Radiofax: ZKLF (Metservice, New Zealand)

Further continuing along my survey of radiofax systems, I thought it would be a good idea to check on one of our nearest neighbours, New Zealand. In the past, I have received their service from home with regularity, although sometimes not particularly clearly. I even had an eQSL from them for my efforts, confirming the use of a 4kW Marconi transmitter (rather than the 5kW that the NOAA/NWS radiofax schedule document claims).

I thought it would be a good idea just to confirm they’re still “on the air” and see if their charts have changed in any way. This time, instead of using my own receiver from home, I “borrowed” Chris Mackerell’s KiwiSDR in Marahau, Tasman District, New Zealand to try and ensure better copy.

As a reminder, these charts represent a snapshot in time and are not kept current. Charts should not be used for navigation purposes. Copyright of the chart material belongs to the transmitting agency, in this case, Metservice of New Zealand. Charts are reproduced for the purposes of documentation, to indicate the technical characteristics of the radiofax transmission, the format of the content within the transmission and as proof of the activity of the station on the specified dates.

Faxes

ZKLF has a relatively limited chart schedule featuring six different charts (with different validity times) being sent on four of five frequencies in a staggered-time arrangement, with most charts sent twice a day with the exception of the MSL analysis charts which are sent four times a day.

The transmission schedule best illustrates the arrangement of frequencies and times, which appears unchanged since 1st May 2002. Note that the transmission has a “standard length” phasing period and a relatively short end tone, but they do also broadcast white-tone prior to and after the conclusion of a chart to allow for tuning into the frequency or assessing the quality of reception prior to the chart’s commencement.

Reception was made over a number of days throughout January 2019, with very much the same look as the previously received charts although with a new MetService logo. This first chart is the MSL Prognosis for +30 hours.

In order, this is followed by the same for +48 hours.

Finally, this is followed by the +72 hour chart, all of the above being valid for 0000 UTC.

As I made my reception in pieces and chose the best quality charts, the above is from a different time, valid 0600UTC on 15th January 2019. The MSL analysis is for the Tasman Sea and New Zealand area. Note the similarity of format between charts, which are all “short” charts although this chart is a little taller with the validity legend and font sizes occupying a significant portion of the chart which is inconsistent with the other examples.

This is followed by an MSL analysis for the South-West Pacific Ocean area, this version being valid 1800UTC on 15th January 2019.

Occasionally, the broadcasted chart appears to have been slightly altered with with word “AMEND” prefixed, suggesting there has been manual amendments made to this chart. Often, it’s actually not a good idea to receive the fax from a receiver in close proximity to the transmitter due to the “skip zone” effect, so propagation was a little difficult for the above chart resulting in its dirty appearance.

Conclusion

It’s good to see that our neighbour ZKLF doing well through January 2019, sending out charts which are very much the same as before with the exception of a new logo. All charts are sent with broad, thick lines making them easy to read and are relatively “short” charts although the Tasman MSL is a bit taller than the others.

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