SNW51-Techs' memories

The joys of Byron Bay - Rod Evans

I recall that when I first arrived in Sydney, there was an SNW51 radar on top of the Goulburn St. office, as well as the WF44 at the airport. I never worked on the Sydney SNW51, but got the joy of working on the SNW51 radar at Byron Bay numerous times.

The first fault that I had there was not receiving echoes, and I finally traced it, through the circuits, to a fuse. Took me ages to locate that fuse, hidden in the corner, down low, behind another cabinet. The scanner had a small amount of tilt that it could carry out, as I recall. The modulator was a spark gap (actually it was a trigertron - Ed.) I think, and the mod tube glowed bright white when operating. Naturally, like the 277F which I spent many hours on, CTS did no training on these radars at all, and I did not even know the SNW51 existed until I moved to NSW.

The Byron Bay unit was interesting also in that being located at the lighthouse, we sort of met the light house keeper and his family. I do recall me and Roger Payne going to his glass front door one day to speak to him, and his nude teenage daughter wandering by from the bathroom. Ah !!!

I also spent some time at a small area outside of Byron bay called The Channon, where herbs growed freely, and clothes appeared to be extremely optional.

Apart from that, the radar was interesting to work on, as like the 277, it was like working on a text book basic radar, no frills, just the basics. No TWT on the SNW51 either, unlike the 277F.

A bit of a trip -as heard from John Hetherington

In the late seventies traveling to service the Byron Bay radar from the Sydney Workshops involved first a trip by train to Lismore, then by bus to and isolated 'T' intersection where you waited for another bus to come by and pick you up. So it took the best part of a whole day just to get there.

One time David Smith sets off to fix the radar - happy to enjoy the trip as he has a whole week to fix the suspected failure of the carbon pile regulator. As there was a spare kept in Sydney at the Observatory Hill workshops, Dave took it with him. Apparently he must have been distracted along the way because on arrival at Byron Bay he realised he no longer had the regulator with him! So he made frantic calls to the rail authority but they were unable to locate it.
In subsequent years Dave's misplacement of the regulator became a great cause of mirth against him - in particular as he was known as a great worrier.It is thought that the carbon pile regulator wasn't the problem as no further stories are recalled about the repair of the radar on that occasion.