BY KEN MACKEY, FOUNDING MEMBER AND LIFE MEMBER
On my return from WW2 in 1946 l was able to think about starting serious DXing. Though my father had died suddenly just prior to the commencement of the war we still had our crib at Long Beach. At this time there was no power to the area and no such thing as a communication receiver. l went to McCracken & Walls in Dunedin and they put a genemotor in a Cromwell dual wave which was about the best around at this time. The genemotor was noisy and used up a lot of
battery. It got a bit heavy walking the 4 or 5 miles from Mihiwaka railway station with a car battery & provisions in a haversack on my back. The advent of a van service from the bottom of the Long Beach hill to Mihiwaka helped considerably with this problem after a year or so.
The receiver problem was again discussed with Val Pickering the technician at McCracken & Walls. He suggested they build me a quiet very sensitive dry battery broadcast receiver. After what seemed like months I was given a skeleton radio to try out. This was quiet but the band from 1,000- 1500kcs covered about an inch of dial and 500-1,000 3 or 4 inches. This one was rehashed and receiver Mark ll was commenced. After many more weeks of delay I tried out the new model. The broadcast band was in two sections, 500-1000kcs and 1000 to about 1700kcs or so. I had to hand calibrate the dial by marking the position of stations heard. Reception was very good and quiet, many stations were logged including American police around 1700kcs.
After some years power was taken down to Long Beach and our crib (really a large 4 bedroom house) was wired up. Shortly after this I imported an HRO from England. I found it too cumbersome changing coil packs to go from one end of the BCB to the other. I knew Albert Stanton who DXed at Doctors Point used a Patterson receiver and so I was on the lookout for one. I found a console one which was destined to give me excellent long service. l stilt have the radio section stored in my garage.
Aerials: Before power reticulation the aerial was one straight out the front of the crib into the sandhills overlooking the Paciﬁc Ocean. This one was about 600ft long & 15-20ft high. After a time the cliff to the rear became a challenge for an aerial. This one was about 750ft long & up to 300 ft high. I tried several from this cliff in different directions. One was particularly good on Asians.
Monday night frequency checks; I don’t know how many hundreds of trips I made – usually with another DXer to listen for frequency checks & and special DX programmes arranged by the NRC & NNRC. These were the highlights of my weeks DXing.
My sister took over the crib after a time and l bought another about a kilometre out towards the middle of the beach. Reception was just as good in this location as previously. The aerial farm was about the same except for one monster I ran back to a hill. It was at least 2,000 ft long but only about 20ft high at the far end. I listened at this location until we moved to Christchurch in 1962.
A memorable event at this location was when DXers arriving for the 1st DX Convention could hear XERF from a speaker I had suspended between the rear aerials. My gimmick was ‘you did not need a radio to DX at Long Beach – a speaker was all that was required.
Memorable loggings were WARD Johnstown, Pa. 1490kcs 250w 7:15pm, 25/9/46 on the occasion of Merv Branks ﬁrst visit to check out the guy getting all the fancy loggings.
CBI Sydney, Nova Scotia. 1570kcs 15/1/49 On a DX special. Albert Stanton rang me first thing next morning to see if I had also heard it.
WSKI Montpellier, Vt. 250w 124Okcs 4/4/51
Longbeach is located on the Western side of the entrance to Otago Harbour, near the city of Dunedin.