VOLUME I OfiGt. PAftt 1
■■ " OF
"^THE INSTITUTE OF
ALFRED N. GOLDSMITH- Ph. D.
New York City, January, 1913
Volume I Part 1
INSTITUTE Of RADIO ENGINEERS
EXPERIMENTAL TESTS OF THE RADIATION LAW OF ANTENNAE
MICHAEL I. PUPIN, Ph. D.
HIGH TENSION INSULATORS FOR RADIO-COMMUNICATION
STANLEY M. HILLS
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WORK OF THE FEDERAL
LEE DE FOREST, Ph. D.
ALFRED N. GOLDSMITH, Ph. D.
NEW YORK, JANUARY, 1913
Copyright, 1913, by
THE INSTITUTE OF RADIO ENGINEERS
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Institute as a whole.
A DISCUSSION ON
EXPERIMENTAL TESTS OF THE RADIATION LAW
FOR RADIO OSCILLATORS.*
Opened by Professor Michael I. Pupin, Ph.D., Professor of
Electro-Mechanics, Columbia University.
I have been requested to speak before your Institute and I re-
plied that, altho I am much interested in radio-telegraphy,
and have done some work in that field, yet at the present time
my chief interest lies in another direction. However, my work
during the last three or four years has suggested a method which
might prove useful in determining the law of radiation from
I number among my friends many workers in the radio field,
among them such men as Professor Braun, Marconi, Hewitt, de
Forest, Fessenden and Max Wien ; the last being a colleague of
mine, a fellow-student, and one with whom I have corresponded
in regard to the matter of the determination of the radiation law.
It struck me that there was one thing which perhaps these men
have not done as thoroly as it might be done, and that is the de-
termination of the relation between the frequency of the alternat-
ing current in the radiator and the capacity of the radiator to
throw off energy. Of course you all know that the higher the
frequency, other things being equal, the faster the energy is radi-
ated. But what is the exact law, and what its theoretical foun-
dation? I have always been interested in that. I have, for in-
stance, asked Mr. Fessenden whether forty thousand cycles is
sufficiently high for efficient radiation, and he replied that even
lower frequencies might be employed. Marconi at that time said
that he preferred a half million cycles per second, and thus we
encountered a difference of opinion.
The extremely high frequency of these currents viewed from
the standpoint of ordinary electrical engineering technique makes
it difficult to produce trustworthy generators, and the higher the
* Lecture delivered before The Wireless Institute, one of the com-
ponent societies which combined to form the Institute of Radio Engineers.
frequency, the more difficult it becomes to produce a high power
generator of continuous oscillations. Of course, if we are satis-
fied with currents which die away as rapidly as the sound from
the crack of a whip, there is no difficulty in producing machinery
of that kind. But if we wish to produce sustained electrical
oscillations the problem becomes much more difficult. I regard
the one hundred thousand cycle alternators which the General
Electric Company produced for Mr. Fessenden, to deliver two
kilowatts, as a triumph of mechanical knowledge and engineering
skill. If frequencies higher than this are required, it becomes
almost impossible to produce the machine, if a considerable out-
put is required.*
If frequencies of between twenty and forty thousand cycles
could be used, the conditions would be much more favorable, as
it is quite within reach to make alternators of considerable out-
put, say ten kilowatts, or more, for these frequencies. If radio-
telegraphy is ever to become an important branch of electrical
engineering, its advance will be brought about when we have very
powerful generators capable of producing continuous radiation,
and the simplest way of obtaining such a generator is by means
of the high power alternator. Even at the present time the most
nearly ideal way of producing such undamped radiation is by the
use of the high frequency alternator.
As I have said, if we could get along with forty thousand
cycles a second it would not be difficult to build an alternator of
the requisite power. But how can we tell if forty thousand
cycles would be satisfactory? We can tell only when we know
the law of radiation, the relation between the frequency and the
energy radiated at that frequency. At the present time this can-
not be said to have been completely done.
There are two ways of arriving at the law of radiation. There
is a purely mathematical way. Thus we may consider the case of
a high vertical wire connected to the ground, which we may take
to be a good conductor. It may also for purposes of approxi-
mate calculation be assumed to be an infinite plane. We know
how the rate of radiation in this case varies with the fre-
quency, but even this simple case has not been completely solved.
When we come to the complicated forms of antennae which
we use in practice to-day, it becomes excessively difficult to work
out the theory mathematically. But even if we could work it
* See Editorial Notes at the end of this Discussion.
out completely mathematically, a simple experimental method
would be preferable for many purposes. When Maxwell first
worked out the formula for the inductance of a cylindrical coil,
he produced an elaborately beautiful formula for calculating the
inductance in terms of the length of the coil, the size of the wire,
and various other quantities. But at the end of his calculations
he says that even in this simple case the experimental method
would determine the desired quantity much more satisfactorily
than the mathematical method. In the case of the antennae em-
ployed in radio-telegraphy this is even more so. Even if we had
the formula for the energy radiated from the antenna at various
frequencies, it would be so complicated that it would be better
to determine the desired relations experimentally after all. Vari-
ous investigators have attempted to obtain the law experimentally
with more or less success, but the work has not yet been brought
to a definite close. My remarks this evening concern a method
which I have used in other fields not directly related to radio-
communication, and in these it has worked very well. I see no
reason why it should not work equally well in determining the
radiation factor. I have not seen this method mentioned, and
while it may be known to those working in the art no harm will
be done by repeating a description of it.
We start from very simple premises. We consider a con-
ductor or part of a system of electrical conductors between the
points R and S. If we impress an electro-motive force between
these two points, we throw energy into the system by this means.
We assume that the E. M. F. is of the sinusoidal alternating
type and therefore of the form
e = E cos pt.
That is, it is a simple harmonic E. M. F. and it will give rise to
a simple harmonic current of definite amplitude and phase. Call
mg this current i we have
i = I cos (pt — u)
The energy, or rather the rate at which energy is being thrown
into the system is, of course, e i. If we wish to know the energy
poured into the system in a unit of time, the mean value of e i is
taken, according to the well known rule ; that is, it is the mean
value of the product of the instantaneous values of current and
E. M. F. The E. M. F. does work on the system by overcoming
certain reactions between the points R and S.
In everv case of this kind there are two reactions, and this is
Fi g ure 5
so without exception. For want of better names, we call these
two classes the conservative and the non-conservative classes
or reactions, respectively. There is, of course, an excellent rea-
son for dividing the reactions into these two classes, as will be
Let us consider the difference between these two classes of
reactions more closely. Every E. M. F. can be divided into two
components in an infinite number of ways. We will divide the
E. M. F. between A and B into components, as follows :
Ecospt = Acos(pt — u) — Bsin(pt — u).
These components are at right angles to each other. One of
these components is exactly in phase with the current and the
other is at right angles to the current. This resolution is shown
graphically in Figure 1. Let OM represent the E. M. F. and ON
the resulting current. The angle of phase displacement between
these is angle NOM. Then OP is the component of the E. M. F.
in phase with the current, and OQ the component at right angles
to it. The lengths of OP and OQ are the A and B of the above
It is perfectly well known that it does not make any differ-
ence how many reactions of an electrical kind there are between
the two points ; they could all be summed up in two compo-
nents. The system may have any number of parts, but if the re-
actions are simple harmonic, they may be summed up into two.
By what may be termed an extension of Newton's third Law
of Motion, the sum of the impressed forces and of the reactions
of the system is always zero. So that altho the instantaneous
value of the work done by the E. M. F. e 2 is not zero, its mean
value is zero. Representing the mean value of the work done by
M(ei), we have
M(ei) = O.
For if we write equation (1) above in the form,
e = e x -f- e 2 , we obtain
M(ei) = M( ei i) + M(e 2 i).
Let us consider the reaction e 2 = B sin(pt — u). It is what
may be called the conservative reaction. During one-half of the
cycle it does work which is positive, and during one-half it does
work which is negative, and the sum is zero.
What is the meaning of positive and negative work? Speak-
ing in an elementary way, if positive work means that energy
is being supplied to the system between the two points, nega-
tive work means that the system is giving off energy between
these points. So that negative work is done when the system
does work against the E. M. F., and it does this by giving up
its stored energy. The energy is stored in either an electrical
or a magnetic field. During one-half the cycle the impressed
forces do work which is stored up in the fields, and during the
other half the energy in returning helps the generator to pro-
duce an E. M. F. This is the reason e 2 is called the conservative
reaction. The energy it supplies is stored in the fields and can
be gotten back. The other reaction does work which has a
mean value greater than zero, and cannot be gotten back. Hence
e x may be called the non-conservative reaction.
In Figures 2 and 3 are shown the E. M. Forces, e 2 and e x , the
current i ; and the corresponding rates at which energy is being
delivered at each instant, that is e 2 i and e x i. It will be seen that
in Figure 2, the total work done upon the system is zero, where-
as in the case shown in Figure 3, the total work done upon the
system is positive. This work never comes back at all. Where
is it? One cannot tell without more careful scrutiny of the
physical system considered. We must then differentiate between
work which returns and that which does not.
As a special case, (and the one of primary interest to us),
let us consider that shown in Figure 4. Here T is the antenna or
radiating system, U the secondary of an inductive coupler of
which V is the primary. Thus there is impressed between the
points R and S an E. M. F. The non-conservative E. M. F. will
produce work of a kind that is dissipated. This will include
heat generated in the coil U, heat generated in the conductors of
the antenna T, heat generated at the ground connection and in
the ground, and energy which has been radiated to unknown
points. All of the energy which disappears as heat in the con-
ductors or elsewhere, or which is radiated will manifest itself
by a non-conservative reaction between the points R and S (or R'
and S'). So that if we had a method of measuring that non-
conservative reaction, we should be able to measure the rate at
which energy is being radiated after making proper allowance
for the energy lost as heat. Fortunately we have a very simple
method of doing this.
We shall examine somewhat more closely the reactions and
the currents. In the first place it is clearly evident that the
amplitude, I, of the current i is proportional to the amplitude of
the impressed E. M. F. Obviously both are zero or infinity
simultaneously. Symbolically expressed,
I = k E, where k is a constant.
It can be seen from Figure 1 that both I and e are proportional
to E. So that A and B are also proportional I. Thus we get
A = RJ and B = R 2 L
We must study R x and R 2 , the two constants. We shall show
that they have all the characteristics of a resistance and a reac-
tance respectively. This gives us a clue to a simple method of
Consider the expression M(ei) = W, where W is the total
work done on the system per second (Mean Value). It can be
shown to be equal to Yi A I.
= M[AI cos 2 (pt — u)] — M|B I sin(pt — u)cos(pt — u)]
= Yz A I, since the mean value of the square of the cosine
thruout a period is one-half, and the mean value of the square
of the sine times the cosine thruout a period is zero. Thus
M(ei) = W = / 2 AI.
