Ceduna Drop In 1987

Ceduna, on the Way to the Nullabor

John Oxley, Robert Brand, Julie Thomas (friend) and Jeff Hinwood

by Robert Brand

Three OTC staff and a friend were off to the Nullabor for a 2 week caving adventure and as I did 2 years earlier, I dropped by with the team one sunny day to say hello and to see the station up close.

It was hot, a stinker, and we were glad to actually get into a nice cool air conditioned building. My 4WD did not have air conditioning so it was a simply fantastic to have an hour in the cool of the Ceduna building in the middle of the day.

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Nullabor Photography Nailed by OTC Cavers

Abrakurrie Cave

by Robert Brand

Nullabor Plains - Knee high bush

Nullabor Plains – Knee high bush

In 1987, the OTC Caving and Canyoning Club put on a trip to Kangaroo Island and the Nullabor Plains. Initially only John Oxley and myself and a group from Sydney University Speleological Society (SUSS) went on the Kangaroo Island trip and later John and I had arranged to meet Jeff Hinwood at noon on a certain day at the Police Station at Port Pirie in SA. There were no mobile phones back then and we had driven from Adelaide and arrive to the second at the police station to see Jeff pulling up as well. A magnificent start to the trip.

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Mobile GPS 1987 Nullabor Plains

Geof Hinwood with the AWA GPS on my Toyota HiLuxJeff Hinwood Working Our “Portable” GPS

by Robert Brand

In 1987, Jeff Hinwood, John Oxley and myself set out on an OTC Caving and Canyoning club caving expedition to the Nullabor Plains. It was not an easy Sunday drive, but had fun visiting our friends at Ceduna for part of the trip. It was week three and we were in a super remote part of the world. There was a small possibility that we were at least 160km from the nearest person  Possibly we were the most isolated group on land in the world, a thought that often crossed our minds on this trip. The Nullabor plains is the largest piece of limestone in the world and is riddled with caves, some close to the surface and filled with unusual salt crystal formations rather than limestone formations and deeper down, caves of immense proportions. Some filled with water and a huge challenge for divers. The clarity of the undisturbed water is at least 100m, maybe 150m if your light can penetrate.

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Social Club Thredbo Trip 1970

by Robert Brand

1971 Social and Sports Club Head OfficeI was on Field Training in July 1970 in Head Office in Martin Place and I was approached to join a Ski Trip to Thredbo with the OTC Social and Sports club. I had never been skiing before and I was assured that there were a lot of girls going. Well, I just had to join the trip. I had never tried skiing before and that was my only reason for going – not.

The bus did not have a toilet in those days and stops were always annoying. I remember that we stopped at the park in the centre of town (and toilets) in Goulburn NSW and it was time to stretch our legs. Dinner was at Canberra, so someone organised a race around the park in Goulburn piggy back style to ward off the hunger pains. Continue reading

Andy Nguyen Balloon Record

Balloon TrackAndy Nguyen from Melbourne broke a few records earlier this year. He managed to get one of his foil party balloons around the world nearly 3 times. I’m sure that there are hundreds circling the earth every day, but Andy’s magic is adding a HF transmitter, a VHF transmitter with Frequency change ability by longitude (for different countries) a smart controller, solar charging and batteries and they all weighed only some 11 grams.

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Project ThunderStruck

Project ThunderStruck set to Break Barriers ThunderStruck vertical

by Robert Brand

Here is a story of what my son is about to do and I will of course mentor him. If anyone is interested at any level, please contact me. 0448881101. The launch site looks like it will be at Longreach Queensland in early April 2015

The piece below was written for another group, but it tells the story. We are after sponsors, so if you can help nail down a sponsor we will pay 10% commission. That is standard in the industry.

Imagine a time when a 12 year student could build a supersonic glider 2.5m / 8ft long, attach it to a huge helium or hydrogen balloon and take it to the edge of space, release it, fly it into a dive back to earth that will reach Mach 1.5 / 1,800kph / 1,120mph and land it. Well that time is now and the student is Jason Brand from Sydney Secondary College / Balmain Campus. He is in year 7 and has already broken plenty of records. Breaking the sound barrier will be another cool record. His flight will break a lot of other records too. Continue reading

Apollo 11 45th Interview

Hangout 006 GLXP Apollo 11 45thRobert Brand is a Special Guest for Apollo 11 GLXP Hangout

Not much to say, but to follow the link below and be part of the Apollo 11 special event for the Google Lunar X Prize Team Hangout.

I will be discussing my experiences wiring up the Apollo 11 gear in Sydney – not that this was an amazing event, but since I am part of a group building a mission to go to the moon with a Rover, it appears that I am about the only person in the GLXP with a connection to the Apollo 11 event. Continue reading

Personal Spacecraft in Orbit

kicksatKickSat Mothership Achieves Orbit.

by Robert Brand

Remember the small prototype of a KickSat (photo right)? I wrote about it in an earlier post. In mid April, 2014 it was tucked inside its mothership and that was inside the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that blasted into orbit with the ISS resupply cargo module.

