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

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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

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

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

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

OTC Trainee Tool Kits 1968

The Right Tool for the Job

by Robert Brand

Seems that there would be few of us exOTC people with a pretty good intact OTC tool kit that was issued as far back as 1968. Well, say hello to three of them! The big one I was issued as I started work in 1969 as a Technician in Training at the DCA Regional Training School at Waverton. The other two smaller kits were picked up from ITMC Sydney staff that left and their tool kits were not collected from them.

The reason I collected the extra kits was that there were tool kit checks and you had to produce your kit and it had to have all the tools or you had to replace them. The other two kits were considered by me as donor kits as tools often went missing through no fault of your own. Tools strayed when you had a large job and a few people were involved. I do not expect that they were intentionally taken, but accidentally. Continue reading

The Roma Coincidence

Odd Timely Convergence (OTC)

by Robert Brand

Roma is a town in the western Darling Downs area of South West Queensland, Australia, 515 km by rail WNW of Brisbane. It is situated at the junction of the Warrego and Carnarvon highways.

Many years ago, Bruce Boardman was working for LSE. They won a bid to provide the radio rebroadcast equipment for the Eastern Distributor road tunnel in Sydney about 14 years ago. As part of that build, Bruce found a small company in Roma that built FM transmitters and these were supplied as part of that build. Bruce now works for Telstra in the HF radio area and travels about Australia frequently. My company, PlusComms, looks after the radio equipment in the Eastern Distributor. Continue reading

Lindley Deslandes is retiring

Lindley Deslandes – 42 Years Service

by Former workmate Neil Yakalis

Lindley Deslandes is retiring from Telstra Managed Radio Ningi Qld after 42 years service on Tuesday 14th August 2012. Lindley commenced a 5 year traineeship with DCA in 1969 at Adelaide. He married Andrina in February 1974 at the same time he was appointed as a Radio Technician at DCA’s Llandilo Radio Station in Sydney. In October 1988 we recruited him as a TO2 at Doonside’s refurbished Radio Station. Later when Doonside was in the process of closing in January 1996 he moved his family to Qld. In moving he followed the transfer of transmitters to Ningi & remote receivers onto Bribie Island. Continue reading

OTCCC Kalang Falls circa 1982

OTC Caving and Canyoning Club

by Robert Brand

I was instrumental in forming the OTCCC – we even added canoeing into the letters (OTCCCC at one stage). This trip was around 1982 and was in a little valley between Kanangra Falls and Kanangra Walls. It had about 8 major abseils with the longest one being 60m (about a 20 story building). This trip was a simple one day trip with the best part of a day descending the waterfalls and enjoying the scenery.  The trip out takes only about an hour for the super fit and 2 hours for the less fit climbing out of the valley with a grade of about 45 degrees with no track. There were leaches too. Continue reading

OTC at Spacefest IV 2012

OTC’s Space History on Display.

by Robert Brand.

Many of you may not know that I have recently moved (partially) into the Space sector, but I am not talking about just comms. I am talking about designing and engineering a space mission. In mid September I will announce the details of a mission I have become deeply involved in that will see probes land on another planet. Continue reading

Paddo ITMC Lunchroom Antics

The Paddo 1st Floor Fridge Door Challenge

by Robert Brand.

It is true that creating a better security system simply creates a better thief. In this case it certainly did. On the 1st floor of Paddington (now L4), Engineering Branch (Eng Branch) and Operations Branch (Ops) shared the lunchroom and the fridge. Each had separate “tea clubs” which paid for tea, milk, coffee and sugar. The big problem was the varying rate of consumption by the Ops staff. Day shifts were heavily staffed and weekends and night shifts were fairly light and the Ops staff were forever running out of milk. Of course late at night there were no shops open to top up the milk stocks, so the clearly labelled Eng Branch milk was usually raided. Continue reading

The ITMC Lunchroom Phone

Shrinking the Paddington ITMC Orderwire Desk to Size

by Robert Brand

If you have ever been on a 3 person shift and 2 are busy and it is your lunch break and you are sitting in the lunchroom, you just know the phone will ring and you have to hike it out to the orderwire desk quick-smart and answer the phone. The result has been burnt food, lost calls and plenty of annoyance. Continue reading

The Elusive Paddington TV Antenna

The Monday Hunt

by Robert Brand

The OTC Paddington terminal had TV facilities right from the early days. The program room (ITC) had colour TV monitors in the new facilities by the time I graduated from the DCA Regional Training School.in 1971. It was there during field training, but the techs tended to keep you away from that area. It was my first time on the evening shift thinking it would be a boringly quiet night when someone explained that there was a TV tuner hidden away in the program room. If there was little activity, the Senior Tech on duty would okay the TV and out came the tuner and a reasonable picture was the result. Continue reading

Get a Gravitar

Blank GravitarPictures of Me, Pictures of You

If you would like to comment or write a story for these pages, it is always good to get a picture associated with the account. The easiest is the Gravitar. When you see a comment on these pages, it often has just a blank outline of a portrait of someone. That is because they have not added an image to identify themselves. A Gravitar is a universal way that many sites allow images on their posts. This site is no different. Continue reading

exOTC Mailing List

New Email System on the Way for exOTC

I will try and get the exOTC mailing list going as my next priority. It was a vibrant way that we kept in touch in the past and although I no longer have the email server that provided the list, there are still a few options.

Until then here is a reminder of the sort of chatter that got about on the list: Continue reading