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Carl and Jerry: Joking and Jeopardy
December 1963 Popular Electronics

July 1963 Popular Electronics

July 1963 Popular Electronics Cover - RF CafeTable of Contents

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Popular Electronics, published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.

This episode of John T. Frye's "Carl and Jerry" technosaga entitled "Joking and Jeopardy" is another of the slightly far-fetched adventures of the popular pair of electronics hobbyist chums, but as usual the story is a combination of drama and technical instruction. In this case it involves a remote-controlled model submarine which is signaled underwater by a pulsed ultrasonic transducer. The receiver decoded commands by causing a stepper relay (not a stepper motor) to increment a predetermined number of spaces to make the craft dive or surface, turn left or right, or start and stop. Remote control systems for models - be they airplanes, cars, or boats - did not have the luxury and convenience of proportional control in 1963 when this appeared in Popular Electronics magazine as we have nowadays (and have had since the middle to late 1960s. You can think of it as an early form of digital control with a single bit per channel.

Note: "PM" in PM motors stands for "permanent magnet," not pulse- or phase-modulated.

Carl & Jerry: Extracurricular Education

Carl and Jerry: Joking and Jeopardy, December 1963 Popular Electronics - RF Cafea Carl and Jerry Adventure

By John T. Frye W9EGV

The mid-December day found Carl and Jerry standing on the shore of a large, frozen, wind-swept lake watching some men fishing through the ice. Home from Parvoo University for the weekend, the boys were returning from Christmas shopping in a neighboring city when they spied the motley collection of fishing houses, tents, windbreaks, and rugged characters with no protection at all from the biting wind scattered over the frozen surface of the lake several hundred yards from shore.

"Catching anything?" Jerry hollered to a surly-looking, unshaven man crouched over a couple of poles.

The only answer was an unfriendly grimace and a mumbled phrase that sounded like "beat it."

"Burrr!" Carl exclaimed, dancing a jig to warm his cold feet, "let's get back to the car. I haven't seen a fish caught yet, and I can't bear to watch those poor clods standing there in this cold without even a nibble."

 "Yeah," Jerry reflected. "I was thinking the same thing. Do you suppose it would be in keeping with the holiday spirit if we sort of pepped things up for them ?"

"Hey there! What scheme is crawling through that evil mind of yours? I don't like that glint in your eye." "I was thinking about that miniature remote-controlled submarine we built last summer. Now if we pitch a tent to give us a place to work in the middle of that bunch of fishermen, and then turn the submarine loose down under the ice..."

There was no need for Jerry to finish. A slow grin spread over Carl's face as he thought of the possibilities. Two years of college weren't enough to eradicate an inborn love of mischief. "Come on! What are we waiting for?" he asked as he headed for the car.

It didn't take them long to reach their laboratory in the basement of Jerry's house and dig the miniature submarine and its associated parts out from beneath the workbench. The thing didn't look much like a submarine. It looked more like what it was: a two-foot-long piece of six-inch irrigation pipe with hemispheric caps fitted tightly over the ends. A propeller shaft came through a watertight bushing in the center of one of the caps, and a rudder projected downward from the hull just in front of the shaft. On either side at the rear of the cigar-shaped object were two movable vanes to control the up and down motion of the craft.

The propeller was protected from fouling by a cage composed of two U-shaped rods with their ends welded to the sides of the hull and crossing each other at right angles behind the end of the propeller shaft. A heavy nylon cord was fastened to the spot where these U-shaped pieces were welded together and was intended to be used for retrieving the submarine if the control system failed or the ship became snagged on the bottom. The boys were taking no chance of losing the elaborate control gear installed inside the crude hull.

"Think everything's still O.K.?" Carl asked as he helped Jerry spread the submarine and its parts out on the workbench.

Nodding, Jerry removed a gasket-sealed hatch from the top of the submarine so that fresh batteries could be installed to drive the main motor and power the control unit. The controlling was done by ultrasonic sound conducted through the water from a transducer stuck into the water at the control point to another transducer fastened outside the hull of the submarine.

