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Old 22-01-2013, 16:26
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Default Early Antarctic Windfinding Radar

I was going to save this for my Antarctic Memories thread, but concluded that it might be better as a separate thread as it may only appeal to the forum “Techies”, and could go off in all sorts of directions.

This is about early windfing radar, specifically two that were employed in Antarctica, and were the very earliest X-band radars specifically designed for this purpose. One of these, I had the dubious pleasure of looking after whilst working and living in Antarctica during 1975/76, whilst employed by British Antarctic Survey as an Ionospheriscist.

Introduction
Windfinding radar was used to measure wind speeds in the upper atmosphere. This was done by using the radar to track a hydrogen filled weather balloon, carrying a radar target, as it ascends through the atmosphere. Also attached to the balloon was a “radiosonde”.

The weather balloon is a relatively modern invention, although hydrogen filled high altitude balloons were experimented with as far back as 1783. Before WWII, kites were generally used for routine high altitude weather observations, but they left a lot to be desired. They required open areas for launch, they could cause enromous problems if the tether broke, and they gradually became a hazard to aircraft navigation as air traffic increased. Kites were generally phased out of weather service in the 1930s.

Balloons were gerenerally made of latex or neoprene, although some of the early ones were made of goldbeaters skin, as used in some of the first dirigibles (airships). They could carry radiosondes up to heights of 100,000 feet, their diameter increasing up to ten times in the reducing atmospheric pressure.

In the 1950’s and 60’s windfinding radars and sondes borne by weather balloons were used all over the world for obtaining upper atmospherice meteorlogical data to help understand and predict weather systems.

The tracking of balloons was traditionally carried out using an optical theodolite to visually track the balloon’s azimuth and elevation until it disappeared out of sight. RDF (Radio Detection Finding), developed during WWII allowed tracking to be carried by radio theodolites, using dish antennae (of about 2 to 3 metres, or phased-array flat-plate antenna systems. Once radar tracking was developed, it became the more common method used across the globe, a lot of the early work being carried out in Antarctic during the IGY (International Geophysical Year) in 1957/58

Radiosondes typically comprised of a styrofoam box, about the size of a shoe box, that contained sensors for measuring temperature, pressure and humidty. The box also contained a transmitter for sending the data back to a ground receiver, which could process the data into a standard meteorlogical format, and finally, a small battery pack for powering the electronics. They were desined to disintegrate if hit by an aircraft.

The principal of trackng is shown in the attached images WF_01 and WF_02. Measurements were typically taken at one to six second intervals, depending on the type and manufacturer of the radiosonde. The meteorological community was assigned two radio frequency bands for use in transmitting meteorological data, these being 400–406MHz and 1675–1700 MHz.

The antenna azimuth. Elevation and slant range data from the tracking radar, along with with the pressure height data from the radiosonde, enabled the winds to be calculated.


WF_01: Arrangement of weather ballon, radar target and radiosonde.

WF_02: Principal of radar tracking of radio sonde carrying weather balloons.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg WF_01.jpg (1.07 MB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg WF_02.jpg (1.02 MB, 10 views)
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Last edited by Don Boyer : 22-01-2013 at 21:20. Reason: Correct typo in title
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Old 22-01-2013, 16:31
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Default Decca Windfinding Radar WF1

Decca Windfinding Radar WF1

Decca Radar Limited developed and built the first commercial radar specifically designed for windfinding in 1956. It was designated as WF1 and operated in the X-band (8.0-12 GHz).

Specification

Antenna
Dish diameter: 8 feet (2.4m) paraboloid reflector
Offset Feed Type: Shepherd’s hook
Rotation rate: 120 r.p.m

Transmitter
Power: 20kW peak
Pulse Length: 0.25uS & 0.5us
P.R.F: 1000Hz

Receiver
Noise Factor: 15dB
Range: 100 km max

Display
Type/Size: I-scan/9 inch
Range: 20, 50, 200 km
Follow Mode: 4km, +/- 2km of set range
Calibration Rings: 10km search, 10km & 1km search & follow

Range Unit
Range Meters: 0-100km, 1-14km, 0-1km

Functions & Operation
Refer to the Block Diagram WF_03.

Antenna
The reflector was fed from a rotating waveguide terminating in the ‘Shepherd’s Hook’ horn which was offset from the focus of the reflector, and giving an offest conical beam of 1 degree. The horn was rotated at 120 r.p.m by a mains powered electric motor, and the rotation drove a small two phase synchronous generator (alternator) which powered the motor in the display unit at a frequency proportional to the rate of scan.

The azimuth and elevation of the dish was controlled manually by handwheels in the control cabin, the values of which, were indicated by dials.

Power Supply
A remote alternator and auto transformer coverted the main supply to a regulated supply of 230 volts a.c. at a 1000 Hz. This provided power for the cabin electronic units, some directly as 230v, some through another auto-transformer in the cabin, to give 80v.

Control Unit
This unit was situated on the floor of the cabin, and provided space to accommodate the power unit and delay trigger unit, which were mounted on a common chassis, and the RF unit, which was secured to the top of the unit assembly.

A four position switch, mounted on the front panel of the control unit, controlled the functioning of the equipment, and enabled the radar and spinner to be run separately, or together as required. The remainder of the components mounted on this front panel were the crystal current meter, four mains fuses, the fan control switches, the cabin turn indicator, the radar isolating switch and two pairs of telephone terminals.

The cabin turn indicator was a safey device which indicated when the cabin had been rotated more than one and a half turns in either direction. Rotating the cabin beyond these limits could cause excessive twisting and damage to the cabling.

