Carl and Jerry were early adopters of the near field communications
(NFC) craze that is going full-swing
today. The often harmlessly mischievous teenage duo used their
combined grasp of modern electronics to pull off gags on unsuspecting
friends... and sometime adversaries. In this episode, a near-field
transmitter and receiver pair is designed to help Carl bedazzle
a scientist who was attempting to disprove the ability to use
extrasensory perception (ESP)
to determining what another person was thinking about. In this
case it was detecting which playing card was being displayed
on an overhead projector. Of course Carl didn't really have
'the gift,' but relied on his co-conspirator, Jerry.
Carl & Jerry: Extra Sensory Perception
By John T. Frye
It was a bleak Saturday afternoon in early December and Carl
and Jerry were sitting in Jerry's basement doing absolutely
nothing. This was most unusual, for the two were generally busy
at something or other. But there they were: Jerry sprawled on
the old leather-covered couch along the wall; and Carl sitting
across the workbench, elbows on knees and chin propped on hands.
"Hey, Jer," Carl finally drawled, "do you have trouble staying
awake in that second period assembly?"
"Sure do," Jerry said with a reminiscent yawn. "Guess neither
of us needs to do much studying in there, and there's nothing
else to do. Even the surrounding scenery is no good. Did you
notice the girls who sit on both sides of me? Real beasts!"
"Naw, I don't pay any attention to girls," Carl said, just
a trifle too emphatically; "but I wish we had something to do
in there. If we could just talk to each other some way-"
He stopped speaking as Jerry suddenly swung his feet to the
floor and sat upright on the creaking couch. '''That's an idea!"
Jerry exclaimed. "Why don't we build a couple of little transmitters
and receivers and chew the fat during that period instead of
"Well, I dunno," Carl said doubtfully .
"We'd have to use code instead of phone, and it would have
to be doggoned quiet code at that. You know how still that crabby
old Miss Dean keeps things in that study hall. I've seen her
send kids to the office just for shuffling their feet."
"Yeah, that's right," Jerry said thoughtfully. "We couldn't
use earphones, even the hearing-aid type. She would certainly
spot something like that."
"If we just had some system so we could feel the signals
instead of hear them-" Carl started to say.
"That's it!" Jerry interrupted. "We'll use a low-frequency
note to modulate the transmitter. The receiver will amplify
this and feed it to a diaphragm-type earphone with the diaphragm
taped right against a sensitive portion of the skin. With a
little practice, we should be able to interpret the buzzing
sensation produced by dots and dashes just as well as we could
if we were hearing an audible note."
"What kind of transmitter and receiver will we need?"
"Transistor types in both cases in the interest of small
size and low battery drain," Jerry promptly said. "I think the
receiver should be a regenerative detector with a couple of
stages of audio behind it to furnish plenty of drive to the
earphone - or perhaps we should call it a 'skin-phone.' The
transmitter will consist of an r.f. oscillator modulated by
a low-frequency audio oscillator. We'll key this audio oscillator
and let the r.f. generator run all the time. Since we'll only
be working over distances of a few dozen feet, no antennas will
"What kind of a key can we use?"
"A tiny one made with a couple of pieces of spring brass
will be good enough. The leads from this can run through a shirt
sleeve so that the key can be concealed in the palm of the hand
and worked by simply squeezing the contacts together. After
all, we won't be sending thirty-five words per, minute. When
the key isn't in use, it can be slipped back inside the shirt
"Well, let's get started!" Carl suggested, hopping off the
bench. "I want to have this thing ready to go by Monday, and
if we don't run into some bugs that need ironing out, it will
be the first time."
This time was no exception. The receivers gave no trouble;
but the transmitters made up for it. Even at the low frequency
used-around 550 kilocycles - the oscillators were sluggish.
They tried several circuits before they found one that was stable
in performance and would accept modulation from the low-frequency
oscillator. Finally, though, by late Sunday afternoon the problems
were all apparently licked, and the boys were ready for a trial.
Each boy had a small earphone, with its cap removed, taped to
the inside of his upper right arm so that the face of the diaphragm
was flat against his skin. A tiny transmitter was carried in
one shirt pocket, a small receiver in the other.
"Are you ready?" Jerry asked, as he looked across the laboratory
"Fire at will!" Carl answered.
Jerry started squeezing the "key" concealed in the palm of
his hand, and Carl flinched and began to giggle. "Hey, that
tickles!" he announced, "but I can make out your 'CQ' all okay.
Try something else now."
Jerry began tapping out the dots and dashes to ask: "Can
you read this?" And he jumped in turn as Carl promptly came
back with the "dit-dah-dit" of "received okay" followed by the
"dah-dit-dah-dit" that means "yes" in the code used by amateurs.
In the few minutes remaining before supper, the boys found that
they could easily work each other up to about a hundred feet.
Then they had to lay their new playthings aside.
The next morning their mothers did not have the least trouble
getting them started off for school; but oddly enough, the boys
did not walk together as they usually did.
Instead, they went down opposite sides of the street, with
faraway looks in their eyes and their right hands working spasmodically.
It was during the second period study hall that they had
the opportunity to give their brainchild the acid test. As soon
as the bell had rung and everything was quiet, Miss Dean started
her gimlet-eyed stroll through the aisles. Just as she walked
past Carl's desk, Jerry tapped out: "What a sour-puss!" He did
not need to feel the buzzing acknowledgment against his arm;
Carl's heaving shoulders told clearly that he had got the message.
The boys had a real picnic during the study period sending
messages back and forth. Every boy is a lodge brother at heart,
and the fact that what they were doing was secret and entirely
unnoticed by others in the room added tremendously to the flavor
of the accomplishment. Time went very fast, and just before
the end of the period, the voice of the principal boomed through
the loudspeaker on the wall announcing: "Instead of going to
your next class or study hall, all students will proceed to
the auditorium for a special program to be presented by Professor
Karns of the psychology department of our state university."
