December 1954 Popular Electronics
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
That's hot dog, not hotdog. In this third installment in the
adventures of John T. Frye's much-anticipated monthly exploits
of teenage electronics investigators Carl Anderson and Jerry
Bishop, pet mutt Bosco has developed a case of hot paw pads.
Using a makeshift Geiger counter and a homemade radio homing
device, the two boys set out to discover the source of Bosco's
warmth. A buried, as-yet undiscovered lode of uranium is high
on their suspect list, and visions of untold wealth dance through
their heads. Read on to find out what they found out.
Carl & Jerry: The Hot Dog Case
By John T. Frye
Jerry Bishop looked up from the transistor oscillator on
which he had been working all evening as the door of his basement
laboratory was flung violently back against the wall and his
chum, Carl Anderson, entered. In one hand Carl carried a small
rectangular box into which were plugged a pair of earphones
worn loosely around his neck. The other hand firmly clutched
the leather collar of a shaggy, stiff-legged Airedale who was
obviously accompanying his master under considerable protest.
"Hiya, Carl," Jerry languidly greeted his neighbor. "What
kind of a gadget is that? Don't tell me you have invented an
electronic flea killer and are about to demonstrate it on poor
old Bosco. Here, Bosco; here, boy."
"This thing is a radiation detector," Carl explained as he
released the dog and hastily slammed the door shut to cut off
his escape. "Aunt Ida out in Denver sent it to me. She says
out there these days a person without some sort of Geiger counter
feels as naked as a Westerner would have felt a hundred years
ago without his shooting iron. But now I want to show you something.
Put on these earphones."
As he said this he dragged the wall-eyed dog over to the
bench and handed the phones to Jerry. A slow, erratic clicking
sound could be heard in the phones, but as Carl unceremoniously
grabbed up one of Bosco's front paws and thrust it near the
box, the clicks suddenly increased in tempo, and a little neon
lamp on the face of the box flashed in unison.
"See!" Carl said excitedly. "That gadget shows all four of
Bosco's paws are hotter than a 110 volt lamp in a 220 socket!"
"Makes him a real hot dog, doesn't it?"
Jerry murmured facetiously and then backed hastily away from
the withering glance Carl directed at him.
"Don't try to be funny, Dope," Carl advised. "This is a serious
business. If we can just find where Bosco is acquiring these
hot tootsies, we may locate a big uranium deposit and become
independently wealthy. Why, in a couple of weeks we may be rolling
in bubble gum and comic books!"
"A fascinating prospect," Jerry observed disparagingly as
he tried to conceal how impressed he really was with Carl's
discovery. "Have you got any idea how old Torrid Toes here got
"Not much of one. I just happened to stumble on to his interesting
condition the first night I had the detector while I was trying
it out on everything in reach. All I know is that every evening
Bosco takes off up the alley and is gone for an hour or so,
and when he comes back he winds up the radiation detector as
he does now. After a while this radiation seems to die out until
the next time he makes one of these mysterious disappearances,
and then it is right back up there."
"Have you tried following him?"
In answer Carl turned around and displayed a large three-cornered
rent in his trousers where a hip pocket used to be. "How else
do you think I lost the seat of my pants?" he demanded. "I'll
swear Bosco knew I was trying to follow him and deliberately
made it tough on me. He ducked through holes in board fences,
jumped over barbed wire, cut through gardens, and stopped every
now and then and kicked dirt over his tracks. I was trying to
follow him over a fence when I suffered this pants casualty
- which incidentally I don't think Mom's going to appreciate.
I've been thinking about fastening a can of whitewash with a
small hole in it around his neck so the whitewash will leak
out and leave a trail I can follow."
"Perish the thought!" Jerry exclaimed.
"Such a crude mechanical contrivance is not worthy of a member
of Electronic Experimenters, Ltd. On top of that, it might lead
some curious busybody to our uranium lode. No, we must solve
this mystery electronically."
"Such as how?"
"It's coming to me," Jerry said as he looked through Carl
with the out-of-focus stare of a crystal-gazer. "Have you still
got the dry batteries we used to power your little communications
receiver during the radio club's hidden transmitter hunt last
month - and the shielded loop we used?"
