December 1955 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.
When I saw this photo
of a man holding a fluorescent light bulb in the beam of a radar antenna, it reminded
me of how we used to do the same thing on our AN/MPN-14 radar system in the USAF.
The unit in the photo is a General Electric's
FPS-6 height-finding radar, which operates in the S-band 2,700-2,900 MHz
region. The AN/MPN-14 is a mobile
ground control approach (GCA) with both an S-band airport surveillance radar (ASR)
and an X-band precision approach radar (PAR). Our S-band radar had a 600 kW
peak power whereas the FPS-6 put out a couple megawatts, but 600 kW was enough
to light the bulb. Of course these days you would never see a company-sponsored
photo of a man standing in front of a high power radar antenna with a fluorescent
light bulb in his hand. In fact, with as litigious as society is today I would not
be surprised if the fellow's family has sued GE - especially if he eventually contracted
some form of cancerous tumor.
Here is an interesting report of GE banning cargo airplanes fitted with airborne
radar from transporting shipments of their
The General Electric Company uses fluorescent
lighting tubes to demonstrate the u.h.f. radio beam pattern radiated by the multi-million-watt
FPS-6 radar. A study of radar beam effects is being made by G.E. engineer Zenn Zenon,
shown on ladder holding another lighted fluorescent tube. The FPS-6 is a height-finding
radar unit constructed for the U.S. Air Force. Typical of all modern radar equipment,
the antenna is housed in a ball-like radome.
Posted September 19, 2019