The high-frequency signal was amplified by transistors inside the hull and then rectified and made to work a sensitive relay. This relay, in turn, operated a stepper relay that selected one of five functions: right rudder, left rudder, surface, dive, and stop motor. Four other positions permitted combined operation of rudder and diving planes. Actual working of the rudder and vanes was performed by two small reversible PM motors.

When power was applied to one of these motors, action of a series solenoid pressed the motor shaft against a rubber friction wheel, and a cord around the revolving shaft of this wheel moved the rudder or vanes the way a dial cord moves a pointer. When power was removed from a motor, its shaft disengaged the friction wheel and spring-loading returned the deflected surface to a neutral position.

"You press the relay while I check things out," Jerry ordered, and Carl gently depressed the contacts to make the stepper relay go into action. Jerry watched closely as the motors activated the various controls.

A delay circuit kept power from being applied to a motor until the stepper relay paused an appreciable length of time in one position. This prevented unwanted controls from "jiggling" as the stepper relay moved past their positions. The submarine contained enough ballast so it barely floated when dead in the water, and it made only powered dives. The control "console" - made out of a cheese box - had a duplicate stepper relay that moved in time with pulses sent to the sub so that a pointer on the console always indicated what function was being called for by the relay in the submarine.

Carl and Jerry remote-controlled submarine - RF CafeSatisfied that everything was working as perfectly as it had the previous summer, Carl and Jerry hurriedly dressed in their cold-weather gear, stuck a small tent, fishing gear, and ice-chopping tools into the trunk of the car, and took off for the lake. As the boys were carrying their stuff across the ice, they decided the weather hadn't warmed up and the fish weren't biting any better. They selected a vacant spot near the center of the group of fishermen.

"All right if we set up here?" Carl inquired politely of the surly character whom they had spoken to previously.

"Suit yourself," the man grunted. "The lake's free. If you want to, you two can go out there on the thin ice like that other fool is doing." He nodded to where a small man was vigorously chopping a hole in the ice some fifty yards north of the other fishermen.

Carl and Jerry quickly spudded two holes close to the one-foot-in-diameter limit through the ice and set up their small tent over them. The submarine, which had been kept carefully concealed in a piece of canvas, was slid through a hole into the icy water. Power was switched on, and a brilliant little lamp on the bottom of the hull glowed to indicate that all was ready. A windlass carrying a hundred and fifty yards of nylon cord was anchored beside the hole. Carl fastened the control transducer to the front of a crude periscope made of a piece of downspout and a couple of war-surplus prisms so that the signal was always projected in the same direction the periscope was "looking."

"Let's get our happy, unshaven friend first," Jerry suggested. "You watch him through the opening in the tent flap. We'll send the sub in a big loop around his fishing hole. I'll leave lots of slack in the line, and it'll float up against the ice. Ready ?"

"Up-I mean down-periscope!" Carl answered as he thrust the bottom of his crude observing instrument into the water.

Jerry keyed the transistorized ultrasonic oscillator and power amplifier inside the control console, and the stepping relay moved off the "stop motor" position. The propeller began to spin, and the submarine moved away swiftly. A layer of snow on top of the ice made it opaque, but Carl, peering through the periscope, could easily follow the bright light on the sub through the crystal-clear water.

"Bear right a bit," he said; "now steady as she goes ... we're about ready to come about ... hard aport ... that's fine . . . now straighten her up and hold that course . . . hard aport again . . . O.K. . . . a little right rudder . . . here she comes ... avast!''

"O.K. Captain Bligh," Jerry muttered, moving the control to "stop motor" position with taps of his key, "here comes your fish." The little submarine glided past the hole in front of him, and he reached down and grabbed the trailing line with his left hand and began turning the windlass with his right.

Carl, peering through the slit in the front of the tent, saw both rods of the bearded fisherman suddenly jerk down in unison as the encircling nylon cord pulled his lines taut. The man grabbed up both rods in a mad scramble and managed to thumb one of the reels. The tip of its rod bent down inexorably toward the ice and then snapped upward as the line broke. Precisely the same thing happened to the other rod when his thumb stopped the screaming of its click-warning. His howls of excitement brought the other fishermen out of their huts and tents.

