It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1917 July

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A submarine chaser on our cover this month, where "many of you are destined to live several months".


This month's cover is extraordinary, and it is worth special mention. It shows in poster effect one of the submarine chasers which we hear so much about, and where many of us amateurs are to be detailed as radio operators. Unlike most magazine covers which are mainly ingenious, eye attracting devices to sell the magazine, this cover shows the actual construction as far as details have been made public by the Navy Department. It is the real stuff, and many of you fellows take a good look because many of you are destined to live several months aboard a boat that looks just like this.

The cover is by Mr. Hick 1ESS.

QST is not bashful about calling for Amateurs' participation in the war effort, particularly as trained wireless operators. Joining the Naval Reserve may be the right ticket for many of us. You can parlay this into getting a fine technical education at Harvard and other institutions.

Wanted: By Uncle Sam:
2,000 Amateur Wireless Operators

The demand for Radio Operators is daily becoming greater. The call from our Country is one which no patriotic reader should overlook. The purpose of this article is two fold; first, we are starting a campaign for 2,000 operators; second, we are going to point out the wonderful opportunity which is offered to every amateur. Already large numbers of our members of the American Radio Relay League have answered the call. Many more will go into the service as a result of this article which is, intended to make clear a few of the doubtful points.

At the outset all will probably agree that this is a call of humanity and before it is over every one of us will have to play his part. To play your part and do your bit, —does not mean you must shoulder a gun. Your part if you are a radio operator is to serve in that capacity. Your duty is to enroll today. Uncle Sam must have wireless operators. You must not fail him in this hour of need.


A division in the Navy has been created which is known as the Naval Reserve. The purpose is to provide a class which enables you to serve during times of national peril and war. In the Reserve you are free to ask for your discharge during times of peace. The Naval Reserve offers special attractions to you. as a radio operator. It gives you not only an opportunity to do your duty, but it also gives you one of the finest educational courses in the country.


Take a look at what is offered. In order that you should be informed, the Editor visited the proper authorities and came in contact with the actual conditions. The highest praise will only do justice.

At Boston, Harvard University has turned over to the Navy Department one whole building. This is Pierce Hall. In this school at the present time one hundred and fifty Radio Electricians are being trained before being given their assignments. In this building the men sleep, eat and train. Code speed is worked up to thirty words per minute. Lectures on theory and apparatus are given. A small amount of drill work is taken up each day as a Radio operator is a Petty Officer and must know how to handle men. The operators are also put at secret code work as this plays an important part in Navy wireless. Nowhere will be found a better set of young men. They are a healthful, happy-looking lot preparing to take places on the mosquito boats, shore stations, and wherever needed.

Everyone is focussed on the war, but it will not last forever. Those of us still at home can still keep the technical work going, even if not allowed to work on the air.

Build up your station and your technical equipment.


It takes some pretty husky optimism to talk about what we are going to do AFTER THE WAR. One sometimes wonders if there is going to be any such time as "after the war". There will, however, and in our humble opinion it will strike in very quickly when it starts. At this writing, early in June, when Liberty Loans and Selective Drafts are at their top notes, and preparations are going forward on a scale that the country has never dreamed of, the very last thing on the list to think of is "after the war". But, should anything untoward happen to our late friend Billy Hohenzollern, call letters unknown, it is our guess that things would come crumbling down in a way that would surprise everybody. The good old horse sense of the German common people would assert itself and it would not be many days before somebody would get hit in the head with an idea that maybe we better call a halt and talk the matter over. The war is over from the minute the fighters decide to talk it over.

When that glorious day arrives, amateur wireless will be unshackled. We will have the use of the air again, and old friendships will be resumed and new ones formed. We are not going to be kept shut up as some people think, but we will be encouraged to reopen and continue our experimenting. We have this in black and white from an authority in whom we all have the greatest confidence. It is a sure thing, and let everybody go ahead and plan accordingly and if you are thinking of buying any apparatus, go ahead and buy it. You will use it all right.

Antenna efficiency has always been crucial for Amateur Radio. One way to measure it is to use an RF ammeter read the current flow in a feeder. More current -- more radiation. (Especially true for low frequencies and electrically short antennas.)

It's not clear how useful a "phantom antenna" (a dummy load?) would be to gauge effectiveness, but Amateurs need to keep experimenting while we're off the air.


