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News Briefs
April 1962 Radio-Electronics

April 1962 Radio-Electronics

April 1962 Radio-Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Electronics, published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

When this News Briefs column appeared in a 1962 issue of Radio-Electronics magazine, solid state infrared (IR) detectors were still a relatively new technology, and integrated circuits had not entered the commercial marketplace. Developing an IR orientation sensor compact enough to fit a pair of them (azimuth and altitude sensing) into an orbiting surveillance platform was quite a feat. A phased array could not be made small enough, so a rotating angled mirror was used for steering - reminiscent of the early electromechanical television scanning systems. In a massive platform like a manned spacecraft (e.g., the Mercury spacecraft capsule), minute vibrations caused by a mirror rotating at 30 cycles per second would be virtually unnoticeable, but in a much less massive satellite, it might have been an issue for consideration. Also reported, among other things, were a new ruby laser, fraudulent color TV tube claims, and more women entering the engineering and science fields.

News Briefs

Monty Merlen, the inventor, with "horizon sensor" recovered after Project Mercury mission - RF Cafe

Monty Merlen, the inventor, with "horizon sensor" recovered after Project Mercury mission. Diagram shows how two of them control satellite's pitch and roll.

Infrared Stabilizes Satellites

A "horizon sensor" that works with infrared, and therefore operates as well in darkness as in daylight, has been patented by Monty M. Merlen of Barnes Engineering Co. The device has been used in the US Air Force's Midas and Discoverer programs, and in other NASA earth-orbiting and far-space projects. Two of them are used in the Project Mercury spacecraft. They detect pitch and roll and produce corrective signals that keep these space craft stable in flight.

The horizon sensor takes advantage of the fact that every object emits infrared energy, the amount being proportional to the fourth power of its absolute temperature (T'). Thus, the earth, which has an average temperature of 2800K (45°F) in moderate zones, radiates far more energy than does outer space, which is approximately at absolute zero. To the thermistor infrared detector which forms the heart of the horizon sensor, the earth appears as a hot sphere whose edges are easily detected.

The horizon sensor described in the patent generates a conical scan by rotating a tilted mirror or prism some 1,800 times a minute. As the line of sight from the instrument cuts across the edge of the earth, the sudden change from the cold of outer space to the, warm earth is sensed by the thermistor infrared detector and causes a change in voltage across this temperature-sensitive element. This signal, after amplification and processing, may provide corrective commands to an automatic stabilization system. The signal also may be telemetered to ground or used to operate a position indicator in the vehicle.

Two horizon sensors are normally installed in a spacecraft, their combined operation being used to correct both pitch and roll.

"New Color Tube" a Fraud

Tokyo police raided the head office of the Toyo Electric Manufacturing Co., that recently announced and "demonstrated" a sensational new color TV tube supposed to produce colors with layers of gases trapped in silicone grease (Radio-Electronics Nov. 1961, page 10). The homes of the former president of the company and an engineer were also raided. The police were apparently searching for evidence that the company had manipulated the market to push up the price of their stocks, which soared from 130 yen a share in January 1961 to 505 in July. Technical persons who saw the original demonstration believed it to be a fake product, and that the new set was a Toshiba receiver modified to make it look sufficiently different. The president attacked such statements as slander, but changed his attitude in October and discharged the engineer who, he said, had cheated the company.

Home TV Tapes

Video tape recorders for home entertainment are being planned by Sony Corp., Tokyo, states Kazuo Iwama, the firm's director of research and development. He is uncertain how soon circuitry can be simplified and production cost reduced enough for large-scale production.

Sony is now improving its transistorized video tape recorder for industrial use, says Mr. Iwama. To date, there are no definite marketing plans for this model.

Ruby Maser Works Continuously - RF CafeRuby Maser Works Continuously

The first solid-state optical maser to operate continuously has been announced by Bell Laboratories. A radical new way of exciting the maser crystal delivers five times the intensity that has been possible from previous continuous optical maser pumps. Instead of using a spiral xenon flash lamp, a mercury arc lamp is used, with a pair of concave spherical mirrors, to focus practically the whole of the light onto the face of the maser crystal. This reduces the power requirements from the more than 1,000 kw originally needed for pulsed operation to less than 1 kw for continuous operation.

Co-eds Enter Electronics

Young women college graduates this spring will find more jobs to choose from than did their sisters last year, according to a recent Wall Street Journal survey, and the barriers are more likely to be down in the electronics field than in others.

Litton Industries states: "We are stepping up our recruiting of women, especially those with electronic engineering and physics degrees. When we find a woman in one of those fields, we snap her up." Raytheon plans to hire about 10 scientifically oriented girls this year, compared with only 3 last year, and would hire more, excepting that the colleges "just don't have many girls who specialize in the fields we are interested in."

There is a tendency to feel that women are better suited than men for some finicky lab jobs. "Women are more patient and painstaking," according to one research lab head.

University spokesmen agree that women's greatest opportunities lie in the engineering, math and science fields. Mildred Webber, placement official at the University of Michigan, maintains that "women have just as good a chance as men in any science field, and can earn comparable salaries."

 

 

Posted June 10, 2024

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