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Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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Table of Contents

Radio Technical Officers

Foreword

Acknowledgements

Preface

Introduction

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)

Another WF3 radar that the Darwin staff looked after was in Kupang, Indonesian Timor. I made two, one week service visits to Kupang, the first with Ralph de la Lande from Head Office. This was my first time out of Australia, and a bit of an eye opener; nice people but a fairly hard life style for most of them. However, their meteorological office, apart from the lack of good power and running water, was 100 percent better than Tennant Creek at that time.

A few of my lasting impressions from these visits are the three or four people required to complete a balloon flight, the guys rolling 44 gallon drums of water down the road in the evening, the motorists who turned off their lights for oncoming traffic, the one fully trained Indonesian 'tech' to look after all the electronics in the country, not being able to see the Komodo Dragon because it had eaten its keeper the night before, the British Naval guns still buried in the hills which tried to keep out the Japanese during WWII and spending all day getting some spares through local customs, the main hold up being the lack of an Indonesian word translating to Magnetron.

In the Darwin workshop we had a transceiver which, I think, belonged to Foreign Affairs, and we worked a regular schedule with the Kupang meteorological office. One small problem, though, we had to get one of our Philippine meteorologists to act as an interpreter. However, with this help it was possible for us to get spares from Tennant Creek fairly easily.

Darwin was my first encounter with the Bureau's facsimile system. Previously the PMG had supplied the service and maintenance; now the system had become part of our responsibility. There were 18 inch (about 46 cm) LEA and LBM recorders and giant 18 inch transmitters on the national network and AXM radiofacsimile broadcast, and there was a nine inch system linking the RFC with the airport. Fortunately, we did not have to worry too much about the telegraph system, which was still with the PMG. We had the Minolta wet system photocopier, and later in the new office, two of them with, in theory, enough spares for a complete rebuild.

This was also the new world of the satellite. At Emery Point, accessed through part of the Army compound, the Bureau operated a remote satellite tracking system designed to track polar orbiting NOAA weather satellites. This was a large, remotely controlled helical antenna assembly, with the control unit in the RFC communication centre and operated by the communications staff. The tracking data was fed into the control unit before each satellite pass. The received satellite picture information was recorded on the traditional Nagra 4 tape recorders. Picture information was also received over landline from a similar tracking system in Melbourne.

This picture information was made visible by scanning photographically sensitive paper in a special facsimile recorder, the D900S1, I think. The approximately 23 centimetre square photographic paper was then developed in an instant (almost) processing machine. Grid lines were drawn on the picture. The finished product was almost a real time photograph.


People in Bright Sparcs - de la Lande, Ralph

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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

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