One of the big reasons most of us give when we have been asked why we don't get our radiation up into the double figures, is "we have not the time". Well, why not try it now? Certainly there is plenty of time and it is time well spent.

If we can provide a phantom aerial which will have the same oscillating characteristics as our regular antenna, but which will not radiate, there is no reason why we should not go ahead and try all the various combinations of Itransformer, condenser capacity, lead length and size, rotary gap, speed, number of studs, width of studs, diameter of rotor, quenching effect, oscillation transformer design, etc., etc.

There probably is not a single one of our stations who could not make a great improvement in its antenna current if an attempt were made to do so. From our experience, we are not afraid to say that fully seventy-five per cent of the amateur transmitting stations could be improved a full one hundred percent, or their present antenna current doubled. It only needs the arousing of thej necessary interest. We know a certain station which started off in November in 1916 radiating 2 3-4 amperes. By February 1917, the same station was radiating 1 amperes, and less power was being drawn from the city mains. The improvement was the result of a lot of little things and they all were brought about by experimenting and study.

Here is a fine field for those of us who cannot enroll. Let the stay-at-homes think about this.

The Radio Club -- again, a feature of Amateur Radio since the first days. Always a lively debate. Some of us know what we're talking about, and some of us think we do.

So what's a "decremeter"? Could it be a device for measuring the logarithmic decrement -- the percent loss of energy per cycle in a resonator? That is, a Q meter in more modern terms -- or a 1/Q meter.

Rotten Resonance

By The Old Man

Well, we sure had a nutty Radio Club meeting here tonight. I blamed near cracked my condenser laughing over it and while I finish this pipeful preparatory to turning in for the night, I will jot down a few of the things which happened.

You know the club meets once a week now. The nervous energy the members expended in the air QRMing each other before the war is now spent setting scientific traps and jawing each other about it afterward. We had to cut out the dope about what was lawful and what was unlawful as regards a wireless set because it threatened to end in murder, not to mention ruining a perfectly good desk. Our President's strong right arm and husky gavel held out allright, but the northeast corner of his desk got in such bad shape that the whole business threatened to come to pieces. The subject of discussion was changed by common consent.

Somehow or other we got going on the subject of phantom aerials and developing transmitting apparatus during the period of the war. It seemed to offer an avenue of experimenting which would take the place of receiving. The phantom aerial does not radiate, and as such was considered as being outside the scope of the President's proclamation regarding radio. I do not know what Mr. Wilson would think about it himself if he happened to drop into one of our meetings out here. Sometimes I think he would order every radio bug in the country electrocuted, or else have Congress provide a bughouse for the accomodations of those whose reason had become unseated by the closing up order.

At tonight's meeting, old Final Authority came in late. He had not heard anything about the phantom aerial business. The first thing he bumped into was hearing somebody telling about how, just before he came to the meeting he had raised his "radiation" from two amperes to five by taking half the studs out of his rotary and speeding the latter up to give the same spark frequency. There was a lot about superior quenching and less decrement and all, and going on right at the present time.

Final stared at all hands in a dazed way until his eyes popped. You could see he was having difficulty believing his ears. When the gink told about how he was getting ready to make his studs only one-thirty second inch wide at the points and expected to run a test before the next meeting, Final snorted, like a badly scared horse.
Radical was there, of course. He had been quiet until he heard that snort and then I swear I believe he made up, his mind to have some fun with Final regardless of whether the cause of science was advanced or not.

Radical usually waits until the end of every discussion when all the evidence has been put in, and then he proceeds to put his unerring finger on the vital spot and makes all other attempts partake of the appearance of thirty cents. This time he broke all precedents. He butted right in early in the game.

Said he, "You say that last Tuesday you were getting but two amperes into your aerial whereas tonight, just before coming to the meeting, you got five?" The whole question was a frame-up for Final's benefit and to emphasize the fact that the tests were going on right at the present time.

"Yes, an increase of just two hundred and fifty per cent in my radiation," promptly answered the young chap who had started the trouble.

Final stared. He was speechless. The President, not noticing and probably giving much thought to how much he could have improved his distance last winter if he had thought of this, indicated much interest, Radical, making believe to be considerably
impressed with this stupendous scientific achievement, and fearing if he did not keep the talk going the phantom business would come to the surface, returned with,

"It would be very interesting to know the number of oscillations occuring in your closed circuit, so that it might be inferred how much you had freed your open circuit to oseillate unimpeded. Have you figured it out?"