Substitute for A, its value given above. Then
w = y 2 r x i 2 .
So that Rj is the quantity which when multiplied by ^2 I 2
gives the energy which leaves the system permanently in the
form of heat or something else. In ordinary circuits, this is the
Joulean resistance. But a resistance due to the dissipation of any
other form of energy may be similarly treated.
Another point which can be seen from the questions giving
the values of A and B is that the angLe of phase displacement is
B R, I R,
tan u =1 — =
A R 2 1 R 2
This gives the tangent of the angle of lag. Since Rj and R 2
fulfill all these conditions they have all the characteristics of ordi-
nary resistances and reactances. Therefore we can determine
them by the IVHEATSTONE BRIDGE.
Energy is thrown into the antenna thru an electromag-
netic coupling. We wish to know the values of the quantities we
have just called the resistance and the reactance. With the high
frequencies used in radio-telegraphy there should be no difficulty
in determining them within one-tenth of one per cent. It takes
some skill, but not very much to handle the bridge. As first used
by Wheatstone, it was employed only with direct current, but in
1886 Rayleigh applied it to alternating currents as well. By this
latter addition it can be used for the comparison of inductances
and capacities as well as resistances.
In Figure 5 is shown one way of determining R v The in-
ductances L 2 and the non-inductive resistance R 3 can be varied,
as can also the non-inductive resistances R 4 and R 5 . G is a
generator of alterating current of radio-frequencies. D is some
device which makes perceptible the presence of such alternating
From the balance conditions of the bridge, that is, with no
current through D, it is easy to calculate the quantity R, of the
antenna and primary.
We can decompose R : into three parts, namely the ohmic re-
sistances in the primary and secondary and the "radiation resist-
ance." If these parts are R/, R/' and R/", where R"' is the
"radiation resistance" we have
y^ F = j/ 2 R/ P + / 2 R/' F + / 2 R/" I-
R, = R/ -f R/' + R/".
The last of these quantities is the one desired most. As a
matter of fact we keep the quantities R/ and R/' down by using
wire of such dimensions that they are negligibly small in com-
parison with R/".
From the value of R''^ it is not difficult to determine the law of
radiation, and it is this method which I desired to lay before
Since the above article was written, a 200,000 cycle alternator
delivering 1 kilovolt-ampere has been built by the General Electric
Companv, and the research mentioned above will be carried out
with it. Special means for separating true radiation energy from
ohmic losses in the antenna, ohmic losses in ground connection,
and from losses due to eddy currents induced in nearby conduct-
ors have been devised. And R. (loldschmidt has developed
a "reflector type" alternator of comparatively slow speed with
which frequencies up to 120,000 cycles per second have been ob-
tained and with considerable power.
In Figure 6 is shown an alternative method of carrying out
this experiment. Here L,, C a , R, constitute an artificial antenna
having the same inductance, capacity and dissipative resistance
as the actual antenna The equality of these quantities is tested
in ? manner similar to that given above.
The three principal methods in use at the present time for
determining "radiation resistance," arranged in order of increas-
ing precision, are the following:
(a) Inserting in the ground connection of the antenna a non-
inductive resistance of such value that the current in the antenna
is diminished in the ratio of one to the square root of two The
additional resistance is then taken as equal to the non-conserva-
tive "radiation resistance." Austin has given a correction which
must be made for the damping of the primary or exciting cir-
(b) Determining from the resonance curve of the antenna
by the Bjerknes method the damping factor and calculating
therefrom the apparent "radiation resistance."
(c) Replacing the antenna by an artificial antenna of identi-
cal effective inductance and capacity, and ascertaining what non-
inductive resistance must be inserted in the artificial antenna to
secure in it the same current as formerly flowed in the actual
We have appended for the convenience of the reader the
following list of important articles and references dealing with this
H. Hertz, Electric Waves, Page 150, or.
Wiedemann's Annalen, Vol. 36, 1889, Page 81.
M. Abraham, Die Theorie der Elektrizitat, Vol. 2, Page 70.
R. Riidenberg, Annalen der Physik. Vol. 25, 1908, Page 446.
P. Barrecca, Jahrbuch der drahtlosen Telegraphic. Vol. 4. 1°40,
C. Fischer, Annalen der Physik, Vol. 4. 1010, Page 979.
J. A. Fleming, Proceedings Phys. Society, Vol. 23, 1011, Page
M. K. Grober, Physikalische Zeitschrift, Vol. 12, 1911, Page 121.
C. Fischer, Physikalische Zeitschrift, Vol. 12, 1911, Page 295.
L. W. Austin, Physikalische Zeitschrift, Vol. 12, 1911, Page 924.
L. W. Austin, Jahrbuch, etc., Vol. 5, 1911, Page 419.
L. W. Austin, Journal Washington Academy, Vol. 1, 1911, Page
P. Barrecca, Jahrbuch, etc., Vol. 5, 1911, Page 285.
J. Erskine-Murray, Jahrbuch, etc., Vol. 5, 1911, Page 499.
ALFRED N. GOLDSMITH, Ph. D.
Prof. Pupin. It will be noticed that this method does not re-
quire much power, for the radiation law is independent of the
E. M. F. impressed. To avoid the evil effects of high inductance
the electro-static telephone might be used as a detecting device.
Dr. Goldsmith. This method is an excellent illustration of
the courage needed to transfer ideas from one field of research
to allied fields. It is evident that for the higher frequencies the
alternator cannot be used. For this purpose the Poulsen arc
converter without magnetic field and supplying but little energy
and that of sinusoidal wave form can be employed. In order so
far as possible to avoid the presence of resistance in the induct-
ances in the bridge and antenna, they should be wound with
"litzendraht," that is multiply stranded separately insulated wires
of many strands of small individual diameter.
L. Espenschied. A properly adjusted buzzer used by the
method of "Stosseregung," that is, impulse excitation, might be
employed to produce the necessary feebly decaying alternating
R. H. Marriott. They are frequently so employed in testing
detectors of various types. I wish also to call attention to the
fact that in practical radio work there are other losses than those
due to actual radiation and to heat. We get direct losses to
ground and leakage losses.
Prof. Pupin. They will appear either in R/ or in R/, but
not in R,'". Are they not very small in proportion to the
R. H. Marriott. There are cases where I am not sure about
Prof. Pupin. The reason they must be so is this. Suppose we
take the length of wire which formerly made up the antenna and
wind it into a coil. Determine the decrement of the current then
obtained in this wire. You will have the same wire and the
same leakage and an approach to equality in the other condi-
tions. But it will not radiate.
If a free alternating current is started in this coil it will last
a long time and be very persistent, that is, the damping will be
very small. The open antenna has very much larger damping
because of the radiation resistance and unless it leaks very badly,
I could not imagine the resistance due to leakage being more than
a very small fraction of the radiation losses.
R. H. Marriott. The leakage losses from brush discharge in
a powerful station must be considerable.
J. Martin. I should like to ask Prof. Pupin the value of an
apparently simpler method of which I have recently read. It
consists in placing in the aerial a sufficiently large non-inductive
**_sistance to reduce the square of the reading of the hot-wire
ammeter to one-half its previous value. The value of the re-
sistance is then equal to that of the radiation resistance.
As to the values found by actual measurements, eight ohms
or less is not uncommon. In the case of the Fessenden 25 K. W.
transmitter recently installed on the battleship Connecticut, I had
to prepare for a current of 50 amperes.
As to the question suggested by one of the members relative
to the value of radiation efficiency, I can refer to an article by
Kiebitz, translated in the London Electrician of April 30th, 1909,
page 99 :
Supply current ; watts 1000
Secondary resistance, watts 200
Secondary discharge and heating in coil, watts 750
Spark, watts 20
Condenser and secondary heating, and brush discharges,
Aerial, earth, ozone . . '. 9
Leaving for radiation 1
Prof. Pupin. Provided the current in the antenna is sinu-
soidal and that the extra non-inductive resistance is inserted at
an antinode of current, the method outlined above should be a
good first approximation.
HIGH TENSION INSULATORS FOR RADIO-COMMUNI-
By Stanley M. Hills.
There is hardly a piece of electrical apparatus in which some
form of insulation is not to be found, and yet until very recently
one might say that but a very small amount of consideration had.
been given to insulation problems.
The demand for compactness and consequent reduction of
space factor, and the use of high voltages, together with the
introduction of radio-telegraphy were perhaps the chief factors
which led to the further development of insulation and insulators.
The most usual high insulators met with in radio work are
glass, porcelain, mica, micanite, air, oil and patent compositions
such as electrose.*
A substance insulates by the possession of three distinct prop-
I. The ability to stand mechanical and electrical stresses due
to or caused by the potential or voltages stress applied.
II. Small conductivity, so that a negligibly small current can
flow through it, and leak away.
III. The power to resist any chemical action that may be
caused by the application of the voltage stress.
The first property is termed by Maxwell the dielectric strength
of the insulator, the second property being termed the ohmic re-
sistance. There is no direct relation between these two proper-
ties ; for a low ohmic resistance does not necessarily imply a low
dielectric strength, neither does a low dielectric strength indicate
a low ohmic resistance. The chief value of the ohmic resistance
test is the indication it gives of the moisture-resistant qualities
of the insulator under consideration. In spite of the importance
of the subject, but little information has been published, compara-
tively speaking, and that which has been published is widely scat-
tered among the proceedings of many scientific societies and in the
columns of the technical journals.
* See Editorial Notes for more recent materials.
This paper has been written with a view to presenting in as
concise a form as possible information regarding the properties
of insulators which the members of the Institute of Radio Engi-
neers are likely to employ.
A good insulator must possess the following properties :
1. High Disruptive Strength.
2. High Insulation Resistance.
3. Physical properties which are permanent over a wide range
5. Should be non-hygroscopic.
6. Must be able to resist the action of water, acids, alkalies,
and oils, and particularly for radio work, the action of sea spray.
7 . Should be fireproof.
In addition, in certain cases, other requirements have to be
met, such as mechanical strength for strain insulators, pliability
for cables, etc. For radio work the insulation required may be
divided into two main headings, namely :
(a) Antenna Insulation.
(b) Condenser Insulation.
(Transformer and generator insulation, falling under the con-
sideration of the firm making these machines, are usually not of
prime importance to the radio-engineer.)
The insulators in common use for antenna and condenser
work are :
(a) Antenna Insulation.
1. Glass. 2. Porcelain. 3. Sulphur. 4. Patent Composi-
(b) Condenser Insulation.
