZ.
Browse our Newsletter Archive and List of Net Tips.

Featured key

Öller telegraph key

Öller telegraph key. Photo: ZL2VA

Stew ZL2VA is the very lucky owner of this beautiful and historic Swedish telegraph key, believed to have been made by Anton Henric Öller. Stew tell us:

“I find this key fascinating as it truly is from the beginning of Morse Code itself, and it was made by someone who was instrumental in connecting parts of Europe with telegraph. The key was manufactured by Oller, or at least in his workshop, and was also very early on before Ericsson started his own workshop as it has no numbering or markings. That places its manufacturing date some time between 1858 and 1864. The special thing for me is the action: firm and quiet with an intangible ‘soft’ feel. The sheer age of this key and the era it came from are quite something.”

Oller article in Morsum Magnificat

Morsum Magnificat, Issue 75, May/June 2001

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

Quick notes

Cartoon shows Mode A keying on impossible with IcomAccording to usually-reliable sources, several NZ Net members participated in the recent Sangster Shield QRP CW contest, among them ZL1BWG, ZL1AJY (aka ZL1XH), ZL1ANY, ZL2GD, ZL2GVA, ZL2LN, ZL2WT, ZL4FZ and ZL4KX.

Wouldn’t this be an interesting job for a Radio Officer? Working aboard the superyacht Christina when its owner, shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, hosted such celebrities as Princess Grace, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill in the 1950s. Here is a link to some fantastic photos. If you can get past all the movie stars, you’ll find shots of the Radio Officer at “work”. 🙂

If you’ve been hesitant to answer our NZ Net Trivia questions, because you think everyone else will have the same answer, think again! I recently asked for an anagram of “SOME DECOR”, and the replies included this one from Gerard ZL2GVA:


and from the ever-inventive David ZL2WT:


I don’t for a minute believe David copied incorrectly but I’ll go along with it for the sake of his puns.

Paul ZL1AJY has been vexed by the built-in keyer on his new IC-7610 which does Iambic Mode B, but not his preferred Mode A. He’s written to Icom in Japan and been told they don’t support Mode A. Very disappointing, Icom! 🙁

Better contacts make better contacts

New contacts on double-lever paddle by ZL2GVABy Gerard ZL2GVA

The morning before the Sangster Shield contest I decided to improve my homebrew paddles, as I had noticed that the contacts were not always making good electrical contact. I needed to start pushing a bit harder on the levers to ensure characters were being formed. Apparently the polished stainless steel had developed a bit of surface oxide (not visible, but still noticeable). I tried to clean this up with a bit of paper but because stainless is quite hard this did not help much.

So it was time to add proper contact points, salvaged from an old relay. I started with the ones on the arms, as they were easier to do (soldering from the back through a hole in the arm). The soldering went better than expected, turning out quite well. This already made quite a difference, and was used in the contest.

Later in the week I added the ones on the setscrews, which don’t look as neat as I’d like, but are OK electrically.

Photo flashback

Radio Officer Ron Moloney aboard Kaitawa in 1963

Radio Officer Ron Moloney aboard the collier TSMV Kaitawa ZMVC in 1963. Three years later, on 23 May 1966, Kaitawa was lost with all hands, including Radio Officer Philip Mowat, near Cape Reinga. Her last radio call was a Mayday, received at Auckland Radio ZLD. Photo: Ron Moloney

Familiar looking shack

ZL1NZ station photo on FacebookI was scrolling through Facebook the other evening and thought, “gee that shack looks a lot like mine used to.”

So it should. It is my shack, many years ago when I had only begun to fill the space with boat anchors. Funny too, someone converted the colour photo, which used to be on this website, to black and white.

The current layout has more shelves and less empty space. Plus the microphones are now stored in a cupboard since they don’t get used much.

Audio challenge:

Whose words are these? If you know, send me an email or radiogram!

Answer to the previous challenge: The text was from a speech by NZ Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage in 1939, in which he promised that NZ would stand by Great Britain in time of war.

I received correct answers from ZL1AJY, ZL1ANY, ZL1BBW, ZL1BWG, ZL2GVA and ZL3TK who obviously know their history.

Preservation: Ferrymeade Heritage Park

Ferrymead Post & Telegraph Society

Photo: Ferrymead Post & Telegraph Society

Ferrymeade Heritage Park in Heathcote, Christchurch, features an early 1900s (Edwardian) township with a variety of restored cottages plus a school house, church and businesses which reflect the period and allow visitors to experience life for the early residents of Christchurch including the smell of a coal range and the sounds of a tram rattling past the door.

Even better, the park includes a real post office, managed by the Ferrymeade Post & Telegraph Society.

The Society is currently quite active, as you can see from their Facebook page. This is good news, as for many years, items from the former NZ Post museum in Wellington (closed when the post office was broken up and corporatised) were dumped at Ferrymeade without adequate preservation. That includes some very significant radio equipment. So it’s good to see things looking shipshape, thanks to the hard work of the Society’s volunteers.

Video: WW2 wireless operator Billie Pennings

Dr Billie Pennings (nee Adels), aged 99, spoke earlier this month at a ceremony in Florida recognising her service as a radio operator on Norwegian merchant ships during WW2.

Net tip: GG

No, this Net Tip is not about New Zealand’s new Governor-General (congratulations Cindy Kiro, by the way).

Rather, it is the abbreviation GG, which means “going”.

This sprang to mind as a result of the Net Tip in the previous newsletter about QNY. If NCS asks you to QNY, I suggested that each of the two stations affected acknowledge the QNY instruction with “R”.

An even better response would be “GG”, i.e. “I’m going.” Then NCS will be in no doubt that each station has understood the QNY direction.

Advertising archive

1952 advertisement for Dow-Key bug

QST, March 1952

Dow-Key was started by Paul Dow in Winnipeg around 1943. He made speed keys until around 1957 when the business was moved to Minnesota. The company was later renamed Dow-Key Microwave, specialising in switches and relays, and they are still in business.


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