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- The Radio Amateur's Hand Book - 5/44 -


7/8". An ordinary Umbrella is used as an Aerial

CHAPTER I

HOW TO BEGIN WIRELESS

In writing this book it is taken for granted that you are: _first_, one of the several hundred thousand persons in the United States who are interested in wireless telegraphy and telephony; _second_, that you would like to install an apparatus in your home, and _third_, that it is all new to you.

Now if you live in a city or town large enough to support an electrical supply store, there you will find the necessary apparatus on sale, and someone who can tell you what you want to know about it and how it works. If you live away from the marts and hives of industry you can send to various makers of wireless apparatus [Footnote: A list of makers of wireless apparatus will be found in the _Appendix_.] for their catalogues and price-lists and these will give you much useful information. But in either case it is the better plan for you to know before you start in to buy an outfit exactly what apparatus you need to produce the result you have in mind, and this you can gain in easy steps by reading this book.

Kinds of Wireless Systems.--There are two distinct kinds of wireless systems and these are: the _wireless telegraph_ system, and the _wireless telephone_ system. The difference between the wireless telegraph and the wireless telephone is that the former transmits messages by means of a _telegraph key_, and the latter transmits conversation and music by means of a _microphone transmitter_. In other words, the same difference exists between them in this respect as between the Morse telegraph and the Bell telephone.

Parts of a Wireless System.--Every complete wireless station, whether telegraph or telephone, consists of three chief separate and distinct parts and these are: (a) the _aerial wire system_, or _antenna_ as it is often called, (b) the _transmitter_, or _sender_, and (c) the _receiver_, or, more properly, the _receptor_. The aerial wire is precisely the same for either wireless telegraphy or wireless telephony. The transmitter of a wireless telegraph set generally uses a _spark gap_ for setting up the electric oscillations, while usually for wireless telephony a _vacuum tube_ is employed for this purpose. The receptor for wireless telegraphy and telephony is the same and may include either a _crystal detector_ or a _vacuum tube detector_, as will be explained presently.

The Easiest Way to Start.--First of all you must obtain a government license to operate a sending set, but you do not need a license to put up and use a receiving set, though you are required by law to keep secret any messages which you may overhear. Since no license is needed for a receiving set the easiest way to break into the wireless game is to put up an aerial and hook up a receiving set to it; you can then listen-in and hear what is going on in the all-pervading ether around you, and you will soon find enough to make things highly entertaining.

Nearly all the big wireless companies have great stations fitted with powerful telephone transmitters and at given hours of the day and night they send out songs by popular singers, dance music by jazz orchestras, fashion talks by and for the ladies, agricultural reports, government weather forecasts and other interesting features. Then by simply shifting the slide on your tuning coil you can often tune-in someone who is sending _Morse_, that is, messages in the dot and dash code, or, perhaps a friend who has a wireless telephone transmitter and is talking. Of course, if you want to _talk back_ you must have a wireless transmitter, either telegraphic or telephonic, and this is a much more expensive part of the apparatus than the receptor, both in its initial cost and in its operation. A wireless telegraph transmitter is less costly than a wireless telephone transmitter and it is a very good scheme for you to learn to send and receive telegraphic messages.

At the present time, however, there are fifteen amateur receiving stations in the United States to every sending station, so you can see that the majority of wireless folks care more for listening in to the broadcasting of news and music than to sending out messages on their own account. The easiest way to begin wireless, then, is to put up an aerial and hook up a receiving set to it.

About Aerial Wire Systems.--To the beginner who wants to install a wireless station the aerial wire system usually looms up as the biggest obstacle of all, and especially is this true if his house is without a flag pole, or other elevation from which the aerial wire can be conveniently suspended.

If you live in the congested part of a big city where there are no yards and, particularly, if you live in a flat building or an apartment house, you will have to string your aerial wire on the roof, and to do this you should get the owner's, or agent's, permission. This is usually an easy thing to do where you only intend to receive messages, for one or two thin wires supported at either end of the building are all that are needed. If for any reason you cannot put your aerial on the roof then run a wire along the building outside of your apartment, and, finally, if this is not feasible, connect your receiver to a wire strung up in your room, or even to an iron or a brass bed, and you can still get the near-by stations.

