Life After OTC

Robert Brand Part 4

by Robert Brand

So far I have not had anyone else telling me what they are up to after OTC so I will update you on some very new developments in my life. Yes, new in the last few weeks.

Life takes some pretty interesting turns and my headlong rush into the space sector only started 3 years ago as mentioned. We all had something to do with Space missions for NASA or ESA, whether you were in Accounts or Ops. It was what OTC did, but it was the terrestrial and satellite side. Continue reading

Rent a Cable Station

Cairns Cable Station for Lease

It seems that if you live in Cairns, you can lease the old OTC cable station.

This discussion on the ex-OTC group on Facebook:

Peter Burgess says: I must say, I was quite disappointed to drive past the old Cairns Cable Station today, and see it was all covered in Graffiti and also up for Lease !!! Continue reading

Australia Enters the Space Age

Australia’s WRESAT 1967

Weapons Research Establishment Project: WRESAT

Some Australian Space history for those interested.

On 29 November 1967, Australia became only the fourth country – after the USA, Soviet Union and France – to launch its own satellite from its own territory.

The battery-powered WRESAT weighed about 45 kilograms and was designed in the form of a cone. Three cones (two test and one actual) were constructed in the development phase, and a range of tests were carried out to ensure the satellite’s durability. Continue reading

Compac – The Early Days

Compac NZ

by Ray Henshaw (NZ)

Ed: Ray lives in New Zealand and he noticed the exOTC stories and has been so kind to post me some images and stories about the early days of Compac.

I have located these pictures of me posing for a photographers. The first was taken in 1962 and I am checking the workings of a Brazing machine in one image and the other taken in 1971 is of me checking an xray.  They might not be of interest. Continue reading

Applecross Radio Station

Applecross 1912 – 1966

by Neil Yakalis

These are my 1995 pictures of Applecross Radio Station (1912 – 1966) See how similar the building is to Pennant Hills as they were built from the same plans.

The 2nd photo shows the Swan River with Perth CBD buildings in the distance. Both photos were taken from the lookout tower which was one of the three 400 foot mast guy anchors. The brown stains on the buildings are from irrigation underground water being used for the grass. Continue reading

Pennant Hills Radio Station

Sister Station to Applecross

by Neil Yakalis

Applecross, on the Swan River in Perth, is about to celebrate their Centenary on 30th September 2012. With this in mind I decided to research its sister station Pennant Hills.

With the help of Brian Woods, who worked at Applecross, I was able to locate & visit the exact site of this land mark radio station. Both stations were built from similar building plans. Pennant Hills was officially opened on 19th August 1912 with Telefunken contracted to supply the equipment & the PMG operating it. It boasted a 400 foot mast with ten 120 foot masts circling it connected in an umbrella formation. Continue reading

exOTC Sydney Get-Together

Another Catch Up

Sunday 14 October Nurragingy Reserve. Lorikeet Picnic Area

by Peter Bull

Maree Giddins is arranging for another catch up for ex-OTC and ex-Reach staff. Thank you, Maree.

If it is half as good as the last one it will be great. I really enjoying catching up with people that I had not seen for years.

Please RVSP as to whether you are able to attend and I will keep a running list of those who can attend so as to better inform the larger group on who will be attending. This may result in greater interest and a larger roll up. Continue reading

Weather Balloon Success

UpLift-2 Payload Recovered

by Robert Brand

As I mentioned previously I was flying a weather balloon on Sept 25th. I cannot tell you too much about the helium filled weather balloon flight other than it was a success, because of a “Non Disclosure Agreement” (NDA). Since it was also carrying a Mars Mission Payload I can tell you that all objectives were met. It carried an amateur radio APRS tracker that sent back GPS details every 20 seconds. Continue reading

Want to Join a Weather Balloon Launch?

Launch and Recovery.

by Robert Brand.

This is not about OTC, but since there are many that are interested in HAM radio and technology, I am posting this as a general interest post. If you want to take part of find out more or even track the flight, you can find out more here:

This post is straight from my WotzUp website:

I mentioned to many people that I would like to launch a high altitude balloon flight in the next School Holidays here in NSW, Australia. I had thought that it would be an experiment in stability and camera work, but it appears that another opportunity has arisen and the experiment has changed – more on that later Continue reading

Sydney OTC Lunch Tomorrow

Lunch Friday14th Sep 2012

Peter Bull just let me know that there is a lunch for those in Sydney tomorrow and everyone is invited. I expect to be there.

OTVA lunch – all exOTC welcome – will cost about $25 or so. All you can eat hot and cold smorgasbord.

This from Peter Bull:

I have received the following advice with respect to attendance at our social event tomorrow (Friday 14/9) at The Bowlers Club, Level 1 Bistro, 95-99 York Street Sydney : Continue reading

Team Stellar

The Google Lunar X Prize

by Robert Brand

Three years ago I had nothing to do with space other than Moon Bounce – using amateur radio to bounce signals off the moon and back to earth.

