Jack's corner

When one speaks of electricity and radio although similar in certain respects, there are many contributors to the field; Faraday, Voltaire, Maxwell, Hertz, Marconi, Deforest, Tesla and Armstrong plus many, many more not mentioned in this article. This article will highlight the achievements of two great men who never gained fame or fortune in their lifetimes. Nikola Tesla who is responsible for the invention of radio and the creation of the electrical field also Edwin Howard Armstrong who made the radio field what it is today.

Inventor #1 Nikola Tesla, Inventor of radio and discoverer of modern Alternating Current use.
Edwin Armstrong said of Tesla “The world I think will wait a long time for Nikola Tesla’s equal in achievement and imagination.” Tesla is most responsible for Alternating Current the power that we get from our receptacles. The reason that Tesla’s A.C. concept was so successful is because of the phenomenon of mutual induction: when a time varying magnetic field or flux created by a coil called the primary, cuts the other coil called the secondary, a voltage is induced across the secondary. And since a time varying magnetic field is most easily produced by Alternating Current, a transformer requires an AC voltage and its secondary produces a higher or lower AC voltage. The simple laws of induction permit a transformer to convert one voltage across the primary to a different voltage across the secondary in conformity with the turn’s ratio of the secondary to the primary. It is for this reason that AC on the power lines may be transferred across great distances. Energy companies use very high voltage transformers (400K volts) to send electricity from grid to grid; consequently even though only relatively a small current may flow, great power may be delivered at the output. The same phenomenon of a transformer also produces losses Hysteresis, Flux Saturation, and Eddy Currents, still though such characteristics of a transformer exist, efficiencies of transformers can be manufactured in excess of 95%. Tesla was able to harness the power of Niagara Falls by building electrical generators and mounting their turbines in strategic locations so that the waterfalls would spin the Electric Power Turbines witch would spin the generators rotor (field) winding creating electrical power. There is a statue of Nikola Tesla at Niagara Falls in dedication of his work. Tesla is also credited with being the inventor of radio, he built a transmitter and receiver tuned to the same frequency (resonance). He experimented with many radio circuits and was able to control a small remote-controlled boat, what we now call RC Control. Tesla was experimenting with transmitting electricity through space (no wires) and built the Wydencliff tower in Shoreham, Long Island NY as part of the experiment. J.P. Morgan financed Tesla but withheld Tesla’s backing when Tesla said he wanted to communicate with extraterrestrials since J.P. Morgan was Tesla’s primary source of income for the Wydencliff project the experiment was never completed. Today NASA spends billions of dollars trying to find and communicate with extraterrestrials.

Inventor # 2 Edwin Howard Armstrong, a pioneer in the radio field and made radio what it is today.
His inventions the Regenerative, Super-regenerative Superheterodyne and F.M. radios are prevalent today. Edwin Howard Armstrong contributed more to radio then anyone else. He was impressed with the works of Guglielmo Marconi and Lee Deforest. Armstrong attended Columbia University and graduated an Electrical Engineer. While attending Columbia University, Armstrong invented the Regeneration radio in their basement laboratory, 1913. When WI broke out Armstrong joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps as an officer (Captain) where he invented the Superheterodyne radio for pilots to use in their airplanes and was promoted to Major prior to the end of the war. Armstrong built the first F.M. radio transmitter station in Alpine N.J. where it still is today W2XMN, 50 feet above the Hudson River the antenna tower is 423 feet high. The radio antenna tower could be seen 93 miles away in Manhattan from David Sarnoff’s office (President and chairman of RCA) on the 53 floor of Rockefeller Center. Lee Deforest invented the first tube a triode and called it the Audion tube. When asked to explain its operation Deforest could not explain the operation but Armstrong being an Electrical Engineer and Electronics designer could. Armstrong was intrigued with the Audion tubes operation and obtained one and fed-back (positive feedback) the signal many times which became the basic Regeneration receiver. Armstrong was very patriotic and let the military use his patents royalty free in both World Wars. Armstrong’s inventions show that the real source of innovations is not in a company but with the individuals that do not have a company or never incorporated. It is ironic that Armstrong’s very high tower antenna in Alpine N.J. was being used temporarily by NBC Television shortly after the World Trade Center disaster of 911so that NBC Television could still broadcast. Armstrong originally built this tower antenna in that location as a rebuff to David Sarnoff, president and Chairman of NBC who criticized and caused Armstrong much cost and time in litigation of his patents. Distraught over the many years of litigation with RCA, Armstrong committed suicide. His wife Marion who was David Sarnoff’s secretary continued the litigation and won patent infringement’s not only with RCA but with other popular radio company’s as well.

 The ARRL Handbook will contain projects and explanations of the Regeneration, Super-regeneration, Superheterodyne and Frequency Modulation radio receivers and transmitters

Add comment

Security code

1000 characters left