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.

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 chalk!"

Sometimes he was riding on the EDGE Sometimes he was CUT by Technology.

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.

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 amps!!

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, gratis!

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!

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 any good.

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 at Kurrajong.

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.

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 Colin MacKinnon.
73's Colin
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.

Ian O'Toole
Kurrajong Radio Museum
842 Bells Line of Road