December 1954 Popular Electronics
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
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. In
this December 1954 issue of Popular Electronics magazine, 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
Carl & Jerry: The Hot Dog Case
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
"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
"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
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
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 re-vealed 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
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
"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, tin cans, 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
"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
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,
Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop were two teenage boys whose
love of electronics, Ham radio, and all things technical afforded them ample opportunities
to satisfy their own curiosities, assist law enforcement and neighbors with solving
problems, and impressing – and sometimes toying with - friends based on their proclivity
for serious undertakings as well as fun.
Vox Electronik, September 1958
- Pi in
the Sky and Big Twist, February 1964
Bell Bull Session, December 1961
Boogie, August 1958
- TV Picture,
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
Trap, March 1956
at Work, June 1956
Aweigh, July 1956
Bosco Has His Day, August 1956
Hand of Selene, November 1960
or Not?, October 1956
Electronic Beach Buggy, September 1956
Extra Sensory Perception, December 1956
in a Chimney, January 1956
Performance, November 1958
of Judas, July 1961
- The Sucker,
New Year, January 1963
Snow Machine, December 1960
Extracurricular Education, July 1963
Slow Motion for Quick Action, April 1963
Sleuthing, August 1963
- TV Antennas,
a Soroban, March 1963
Fair --", September 1963
Worm Warming, May 1961
Santa's Little Helpers - December 1955
Two Tough Customers - June 1960
Pocket Radio, TV Receivers
Yagi Antennas, May 1955
Stomping, March 1962
Blubber Banisher, July 1959
- The Sparkling
Light, May 1962
Research Rewarded, June 1962
- A Hot Idea, March
- The Hot
Dog Case, December 1954
A New Company is Launched, October 1956
Under the Mistletoe, December 1958
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
- "BBI", May 1959
Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River
Sniffer, July 1962
- Ham Radio,
Torero Electronico, April 1960
Wireless, January 1962
Electronic Shadow, September 1957
Elementary Induction, June 1963
- He Went
Electronic Detective, February 1958
Aiding an Instinct, December 1962
- Two Detectors,
with a Tachometer, July 1960
and the Pirates, April 1961
The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
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 lash-ups 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."
Posted May 25, 2021(original 2/5/2014)