The control unit contained all the transmitting stages of the radar, together with the early receiver stages. The transmitting section comprised the trigger circuit modulator and magnetron transmitter. The receiver section contained the T/R cell, the RF receiver and the IF pre-amplifier.

Transmitter
The 1000 Hz output from the alternator was converted by the Trigger Unit in the RF Unit, into a train of short pulses of about 1us duration, at a repetition frequency of 1000 pps. These pulses were delayed by about 13.3us (2km) by the delayed trigger unit and used to operate the modulator. This produced a series of uni-directional pulses of high amplitude, lasting 0.25us or 0.5us, according to the setting of the RAIN/NORMAL switch. These pulses were applied to the cathode of the magnetron, which oscillated at a frequency of about 9375 MHz for the period of the pulse.

The magnetron output passed along the waveguide to the horn, which was just offset from the focus of the paraboloid reflector, as previously mentioned. As the horn and its associated waveguide section rotated, the conical beam was transmitted.

Receiver
The returning echoes from the balloon borne target, was collected by the same antenna system, and then passed througha T/R cell to the crystal mixer, which also received the the output from a klystron and local oscillator. The resultant IF (Intermediate frequency) of 30 MHz was amplified by a four stage IF pre-amplifier (in the RF Unit), which had a bandwith of 5 MHz. Coarse tuning of the klystron was achieved mechanically, and fine tuning electrically by varying the reflector voltage using the TUNING control on the display unit.

The IF output of the pre-amplifier passed to the main IF amplifier in the display unit, and then onto the detector. After detection, the signals were again amplified, mixed with strobe, calibration and sense marker pulses, and then applied to the display CRT cathode to brighten the trace. An AGC circuit could be switched in to control the gain of the IF amplifier. This circuit was gated so that it responded only to the selected target echo, the trigger pulses for opening and closing the gate being obtained from the Range Unit.

Timebase
The trigger pulse produced by the trigger circuit in the RF unit passed undelayed to the range unit. If the equipment was set to SEARCH, this pulse continued directly to the display unit, where it triggered a flip-flop. This produced a rectangular pulse with a duration suitable for the required maximum range. The rectangular pulse raised the potential of the display CRT grid, enabling the trace to be brightened during the forward sweep, and initiate and terminate the action of the timebase circuit, which caused a linearly rising current flow through deflection coils around the CRT neck. If the equipment was set to FOLLOW, a delay was introduced in the trigger path by the range unit, which corresponded to the range set on the range dials.

Strobe & Associated Functions
In each repetition cycle, the range unit produced a single pulse at a time (after the original trigger pulse) corresponding to the indicated range plus 2 km. As there was a 2km delay betweeen the trigger pulse and transmitted pulse, this strobe produced a strobe ring on the display in the position where the echo from a target at the indicated range would appear. If set to FOLLOW, the timebase started 2km before the strobe pulse, so that the strobe ring always appeared 2km from the centre of the screen. If set to SEARCH, the timebase started ay an instant corresponding to -2km range, and the strobe ring appeared at a distance from the centre corresponding to the indicated range plus 2km.

Associated with the strobe pulse was a pulse occurring 1km earlier, which was the AGC positive trigger, and a train of five pulses at 1km intervals, extending 2km either side of the strobe pulse, and constituting the AGC negative trigger. The operative pulse of the train occurred 1km after the strobe, so that the AGC gate was open for 1km before, and 1km after the strobe.

Calibrators
The Range Unit produced two series of calibration pips:

10 pips at 10km intervals that started at the instant of the trigger pulse;
14+ pips at 1km intervals that started coincident with one of the 10km pips, and arranged to cover the period during which the “follow” timebase was operating.

These pips were mixed with the video signals and applied to the display CRT cathode to produce calibration rings. A control was provided on the range unit to vary the amplitude of the pips and hence the brightness of the rings.

Display
The trace was rotated at 120 r.p.m in synchronism with the spinner as previously mentioned. This was achievd by rotating the deflection coils around the CRT neck by means of a synchronous motor driven by a generator geared to the spinner mechanism, as again previously mentioned.

The timebase drew the spot from the centre of the screen to the edge 1000 times per second, and the trace was brightened by returning echoes, strobe pulse, calibration pips and sense marker. This produced a type of display known as an I-Scan in which a target was represented by a circle or an arc of a circle. A complete circle indicated that the radar was exactly facing the target; an arc above the centre indivated that the radar was facing too low, an arc to the right that it was facing to much to the left, and so on. To enable correct orientation of the picture, a pair of contacts were provided which were closes whenever the transmitter beam passed through the highest part of the cone. To achieve correct orientation, the bright radial line produced when the contacts were closed, was set to zero on the bearing. The radial line was called the sense marker.

The range of the target was indicated by the distance of the target ring from the centre of the screen, This range could be accurately determind by adjusting the switch and handwheel on the range unit so that the strobe ring just touched the inside edge of the target ring, and then reading the range dials.

Indicator Unit
This unit was used to indicate the elevation and bearing of the antenna system, and comprised of two pairs of dials for bearing and elevation respectively, with a gearing assembly directly coupled to the bearing and elevation drives by means of bowden cables.

Cabin
The cabin was made of plywood and housed all of the electronic units described above, and accommodated two operators. The operator in the “driving seat” had to steer the dish in order to maintain a complete echo ring, as previously described, as the balloon progressed on its journey, as well as determining the range, using the target ring as aslo described above. The other operator acted as assistant, and would note periodic readings.


The prototype WF1 underwent its’ intial tests at the Meteorological Office at Upper Air Staion, Hemsby, in Norfolk. It was then used at the Second International Comparison of Radio Sondes’ at Payerne, Switzerland during 1956.

