Aged just 21 on a two month detachment to the Commcen at Salalah. Operating a Morse key on a link to Masirah. You will see the Racal RA1 7(L) transceiver on the table.
On top of the RA1 7 is the intercom to the ATC tower. The hatch on the wall behind my head was the window to (as Simon Crozier described it) a string from the tower to the fixing above the hatch. Attached to the string was a bulldog clip with a further string attached to it and a large metal nut. If the tower had a signal for us i.e. aircraft arrival or departure they would retrieve the bulldog clip fasten the.message to it and let the bulldog clip slide down the string. The nut would rattle the hatch and we would retrieve the signal and transmit it to Masirah who would in turn send it on to the addressee. For received messages we would fasten the message to the bulldog clip call them on the intercom and they would pull the signal up to the tower.
Ingenious and fast..
Racal won the government a contract in the early 50’s to design and manufacture the RA-17, based partly on the Collins 51J when the Americans proved difficult over licensing matters.
The RA-17 was originally designed for British Navy. The design was so successful, that they were ultimately used by all the services and were to become the main receiver of the British radio surveillance organisation known as G.C.H.Q. The sets success was due partly to the famous Wadley-Loop, a clever new circuit at the time, which very effectively minimised frequency drift.
The Racal RA-17 is Triple Conversion Super-heterodyne general coverage communications receiver. It used 23 valves and was built on a cast aluminium chassis.
Frequency range 980kHz to 30MHz.
A 145 feet long Film Scale frequency strip was used as a read out.
Modes were AM and CW
200-250 VAC, 45-65 Hz, 85W. ( This seems very little but it was only an RX)
Physical size 20″ x 12″ x 22″ and weighing in at 67 lbs.