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NZ International Campus, Upper Hutt, Wellington


(Compiled from notes taken by Bob Evans)



There were 34 people in attendance.


At the start of the meeting Graham Blow made available copies of the Section’s News and Minor Planet Circulars.


General Matters:







Timing Matters:


Shortwave Signals



Stephen Russell (from Australia) noted that the VNG User’s Consortium was planning to make available a device which would use GPS data to emulate VNG signals.  However the project had been under development for two years now and there was as yet no timeframe as to completion or commercial manufacture.


Gordon Hudson asked whether the Radio Shack WWV TimeKube receivers were still available.  Graham indicated that they were not.  Gordon undertook to investigate whether he, together with his son Rick, might be able to manufacture some for sale through the Section.


Graham then indicated that the GPS-based KIWI system developed in Christchurch would be an answer to the timebase problems and handed the meeting over to Brian and Pauline Loader.


KIWI System








Some concern was expressed about having to rely on a computer running only DOS. (KIWI cannot be run from a DOS window in the Windows OS because Windows does not give enough CPU cycles for the application to meet spec). However it was noted that any PC would be suitable so long as it could be booted from a DOS floppy which also contained the KIWI software (subject to the restriction noted above that the text file of time and position data cannot be saved to the floppy).


Grant Christie declared that there was a way around Windows.  Bill Parkin said that FreeDOS, a substitute for Microsoft DOS, was being developed and was soon to be available.  He will keep Graham appraised of this.


Information about the KIWI system is available from Geoff Hitchcox’s website at:


Pauline Loader’s “Beeper Box”



Pauline noted that every 10th second pip is longer, the 56th, 57th and 58th second pips are shorter, and the 59th second is muted.  The minute is a long beep where the beginning of the beep marks the minute. As with the KIWI system, an LED can be attached. 


The box automatically synchronises itself once it is plugged into the KIWI System.  Accuracy is better than 0.01 seconds. As long as it hasn't been turned off, it can be rechecked afterwards against KIWI to determine any drift.  The box can also be synchronised (manually) with a radio time pip. The 4 x AA batteries powering the unit last about 20 hours.  When organizing a grazing occultation expedition a number of boxes could be synchronised from one KIWI or radio and then distributed to party members.


The box’s 10 MHz chip is temperature sensitive but can be calibrated for a particular temperature.  Pauline Loader is happy to supply the circuit and to program the main chip.  More information is available at:


[Subsequent to the meeting Bill Parkin of Wellington indicated that he would be happy to investigate building a trial run of ~20 beeper boxes].



Video Observing:



Brian’s system (with photos) is described at:



Graham asked those who might be interested in a bulk order of Watec 902H cameras to put their names on a list.  Eleven people did so.







The meeting closed at 7:10 pm.