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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers





Chapter 1: The Early Years

Chapter 2: The Training School

Chapter 3: Equipment Installation Records

Chapter 4: The 'Techs' in Antarctica

Chapter 5: The 'Techs' Tell Their Stories
Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989
Ray Clarke Looks Back
Some Memories from Ralph Bulloch
Peter Copland Works in Meteorological Electronics
Some Titbits from Dave Grainger
A Very Modest Tale from Alf Svensson
Adrian Porter Pulls No Punches
Jack Tait Recalls
Some Stories by Colourful Freddie Soutter
Some Snippets from Noel Barrett
Stephen CourbÍt Has His Penny Wworth
And a Flyspeck or Two from Lenny Dawson
Some Interesting Reminiscences from Jannes Keuken
Brief Stories from Phil Black
From Gloria West, Wife of the Late Bob West
The Life and Bureau Times of Graham Linnett
Tales Out of School from Bill Hite
Peter Copland on Cyclone Tracy
Peter Broughton Tells the Story of Maralinga

Appendix 1: 'Techs' Roll Call

Appendix 2: Trainee Intakes

Appendix 3: 'Techs' Who Have Served in the Antarctic Region

Appendix 4: Summary of Major Installation Projects

Appendix 5: Summary of Major Equipment Variously Installed at Sites and Maintained by Radio Technical Officers


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Trevor Donald Tells It All; Life in the Bureau from 1947 to 1989 (continued)

It seems strange now to write about something that was then considered an everyday occurrence. The balloons were 3,000 gram neoprene and were good for around 30,000 metres. The Observers were required to take 30 second readings and to read azimuth and elevation angles to two decimal places. The results were sent to Weapons Research and put through their computer.

We also tracked balloon-borne transponders. On these occasions the balloon train consisted of a 300 gram single neck balloon with a 3,000 gram double neck balloon fitted with a valve assembly and, of course, the transponder as pay load. These units were supplied by Alf West from the WRE and they gave an excellent signal.

I first met Alf West during my service at Woomera, and also Bob West, a technician in the range communications workshop. Both were to transfer to the Bureau within a year or so.

In 1963 I was called to Melbourne to do a WF2 radar training course. Two of us sat down with John MacDermott for a week to acquaint ourselves with the system.

As stand down on the range for 1963 approached, I received advice of my transfer to the Sydney Regional Office. My relief arrived some two weeks before our departure for Sydney. I can't recall his name, but he was one of the technicians recruited at the time from the United Kingdom in an attempt to ease the Bureau's technical staffing problems. After two weeks dual instruction we said farewell to George Trefrey and the rest of the crew, and headed east to Sydney.

On completion of recreation leave I duly reported to the Sydney Regional Office. The Bureau had just completed the move from Observatory Hill to the newly completed Commonwealth Centre in Elizabeth Street. In due course I met with Jack Byrne, the resident Senior Observer (Radio). After some two weeks dual Jack headed off, possibly to Queensland, but eventually to Darwin.

A Marconi SNW51 (X-band) radar had been installed on top of the Commonwealth Centre. A British Meteorological Office pattern anemometer and a remote reading Foxbro dewpoint detector and temperature sensor were also installed on the roof. All other surface instruments remained at the original instrument site on Observatory Hill.

My day-to-day activities centred around the repair and maintenance of the above mentioned equipment, as well as operation of the radar during thunderstorm activity for the Joint Approach Control Meteorological Advisory Service (JACMAS). I was also responsible for the periodic maintenance of the WF2 radar at Coffs Harbour.

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Clarke, R. 1999 'Stories of the Bureau's Radio Technical Officers from 1948', Metarch Papers No. 14 February 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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