December 1962 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.
By 1962, John T. Frye's techie troubleshooting teenagers Carl
and Jerry had graduated from high school and were attending
Parvoo University (PU?) as electrical engineering students.
It was a natural progression. Unlike many of the company names
and products - like the
Delco DN278 transistor mentioned here - that appeared in
the Popular Science series, the college's name is fictional.
Maybe author Frye had a connection to
Porvoo, Finland, and Anglicized the name. I ran "parvoo"
through a couple online anagram solvers to see if it was a disguised
name (which would be apropos for a detective story) and the
closest it came to a real word is 'vaporo,'
which is an
Esperanto term for 'vapor' or 'steam.'
Poovar is a town in India, but that is an unlikely inspiration
as well. Anyway, in this installment of Carl & Jerry,
the scholastically-inclined duo delve into the physics behind
some animals' ability to sense geographical direction and navigate
accurately across long distances.
Update 4/22/2014 -- RF Cafe visitor Jim
Pollock, of Solon, Ohio, wrote: "In regard to the Carl &
Jerry story and Parvoo University consider the following. The
stadium in the story is Moss-Ade stadium. The stadium at Purdue
University is Ross-Ade stadium. I would guess that Parvoo
comes from Purdue." According to a search I did to determine
whether Frye ever attended Purdue, "Remarkably enough, he never
attended Purdue University, but instead studied at the University
of Indiana, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago."
Frye lived at
Street, Logansport, Indiana, most of his life. Just another
note; looking at Google maps, the Ross Ade stadium at Purdue
does have the open end facing SSE as noted in the story.
Carl & Jerry: Aiding an Instinct
a Carl and Jerry Adventure
By John T. Frye W9EGV
Carl and Jerry met at the entrance to the H-3 Residence Hall
of Parvoo University.
"Where've you been?" Jerry asked his chum as they climbed
the stairs to their third-floor room.
"Oh, just goofing off over at the Sweet Shop," Carl replied.
"One of the guys had a letter from a pal at an Eastern school,
and there was a cute story in it. Seems a professor at this
college was conducting a small graduate class of nine students.
The prof did a considerable consultation business, and having
to lecture at a particular time each day often cut into this
lucrative sideline. So he conceived the idea of tape-recording
his lectures and having his secretary take the recorder to the
classroom each day and start it.
"About a week after this system was put in effect, the prof
happened to be in the classroom building during the hour he
was supposed to be lecturing, and he decided to check on how
things were going. As he stood outside the closed door of the
classroom, he was pleased to hear his own voice droning away
inside; but when he opened the door, not a living soul was present.
Instead, his recorder was talking away on his desk, and grouped
around it were nine other recorders taking down every word!"
"That's a good one," Jerry chuckled, "even if it's not true
- which it probably isn't. What other earth-shaking topics were
discussed at the Sweet Shop?"
"A psychology student, who is also a homing pigeon nut, was
boasting about the marvelous sense of direction of his birds.
He claimed that he carried a pigeon in a light-tight box mounted
on a turntable revolving about 2 rpm fifty miles from home,
and then when he released it, the bird made one little circle
and started in a beeline for its loft. Which brought up the
fact that bees have this built-in radar, or whatever it is.
I had to open my big mouth and suggest that some men may have
the same instinct. I pointed out that I had never been confused
about directions in my whole life and I wasn't ready to concede
supremacy in anything to a bird brain.
"At that, this guy, Otis, and three other psych students
started pooh-pooh'ing me, and I got a little hot under the collar.
Before I knew it I was involved in a wacky wager. Tomorrow night
we're all going out to the football stadium. They will blindfold
me, and I'm to walk out into the middle of the stadium, turn
around, and go straight back to where I started. If I fail,
I have to wear a Daniel Boone coonskin cap, complete with tail,
for a whole week; but if I succeed, all four of the psychoceramics
- crackpots to you - have to flutter their elbows and make pigeon-like
cooing noises every time I snap my fingers in their presence,
also for a whole week."
"How did D. Boone get into the act?"
"One time someone asked him if he had ever been lost. He
said no, he had never been lost, but he was bewildered once
for three days. The guys claim I'll be singing the same tune
after tomorrow night."
