December 1955 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
When I saw this photo of a man holding a fluorescent light bulb in the beam of a radar antenna, it reminded me of how we used to do the same thing on our AN/MPN-14 radar system in the USAF. The unit in the photo is a General Electric's FPS-6 height-finding radar, which operates in the S-band 2,700-2,900 MHz region. The AN/MPN-14 is a mobile ground control approach (GCA) with both an S-band airport surveillance radar (ASR) and an X-band precision approach radar (PAR). Our S-band radar had a 600 kW peak power whereas the FPS-6 put out a couple megawatts, but 600 kW was enough to light the bulb. Of course these days you would never see a company-sponsored photo of a man standing in front of a high power radar antenna with a fluorescent light bulb in his hand. In fact, with as litigious as society is today I would not be surprised if the fellow's family has sued GE - especially if he eventually contracted some form of cancerous tumor.
Here is an interesting report of GE banning cargo airplanes fitted with airborne radar from transporting shipments of their photo flash bulbs.
The General Electric Company uses fluorescent lighting tubes to demonstrate the u.h.f. radio beam pattern radiated by the multi-million-watt FPS-6 radar. A study of radar beam effects is being made by G.E. engineer Zenn Zenon, shown on ladder holding another lighted fluorescent tube. The FPS-6 is a height-finding radar unit constructed for the U.S. Air Force. Typical of all modern radar equipment, the antenna is housed in a ball-like radome.
Posted September 19, 2019