July 1960 Popular Electronics[Table of Contents]
People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. As time permits, I will be glad to scan articles for you. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
Having worked at many different electronics companies in the last 30 years of both commercial and defense product nature, I do not recall ever knowing of more than a couple people at any one location who were active R/C modelers. Compare that to the large number of guys in this 1960 Popular Electronics article working for ITT in New Jersey, who were involved in R/C boating and aircraft. There were probably also some with R/C cars who were not covered in the article. At least part of the reason for the camaraderie had to be due to the need for groups of experts to pool their talents for success since the availability and reliability of equipment was much lower than it is now, or even a couple decades ago. Probably no one in this article ever dreamed that the state of the art in both prefab models and electronics would reach the point it has today where even the rankest of amateurs can buy a ready-to-run model car, boat, or airplane and be able to operate it successfully. Compare today's success rate even to the percentage of Cox control line models that never made a full circle in the air before being unrepairably smashed into terra firma. As with most aspects of society, engineering has assisted people in becoming more independent from neighbors and workmates - indeed a two-edged sword.
Operation Radio Control
crazy over model boats...
On a lake near Nutley, New Jersey, a model aircraft carrier backs slowly out from shore, swings around, and majestically sails away. Accurately detailed down to the planes on its landing deck, the miniature craft responds to every electronic command from shore.
A few miles away, a model plane climbs into the air. It circles, goes through a series of acrobatic maneuvers, and finally comes in for a perfect landing. Again, its every action is controlled electronically from the ground.
These scenes are duplicated countless times on any sunny weekend from Maine to California. But the enthusiastic electronic hobbyists that control their models near Nutley, N.J., are unique in at least one way. During working hours, they design and develop some of Uncle Sam's most complex electronic hardware. All of these men are employed in International Telephone and Telegraph's electronic defense research laboratory. Their jobs entail work on radar, satellite tracking and communications equipment, navigation aids, and hush-hush electronic counter-measures gear.
Designer Seymour Glassner has a mighty serious look on his face when he's behind his drafting board (below), but when he prepares to launch his model freighter (above), he breaks out in smiles. The freighter's hull, by the way, sports 15 alternating layers of lacquer and elbow grease. Although the ship looks almost perfect, Seymour says he will put another year's work into it. In the meantime, it's fully seaworthy, and Seymour enjoys sailing it.
Since they are engineers, technicians, and designers, most of the ITT modelers have greater technical knowledge than other hobbyists. But they still run into problems with their R/C boats and planes.
One day last summer, for example, technician Dick Lachenauer wished he had never heard of radio control. It all began when he tried to be helpful. A small boy's boat had drifted out into the middle of a lake, and Dick sent his radio-controlled tug out to nudge it back in to shore. Apparently the tug nudged it a little too hard, because the boat sank! Dick ended by rolling up his trousers and going wading.
But, as with most modelers - and particularly with those who have been bitten by the radio-control bug - such minor difficulties are quickly forgotten. Not long ago we went out with the ITT radio-controllers and came back with these pictures - which prove that electronic hobbyists, be they amateur or pro, have more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys!
After making some control adjustments (above), John DiCiccio carefully fits the superstructure back onto his sleek model cruiser. If you look closely, you'll see scale-sized passengers on the deck. This cruiser, like most model boats, is driven by an electric motor. But at least one craft in the ITT fleet is powered by a gasoline engine, and one goes still further toward realism with a miniature steam engine.
...and model planes, too!
KINGPIN of the ITT modelers' "airborne division" is veteran radio-control enthusiast Chuck Kenny. The possessor of college degrees in both electrical and mechanical engineering, Chuck specializes in packaging - that is, cramming more and more parts into less and less space. Like most of the other ITT modelers, Chuck designs and builds most of the 27.25-mc. control gear used in his planes. Here are some recent shots of Chuck and one of his planes in action.
4 A few minutes later, Chuck takes over the controls
and puts the plane through a series of fancy aerial acrobatics.
Posted December 8, 2012