"Yep, but if you're thinking of loading forty or fifty pounds
of transmitter on Old Bosco here, that's out. Pound for pound,
he's as tough as any dog in the neighborhood - and maybe a little
tougher -but he's no St. Bernard."
"Relax, Buster," Jerry said as he picked up a little clear
plastic box not much larger than a package of chewing gum. "Do
you think he can stagger along under this load?"
"Don't tell me that's a transmitter!" For a reply Jerry switched
on a small broadcast receiver above the workbench and tuned
it to a station on the low frequency end of the band. Then he
held the plastic box near the receiver and carefully adjusted
a small screw protruding from one side of the box. As he did
so, a heterodyning whistle swished down on the station being
heard in the radio and, as it came to zero beat, completely
blotted out the reception.
"Well I'll be darned," Carl marveled.
"That little cuss surely puts out a sock with only one tiny
hearing-aid battery for a power supply. But I didn't think transistors
could be made to work at radio frequencies."
"The first ones couldn't, but now they have new 'intrinsic-barrier'
type transistors that are capable of operating up to 400 megacycles.
Even this garden variety junction transistor I'm using will
oscillate nicely over the entire broadcast band. We can set
it for a dead spot at the low end of the band and then pick
it up on the loop antenna for a distance of several yards; yet
with no radiating antenna it will not put out enough signal
to violate the FCC's regulations concerning such devices."
"How are we going to carry the receiver, loop, and batteries?"
"I've figured that out, too, but I want it to be a surprise.
You bring all the stuff and Bosco over right after school tomorrow
evening, and I'll show you," Jerry said as he switched off the
receiver and started clearing off the bench for the night.
When Carl and Bosco entered the laboratory the next evening,
the former stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of a king-size
baby buggy standing in the middle of the room.
"Oh no, not that!" he groaned. "I'll die before I'll be caught
pushing that overgrown perambulator up and down the street loaded
with radio gear. Think what would happen if some of the high
school gang caught us doing it. They'd get out the net for sure.
Where did you ever get such a monstrosity, anyway?"
"It belongs to a cousin who used it for her twins. When she
moved away from town she stored it in our attic. It's built
like a Mack truck and will be just the ticket to carry the receiver
and batteries. Aw, Carl, come on! Don't be stuffy. After all,
we'll be going up and down the alleys, and it will be dark.
Anyway, scientists like us can't be worried about what people
"Well, all right," Carl agreed reluctantly; "but I'm warning
you right now that the first guy who makes a crack gets busted
right in the kisser."
"Fine," Jerry said. "We'll have to take it outside and load
the receiver and batteries in it. The loop can sit right on
top of the set, and I've got my flashlight so we can watch the
S-meter as we turn the loop. First, though, let's install the
transmitter on Bosco."
This was easily and simply done by firmly taping the little
transmitter case to the top straps of Bosco's harness that had
been put on him for the occasion. The dog promptly gave the
transmitter a shakedown test by rolling over and over and trying
in vain to scratch it loose with his hind paws. Then apparently
satisfied the transistor transmitter could "take it," he proceeded
to ignore its presence completely.
By the time the boys were called for supper, the receiver
had been installed in the baby buggy and tested. It worked to
perfection. Whenever the plane of the shielded loop was at right
angles to Bosco, the signal indication from the transmitter
on the communication receiver's S-meter fell to zero; but as
soon as the loop was rotated slightly on its vertical axis,
the meter reading started up and reached a broad maximum as
the plane of the loop became parallel to a line drawn to it
from the transmitter's location. By using the sharp null reception
position as a pointer, the shifting direction of the dog as
he gambolled about the yard could be easily followed; furthermore,
the intensity of the received signal gave a rough idea of the
animal's distance from the receiver.
Bosco was chained to the clothes line to prevent his taking
off while the boys were eating, but as soon as they had bolted
their meals they unfastened him and waited impatiently for him
to start his mysterious journey. Perversely, though, he seemed
to be in no hurry as he casually disinterred a couple of buried
bones for critical inspection and then curled up under the perambulator
for a short nap. Finally, though, he crawled out from beneath
the baby buggy, stretched luxuriously, and then trotted purposefully
out the gate into the alley.