As Carl finished speaking, he rolled up a pants leg and tenderly
felt a barked shin. Replying to Jerry's questioning look, he
"I decided to make a little test run after I left the Sweet
Shop; so I went out to the stadium, blindfolded myself, and
tried to walk out into the center and back. I ended up in the
bleachers clear down at one end. Do you think I'll look better
with the tail of that cap hanging straight down the back or
kind of over one shoulder?"
"Don't give up so easily! You were stupid to get into an
argument with those psych boys on their own ground; but now
you're in it, you have to do all you can to uphold the honor
of the engineers. Maybe we can rig up some sort of electronic
aid for your feeble homing instinct."
"If we do, we're going to have to be pretty sly about it. Those
boys know about us, and they warned me that they won't stand
for any electronic hanky-panky. They'll probably frisk me before
I take the test."
"Hm-m-m, that complicates matters," Jerry mused; "but I wonder
- here, take a look at this," he broke off, and began sketching
a simple circuit on a scratch pad. "This is a gadget I found
an electrician using to locate conduit in a motel where he was
installing air-conditioning units. I talked him into letting
me peek inside the little box and sketch the circuit.
"As you can see, the circuit consists of a
"Delco 2N278 transistor connected as
an r.f. oscillator self-modulated by an audio blocking network.
It's powered by a 67 1/2-volt B battery. To use it, you tune
the oscillator to a dead spot in the broadcast band and clip
this antenna lead to an outlet box. Then you employ any portable
radio receiver to pick up the tone-modulated signal radiated
from the conduit a few feet into surrounding space or earth.
"The electrician said it was a dandy gadget for locating
buried or cement-encased conduit. I've had all the parts here
in my desk for three months, and I think now's the time to build
it. Let's get busy."
"If you say so," Carl agreed, "but I don't really see how
that thing is going to help."
The little instrument was simple to construct, and the boys
soon completed it. They checked it out by connecting it to an
outlet box in their room and tracing the wiring around the building
with a transistorized receiver. The tone could be picked up
anywhere in H-3 whenever the receiver was brought near a concealed
"Now let's put on our coats and give it the acid test," Jerry
A few minutes later they were standing inside empty Moss
Ade Stadium. Parvoo campus was always the coldest place in the
state, and the empty, U-shaped stadium was the coldest place
on the campus, with a damp, bone-chilling wind blowing into
the mouth of the U from the south-southeast.
Jerry clipped the antenna lead of the gadget to an outlet
receptacle in the press box and began to walk along the edge
of the football field, stooping over and holding the little
transistor radio only a foot or so from the ground.
Suddenly he stopped and exclaimed, "Ah, there it is! I was
hoping a conduit might run across the field. Take the receiver
and trace it across. You're the one who's going to need the
Carl obediently took the receiver and started tracing the
buried conduit out across the field. As long as the receiver
was held within a few inches of the frozen ground, the signal
came in clearly; but if the receiver was raised or moved a couple
of feet to either side of the buried pipe, the sound diminished
rapidly. It was soon evident that the conduit ran straight across
"That's that; let's head for home," Jerry said, through chattering
teeth. "We still have some camouflaging work to do."
Back in their room, the boys worked out the rest of the details
for their plan, and then they studied until after midnight to
make up for lost time. They liked fun as much as any boys, but
they never forgot they were at Parvoo to get an education. Studies
came first with them.
Carl and Jerry were sitting quietly in their room the next
evening when the four psychology students knocked. The latter
did not stand on ceremony but quickly and efficiently began
to frisk Carl for any possible hidden electronic equipment.
Otis, their short, bespectacled leader, even turned the pockets
of Carl's overcoat wrong-side-out and went carefully over the
lining feeling for suspicious lumps. The tail of a coonskin
cap hung casually out of Otis's own coat pocket.
"Well, if you suspicious jokers are satisfied, let's get
going," Carl said as he picked up his four-buckle arctics standing
by the door and began putting them on. As he carefully tucked
his pants legs inside the big and clumsy overshoes, he deftly
plugged a little wire peeping from a pants cuff into the earphone
jack of a very small transistorized receiver concealed in a
black cloth pocket sewed to the inside of the top of the right
arctic. The thin, flexible, two-conductor cable ran up his pants
leg, through his shirt, up the right sleeve, and terminated
in a tiny earphone taped to the inside of his biceps.
