Peter Smith, G4JNU, 23 December 2018

| April 18, 2019
Peter Smith, G4JNU (SK)

Peter Smith, G4JNU (SK) at the McMichael Rally, 2013

Peter Smith, G4JNU died aged 81 on December 23rd 2018. He was a very skilled electrical engineer and a fine mechanical engineer as well.

Peter grew up in an engineering household in Reading.  Peter’s father was a machine workshop instructor with the REME at Arborfield and Peter was proud that, with a lathe and other machinery specially installed in the back bedroom of their modest home, both of his parents helped the war effort by manufacturing aircraft parts. It became clear only recently, that they were part of a clandestine network throughout the South of England that secretly built many Spitfires hidden in garages, sheds and barns. The story is now told in the recently released film, Secret Spitfires, which includes Peter recalling some of his wartime memories.

He started his working career in the late 1950s with an electrical engineering apprenticeship at the GPO at Taplow Court, near Maidenhead. Later, whilst at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, he gained his Chartered Engineer status and met his future business partner with whom he set up an electronics company – CONTECH.

Peter relished the freedom of having his own company and enjoyed working on many interesting projects – a key one being the design, development and production of equipment for TV audience monitoring, subsequently employed widely around the world until the advent of digital television.

This work triggered his interest in vintage television and vintage wireless. Over many years, he acquired and restored a very fine collection of vintage wireless receivers and associated equipment but his main interest was in the history of the electro-mechanical 30 line television system developed by John Logie Baird in the 1920s. He became a national authority on all Baird’s work and owned a fine collection of original early TV equipment,  early home-made items such as a mirror drum Televisor, original parts and modern reproductions (including modern electronics to reproduce the required signals) used to demonstrate different ways of displaying the narrow band medium wave transmissions on 30 line systems.

He supported museums, groups and individuals with his engineering skills and with his passion for early radio and television technology. Through his efforts many museums can now display original radio and television equipment working again and he has enabled working demonstrations of original equipment to be featured on several television programmes on the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky, including the BBC’s recreation in 2016 of the 1936 opening night of 405 line television.

Peter joined the RSGB and the Reading & District Amateur Radio Club (RADARC) in the late 1970s.  He supported the Club in many ways and gave many presentations at Club meetings, usually connected with vintage wireless or television. He occasionally displayed vintage McMichael Radios at the McMichael Rally held at Sonning each year.

Tribute by
Vin Robinson, G4JTR

(with apologies from the RSGB for not publishing this information in a more timely manner).

Category: Silent Keys