An important part of the aerial wire system is the _ground_, that is, your receiving set must not only be connected with the aerial wire, but with a wire that leads to and makes good contact with the moist earth of the ground. Where a house or a building is piped for gas, water or steam, it is easy to make a ground connection, for all you have to do is to fasten the wire to one of the pipes with a clamp. [Footnote: Pipes are often insulated from the ground, which makes them useless for this purpose.] Where the house is isolated then a lot of wires or a sheet of copper or of zinc must be buried in the ground at a sufficient depth to insure their being kept moist.

About the Receiving Apparatus.--You can either buy the parts of the receiving apparatus separate and hook them up yourself, or you can buy the apparatus already assembled in a set which is, in the beginning, perhaps, the better way.

The simplest receiving set consists of (1) a _detector_, (2) a _tuning coil_, and (3) a _telephone receiver_ and these three pieces of apparatus are, of course, connected together and are also connected to the aerial and ground as the diagram in Fig. 1 clearly shows. There are two chief kinds of detectors used at the present time and these are: (a) the _crystal detector_, and (b) the _vacuum tube detector_. The crystal detector is the cheapest and simplest, but it is not as sensitive as the vacuum tube detector and it requires frequent adjustment. A crystal detector can be used with or without a battery while the vacuum tube detector requires two small batteries.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--Simple Receiving Set.]

A tuning coil of the simplest kind consists of a single layer of copper wire wound on a cylinder with an adjustable, or sliding, contact, but for sharp tuning you need a _loose coupled tuning coil_. Where a single coil tuner is used a _fixed_ condenser should be connected around the telephone receivers. Where a loose coupled tuner is employed you should have a variable condenser connected across the _closed oscillation circuit_ and a _fixed condenser_ across the telephone receivers.

When listening-in to distant stations the energy of the received wireless waves is often so very feeble that in order to hear distinctly an _amplifier_ must be used. To amplify the incoming sounds a vacuum tube made like a detector is used and sometimes as many as half-a-dozen of these tubes are connected in the receiving circuit, or in _cascade_, as it is called, when the sounds are _amplified_, that is magnified, many hundreds of times.

The telephone receiver of a receiving set is equally as important as the detector. A single receiver can be used but a pair of receivers connected with a head-band gives far better results. Then again the higher the resistance of the receivers the more sensitive they often are and those wound to as high a resistance as 3,200 ohms are made for use with the best sets. To make the incoming signals, conversation or music, audible to a room full of people instead of to just yourself you must use what is called a _loud speaker_. In its simplest form this consists of a metal cone like a megaphone to which is fitted a telephone receiver.

About Transmitting Stations--Getting Your License.--If you are going to install a wireless sending apparatus, either telegraphic or telephonic, you will have to secure a government license for which no fee or charge of any kind is made. There are three classes of licenses issued to amateurs who want to operate transmitting stations and these are: (1) the _restricted amateur license_, (2) the _general amateur license_, and (3) the _special amateur license_.

If you are going to set up a transmitter within five nautical miles of any naval wireless station then you will have to get a _restricted amateur license_ which limits the current you use to half a _kilowatt_ [Footnote: A _Kilowatt_ is 1,000 _watts_. There are 746 watts in a horsepower.] and the wave length you send out to 200 _meters_. Should you live outside of the five-mile range of a navy station then you can get a general amateur license and this permits you to use a current of 1 kilowatt, but you are likewise limited to a wave length of 200 meters. But if you can show that you are doing some special kind of wireless work and not using your sending station for the mere pleasure you are getting out of it you may be able to get a _special amateur license_ which gives you the right to send out wave lengths up to 375 meters.

When you are ready to apply for your license write to the _Radio Inspector_ of whichever one of the following districts you live in:

First District..............Boston, Mass. Second " ..............New York City Third " ..............Baltimore, Md. Fourth " ..............Norfolk, Va. Fifth " ..............New Orleans, La. Sixth " ............. San Francisco, Cal. Seventh " ............. Seattle, Wash. Eighth " ............. Detroit, Mich. Ninth " ..............Chicago, Ill.

Kinds of Transmitters.--There are two general types of transmitters used for sending out wireless messages and these are: (1) _wireless telegraph_ transmitters, and (2) _wireless telephone_ transmitters. Telegraph transmitters may use either: (a) a _jump-spark_, (b) an _electric arc_, or (c) a _vacuum tube_ apparatus for sending out dot and dash messages, while telephone transmitters may use either, (a) an _electric arc_, or (b) a _vacuum tube_ for sending out vocal and musical sounds. Amateurs generally use a _jump-spark_ for sending


The Radio Amateur's Hand Book - 5/44

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