I don’t know how many WF1’s were built by Decca, but the first production model was shipped to Antarctica in 1956 for use at the new Halley Bay base, built for the Royal Society International Geophysical Year in 19, Antactica.


WF_03: Block diagram of the WF1 electronics.

WF_04: WF1 from an early unknown publication.

WF_05: Poor photograph of WF1, but worth submiting as it looks to be a slightly different arrangement. With what looks like an air-conditioning unit on the top of the cabin, and a different dish/mouting arrangement. Still shows the ‘Shepherd’s Crook” horn.


In the next post, we will look at the arrival of the WF1 at Halley Bay.
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg WF_03.jpg (392.0 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg WF_04.jpg (272.0 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg WF_05.jpg (129.6 KB, 5 views)
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Old 22-01-2013, 19:17
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Default Re: Early Antrarctic Windfinding Radar

Clive,

Here are a few more excerpts regarding the use of the WF1 & WF2:-

Decca WF1 & WF2
Windfinding Radars


Decca Radar Limited built the WF1 Windfinding Radar and the later WF2 from 1956 through to the mid 1960's. The Bureau installed it's first and only WF1 radar at Cairns Airport in February 1961 after testing it at Laverton the previous September. The cabin which was made of plywood rotted out so badly it became necessary to do a major overhaul of the radar. The radar was temporally replaced by a WF2 in 1966 whilst it was rebuilt into a WF2 fiberglass cabin. The Bureau had supplied a Transmitter/Receiver unit to the Hong Kong Met. Service as theirs had been burnt out and was left with the extra cabin. The WF1 units were fitted to this cabin, the transmitter being bolted externally. Around 1968 the WF1 in WF2 clothing was returned to Carins and the WF2 installed on Willis Island. Another 10 years were to pass before the WF1 was to be retired, finally to be replaced with a true WF2.

WF2-Techs' memories

Remember The "Ping-Pong' Balls?- Reg Carter
Remember the performance test on the WF2? A copper-coated table tennis ball was introduced into the neck of a balloon and released as a test of the performance of the radar.
As I remember it had to be followed for 14 (or was it 17) kilometres for the WF2 to be judged as 'up to scratch'. It certainly was a far better performance check than that prescribed for the poor old 277, which used the dreaded "umbrawin"; another name for a copper coated nylon mesh fitted as covering to the frame of a large umbrella device. In Queensland at least, I know that due to age, most if not all of the 'coppering' had eroded away or fallen off due to the age of the targets whenever I looked at using them for a calibration flight. So I guess we were tracking the frame!


Remember The WF2 Range Jump- Reg Carter
Remember the 'design fault' in the WF2 range unit
There was always a jump in the range when switching 0-14 km to the 14 km onwards in range.
It was due to the fact that the range unit used the 'Early Trigger' for the shortest range and then used the 'Delayed Trigger' for the rest of the ranges. The extra delay due to passing through the range trigger delayed pulse generator was just sufficient to ensure that it was impossible to get a smooth changeover from that first range 'range to the second one. Spent many "happy"? hours playing with the WF2 at Bowes Ave. and later at Camp Rd. trying to smooth it out but never succeeded.

References
(1) Numerous Bureau technical staff - 2001-2002 (private communications)


From the same site, see here for tables giving comparision of WF1 & WF2 specifications.

source harvey.edwards.net

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Old 22-01-2013, 19:32
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Default Re: Early Antrarctic Windfinding Radar

Thanks Harry, I have of course seen this material - not got to WF2 yet ...!! But thanks anyway.
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Old 22-01-2013, 21:16
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Default Re: WF! at Halley Bay

WF1 at Halley Bay

On the 15th of November 1956, the M.V. Magga Dan, chartered by the Commonwealth Expedition, sailed from the Port of London. It carried the main Royal Society party of twenty-one men to prepare a new British scientific base on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, ready for the International Geophysical Year (IGY), beginning the following year.

The IGY was an international scientific project than started on the 1st of July 1957 and ran through to the 31st of December 1957. Sixty seven countries participated, carrying out work all over the world, and encompassing eleven earth sciences – aurora, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, ionospheric physics, longitude and latitude mapping, gravity, oceanography, meterology, seismology and solar activity. Much of this work was carried out in Antarctica.

The new British base would be called Halley Bay after the famous astronomer Sir Edmund Halley, who was born 300 years perviously in 1656.

The Magga Dan also carried many of the scientific equipment and instruments for the IGY including radio-star scintillation gear, radio-echo equipment for tracking meteors, and, the first production model of the Decca WFI.

Also sailing south was an advanced party in the MV Tottan, which arrived in January. Their task was to reconnoitre the ice shelf for a suitable place to build the Halley Bay base. On Friday the 6th of January 1956, the spot (around 75 deg 31’ South, 26 deg 36’ West) was marked and construction began.

Unloading Tottan was completed on January 16th, and she sailed away on the 22nd. After the main base building had been completed meteorlogical observations got under way, with the first balloon launch on the 9th of July. The routine after that was one launch each day, very often in severely cold weather (regularly to below -40 degC), a routine that lasted for many years.

I am extremely grateful to John Smith for these personal photographs. John was a meterologist in the 1958/1959 seasons at Halley.

WF_06: Hydrogen balloon launch at HalleyBay, January 1960 with WF1 on the snow surface in the background.

WF_07: Good shot of the WF1 in 1958 with David Tribble, who was a also a Metorologist amongst other things. Looks like the WF1 is being prepared for being moved, something that had to be done quite regualry due to snow accumulataion. Sadly, Dave is no longer with us.

WF_08: Another shot of WF1 in the process of being moved. Meteorologist Andrew Blackie in the cab, again sadly not with us anymore.

