December 1962 Popular Electronics
of Contents] People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about
and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics
was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights re hereby
acknowledged. See all articles from
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
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.'
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
1810 Spear 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. (credit to
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Carl & Jerry: Aiding an Instinct
a Carl and Jerry Adventure
By John T. Frye W9EGV
and Jerry met at the entrance to the H-3 Residence Hall of Parvoo
"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
"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
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
As Carl finished speaking, he rolled up a pants leg and tenderly
felt a barked shin. Replying to Jerry's questioning look, he shamefacedly
"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
"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
"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
"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 conduit.
"Now let's put on our coats and give it the acid test," Jerry
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
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 practice."
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 the field.
"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
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
"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
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.
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
"Okay, Carl; let's see you turn around and come back," Otis called
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 your
"I was making a loop out of my arms to pick up the
earth's magnetic currents," Carl told him with a mocking grin.
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!
Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is now available. "From 1954 through 1964, Popular Electronics published
119 adventures of Carl and Jerry, 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 Beach Buggy
- September 1956
- Extra Sensory Perception
- December 1956
- Trapped in a Chimney
- January 1956
- Command Performance
- November 1958
Education, July 1963
- Treachery of Judas,
- The Sucker, May 1963
Stereotaped New Year, January 1963
- The Snow Machine, December 1960
Extracurricular Education, July
- Slow Motion for Quick Action,
- Sonar Sleuthing, August
- TV Antennas, August 1955
Succoring a Soroban, March 1963
"All's Fair --", September 1963
Operation Worm Warming, May 1961
- The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
- Two Detectors, February 1955
Tussle with a Tachometer, July 1960
- Therry and the Pirates, April 1961
The Sparkling Light, May 1962
Pure Research Rewarded, June 1962
Hot Idea, March 1960
- The Hot Dog
Case, December 1954
- A New Company
is Launched, October 1956
the Mistletoe, December 1958
Eraser, August 1962
- Blubber Banisher,
- "BBI", May 1959
Ultrasonic Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River Sniffer, July 1962
Ham Radio, April 1955
El Torero Electronico, April 1960
Wired Wireless, January 1962
Electronic Shadow, September 1957
- Elementary Induction, June 1963
- He Went That-a-Way, March1959
Electronic Detective, February 1958
- Aiding an Instinct, December 1962
Posted April 16, 2014