Makara Radio 1970-1979

Entrance to Makara Radio c1970

Entrance to Makara Radio c1970. Photo: Rex Johnson

Telegraph receivers for 50 baud teletype circuits patched to the various overseas embassies in Wellington

Technicians Ralph Sanson (seated) and Geoff Menzies with Marconi telegraph receivers for 50 baud teletype circuits patched to the various overseas embassies in Wellington. Photo c1975 Rex Johnson

The receivers in the photo above were installed in case of a failure in the Compac Cable, which ran from the UK to Newfoundland, across Canada via microwave, Vancouver to Hawaii, Fiji, Auckland and Sydney.

When I first arrived at Makara in February 1971, the requirement for COMPAC Restoration was only exercised once from that date. I suspect that the requirement for the COMPAC Restoration lapsed completely when the TASMAN cable (opened 9 March 1976) was established between Kumeu and Sydney (providing diverse cable routes into New Zealand), and definitely not required after the establishment of the ANZCAN cable (commissioned 8 November 1984, and COMPAC decommissioned).

– John Warriner

In the early 1970s, when COMPAC Restoration service was no longer required, the receivers were assigned as follows:

In the photo above, starting from the left: the first two cabinets comprise one Marconi HR13 triple diversity receiver dedicated to the “Rome Press” taken either relayed through Singapore or direct from Rome – short path or long path depending on propagation vagaries dictated by night/day, month and the 11-year sunspot cycle. The panel in the left cabinet with the large dial is the oscillator tuning unit and the right cabinet has the 3 RF amplifier tuning units. The Rome service was begun around 1975.

The remaining racks are double diversity Marconi HR11 receivers – all space diversity by the way – with one oscillator and two RF tuning units for the French press from Noumea, the Japanese press (known as Jiji) from Tokyo and, I think, British press (the British High Comm circuit) from Singapore. Or was it Noumea? Can’t recall.

For the USA we used two Collins 51S1 receivers (not shown) in double diversity for their 75 baud USIS (United States Information Service) either from Guam or Okinawa. They transmitted simultaneously on different frequencies.

– Geoff Menzies, former Senior Technician

Makara Radio control console c1970

Taffy Jones at the radiotelephone console at Makara Radio and Allan Ward standing, c1975. Photo: Rex Johnson

In the photo above, the console was used for radiotelephone services, with monitor amp to the left, circuit selector switch panel and VU meter in the center, and station and settlement PABX to the right.

The equipment behind is, from left to right, Marconi MST (Marconi Self Tuning) receivers. Each pair of bays comprises three receivers, with RF modules in the left bay and frequency synthesisers in the right bay.

To the far right is the aerial console which provided patching to all receivers. The main aerial farm provided three sets of V antennas. Four 100ft high central towers were used due to topography giving 18 antennas per set.

– Geoff Menzies, former Senior Technician

Harris RF550 recievers were installed at Makara Radio in the mid 1970s

Harris RF550 receivers installed at Makara Radio by Ralph Sanson in the mid 1970s. Photo: Ralph Sanson

Racal frequency measuring system at Makara Radio in the mid 1970s

Racal frequency measuring system at Makara Radio in the mid 1970s. Photo: Ralph Sanson

The frequency measuring system was in a room on the northwest corner of the Makara Radio building. It was used by visiting Radio Inspectors. In earlier years they had a hut farther around the track to the gun emplacements at what was known as the Parade Ground.

– Ralph Sanson, Makara Radio technician 1973-1976

» Makara Radio 1980-1996