For the last few years, the creative minds of Hollywood had seemingly outpaced the reality of technological and scientific advances in the weapons field. Known as the “CHAMP,” or Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, the American military project is an attempt to develop a device with all the power of a nuclear weapon but without the death and destruction to people and infrastructure that such a weapon causes. The project has been in the works for a few years now, and has met with significant success in preliminary trials. Military forces have been actively developing next-generation weapons that take warfare well beyond the guns and rockets that populate modern arsenals.
The Motley Fool reports that the Air Force has contracted Boeing to make five CHAMPs to date.
Molly Brown comes from an arts and culture background, including stints at Billboard Magazine and Kirkus Reviews.
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The title of this page has been changed to "Electro-Mechanical amplifiers", to distinguish them from mostly mechanical ones, such as the Frenophone, which can be found in the Mechanical Amplifiers gallery. To us, the obvious solution is to apply some amplification to boost signal strength; but it is long before the invention of the transistor, and even the valve (the vacuum tube to US readers) is still years away. Mere lack of resource has never blocked human ingenuity, and there was a handy fact to exploit. From this, it is but a short step to the concept of coupling a telephone receiver to a carbon microphone to make an amplifier, and several people took it.
One of the requirements of a practical amplifier was stability over time, which meant a solution to the problem of granule packing was needed. This model saw commercial use on a New York - Chicago circuit between August 1904 and February 1905. The degradation was usually referred to as "distortion" but this seems to have meant a poor frequency response rather than non-linearity. Normally an arc is running from anode A to mercury cathode C, powered from Batt 2 and current limited by resistor R. The arc is deflected sideways when currents flow through the deflection coils (green) mounted on the D-shaped iron core (in pink). The arc thus moves between two subsiduary electrodes, in a way that is not too clear from this drawing, and the audio output is taken from the balanced to unbalanced transformer T2 to the earphone at lower left. This model looks somewhat different to the patent drawing; there is only one reservoir of mercury at the bottom, so presumably the starting arrangements were different. Another possible amplifier investigated was the von Lieben cathode-ray amplifier; this proved to be no more promising. The 1905 von Lieben amplifier was a cathode-ray tube, its electron beam being steered towards or away from a target electrode by magnetic coils. By the early 1920s, S G Brown were advertising their 'Crystavox' loudspeaker, which was an electromechanical amplifier combined with a horn loudspeaker in a single unit.
Four models were available and this is a Type V (for valve sets) with a 2000 ohms input impedance, and 2000 ohms output load.
Interestingly the amplifier is claimed to be "without distortion", which is quite untrue; distortion was high.
Rather strangely, the instrument is said to be suitable for all classes of communication, despite having a 1 kHz resonant frequency clearly chosen with CW in mind.
By 1927, Brown appears to have lost interest in this technology and passed the rights over to the New Wilson Company. The only report I have unearthed states that the gain was reasonable but the audio quality poor, as would be expected.
A related technology was the Tannoy power microphone, which could drive a loudspeaker directly, without the need for an intervening amplifier of any kind.
Even the final production model was not very efficient, delivering about 8 Watts to the speaker while drawing about 50 Watts from the accumulators. The same technology was used for intercoms in harsh and noisy environments, such as tanks in WW2. The rheostat is presumably a gain control, and appears to alter both the microphone energising current and the amplifier energising current. Mr Hugh Hetherington (who kindly supplied this image) tells me that the hearing-aid carbon microphone employed a carbon ball technique rather than the carbon dust used in telephone transmitters; these apparently gave more amplification than the carbon dust transmitters, but were never used in telephones. In early 1912 several businessmen from New York were traveling in Austria-Hungary and while in Budapest, they were surprised to learn that they could listen to concerts or lectures without leaving their rooms. These gentleman saw business potential in this, and formed the New Jersey Telephone Herald Company. For the first two or three months the subscription department was swamped with orders for installations, and within the first three months there were about 5,000 subscribers.
I would be very glad to hear from anyone who has any more information on these remarkable byways of technology. Acknowledgement: This article draws heavily on the book "Engineering and Science in the Bell System".
With pinpoint accuracy, this electronic warfare drone can black out opposing forces at will.
Boeing's "CHAMP" (Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project) is a one-missile, flying blackout.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory maps the areas likely to be blacked out in the event of a high-altitude nuclear EMP attack on the United States.