WF_09: In this shot, you can see the pontoons on which the radar feet were fixed – to spread the load, and to enable this exercise to be more easily carried out.

WF_10: Showing WF1 on the “bondu” as we used to call it. The radar was located just a short disitance from the main base so that obstacles such as shafts and masts did not impeded tracking.

Not sure where the “Balloon Shed” is? I would suspect that the accumulation has buitl up obscuring the top of the shaft. These shafts would be added onto as the accumultion increased. By the time this base was vacated in 1967 it was more than 30 feet below the surface, and suffering badly from the pressure of the ice distorting and crushing the buildings. As well as the accumulation, the base would slowly sink due to the heat it generated. The base I was on (Halley III) suffered the same problem. The last few bases have gone away from a sub-terranean arrangement, mounting the accommodation and science blocks on stilts, and regualry moving the whole buildings.

MaggaDan_01: WF1 was delivered to the Brunt Ice shelf on the Magga Dan. Photograph by Phillip Garth Law CBE, Australian polar explorer, and former Director of ANARE 1949-1956(Australian National Research Expeditions)


Tottan_01: MV Tottan brought the advance party of the IGY to find a good position for the hew Halley Bay Base, and then to build it ready for the IGY in 1957/58. Photograph by Professor Les Barclay OBE, FREng, Ionoshpheriscist, Halley Bay 1957/58 season.


WF1 operated at Halley until the 1967/68 season when it was replaced by the upgraded WF2, and I shall cover this in the next post.

WF1 returned to England, and for many years was on display on the top floor of the Science Museum in London, Today, it is still owned by the museum, but is kept in storage, apparently somewhere in Wiltshire. I am trying to arrange to go and see it.
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg WF_06.jpg (436.9 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg WF_07.jpg (507.9 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg WF_08.jpg (463.9 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg WF_09.jpg (519.4 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg WF_10.jpg (372.0 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg MaggaDan_01.jpg (819.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Tottan_01.jpg (416.7 KB, 5 views)
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Old 22-01-2013, 22:34
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Default Re: Early Antrarctic Windfinding Radar

Quote:
WF1 returned to England, and for many years was on display on the top floor of the ScienceMuseum in London, Today, it is still owned by the museum, but is kept in storage, apparently somewhere in Wiltshire. I am trying to arrange to go and see it.
Clive,

Re. the last sentence in your last paragraph, in the previous post (copied above); is it likely that the WF1 is stored in one of the hangars at the former RAF Wroughton? I see that there is at least one item from an Antarctic Expedition stored there - see the following excerpt:-


RAF Wroughton: The museum of modern times

Tucker Sno-Cat type 743

When the British explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs was commissioned to undertake the first overland crossing of Antarctica, he needed a vehicle tough enough to withstand 100 days of travel across more than 2,000 miles of ice and snow.

Capable of operating in temperatures below minus 30C, the US-built bruiser that is the Tucker Sno-Cat was the machine for the job.

Leaving Shackleton Base in March 1958, the Sno-Cat, which had been developed 10 years earlier in Oregon to traverse soft snow and maintain telephone lines, fired up her engines and carried a ton of equipment and passengers inside, hauling another ton of gear in sledges behind her.

The Sno-Cat travelled an average of 22 miles per day and allowed Fuchs and his team to conduct various experiments on their mission across the South Pole. Their seismic survey measured the thickness of the ice cap and established the existence of a solid base of land beneath it.

Ninety-nine days later (a day short of its estimated travel time), the Cat arrived at Scott Base in one piece, earning itself a place in the Antarctic history books.

source Belfast Telegraph where the full article can be read.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you feel that this post disrupts the flow of your thread, perhaps you would move it to your other thread on your experiences in the Antarctic. It is simply a response to the paragraph quoted above.


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Old 23-01-2013, 08:15
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Default Re: Early Antrarctic Windfinding Radar

No, not at all Harry, and I do appreciate this imformation. Interestingly enough Fuchs and the main TAE party trevelled down on the Magga Dan with WF1. They then spent the next season at Shackleton Base, setting off on the TAE to the pole in November 1957.

I was not aware of the Tucker Sno-Cat being at Wroughton - I always thought it was at the Motor Museum at Beaulieu, but since your post I have looked about and you are bang on. Wroughton is indeed a storage facility of the Museum of Science & Industry, and you have saved me a task. Shall be contacting them straight away to see if WF1 is there - quite excited now.

Cheers

PS: the article reads as if Fuchs left on the TAE from Shackleton Base on the Filchner Ice Shelf (not too far from Halley) in March 58. For the record, he left on 24th November 1957. He reached the pole on January the 19th 1958, and carried on to Scott base in the Ross Sea, arriving on March 2nd.

Map by Andrew Stevenson for the book "Shackleton's Dream" by Stephen Haddelsey about the Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

You can find more on the expedition and Stephen Haddelsey's book on his blog at: stephen-haddelsey.blogspot.co.uk/
There is a video about the sno-cat at the science museum.
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Last edited by Dreadnought : 24-01-2013 at 21:00. Reason: added TAE dates
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Old 23-01-2013, 16:24
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Default Re: Early Antrarctic Windfinding Radar

I have had a response from the Science Museum, and they confirm that WF1 is at Wroughton (thanks H), exhibit 1973-189. That is great news for me. Becky (the helpful respondent) has informed me that Wroughton is now a working storage facility, and not open to the public. However, she has said that reserchers can book a specific vist, and can do this any Wednesday between May 1st and 30th October, and that is what I am in the process of doing. How good is that ...!!

Will keep this thread updated on that.

