Your RF Cafe
December 1954 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.
That's hot dog, not hotdog. In this third installment in the adventures of John T. Frye's much-anticipated monthly exploits of teenage electronics investigators Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop, pet mutt Bosco has developed a case of hot paw pads. Using a makeshift Geiger counter and a homemade radio homing device, the two boys set out to discover the source of Bosco's warmth. A buried, as-yet undiscovered lode of uranium is high on their suspect list, and visions of untold wealth dance through their heads. Read on to find out what they found out.
By John T. Frye
Jerry Bishop looked up from the transistor oscillator on which he had been working all evening as the door of his basement laboratory was flung violently back against the wall and his chum, Carl Anderson, entered. In one hand Carl carried a small rectangular box into which were plugged a pair of earphones worn loosely around his neck. The other hand firmly clutched the leather collar of a shaggy, stiff-legged Airedale who was obviously accompanying his master under considerable protest.
"Hiya, Carl," Jerry languidly greeted his neighbor. "What kind of a gadget is that? Don't tell me you have invented an electronic flea killer and are about to demonstrate it on poor old Bosco. Here, Bosco; here, boy."
"This thing is a radiation detector," Carl explained as he released the dog and hastily slammed the door shut to cut off his escape. "Aunt Ida out in Denver sent it to me. She says out there these days a person without some sort of Geiger counter feels as naked as a Westerner would have felt a hundred years ago without his shooting iron. But now I want to show you something. Put on these earphones."
As he said this he dragged the wall-eyed dog over to the bench and handed the phones to Jerry. A slow, erratic clicking sound could be heard in the phones, but as Carl unceremoniously grabbed up one of Bosco's front paws and thrust it near the box, the clicks suddenly increased in tempo, and a little neon lamp on the face of the box flashed in unison.
"See!" Carl said excitedly. "That gadget shows all four of Bosco's paws are hotter than a 110 volt lamp in a 220 socket!"
"Makes him a real hot dog, doesn't it?"
Jerry murmured facetiously and then backed hastily away from the withering glance Carl directed at him.
"Don't try to be funny, Dope," Carl advised. "This is a serious business. If we can just find where Bosco is acquiring these hot tootsies, we may locate a big uranium deposit and become independently wealthy. Why, in a couple of weeks we may be rolling in bubble gum and comic books!"
"A fascinating prospect," Jerry observed disparagingly as he tried to conceal how impressed he really was with Carl's discovery. "Have you got any idea how old Torrid Toes here got that way?"
"Not much of one. I just happened to stumble on to his interesting condition the first night I had the detector while I was trying it out on everything in reach. All I know is that every evening Bosco takes off up the alley and is gone for an hour or so, and when he comes back he winds up the radiation detector as he does now. After a while this radiation seems to die out until the next time he makes one of these mysterious disappearances, and then it is right back up there."
"Have you tried following him?"
In answer Carl turned around and displayed a large three-cornered rent in his trousers where a hip pocket used to be. "How else do you think I lost the seat of my pants?" he demanded. "I'll swear Bosco knew I was trying to follow him and deliberately made it tough on me. He ducked through holes in board fences, jumped over barbed wire, cut through gardens, and stopped every now and then and kicked dirt over his tracks. I was trying to follow him over a fence when I suffered this pants casualty - which incidentally I don't think Mom's going to appreciate. I've been thinking about fastening a can of whitewash with a small hole in it around his neck so the whitewash will leak out and leave a trail I can follow."
"Perish the thought!" Jerry exclaimed.
"Such a crude mechanical contrivance is not worthy of a member of Electronic Experimenters, Ltd. On top of that, it might lead some curious busybody to our uranium lode. No, we must solve this mystery electronically."
"Such as how?"
"It's coming to me," Jerry said as he looked through Carl with the out-of-focus stare of a crystal-gazer. "Have you still got the dry batteries we used to power your little communications receiver during the radio club's hidden transmitter hunt last month - and the shielded loop we used?"
"Yep, but if you're thinking of loading forty or fifty pounds of transmitter on Old Bosco here, that's out. Pound for pound, he's as tough as any dog in the neighborhood - and maybe a little tougher -but he's no St. Bernard."
"Relax, Buster," Jerry said as he picked up a little clear plastic box not much larger than a package of chewing gum. "Do you think he can stagger along under this load?"
"Don't tell me that's a transmitter!" For a reply Jerry switched on a small broadcast receiver above the workbench and tuned it to a station on the low frequency end of the band. Then he held the plastic box near the receiver and carefully adjusted a small screw protruding from one side of the box. As he did so, a heterodyning whistle swished down on the station being heard in the radio and, as it came to zero beat, completely blotted out the reception.
