August 1956 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.
It has been quite a while since posting a
Carl & Jerry adventure tale. The teenage-neighbors-cum-Ham-radio-operators-cum-electronics-hobbyists-cum-amateur-detectives-cum-pranksters
are the creation of John T. Frye. He published a monthly episode
in Popular Electronics magazine. Mr. Frye is also the author
Mac's Radio Service Shop series of instructional stories
that ran in Radio & Television News magazine.
This adventure is quite a digression from the typical storyline
in that the boys actually engage in a bit of deceit in order to
save face based on a bet made on how their dog (a mutt) could beat
the other guy's dog (full-breed bird dog) at finding a scented decoy.
A homebrew transmitter and receiver is involved in keeping with
the overarching Carl & Jerry theme, but in the end the boys
never disclose their 'secret' to the challenger after defeating
him - and letting him eat his hat!
Carl & Jerry: Bosco Has His Day
By John T. Frye
was evening, and the boys were sitting on the back steps of Jerry's
house. Carl had Bosco, his dog, firmly clamped between his knees
and was wooling the dog's ears affectionately while Bosco growled
in mock protest at this treatment that he actually loved.
"You stupid, no-account, dumb mutt," Carl muttered softly, as
he looked morosely out at the long shadows creeping across the back
"What's Bosco done now?" Jerry wanted to know.
"It's what he hasn't done - or won't do," Carl replied. "A couple
of days ago, as I was riding home on my bike after swimming, I ran
across a fellow about our age working with a bird dog in a field
out at the edge of town. He would hide a little cloth-covered ball
that he called a 'bird' and send the dog in search of it. In nothing
flat that dog would sniff out the bird and come trotting back to
the guy with it in his mouth. This was interesting, and I was enjoying
talking with the joker, but all at once he sort of looked down his
nose at Bosco and wanted to know what kind of a dog that was.
"I said Bosco was just a plain dog, which seemed to strike him
as real hilarious. Anyway, he. gave out with a nasty laugh, and
started a lot of
who-shot-John about how he had papers for his dog, called Golden
Arrow III, and that unless a dog had breeding you couldn't expect
him to amount to much .
"Well, I got my back up at this, and remarked that it took more
than a few sheets of paper to make a dog smart. I should have stopped
there, but I got carried away and went on to say that if I couldn't
teach Bosco to do everything Golden Arrow III was doing within a
couple of weeks I'd eat my beanie. This character, whose name is
Merrill, promptly took me up on it and said that if Bosco could
equal Golden Arrow's performance he would eat his beanie."
"Well, how's it look?"
"Let me put it this way: do you think white or red sauce would
go best with my beanie? I still believe old Bosco here is as smart
as any dog that ever chased a cat, but I learn to my sorrow that
he has a serious physical defect: he can't smell."
"Can't smell! I thought all dogs had a keen scent."
When Uncle Milford gave the signal, Carl
flipped the hidden switch in Bosco's cap with results that were
"So did I, but you can take my word for it that Bosco couldn't
follow the trail of a ten-pound limburger cheese dragged over the
ground 30 seconds before. By actual scientific tests, I have found
that the absolute limit of his sense of smell is sniffing out a
dog biscuit at a distance of two feet. Beyond that - nothing! I
don't mind losing the bet so much, but I do hate to have poor Bosco
made to look like a dummy simply because he can't smell so hot."
"Maybe you could teach him to locate the bird by sight."
"Not a chance. I have to hide the bird for Golden Arrow, and
Merrill will hide it for Bosco. I know from watching him that he'll
hide the bird down under leaves and stuff so it can't be seen. And,
anyway, I can't make Bosco want to find that little cloth-covered
ball. He's too smart to work for nothing and displays about as much
interest in locating that artificial bird as I show in helping Mom
find the castor oil bottle when I'm not feeling well."
"Let's not give up too easy," Jerry said, as his interest in
the problem began to mount. "Maybe we can appeal to one of Bosco's
baser instincts. What does he like?"
"That's easy. Bosco's interested in just one thing, twenty-four
hours a day: food! He's a real glutton."
"Then we'll start with that. I'm getting an idea. Remember that
description of the transistorized golf ball in Popular Electronics
some months back? You'll recall that the golf ball had a tiny transistor
transmitter built right into it which sent out a continuous signal.