Hopefully in the next few days, I can find time to move onto WF2.
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Old 23-01-2013, 17:18
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Default Re: Early Antrarctic Windfinding Radar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
I have had a response from the Science Museum, and they confirm that WF1 is at Wroughton (thanks H), exhibit 1973-189. That is great news for me. Becky (the helpful respondent) has informed me that Wroughton is now a working storage facility, and not open to the public. However, she has said that reserchers can book a specific vist, and can do this any Wednesday between May 1st and 30th October, and that is what I am in the process of doing. How good is that ...!!

Will keep this thread updated on that.

Hopefully in the next few days, I can find time to move onto WF2.
I reckon that in these days of modernity speak - that would be described as a ...... R E S U L T

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Old 26-01-2013, 07:49
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Default Re: Early Antarctic Windfinding Radar

Yes it was Harry, and thanks again for short circuiting my research - saved me a lot of time.


Having carried out more in depth research, I can find no evidence of Additional WF1 radars other than the one at Cairns Airport, Queensland that Harry referred to in his previous post. The bureau referred to on the Harvey Edwards site is the Australian Bureau of Metoerology, who, from the second World War, operated over 200 Meteorlogicl stations in Australia and Australian territory, including the Antarctic.

There is a publication by the Australian Science & Technology Heritage Centre & Bureau of Metorology, University of Melborne titled “Federation & Metrology” published in 2001, in which there are references to the Cairns WF1. www.austec.unimelb.edu.au/fam/fam.html

As previously indicated by Harry’s post, the Bureau’s only WF1 was installed in February 1961 at CairnsAirport, an Australian Meteorlogical Office since 1941, established by the Royal Australian Airforce. It still operates to this day.

WF1 was taken out in from there in August 1966 for refurbishment, and temporarily replced by a WF2. The plywood floor had rotted thorugh as mentioned, and in fact, during an afternoon ballon flight, the operator was confronted by a snake that had got into the cabin – the flight was aborted ..!! During the refurbishment, the cabin contents were installed in a WF2 fibreglass cabin, except for the transmitter, which was fitted externally. WF1 (in a WF2 cabin) returned to Cairns, reportedly in 1968 (unconfirmed), and permanently replaced ten years later, by a “real WF2”, in November 1978. I know not of its ultimate fate.
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Clive Sweetingham

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Old 26-01-2013, 07:57
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Default Decca Windfing Radar WF2

Decca Windfing Radar – WF2

The increase in air traffic in the late 1950’s required upper wind data at higher altitudes and there was a demand for more powerful winfinding radars. In 1960, building upon the success of WF1, Decca developed the WF2.

The principal improvements over WF1 were an increase in power to 75kW peak power (WF1 20kW) enabling a maximum range of 200 km (WF1 100 km). As previously mentioned, the plywood cabin of WF1 was changed to one of fibreglass, and an air conditioning pod added (top of the cabin). The Shepherd’s crook fed was changed to a mofified and more efficient Cutler feed, directing more energy from the side lobes in the beam.

An extra 18 inch sub-dish was added to the center of the main reflector, which was moveable in and out. This enabled a five degree beam rotated as a conical scan of ten degrees, useful for fine tuning. The pulse repetition frequency (PRF) was reduced to 500Hz, thus reducing the rotation rate of the spinner to 60 rpm (WF1 1000Hz and 1200 rpm).

The RF Unit (Transmitter/Receiver) was housed in a fibreglass 'box' that was fixed to the rear of the dish. This enabled the magnetron to be much nearer to the horn and thus reduce the waveguide eun lengths, and hence their inherent losses.

The same I-scope display was employed. The range unit, whilst fundamentally the same, had the top range increased to 190km. and the indicators could be temprarily frozen to assist with recording the measurements.

WF2_01: Deca advertisement for WF2 in August 5th Edition of Flight Magazine
WF2_02: From a Decca brochure I think – interesting that it states the number 64 world weather services.
WF2_03: Schematic of general layout of WF2. From an original manaul page kndly provided by John Knapp, VLF Scientist, Halley Bay 1981.

Next thread will look at WF2 in Antarctica; at Halley Bay and other bases. I will then follow with a look at WF2 in other parts of the world.
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg WF2_01.jpg (387.0 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_02.jpg (425.7 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_03.jpg (689.4 KB, 5 views)
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Clive Sweetingham

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Last edited by Dreadnought : 27-01-2013 at 21:44. Reason: WF02_03 Schematic added
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  #12  
Old 27-01-2013, 21:54
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Default WF2 at Halley Bay

WF2 at HalleyBay

As mentiond in post # , The WF2 radar arrived at Halley in January 1968, arriving on board the Danish ice strenghtened vessel MV Perla Dan, chartered by BAS (British Antarctic Survey) to assist with relief operations.

Annual relief of Halley was traditinally carried out near to base where there was a gentle ramp from the sea ice to the top of the ice cliffs. This year he ramp at at EmperorBay was very steep, and there was about 5km of sea ice between the ramp and the edge of the sea ice where the ships (Perla Dan and John Biscoe) were able to establish a mooring.

The unloading of supplies for the coming year was completed in seven days. WF” was the last item to be unloaded, and had to be assembled in the ship’s hold as there was not any suitable lifting equipment on base. allo the final assembly.

After the final assembly was completed, the complete radar was mounted on ski pontoons, ready for moving across the ice, up the ramp and onward to base in the tow of one of the base’s International Harvestor bulldozers (IH). For some parts of the trip a bulldozer was attached front and rear, as a saftey measure. At one stage WF2 was nearly lost as a crack in the sea ice started to open up, and one leg broke through thin ice into the water. The towing IH had to pull hard and fast to get its cargo across the crack. My thanks to Keith Gainey for his recollection and photogrphs (attached). Keith was the Radar Technician at Halley during the 1967/1968 seasons, and who was responsible for installing WF2.

