July 1963 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.
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
a 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
"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
"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.
Satisfied 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
"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 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.
- The Black Beast - May 1960
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
Joking and Jeopardy - December 1963
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."