The young man with the new idea was much puffed up by the interest he had a-roused in Radical, and he was more than willing to give up his boots, or anything else asked of him. He replied:
"Yes, I have figured it out, on the basis of my wave length being 350 meters. I am not sure about this figure because the wave meter 1 used belonged to Mr. Smith, and I understand it is not closer than 25 per cent."

"How much," blurted out Final, now dead certain his ears were on the bum and forgetting for the moment the apparent serious infraction of the law.

"25 per cent. It does seem pretty bad, I acknowledge, but it was the best I could do."

Not wanting to have any more of this interrupting business, with the chance of the cat getting out of the bag, Radical, throwing a masterly touch of impatience into his tone said quickly,
"All right. 25 per cent. Maybe it is closer than you think. I dropped mine on the floor once and it was dead accurate afterward. Now go on with the figures and let's keep to the point. What did you say about the number of oscillations in your closed circuit before quenching occurred?" Final looked stupified. "On the basis of 350 meters, it works out that the number of oscillations per second would be around 905,550. The time that my plugs are opposed to each other works out as around one and a half hundred thousandths of a second. In this time there would be something like thirteen oscillations."

"How many?" exploded Final, scaring Radical with his suddeness.

"Thirteen," responded the young scientist. "I feel pretty sure I am right because my father, checked my figures."

Radical was ready. Final had backfired twice on him, so far, and it must not be permitted to happen again.

"Sure it's thirteen," said he, and you could see he was making a guess at it.

"All right. Now, the chances are your aerial, lead-in, oscillation transformer secondary, and—ground lead—" here he flashed a glance at the President, "have a pretty high resistance, so your aerial probably has a chance to oscillate forty or fifty times instead of ten or twelve and consequently you get a pretty good reading in your hot-wire ammeter." Here he paused. He could not think of what to talk about next, and any minute Final was likely to butt in. The best he could do in the emergency was to jump on the gap, which he did by hurriedly asking, "How did you figure the time the gap studs are opposed to each other." This created a splendid "dramatic interest" and it held Final and the whole gang. It was a master stroke.

"I took the width of the stud, about a sixteenth of an inch, and knowing the speed of my rotor I could figure how long the stud took to pass through a space equal to its width. I think this figured out something like point, naught, naught, naught, naught, fifteen. That's one and a half hundred thousandths of a second."
"How much", from Final, right on top of __"Well, how do you know—" from Radical. They QRMed so that you had to guess who said what. The President hitched forward, his glittering eye fixed on Radical and his strong, right fist ready to grab the war club. Radical was the quicker and repeated. "How do you know the spark played during that time? Does it jump to meet on your rotary?" He was excited and playing a fast game and his eyes snapped like the gap he was talking about.

"That's where I am in doubt", replied the young scientific gentleman. "I have watched my spark through smoked glasses andi I should say it jumped to meet only a trifle. The best judgment I could forn was that the duration of the spark was a bout the length of time necessary to pasi through a sixteenth of an inch. Any way the spark does not seem to be any wider than a sixteenth."

"Well—" from Radical. He was stumped. He could not think of another question to save his life. He hesitated just a fraction of a second too long and Final got the floor.

"That is extremely interesting and bears upon a matter to which I have given much thought" said he, evidently entirely sidetracked. He had his calm and final-authority manner all back in full working order. But you could see the fatal ending was not far off.

"I am certain" he continued, "many amateurs would do well to carefully study this method of securing quenching because it is notorious that the back inductive effect of the secondary on the primary in the ordinary amateur oscillation transformer and spark gap is very much greater than is generally supposed and most serious losses must occur as a result". Then he did even better than Radical could have done himself and yours truly had a terrible time with a fake cough.

"Have you ever measured your decrement with a decremeter?" he askd.

"Not yet. I expect to tomorrow night. Mr. Blank," nodding toward Radical, "has borrowed the Radio Inspector's decremeter and we expect to have some tests tomorrow night. We shall try and have the figures to report at the next meeting".

This did the job. Final gazed long and hard at the speaker. He was marvelling that one so young and apparently sincere should in reality be so steeped in crime. The clever Radical saw that his victim had taken the bait, hook, sinker and some of the line, and he was smart enough to stand pat and let him hook himself good and plenty. Final did that same thing well and proper.