Today I just accepted the roll of manager for Communications, Navigation and Data (CND) for an attempt to land a probe on the moon and beam back video from a rover that has to travel 500m. The team is called Team Stellar and it is new. The team is in competition for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP). What is the GLXP? From their website:

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is igniting a new era of lunar exploration by offering the largest international incentive prize of all time. A total of $30 million in prizes are available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded, though commercially reasonable sales to government customers are allowed without limit. Continue reading

UTAS and Ceduna

The Ceduna Radio Telescope

by Robert Brand

Before I mention what has been done at Ceduna, let me tell you I have had many calls / emails with NBN Co about their error with the closing date for Ceduna. At their request I had to dig into the internet and find credible references to prove to them the real date. That has been done, but as of tonight, the date in the press release from NBN Co has not been corrected.

I came across this item in an article by the University of Tasmania that uses one of the dishes from Ceduna. Telstra shifted the other one (Ceduna 1?). Someone might like to tell us where it ended up. Perth? It is interesting to see what UTAS have done with Ceduna and how it fits into their network.

UTAS Ceduna Radio Telescope

The University of Tasmania Ceduna radio telescope is a 29.6 metre diameter parabolic antenna designed and constructed by Mitsubishi in 1969, with an alt-az mount and feeds located at the Nasmyth focus. Continue reading

Compac Jointers Course

1962 Compac Cable Jointing Course – New Zealand

Ed: I received these pictures from interested reader Ray Henshaw from New Zealand. Ray writes:

Hi Robert,pleased to hear from you, have sent two pics, one of all the jointers at the school in Newmarket, included are your [Australian] jointers.

The two in white are the instructors from the British Post Office.  Continue reading

Ceduna Back in the Satellite Business

NBN to revive Ceduna’s Historic Role in Satellite Communications

24 August 2012
This press release by NBN Co
Spotted by Geoffrey Shaw
Ceduna in the West Coast region of South Australia has been selected as the location for a satellite ground station that will enable Australians in isolated areas access to fast broadband.

The ground station on Goode Road, approximately two kilometres north-east of Ceduna, will act as an essential transmission centre to deliver the NBN to homes, farms and businesses in remote areas including Oodnadatta, Marree and Wilpena Pound. It is one of ten such facilities to be built nationwide and the only one to be located in South Australia. Continue reading

Apollo Video

Stan Lebar and Apollo cameraStan Lebar

by Robert Brand

With my “Space” work, it has been my privilege to meet many people and communicate with them via the Internet. It is most unfortunate that I did not meet Stan Lebar, but I have corresponded with his family on many occasions and this morning his son Scott sent me a message. Although not relevant to OTC, it has prompted me to post this story.

It was Stan’s cameras that brought us the images from the Apollo missions that OTC relayed through Paddington (Apollo 11) and Moree. Stan’s wife wrote to me thanking me for my support of her husband’s work and Scott Lebar is a newspaper editor but enjoys my Apollo historic stories and often comments on them. Continue reading

Satellites and Change

50 Years via Satellites

by Robert Brand

The video below is courtesy of ESA. It shows the changing face of satellite communications. Very different from our OTC days.

This introduction from ESA: Unless you were lucky enough to get your hands on a coveted London 2012 Olympics ticket, it’s likely you’ll be watching Usain Bolt from the comfort of your living room. This is all made possible by satellites which have beamed some of the most important moments in history to our homes. This year marks 50 years since the first image was beamed through space and back to earth again via satellite. Continue reading

Cardboard Time Calculators

Overseas Time Calculators (OTC)

Photos Submitted by Roland Cassar AKA Roly

by Robert Brand

It has been a long time since I last saw one of these, but I remember them well. Unlike the more durable plastic, these were large slide rule-like units that took up a fair bit of space. The cardboard and the plastic calculators had the same capability, but the plastic ones were smaller and even wallet size in the later versions. Continue reading

OTC Time Calculators

Time to Call?

by Robert Brand.

Graham Watts sent me these photos of OTC time calculators. Very useful even today. I have already posted one to the header images some weeks back, but Graham has sent three more plastic types all different from Mine. He also notes that there may have been at least one cardboard version of the calculators. If anyone has different versions of these, please send to me so that we can add them to the photographic collection. Continue reading

DCA RTS Probe Project

First Year Project – Tone Injector

by Robert Brand

At the DCA Regional Training School at Waverton, one of the first projects that they let you do was to built a simple tone injector in a pocket torch. This happened before my year and at least for a year after my attendance. It may have continued for more years, but others would have to confirm that. By today’s standards, the tool is bulky and it has discrete transistors, but back in 1968, we were constructing a wonder of the modern age. The unit was a two transistor astable multivibrator with the probe tip coupled by a capacitor. The circuitry took the place of one of the two AA batteries used in the pocket torch. Not a quality injector, but useful when chasing down a wire in a bundle. Continue reading