1. Air. 2. Compressed air. 3. Hard rubber. 4. Glass. 5.
Hard Vulcanized Fibre. 6. Mica. 7. Oil. 8. Paraffin Wax.
It is the purpose of the author to discuss the physical and
electrical properties of these insulators, to make a comparison be-
tween these properties, and to give the requirements of the work
for which the insulators are usually used.
A considerable amount of confusion and argument has been
caused by the misuse of the terms "dielectric strength," "electric
strength" and "Specific Inductive Capacity," and we shall there-
fore define what meaning we wish to convey when using these
In this paper the term dielectric strength is used when re-
ferring to the voltage which must be applied to a definite sample
of the material in order to cause its rupture ; and the term specific
inductive capacity is used to define the energy storage capacity of
a sample of insulation as compared to air or the ether.
The breakdown voltage of an insulator depends upon many
conditions. The principal ones are:
a. The shape of the electrodes with which the voltage stress
b. The temperature, and facilities for heat radiation.
c. The thickness of the sample under test.
d. The length of time during which the stress is applied.
e. The wave form of the source of voltage supply.
f . The time rate of application of the stress ; that is, whether
the stress is applied suddenly, or gradually.
g. The condition of the sample as to dryness.
From this wide range of conditions it can be seen that in
making comparisons between samples of insulation, considerable
care must be taken to ensure that all samples are tested under
precisely similar conditions
The nearer the shape of the electrodes approaches that of
the needle point, the lower will be the breakdown voltage ; and,
generally speaking, the higher the temperature the lower the
The breakdown voltage per unit of thickness decreases as
the thickness of the sample increases ; for example, a sample of
mica 1/100 cm. thick will breakdown at about 200,000 volts per
millimeter, whilst a sample one cm. thick will perhaps rupture at
a pressure of 65,000 volts per mm. All insulators do not vary so
much as this, but the safest way to obtain results for design work
is to test several samples of various thicknesses, and plot a curve
showing the relation between thickness and breakdown voltage.
When a dielectric or insulator is under electric stress the
temperature rises rapidly at first, the amount of rise depending
on the facility for heat radiation. Then the rate of change of
temperature slowly decreases until finally the temperature be-
comes constant. When a direct current stress is applied, this
increase of temperature is due to ohmic resistance losses, while
if an alternating current stress be applied, the rapid alternations
of the field cause dielectric hysteresis, an effect comparable to the
hysteresis met with in iron. Such hystersisis always causes a
rise of temperature.
As the stress applied is increased, the temperature of the
insulator increases. Often heat is generated at a greater speed
than it can be radiated thereby causing the material to burn
or char, and rupture or breakdown occurs. A rupture is more
frequently caused by this phenomenon than by the voltaic stress
which is applied.
For this reason it is generally unwise to subject finished pieces
of apparatus to unnecessarily severe or prolonged tests, as these
may cause slight charring, which, altho it does not cause a break-
down at the time of the test, will do so sooner or later.
Owing to the fact that the temperature increases with the
stress, the losses in a dielectric are not strictly proportional to the
square of the voltage, but increase at a slightly greater rate than
the square of the voltage.* Since the temperature enters into this
question, the initial temperature of the dielectric and surround-
ing media and the facilities for heat radition also have consid-
erable influence in determining the values of the losses which
The specific inductive capacity or dielectric constant has a
considerable effect on the insulation strength of any insulating
material which consists of a mixture of various substances The
voltaic stress divides itself in the inverse proportion to the specific
inductive capacities of the materials. In 1898 Professor R. A.
Fessenden performed an experiment which clearly illustrated this
phenomenon. He took two electrodes, A and B, Figure 1, and
placed them one centimetre apart, applying an alternating current
at a pressure of 10,000 volts. This gave a fall of potential of
10,000 volts per cm., which was the maximum the air could with-
stand without brush discharge. Next he introduced between the
electrodes two plates of glass, C and D, Figure 2, of specific in-
ductive capacity 8, each plate having a thickness of .25 cm. As
stated, the stress was divided in the inverse proportion to the
specific inductive capacities of the air and of the glass. That is
8 X 10,000
the air has now to withstand = 8890 volts across
a thickness of 0.5 cm. 9
At every reversal of the voltage a spark passed. This quickly
raised the temperature of the glass, and, by lessening its insulating
* See Editorial Notes.
SI s -
^ l cm- >
quality, finally caused an arc to form between A and B. Thus
where the layer air had previously withstood 10,000 volts to the
cm., it now broke down, owing to the introduction of a material
of much higher specific inductive capacity. The experiment shows
that it is highly important that insulating materials which are
made up of a number of substances should consist of either a
thoroughly homogeneous mixture or that when applied in the
form of layers, the specific inductive capacities should be so -ar-
ranged that no sudden changes in the stress gradient are caused.
We shall now consider various dielectrics in detail.
AIR AND COMPRESSED AIR. Air is used as an insu-
lator in transformers and condensers, more generally in the latter.
An air condenser is the most simple form which can be obtained.
It is efficient, the only loss which takes place being the energy
which is spent in brush discharges which take place between the
edges of the conductors. The dielectric strength of dry air is
high, being in the neighbourhood of 3,700 to 4,000 volts per
millimeter. The main objection to air condensers is their size,
which must be large if any appreciable amount of energy is to be
stored. Professor R. A. Fessenden has for some time used com-
pressed air condensers, and by this means has been able to retain
the advantages of the air condenser and yet largely eliminate
their chief disadvantage. This is due to the fact that the dieiectric
strength of compressed air is much greater than that of air at
atmospheric pressure. Thus he reduced the size for a given volt-
age and capacity. For ordinary practical purposes, it may be
taken that the dielectric strength of compressed air is directly
proportional to the pressure. This is not quite true theoretically,
except where needle point electrodes are used.
In practice it is a difficult task to avoid having a point some-
where, and for practical work the author prefers to rely on the
needle point test in preference to a test between two spheres. The
sphere test usually gives higher values to an extent which depends
upon the diameter of the spheres.
In March, 1909, Mr. E. A. Watson read a paper on "The
Dielectric Strength of Compressed Air" before the English Insti-
tute of Electrical Engineers, and from a long series of experi-
ments he deduced the following empirical formula connecting the
dielectric strength and air pressure :
Dielectric strength in Kilovolts per cm.
at a temperature of 17 degrees C. =20-f- (25.6 times Air
Pressure in Atmospheres).
From this the author has obtained the figures given in Table 2.
So far as has been determined by experiment, this formula holds
only up to a pressure of 15 atmospheres, though there is but little
doubt that the formula would hold at least approximately for
When very high voltages are used considerable trouble is met
with because of brush discharge. This is largely caused by the
accumulation of dust which settles on the plates and forms points
from which the brush discharge takes place. When using com-
pressed air condensers it is advisable to be very careful to keep
the plates clean and to ensure the use of dry air by the employ-
ment of suitable filters. One great advantage of air as a dielec-
tric is that if a puncture occurs an automatic self-healing process
takes place (oil being the only other dielectric which possesses
this valuable property). Another advantage is that air does not
deteriorate from aging effects.
INSULATING OILS. With the advent of high voltage
work came the introduction of various oils for use as insulators.
As a general rule, pure mineral, vegetable, and animal oils form
good insulators, but their insulating properties depend largely on
To the eye, clear and almost colorless oils are likely to give
the impression of purity ; but a dark colored oil is often the purer
because the clarifying process may entail the use of chemicals,
small quantities of which may be left behind and thus reduce the
insulating quality of the oil. Dust, especially metallic dust, mois-
ture and sulphur are the three most destructive impurities. Al-
tho sulphur by itself is an insulator, its presence in insulating
oil is often the cause of a breakdown ; particles of dust are likely
to become "electrically charged," and when in that state will line
up between points where there is a difference of potential, thus
forming a conducting path and causing a spark to pass.
The oils obtained from the Western States are particularly
likely to contain sulphur. The insulating strength of oil usually
increases with the frequency of the applied voltaic stress ; a prop-
erty which is valuable in radio work, and one which is not met
with in solid insulators.
Great care must be taken to eliminate moisture in any in-
sulating oil, as it has a most deleterious effect on the insulation
strength. The presence of 5 per cent, of moisture will often
reduce the breakdown voltage by 50 per cent. A very good test
for the presence of moisture in oil is to mix a small quantity of
the oil with a little powdered anhydrous copper sulphate. The
presence of even a small quantity of moisture will be indicated by
a blue coloration of the oil.
Mr. Skinner, in a paper read before the American Institute
of Electrical Engineers, gave the following specifications for a
good transformer oil :
1. The oil should be a pure mineral oil obtained by the frac-
tional distillation of petroleum and unmixed with any other sub-
stances and without subsequent chemical treatment.
2. The flash test of the oil should not be less than 180° C,
and the burning test not less than 200° C.
3. The oil should not show an evaporation of more than 2
per cent, when heated at 100° C for eight hours.
4. The oil must not contain moisture, acid, alkali, or sulphur
5. It is desirable that the oil be as fluid as possible, and that
the color be as light as can be obtained in a pure untreated oil.
Mineral oils usually evaporate slightly at temperatures a little
below the flash point, and rapidly at temperatures above flash
One great advantage possessed by oil is that if a spark passes
the puncture is self-healing, the only detriment being the particles
of carbon which are left and which, if they become too plentiful,
may cause the same trouble that dust does.
Insulating oils have a somewhat peculiar effect on mica. They
tend to reduce its insulating value, but apart from that they are
not harmful to insulators.
The dielectric strength of insulating oils increases with a rise
of temperature, a property which is very valuable. On the other
hand, the specific resistance decreases with temperature rise.
MICA. In many ways mica is a good insulator. It possesses
a high dielectric strength, is unaffected by heat ; but it suffers from
mechanical disadvantages, owing to the fact that it is not flexible
and is very easily split and broken. Mica is an anhydrous silicate
of aluminum and potassium or sodium, the transparent samples
being composed largely of aluminum and potassium and the less
transparent ones contain magnesia and iron. The transparent
varieties are usually the better insulators, but the black spots
often noticeable in mica are not a source of weakness, as might
be assumed at first thought. The chief disadvantages of mica
are its lack of uniformity in dielectric strength and its great ten-
dency toward surface leakage. The green shades of mica are
usually the softest, whilst the Canadian "White Amber" is the
most flexible. Insulating oil reduces the surface leakage, but also
reduces the dielectric strength.
MICANITE. Micanite consists of layers of mica held to-
gether by an insulating cement. This cement is usually of secret
composition, as it is the key to the quality of the ultimate product.
At one time pure shellac was often used as a cement, but this is
not advisable, as shellac has a low, softening temperature, is hy-
groscopic, and likely to deteriorate rapidly with age.