"It must be a school of muskies!" the man shouted, brandishing the broken lines. "They never even slowed down when I tried to set the hooks!"

Boy, he really came alive!" Carl chuckled. "I wasn't sure for a minute there which of you was going to win the tug of war. You were really bracing your feet and yanking on that cord. Our friend will be talking about those twenty -pound muskies for the next week!"

The boys set to work untangling the nylon line and getting the little sub ready for another mission when suddenly they were silenced by a shrill cry for help. "He's fallen through!" someone shouted, and they looked out of the tent to see the little man who had gone fishing out on the thin ice floundering wildly in the center of a jagged hole.

Leaving their lines untended, the fishermen watched helplessly as the man tried again and again to lift himself out of the frigid water, the thin ice crumbling away in front of him. Several men started running toward him, but they had gone only a few yards when the ice began to crack ominously beneath their feet.

"We'll never reach him over this rotten ice, and he can't last long in that cold water," one man said to Jerry. "See, he's getting weaker already. Once he slips beneath the ice, he's done for."

"Come help us!" Jerry said, grabbing the man by the elbow. "If we can't reach him over the ice, maybe we can reach him under it!"

Directed by Jerry, the three of them raced back to the tent and quickly tore it down. Then they began chipping away at the ice between the two holes to enlarge the opening.

"We're going to try to send this remote-controlled gadget under the ice to the man out there," Jerry explained to the fishermen standing around in a circle. "If we can do it, maybe we can pull him here under the ice. I know it sounds crazy, but it looks like our only chance. Are you ready, Carl?"

Carl nodded, and the little submarine took off toward the man in the water who was now resting, exhausted, with his elbows propped on top of the ice. Carl strained his eyes to keep sight of the diminishing little light, and now and then quietly called for correcting signals to be tapped out by Jerry so that the submarine kept going straight for the hole in the ice. They kept paying out line from the windlass so there was minimum drag on the little ship.

"It ought to be about there," Jerry said. "A third of the line is off the reel. Tell hím to look for it." Before they could call to him, the man in the water suddenly reached down and came up with the line. He had felt the submarine brush past him.

"Make several half-hitches of that line around your wrist." Jerry called. "Tie it so it won't come off even if you black out. We're going to pull you to us under the ice. Take several deep breaths and then hold the last one and nod your head. Then relax and leave the rest to us. Do you understand?"

"I understand," the man's voice came weakly across the ice.

"Four or five of you grab this cord and be ready to take off across the ice with it when I give the word," Jerry instructed. "Start slowly, and then go as fast as you can. Remember he's not going to be breathing while you're pulling. But be ready to stop when I call. We don't want to fracture his skull against the sides of this hole. Okay! He's nodding his head! Take off!"

The volunteers started pulling on the cord, and the head of the man in the water disappeared from sight. The line slid rapidly out of the hole, but it seemed endless to the anxious eyes watching it. Finally, Jerry spotted a grease stain on the rope that he knew was only about thirty feet from the end. He let out a shout, and the men pulling the cord slid to a halt. At this instant the figure of the little man popped up through the hole in the ice, and a dozen hands lifted him, coughing and spluttering but very much alive, out of the water.

They rushed the shivering man to a waiting car, and the driver took off at once for the hospital. Back on the ice, Jerry quickly set about collecting the equipment.

"What's the rush?" Carl whispered. "I'm enjoying this hero bit. We're real big with these guys."

"Yeah ?" Jerry drawled out of the side of his mouth. "You just wait until they simmer down and start wondering why we had the sub out here, and then start connecting it with those muskie bites. Our bearded buddy isn't going to take kindly to our making a fool of him. Take a good look at those shoulders of his. The guy is built like Mr. Clean! Can't you just picture him feeding us our tin fish, batteries and all? I'm going while the going is good."

"Wait for me!" Carl shouted as he started after him.

 

 

Posted January 17, 2022

Carl & Jerry Episodes on RF Cafe

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.

Carl & Jerry Their Complete Adventures from Popular Electronics: 5 Volume Set - RF CafeCarl & 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."
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