"Well I'll be darned," Carl marveled.
"That little cuss surely puts out a sock with only one tiny hearing-aid battery for a power supply. But I didn't think transistors could be made to work at radio frequencies."
"The first ones couldn't, but now they have new 'intrinsic-barrier' type transistors that are capable of operating up to 400 megacycles. Even this garden variety junction transistor I'm using will oscillate nicely over the entire broadcast band. We can set it for a dead spot at the low end of the band and then pick it up on the loop antenna for a distance of several yards; yet with no radiating antenna it will not put out enough signal to violate the FCC's regulations concerning such devices."
"How are we going to carry the receiver, loop, and batteries?"
"I've figured that out, too, but I want it to be a surprise. You bring all the stuff and Bosco over right after school tomorrow evening, and I'll show you," Jerry said as he switched off the receiver and started clearing off the bench for the night.
When Carl and Bosco entered the laboratory the next evening, the former stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of a king-size baby buggy standing in the middle of the room.
"Oh no, not that!" he groaned. "I'll die before I'll be caught pushing that overgrown perambulator up and down the street loaded with radio gear. Think what would happen if some of the high school gang caught us doing it. They'd get out the net for sure. Where did you ever get such a monstrosity, anyway?"
"It belongs to a cousin who used it for her twins. When she moved away from town she stored it in our attic. It's built like a Mack truck and will be just the ticket to carry the receiver and batteries. Aw, Carl, come on! Don't be stuffy. After all, we'll be going up and down the alleys, and it will be dark. Anyway, scientists like us can't be worried about what people may think."
"Well, all right," Carl agreed reluctantly; "but I'm warning you right now that the first guy who makes a crack gets busted right in the kisser."
"Fine," Jerry said. "We'll have to take it outside and load the receiver and batteries in it. The loop can sit right on top of the set, and I've got my flashlight so we can watch the S-meter as we turn the loop. First, though, let's install the transmitter on Bosco."
This was easily and simply done by firmly taping the little transmitter case to the top straps of Bosco's harness that had been put on him for the occasion. The dog promptly gave the transmitter a shakedown test by rolling over and over and trying in vain to scratch it loose with his hind paws. Then apparently satisfied the transistor transmitter could "take it," he proceeded to ignore its presence completely.
By the time the boys were called for supper, the receiver had been installed in the baby buggy and tested. It worked to perfection. Whenever the plane of the shielded loop was at right angles to Bosco, the signal indication from the transmitter on the communication receiver's S-meter fell to zero; but as soon as the loop was rotated slightly on its vertical axis, the meter reading started up and reached a broad maximum as the plane of the loop became parallel to a line drawn to it from the transmitter's location. By using the sharp null reception position as a pointer, the shifting direction of the dog as he gambolled about the yard could be easily followed; furthermore, the intensity of the received signal gave a rough idea of the animal's distance from the receiver.
Bosco was chained to the clothes line to prevent his taking off while the boys were eating, but as soon as they had bolted their meals they unfastened him and waited impatiently for him to start his mysterious journey. Perversely, though, he seemed to be in no hurry as he casually disinterred a couple of buried bones for critical inspection and then curled up under the perambulator for a short nap. Finally, though, he crawled out from beneath the baby buggy, stretched luxuriously, and then trotted purposefully out the gate into the alley.
"There he goes," Carl whispered excitedly. "He's got that faraway look in his eyes he always has just before he starts."
"Well don't just stand there; let's get going!" Jerry exclaimed as both boys grabbed the broad handle of the baby buggy and started off in rattling pursuit of the dog. For a short distance Bosco trotted straight down the middle of the alley, but then he stopped and looked questioningly at the two boys who had also stopped a half block behind him. Then the animal abruptly dived through a hole in a board fence at the side of the alley and disappeared from view.
"He's starting evasive action," Jerry exclaimed as they hurried to the spot where the dog had last been seen. Stopping here, Jerry began swinging the loop back and forth as Carl held the flashlight on the S-meter of the receiver.
"Contact!" Jerry announced dramatically. "He's moving parallel to the alley, but he's staying in the back yards to our left. Now he's cutting back to the alley. Can you see him?"
"There he is," Carl announced. "He's back in the alley but a whole block away. Let's" take after him!"
