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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 had only been in Cairns a few weeks when it rained a bit over the weekend. I think 500mm in Cairns on the Saturday alone; this was more than the total rain for the whole three years we had been in Charleville. Cairns was quite wet. The Baron River flooded the roads. At the airport, with the runways under water, ATC was forced to rename it the 'Cairns flying boat base'. Water under the WF2 radar exactly reached the base of the main power junction box under the cabin. The alternator was at about the same level and was ok. Those happiest about the flood were the cane toads; millions of them.

When the WF1 radar was returned to Cairns in its new glory the WF2 was put in a large box and loaded onto one of the lighthouse Cape ships for transport to Willis Island. The unloading worked ok I heard; I think everyone on the ship would have had their fingers crossed as the LARC set out for the Island.

The WF1 radar differed from the WF2 mainly by having a half power transmitter, and the RF (radio frequency) unit inside the cabin, left side, and, so a much longer waveguide and a rotating joint. One could work on the RF unit when it was raining, but it was an advantage to be metre tall and have 1.2 metre long arms. I still did some balloon flights, usually at 2315 UTC which was not too bad. A roster system with Jack Berry covered the weekends, and there were no 2.30 am starts. One morning I was halfway through the flight when the central air-conditioner duct burst into flames. All the mains power wiring connectors (large plastic tag strips) were loose and with water from the air-conditioner condensation, it gave up the ghost. A rather major rewire was required but it came back to life ok. The single phase alternator and control switching was replaced with a three phase unit around this time.

We bought a small, half-finished house not too far from work; it was finished by the time we left. We also gained two small boys in Cairns, so the house could not have taken all the spare time. We only sold the house later when we moved to Coffs Harbour.

With the change in staff classification from Observer (Radio) to Radio Technical Officer in 1970 we ceased all observational work, other than on a few special stations like Willis Island and in the Antarctic. Christmas 1970 was the first Christmas Day since joining the Bureau that I had not been working. In 1971 I attended a six week WF44 radar training course at Eagle Farm run by one Graham Linnett. The other students were Wally Lloyd-Jones, another guy from Tasmania and a quite sick George Khan. George died some months later in his home town of Townsville.

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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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