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           Photonics  (P1)

AWA Limited was Australia's blue-chip electronics company from 1913 to the mid-1980s when it peaked at $600M turnover and 6000 employees located in offices throughout Australia and overseas. Its demise over a final period of 15 years to 1999 can be attributed to a sequence of events, including the elimination of tariff protection, corporate raiders such as Skase, auditors "without teeth", FOREX gambling and losses by Koval and subsequent asset stripping by institutional shareholders. Nothwithstanding the above, AWA was an excellent training ground for thousands of Australian engineers and was instrumental in seeding Australia's Photonics industry with many skills, technologies, products and systems. The following is a sampler of AWA Research Laboratory (AWARL), AWA Defence Industries (AWADI) and AWA Communications contributions to Australia's Photonics industry.

Liquid-Core Fibre-Comms 1974
AWA Horizontal Fibre Drawing Machine 1979
Optical Power Generator 1979
Army Battlefield Comms 1979
Underwater Acoustic Optical_Telemetry_System Transceiver Box
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Click on the above images for a larger or different view. The following is a short description of each AWA innovation.

Item 1 - 1974 - Liquid Core Optical Fibre and Optical Transmitter (joint AWARL-CSIRO development). For the purpose of demonstrating optical fibre communications links greater than 1km, this fibre was developed as an interim option to high-loss solid core fibre bundles until the low loss Chemical Vapour Deposition process was developed by AWARL.

Item 2 - 1979 - Horizontal Solid Core Optical Fibre Drawing Machine (Charles Storey operating). A 20 metre sample of fibre manufactured using this machine was donated by Dr Don Nicol to Ross Halgren in 1976 for experimentation as part of his undergraduate final year Honours thesis on "Optical Fibre Communications Systems" - being the first undergraduate thesis on optical fibre communications in the Sydney University Electrical Engineering Department.

Item 3 - 1979 - Optical Power Generator Test Equipment developed under contract to Telecom Australia Research Laboratories (TRL). Other test equipment like this was developed by AWARL since there was none yet available on the market. At around the same time, the AWARL Communications Laboratory also developed an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR), Optical Power Meter and Bit Error Rate Test (BERT) equipment for digital systems.

Item 4 - 1979 - Optical Transceiver section of a Army Battlefield Optical Communications System developed under contract to the Department of Defence (completed by Ross Halgren - AWARL). In the mid 1980s, this system was upgraded to a ruggedised Battlefield Optical Communications System developed by AWADI with DID support.

Item 5 - 1980 - Optical Fibre Underwater Telemetry System for remote Navy hydrophones to minimise electrical interference (developed by Ross Halgren - AWARL). This system used ceramic hydrophones with a short length of electrical cable and 2km of underwater optical cable manufactured by Olex using AWA fibre. In the late 1980s, AWARL developed a very sensitive all-optical hydrophone (Project 3) using singlemode fibre wound onto an acoustic drum.
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