... The scientist flashed card after card
on the screen, and Carl called off each one correctly ...
The boys' study room was directly across the hall from the
auditorium; consequently Carl and Jerry were in the vanguard
of the thundering herd that surged through the doors of the
auditorium. As a result, they were seated in the second row
from the stage when the curtains parted. .A dapper man wearing
pince-nez glasses stepped to the proscenium and said:
"Good morning, students. The program that you will see now is
going to be a little unusual. To some of you it will be quite
interesting. Others will find it dull. What you think of it
does not really matter. You are going to be permitted to take
part in an experiment in what is known as 'Extra Sensory Perception.'
There is a growing belief in some quarters that a certain amount
of information can be transferred from one mind to another without
the aid of any of the usual senses. To check the validity of
this belief, our psychology department is conducting experiments,
such as the one in which you are about to participate, at various
high schools and keeping a careful record of the results. Out
of these experiments, we hope to arrive at some definite conclusions
as to whether there actually is such a thing as 'ESP' or not.
"To go on with the experiment, I shall need an assistant.
Experience has taught me that it is useless to call for volunteers
from a high school group; so I'll draft one of you. Let me see
now. The tall young man wearing glasses in the second row looks
like a bright chap. Will you please come up here, young man?"
Hands on all sides, even those of his buddy, boosted a reluctant
Carl to his feet and shoved him out into the aisle.
He walked awkwardly up the steps to the stage and faced the
"Don't look so frightened," the professor said jovially.
"This is not going to hurt a bit. You are familiar with the
names of a deck of playing cards?"
"Yes," Carl said in a small hoarse voice. "Fine! I want you
to stand right here at the front of the stage facing the audience.
On the elevated screen at the back of the stage I'll show a
card at a time with this projector. As each card shows on the
screen, I want all of the students to concentrate on its name
and suit as hard as they can for five full seconds. At the end
of that time I shall strike this little bell, and I want you
to name the first card that comes into your mind. For example,
you may say, 'Ace of diamonds,' or 'Nine of clubs,' or whatever
card is in your mind at the second you hear the bell. What we
shall be trying to do is to transfer the knowledge of the card
directly from the mind of the audience to your mind. A young
lady back in the wings - she is too, pretty to have on the stage
because she would distract attention from the experiment - will
keep a careful record of each card shown and the cards you name.
"But let me warn the audience not to expect too many correct
identifications. The odds against your correctly naming even
one card are tremendous, and it is against these mathematical
odds that we are competing. If you can better the law of probability
by just a little, it will be significant."
Jerry was watching Carl closely, and he saw the latter's
mouth draw into a straight line that meant he was not taking
at all kindly to the glib man beside him. Jerry did not like
him either. He sounded too much as if he were trying to be "cute,"
as though he were talking down to his youthful audience.
The lights were lowered, and suddenly a huge queen of spades
appeared on the screen above and behind Carl. With a sudden
inspiration, Jerry squeezed the little brass contacts already
held in the moist palm of his hand to spell out "QS." As he
finished the last dot, the bell tinkled and Carl promptly said
in a loud voice: "Queen of spades!"
"An astounding, auspicious beginning!" the professor exclaimed.
"Let's try another."
He flashed the seven of hearts on the screen. Jerry immediately
tapped out "7H," and Carl called out: "Seven of hearts!" the
instant he heard the sound of the bell.
"This places too much of a strain on coincidence," the dapper
man said in a suspicious, harried voice. "Maybe you can see
some reflection of the screen, or perhaps some smart aleck in
the audience is signaling you in some fashion. Would you mind
letting me blindfold you?"
"Go right ahead," Carl said in return.
After a moment of indecision, the scientist won over the
fashion plate, and the professor removed the handkerchief that
was peeping meticulously from his breast pocket and securely
blindfolded Carl. Then he went back to his projector and flashed
the jack of spades on .the screen. Carl easily translated the
dots and dashes of "JS" buzzing against his arm into the name
of the card. Desperately, the scientist flashed card after card
on the screen, and Carl called off each one correctly.
By this time the professor was so disturbed and puzzled that
he had forgotten all about his appearance. Frantic fingers run
through his hair had left it tousled. He tugged at his shirt
collar as he walked slowly around Carl, looking at him with
deep, incredulous interest.
"I just can't believe it!" he muttered.
"One-hundred-percent correct identification! Young man, can
you explain how you perform this feat?"
"I just did what you told me to do," Carl said blandly. "I
simply called out the card that was in my mind when the bell
sounded. Guess it must be a kind of telepathy, or something."
"'Or something; is right," Professor Karns fervently agreed.
"I must take you down to the university with me and give a demonstration
of your phenomenal ability to my colleagues."
"Aw, I don't think I could do that," Carl objected, as he
started backing toward the steps leading down from the stage.
"I don't like to mess around with this sort of thing. Makes
me feel kind of creepy."
"But you owe it to science!" the professor argued. "If we
can repeat this experiment, my account of it will appear in
every scientific journal in the world."
"I'll think about it," Carl said, hastily going down the
The assembly was dismissed, and as Carl and Jerry walked
along the hall Jerry whispered:
"That was a lot of fun, but it certainly means that we'll
not dare wear these contraptions to school again. And' don't
ever breathe a word about them. If it is ever found out how
we helped ESP, you and I are going to be the guests of honor
at the darndest tar-and-feathering party you ever saw; and I
can just see Professor Karns ladling out the hot tar right now!"
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 March 5, 2015