This signal was picked up on a transistor-type receiver and led
the owner of the ball right to it, no matter how well it was hidden."
"What's that got to do with making a bird dog out of Bosco?"
"Suppose we build a tiny transmitter into the artificial 'bird'
you hide from Bosco. Then we'll fit him with a hidden receiver that
will pick up the signal from the transmitter. In a short time, he
should learn that when the signal gets stronger he must be getting
closer - that is, he should be able to learn it if he's as smart
as you say he is."
"Oh, he can learn that all right if he wants to, but what's going
to make him want to?"
"We'll 'condition' him to expect food as a reward for finding
the bird and bringing it to you," Jerry explained. "After he gets
used to wearing the receiver, which we'll conceal in some sort of
headgear, we turn on the receiver and let him hear the sound of
the hidden bird. Then we drag him to the bird, put it into his mouth,
clamp the mouth shut, and drag him back to where you're standing.
The instant you take the bird out of his mouth, you replace it with
a dog biscuit. After we do this a few dozen times, he should get
the idea and go find the bird by himself."
"So let's get going!" Carl exclaimed, as he slapped his hands
on his knees and rose to his feet. "I'm willing to try anything,
even an idea as crazy as that."
With the enthusiasm of youth that enables it to undertake blithely
something an older and wiser person - fully appreciating the difficulties
- would never start, the two boys dashed down into Jerry's basement
laboratory and immediately started building up the electronic equipment
designed to convert Bosco from a biscuit dog to a bird dog.
Carl built the small one-transistor transmitter according to
a plan for an i.f. signal alignment generator. This tiny little
unit delivered an r.f. signal, tone-modulated, on a frequency that
could be adjusted from about 400 to 500 kilocycles. Two extra-small
penlite batteries furnished the power, and the whole thing fitted
neatly into a safety match box that in turn was mounted inside a
cloth-covered little plastic box selected to serve as the body of
the artificial bird.
Jerry had the harder job of building a fixed-tuned receiver for
picking up the weak signal from the tiny transmitter. In order to
keep size to a minimum, he used a circuit employing two transistors
and a crystal diode in a regenerative circuit. Careful planning
and layout, dispensing with sockets and soldering leads directly,
employing the smallest of miniature parts ... and similar space-conserving
measures ... produced a receiver on a very tiny flat fiberboard
chassis. This chassis was sewn into the crown of a boldly checked
"Sherlock Holmes" type of hat the boys cajoled Carl's mother into
making for them. Bosco was then made to wear this hat in a rather
unconventional manner. The normal fore-and-aft projections were
pulled down tightly over his ears and fastened under his chin, and
a dynamic earphone was concealed in one of the flaps so that it
would be held close to the dog's ear.
Do not think that all this was done overnight and that everything
worked perfectly as soon as it was put together. Designing electronic
equipment just doesn't work that way, not even in commercial laboratories
where the finest engineers work with the best equipment. There is
always a period of de-bugging, adjusting, and peaking. It took the
boys a full three days to build up the two pieces of equipment,
to squeeze the last microwatt of power out of the little transmitter,
and to peak up the receiver for maximum stable sensitivity. Finally,
though, the receiver was capable of picking up the transmitter over
the restricted radius that Carl said would be more than adequate
for the test that was planned.
Then the equipment was introduced to Bosco, and it certainly
was not a case of love at first sight. He spent the first half hour
after the cap was fastened on him in a determined effort to shake
it off, rub it off on the ground or the trunks of trees, and - finally
- to claw it off with all four paws. But the boys had anticipated
this, and the cap stayed firmly in place. Finally Bosco gave up
and stared at his masters with a hurt look that said plainly, "How
can you guys do this to me?"
The boys promptly started his training along the lines Jerry
had outlined. It was quickly apparent that Jerry's estimate of "a
few dozen" times being needed to show Bosco what was expected of
him was highly optimistic. By the time he began to show some faint
interest whenever the hidden switch in his cap turned on the receiver
and let him hear the signal from the concealed transmitter, the
sod of Jerry's backyard was deeply furrowed with hundreds of tracks
made by Bosco's stubbornly braced legs as he was dragged back and
forth, and both boys were worn to a frazzle. But they stuck at it.