The group of boys went out the back into a night in which
a few scattered snowflakes were just beginning to fall. The
windows of H-2 and H-1 were glowing brightly as they passed,
and off to the right they could see the tower of the Men's Quadrangle.
Carl was careful to be in the lead as they entered the stadium,
and he stopped directly at the point where he knew the buried
conduit started across the field.
Three different blindfolds were tied across Carl's eyes;
and then, at a pre-arranged signal, three of the boys grabbed
Jerry, threw him to the ground, and sat on his outstretched
arms and feet.
"Just making sure there's no collusion between you two,"
Otis explained with a grin. Jerry was thanking his lucky stars
that he had had the foresight to attach the gadget to the conduit
and turn it on just before supper. Since it only drew about
five mils, it should still be going strong.
At a command from Otis, Carl crossed his arms over the top
of his head and started out through the drifting snowflakes.
He moved with a most peculiar gait; the right foot slid over
the ground as though shod with a snowshoe while the stepping
was done with the left foot. At first he moved slowly and hesitantly,
but then he seemed to gain confidence and moved more briskly.
Seeing that Carl deviated very little from a perfectly straight
line across the field, Otis held a finger to his lips for silence,
then moved stealthily around the rim of the semi-bowl until
he was some fifty yards from the point at which Carl had started.
By this time the blindfolded youth was two-thirds of the way
across the stadium.
"Okay, Carl; let's see you turn around and come back," Otis
Tricked by the direction of the voice, Carl turned toward
Otis and took a couple of steps in that direction. Suddenly
he stopped short, realizing that something was wrong. As his
crossed arms held the concealed earphone more tightly against
his ear, he slid his extended right foot experimentally from
side to side. When the signal which was being radiated from
the length of buried conduit revealed the whereabouts of the
pipe, he turned away from Otis and began retracing the path
he had followed coming out into the field.
In a few minutes, he stumbled into Otis, who had come back
and was standing right at the point from which Carl had started.
"Okay," Otis said as he helped Carl off with the blindfolds,
"you win, but I still think there's something fishy about how
you did it. What's with this business of holding your arms over
"I was making a loop out of my arms to pick
up the earth's magnetic currents," Carl told him with a mocking
Jerry had been released and was trying to beat some circulation
back into his numbed arms. "You couch-boys just don't appreciate
how smart we double-E's are," he chided.
Out of the corner of his eye, Carl noticed Otis surreptitiously
trying to tuck the dangling coon tail back into his coat pocket.
A beatific smile spread over Carl's features, and his long arm
shot above his head while his fingers snapped sharply.
The four psychology students exchanged sheepish glances.
Then each of them began to wave his elbows in a ludicrous imitation
of fluttering wings while a discordant chorus of "coo-coo-coo-coo"
came from their throats!
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 lashups 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."
Carl & Jerry Episodes on RF Cafe
- Electronic Eraser,
- Electronic Trap, March
- Geniuses at Work, June
- Eeeeelectricity!, November
- Anchors Aweigh, July
- Bosco Has His Day,
- The Hand of Selene,
- Feedback, May 1956
- Abetting or Not?, October
- Electronic Beach
Buggy, September 1956
- Extra Sensory
Perception, December 1956
- Trapped in a Chimney,
- Command Performance,
Education, July 1963
- Treachery of Judas, July
- The Sucker, May 1963
- Stereotaped New
Year, January 1963
- The Snow Machine, December
Education, July 1963
- Slow Motion for
Quick Action, April 1963
- Sonar Sleuthing, August
- TV Antennas, August 1955
- Succoring a Soroban,
- "All's Fair --", September
- Operation Worm Warming,
Stomping, March 1962
- The Blubber Banisher,
- The Sparkling Light, May
- Pure Research Rewarded,
- A Hot Idea, March 1960
- The Hot Dog Case, December
- A New Company is Launched,
- Under the Mistletoe,
- Electronic Eraser,
- "BBI", May 1959
- Ultrasonic Sound Waves,
- The River Sniffer, July
- Ham Radio, April 1955
- El Torero Electronico,
- Wired Wireless, January
- Electronic Shadow,
- Elementary Induction,
- He Went That-a-Way,
- Electronic Detective,
- Aiding an Instinct,
- Two Detectors, February
- Tussle with a Tachometer,
- Therry and the Pirates,
- The Crazy Clock Caper,
Posted April 16, 2014