Tell me what you know!Jump to Tech DetailsMitsubishi Electric Corporation RC33

The antenna was installed on top of the Redmond Barry Building at the University of Melbourne. "The equipment making up the radar head had to be lifted up the 200ft face of the Redmond Barry Building and large sections of the roof structure removed and redesigned."(1) The Transmitter-Receiver, Tracking and Control units and Link equipment were also in the tower of the building. Control and Display Units were situated both at the Radar Laboratory in the Redmond Barry Building and at the Victorian Regional office in Latrobe Street. Lines between the radar Head and the Regional office were provided by P.M.G. co-axial and telephone cables. Switching of the control of the radar was done by the "DIV/UNIV" control switch at each end of the link.
The system used an analogue computer to estimate rainfall rates.

Dale Sirmans of National Severe Storms Laboratory (USA) at the RC33 PPI (Weather News Nov. 1971)
A Research Tool Too
From the outset the intent was for this radar not only to be a operational radar but also a tool for radar research. The working paper on the radar written in 1965 states, "In addition to the operational use of the equipment, research workers will make use of the data obtained to develop methods of flood forecasting, rainfall measurement, techniques for use in storm warnings, the detection of turbulence in thunderstorms, and to investigate fundamental aspects of rain physics, and the refraction, reflection and scattering of the emitted energy."(1) The paper goes on to detail fifteen initial approved research projects. Initially Peter Barclay had the responsibility of managing the time allocations for all of the non-operational users and Prof. V. Hopper, Dean of University Studies, RAAF Academy - University of Melbourne, managed the University projects. The Bureau had the sole responsibility for maintenance of the system and the overriding control and use of the system for operational purposes.

RC33 Antenna still finds
a role for the Melb. University in 2000
- here with a CCD camera in the centre


The Melbourne RC33's Japanese Brother
"In a sense the Melbourne RC33 radar was a prototype for the Mt Fuji radar. It had a bigger dish but the same mercury vapour thyratrons for the servo, parametric amp in the receiver front end and probably the same failure prone pulse transformer".(2)
The Mt. Fuji system was installed in 1964, at an altitude of 3780 m and provided 35 years of service.


(1) The Melbourne Weather Radar - Working Paper No.84, Bureau of Meteorology, January 1965
(2) A.L.West (private communication)
(3) Weather Radar Signal Processing- Working Paper No.136, Bureau of Meteorology, January 1971