September 1963 Popular Electronics[Table 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 are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from Popular Electronics.
As is frequently the case, John T. Frye's intrepid teenage technophile experimenters, Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop, find themselves in an unplanned adventure. Often times they end up applying their electronics knowledge to bail themselves out of trouble, but this time the pair - and a friend - ended up helping the police catch some bad guys (an oft-occurring theme). As you will see after reading "All's Fair --," the device used would some day (today) be used by automobile manufacturers, at the behest of law enforcement agencies, to enable remote control of somebody else's vehicle.
A Carl and Jerry Adventure in Electronics
By John T. Frye W9EGV
Carl and Jerry were sitting on a bench inside the fenced enclosure waiting, according to their natures, their turn on the park tennis courts. Carl moved restlessly up and down the bench, swishing his racquet through the air in anticipation. Jerry was completely relaxed with his arms stretched out comfortably along the back of the bench.
"Hi, Butch," Jerry greeted a tanned, blond, shirtless youth who wandered over and slumped down beside him. "Why the morose mug ? You look like you've lost your best friend."
"That's just it. I probably have," Butch answered.
"You mean you and Kathy broke up?"
Carl exclaimed with sudden incredulous interest. "Not the 'Made for Each Other Couple' of our high school prom!"
"We had a scrap Sunday about her wearing those new stretch pants, and now she's dating Cecil Langtry tomorrow night. I wouldn't mind so much if it were anyone but that fluff buff."
"What did you call him?" Jerry asked. "A fluff buff. You know: a doll dazzler, a pro lobo; what our grandparents used to call a woman chaser or a lounge lizard. It's natural for a guy to like gals, and I'm all for it, but that character has made a career of women ever since kindergarten. Kathy doesn't know anything about handling a wolf like that. Maybe I ought to go mess him up right now," he concluded, getting to his feet and clenching his fists.
"Hold it!" Jerry exclaimed. "I'm no expert on feminine psychology, but something tells me thumping old Cecil isn't the answer. That would just make you look like a bully."
When Carl pushed the button, the car ahead stalled. The thieves started to run, but drawn revolvers changed their minds ...
"Yeah," Carl added. "What you want to do is let Little Red Riding Hood see those long wolfish fangs of his for herself. "
"Exactly," Jerry agreed, "and the 'Riding' bit gives me an idea. What would Kathy think if Cecil pulled the old 'that's-funny-my-car-won't-run' routine on her tomorrow night?"
"She'd flip," Butch answered promptly, sitting back down, "but Cecil is too experienced to try that on a first date."
"Maybe we could make it look like he was trying it," Jerry murmured thoughtfully.
"Knock it off, Jer," Carl broke in.
"This is none of our affair. Cecil never did anything to us, but I can tell by that gleam in your eye you're dreaming up something pretty nasty for him."
"Whose side are you on?" Butch demanded. "You guys know what a sweet girl Kathy is-most of the time. You like her, too. She's been my girl ever since our sophomore year in high school, and Cecil has been trying to horn in the whole time. If Jerry can help, let him do it. Don't worry about Cecil. 'All's fair in love and war,' and all that kind of jazz."
"What I have in mind may be a little illegal, but it will be an interesting electronic experiment," Jerry said persuasively.
"Okay, so you twisted my arm," Carl surrendered. "What wicked scheme is brewing in that criminal mind of yours?"
"Carl and I have been experimenting with small transistorized receivers for garage door openers," Jerry explained to Butch. "Although they usually work off the power line, you can power them with a battery, too. A transmitter mounted in your car or held in your hand sends out an r.f. signal modulated with a certain audio tone. The receiver picks up this signal and amplifies and detects it. The audio tone feeds through a sharply tuned filter to the base of a relay-control transistor, causing it to conduct and close a relay in its collector circuit, which starts the garage door opening and closing mechanism. The receiver relay won't close unless both the r.f. carrier and the modulating tone are the right frequencies.
"Here's my idea. We'll mount one of these little receivers in Cecil's car tonight. The normally-closed relay contacts will be wired into the lead going from the ignition switch to the ignition coil. As long as no signal is being received from the garage door transmitter in our car, Cecil's car will work fine, but when we push the transmitter button, his ignition will be cut out and stay cut out until the button is released.