The last dedicated Radar Technician at Halley Bay was was in 1971, after that the maintenance and upkeep of the “Woof Woof” as WF2 was affectionately known as fell to the “Beastie Men” (Ionospheriscists) ably supported by the Met Men (Mterorologists), and the Radio Operator. I arrived at Halley in February 1975 to take up the challenge, with no experience of radar electronics. Thank goodness, that in my first year, I had some “training” from a fellow “Beastie Man” who had a year’s experinece in nursing ‘Woof-Woof’.

Looking back, I surprised that the electronics managed to work at all. Temepratures in the winter would regulalry be below -40 degC. It was quite common for the valves in the RF Unit to be iced up, and connecting cables were very brittle. Working on the RF Unit could be estremely painful at -20 and below, sepecially when relentless winds were blowing, and throwing drifting snow everywhere. The time available to work with gloves and mitts off was limited.

It is interesting to look back at some of the entries in the Radar Log during that year – first time I have looked at them in getting on for forty Years. I will post some entries in the ensuing posts.

WF2_04:Looking down at WF2 in the cargo hold of the Perla Dan – Dish not yet fitted.
WF2_05: Leaving the ship under the tow of an International Harvester bulldozer (IH)
WF2_06: On the sea ice. Ice cliffs can be clearly seen in the background.
WF2_07: Negotiating an opening crack in the sea ice, bridges by railway sleepers.

The above photogrpahs taken by Keith Gainey, Radar Technician at Halley, 1967/1968 seasons.

The following photographs were taken by myself in 1975:

WF2_08: WF2 in position waiting for the balloon to be launched. The top of the balloon shed can be seen. This was where the Hydrogen generator and radar 1000Hz power unit were housed. Balloons were filled down in the shed, and the radiosonde attached. The sonde can been seen just under the hand of the Met Man, who is just about to release the balloon. Another Met Man is most likely sitting inside the radar – the other door will be open so that he could visually track the balloon until the radar picked up a target echo.

WF2_09: Another shot of the same event. The power cables can be seen, supported on dunnage posts, Drifting snow would gradually form a windscoop around the radar, and eventually the radar will have to moved to a new position. As far as I remember, we only had to do this once or twice a year. Same as extending the balloon shed vertically as accumulation and snow drifts increase.

WF2_10: Balloon launched, both Met Men carrying out the initial visual tracking, There will be yet another Met Man on the main base in the Met Office checking the transmitted data fom the sonde is being received ok. I can’t quite remember how long a typical balloon track lasted – about a couple of hours I think, obviously dependent upon the weather and upper winds. The radar would normally lose contact before transmission from the sonde ceased. Obviously, once the balloon get to a certain height, it burst, and the sonde descended to earth. Some were often found when out on field trips.

Lets have a look at the inside of the cabin, and at the electronics. Firstly, the cabin.

WF2_11: Looking in from the “passemger” side. Far lwe see the Range Unit; the lefthand most fial being the 0-190km, then 0-14kn, and then the 0-1km dial. The big “knob” was the fine range handwheel. The centre of the three small knobs is the on/off switch for the 1km calibration ring. Tha knob to the leaft is the brightness control for the calibration ring, and the one to the right is the Range Increment Switch for vairying range of the strobe in 10km steps. Behind the hinged panel are some range presets.

The next unit along to the right houses the azimuth and elevation indicators, and then on the far right is the I-Scope display.

The central unit undermeath the azimuth/indicators is the main control unit and contains things like the main isolator switch, and the Radar/Spiiner swich which allows the choice of running the radar with or without the spinner, or the spinner without the radar on. There are als various other switches and indicators.

Also visible, under the display, are the azimuth and elevation handwheels for “driving” the radar in order to track the balloon.

WF2_12: And from the “drivers” side with nice view of the display unit.Controls on the left hand side are, top to bottom, Shift, Strobe Brilliance, Brilliance, Dimmer (for scale), Range (six postions), Sense Marker Fine. Top to bottom on the right are Shift, Tuning.Rain/Normal, AGC/Man., IF Gain, Sense Marker Coarse.

The six positions on the range which go 4, 20, 4, 50, 4, 190. When the range is set 20, 50 or 190, the radar is in ‘Search’ mode, and when set at any of the intermediate 4km positions, the radar is in ‘Follow’.

The electronics – well just the business end:

WF2_13: RF unit mounted on the rear of the dish – cover off. A bitch to get off when temerature at -40 degrees and in a 40 knot wind …!, although to be fair It was rare to have to try and work on it in severe conditions like that. But certainly on a summer day with just a few knots wind and -20 degrees was still very uncomfortable. The spinner motor is clearly visible and you can see the waveguide entering the rear of the dish. The smaller 18 inch sub-dish can also be seen.

WF2_14: Closer view and clearly showing the magnetron (two horsehoe magnet arrangement) and the klystron (nice big fat valve lower left). Also better view of the waveguide coming out of the right hand side of the unit. All good old fashion technology – when it worked …!!

WF2_15: Close up of the magnetron – the microwave generator. A tuned resonant cavity magnetron (orignally invented at the University of Birmingham in 1940). For the “non-techie” - same principal as the generator used in mircorwave ovens.

WF2_16: Close up of what I seem to remember were the three valves in the modulator – an essential part of generating the radar pulse.

