1. Welcome to Encyclopedia Titanica
    or subscribe for unlimited access to ET! You can also login with , or !
    Dismiss Notice

Blue Sparks Above Wireless Room

Discussion in 'Events during Sinking & Subsequent Forensics' started by Aaron_2016, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    Survivor Mr. Williams was outside the wireless room during the evacuation and he spoke of witnessing blue flashes / sparks from the wireless room which flashed a beautiful blue phosphorous colour and he had never seen anything so beautiful before. Were there blue flashes/sparks emitting above the wireless room and did they pose any health and safety danger to the crew on the deckhouse roof?


  2. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I don't know about blue sparks and glowing lights but the health and safety effects om the crew would only be an issue within a couple of metres of the aerial.

    Non ionising radiation is most harmful at higher frequencies. Think in terms of your microwave.

    Despite transmitting at 5Kw the Titanic's set operated at around 500Khz where the heating effects on human tissues are much less.

    You wouldn't want to spend the evening hugging the aerial but walking near by would pose little problem.

    Having said all that. If you did decide to touch the deck isolator while it was transmitting then you'd certainly see stars and may lose your hand.
    Aaron_2016 likes this.
  3. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    Cheers. Mr. Williams' account was recorded on paper by Walter Lord. You can read his account of the blue flashes / sparks here:

    Charles Pellegrino Web Site

  4. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Ah, I see from reading that he talks about a spark not sparks. I'm not sure of the exact way the deck isolator set up worked but it is possible that the carrier wire from the transmitting room below could spark against the aerial connector.
  5. The blue flashes/sparks could have been caused by moisture - especially if it was from salty sea water - somewhere on the antenna wires or the insolators on the antennas - causing a flash/spark to ground. We used to call it "arcing over".

    Disclaimer: I'm no "nautical expert" like Jim or Sam but I have had a little experience in radio (amateur, aeronautical and nautical) and radar (nautical and civil air traffic control).

    If you held a fluorescent tube lamp in front of a transmitter antenna it would light up.
    There were reports on some flashes/sparks on the overhead trolley wires of the old streetcar lines.
    But that was electricity (DC, I think) and not RF
  6. You would have probably gotten fried to "well done".
    Probably a wild guess but wonder if you were saturated with salty sea water (a good coductor) you would feel anything ?
  7. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Only your life flashing before your eyes.

    The only way to be safe and not feel anything would be to wear a Faraday Suit as workers on extremely high voltage systems wear.

  8. Titanic's Marconi Set featured a "Bradfield Type Insulator" it was the Marconi Patent insulator for the aerial lead-in, and was designed with a "weather cone" and other features so that salt water could not get into the lead-in.

    There is a chance that moisture (from sea water) was in the air, and this is what the lead-in was arcing against.

    Yes, it was probably a safety danger, being that the sparks emitted from the lead-in? I presume were arcing into the air, then yes, anyone near that connector could possibly get arched by 5kw, that wouldn't be pretty.

    Remember that the Marconi operated on 5kw, and that 5kw was dumped into the aerial, meaning that the entire thing was a safety hazard to crew any time it was being worked.

    The arcing may or may not have been normal, I'm going to say its a normal thing with high-power transmitters, i do know someone who knows about radio so i will ask him if he knows about lead-ins arcing.

    I hope this helps, been learning about this for a long time now.

    And there are many sites that detail the marconi installation, i will link them later.