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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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Peter Copland Works in Meteorological Electronics (continued)

We all graduated and were home for Christmas, well nearly. Len and I went to Eagle Farm where we were under the watchful eyes of RMO Bruce Aubrey and also Senior Observer (Radio) Merv German or perhaps Observer (Radio) Jack Byrne. I think Bruce was the first RMO in the Bureau, and, at this time may have been in an unofficial position. He operated out of a hole-in-the-wall office, next to the Eagle Farm meteorological office, in a DCA building, an ex-WWII hanger. All he seemed to have was a bookcase of handbooks, a toolbox, a multimeter and a BWD CRO. He used to make regular trips to Byron Bay to service the SNW51 radar which was operated by the lighthouse staff. I think he made these trips on weekends, in his own vehicle, with time off during the week. Thus more money to make the RMO job more worthwhile until a real position was created.

While at Eagle Farm we made the first real attempts to measure the rainfall rates in thunderstorms. This was for JACMAS; the result of the Botany Bay Viscount disaster. As I remember we installed the swept gain and IF (intermediate frequency) attenuator electronics in the transmitter room and spent considerable time trying to make the system make sense. I remember spending many 'happy' hours plotting thunderstorms moving down the Brisbane valley in the spring of 1963. Many times I started at 6 am and finished between 7 and 9 pm; the 6 am start was normal and allowed us Observer (Radio)s to be paid for transport to work and a small amount of penalty allowance.

It was during these tests that the Brisbane raindrops were found to be twice the size of the Melbourne ones (everyone knew one got wet quicker in Queensland, except our meteorologists). The rainfall rates calculated from the 277F radar averaged about four times the rates reported from our ground observers (I think over 100 in the Brisbane valley). The system made much more sense when things were recalibrated to a new set of values.

One morning, at the 2300 UTC radiosonde release, Merv German was to show us (the new chums) how to do a timed release. It was calm and Merv was nonchalantly holding the radiosonde, with the balloon, target and parachute hanging in space above him, while he watched the stop watch sitting on top of the radiosonde run down to the minute. Time came and he released the radiosonde with the very A-class stop watch still on top. The stop watch did not fall on anyone, and we never found out how Merv managed to write it off, but he did put on a bit of an act for awhile.

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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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