The years following military departures from Marconi Company were not creative ones. For all their time under the coy Marconi, handpicked cadet trainees were found incapable of developing any original and new themes by which to advance the radio art. This critical time period provoked an uncommon response from leadership, one which we have already mentioned as an unwilling concession to civilian hirelings. But the circumstance and the pressing needs which the world had imposed upon them would now press their unwillingness into a tense dialogue. This dialogue, this deadlock, between experimenters and military leadership, formed the traditional confrontation of powers which has forever defined their sometimes rocky relationship. The experimenters themselves contained and consolidated the creative power. The ability to invent And the military knew it The employment of private experimenters and systems designers began.
Experimenters who neither wished to engage, nor be engaged by the military elite, would not be dissuaded from their own secure positions. For these services, the military were required to pressure their demands further in a great number of ways, the misuse of exceptionally personal information notwithstanding. Experimenters who offered their too independent attitude, an independence of action which irked military superiors, were often dealt with in a less “kind” manner. Soon, special liaison personnel, often out of uniform, encouraged talented academes and privateers to work on their behalf. These small bureaucratic concessions preserved both the aristocratic poise of senior officers and the sometimes flamboyant independence of the researchers. It was this very independence however, through which the superior and manifest creativity had flourished. Of this there could be no doubt, the working class mind held he secret to systems In this somber awakening it was inwardly acknowledged that the consortium of working class experimenters sustained a commodity which the highly groomed military elite could never produce.
Eventually, the awkward and threatening gestures between military and researcher grew into a working relationship whose rewards were shared by those engaged in the various projects for which they were hired. The employment of working class experimenters was indeed, not disappointing at all. In fact, these experimenters built the military systems on which leadership so relies. A steady line of military-tailored radio systems were developed between the early World Wars of the Twentieth Century, a proliferation of wave radio systems predicated on an unfortunate first step into error. The consequences of this first step into inferiority would require decades before the error could even be recognized.
During the years following World War I, there were several critical Military Radio developments which completely distanced them from their former Marconi affiliation. First, a commission was established by the Federal Bureau of Standards to learn all about radio signal propagation across both the Atlantic and Pacific. The thoroughly academic study engaged propagation characteristics covering a broad radio frequency spectrum, one which began with tests in the deep VLF and proceeded up into the available UHF band. These tests provoked the design and redesign of numerous antennas, transmitters, vacuum tubes, receiving sets, and an unbelievable flood of highly improved radio components. Indeed, it was during the wondrous years before the Second World War that a great military indulgence of civilian research schemes was given funding on the chance that, all possibilities being equal, some great new development could make its unexpected appearance. New affiliations and industries were spawned and proliferated in this beneficial interchange, a thoroughly productive and zealously patriotic time period. Indeed, the military now found their research atmosphere so admired by the experimenter-privateer, that they themselves could begin enunciating the terms of their relationship with far greater command once again.
Each of the military branches benefited enormously by the interchange between military supervision and civilian researchers. Naval authorities benefited the most from these findings. VLF wave aerials were redesigned by Naval employed engineers, reliable frequencies were discovered, and suitable power sources were established. The enormously potent Poulsen Arc dischargers continued being used by the most powerful Naval Radio Stations. Being the only available means for maintaining continuous wireless communications, VLF wave Radio became an exclusive Naval possession. Even when shortwave became the vogue, the Navy did not abandon its VLF stations. Navy authorities managed the investigation and development of shortwave systems for their own special needs. Nonetheless, Naval authorities would not disallow the VLF stations simply because they were so reliable. Reliable and virtually unstoppable. Especially in the very deep VLF range. Only the deep VLF wave stations were thoroughly reliable. Those systems used by Marconi were susceptible to interference because of their relatively “high” frequency! Realize that the distance between successive wave alternations in a typical Marconi VLF station measured at roughly 10 kilometers. Navy began experimenting with longer waves, very much longer than 20 or 30 kilometers. They also began increasing power levels in these systems, often reaching output levels of a searing 2 Megawatts. Near these aerials, sparks literally jump from the ground whenever systems are “keyed”. Automobile parking lots on their grounds require thick copper bus-bars against which to be grounded. Indeed, touching any ungrounded volumes of metal nearby is lethal (Lehr).
But for the several operating frequencies which engaged geoelectrical effects and bringing signal attenuations, each successive increase in wavelength obtained very strong and lossless signals. The drive to bring frequency down came as the remarkable result of several experiments with subsurface radio. Notable in this regard are the ground conduction radio systems of Nathan Stubblefield, John Trowbridge, Sir William Preece, Fr. Joseph Murgas, James Harris Rogers, Ferdinand Braun, Georg von Arco, Sigmund Musits, G. W. Pickard, and a host of many others. Each developed various kinds of subterranean and subaqueous aerials. Those of James Harris Rogers were especially attractive to Naval authorities, since his designs provided a remarkable and clarified communications continuity with submarines. Largely derived from several unpatented Tesla designs, these were simple buried dipoles. Two well insulated cables, were stretched out and buried to a depth of 1 or more feet Their center wires were then connected to any receiver. Radio reception through these buried cables provided an astounding static-free signal between any points on the earth, regardless of distance.
- CHAPTER 5
- CHAPTER 7