When heated, micanite can be readily moulded into various
shapes, and thus the disadvantage of inflexibility of pure mica
is overcome. Micanite is usually made up with cloth or paper
as a backing, in addition to the cement, and the dielectric strength
varies with the form of backing used. Reference to Table 1 will
illustrate this point.
PARAFFIN WAX. This substance can be used both in the
solid form and, when impregnated, in various forms of paper. It
has a low, softening point, and is mechanically weak, being read-
ily scratched with the finger-nail. It has a moderately high di-
electric strength, and paper impregnated with it is often used in
condensers. Paraffin waxed paper frequently cracks when bent
in a cold state.
HARD RUBBER. This material has a high dielectric
strength and is much used for bushings, terminal blocks, and
small parts of apparatus. It is somewhat susceptible to surface
leakage, especially when highly polished. It can be machined,
but it is somewhat treacherous and is easily split and cracked.
Hard rubber deteriorates with age and exposure to the atmos-
phere. Though the polish does to a certain extent increase sur-
face leakage, the oil used in the polishing process tends to form
a preserving film over the surface of the sample. Hard rubber
will not withstand high temperatures.
VULCANIZED FIBER. This is another material often
used for bushings and terminal blocks. It has not a very high
dielectric strength. It is brittle and may split and warp when
exposed to changes in temperature, and is also very hygroscopic.
GLASS. Glass has a high dielectric strength, but possesses
other disadvantageous properties which reduce its value as an in-
sulator. It has a very large surface leakage, and is very hygro-
scopic. Being slightly soluble in rain water, there tends to be
produced a roughened surface on which dirt can collect and
form a conducting path, thereby increasing the already large
amount of surface leakage. Glass will crack and shatter when
violently struck and is not mechanically strong. Being trans-
parent any flaws that are present are readily discernible. Lead
is often present in glass, and the insulating value is thereby re-
duced. Plate, annealed and crown glass are the best for in-
sulating properties. Glass is acid-proof and will withstand normal
PORCELAIN. Porcelain has a higher dielectric strength
than glass and less surface leakage. Cheap porcelain is often
extremely hygroscopic and only the very best quality should be
used for insulating purposes ; this caution being particularly
important for radio work. The author has found some samples of
porcelain to absorb 1 to 2 per cent, of their weight of water. Por-
celain for insulating work should not absorb moisture and should
give a brilliant vitreous fracture when broken. Two tests may
be performed to demonstrate this quality. A good porcelain
when fractured will not give a flowing stain when ink is applied
to the fracture. If the tongue be applied to the fracture, a vitre-
ous porcelain will feel cold and glassy, while a poor porcelain
will give a rough absorptive feeling like chalk or blotting paper.
Porcelain essentially consists of English clay and china clay, with
a small percentage of Tennessee clay, felspar and quartz. The
clays form the body, giving mechanical strength, the felspar and
quartz act as a flux and help to make the mass thoroly homoge-
neous. The most critical operation in the manufacture of porce-
lain is the baking process, the temperature required being about
2,700° F. If made too hot, the porcelain becomes porous, while
if not sufficiently heated the clay does not become properly vitri-
fied. For use as an insulator the porcelain must be thoroughly
homogeneous, vitrified and solid. Unfortunately porcelain is
opaque and flaws cannot be visually detected. If the porcelain
is not homogeneous and vitrified it depends on the glaze for its
insulating value, and once the glaze is fractured the insulating
value is practically reduced to zero. Porcelain in comparison with
glass is strong and tough, the surface does not weather badly,
and, barring breakage, the insulating value is practically perma-
nent. Generally speaking, good porcelain is comparatively non-
hygroscopic. Porcelain varies greatly in quality. The German
Hermsdorff" porcelain is a particularly good variety.
SULPHUR. Sulphur has a moderately high dielectric
strength, is soft and brittle, has a low melting point, and when
hot is very volatile. Owing to its low melting point, it is often
used as an insulating cement, and when mixed with finely pow-
dered glass it is very suitable for that purpose, especially with
porcelain insulators. Sulphur has a bad effect on insulating oils,
and should not be used in places where it is likely to come into
contact with them.
LAVA. This substance is not, as often supposed, of purely
volcanic origin. It is a form of magnesium silicate bearing the
chemical formula H 2 Mg 2 Si 4 2 . It can be machined when in
its natural state. When it is to be used for insulating purposes,
it is first machined into the desired shape, and then baked at a
temperature of 2000° F. The baking process makes the lava
very hard and capable of withstanding a high crushing or com-
pressive stress. It is free from metallic salts, and does not
change in shape with changes in the surrounding atmosphere.
Lava is slowly soluble in strong hydrochloric acid, but is other-
wise acid and alkali-proof. It will stand a high voltaic stress
without breaking down.
AETNA. Aetna is a patent composition used in the form of
strain insulators. It has a fair dielectric strength, a tensile
strength of 2.46 tons per square inch, and withstands the action
of heat, but Mr. H. D. Symons reports that he has sometimes
found it to be brittle, and an absorption test shows that Aetna
absorbs 3.17 per cent, of its own weight of water at a tempera-
ture of 120° F.* The surface resists weathering well, and it
forms a satisfactory strain insulator.
LAVITE. This is a patent material, of light color, and has
a high dielectric strength. It is hard, in fact so hard that it can
be used to scratch glass. It is unaffected by temperatures up to
1000° C. It is acid and alkali-proof, but a mixture of strong
hydrochloric and nitric acids in the proportion of one to three
will, when the solution is warmed, attack this material. It can
be machined and turned, and will withstand a very high com-
pressive strain. Lavite is suitable for the manufacture of tubes,
bushings, and other small parts, the only disadvantage being
that it cannot be made into large pieces of apparatus.
MARBLE. The use of marble as an insulator is practically
confined to switchboards. It is liable to be hygroscopic and the
condensed moisture on its surface produces and aids surface
leakage. For good insulation, it should be free from metallic
* H. D. Symons, Insulation and Insulators, Technics, Vol. 3.
veins. Usually the softer qualities of marble have the highest
dielectric strength. It is liable to crack with a knock or a jar
and is somewhat treacherous in behavior when being machined.*
The specific gravity of marble often gives considerable indication
of its insulating properties. Generally speaking:
1. The greater the specific gravity the lower the absorption
2. Mechanical properties are good in the inverse ratio to
the electrical properties.
3. The higher the specific gravity the lower the breakdown
4. The specific gravity increases as the crushing stress in-
Marble, which will absorb more than 0.5 per cent, of its own
weight of moisture after 24 hours' immersion in cold water, is
not of much use for electrical work where high voltages are
ANTENNA SUSPENSION INSULATORS. Suspension
insulators, whether of some patent composition, glass or porcelain,
should be designed to fulfil the following conditions : They must
afford an efficient means of insulation in all weathers, which
require them to be unaffected by fogs, dusty deposits that may
be in the atmosphere, rain, acids or alkalies and salt water
spray. The design and choice of the overall dimensions should
be arranged so that a compromise is effected between the leakage
distance and surface area, such that a maximum leakage distance
is obtained with a minimum surface area.
The potential gradient from the antenna to the ground should
be made as gradual as possible in order to reduce the risk of
"arcing over" and "brush discharge" to a minimum.
All cemented joints must be so arranged that they are under
a compressive strain, in fact, whenever possible, it is best to have
the whole insulator under compressive strain, as insulators of this
type are capable of standing a greater stress when so arranged.
With regard to insulators made of patent compositions it is
important to ascertain whether they are affected by salt water
and whether their surface roughens on exposure to the atmos-
phere. If they are to be used in tropical regions the effect which
temperature has upon them should be investigated, as such com-
* Hills and German, paper on "Dielectrics and Dielectric Testing,"
read before Junior Institute of Engineers, England, March, 1909.
positions are liable to contain shellac or other gum as a form of
binding cement, and may soften in tropical temperatures.
CONCLUSION The tendency of the age is to cheapen
production and reduce the cost of both labor and material, but it
is extremely unwise to be sparing of expense where insulation is
concerned. In a way insulation may be said to be a keystone to
the whole, i. e., if the insulation breaks down the remainder of the
parts is useless. At the present time it is impossible to give
standard values for the strength of insulating materials; they
cannot be depended upon like the stress and strain values of iron
and steel. Insulation is so greatly affected by changed conditions,
and different batches of the same material are liable to be con-
siderably different in insulating value, so that a high safety factor
should always be used. Further, age invariably causes deteriora-
tion of insulation, especially in exposed positions. In high volt-
age, radio-frequency work very large static strains and stresses
are liable to be produced. Often the possibility of these stresses
arising is entirely overlooked and when the safety factor has
been reduced to a minimum, a breakdown inevitably occurs. In
this class of work it is advisable to allow a safety factor of ten,
in order to be certain of safety. The perfect insulator, so far as
our knowledge guides us, "Non-Est," therefore it is necessary
to sum up the most important conditions to be fulfilled and select
the insulator which most nearly satisfies those conditions.
Insulation is a complex subject, and when the field is nar-
rowed down to high insulators there is much that might be writ-
ten. A short bibliography has been appended with a view to
assisting those who wish to study this subject more fully.
TABLE NUMBER 1
Dielectric Strength of Various Insulating Materials
per 0.001 of an
Inch in R.M.S.
Material. Volts A.C.
BRISTOL BOARD 180
FIBRE (Vulcanized) 175
LAVA (Talc.) 125
LINSEED OIL (Boiled and impregnated on Bond
MICA (Pure White) 3000
MICANITE (Cloth) 300
(Flexible Cloth) 100
(Flexible Paper) 300
MICA (Plate) 1000
(Flexible Plate) 700
OILED CAMBRIC 650
OILED PAPER 800
PARAFFINED BOND PAPER 000
SHELLACKED CAMBRIC 35
HARD RUBBER 900
GLASS (Common) 203
(White Alabaster) 290
HERMSDORF HARD PORCELAIN 2500
LINSEED OIL 1200
OLIVE OIL 1650
SPERM OIL 1300
"TRANSIL" OIL 2000
VASELINE OIL 1500
Values compiled from various sources —
Hobart & Turner on "Insulation of Electrical Machines."
H. D. Symons on "Insulation and Insulators."
J. A. Fleming on "Electric Wave Telegraphy."
S. P. Thompson on "Dynamo Electric Machinery."
S. M. Hills and T. Germann on "Dielectrics and Dielectric
N. B. — No hard and fast figures can be given for the dielectric
strength, because samples and conditions of test vary considerably.
Considerable care has been taken in compiling the above table,
and the values given are on the "safe side," higher values often
TABLE NUMBER II.
Dielectric Strength of Compressed Air, at Temperature
of 17 C.
Dielectric Strength in Kilovolt
Air Pressure in Atmospheres. Per C. M.
