Moeraki 2016 Discussion & SDRs


At Moeraki, we discussed the future of the League and of the hobby.

It was unanimously agreed that the NZRDXL is here to stay.

The general decline in opportunities for traditional SWL/SW DXing has
continued since a similar discussion at Mangawhai in 2013. The
major contributing factor is the disappearance of more and more
international broadcasters from shortwave. Whilst this decline creates
opportunities to hear rarer domestic DX usually buried by the
international set, there has been a similar decline in the number of
domestic SW broadcasters too. In Europe even the MW band is emptying out
with stations moving to DAB broadcasting in the VHF range whilst in
some parts of the world FM has been slated to go as well.

There has also been growing disinterest in DX hobbyists amongst shortwave broadcasters,
probably largely forced by shrinking budgets. There are few if any DX programs run by the
stations themselves however some do carry the likes of Glenn Hauser’s
broadcasts. Budget constraints are also likely to blame for the very
poor QSL return rate these days.

We solicited donations for the convention auction from all major
international broadcasters, only two sent items. Our very own RNZI
contributed some very attractive T-shirts and RFI some listener’s
cookbooks. We also asked for donations of radios etc from most of the
current SW radio manufacturers (Tecsun, C Crane, Sangean, Eton/Grundig
etc) only C Crane even replied, saying they were sorry they couldn’t
send anything. The WRTH was asked if they would consider donating a 2016
WRTH, again no reply.

Whilst there are plenty of light-weight portable receivers around, here
is also a dearth in new communications receivers to replace the aging
sets we use now, e.g. IC-R71, IC-R75, AOR-7030+, R-5000s etc. SDRs seem
to be the only way forward, or buying a ham rig with full broadcast
coverage. The latter causes an issue in that you must have a ham license
to own one, unless the transmitter has been properly disabled.

The other indicator of broadcasters losing interest in SW is when the
programming is no more than the relay of a domestic station, with little
or any content prepared for an international audience.

One of the highlight of past conventions has been the auction. It was no
exception at Moeraki with donations of “treasure” including radios,
loops, preamps, pennants, QSLs, cables, tape recorders, books and more
netting approximately $670. This included two radios donated to the League by
the estate of the late Ron Killick. There are more of Ron’s radios to be
auctioned on TradeMe and it was unanimously agreed on Andy Gardner’s
suggestion that the funds from the sale of these radios should be used to
create a “Ron Killick Memorial SDR Project”. More on SDR below. Many
thanks to all those who donated items.

We were fortunate enough to have 3 members present at the convention who have experience
with SDRs (software defined receivers). Bryan Clark, Peter Mott and Andy Gardner have been using them to good effect.
An SDR is a little box that you connect your aerial and computer to. Instead of a conventional radio
dial, the computer monitor becomes the dial. There were two Winradio
units operating throughout the convention and they were very impressive.

One of the main problems for DXers in New Zealand these days, is the
level of electrical interference that pervades the band with many DXers
simply choosing not to listen because of the all-intrusive noise. One
way around this is to locate an SDR in an electrically quiet area with a
good antenna attached, then access the SDR from your home computer over
the internet. The suggestion that the League buy an SDR for remoting was
first mentioned at Mangawhai in 2013. Since then, technology has evolved
and much more is realised about their potential. Some internet-linked
SDRs allow up to 4 users at one time. There are many free SDRs around
the globe if you wish to try one, is one example.

There are certain requirements that would have to be met for this
project to be beneficial to NZRDXL members, i.e.
– quiet, noise-free location (preferably East Coast), this could be a
home, bach, rural property etc
– reliable high-speed internet with a reasonable bandwidth available,
League contribution to internet costs available
– stable power supply, mains or League-funded solar set-up
– rooms for antennas
– NZRDXL member-only access
– possibly one SDR in the South Island and one in the North

If you have a site that fits the above requirements and would be keen to
provide NZRDXL members with an opportunity for noise-free listening,
please contact Bryan Clark.

The 2016 Moeraki Convention finished in the black. Excess funds from the
auction and convention will be returned to the League.

The next Convention will be in 2018 when we will celebrate the NZRDXL’s
70th anniversary.

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