A CHAMP-ion idea The weapon in question: Boeing's "CHAMP," short for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project.
What makes CHAMP even more interesting is that, unlike a nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon, which fires once, blacking out entire nation-states, CHAMP can fire multiple times, pinpointing and blacking out only essential targets. To date, Military Embedded Systems notes that the Air Force Research Laboratory has contracted Boeing to build only five CHAMP devices.
To the extent CHAMP makes that easier for them, I expect it to be a very popular product indeed.
This $19 trillion industry could destroy the InternetOne bleeding-edge technology is about to put the World Wide Web to bed.
Rich Smith owns shares of Raytheon Company. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No.
I like things that go "boom." Sonic or otherwise, that means I tend to gravitate towards defense and aerospace stocks.
Theoretically, the new missile system would pinpoint buildings and knock out their electrical grids, plunging the target into darkness and general disconnectedness. You will start to receive daily updates, but you can change how often or unsubscribe anytime. In 2012, it was reported that a CHAMP mission in Utah managed to hit and subsequently disable seven separate targets in one mission, demonstrating its accuracy and precision. Lasers have been a key area of advancement: Lockheed Martin test fired a laser weapon in March that took out a truck engine from a mile away, while the Navy deployed a Laser Weapon System (LaWS for short) on a vessel in the Persian Gulf in December. An avid blogger on all-things culture, she covers a wide range of fun, geeky topics on GeekWire's Geek Life beat.
Cost and attenuation are seriously limiting the growth of long-distance telephony, particularly in the USA.This needs a little explanation.
Carbon microphones, as used universally in telephones until the mid-1960's, are not mere transducers that turn sound power into electrical power, but actually give a power gain of about a hundred times. Within a few years of the original Bell invention, patents on this notion had been taken out by Edison, Houston, Lodge and Hughes, not to mention others less famous.
Anyone who has used an old-fashioned telephone will recall that they would intermittently go low-gain or noisy, due to the granules packing, and a sharp rap of the handset against the wall was required to restore normal service.
He discarded the microphone and earpiece diaphragms, and replaced them with a simple plunger that was driven by the receiving coil and pressed against the carbon granules of the transmitter.
Shreeve found that this was due to thermal expansion caused by the heat liberated in the carbon chamber.
This varies the pressure on the carbon granules in the transmitting part, which varies their electrical resistance, and hence the current flowing in the output circuit. However it was not possible to run more than two in series without the audio degrading too much, and three were needed for transcontinental USA operation. The transmitter current heated a zinc strip which withdrew the rear electrode to act against increases in this current. The function of the "compensating winding" is obscure; since there appear to be only 5 terminals, presumably the magnetising and compensating windings have a common terminal. In 1912 Dr H D Arnold had developed an amplifier in which beams of mercury ions were deflected by electromagnetic coils. The function of inductor L is obscure, but it might be something to do with promoting arc stability. These currents come from the carbon microphone on the right, energised by Batt 1 and coupled through transformer T1. When it is pressed, starting anode A' is connected to Batt 2 and presumably an initial arc is struck through the shorter path A'-C. A patent was granted in 1906, and based on this, the two German companies AEG and Siemens founded Telefunken AG to build electron tubes. Fleming produced a thermionic diode in 1904, and in 1907 a US Patent was granted to Lee de Forest for adding a control grid, to make the first triode. The carbon microphone is a push-pull type, hopefully reducing second-harmonic distortion, feeding a step-up output tranformer.
The amplifiers also appear to have been marketed by the Empire Electric Company of London NW1. This consisted of eight push-pull carbon microphones mounted in a heat-dissipating aluminum casting; they drove a centre-tapped transformer which in turn drove a horn-loaded loudspeaker. In 1938 about 800 were made for the Civil Defence Corps, the Auxiiary Fire Service (my mother was in that) and the Police for crowd control during bombing raids. This was not really a problem because horn speakers are efficient at turning electricity into acoustic output, and the volume produced was quite enough.
Until miniature valves became available in the late 1930's, a valve hearing-aid was not very practical.
It was decided to install the system in Newark, New Jersey, with the idea that if it was successful there, it would be introduced in New York. Air Force confirmed last week that it's developed an electromagnetic pulse weapon of its own, and that Boeing (NYSE:BA) is helping to build it. It's essentially the old nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon that we used to worry so much about -- but without the nuclear part. This would permit, for example, taking down radar defenses in a hostile state, while saving the electrical grid that supports the civilian population. Boeing headlines the CHAMP product, but at least two other companies are known to be involved in the project.


