At Awarua Radio from Mar 1973 to Dec 1975
We moved from UK to NZ in December 1972, my UK ham callsign was G4AXI. At ZLB we lived in one of the original Telefunken cottages for about a year, the one closest to the paddock with the MF/HF TX antennas in it. I remember well the coal range in the kitchen which we kept fired up for about nine months out of twelve. I think the coal cost $20 a ton (20 one-hundredweight bags), delivered. We had four chickens and a fellow in one the other cottages had ducks. Ahhh, the good life!
My first ZL callsign was ZL4CP and I set up my ham station in the sun room in the cottage. Took quite a while to get over how quiet the ham bands were compared to Europe. I put up a few antennas including a W8JK omni-directional wire beam for 20m fixed on Europe, which worked very well. RFI from the ZLB transmitters was a bit of a nuisance, the transmitters were continuously sending de ZLB ZLB ZLB 8/12/16 etc. Rig was a Heathkit HW100 and I remember that my in-line SWR meter needles were always moving in sync with the ZLB transmissions. We also had a record player with a magnetic pick-up cartridge and every time I played an LP, the ZLB morse transmission came out of the speakers until I put some ceramic by-pass caps inside the cartridge.
We eventually bought a house in Invercargill, but in December 1975, we decided to move to the North Island. (My parents, sister and family plus my wife’s family all lived up there). I became a Radio Inspector in Gisborne and later New Plymouth.
Still busy with ham radio, my main interest now is CW and RTTY contesting. HF set-up includes a TS-2000 & linear amp, triband yagi and 40m GP. I operate in about 25-30 contests a year, it’s real good fun. I look after the club’s vhf/uhf beacons and just got interested in 6m. I’m also very much involved with Scouting, ever since we moved to New Plymouth in 1983.
– Frank Hunt