Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pedal Radio

In 1907 Alfred Traeger a farm boy in Australia amazed his family by building a phone between their house and a barn 50 yards away. He had no professional hardware. His magnets were made from pitch fork prongs, the diaphragms from tobacco tin lids, and the charcoal for carbon granules came from the kitchen stove. his parents decided to send him to electrical engineering school. Before he was 20, Traeger had built a transmitter and was sending Morse code.

Radio in Australia (like the US) took off in the 1920s. The problem was reaching the masses. Australia is a big place. Its land area is four-fifths that of America U. S., and it is rightly its own continent. Only eighty-five percent of the country's population lives in urban areas, mostly on the eastern and southern seaboards. So when radio got popular, it was hailed as the solution for rural loneliness in the outback. The rural residents of "the interior" couldn't afford the sophisticated 5-tube radios. And Even when they did, they usually didn't have AC power (let alone plumbing) to use it!

Alf invented The pedal wireless radio. By 1927 he was demonstrating two way pedal wireless. The user simply pedals to power a generator while sending Morse code. This was a hit with lonely homesteads, remote mission stations, and even aboriginal communities "The Bush Network" as they called it, quickly grew to cover much of the remote center and northern areas.

Then in 1931 Alfred invented an automatic Morse code keyboard! It was like a normal typewriter. Resembling a typewriter, each key was connected to a pivoted steel bar with notched spacings corresponding to the Morse alphabet. he was determined to make radio available to everyone. In 1995 Fred McKay wrote a book on the man... i haven't read it yet, But I fully intend to.