Figures calculated from formula given by A. E. Watson, pro-
ceedings, English Institute of Electrical Engineers, Vol. 43,
Insulation and Conduction, R. A. Fessenden, Proc. Am. Inst. E.
E., Vol. XV, Page 156.
Mica and Glass as Insulators, Electrician, Vol. XXIV, Page 4.
Oil as an Insulator. D. E. Hughes, English Ins. E. E., Vol. XXI,
Oil as an Insulator, Elect. World, Vol. XXIX, Page 536.
Insulation for High Frequency Currents, Elect. World, Vol.
XXIX, Page 536.
Effect of Oil on Mica, Elect. Review, Vol. XXXVIII, Page 107.
Static Strains in Dielectrics, A. I. E. E. Proc, Vol. XIX, Page
Energy Losses, A. I. E. E. Proc, Vol XIX, Page 1047.
Insulation and Insulators, H. D. Symons, Technics, Vol. III.
Dielectric Hysteresis, Elect. Engr. (N. Y.), Vol. XIV, Page 273.
Theory of Dielectrics, Electrician, Vol. XXX, Page 518.
Dielectric Polarisation, Elect. World, Vol. XXVI, Page 114.
Losses in Dielectrics, Elect. World, Vol. XXVI, Page 114.
Dielectric Losses, Electrician, Vol. XLVI.
Dielectric Losses in Porcelain, Electrican, Vol. LII, Page 678.
Dielectric Strength of Compressed Air, English I. E. E., Vol.
XLIII, Page 113.
Insulation of Electric Machines, Hobart & Turner, Puuiisher,*
Whitaker & Co.
Dielectrics and Dielectric Tests, English Junr. Inst. E. E., Vol-
XIX, Page 347.
Properties of Switch and Transformer Oils, Electrician, April
Since the above lecture was written a number of new insula-
tors have appeared. As typical of this new class may be taken
BAKELITE and CONDENSITE. They are resinous or amor-
phous products resulting from the action of phenolic bodies upon
formaldehyde or other methylene compounds. They are usually
light brown in color and even translucent, but may be produced in
opaque forms of various colors. The property rights in the
American patents have not as yet been judicially determined, but
the principal claimants in America are Aylsworth and Baekeland.
The materials can be produced in soluble forms, fusible or in-
fusible. Frequently fibrous organic materials are impregnated
with these compounds at high temperatures in the hydraulic press
and then molded. The fibrous materials used are generally wood
pulp or finely divided sawdust. Contrary to expectation, asbestos
is not a suitable substance for impregnation because of its me-
chanical weakness and lack of elasticity. (The main object of
adding the fibrous materials is to give flexibility and elasticity to
the insulator. The phenolformaldehyde products are exceedingly
hard and resistant, have a high crushing- strength, but are very
The insulation strength of these products is remarkable. Baeke-
land states that paper impregnated with them and submitted to
hardening under heat and pressure has shown an astonishingly
high disruptive (puncture) test, averaging 77,000 volts alternat-
ing current on sheets one-sixteenth inch thick. This is 1,230
volts per mil, 1,232 kilovolts per inch, or 485 kilovolts per cm.
The production of these substances is very considerable, more
than one ton of Bakelite being made per day at present.
In treating dielectric hysteresis in the preceding article, it
was stated that the dielectric losses depended on the w-th power
of the voltage, where n was greater than 2. A detailed discus-
sion of this matter will be found in a paper by Fleming and
Dyke (Electrician, Feb. 3rd, 1911, page 658). The values of w
there given are 2.15 and 2.61 for two different samples of vase-
line oil, 3.5 for air (tho, of course, with a much smaller constant
of proportionality in this case), and 2.42 to 4.24 for glass jars
A valuable discussion of the properties of compressed air
condensers is given by Max Wien (Annalen der Physik, 1909,
"On the Damping of Condenser Oscillations"). A type of com-
pressed air coaxial cylinder condenser is there described, which
is 100 cm. long, 6.5 cm. diameter, weighs 6 kilograms, has a
capacitv of 0.0017 innif., and at normal working pressure of 15
to 20 atmospheres will withstand 40,000 volts across its terminals.
The separation between the cylinders is about 3 mm. These
values agree well with those given by R. A. Fessenden, namely,
at 10 to 14 atmospheres pressure, the sparking voltage between
plates 2 mm. apart was 28.500 volts. Such air condensers are
found t>» produce no perceptible increase in the damping of a
circuit in which they are placed, as compared with ordinary air
condensers. It was found that Levden jars added about 0.010
to the decrement, paraffin oil condensers about 0.001, and com-
prised air condensers less than 0.0002.
Methods of removing moisture from insulating oil without
chemically changing the oil are given by S. M. Kintner (Elec-
trical Journal, Vol. Ill, 1906). Filtration thru substances cap-
able of combining with water and free acids is preferred to
heating processes which may easily start an injurious decomposi-
tion of the oil.
There has been a marked tendency recently to standardize the
rating of insulators and the proper factors of safety under vari-
ous conditions. Thus, the Allgemeine Elektrizitats Gesellschaft
of Berlin, following the designs of their engineer, C. Kuhlman,
lias placed on the market a series of insulators of standard speci-
fications. The insulators used on 4,400 volts spark over at
22,000 volts (factor of safety = 5), those for 17,000 volts spark-
over at 50,000 volts (factor of safety = 3), and those for 77,000
volts spark over at 170,000 volts (factor of safety = 2.2). The
reason for the diminution of the safety factor with increasing
voltage is that excess voltages depend upon current surges, and
the currents on extremely high tension installations are generally
limited to small values. Complete details of such a series of
standardized insulators for 750 to 200,000 volts are given by \V.
Fellenberg (Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift, 1 ( )12, pages 640 and
The use of insulated steel towers for antenna supports has
given rise to a new insulation problem, namely the obtaining in
insulators of the necessary mechanical strength under great com-
pressive stress. One method which has so far worked well in
practice is used at the Bush Terminal station of the National
Electric Signaling Company. There the massive steel towers,
150 feet high, are supported each by 25 glazed porcelain conical
insulators, approximately 8 inches long. These rest on a heavy
concrete base. There are also two anchoring blocks, each
mounted on 10 such insulators. Another method is to he em-
ployed at the Transatlantic Station of the Hochfrequenz-Ma-
chinen Aktiengesellschaft of Berlin (Goldschmidt alternator
system) at Tuckerton, New Jersey. The tower, of steel 820 feet
high, will rest on three spheres of a glass-like composition, the
diameter of each sphere being about 3 feet.
Following somewhat different methods from those given in
the present paper, W. Petersen in an article on High Tension In-
sulation in Archiv fur Elektrotechnik, 1 ( '12, Vol. T, Cage 28,
draws certain conclusions which are of interest in radio-trans-
In Figure 3, D, is a piece of porcelain placed between the
metal plates A and B. The difference of potential between A and
B is taken as not far from that value which would cause a brush
discharge across AH. The lines of electric force are of course
relatively crowded in the porcelain which has a higher dielectric
constant than air. Rut its strength enables it to stand the strain
If now there be at C a crack or pore in the porcelain, the number
of lines of force passing through it will not be very different
from the previous value, hence the strain on the air in this cavity
will be far greater than on that outside. Consequently the air in
the crack will be ionised and a spark discharge across the gap
will speedily follow. To avoid this "crater" action, care must be
taken to use only perfectly smooth and flat pieces of insulating
material, free from cracks and pores, in such situations.
If plate A is curved at its end as shown in Figure 4, and be-
tween the plates A and B is placed a sheet of insulator, it is most
likely to be cracked at B. The reason will be seen when the dis-
tribution of the lines of electric force near B is examined. Those
which are refracted as they pass from the insulator to air near
E are so closely crowded together in the air that ionisation begins,
with brush discharges, roughening of the surface at E, and event-
ual breakdown. The greater the dielectric constant of the in-
sulator, the worse it behaves in this matter of the excessive
crowding of the lines of force and consequent strain produced by
the refraction at the boundary surface of the material.
ALFRED N. GOLDSMITH, Ph. D.
Robert H. Marriott. — The problem of insulation in wire-
less is, as Mr. Hills says, a very important one. Probably
every radio-engineer or operator present can cite a case or cases
wherein a wireless transmitter or receiver had its efficiency ma-
terially lessened by poor insulation, and those of us actively en-
gaged in wireless should be able to profit by this paper, which
covers a considerable scope in few words.
Mr. Hills does not mention hard rubber as a material for
antenna insulation. However, it is and has been used for this
purpose in the form of rods about 1" in diameter and 1 to 2 feet
in length, with screw eyes in the ends for fastening ropes or
wires. These rods have given considerable trouble, due to their
absorption of moisture and their surface becoming wet from
rain, snow, fog or local precipitation when they are colder than
the surrounding air. And the eyes in the ends of the rods fre-
quently straighten out.
I have improved these insulators on some occasions by sub-
stituting welded eyes, varnishing the hard rubber (which tends
to keep it from absorbing moisture), and by fastening a copper
cone or cup to the upper end of the insulator in such a way that
it protects the hard rubber from rain, snow and fog, and to some
extent from local deposition of moisture.
Wood is frequently used for strain insulators in the guys,
and even rope has been used. Both of these materials in the
form commonly used have been bad, at least mechanically, be-
cause when the weather caused them to rot or split they pulled
A wooden strain insulator at Manhattan Beach, composed of
two parallel 2" x 4" oak timbers that apparently had been boiled
in asphaltum, and which was subjected to a tension strain in the
direction of the grain of the wood, pulled in two in the middle
and dropped the "sky-line," thus crippling the station for several
days. Other insulators of this form broke at Manhattan Beach,
but usually through splitting out at the ends. These insulators
had been subjected to the weather for probably four years.
Furthermore the breaking of a rope strain insulator is said to
have caused the tower to fall at Cape Hatteras.
In place of these wooden and rope insulators I have used
insulation in the form of dead-eyes, such as the R. Thomas & Co.
porcelain strain insulators, and where porcelain insulators with a
large enough groove could not be obtained, ship-rigging dead-
eyes of lignum-vitae or Indian-hedge were used. With these the
strain becomes a crushing strain ; and even if the dead-eyes ever
did crush, the two loops in the guy would simply come together
and the guy would remain strong mechanically.
In addition wood has been and is used for insulating radio
transmitting and receiving instruments.
