Colin MacKinnon, VK2DYM
Hello, My name is Ian O'Toole. My Amateur Radio callsign is VK2ZIO. VK stands
for Australia, 2 stands for New South Wales. Colin's Callsign was VK2 DYM,
Delta Yankee Mike in phonetics. VK2 DIM if you like. What an inappropriate
callsign for Colin. He was about as far from being DIM as one could imagine.
Pat and I moved to Castle Hill from North Rocks in 1980. We had been at 222
Old Northern Road for about a week. I received a letter from Bob Hudson,
VK2YVO inviting me to the launch of the Castle Hill RSL Radio Club. I think
about 120 turned up, most I think just to see if there were any free nibblies.
We all had a bit of a natter after the meeting then went on our ways.
WELL, THAT WAS HOW IT ALL STARTED
The next Sunday Pat noticed someone in the yard, coming down the driveway.
I went out to see who it was. It turned out to be a guy that had been
at the meeting. He called in to see the military radios I had. That was the
start of an incredible association that finished last Tuesday. Colin called
in most Sunday mornings for at least the next one and a half decades. If
we were out, cryptic messages were left on the kids blackboard on the back
verandah. They were so cryptic they were often unfathomable. One Sunday
on returning from an outing, there was no message. But then, Pat noticed
a minute bit of paper jammed in the fly screen. It said "There's no bloody
COLIN WAS A CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGIST
Sometimes he was riding on the EDGE Sometimes he was CUT by Technology.
THE LISTENING POST
A now defunct radio magazine brought out a project called "The Listening
Post". It was a little black box that connected between a Microbee
Computer and a radio receiver. It was supposed to receive radio teletype
signals from around the world and print them on the monitor screen instantaneously.
Great Project, Great Idea - around 10,000 kits sold. But it didn't work.
Guess who discovered why it didn't work. It was a machine code error.
It took the magazine around 6 months to own up to the fact. If you knew Colin,
your Listening Post worked!
Arthur Field, from Bexley rang up one day. Would you like some transformers?
he enquired. We were soon heading off in the red Town and Country one tonne
ute. I selected a couple of boxes of them. Colin selected some and some more
and some more. Soon we had all of them on board. Arthur's grass was quite
long, we didn't notice the rear tyres. As we drove out there was this funny
rubbing noise. We stopped and got out. The rims were almost touching the
ground. No problem said Colin. He pulled into the nearest garage and inflated
the tyres. 60 PSI didn't make much difference, so he went to 90!! Every time
we stopped at traffic lights people would yell out "Hey mate, your back tyres
are flat!" We got back home O.K, but turning corners was rather hairy.
A CURRENT AFFAIR
We both bought TRAP 21 UHF Transceivers out of the Mirage Fighters. These
were very complex, complicated heavy units. We were awaiting paperwork from
the RAAF to fire them up, Colin decided he would get his to go straight away.
For some reason he decided to measure the current the set consumed. The phone
rang. It was Colin. What would I estimate the current draw to be? was
the question. I responded, around 25-30 amps. You could be right Colin said.
You know that multimeter I bought the other day he said. It's now a smouldering
bit of plastic and wire. I thought the « amp range would have been
enough. A few days later the manual arrived. Switch on current 120
THE NEW PIRATED CD
Colin obtained a CD of pirated software. It supposedly had 50 programs on
it. He walked in one Sunday morning brandishing the CD. I've been ripped
off he said. There's nothing on it! I've spent the week pulling the computer
apart and it still won't go! Could you stick it in your computer CD drive
and see what happens. I took one look at the CD and pushed it in the slot.
Colin laughed. You silly goat he said you put it in upside down! At that
moment all the program .exe files suddenly appeared on the monitor.
I will not mention what Colin said!
I was talking to VK2GS on 6 metres. We were having a good yarn. There were
no other stations on the band. After about 30 minutes into the contact the
phone rang. Why won't you so and so's talk to me! It was Colin. Well
, why don't you call, was my response! I've been calling you lot non stop
for 30 minutes he responded. What are you using? I asked. A B47 Transceiver
from a ferret scout car was the reply. These were notorious for receiving
on one frequency and transmitting on another. At least Colin had a lot of
listeners. Turns out he was transmitting on the SBS TV sound channel! Luckily
the Radio Inspector wasn't listening!
