John David Bunton

By February 9th, 2011


John David Bunton became interested in electronics at an early age building radios and fixing TVs while in high school. Winning a Commonwealth Scholarship made it possible for him to pursue his interest in electronics at Sydney University. Here he completed a BSc (1973) and BE (hons) (1975). From 1975 to 1982, he pursued postgraduate studies at Sydney University leading to the awarding of a PhD for a dissertation on ‘Loudspeaker Characterisation and Measurement’. The work required the construction of a measurement system connected to a minicomputer, investigations into measurement techniques and the use of the measured data and digital signal processing to understand loudspeaker behaviour. During his PhD studies he did part-time work that included tutoring, teaching, maintaining a teaching laboratory, and consulting.

In 1983, he joined Sydney University’s ‘Fleurs Radio Telescope’, then the highest resolution radio telescope in the southern hemisphere. The telescope had undergone a major upgrade but suffered from chronic unreliability. He discovered that the causes of this poor performance were structural problems in the antenna and encoder and improperly designed and debugged equipment. Design work included upgrades to the RF, IF and LO systems and converting the telescope to automatic unattended operation. He also contributed significantly to the post correlation processing packages and the astronomy program. During the last three years at Fleurs Radio Telescope, 1986 to December 1988, he was Engineer-in-Charge with responsibility for all aspects of telescope operation.


He joined CSIRO Division of Radiophysics, (now the ICT Centre) in 1989 and has worked there ever since. Starting as an Experimental Scientist he rose to Senior Principal Research Engineer in the Wireless Technology Laboratory. He has maintained his interest in all areas of electronics and has been a principal investigator or project manager for projects in:

  • Detection of mine roof incompetence
  • The applications of the A4 audio processor chip
  • Improvements to the Australian Broadcasting Corporations DCART system
  • NASA DSN array beamformer contract
  • Thomas Marconi Ultrasonic imaging system contract
  • Gigabit Wireless
  • ELF through rock communications
  • ASKAP digital systems
  • The correlator for the University of Sydney SKAMP, and MWA (an Australian-US university collaboration)
  • Boeing contract.

In 2010, work on the last four was continuing, in particular in the $100 million ASKAP project where he is Project Engineer and Leader of Digital Systems.

In his time at CSIRO, John Bunton has also made significant contributions to:

  • ELF through rock communications
  • ASKAP digital systems
  • The in-mine collision avoidance system
  • Adaptive Wireless hardware
  • mm-wave imaging
  • Still and video image compression projects.

A special area of interest is the development of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a one-billion-euro international instrument that is planned as the next generation radio telescope. His contributions have been in the areas of antenna concepts (cylindrical reflectors), antenna configurations, beamforming, correlators, interference mitigation, system constraints, and hybrid concepts. One major impact of this work was the introduction of wide-field-of-view capabilities at the 2003 Geraldton Conference. As a result of this, wide-field-of-view is now written into the SKA specifications and is a major driver for much of the SKA science.

Honours and awards

2008 NASA Space Board Award ‘Deep Space Array Based Network’
2007 CSIRO Chairman’s Medal, Gigabit wireless project team
2007 Engineering Excellence Award, Engineers Australia ‘Multi-Gigabit, mm-wave Wireless’
2000 ACARP Excellence Award
1992 CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement for the development of Fast Fourier Transform technology team


  • Burton JD, 2010, Personal communication.

Further reading