CONVENTION 2016 REPORT
Another highly successful gathering is over and the consensus of those attending is that the DX League is in good heart, the ‘NZ DX Times’ continues to be valued by members, and there is still some great DX to be heard. BILL MARSH, attending his first club event after an absence of 40 years, said it was as if he’d never been away from the club – the same great connections and comradeship to be had. Members from Australia. North Auckland, Hamilton, Kapiti, Wairarapa, Blenheim, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin and Southland attended, an estimated 12% of current club membership, along with 6 wives who joined in proceedings and were rewarded with French Cookbooks donated by RFI. The convention was held from 18 to 21 March at Moeraki, a small fishing village 70km north of Dunedin and the main listening and dining venue was an outstanding clifftop home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The weather was exceptional – fine, warm and calm over the 4 days.
As is so often the case nowadays, local noise was a problem for serious DX but keen antenna experts PAUL ORMANDY, ANDY GARDNER, STEVEN GREENYER and PETER MOTT, supported by JON WOOD, IAN WELLS and PHIL GARDEN, were able to erect and modify a variety of antennas throughout the weekend to improve reception and minimise the interference levels. Peter’s Delta antenna seemed to attract the weakest signals, and it was generally agreed that the antenna is the most important part of any DXer/SWL setup. Antenna workshops were led by Peter on Flag and Delta antennas, Paul on Coaxial Loops, and TONY KING demonstrating the Ferrite Sleeve Loop.
It was great to hear USA and Puerto Rico X-Band stations on a loop antenna and the 70+ year old Marsh Special receiver developed by Bill’s father for League members in the early 1950s. Optimised for medium wave and utilising a lot of components from war surplus ZC1 receivers, 17 were built between 1951 and 1955. BRYAN CLARK introduced members to Software Defined Radios and a pair of WinRadio G33DDC Excalibur Pro’s were put through their paces. In the ensuing discussion, almost all participating felt that only loggings made on NZ-based SDRs should be included in the DX Times Bandwatch and Broadcast trails.
A number of shortwave hobby ‘pirates’ scheduled broadcasts to coincide with the Convention, the most outstanding being X-FM Shortwave from USA on 6875 and Mikes Radio from the Netherlands on 6950. Channel Z from the US east coast ran a series of test transmissions over 3 days with a 16 watt homemade LU8EHA variant transmitter on 11428.3 and 11640.7 kiloHerz. Some brief audio snatches were caught on the first day and the carrier trace was confirmed on SDR spectrum displays. The operator “Z” considered the tests a success as he has previously only been heard as far as Japan. On Sunday night and Monday morning stations were also logged on 9300 (FRS Holland), 6295 (Reflections Europe from Ireland) 6304.75 (tentatively Wonderful Radio London) and 7610 (Radio Latino Italy).
The local noise problems meant limited medium wave DX but Radio Marti from Florida was a standout, being audible on 1180 as early as 0530 UTC. Peruvians made an appearance together with a few of the more regular Yanks.
Discussions were held on the future of the DX hobby and the club. The ongoing loss of favourite international shortwave broadcasters was noted, together with the increasing local noise levels faced by members in urban situations and the lack of conventional DX receivers. Members unanimously supported an Adcom proposal to investigate the purchase and installation of a remotely-accessible SDR receiver for use by members. This will be established as a memorial to the late RON KILLICK, who’s receivers have been gifted to the League. Proceeds from the convention Auction (over $600 raised, thanks to the efforts of auctioneer Paul O) together with funds earned from the sale of Ron’s equipment on TradeMe, will form a capital fund for the SDR project. The first steps will be to assess suitable sites and which SDR receivers would be suitable, particularly those with medium wave capability.
Investigations were also set in train for a venue for the League’s 70th Anniversary Convention, due in 2018.
All in all, another great gathering of members – it was great to see or hear:
NEIL McDONALD logging his first North American MW stations and recalling his work on ionospheric research at Campbell Island in the late 1950s;
BILL MARSH recalling his father’s reception in Invercargill of 10 South African medium wave frequencies between 1948 and the early 1950s, on a 450 foot longwire to the southeast;
RAY BABBAGE confirming Radio Trackside to be his favourite DX;
SUTTON BURTENSHAW once again prioritising a DX League Convention ahead of a competing Jazz Music Festival;
The usual convention banter and quips from PAUL ARONSEN;
IAN WELLS and JON WOOD at their radio dials while all others slept;
The dramatic Moeraki sunrises seen by our early risers.
Our thanks go to the 2016 organising committee of PAUL ORMANDY, PAUL ARONSEN, ARTHUR DE MAINE and STEVEN GREENYER. Thanks also to Radio NZ International and Radio France International for their sponsorship.