"There he goes," Carl whispered excitedly. "He's got that
faraway look in his eyes he always has just before he starts."
"Well don't just stand there; let's get going!" Jerry exclaimed
as both boys grabbed the broad handle of the baby buggy and
started off in rattling pursuit of the dog. For a short distance
Bosco trotted straight down the middle of the alley, but then
he stopped and looked questioningly at the two boys who had
also stopped a half block behind him. Then the animal abruptly
dived through a hole in a board fence at the side of the alley
and disappeared from view.
"He's starting evasive action," Jerry exclaimed as they hurried
to the spot where the dog had last been seen. Stopping here,
Jerry began swinging the loop back and forth as Carl held the
flashlight on the S-meter of the receiver.
"Contact!" Jerry announced dramatically. "He's moving parallel
to the alley, but he's staying in the back yards to our left.
Now he's cutting back to the alley. Can you see him?"
"There he is," Carl announced. "He's back in the alley but
a whole block away. Let's" take after him!"
The boys took off in hot pursuit, and immediately Bosco faded
back into the shadows on the right side of the alley this time.
His attempt to shake off his pursuers did him no good, though,
for whenever they stopped they could spot his direction as easily
as if they could see him. Fortunately his zig-zag course kept
on in the general direction of the alley, and from time to time
the boys would get a glimpse of him in the distance by the light
of an alley lamp. These glimpses and the weakening indication
on the S-meter soon revealed that Bosco, in spite of his circuitous
course, was making much better time than the perambulator.
"At this rate," Jerry announced breathlessly, "he's going
to get beyond the reach of that little transmitter soon. It's
having to stop to take a reading that slows us down. Hm-m-m-m,
I do believe there is room for me in the back of that buggy
if you think you can push me. That way I could keep a continuous
check on him as we went along and we could soon catch up, but
"Get in, get in!" Carl commanded. "The way you're puffing,
you'd not last more than a block or so anyway; and while you're
yakking, that uranium mine is slipping through our fingers."
Jerry promptly clambered into the back of the buggy. Before
handing him the flashlight, Carl couldn't resist bending over
to tickle his chum beneath his round chin as he said in syrupy
tones, "Kitchee, kitchee, coo; whose little baby are you?" Then
he jumped back just in time to avoid being kicked violently
in the stomach by Jerry's fast-moving foot.
With the new arrangement the boys rapidly closed the gap
between them and Bosco. While Carl pantingly propelled his strange
cargo over the rough bricks of the alley, Jerry kept up a continuous
patter of: "He's about thirty degrees off the starboard bow
- now he's stopped - there he goes again - whoa, slow down;
we've gone past him - okay, lift the anchor; he's starting forward."
So intent were the boys on the pursuit that before they realized
it they were almost a mile from home, and the houses were beginning
to thin out.
"Hey," Jerry suddenly announced over his shoulder, "he's
heading for the city dump."
"Good," Carl muttered darkly. "I know something I'd like
to dump right now."
It was not difficult to follow the dog along the winding
paths through the rubbish left open for the dump trucks, and
finally Jerry announced that Bosco had stopped moving just a
short distance to the right of the path. Carl stopped the perambulator,
and Jerry turned the flashlight on the miniature cliff of ashes,
tincans, and paper boxes that rose in that direction. Suddenly
revealed in the bright circle of light stood Bosco, but he was
not alone. Standing at his shoulder was a smooth-haired little
brown dog of uncertain ancestry, and around their feet played
two roly-poly little puppies.
"Well what do you know!" Carl said softly; "Old Bosco is
a family man."
"No doubt about that," Jerry agreed as he climbed out of
the creaking perambulator; "and that explains why Bosco takes
off every evening, but it still does not explain where he picks
up the radiation. Bring along your detecting gizmo, and let's
climb up there."
