Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hidden Frontier?

I am at a loss to explain it. It showed up in an old Raytheon (PBUT*) ad found here:
The end item does not appear to fit. A closer look seems to show a "flying saucer" type vehicle communicating or trading shots through a cloud with a flame while an armored hand is reflecting or deflecting something at an angle; or maybe it created or is removing the cloud?

I suppose this could be a reference to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint (associated with lightning, artillerymen and others who work with explosives), but that seems pretty unlikely in this context; perhaps instead it is more likely to indicate a project named for the saint, some kind of OHAP/Joint Air (Force) - Navy Electronic Technical Team defense against the "glocke" starships of the Far Edge? Just one more little gap in the not-quite-perfect wall of secrecy about the Hidden Frontier! Tsk, Raytheon, somebody let the Art Department see more than they should!

Update: I am, of course, slightly kidding Raytheon (or did USSF-I and NSA make me claim to be kidding and if they had, would I admit it in order to add another layer of FUD?). Raytheon has a very long history with electronics experimenters and hams, from the first affordable rectifying tubes (the cold gas BH) through innovative multigrid tubes power, mercury-vapor amplifying tubes (!) and the very first affordable "hobby" transistor, the CK722. These days, Raytheon is largely (but not entirely) taken up with .mil and .gov work but at one time, they were building everything from radars to radar ranges to transmitters and mixing consoles for radio stations.

It's a short Wikihop from Raytheon's most famous transistor to Alfred P. Morgan, the man whose books introduced countless youngsters to electronics, chemistry, small engines, electricity and plenty more; about as soon as it became possible, he began including solid-state projects in his books and that meant CK722 transistors and 1N34A diodes. Not too shabby for a man whose first book -- on building your own biplane glider! -- was published in 1909.

(And if you drop down the early-semiconductor rabbit hole, you end up in interesting places, like the guy who built an audio amplifier in which the active devices are rectifier diodes!)
* Every time you microwave popcorn or some other snack, remember Raytheon and Percy Spencer, without whom you would probably not have the device. ...And you might living in a very different world in other ways, too, since he was the man responsible for putting radar tubes into mass production.


D.W. Drang said...

That first link could be a rabbit hole of epic proportions...

Just at a guess, possibly influenced by the Criminal Minds marathon we're watching, the site owner was a Navy SIGINT geek--lots of stuff on the Navy Security Group, none on the Army Security Agency.

Keads said...

Uh. Wow. I have another ad touting the advance of GE tubes allowing a telephone conversation between a person in an aircraft and a landline. More of the same perhaps?

Roberta X said...

One of these things is not like the others:
1. Systems Management
2. Airborne Electronic
3. Submarine Signal
4. Heavy Electronic
5. Santa Barbara

And the images only make it weirder.

Anonymous said...

From this: In 1998, Raytheon purchased the Santa Barbara Research Center (S.B.R.C.) and the infrared capabilities of Texas Instruments (T.I.)

IR sensors? The link goes on to mention tanks, perhaps explaining the armoured fist. (Which is a common symbol for such things.)

That said the timeline is a little funny.


Keads said...

Ok, I get your train of thought. Did we have ULF comms with subs back then to tell them to come to periscope depth to receive real time traffic? I think not.

I agree with you and all I can say is WTF?

Roberta X said...

Jim: Except the ad is from the 1950s or 60s! :)

Anonymous said...

True, but the idea that the flame and the cloud represent an IR sensor makes sense; the only battlefield obscurant effective against such sensors is white phosphorus smoke.


Carteach0 said...

Raytheon electronic warfare systems has been operating in Santa Barbara county for more than 50 years.

Roberta X said...

Okay -- that just leaves two questions: the deliberately-obscure name and the cryptic logo.

D.W. Drang said...

The flying saucer thingie is actually an eye-in-the-sky.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, Raytheon. Second only to TRWonderful in the column labeled "IJFW" ("It Just F*ing Works"). But you should be looking at the first glyph, not the last one. Take away the (deliberately misleading) mesh antenna on top, and what do you have?

You have to keep the timeline in mind. That was during the awkward period when they could use the 'drive to Jump to within landing range of Moonbase (well, usually) but couldn't control it well enough for Earth landing, so were still using atmospheric re-entry. At the same time, the B707 and DC-8 were coming into use, and transpacific air travel was ramping up. Too many eyeballs seeing too many meteors would've been a problem.

Landers carried water from Lunar ice deposits, and the Re-entry Assistance Microwave Power System delivered enough energy to use it as reaction mass to reduce re-entry velocity to below the level that ionized the air and made a flame trail.

The Santa Barbara guys built the trackers to keep it aimed. Their cover was use of IR to monitor flow and composition from oil wells, something IR Industries in New York still do. The actual equipment wasn't built at Raytheon's Goleta facility, but in a building on the south side of US101 between SB proper and Montecito; I don't remember what name was on the sign. It changed at least once during the time I was around there (doing something else), less than a year. The system had gone out of use by then (mid-70s) and the cover had become the real business. It would be sort of interesting to know why Raytheon wanted it back, but I suspect you'd be in the deep black if you found out.


Eck! said...

The difference from the other is all of them are either radar/sonar in flavor or managing the return data the last one was about passive, IR and active jamming systems. Santa Barbara, referred to seeing through clutter/jamming and passive systems. The details are "Classified".

Michael/AA1tJ puts on an interesting presentation of odd radios and bits of their history, I've met him. Paraceiver was a fun project to try as I'd worked with parametric amps back when.


Stranger said...

Actually, the first hobby transistor was a modified 1N34. While some of us realized the potential early, the fist actual instructions appeared circa 1950 (possibly early 1951) in the long defunct Radio and Television News.

Very carefully remove the end with the catwhisker, and very carefully install two catwhiskers. The remaining factory lead was the new base, and depending on where your new contacts wound up you could wind up with a PNP or an NPN device.

Recommended for people who do not drink much coffee because mistakes would destroy the 1N34.

Earlier, someone - Senior moment, sorry, discovered how to turn electrolytic capacitor mix into a very effective transistor. Until heat dried it out. Which made it a very short lived device.


Tim D said...

I cannot comment on this, however I did find a new way to keep certain skills in practice:

The Morse keyboard

Tim D