More to come in the next post about the WF2 at HalleyBay, with extracts from the Radar Log, showing the types of problems that occurred.
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg WF2_04.jpg (441.2 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_05.jpg (446.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_06.jpg (413.3 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_07.jpg (495.4 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_08.jpg (927.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_09.jpg (941.3 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_10.jpg (929.7 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_11.jpg (866.4 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_12.jpg (1.01 MB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_13.jpg (982.4 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_14.jpg (1.04 MB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_15.jpg (1.09 MB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_16.jpg (1.10 MB, 10 views)
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Clive Sweetingham

"Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it." - Sir Henry Royce
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  #13  
Old 27-01-2013, 22:27
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Default Re: Early Antarctic Windfinding Radar

Clive,

A couple of observations:-

1) Attachments WF2_11 & WF2_12 show a Stop Watch/Deck Watch or Chronometer hanging from the left hook near the centre of the shelf - to what use was that put during tracking?

2) Attachment WF2_16 shows a 'pussers arrow' on the centre valve - was that as a result of a 'procurement' opportunity?

Little h
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Old 28-01-2013, 12:11
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Default Re: WF2 at Halley Bay

Ha … well spotted Harry, as you know, but for the benefit of the not so informed, the prefix CV on valves stands for ‘Common Valve’, and indicated that they were procured for the British military by the MOD, although a number were also used by the GPO (Post Office telecoms). It seems that CV numbered valves were listed in the “Service List of Valves for Special Purposes” published by the Inter-Service Technical Valve Committee in 1941.

CV5830 (equivalent to Mullard EL360) is a Power Pentode, used in radar system modulators primarliy. Although also used for othe RF applications.

I know you know this, but for those who don’t, the arrow to which you refer is a Government mark, and appeared on anything and everything purchased by the MOD.

I would imagine that the CV5830’s shown are the original valves. Lots of Government organisations (such as BAS) took advantage of the MOD procurement system. Remembering also that British polar activity has a long standing relationship with the Royal Navy. So I am not surprised to see CV valves here, also bearing in mind that WF1/WF2 were developed by the Marine Radar section of Decca (and then Plessey) who of course, especially during WW2, were working closely with the MOD on radar development.

Must admit, I have never given this any thought until you mentioned it. The Mullard valve also seen in the photo is one I think I must have put in – I did have awful problems with the modulator come to think about it.

Not sure what the Met Men used the stopwatch for – might have been for timing elevaton/azimuth and range readings. I will check with one of the guys who sat in it and did it ..!
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Old 28-01-2013, 14:18
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Default Re: Early Antarctic Windfinding Radar

Thanks Clive,

I now look forward with interest to the resolve regarding the stop watch.... Oh! and perhaps a reveal about what the second hook was for (to the right of it)

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Old 29-01-2013, 18:53
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Default WF2 at Halley Bay

Radar Report 1975

Here is a lightly edited base Radar Report for 1975. First time I have looked at this rather faded, typewritten document since it was written.

Quote:
Introduction
In July, problems with the Hydrogen generator caused the upper air meteorology programme to be abandoned until December, and during this time the radar had only infrequent use for iceberg counts. However, up to July, the radar provided a fair assortment of faults to sort out.

Radar Faults
The old problem with the range unit of ‘no strobe ring on follow ranges above 0km’, that has been troublesome for several years, appeared to have been cured. Then the fault re-occurred early in the year, but was traced to a faulty valve.

An obscure fault was encountered with the radar packing up after about three hours use. It was suspected that the elements of a valve on its side were sagging as they heated up and then shorting out. This was confirmed, and cured by changing a valve in the RFU.

The widebeam facility, which has never been used here because the cold makes the cables stiff, is no longer serviceable. When accidently switched on, the beamwidth motor drove out along the boom until stopped by the frozen cable. This burnt out the motor. The auxilliary reflector was pushed back flush with the main dish so that it could continue to be used in narrow beamwidth, and the motor taken out of circuit.

Re-Alignment of Range Unit
Continued attempts were made to re-align the Range Unit following the instructions in the Manual, and it is now set up as well as possible. However, as stated by the Radar Mechanic in 1069, a calibrator is needed to do the job accurate. The only hop for a calibrator seems to be if BAS hear of a WF2 being scrapped – they still use them in Australia.

Alternator Shed
A shed was built against the side of the balloon shed to house the motor-alternator, control unit, and mains auto-transformer for the radar. These items were retrievd from the fast collapsing old base and installed in the shed in December. And the radar supply comes off the line to the balloon shed, which comes from the new base.

Iceberg Plotting
In the 1968 Radar Repoprt. It is mentioned that daily iceberg plotting was carried out on behalf of the glaciologists. But since the radar’s capabilities in this field have been neglected. This year, weekly iceberg counts have been done in conjunction with visual observations and the information passed to the US Fleet Weather Facility, Suitland, Maryland.

Conclusions
The radar continues to work satisfactorily, but the worsening spares situation, although not critical at present. Will probably limit its life to a few more years. Our thanks to the Met Deprtment for the mechanical maintenance of the radar, and for raising it, a task that had to be done twice this year because of greater snow accumulation.

Addendum
Subsequent work on the Range Unit resulted in further improvements, and comparison between radar and sonde heights for the flight on the 12th of January 1976 showed that, on all ranges, the radar range measurements were within the “maximum permissable error” quoted in the Meteorolgy Handbook.
Here is a selction of edited extracts from the Radar Log for the same year, just to give an idea of typical problems encountered.

Quote:
February 20th 1975
The flight was abandoned because the stobe ring was visible on the 0km range only. The old faithful had started again.

February 21st 1975
Still no strobe ring on high ranges . Range Unit removed to Met Office and range increments tested. All ok. Replaced in radar and switched on. Valve V10 in sub-unit of Range Unit only had one heater glowing. Valve replaced and everythng working ok.

