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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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Tales Out of School from Bill Hite (continued)

I was privileged to work with many of the 'techs' that you will have heard about or will have read about in this Metarch Paper. Trevor Donald at Mascot, Graham Linnett and George Khan at Port Moresby, Alf Svensson at Eagle Farm (two commissionings, one in 1968 and one in 1987), Jack Byrne at Darwin and Alan Jarman at Alice Springs, etc.

I suppose a few of the older 'techs' will remember me as the fellow who took an overcoat to Port Moresby (it was very cold in Melbourne when I left). I wore a jumper most of the time while everyone else was wearing shorts and a shirt, however, my theory was that I spent most of the day inside where it was air-conditioned (the then new meteorological office had seven air-conditioners all running at once) and I could always take my jumper off if I had to work outside.

I suppose it is nearly time I joined the ranks of the retired. My favourite piece of equipment, the WF44 radar, has been modified and updated so much that I am sure many of those who worked on the original equipment would not recognise it. No more MCU (master control unit) or D&T (data and tracking) rack (now just a PC). In the transmitter no TWT (travelling wave tube) (instead a Low Noise Solid State amplifier; $500 instead of $8,000); in fact the only valves remaining are the magnetron and the modulator tube. In the aerial, no more encoders or encoder amplifiers.

The following are a few of the incidents that have stuck in my mind.

. . . Maurice Costello, among other things, worked on the new Fielden equipment. Some time later he expressed dissatisfaction with the transmitter unit as the manufacturer had mounted transformers directly on the circuit boards. He was instructed to give the unit a drop test (ie to drop it about half a metre onto the floor) to see if the transformers would break away. However, Maurice took the instruction literally and dropped the unit down a flight of wooden stairs. It did, however, prove the point; the transformers were still attached to the circuit board, but the bit it was attached to was no longer attached to the rest of the board.

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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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