"The Radio Inspector!" he gasped after he could command his speech. He had his wires so badly crossed he was wondering if the radio inspector was a party to the crime.

"Sure, why not?" from Radical, who intended to superintend the hook setting business personally, if possible.

"Why not! Do you mean to tell me Mr.—(deleted by censor) is co-operating-----?".

He paused as a brand new idea broke through. "Does Mr.-............— know what use you intend making of his decremeter?"

"Mr.-------thinks he knows," and Radical so far unbent as to wink heavily at the membership in general. He had told the truth, but the wink put a bad kink in it. Final took the interpretation it was intended he should take. After staring at Radical for what seemed a full half hour, he hove a deep sigh and turning to the President he said, his voice vibrant with emotion, "Mr. Chairman, I protest against this dangerous and illicit business. This is supposed to be a club composed of law abiding and honorable citizens. One of the foundation stones in our organization is to encourage the observance of the radio laws, and to discourage their breach. In times of peace we have invariably gone out of our way to adhere to this policy. But we are no longer at Peace. We are at war with a powerful and thoroughly prepared enemy. If there ever was a time when good American citizenship demanded that we more than ever stick to this policy it is now. But what do we find to be the case? Some of us are actually conducting tests with their transmitting apparatus. We are even so shameless as to promise at a future meeting to make known the results of these tests. Encouraging others to do likewise is unavoidable. And, as if to cap the climax, we are told here in open meeting of a damnable imposition which is being worked upon the Radio Inspector of this District."

Final had succeeded in working himself up into a fine frenzy. He never noticed the poorly concealed smiles of everybody in the room, including the President. And, Radical, the little fox, never turned a hair but looked the picture of unrelenting belligerency. Final went on, "It is unthinkable. I cannot bring myself to believe the majority of this club approve such tactics. Why, Good Gawd, sir, they stand men up against stone walls and shoot them for less than this."

"For WHAT?" interrupted Radical, leaning forward and sitting on the edge of his chair.

"For doing what you are doing."

"For doing what we are doing? Well, say, can't I use juice in any way at all?"

"You can use juice of course, but not—"

"All right", interrupted Radical, beginning the regulation cross questioning, the object of which was painfully evident by this time. "Can I turn it on and off with a telegraph key?"

"You may of course use a key for a switch, but not-------"

"All right Can I turn it on and off the primary coil of a transformer?"

"You may do that, but-------"

"All right. Can I let the secondary of a transformer fill up a condenser?"

"Yes, but I-------"

"All right. Can I permit that condenser to discharge through the primary of an oscillation transformer?"

We were getting close to it.

"You may, if-------"

"All right. Can I pass the current in the secondary of the oscillation transformer through a resistance consisting of certain carbon rods and a capacity consisting of a leydon jar, which happen to closely resemble a certain aerial in resistance and capacity, and which is otherwise known as a phantom aerial; and can 1 measure the current with a hot-wire meter; and can. I change the number of plugs and the speed of my rotary gap; and can I use the Radio Inspector's decremeter to find out my decrement, or CAN'T I?"

He had him. Final saw it all and it bowled him over. He acted as though his key had stuck, all his fuses had gone out, his motor generator was running the wrong way and pictures were coming in on his wire instead of signals. He went plumb dumb. I thought he was going to take the full count, until the chap with the wart on his nose and the hazy ideas regarding oscillation transformers, suffered a rush of brains to the head, caught on to the scheme of things and emitted a hoarse gurgle, originally intended for a horse laugh. This started the younger members and a general giggle went around the room. Everybody began to wonder what stunt would probably be pulled off next. Radical, who was still eyeing Final like a cat does a mouse just before she springs, asked, "CAN I OR CAN'T I?"

Final took off his eye glasses, and forgetting his scientific elegance for the first time since the development of radio communication, came down to earth and acknowledged the corn with a commonplace, "I reckon you can," upon which the entirely victorious Radical pronounced the final obsequies, "YOU BETCHER LIFE I CAN."

The President in sheer high spirits whacked the desk a mighty wallop, and closed the session by announcing that the last trolley to Smithsburg left in ten minutes and that the meeting was adjourned.

Say! But ain't that little Radical cuss the cutey?


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