VK - ZL DX Expedition, February, 2018.


Gidday All,
                   this is a somewhat light hearted description of a recent and somewhat unplanned DX Expedition to New Zealand's North Island in February, 2018.
This article appeared in the recent DUBUS 1/2018.


In early December 2017, my Wife was asked by her cycling friends if she wanted to participate in a Cycling holiday around Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand.

For my Wife, this was only a 5 Day Biking activity but I quickly realized that it would be an excellent opportunity for me to catch up with a few of the ZL "locals" with MM-Wave and Microwave gear.
My aim with this DX Expedition proposal of taking Transverters "across the pond" from VK to ZL was to hopefully inspire more local ZL interest in our hobby of Amateur Radio.

And so I emailed a few of the more prominent Amateur Radio enthusiasts on the North Island of NZ to check their potential interest.
In Wellington there was Wayne - ZL2BKC and Mike - ZL2YET.
In Auckland there was Greg - ZL1GSG and Simon - ZL1SWW and way up the North in Coopers Beach there was Stephen - ZL1TPH.

It was obvious by the responses from our ZL colleagues that they were greatly interested in the potential of this somewhat unexpected DX Expedition !!

Soon... my Airline Tickets, Accommodations and Hire Car were all booked.

With less than 6 weeks before I departed VK... we then had to decide which Bands we could realistically "activate" in Wellington (the NZ Capital), Auckland and hopefully way up North in Coopers Beach !

For my situation, with the benefit of previous overseas travel to Friedrichshafen in Germany and surrounding countries for Portable RF OP's with our OE friends, I had been progressively developing a package of Transverter boxes +++ that could be transported "relatively easily" overseas in my normal Check In and Carry On luggage.

So, for the Microwave Bands, I now have one Transverter Box which covers 8 Amateur Bands from 902 MHz through to 10 GHz, delivering QRP of circa 100-200 Milliwatts on all frequencies.

It's small physical size is quite impressive at only 23 x 21 x 11 Centimetres.

This Multiband Microwave Transverter uses multiple Switches to "select" an operating frequency.

It uses a single ZL PLL (ZL2BKC), 2 Mixers (VK3XDK), a mix of 144/432 MHz IF's and a series of Voltage Controlled Amplifiers to optimise the LO and IF Injection Levels for minimum undesirable Mixer products. The PA is a surplus broadband .01-13 GHz, 100 Milliwatt Amplifier.

For the MM-Wave Bands, I have a single Transverter Box which covers 24 GHz (80 mW), 47 GHz (24 mW), 76 GHz (3 mW) and 122 GHz (bare Mixer).
This hardware is 40 x 12 x 10 centimetres in size. The Box splits into 2 halves.. each with a Switch settable ELCOM LO that enables 24 GHz and 47 GHz from one half and 76/122 GHz from the other half. The latter uses interchangeable DB6NT style Mixers.

The Microwave Box is free standing while the MM-Wave Transverter “halves” are Tripod Mounted. Both are OCXO Locked with the DC and IF Tx/Rx functions supplied via a small homebrew Multiverter Controller powered from a single LIPO 4S Battery. This Battery supplies multiple Inverters for the various DC supply rails and has a Battery life of typically 2-3 hours.


For the MM-Waves, a Waveguide Horn or 300mm Cassegrain Dish is fitted to the Waveguide Switch Ports. For the Microwaves up to 10 GHz, a WA5VJB 2-11 Ghz Log Periodic can be used as a wideband Antenna (6-7 dBi) or it can be used as a radiating element to illuminate the Cassegrain from the rear of the  Dish.

 The Team.