2 Mar 2007
Kiwi wireless hero
Why pay $20,000 for a commercial link to run your television station when a $10 kitchen wok from the Warehouse is just as effective?
This is exactly how North Otago's newest television station 45 South is transmitting its signal from its studio to the top of Cape Wanbrow, in a bid to keep costs down.
45 South volunteer Ken Jones designed the wok transmitter in his spare time last year when he wanted to provide wireless broadband to his Ardgowan home.
"A group of us wanted to connect our computers to each other and then we worked out a way to get of getting the signal between two points," he said.
He discovered satellite dishes were between $100 to $400 retail and that smaller dishes, the same size as a wok, were $80.
Mr Jones thought he could do better.
Along with friend Murray Bobbette they worked out mathematical equations to prove the curved metal face of a wok would have the same effect as a small satellite dish.
"We have spent a lot of time getting it right -- the first time we installed one we had it up a pole with the handle still on the end of the wok," he said.
"We had it connected to the woolshed and initially you couldn't get a signal the width of the paddock and now it can reach up to 20km."
When the television station 45 South (UHF channel 41) started up in September last year, Mr Jones thought the same technique could be applied.
"The $20,000 for a commercial link was just money we didn't have, so we bought several woks from The Warehouse instead which was convenient and cheap," he said.
Pre-recorded clips at the studio are fed through a computer and beamed to Cape Wanbrow where they are relayed off to television sets around North Otago.
The classic case of Kiwi ingenuity has made its way onto the internet and the technique has been posted by an American website, Mr Jones said.
"People wanted to know all the details about how to make their own, so it is now all publicly documented," he said.
One of the issues they had to deal with was making the pole that the wok sits on high enough to clear the Kingsgate Brydone Hotel.
They needed a clear path from the station to the hill, so the only way was up, building the pole more than eight metres high.
Mr Jones said one wok was providing Oamaru with the signal at present and there was no need to provide another wok for some time
- OAMARU MAIL
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