Monday, December 14, 2009

Radio Vs. Wolves

This is the sort of quackery that keeps me interested in radio history. In North America we spent that last two centuries killing off the wolves. Wolves do not carry off children in the night, they rarely raid chicken coops, and they do not carry off prize turkeys. It's a safer world, and one that is equally boring. But abroad that was not the case. Wolves continued to be perceived as a threat into the 1930s in some regions. that is what led us to this apparently.
"Howls of wolves running in packs are often audible for several miles over the silent Siberian plains, and as there are scarcely any interfering noises the radiophone system will have no difficulty in revealing the whereabouts of wolf pests."
In Siberia a plan was hatched to use microphones and short wave transmitters to monitor the whereabouts of wolf packs. The idea isn't that wacky. In Brooklyn New York, a similar system of microphones is used to triangulate the origin of gunshots. In Oregon today a nearly identical concept is used not to hunt wolves but to estimate their populations.

While this rudimentary system wasn't 3-dimensional it was pretty ambitious for 1931 when the article ran. The diagram clearly shows a simple carbon mic, and a short wave antenna. It does not spell out the power source but at the time battery power would have been not just inferred but assumed, as much of the world was off the grid.