The boys took off in hot pursuit, and immediately Bosco faded back into the shadows on the right side of the alley this time. His attempt to shake off his pursuers did him no good, though, for whenever they stopped they could spot his direction as easily as if they could see him. Fortunately his zig-zag course kept on in the general direction of the alley, and from time to time the boys would get a glimpse of him in the distance by the light of an alley lamp. These glimpses and the weakening indication on the S-meter soon revealed that Bosco, in spite of his circuitous course, was making much better time than the perambulator.
"At this rate," Jerry announced breathlessly, "he's going to get beyond the reach of that little transmitter soon. It's having to stop to take a reading that slows us down. Hm-m-m-m, I do believe there is room for me in the back of that buggy if you think you can push me. That way I could keep a continuous check on him as we went along and we could soon catch up, but -"
"Get in, get in!" Carl commanded. "The way you're puffing, you'd not last more than a block or so anyway; and while you're yakking, that uranium mine is slipping through our fingers."
Jerry promptly clambered into the back of the buggy. Before handing him the flashlight, Carl couldn't resist bending over to tickle his chum beneath his round chin as he said in syrupy tones, "Kitchee, kitchee, coo; whose little baby are you?" Then he jumped back just in time to avoid being kicked violently in the stomach by Jerry's fast-moving foot.
With the new arrangement the boys rapidly closed the gap between them and Bosco. While Carl pantingly propelled his strange cargo over the rough bricks of the alley, Jerry kept up a continuous patter of: "He's about thirty degrees off the starboard bow - now he's stopped - there he goes again - whoa, slow down; we've gone past him - okay, lift the anchor; he's starting forward."
So intent were the boys on the pursuit that before they realized it they were almost a mile from home, and the houses were beginning to thin out.
"Hey," Jerry suddenly announced over his shoulder, "he's heading for the city dump."
"Good," Carl muttered darkly. "I know something I'd like to dump right now."
It was not difficult to follow the dog along the winding paths through the rubbish left open for the dump trucks, and finally Jerry announced that Bosco had stopped moving just a short distance to the right of the path. Carl stopped the perambulator, and Jerry turned the flashlight on the miniature cliff of ashes, tincans, and paper boxes that rose in that direction. Suddenly revealed in the bright circle of light stood Bosco, but he was not alone. Standing at his shoulder was a smooth-haired little brown dog of uncertain ancestry, and around their feet played two roly-poly little puppies.
"Well what do you know!" Carl said softly; "Old Bosco is a family man."
"No doubt about that," Jerry agreed as he climbed out of the creaking perambulator; "and that explains why Bosco takes off every evening, but it still does not explain where he picks up the radiation. Bring along your detecting gizmo, and let's climb up there."
In a moment the two boys were squatted at the mouth of the shallow little cave in which Bosco's wife and children had been living - and the radiation detector was clicking away in rising excitement.
"The hot spot is right here in front of the den," Carl announced as he moved the detector back and forth. Reaching down he brushed away the dirt at that point and quickly came to four or five pieces of thin metal about three inches square. As he picked up one of these and held it close to the detector, the clicking rose to a crescendo.
"Pure plates of uranium," Carl said with wide eyes.
"Turn over that pure plate," Jerry suggested with a grin.
As Carl obeyed, he gasped in surprise and then began to chuckle.
"Discarded clock faces with fluorescent numbers," he exclaimed. "They doubtless are rejects from that alarm clock factory on the other side of town. Bosco has been getting a little of the fluorescent material on his feet whenever he called on his family, and then the stuff gave my radiation detector fits until it wore off. Oh well, I never wanted to be rich anyway."
"Me neither," Jerry said as he fondled one of the cuddly little puppies; "but what are we going to do with Bosco's family. We can't leave them here."
"And why should we when we have a carriage awaiting that was built especially for twins?" Carl demanded as he waved at the perambulator down below.
In a few minutes the mother dog and her two offspring were comfortably bedded down in the perambulator, and the boys were pushing it along toward home. Overhead a bright moon smiled down on them and on Bosco trotting proudly ahead and glaring fiercely into the shadows for any lurking dangers that might threaten the group under his protection.
"This has been fun," Carl announced contentedly. "There's something about solving a mystery that makes you feel good."
"Yes," Jerry agreed, "and the thing I like is that our electronic apparatus worked so well. If there had been a uranium deposit, we'd have found it just as easily as we found those clock faces. Guess we can chalk up a victory for Electronic Experimenters, Ltd."
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
- Carl & Jerry: Eeeeelectricity!, November 1956
- Carl & Jerry: 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 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
- 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
Posted February 5, 2014