For example. — In a certain condenser jar rack containing two
banks of jars, the outside coatings of the jars are connected by
strips of copper tacked to the bottom of the wooden jar rack ;
the inside coating of one bank connects to one transformer term-
inal and a spark gap, while the inside coating of the other bank
connects to the other transformer terminal and to ground through
the helix. If the potential of the transformer is 20,000 volts,
then the potential of the copper strips tacked to the bottom of the
wooden rack may be high, say 10,000 volts to ground. The wood-
en rack and the floor become damp, both sides of one bank of
jars are then grounded, and the other bank takes approximately
the potential load of 20,000 volts with only one thickness of glass,
instead of two thicknesses to withstand this pressure. At the
same time the capacity of the local circuit is doubled and there-
fore the local circuit is thrown out of tune with the antenna
Usually a jar will break in the bank that is doing the work.
What happens then depends upon the experience of the operator.
He will probably put in a new jar, losing considerable time and
possibly some messages in doing it; then he breaks another jar.
He may keep on breaking jars until he gets disgusted and gives
up working the set.
Or, he may close down the spark gap until he gets a spark
that does not break jars. He may be using the same amount of
power, but his transmitter circuit is certainly out of tune with
his antenna circuit, and little or no current will be transferred be-
tween the circuits with the general result that probably he will
not send very far.
In the meantime, the jar rack may or may not show indica-
tions of burning where he will notice them. If he does see the
burning he will probably do the right thing, i. e., scrape off the
blackened part of the jar rack, set the rack legs on porcelain,
glass or some other good insulator, put in a new jar and go
ahead without more trouble.
I have obviated the grounding of the jar rack by fastening
inverted Western Union insulators to the bottom of the legs,
screwing the insulator pins to the inside of the legs.
Insulators frequently give trouble because they are colder than
the surrounding air, causing the air to deposit moisture on the
insulator. This can be stopped sometimes by simply warming up
the insulator. For example, the muffler is Short circuited and the
operator should hold down the key until the muffler becomes
warmer than the surrounding air, and the moisture evaporates.
He no longer has a short circuit unless the muffler is dirty or is
made of some material that will carbonize.
In radio-telegraphy we deal with high frequency alternating-
currents, so that when we want to keep rapidly alternating cur-
rent from escaping, the insulator used for that purpose must not
only be of proper ohmic resistance and dielectric strength, but
it must be of low electrostatic capacity. An example of bad in-
sulation with regard to the electrostatic capacity of the insulator
is to be found in the twin wires used frequently for connecting
the two leads of a loop antenna from the anchor spark gap to the
These twin wires may or may not have sufficient highly resis-
tant material between them, but their electrostatic capacity is
comparatively high and as one of them is connected directly to
ground, considerable current will flow from the other wire to it
instead of passing through the tuner, so that the signals are
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WORK OF THE
FEDERAL TELEGRAPH COMPANY.*
By Lee De Forest, Ph. D.
Engineer of the Federal Telegraph Co.
The Federal Telegraph Company is unique in several respects.
Among these, it enjoys the distinction of employing no press
agents. Consequently in the East almost nothing is known of
what is being done in the West. This is, of course, regrettable
from a technical standpoint.
The present chain of stations of the company comprises those
at Seattle, Portland, Medford, Central Point, Sacramento,
Phoenix, San Diego, El Paso, Fort Worth, Chicago and others.
Tho messages have been sent from San Francisco to Chicago,
the service is not of the same character as that maintained on
the Pacific Coast, which latter is strictly commercial. The largest
of all these stations are those at San Francisco and Honolulu.
Each of these has a power of 40 kilowatts, which is to be in-
creased to 60 kilowatts.
We operate under the Poulsen patents. But the apparatus
imported from Denmark in 1910, showed many commercial de-
fects and lack of reliability. The cooling appliances were inade-
quate, and the insulation faulty.
The system, as now in use, is the simplest imaginable, particu-
larly at the transmitter end. Referring to Figure 1, E is a direct
current generator of 500 to 1,000 volts or even more, D are
choke coils intended to prevent the alternating current from the
arc flowing back to the generator and also intended to keep the
generator direct current constant, A is the arc itself, B a tuning
or loading inductance, and T the antenna. The arc itself plays
between a copper positive electrode and a carbon negative elec-
trode. It is always water cooled. It is in an intense magnetic
field, and the atmosphere surrounding it is usually illuminating
gas. Where this cannot be obtained, denatured alcohol is used
instead. If desired, ether can be added to the denatured alcohol.
In this system the transmitting key is used, not as in most
* Lecture delivered before The Institute of Radio Engineers, Novem-
ber 6th, 1912, at Fayerweather Hall, Columbia University.
< 400' Y
stations to change the amount of energy emitted, but only to
alter slightly the wave length. This is accomplished by con-
necting the key K as shown across one or two turns of the in-
ductance B. When the key is pressed, the wave emitted is length-
ened by say five per cent. So that all the time transmission is
going on the antenna is radiating. This makes matters interest-
ing but unsatisfactory for the amateur interloper who naturally
fails to separate the two waves and interpret the messages. The
wave not used for receiving, which is usually the shorter one,
is termed the "compensation" wave, and the tuning at the receiv-
ing station must be sufficiently sharp to ensure that the compen-
sation wave shall not be heard. It has been found that smaller
amateur stations even in the neighborhood of the twelve kilowatt
station cannot tune up to the longer wave, and this fact ensures
their reception of what may be called reversed, and of course
unreadable messages. We feel responsible for a state of thor-
ough disgust on the part of said amateurs.
Furthermore, when in the immediate neighborhood of a power-
ful station of the Poulsen type, the received signals from other
stations are considerably fainter when transmission is going on
from the arc station. This may be due to either a surplus of
energy passing thru the detector and rendering it insensitive; or
to rendering partially opaque the transmitting medium by the un-
damped radiations.* I must admit that I cannot see just how this
latter alternative can be the case tho it is difficult otherwise to ex-
plain the fact that even with the Audion detector the smothering
effect is shown. For the effect mentioned, the arc may be as
much as five miles distant, from the detector affected, and yet the
signals from spark stations will drop to a marked degree.
It is of interest that the arc length or changes in it have prac-
tically no effect on the radiation, at least for telegraphy For
telephony, the constant conditions required are naturally more
severe. For telephony, the double circuit arrangement shown in
Figure 2 is used. The conditions being more critical in this case,
the operator is required to watch the arc and keep it steady by
occasional manipulation. The skill required is not great.
The receiving circuit ordinarily employed is shown in Figure
3. The coupling between the antenna circuit and the closed cir-
cuit is usually very loose. Thus with pancake shaped coupling
coils such values of the angle between the coils as 88° are usual.
* See Editorial Notes at the end of this Lecture.
This is exceptionally loose coupling and ensures sharp tuning of
a quality unattainable in spark systems. The tuning is remarkably
sharp and we have done much work in the direction of eliminat-
ing damping in the receiving circuits. In particular we have found
it necessary to avoid leaky condensers. And because of the un-
damped nature of the radiation we can get all the advantages of
The detector used is the ticker. The old-style ticker is an
intermittent contact operated by an electric buzzer. The contacts
themselves are between two gold wires, one of them fixed and the
other attached thru an insulating piece to a diaphragm which is
maintained in continual vibration by the buzzer armature. The
contact wires are connected to the terminals of the tuning con-
denser in the closed tuning circuit and also to a considerably
larger fixed condenser (value about 0.02 mfd.), which latter con-
denser is also connected to the low resistance receiving telephones.
The action of the ticker is to permit alternating currents of large
amplitude to build up in the secondary tuning circuit, and at
more or less regular intervals to discharge the variable condenser
thru the telephones producing at each discharge a click. The
telephones are the ordinary 75 ohm double head band type. The
note produced is not a pure musical one because the ticker can-
not be arranged so as to interrupt the alternating current which
charges the condenser at the same point of the cycle at successive
interruptions. In consequence some clicks are louder than others
and the note is not clear. It may be characterized as a hissing
sound not altogether agreeable to the ear. If a rectifier is placed
in the ticker circuit the note becomes much purer. But the signals
The difference between the two waves emitted from the
transmitter is small. Thus when the sending key is up the wave
may be 3000 meters and it may be 3150 meters when the key is
An efficiency of twenty per cent, is considered good for the
Poulsen transmitter. Tho this is only about one-third what is
obtained by the use of the quenched spark, yet it is found that in
practice we can work far greater distances than with the latter.
This may be because the ticker telephone combination is by far
the most sensitive and efficient detector in existence.
As examples of what is done as regular service, we work
from Los Angeles to San Francisco, a distance of 350 miles with
12 kilowatts direct current. San Diego, with 5 kilowatts D. C.
is in communication with San Francisco at night. In the winter,
the conditions are naturally much better. With 12 kilowatts
D. C. we even work from San Francisco to El Paso in the day-
time, a distance of 900 miles ; not sufficiently continuously for
commercial service but still very frequently ; it being practically
a daily performance.
The power utilized is limited by two considerations. One of
these is the capacity of the antenna and the other is the voltage
at the arc. We have worked up to 1200 volts but higher voltages
than this are not excluded. As to the antennae, we have adopted
as standard the double harp, twin-mast system. Its construction
is clearly shown in Figures 4 and 5 which are those of a typical an-
tenna of 0.005 mfd. capacity. The new antenna for the large South
San Francisco station is supported by twin towers 440 feet high,
600 feet apart. The antenna capacity is here 0.012 mfd. Because
of the low voltages employed, insulation difficulties are minimized.
The type of tower now used is triangular in cross section and
does not taper. For it special timbers have to be sawed. The
plan of the guying system is shown in Figure 6. It will be seen
that the construction lends itself to great rigidity. As the results
of our tests with the 12 Kilowatt stations we have reached the
conclusion that this type of masts and antenna is the best for our
system. In some of our stations, we employ the flat top aerial of
less height for receiving. But we regard the fiat top aerial as in-
ferior to the harp type. The harp type also has the mechanical
advantage that by its use the. danger of twisting of the spreaders
The ground employed is the radial type with connection to
earth at outer points. It is shown in Figure 7, where S is the
station house. The ground wires, which are buried two or three
feet below the surface radiate in all directions, and are heavily
bonded together at their outer extremeties, B.
At the South San Francisco station, the antenna current is
about 40 amperes when 35 kilowatts is drawn from the direct
current generator at 600 volts. The Honolulu Station is exactly
like the South San Francisco one. The system as now improved
is simple in operation and installation. As evidence of this, Mr.