Colin loved a good stir. He took a dislike to a couple of domestic radio
collectors. He felt they wanted everything for nothing. Colin wrote a letter
to a well known radio magazine complaining that collectors were a miserable
lot who wouldn't pay fair prices for gear. Because of this he said he tossed
the lot down an old well in his backyard. He listed all the most desireable
collectable domestic radios in his well throwing list. This , which was of
course one great big fib, caused a gigantic furore. His name was mud. I think
some people still believe it was true. Colin even received a letter from
a gentleman who was prepared to dig up the well and re-fill it with soil,
THE MILEAGE MARATHON PROJECT
The Mileage Marathon was a contest held in many countries throughout the
world, sponsored by the Shell Company. The object of the exercise was to
achieve maximum distance from a given amount of petrol. Castle Hill High
School had built a car. It was Car 64 in the contest. It was heavy,
very heavy and very thirsty. This was not good enough for Colin. Next year
, we'll have our own car he said, and run it in the open section! So this
is how CAR 21 came into being.
It was usual for the NRMA to send out an engineer to help scrutinize the
vehicles. He was quite happy with the safety aspects of the car. The problem
was, he said, that the car wouldn't work because of the way it was wired
up. There was a GO and a STOP button and a steering lever. Other cars had
pull cord starts etc. We suggested he push the go button. It burst into life.
The engineer didn't realize he was dealing with Colin!
THE OVERHEATING ENGINE
Running 20 laps on AMAROO was quite a challenge. We had a Tanaka Whipper
Snipper motor that we had electronically fuel injected. It would get to the
19th lap and the car would refuse to restart. It was a case of overheating.
With time only for one last run, things were desperate. Colin punched a hole
in the outer skin of the car, ripped the back cover off the regulations booklet
and formed it into an air intake. Our last run was legal, 20 laps! The organizer,
Mary Packard, on finding out how Colin solved the problem, stated that it
was the only time that she knew of that the regulations book had done anyone
THE COMPUTER PROGRAM
Next year Colin was back with a vengeance. Out of his bag came a laptop computer.
You know, he said, There's something fishy about the Mileage Marathon Results.
They're not correct. After spending an hour or so trackside, with his computer
he decided to go to the control tower and see what was going on. He complained
that the results were incorrect. For which car? he was asked. The lot was
his reply! Couldn't be, the computer program comes from the UK and is the
same as used in every Mileage Marathon around the world was the response.
So Colin contacted the UK, pointed out what was wrong with the program, wrote
one that was correct, and the results were correct from then on!
CAR 21 worked well, very well! How would you like to drive from Sydney to
Melbourne on a gallon of petrol? In theory CAR 21 could. The measured performance
was 1084.5 miles per gallon. CAR 21 holds the Australian 2 Stroke Record
for the Mileage Marathon. CAR21 is now in pieces. Some at Mulgrave, some
THE TRAILING EDGE TECHNOLOGIST
Colin enjoyed researching radio history and having his efforts published.
In 1997 the family moved from Glenhaven to Maraylya. This proved to be the
turning point in Colin's activities. In a way Colin withdrew from his former
activities on one hand but in the other became recognized internationally
as a writer of historical radio articles. By using modern technology, by
way of the internet Colin developed a very high international profile as
a writer. He has a very sophisticated web page. Has - because that
page is going to stay there. I suggest you put Colin's callsign in
the Google Search Engine. VK2DYM elicits 75 results, mostly published article
references. He was a prolific writer of superbly researched, high quality
articles. To sample Colin's work, I refer you to the article "My Radio Collection"
on his web page. It is not technical. It is Colin at his journalistic
best. IT IS ALL TRUE. http://www.qsl.net/vk2dym/radio/collection.htm
If you were to go any where in the world to a military or historical
radio collectors meeting, rest assured, at least one person would know of
You will not be forgotten.
Colin passed away on 5th October 2004 at 2 a.m. in Westmead Hospital.
Colin is buried at Castlebrook Cemetery, near Kellyville, NSW.
Kurrajong Radio Museum
842 Bells Line of Road
KURRAJONG HILLS 2758