"All we have to do tomorrow night is follow along behind Kathy and Cecil - the receiver's sensitive enough to pick up our signal up to a mile away - and kill his engine when he gets to some lonely spot. We wait until Kathy gets suspicious, and then we 'happen' by. When Cecil says he can't start his car, we try. Naturally, it starts and runs perfectly with the transmitter off. Kathy will decide that Cecil is a tricky make-out artist and will want us to take her home. You'll have to keep out of sight, Butch, but you should find Kathy in a different mood next time you see her."
"Sounds great!" Butch exclaimed.
"Putting that whatchamajigger on Cecil's car will be no sweat. He leaves it parked in front of the house every night, and it's dark under those shade trees. Think you can have it ready tonight?"
"Sure," Jerry answered. "Of course Carl and I will have to forget our game of tennis in the hot sun, but that's life. Come on, Carl. Let's take a look under the hood of a car like Cecil's to get the lay of the land. The quicker you can connect that receiver tonight, the better."
"I can connect it!" Carl repeated.
"This is your idea and Butch's girl. Why me?"
"Because you know more about it than Butch, and besides, you can run faster than I can," Jerry replied with simple but irrefutable logic.
Having obtained the information they wanted at an auto showroom, the boys went to their basement laboratory and quickly made the necessary conversion in the transistorized receiver. This consisted of powering it with a small battery and equipping the case with powerful little magnets that would hold it in place against the steel fire wall of the car. Leads were brought out from the relay contacts, and a short wire, serving as an antenna, was arranged to extend down beneath the motor.
About midnight the three boys cruised slowly past Cecil's home to find his classy-looking convertible parked at the curb and the house dark. This was fortunate, because a thunderstorm was coming up fast. Jerry parked a half a block down the street, and Carl got out and walked quickly along in the shadows of the trees.
Reaching the car, he quietly lifted the hood and went to work with the aid of a tiny penlight. Thanks to careful preparation, the operation was quickly completed. Carl stood erect and waved his flashlight from side to side, whereupon Jerry pushed a button beneath the dash several times.
"Carl's listening for the receiver relay to click when I push this transmitter button," Jerry said, answering Butch's questioning look. "It does, all right. See him waving the flashlight up and down? Wonder what he's waiting on."
Aided by the flickering lightning, the boys could see Carl poised in front of the car with his hand on the raised hood. Finally a peal of thunder followed a flash of lightning, and Carl slammed the hood at the same time, so that the noise was completely covered by the roar.
Jerry started his car, and Carl got in on the run just as the first big drops of rain came splattering down.
There is no way of knowing how eagerly Kathy looked forward to her date the next night, but the three youths could hardly wait. Finally, just at dusk, from a vantage point far down the street, they watched Cecil escort her to his convertible and drive away. Cautiously, they followed the car.
"Hey," Butch observed a few minutes later, "he must be heading for the dance at Ideal Beach by way of the old river road. Right now he's probably telling her it will be cool and nice driving down along the river."
"I don't know about you," Carl muttered. "For a non-wolf, you seem to know a lot about the technique. Jerry, the loneliest spot on the road is just around that next" bend. Do I push the button ?"
"Go ahead. I'll stop here and let Butch get back in the trunk. Hold that button in so Cecil can't start his car."
As Jerry was closing the trunk lid, two rough-looking youths came roaring up from behind and flashed past in a car with a sputtering, coughing motor.
"Holy cow!" Carl exclaimed, jumping out as the other car went careening past. "Those guys didn't hit you, did they?"
"No, but we better get going. I'm sure Cecil would pull over to the side of the road when his motor quit, but - hey! you took your finger off the button! Cecil probably started his car and is a mile away by now!"
The boys got into their car and quickly drove around the bend in the road. There, standing in the beam of the headlights, were Kathy and Cecil frantically waving their arms. Behind them was the car that had passed so recklessly. Cecil's convertible was not in sight.
"Keep right on going!" Cecil urged Carl and Jerry as he helped Kathy into the back seat and got in beside her. "Some guys up ahead have my convertible. It quit running, and before I could find out what was wrong a couple of hoods came up in a car that was just about out of gas. They pulled out a couple of switch-blades and said to get out because they were taking over. I told them it wouldn't run, but the funny thing is, it started right off for them when they tried it."
