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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)

. . . At the commissioning of the Mackay WF44 radar, Ray Clarke, who was carrying out inspections, passed through on his way from Townsville to Gladstone I think. He had to catch a bus from Mackay to Gladstone and was due to leave about 8 pm, however, as we walked out of the meteorological office that evening we were attracted by an arcing noise coming from the waveguide bend at the base of the tower. The bend, which had been 'grown', had failed, so we quickly removed it and Ray carried out some quick repairs. By the time they were completed and the bend tested it was getting late so instead of going for tea we went to the pub to have a drink while waiting for Ray's bus. After a few quick drinks the bus arrived and Ray headed for Gladstone and we went for tea.

The next morning we had a frantic call from Ray, "had we seen his suitcase?"; it hadn't arrived in Gladstone with him. After much chasing around the story finally came out. The bus had broken down on the way and they were transferred to another bus, however, not so Ray's case. It ended up in Townsville and Ray had to fly back to Melbourne (in winter) wearing his tropical clobber of shorts and shirt.

. . . We have often been asked why we put so much detail in our modification instructions; the following is the reason usually given. There was a problem with the WF44 radar in that the large resistor mounted on the transmitter's distribution and control unit was having a high rate of failure. It was decided to reduce the time it was in circuit by reducing the time constant of the switching circuit. This was to be done by simply removing one of two parallel capacitors, and so said the instruction. However, as all people who have worked on the distribution and control unit know it is a long and tedious job to pull the unit out and reinstall it. The 'tech' in question removed the unit, cut out the capacitor with a pair of side cutters and reinstalled the unit. Next thing, frantic phone calls as the transmitter would no longer switch on. The unit is wired with a gaggle of wires, all pink, and with components mounted on standoffs. Unfortunately, in this case, the circuit was such that just 'cutting' out the capacitor left an open circuit; it was also necessary to actually move a wire to reconnect the circuit.

. . . On another WF44 radar commissioning we could not understand why so many transistors were unserviceable. The story finally came out. During installation, cables were usually checked for continuity with a 'knocker' before they were actually connected. In this case one end of the cable had been connected before it was checked, and the inductive spike from the 'knocker' found a nice path through the base of a couple of dozen transistors to ground.

People in Bright Sparcs - Clarke, Raymond W.

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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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