Finally, on the last evening before the test, things looked pretty
good; and as Jerry wearily took leave of his friend, he said:
"That's about all we can do. Don't feed Bosco tomorrow morning,
for we really want him eager."
"Okay, but Bosco the Bottomless Pit would be eager anyway. I'll
see you tomorrow."
When the boys and Bosco arrived at the little field in which
the test was to take place, Merrill, Golden Arrow, and a gentleman
with a stopwatch prominently displayed in his hand were already
"Boys, I thought we should have an impartial judge for this test;
so I brought along my Uncle Milford. He's known all over the country
for his work with bird dogs," Merrill explained.
"Thank you, Nephew," Uncle Milford said, with a fond smile. "Now
I suppose we may as well get on with this. To be fair, I think the
winner should be the dog that finds his bird quickest in three times
out of five trials. You can hide the bird for Golden Arrow, boy,
and Merrill can hide it for - for - what on earth is that on your
animal's head?" he exclaimed to Carl as he took a good look at Bosco
jauntily wearing his ludicrous cap.
"Bosco is a dog of many parts," Carl explained glibly, "and he
likes to dress for each role he plays. Since he feels he's playing
a sort of detective right now, he insisted on wearing his Sherlock
Holmes cap this morning."
Uncle Milford looked strangely at Carl as he muttered, "I see,"
in tones that clearly indicated he didn't. "Well, you hide Arrow's
bird and we'll start."
Carl tucked the artificial bird Merrill handed him beneath a
bush some 75 feet away, and then Merrill sent Golden Arrow in search
of it with a wave of his hand. Instantly the dog started quartering
the ground in a methodical manner that was beautiful to watch, and
in a short time his body stiffened as he caught the scent of the
hidden bird; then at a command from Merrill he moved forward, picked
it up in his mouth, and returned it to his master.
"Forty-seven seconds!" Uncle Milford announced triumphantly.
"Now let's see what the other dog can do."
Merrill tucked Bosco's bird under a lump of leaves about the
same distance away that Golden Arrow's had been. Bosco gave a whimper
of eagerness as he stood straight up on his hind legs and waltzed
crazily about. Then he dropped to all fours and went dashing madly
about the place without apparent rhyme or reason, but in an amazingly
short time he rooted down through the leaves to the hidden bird
and came galloping back to Carl with slobbers of anticipation dripping
from his mouth.
...When Uncle Milford gave the signal, stopwatch in hand, Carl
flipped the hidden switch in Bosco's cap with results that were
truly galvanic ...
"Fourteen seconds!" Uncle Milford said, in an awed voice. "It
doesn't seem possible. I've never seen anything like it. It must
have been an accident."
But it was no accident, as the next two trials quickly proved.
Golden Arrow III, displaying the same beautifully consistent method
and form, turned in times very close to forty-five seconds on both
occasions; but Bosco, using his own crazy system that sent him dashing
full tilt, only to come to such an abrupt halt that he often went
rolling end over end before he scrambled up and took off on a tangent,
located his second bird in twenty-two seconds and his third in the
astounding time of six seconds flat.
Well, Merrill, I guess there's no question about the winner,"
Uncle Milford said, with a stunned look. "I've never seen anything
like the way that dog performs. Very unorthodox! Very! Would you
consider entering him in some field trials, boy?"
"Aw, no," Carl said casually, as he unfastened the cap from Bosco's
head and let the dog give himself an ear-slapping shake. "Bosco
doesn't mind putting on a little show like this now and then, just
for relaxation, but he's got much more serious things on his mind
than fiddling around with anything so silly as hunting artificial
There was a long pause, and then Uncle Milford inquired timidly:
"May I ask what sort of things?"
Carl looked cautiously around before he answered in hushed tones:
"All I'm allowed to tell you is that it's top-secret research in
the commissary department. And speaking of eating, Merrill, as soon
as you've decided how you're going to prepare your beanie, let Jerry
and me know and we'll be glad to drop over to watch you eat it."
"All right, fellows," Merrill said weakly.
"I'll let you know."
Posted March 4, 2016
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,
- 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,