"A very funny thing!" Kathy remarked acidly.
Jerry already had his car rolling at nearly top speed, and they soon caught sight of the convertible ahead. Carl reached for the push button that would stop the stolen car, but Jerry shook his head. "Let's see where they go," he suggested. "Even four - I mean three - of us can't go up against a couple of switchblade knives."
Reaching the highway, the convertible doubled back toward town with Jerry doggedly following a quarter of a mile behind. Cecil understood vaguely that the boys hoped to corner the thieves where more help was at hand, but naturally he knew nothing of their ace-in-the-hole.
At the edge of town, Jerry speeded up until he was immediately behind the convertible. He noticed with satisfaction that the thieves were sticking to the highway which ran right down Main Street. They probably planned to be on the opposite side of town when the car-theft was reported.
"Now, listen, Cecil," Jerry called over his shoulder. "When your car is right opposite the police station a block ahead, it's going to develop engine trouble and stall. Be ready to jump out and run like a rabbit into the station and tell the police those two stole your convertible. You don't need to worry about their getting it started again, but they won't stick around long fooling with it."
"Okay, but I don't see how you know - "
Before he could finish, they were opposite the police station. Carl pushed the button under the dash, and the convertible slowed down and stopped.
As soon as Jerry jammed on his brakes, Cecil was out and running toward a couple of policemen coming out of the station. He shouted, and pointed at the two youths in his car. The thieves hopped out of the convertible and started to run, but the drawn revolvers of the two patrolmen quickly changed their minds.
We've been wanting to catch these two red-handed for a long time," one of the policemen said as the two surly-looking young men were relieved of their knives and handcuffed. "How did you persuade them to come right to us?"
"Well, - " Jerry began, only to be interrupted by a great kicking and shouting from the trunk of his car. "Good grief!" he exclaimed. "We forgot all about Butch."
The latter was released from the trunk, and now there was nothing to do but tell the whole story. Jerry told it while Carl thoughtfully recovered the transistorized receiver from Cecil's car and restored the ignition wiring.
As the tale unfolded, Cecil's face looked more and more grim. Kathy looked bewildered, then angry, and finally kind of starry-eyed. Butch, sure he had lost her for good, looked plain miserable.
"I'm not sure if I should thank you guys for saving my car or bust you in the snoot for what you were trying to do to me," Cecil said at the conclusion.
"They weren't trying to do anything to you, they were trying to protect me," Kathy retorted. "And when you try to park with a girl on the first date, almost make her walk home, and get her mixed up with car thieves and the police, she needs protection. If I never see you again it'll be too soon. Butch, will you take me home?"
Cecil watched in bewilderment as the couple walked away, holding hands. Then he went over to his car and slumped heavily down in the seat.
"Women!" - he exclaimed in deep disgust as he stepped on the starter.
Carl & 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
- Geniuses at Work, June 1956
- Eeeeelectricity!, November 1956
- Anchors Aweigh, July 1956
- Bosco Has His Day, August 1956
- The Hand of Selene, November 1960
- Feedback, May 1956
- Abetting or Not?, October 1956
- Electronic Beach Buggy, September 1956
- Extra Sensory Perception, December 1956
- Trapped in a Chimney, January 1956
- Command Performance, November 1958
- Extracurricular Education, July 1963
- Treachery of Judas, July 1961
- The Sucker, May 1963
- Stereotaped New Year, January 1963
- The Snow Machine, December 1960
- Extracurricular Education, July 1963
- Slow Motion for Quick Action, April 1963
- Sonar Sleuthing, August 1963
- TV Antennas, August 1955
- Succoring a Soroban, March 1963
- "All's Fair --", September 1963
- Operation Worm Warming, May 1961
- The Sparkling Light, May 1962
- Pure Research Rewarded, June 1962
- The Hot Dog Case, December 1954
- A New Company is Launched, October 1956
- Under the Mistletoe, December 1958
- Electronic Eraser, August 1962
- Blubber Banisher, July 1959
- "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
- Two Detectors, February 1955
- Tussle with a Tachometer, July 1960
- Therry and the Pirates, April 1961
- The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
Posted February 1, 2015