Elwell, Chief Engineer of the company, went to Honolulu on two
days notice, and within sixty days the Honolulu station was in
operation. And yet in this case there were considerable difficul-
ties to be overcome. All the apparatus and supplies had to be
shipped from San Francisco, and the Chinese workmen, who
were the only ones available, would not work at heights above
one hundred feet. The distance covered by this station is 2300
miles. Since August, not less than 1500 to 2500 words of press
have been transmitted daily. There are in addition a consider-
able number of paid messages. The rate is 25 cents a word
against 35 cents of the cable companies. At the present time, we
can operate up to 8 in the morning. When the new 60 kilowatt
sets are installed, we expect to operate thruout the day.*
Between Los Angeles and San Francisco two to three hundred
messages are sent every day, and this is strictly paid business, of
a kind where accurate service is required. Of course, a certain
type of customers is specifically catered to. Thus the California
Fruit Growers Association do much business between Los Ange-
les and San Francisco. They demand a thirty minute service,
that is, between sending the message and receiving the answer,
and we have kept up that service for over a year now. This is a
very strict test because these messages are all in an unpronounce-
able code. The Publishers' Press Association has also used our
service from five to nine in the evening for a period of ten months
There is another chain of stations at the following points:
Chicago, Kansas City, El Paso, and Fort Worth. But these sta-
tions were equipped with too little power. The static in Texas
is terrific and prevents service except in the daytime. At Chicago
there are two 80 foot towers, 250 feet apart, placed at the top of
a high building. They each carry 40 foot spreaders. The limit
of power capacity here is 7.5 kilowatts, the limit in this case, be-
ing determined by the dimensions of the antenna. If greater
power is desired, it will be necessary to use higher voltage.
An extremely interesting phenomenon has been observed in
this work with undamped radiations of slightly different wave
lengths. It is that at certain times daily, practically thruout the
year, and under certain meteorological conditions, very surpris-
ing variations in the strength of the received signals occur when
definite wave lengths are used, and only when these wave lengths
are used. For example, the Los Angeles station works with a
wave of 3260 meters and a compensation wave of 3100 meters,
and the shorter wave is radiated continuously with the exception
of the time during which the dashes or dots are being sent.
Now it will suddenly happen that the longer wave will become
* Since this paper was prepared 24-hour service, both ways, has been
instituted and is daily successfully maintained.
very weak or even be entirely lost at the San Francisco station,
distant 350 miles north, whereas it will be received with normal
strength at the Phoenix, Arizona station, distant 300 miles to the
east. Nevertheless the shorter compensation wave, which dif-
fers in wave length by only about 5 per cent., will be received in
San Francisco with full strength, or even with greater intensity
This phenomenon of the extinction of the waves occurs fre-
quently, particularly at our stations near the Pacific Ocean ; for
weeks it was observed every evening and at other times was en-
tirely absent. In consequence the operators have arranged to
send on either of the two waves used.
The duration of this fading effect is often several hours after
nightfall; then it suddenly vanishes and thereafter both waves
have their normal intensity. This alteration of intensity is some-
times for one wave, and sometimes for the other, and rarely for
both ; and in the last mentioned case the operator can find a third
wave on which he can receive clearly. Usually, however, one of
the wave remains of normal intensity; in other words, waves
which differ in length by several hundred meters do not vanish
This selective absorption does not seem to be limited to specific
localities, appears mostly at sunset, lasts far into the night, but is
seldom observed near noon.
At first I thought that the effect could be explained by altered
conditions at the transmitter or receiving station, as, for example,
thru alteration of antenna capacity because of the presence of
fog, etc. But the persistency with which it occurred, and the
fact that no amount of tuning at the receiving station remedied
matters altho simultaneously other stations were receiving this
wave perfectly, prevents the acceptance of an explanation on the
grounds of atmospheric absorption, that is, such an explanation
as is employed to clear up the daylight absorption at long ranges.
Clearly it is impossible that a wave of 3260 meters previously
of satisfactory intensity can be absorbed completely at a distance
of 350 miles while at the same time a wave of 3100 meters re-
mains of full strength. And there is not much to be said in favor
of the assumption that alterations of the refractive power of low-
hanging cloud banks or of layers of clouds produce a bending
of the wave trains which causes them to pass over the receiving
station, while at the same time waves of only 5 per cent, differ-
ence in length are received as well, or even more strongly (as is
It is however possible, that under certain atmospheric condi-
tions, which may be caused by clouds or masses of fog (which
are found with great regularity at certain seasons on the Pacific
coast), or by by partially ionized masses of air at greater heights,
the energy of the upper part of the wave may be deflected or
bent downward. Dr. Eccles at the Dundee meeting of the British
Association pointed out that a bending of the wave as it travelled
might be produced if the upper layers of air were even partly con-
ducting. The appearance of the bending wave front as it travels
from left to right is shown in Figure 8. Under such conditions
there are acting at the receiving stations two trains of waves
which have travelled over paths of unequal lengths or which have
travelled with unequal velocities. Consequently there will be a
phase displacement between them and interference at certain
localities. These are the nodes at which total or partial extinc-
tion of the oscillations occurs.
The possibility of such an interference has already been men-
tioned by several authors in their speculations concerning the
propagation of electric waves over the surface of the earth. For
example, Professor Pierce, of Harvard University, states in his
book : "Principles of Wireless Telegraphy," "The upper layers
of the atmosphere which have been rendered conducting thru
the action of sunlight, may act to a certain extent as reflectors of
electric waves and thus limit their propagation over the surface
of the earth ; the transmission would then be superior in the day
time, with the exception of the case where a possible interference
occurred between" the direct and reflected waves. This inter-
ference, if it exists, wou'Id strengthen waves of certain length
and might annihilate waves of different length, so that this inter-
ference could be made of assistance by altering the wave length
by an amount corresponding to half the period. No such effects
however have been observed."
Dr. Pierce's conclusions regarding the superiority of daylight
transmission are, as you know, contradicted by the experimental
results. The ionization of the air at lower levels is able to coun-
teract the influence of the reflection at the upper layers. On the
other hand I believe that there is now ample evidence to concede
the existence of such reflection as darkness approaches. In Fig-
ure 9, the conducting layer of air at U is shown and the path of
the wave with its reflection at U is also shown.
How shall we account for the fact that the reflection effect
was not observed till recently ? In spark telegraphy two waves
of nearly equal length were rarely used (with the exception of
the case of those due to coupling of the open and closed oscillat-
ing circuits). Alterations in the wave length used in transmis-
sion are seldom attempted or else are of considerably greater
magnitude than those used in our work with continuous oscilla-
tions, which latter therefore bring the desired effect into greater
prominence. It would be interesting to observe whether similar
observations have been recorded with sustained radiation in other
climates, or whether these effects are limited to the particular
atmospheric conditions and localities in which we have observed
Because of the great commercial demands on the stations up
to the present time I have not been able to undertake a careful
series of observations altering the transmitting wave by successive
small steps in order to ascertain between what intervals of wave
length these effects of interference or disappearance pass thru
maxima and minima. Before an exact statement can be made
theory apd practice must work together for some time.
In Figure 10 is illustrated one set of conditions which would
lead to the reflection and interference effects observed. Sup-
pose we are working with two waves, A 2 , of length 3000 meters
and Ai of 3150 meters. At A assume a reflecting surface (cloud
bank or mass of ionized atmosphere). The distance BC is taken
as 20Aiwhich equals 21 A. 2 . The distance AC is taken as 28.5 Ai
which also equals 29.9Aj. So that the difference of the paths for
the two wavesAi andA- is 28.5 — 20 = 8.5 Ai for the first wave,
and 29.9 — 21 = 9.0 A, for the second wave. The height AB
is found to be 37.5 miles in this case. Its height is found to de-
pend on its distance from the sending and receiving station pro-
vided the differences of paths of the two waves are assumed
known. It will be seen that in this case the longer wave will
arrive at C by two paths which bring the two portions of the
wave to C in directly opposite phases. In consequence the longer
wave will be partially or totally annulled at C. On the other hand,
the shorter wave cravels to C by two paths which bring the two
portions of the wave to C in phase. They therefore reinforce
each other and may appear with increased intensity. Other values
for AB, BC, and AC are 27.7 miles, 10A, or 10.5 A , , and 18 A x
and 18.9 A 2 respectively. Yet another set of values is 17 miles,
3 Ai or 3.15 A, , and 10Ai and 10.5 \* respectively.
If the reflecting layer is half way between the stations, it-.
height is 62 miles under the conditions here assumed. Five min-
utes is sometimes the interval during which the effect persists.
For its disappearance the ionized layer need rise only one-half
of one wave length. Almost never have both the waves faded at
the same time. This shows that the reflecting stratum is at a
great height. I believe that prolonged and tabulated observa-
tions will add considerably to our theoretical knowledge of this
It is possible that the so-called "freak work*' in wireless is
due to this interference effect. It is impossible to say because
we have had no simple way of changing the wave length suddenly
in the quenched spark sets. But I believe that the extreme long
distance work done by small sets must frequently be explained
thus. Then too, it would account for the fact that the Marconi
Transatlantic stations can operate sometimes with a few kilo-
watts and sometimes require 125 to 600 kilowatts.
And finally, to return to our commercial work, we now
use a wave length of 5000 meters at our South San Francisco
station. Thus we avoid interference with neighboring spark sta-
tions, altho properly tuned quenched sparks sets with a wave
length differing 8 per cent, from our own do not interfere with
us. It has been our aim to conduct our business with maximum
certainty and minimum of interference, and we have succeeded
so well in the first aim that we believe that any failure in the
second is rather the fault of the other systems.
Thru the kindness of the Federal Telegraph Company and Mr.
Elwell a number of photographs illustrating the work of the
company are here reproduced. Figure 17 is the antenna at San
Diego. It is of the earlier double pole and spreader type. Figure
18 is the station at Portland, Oregon. The towers are square in
cross section. A newer type of tower construction, namely the
triangular cross-section type, is shown in Figure l c ), the Central
Point. Oregon, station. The Transpacific South San Francisco
station is shown in Figure 20. In Figure 21 is shown the interior
of the Central Point station. To the left is the 500 volt direct
current control board with generator field rheostat, measuring
instruments, and breaker. Next to it can be seen the arc converter
with its powerful field magnets, arrangements for artificial cool-
ing, and front button which, when pressed, makes contact and
starts the arc. To the left of the operator's table is seen the
receiving set with variable inductances and capacities controlled
from the front knobs, various switches for altering wave length
range, etc., and the telephone jacks. Standing on the top of the
receiving set is a specially wound coil which is employed when
extra long waves are to be received. Next to the receiving set is
the operator's key, and then the board where the wave length of
the radio-frequency currents is controlled. The antenna hot wire
meter is visible at the top of this board, and below it a rotary
switch which enables the operator to rapidly change the wave
length, which procedure, from the foregoing article, will be seen
to be strictly necessary at times. To the extreme right of the
operator's table is the motor-driven ticker for receiving. It is
supplied in duplicate. At the top of the room is seen the antenna
helix with the various taps leading to it. Near its bottom and to
its right is seen the lightning switch-
The details of the transmitting apparatus are shown in Fig-
ures 22 and 23. Figure 22 shows the new Poulsen generator with
special anode. There is a quick detachable bottom plug for
cleaning the arc chamber when necessary. The massive field coils
are shown. They are wound with heavy square cross section
copper wire. Figure 23 shows the arc and its control board.
