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Weather Detection Radar
October 1955 Radio & Television News Article

October 1955 Radio & TV News
October 1955 Radio & Television News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

RCA (Radio Corporation of America) is not really the first company name that comes to mind when thinking about radar, be it weather, aircraft navigation, or nautical navigation. Instead, I think of radios and televisions and even satellites; RCA developed the circa 1958 SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment) series. According to this 1955 article in Radio & Television News magazine, RCA designed and built a a C-band airborne radar system for detecting adverse weather conditions enroute, at a range of up to 150 miles. Operating at around 5.4 GHz (modern weather radars prefer X-band) at 75 kW peak, the AVQ-10 radar unit was primarily meant for weather avoidance rather than for terrain and aircraft avoidance. The installed weight of 125 pounds was rather amazing considering the use of vacuum tubes and a CRT display (also a vacuum tube), along with leaded passive components and bulky, heavy (relatively) transformers for providing high voltages. BTW, the standard aircraft AC power supply frequency of 400 Hz rather than land-based systems at 50 Hz and 60 Hz facilitated the use of smaller transformers and capacitors when converting to DC and filtering.

Weather Detection Radar

Weather Detection Radar, October 1955 Radio & Television News - RF CafeUnited Air Lines is currently installing RCA's new C-band radar units in its fleet. Pilots can determine possible corridors through storm areas for smoother flights.

RCA's new, compact, 125 lb. airborne radar set provides increased passenger comfort.

A new and unique airborne radar unit especially designed by RCA for commercial and executive planes is now being installed in United Air Lines' entire fleet.

Example airborne weather radar display -  RF Cafe

Example airborne weather radar display.

United Airlines demonstrates antenna of C-band radar - RF Cafe

L. E. Sebald of United Airlines (UAL) demonstrates antenna of C-band radar installed on "Mainliner O'Connor." Nose of Convair 340 has been extended 28 1/2" to house antenna and gear unit."

Use of the new C-band (5.5 cm.) radar enables pilots to determine corridors for smooth flight through storms which appear solid to the unaided eye. Excessive turbulence can thus be bypassed, resulting in greater passenger comfort. Schedule regularity will also benefit since time-consuming detours around storms no longer will be required.

The new AVQ-10 radar unit is designed primarily for weather detection rather than for terrain mapping or the detection and avoidance of aircraft. Its terrain mapping ability, however, is sufficiently good to identify deep river beds, large lakes mountain ridges, peaks, and other surface features.

The indicator is a 13-pound shock-mounted unit with a 5" viewing screen.

It produces a 360 degree continuously rotating PPI-type presentation giving an effective forward "looking" sector of approximately 270 degrees. This sector will vary slightly with the plane.

Four controls are provided on the face of the indicator. One of three ranges may also be selected, 25, 50, or 150 nautical miles.

The control panel, a small inconspicuous unit, provides for selection of all the necessary radar functions with a minimum of controls. It is designed for plug-in installation. The balance of the equipment (transmitter-receiver accessory unit, and antenna gear mechanism) can all be housed outside the cockpit if desired.

 

 

Posted October 21, 2020

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