1980: Electronic switching at Auckland Radio

Post Office News, Oct-Nov 1980

Electronic Musick Point

Operators Ian Shackleton and Chris Silk man the two new consoles.

Operators Ian Shackleton and Chris Silk man the two new consoles.

“Easier to see, easier to work – in fact 100% better,” is how Ian Shackleton, Radio Operator, describes the modernised operational control facilities at Auckland Radio, the Post Office coast radio station located at Musick Point.

The job of the station is to monitor marine distress frequencies, handle communication between ship and shore and broadcast weather information to shipping within its area.

It is the first Post Office radio station to use solid state electronic switching and control instead of a mechanical system.

Once switching components were purchased they had to be arranged in the best way from both operating and engineering points of view.

The man principally responsible for the design work was Robert McBurney, Senior Technician at Auckland Radio Depot.

“It was an exercise in ergonomics – finding out what the operators needed, then interpreting that info a physical design,” he says.

The result is a system which is easy to use and flexible enough to cope with changing conditions and growing demand.

It uses two consoles (pictured) which have identical facilities, but work independently; this allows different services to be operated simultaneously at each console. The operational status of one console is automatically indicated on the other console, so that both operators are aware of what the other is doing.

The changeover to electronics was a team effort involving the station staff and Auckland Radio Depot staff, in particular Ken Jacobs, Senior Technician, Roger Bongard, Technician, and John Van Loon, Technician, who worked on the construction, installation and testing of the equipment, and Robert McBurney who worked on the design side.

More photos of consoles with electronic switching