Wikipedia says:This was the SpaceX CRS-3, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, contracted to NASA, which was launched on 18 April 2014. It was the 5th flight for SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft and the third SpaceX operational mission contracted to NASA under a Commercial Resupply Services contract.” Continue reading

Andy’s Pico Balloon Update

Andy Balloon altitude over AustraliaPico Balloon Departs Australia

by Robert Brand

Andy Nguyen’s Pico Balloon Update: It has now passed over the bottom of Fraser Island in SE Queensland late today and out to sea.

Pico simply means very small balloon and payload.

Andy is hoping that the next stop may be South America in a week’s time. We do not expect to hear from the balloon until then, but it may pass over New Zealand or Tonga. Continue reading

Andy Nguyen sends a Balloon Towards South America

Balloon Headed North

This post was from Yesterday and shows the progress of his balloon. Andy’s Pico Flight progress has been as predicted. It is heading very much north from Melbourne in an unusual jet stream current. It is averaging about 8,000m (8Km – 5 miles) altitude and headed north at an average speed of 80kph (50mph). It recently passed over where Jason and I (Robert Brand) launch our balloons. It was a little west of Rankin Springs! Continue reading

Andy from Melbourne Launches High Altitude Balloon

High Altitude Balloon Success. Payload Recovered from almost 37km Altitude.Andy PS1 Preparing to fly

Jason and I went to Deniliquin NSW (Australia) to help a good friend, Andy from exOTC Melbourne, launch and recover a high altitude balloon and payload. My son, Jason (11), and I have launched and recovered 16 of our own payloads to date and assisted with many others and we love High Altitude Balloons (HABs) so giving Andy a hand was a real pleasure.

If you were working for OTC in Melbourne in the early 1990s, you will know Andy. He does not want his last name mentioned online. Continue reading

What are Others Up To?

Robert brand 2013Tell us What You are Doing.

Can other people write up what they are doing in their lives such as farming, sailing, whatever it is we need to know what you are up to and that includes taking it easy. I know that there are some great stories out there even about doing nothing or getting together for the odd drink with an old ex-otc mate and yes we are all getting older!

  • Richard ‘Richary’ Jary When I eventually left Telstra I added my radio hobby to the IT stuff I had been working on and got into wireless LANs and microwave radio. Now my job involves planning links, troubleshooting and getting on rooftops and towers Continue reading

Personal Update – Robert Brand

Robert Brand ParkesPersonal Update

By Robert Brand

Sorry for the lack of posts – it has been 5 months, but life has gone to being extremely ridiculous workload-wise.

The OTVA has their Autumn Social event on Friday 5th April at the Bowlers Club located at 95-97 York St Sydney.  RVSP to Peter Bull so that he can submit the numbers to the Functions Coordinator prior to the day. Respond early to avoid disappointment. Continue reading

Tram Outing this Wednesday

Bill Jolly will be Our Driver

Wednesday is our big Tram Museum outing. The outing is broadly in 3 parts.

  • 1st  is the tram ride out to the Royal National Park where we can get out & go to a lookout,
  • 2nd the guided tour where the prison van that Darcy Dugan escaped from is on display & is a highlight of the museum.
  • Then finally the lunch at the Sutherland club. Billy Jolly (ex OTC Eng Branch) is our tram driver & he guarantees us all a good time. Continue reading

New Author: Walter Pearce

Walter Pearce to assist me at exOTC.org

Walter kindly sent this offer of help and I will be taking it up immediately on recommendation from Neil Yakalis.

I am ex OTC and have been visiting your website. I previously worked for Maritime (MS & RS) at Auburn with Neil Yakalis before I retired in 2001.

I would like to submit a story with a few photos and comment on posts
etc. Can you grant me publishing access at your convenience. Continue reading

Jack Creswick

Who Has a Story about Jack?

Neil Yakalis Asks:

Many of us remember Jack Creswick. He was the OTC Training School in its original form long before Paddo got its formal training setup. I would love to hear some of the stories about Jack as he was a unique character.

  • Jack always liked to do things differently and he worked out that he could bypass a lot of traffic riding his bike to work through the storm water canals and a few drains. This worked like a treat until one day his front wheel jammed in an expansion joint in the concrete catapulting jack over the handlebars and onto a mess in the storm water drain! I’m not sure whether Jack continued the drain shortcuts and just took more care, but it was one hell of a scare for him! Sydney water never really structured their drains for bikes. Continue reading

Life After OTC

Neil Yakalis

by Neil Yakalis

My Corolla KE20 will be in the Sydney Motor Show!

My 42 year old Corolla has been selected to represent the 2nd Generation of Corollas at the coming Sydney Motor Show. Toyota are picking it up on Friday & are giving me a new loan car.

Toyota will then launch the 11th generation Corolla next month at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. Continue reading

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