But the trend in Pentagon acquisitions projects suggests the Air Force could soon be building these weapons en masse.
And if you act quickly, you could be among the savvy investors who enjoy the profits from this stunning change. But to tell the truth, over the course of a dozen years writing for The Motley Fool, I have covered -- and continue to cover -- everything from retailers to consumer goods stocks, and from tech to banks to insurers as well.
Indeed, it is this capacity to target individual buildings and not cities at large that makes the new weapon so effective, as it would allow military members to cut off electricity supplies to enemy parties while keeping civilians out of the melee. You can always reduce the attenuation per mile of a telephone line by using thicker copper to reduce the resistance. The microphone is a variable resistance, made up of fine carbon granules, that controls the flow of current from a DC power supply; it does not merely convert acoustic energy into electricity.
By 1896, 27 patents for a mechanical-electrical amplifier- though it was then called a "repeater"- had been taken out. It was clear that the mechanical amplifier was far from perfect, but it was the only amplification option that looked practical.
This was twenty years before the formal invention of negative feedback, though the principle had been in use for many years in the form of Watt governors. This was based on some earlier work by Peter Cooper Hewitt on mercury-vapour discharge tubes.The device worked, and had a good frequency response, but had such severe starting and maintenance difficulties it was unsuitable for unattended operation. They manufactured several models of electromechanical amplifier, working as above with the input coils moving an armature connected to a carbon microphone. Interestingly, New Wilson claim to be the patentees of the idea; this may simply mean they bought the patent rights from Brown. It was therefore possible to make a battery-powered public-address system without the fragility and complexity of a valve amplifier.
Early valves were rather large (imagine a hearing-aid constructed with octal valves) and battery drain was high for the filaments. The rheostat is on the left, and the microphone, earphone and battery are all external to this little box. I have been unable to locate the original site builders- if anyone feels I have purloined information, please let me know.
Wires were leased from the telephone company, installation was started early in the Spring of 1912 ,and regular programs were being broadcast by July.
However, as with everything else, people soon tired of their new toy, mainly because loudspeaker reception was not available, although the signals that were received were very clear and of excellent head-phone volume. CHAMP carries a small generator that emits microwaves to fry electronics with pinpoint accuracy.
In a 2012 test flight in Utah, a single CHAMP was reported to have blacked out seven separate targets in succession, in one single mission.
According to Military Embedded Systems, it's actually Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) that builds the electronic innards of the device -- the "shooting end" of a weapon that doesn't actually shoot anyone. From MALD-J radar-jamming drones to Switchblade kamikaze guided rockets and now CHAMP mini-electromagnetic-pulse weapons, the Air Force seems intent on fighting its next war more or less entirely by remote control.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for the most important developments in defense & aerospace news, and other great stories besides. Air Force and Boeing electromagnetic pulse weapon, capable of targeting and destroying electrical systems without the collateral damage often associated with traditional firepower.
This power-amplification technology was the essential basis of the first practical telephone systems. By October 1913 improved valves had been built and tested on commercial circuits between New York and Baltimore, and at the end of 1914 valve amplifiers were in use on the transcontinental circuit. The microphone worked in push-pull; in other words one carbon capsule was compressed while the other was released, and the anti-phase outputs were combined in a transformer. In this early model the horn loudspeaker is mounted on a tripod with the accumulators slung underneath to give stability. The programs were produced in a suite of rooms very similiar to a present day studio for a radio broadcast station, with acoustic treatment on the walls and Erickson microphones. It targets not nations or cities but individual buildings, blacking out their electronics rather than blowing up physical targets (or people). It was clear that valves were the way ahead, and the mechanical amplifiers built for this service were placed on standby. What they called the "Microphone Bar Amplifier" was first manufactured during WW1 (1914-18) and was used by the British Army; after the war a large number were sold off as government surplus.
But you'll probably just call it "how I made my millions." Don't be too late to the party -- click here for one stock to own when the Web goes dark. I think 'Bar' is probably an acronym for 'Brown Audio Relay' but this is unconfirmed at present.
However, the results obtained were far from satisfactory, so in December of the same year it was decided not to fight any longer against such odds.



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