March 22nd 1975
No flight today because of high wnds. Parking brake would not held, so radar had to be tied down.

March 24th 1975
The met men reported smoke appearing from the display unit when it was switched on. It was noticed that the deflection colis were burning. Deflection coils replaced along with the wiper contacts. The old coils had been arcing from the slip rings, and several spots were very badly burnt.

April 14th 1975
Today’s flight was abandoned because the sense marker was intermittent, making target following difficult. The deflection coil motor and coils were checked and found to be running smoothly. The CRT was removed to check if it was rubbing on the coils. The neck of the tube was coated with electrical varnish to give indication of any rubbing. Tube replaced, and system checked. All apparently ok.

May 22nd 1975
The freeze-to-read swich not working. Switch removed and opened up. A spring was found out of place. Re-positioned and re-asembled. All working ok.

July 13th 1975
The afternoon was spent trying to align the Range Unit, but to no avail. The strobe set pots appear to be at the end of their travel, but will try again when the radar is in its new position. Late afternoon and early evening saw the met men digging out and raising the radar, at long last.

July 14th 1975
First test of the radar after rasing it. All the voltages came up, but no echoes obtainable. The RFU was opened and the top cap connector of the valve V1 was found to be hanging loose; the top cap of the valve had broken off. Valve replaced, system checked and appeared to be serviceable.

NOTE: The top cap is connected to a capacitor and even with the radar switched off, the capacitor can be charged up to 7kv. The capacitor must be discharged before replacing the valve.
WF2_17: Showing the new alternator shed built onto the side of the balloon shed. Good example of the windscoop that is formed by the wind eddy currents. Eventually the scoop will close in round the balloon shed as accumulation increases. Then new plywood shuttering will be fixed to the top edges to “raise” the shed. The alternator shed will just remain buried.

WF2_18: Showing how frost forms on the dish and mount. I can’t remember when I took this, but the fact that the cabin external light is on suggests that it probably at night during the spring (Jul/Aug) when it just gets dusk at night. Looking at the frost, I would estimate the temperature at well below -20 deg C, quite possibly -40 deg C. The radar is in desperate need of raising. Left much longer, it won’t be able to complete its azimuth tracking.

WF2_19: Taken at the same time - close up of the rear of the dish.

WF2_20: And another. Obviouisly working on it, as the RFU door is open and the modulator panel looks as if it is swung open. Trusty Model 8 AVO, in its case, on the cabin.

This would not have been pleasant. At these temperatures, one has to be careful of ‘frost-nip’ – mild frost-bite. It usually gets you on the tip of the nose, nostrils and the cheek bones. If you are silly enough to have your ears uncovered, it will also get you on the tops of the ears. It is always best to have a buddie working with you in these circumstances, so that you can both keep an eye on each others faces – looking out for the tell-tale white patches that appear. A quick removal of hand from warm glove and put on the affected area normally does the trick. When I say ’glove’, what we normally wore was a pair of wollen finger gloves inside a large felt mit, which was then all inside an outer heavy guage leather mit. In and out of this lot when trying to do this sort of work could be very frustrating. But, after a lot of practice, it is surprising what you can actually do with the full ensemble on. Not uncommon for screwdrivers to simply snap in temperatures around -40 deg C.
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Attached Images
File Type: jpg WF2_17.jpg (912.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_18.jpg (972.5 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_19.jpg (971.5 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg WF2_20.jpg (920.7 KB, 7 views)
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Clive Sweetingham

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Old 18-03-2014, 18:42
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Default Re: WF2 at Halley Bay

"The last dedicated Radar Technician at Halley Bay was was in 1971", and I think that was me. I arrived on base in February 1971 on the RRS Bransfield. After a brief handover I was left in charge of the WF2 and the ship departed.

Very shortly thereafter the WF2 stopped working; bad luck or something I did? To this day I don't know. What I did know was that I have been sent South as the Radar Tech and without a working Met radar I had no function on Base for the next 12 months.

I was able to take the Tx cabinet off the WF2 frame and do circuit tracing on the bench in the Met Office but I could not power it up there. I remember being very worried about operating it back on the WF2 with the cabinet open because of the chance of getting blown snow on a hot valve.

My solution was to rig a makeshift tent off the back of the reflector and I was able to work on the cabinet in situ. Fortunately for me there was a good stock of spares, I got it repaired and do not recall it having any further faults for the rest of my time at Halley.

Prior to leaving the UK I went to Plessey's on the Isle of Wight to train on the WF2. While I was there I was asked to witness the acceptance tests on the WF3 that BAS was sending to Argentine Island.
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Old 08-04-2014, 14:45
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Default Re: Early Antarctic Windfinding Radar

Ha ... I can identify with that one ...!!

Had to rig a "tent" over her to work on the Tx/Rx cabinet on the back of the dish - there for quite a while whilst trying to sort out "no pulse" ... t'was cosy but still flipping cold.

No doubt you remember the EHT valves frosting up ...!!

Here's one phot ... will dig out some more ...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 037.jpg (156.8 KB, 8 views)
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Clive Sweetingham

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Old 08-04-2014, 16:19
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Default Re: Early Antarctic Windfinding Radar

Clive, I see that you are using an AVO meter (model 8?) for your measurements. My first job on leaving school was with AVO repairing their meters. About once a year, a lorry would arrive with the "RN consignment", which was usually about a hundred Model 7s for repair. They were all encased in a grey metal jacket for protection, which was a right b***** to remove as most were damaged, and distorted as result.
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Last edited by emason : 08-04-2014 at 17:00.
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