In a moment the two boys were squatted at the mouth of the
shallow little cave in which Bosco's wife and children had been
living - and the radiation detector was clicking away in rising
"The hot spot is right here in front of the den," Carl announced
as he moved the detector back and forth. Reaching down he brushed
away the dirt at that point and quickly came to four or five
pieces of thin metal about three inches square. As he picked
up one of these and held it close to the detector, the clicking
rose to a crescendo.
"Pure plates of uranium," Carl said with wide eyes.
"Turn over that pure plate," Jerry suggested with a grin.
As Carl obeyed, he gasped in surprise and then began to chuckle.
"Discarded clock faces with fluorescent numbers," he exclaimed.
"They doubtless are rejects from that alarm clock factory on
the other side of town. Bosco has been getting a little of the
fluorescent material on his feet whenever he called on his family,
and then the stuff gave my radiation detector fits until it
wore off. Oh well, I never wanted to be rich anyway."
"Me neither," Jerry said as he fondled one of the cuddly
little puppies; "but what are we going to do with Bosco's family.
We can't leave them here."
"And why should we when we have a carriage awaiting that
was built especially for twins?" Carl demanded as he waved at
the perambulator down below.
In a few minutes the mother dog and her two offspring were
comfortably bedded down in the perambulator, and the boys were
pushing it along toward home. Overhead a bright moon smiled
down on them and on Bosco trotting proudly ahead and glaring
fiercely into the shadows for any lurking dangers that might
threaten the group under his protection.
"This has been fun," Carl announced contentedly. "There's
something about solving a mystery that makes you feel good."
"Yes," Jerry agreed, "and the thing I like is that our electronic
apparatus worked so well. If there had been a uranium deposit,
we'd have found it just as easily as we found those clock faces.
Guess we can chalk up a victory for Electronic Experimenters,
Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop were two teenage boys whose
love of electronics, Ham radio, and all things technical afforded them ample opportunities
to satisfy their own curiosities, assist law enforcement and neighbors with solving
problems, and impressing – and sometimes toying with - friends based on their proclivity
for serious undertakings as well as fun.
Vox Electronik, September 1958
- Pi in
the Sky and Big Twist, February 1964
Bell Bull Session, December 1961
Boogie, August 1958
- TV Picture,
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
Trap, March 1956
at Work, June 1956
Aweigh, July 1956
Bosco Has His Day, August 1956
Hand of Selene, November 1960
or Not?, October 1956
Electronic Beach Buggy, September 1956
Extra Sensory Perception, December 1956
in a Chimney, January 1956
Performance, November 1958
of Judas, July 1961
- The Sucker,
New Year, January 1963
Snow Machine, December 1960
Extracurricular Education, July 1963
Slow Motion for Quick Action, April 1963
Sleuthing, August 1963
- TV Antennas,
a Soroban, March 1963
Fair --", September 1963
Worm Warming, May 1961
Santa's Little Helpers - December 1955
Two Tough Customers - June 1960
Pocket Radio, TV Receivers
Yagi Antennas, May 1955
Stomping, March 1962
Blubber Banisher, July 1959
- The Sparkling
Light, May 1962
Research Rewarded, June 1962
- A Hot Idea, March
- The Hot
Dog Case, December 1954
A New Company is Launched, October 1956
Under the Mistletoe, December 1958
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
- "BBI", May 1959
Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River
Sniffer, July 1962
- Ham Radio,
Torero Electronico, April 1960
Wireless, January 1962
Electronic Shadow, September 1957
Elementary Induction, June 1963
- He Went
Electronic Detective, February 1958
Aiding an Instinct, December 1962
- Two Detectors,
with a Tachometer, July 1960
and the Pirates, April 1961
The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
Carl & Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is
now available. "From 1954 through 1964, Popular Electronics published 119 adventures
of Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop, two teen boys with a passion for electronics
and a knack for getting into and out of trouble with haywire lash-ups built in Jerry's
basement. Better still, the boys explained how it all worked, and in doing so, launched
countless young people into careers in science and technology. Now, for the first
time ever, the full run of Carl and Jerry yarns by John T. Frye are available again,
in five authorized anthologies that include the full text and all illustrations."
Posted February 5, 2014