Under the switch-board panel are shown the water valve lever
which controls the flow of water thru the arc chamber jacket,
and the receiving contact device. Both of these are operated
by the large triple pole switch. This switch controls the flow of
water, the flow of gas, the motor for rotating the carbon electrode
of the arc, the power current, the radio-frequency circuit, the
receiver circuit, and the motor-driven tickers.
The hypothesis suggested tentatively by Dr. de Forest relative
to the opacity of the ether for certain wave lengths has, up to the
present time, met with no substantiation. We are forced to regard
it as highly improbable. The view that the interference effects are
the results of the joint action of the direct and reflected waves, as
also suggested by Dr. de Forest, is very probably correct, and
should lead to valuable and extended researches on the most favor-
able locations of stations and wave lengths to be employed.
In order to render the action of the ticker somewhat more
clear Figure 16 is inserted. Tt is intended to show the currents in
the various circuits. Curve A gives the antenna current. Curve
B gives the current in the secondary tuned circuit. Curve C gives
the condenser discharge current thru the telephone receiver. It
will be noted how the resonance effects which are obtainable with
sustained alternating current in the antenna are utilized fully.
This ingenious receiving device is due to Prof. P. O. Pederson of
The circuit arrangements for which these diagrams apply are
somewhat different from those now employed, but embody the
Dr. de Forest has formally notified the Editor of the results
of the tests at the Arlington station. The 30 Kilowatt arc was
first tested on December 8th. Two way communication with
South San Francisco, and also with Honolulu, was almost imme-
diately established, altho at the time Honolulu was still in day-
light! Owing to the greater height (600 feet) of the Arlington
antenna, its signals are received with greater intensity than those
of the latter station at Arlington. The energy used at Arlington
was from 35 to 40 K. W.
Alfred N. Goldsmith, Ph.D.
E. J. Simon : I understand that using 35 kilowatts at the San
Francisco station the antenna current is 40 amperes. What is the
Dr. de Forest : We have not measured it because it cannot be
accomplished in the usual way, namely by the insertion of resist-
ance in the antenna. The arc is directly in that circuit, and any
change alters the conditions markedly.
Dr. Goldsmith : It should be possible to accomplish the
desired result thru the following means. Measure the arc voltage
which is applied to the antenna (R- M. S. value of the alternating
E. M. F.) by means of an electrostatic voltmeter. Then measure
the effective inductance and capacity of the antenna at the desired
wave length or frequency go separately. Then if R is the radia-
tion and ohmic resistance of the antenna, L and C its effective
inductance and capacity, E and I the R. M. S. values of the
voltage and amperage of the antenna, we have
R = / (Lgo )».
V I 2 Coo
E. J. Simon : We may determine the damping by measuring
the decrement by the Bjerknes method.
Dr. Goldsmith : Before employing either of the above meth-
ods it would be well to calculate what effect the non-sinusoidal
character of the arc current would have on the results.
E. J. Simon : An artificial antenna or substitution method
might be employed-
R. A. Weagant : In this case air condensers should be used
in the artificial antenna.
E. J. Simon : Does the ground extend beyond the horizontal
projection of the antenna?
Dr. de Forest: Yes; the extreme spread of the antenna is
400 feet, but the radius of the ground is 350 feet.
E. J. Simon : The signals weaken in the morning. Is there
any definite lag of the change of intensity of the signal as com-
pared with the time of sunrise?
Dr. de Forest : We have as yet made no such quantitative
R. A. Weagant: How loose is the coupling used in receiv-
Dr. de Forest: Usually 10 to 15%. In cases of bad static it
may be 5%.
E. J. Simon : Do you use the longer wave because of its
greater energy ?
Dr. de Forest: Yes, and to prevent interference, but the
energy difference is small-
E. J. Simon: What is the fundamental of the South San
Francisco aerial ?
Dr. de Forest : About 2800 meters.
Dr. Goldsmith : Will you describe the automatic sender, the
optical printing receiver, and the diplex transmission and reception
Dr. de Forest: For high speed transmission we employ an
automatic sender. For receiving at high speeds we use the Ein-
thoven thread galvanometer, which consists of a fine thread of
gold wire in an intense field of an electromagnet. It is placed in
series with a rectifying detector and on receipt of incoming
signals is slightly deflected. By suitable optical systems, a greatly
enlarged shadow of the brilliantly illuminated wire is thrown on
a moving strip of photographically sensitive paper, which is then
rapidly developed and fixed. From the wavy line on the strip of
paper the message can be read. We have spent over $12,000 in
investigating this method, and have imported the best instruments
we could get in Denmark and Germany. But the entire method is
impractical commercially and a flat failure. And it always will be.
The Pederson high speed transmitting key is a device which is
operated by punched tape such as is used in the Wheatstone
sender. It is a somewhat complicated device which acts on the
principles that small rotating rods, released by mechanical means,
close light contacts and thereby permit heavier rotating contacts,
which are always in readiness to operate, to add aerial inductance
and thereby increase the wave length. The arrangement of cir-
cuits used with the Einthoven galvanometer is shown in Figure
11. The galvanometer is shown at G. The wire in it is 0.00005
of an inch in diameter. Our experience with it has been unsatis-
factory- Static is sufficient to throw the spot of light completely
off the moving paper strip, and we sometimes had to run the
paper thru three times, and even three times three times, before
a good record was secured. Even the possibility of sending more
than 100 words per minute does not compensate for such dis-
advantages. A possible method of diplex is shown in Figure 12,
where L x and L 2 are the primaries from which energy at different
wave lengths is transferred to the antenna. Marconi tried some-
thing of the sort, but omitted the condensers C t and C 2 , hence it
is very doubtful whether the device operates as then shown. An
extremely successful method of diplex operation is shown in
Figure 13. It will be noticed that the contacts on the rotating
sector wheel are so arranged that contact for key 2 is broken just
as contact for key 1 is made. When neither key is depressed a
medium wave of length 3200 meters, for example, will be sent.
If key 1 is depressed the wave length rises to 3400 meters, and if
key 2 is depressed a wave length of 3000 meters is emitted. If
both keys are depressed, waves of length 3000 and 3400 are
alternately sent out for short intervals of time. The arrangement
at the receiving station is shown in Figure 14, where 1 and 2
are the two receiving circuits tuned to 3400 and 3000 meters
respectively. This system has worked perfectly between Los
Angeles and San Francisco. It is very practical, and arcing at
the brushes has been largely overcome. I use 450 interruptions
John L. Hogan, Jr. : Have you any data as to the decrement
of your receiving antenna circuit? You speak of extremely sharp
Dr. de Forest: Stress of commercial business at the San
Francisco station has prevented our making such measurements.
T. L. Hogan, Jr. : What is the comparative sensitiveness of
the "Ticker" as compared with the solid rectifiers?
Dr. de Forest : Qualitatively I should say that the ticker was
about three times more sensitive. We get louder signals with the
ticker signals from the arc station than we can get when we
employ a "chopper" at the transmitting station to break up the
outgoing wave train, and a rectifier at the receiving station. To
give you an idea of the actual intensity of the signals, at Los
Angeles the operators invariably use the typewriter while receiv-
J. L. Hogan, Jr. : Is the ticker ever run at interrupter fre-
quencies as high as 1000 or 1200 per second?
Dr. De Forest : No, the normal rate is about 200 per second.
This gives a hissing note in the telephone receiver, a sound which
is very characteristic, and easily read when one becomes accus-
tomed to it.
J. L. Hogan, Jr. : You state that you use very loose coup-
lings at the receiver, and that the tuning is much better than can
be had with feebly damped oscillations of the type produced by
quenched spark transmitters. Perhaps you will recollect that it
has often been contended that if quite persistent waves were used
one might secure all the resonance benefits of sustained wave
transmission. If I recollect correctly, this was your own posi-
Dr. De Forest: It was, but my recent work has forced me
to change my opinion in that respect. We are able to secure
tuning conditions that I would have considered impossible with
the best quenched spark senders. I feel certain that with the sus-
tained oscillations you can secure better tuning.
J. L. Hogan, Jr. : Have you made any measurements which
would indicate that the attenuation term in the Austin-Cohen
transmission equation should have a different value for sustained
than for damped waves, or that there should be a factor included
which varies with the transmitter decrement?
Dr. De Forest: We have secured no data in that direction
as yet. I expect to attack the reflection and interference problem
more exhaustively first.
It may be of interest to those present to know that we have
shipped a 30 kilowatt set to the Government station at Arlington,
Virginia. For such sets we require an antenna capacity of 0.01
microfarad. This set should be installed within a few weeks.
Personally I anticipate considerable absorption in the towers.
They are too near together. By the first of the new year we will
have a 60 kilowatt arc in operation. This type of arc brings with
it new problems of cooling, etc. The general construction of our
arcs is shown in Figure 15. Water cooling is accomplished by
the water jackets and pipes at W. The diameter of the carbon
in the 12 kilowatt arcs is 1 inch, and this may rise to 4 inches in
the 60 kilowatt arcs.
MARCONI TRANSATLANTIC STATIONS.
At the request of President Marriott, Mr. Hallborg of the
Marconi Company, who has lately returned from Europe, de-
scribed the Transatlantic Marconi station at Clifden as follows :
The power used is 125 kilowatt, of which about 50 kilowatts
is radiated from the aerial. Power is supplied by four 5000 volt
direct current generators in series. These generators are of
special type with slotted commutators and air blowing between
the segments for cooling and prevention of destructive arcing.
These machines charge a storage battery when it is desired to
run the alternating current machinery which may be used to feed
the high tension transformers. These last are of the American
Transformer Company's manufacture with special means for
avoiding high tension surges.
In receiving a static preventer is used wherein two balanced
crystals are employed. Their current voltage characteristics are
identical. The arrangement is similar to that employed by Eccles
with the valves. The alternating current generators are each 500
kilowatt and 25 cycle.
The receiving aerial consists of 4 wires each 2000 feet longer
than the sending antenna. The transmitting aerial is sometimes
employed in a curious way to assist in tuning, by tuning it to the
incoming wave and using the reradiated energy to assist the re-
At this point Dr. de Forest remarked that he had noticed that
large aerials tuned to the incoming wave assisted smaller ones in
their vicinity thru the reradiated energy.
This volume has been reproduced by
offset printing and is a photographic
replica of the original edition with the
exception of the seven half-tones illus-
trated on pages 47, 48, 4gand^o, which
have been retouched.