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3111 posts

Uber Geek
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Topic # 86220 4-Jul-2011 01:08
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I was up a nearby mountain today that has a telecom microwave relay tower - and i think its one of the earlier ones.
As I was leaving the site, I saw a concrete slab with the words

Erected by NZPO and some year i couldnt read.
Then each of the builders / engineers that originally built the thing had signed their name on it.

The farm owner tells me that his parents sold a small parcel of land on top of the mountain to the NZPO "for a very small penny without realising what it was truely worth". And the particular site is interesting because it has a dormitory 20m away with bunk beds and i think shower and toilet facilities. The engineers used to spend days at a time up at the relay site fixing equipment.

So this stuff now facinates me. I was on the rsm website looking up the licenses for the site and found the models of the old 6ghz Fujitsu microwave transmission systems, but I cant find any information on it.

And the only history i can find on early days of the telecom / nzpo microwave radio network is a few mentions of a hybrid microwave/coaxial link between auckland and wellington in the 80's.

Does anyone else know of any websites or articles I could read up on early use of fibre and microwave or exchange linking systems in new zealand?

Odd request i know though i have found some of the long retired telecom and nzpo engineers have published stories etc about other parts of the telephone network online (found a nice one on a young enginners expierences working at the gisborne exchange in the days when the weekend call diversions for doctors and businessment ment physically re-soldering a patch pair for two days and then removing it every friday and monday).
Hoping to read up on some microwave and fibre stuff too.

Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)

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For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 488979 4-Jul-2011 01:21
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Keen to follow this if more information pops up!

3111 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 488981 4-Jul-2011 01:40
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exdee, in the mean time, you might be interested reading up about the AT&T Long lines network. It used funny horn antennas and wave ducts to the transmission / recieve equipment rather than coaxial cable which seemed odd at first - and the towers look really crazy.

There is heaps of information about them from all the old AT&T engineers that have posted diaries and written articles about it.   

Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here


5 posts

Wannabe Geek

  Reply # 507822 17-Aug-2011 11:49
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There are some articles on the web, search radio ZLW, Musick Point and NZART for starters.

I started in NZPO radio section in '70s. 
Prior to then the main North Island microwave relay system was STC using Travelling Wave Tube amplifiers and quite a lot of valves. Stations were spaced about 50 Km apart and operated around 4 GHz. Its rumored that traffic linking Palmerton North to Hamilton - Auckland also passed on a spur link Urenui - New Plymouth, and that coincidentally there was allways a Russian fishing boat sitting about 12 miles out, which didnt seem to be selling any fish.

Buildings were mostly to a standard design with equipment room at one end, standby generator room at the other end and entrance / staff facilities in the middle. In those days power supply was a big deal and the original setup was an AC motor turning a flywheel connected to an alternator, sinning all the time. If the incoming mains failed the station supply would coast down on the flywheel until the diesel motor started and connected to the flywheel. Now that's a real UPS.

The STC equipment was replaced by the '70s with Lenkurt 76a (600 channels) which used Klystrons in the microwave part and transistors elswhere. By the late '70s they were installing all solid state Lenkurt 778 series (960 channels). Most of this was full frequency diversity with both receivers combined.
The Fujitsu equipment went in the '80s, with the conversion to digital traffic. Each RF path carries 140 Mb/s traffic. A new run of stations were established via the central North Island for this. Each system usually has a protection (standby) path and up to 8 working paths.

The more experienced technicians would belong to one or more clubs, such as the 600 club, 760 club, 140 club etc. Once joined, you were not expected to participate again in that club, but could progress to another club after a reasonable stand-down period, or providing cream buns at the next morning tea.


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 507835 17-Aug-2011 12:15
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The Internet New Zealand sponsored book 'Connecting the Clouds' covers a lot of the history of New Zealand telecommunications. It's well worth buying to read and keep, but if you want immediate and free satisfaction, read it online at

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