Bits and Pieces
In this section we intend to keep various interesting "bits and pieces" from DRTE's and CRC's past. Contributions from members will be greatly appreciated.
Those of you who were working at DRTE in 1961 may wish to peruse the organization charts. For others, this booklet gives a glimpse into life at DRTE during that period.
You can see on the front cover that this copy belonged to W.E. Thompson.According to the introduction written by Mr. Davies, "the primary purpose of this booklet is to keep DRTE and other DRB staff informed on the scientific and administrative organization of the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment" the booklet was to be "revised and reissued at the beginning of each calendar year."
Information Bulletin #13 provides a list of "Radio Propagation Reports Issued During 1944-47, By Canadian Radio Wave Propagation Committee & Canadian Army Operation Research Group." The Wave Propagation Committee reports are concerned with effects of the aurora and the ionosphere on long distance communications in Canada. The Operational Research Group reports deal with what we now call weather radar (remember that radar was just made operational during WW2). These reports were undoubtedly some of the earliest scientific studies of weather using radar. A few years later, the work was turned over to McGill University where it became the Stormy Weather Group under the leadership of Professor Stewart Marshall.
Due to a shortage of telephone lines, CRC used a switchboard until the mid-1970s, when a trunk was run in from the new telephone exchange at Britannia. Staff became careful with their late-afternoon long distance calls, since the operators travelled to work by chartered bus (see the 1961 Organization Booklet above), and at 16:20 telephone calls were interrupted with the message "The switchboard is closing now" and the call would be disconnected. No arguments.
In 1963 a type of "add on" electronic ignition system appeared on the market, but it was prone to failure and did not last very long.
While seconded to the Defence Research Board, I decided to produce a "rabbit" that would work. The electronic ignition system that was designed produced a 30 kilovolt spark regardless of battery voltage and cranking speed. Thus any internal combustion engine had to start if there was fuel present. Furthermore, spark plug age or gap or electrodes were irrelevant, providing the pressure seals were intact on the spark plugs.
While testing the system it was found that the gasoline consumption was less and a 10% increase in miles per gallon was a side effect.
Two world patents were issued on the electronic system with ownership vested in the Crown, as the system was developed on government time. From the Canadian Patents and Development Limited, in 1969, I was awarded the "The Inventor" Lapel pin and a Certificate for my contribution to world of electronics. Neither I or the Crown benefited financially from the system. Except that I was known as the "Rabbit King". Hence the "popularity", albeit momentary.
While demonstrating the system at an Open House at Shirleys Bay, a copy of the circuit was made available to all and sundry. The following year the first engine to use the system was incorporated in the Kefauver outboard motor. What followed is history, as all engines now use a variant of the original system.
The system was so effective and successful that almost all of those at Shirleys Bay at the time, built and installed one of the units in their own cars. We even had a team of military technicians build a number of the units for use in military vehicles belonging to a Signal Squadron in Petawawa.
(Three generations of Halayko Professional Engineers have worked at or is working at DRB/CRC: myself, E.W. Halayko P Eng.; D.W. Halayko P Eng. my son; and J.W. Halayko P Eng., my grandson. The fourth one yet to come is N.W. Halayko, in about 2025.)
In 1965, F.T. Davies published a short article 'Alouette I and II' in Physics in Canada (Vol. 32, No.4, pages 5-14). This article describes the experiments carried on Alouette I, some of the data that were being collected, and plans for Alouette II. In the same issue (pages 40-41) he provided a short piece 'Do Professors Need Keepers?' which is reproduced here. In first reading this piece, I was struck by the similarity in style to the writing of Stephen Leacock. F.T.'s description of Professor "Johnny" lighting his pipe reminded me of the story George Jull used to tell about his time at Cambridge -- George said that one day he was stopped by one of his professors who asked if George had seen him leaving the building some time earlier. "Why yes", said George, "you came out the front door about a half hour ago". "Good", said the professor, "then I must have had my lunch. I will go back to my office now".
I think you will enjoy this little article. There was no indication of who drew the cartoon, nor do I know what is meant by "CAPIUS".
In this age of instant communications, many of us do not realize that it was only in the 1970s, with the introduction of satellite communications that long distance communications became both relatively inexpensive and reliable. Apart from the microwave radio-relay systems of the telephone companies and undersea cables, HF communications was the only way to reach great distances. This, of course, is possible because the ionosphere can reflect and refract radio waves at megahertz frequencies. However, the ionosphere is notoriously non-uniform and non-stationary, and there was a large effort world-wide to predict the best operating frequencies for different locations and time of day. DRTE was in the forefront of researching and developing these prediction techniques since communications within and through the auroral zone are particularly troublesome. This manual gives detailed instructions for those responsible for operating Canadian ionospheric measuring stations. It provides an interesting and unique view of the way things were when it was published in 1951.
F.T. Davies had evidently been asked to prepare an article for one of the Services' monthly magazines, and this was the result. F.T. loved to tell stories, and every time visitors arrived at the lab for a meeting or whatever, he was there front and centre to greet them and tell them a story or two. We don't know if this article was ever printed.