Aug 24, 2005
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Most movies depict it sounding like beeps I have imagined it sounding like clicks or buzzes. Also in a deleted scene from Titanic the Californian operator said "listen the spark their putting out" How could he hear their spark?
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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This is covered in detail on other threads. Titanic had a rotary spark transmitter and her transmissions were heard as a more or less musical note. According to Parks Stephenson, our resident expert, it was at around 400Hz.

Presumably the operator was commenting on the special sound he was hearing. At the British inquiry, the radio operator from Californian commented on Titanic's signal.

"But you can always tell by the sound of the spark. A strong installation has a singing spark; a coil set has a bad spark."
 

Dave Gittins

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Only if the listener was tone deaf!

No doubt Parks can tell us more, but the sound on the site is the sort of thing plain spark might have made.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I agree, the sound is from a plain spark discharger. A rotary disc would have a completely different tone. Also, the fist is slower than Phillips's would have been, but since this was a demonstration, the sender might have deliberately slowed down so that his audience could easily discern the individual letters.

Parks
 
May 3, 2005
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Dave and Parks-

I agree with both of you, but I just came across this while searching and passed it along for what it's worth. (Which I will admit is a bit dubious, since it does sound a bit "rough" to say the least !)
:)

Also, might it be possible that Phillips might have been sending a bit slower than usual in the hopes the signal might have been more easily understood ?

I have always assumed the sound in ANTR was fairly accurate. I would also assume that since those earphones were not exactly "hi-fi" that they would have had a "tinny" sound.

In reference to the 400 HZ tone, when I was serving as an ET aboard CVE-118 during the Korean Conflict, one of my assignments was on a Radar which used a rotary spark gap as the modulator.(I believe it was a Model SP Radar.) The tone, as I remember, was also around 400 HZ and you could observe the spark through a small inspection window.

Years later, I attended a "Ham Radio" Convention. One of the displays in one of the booths was a "name that tone" contest. Somehow I overlooked the booth, but one of my colleagues won the contest...he was also a former ET in the USN....the frequency of the tone was 400 HZ of course !

73, Robert
 
May 3, 2005
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PS- One of the worst examples of this was in the TV-Miniseries with George C. Scott as Capt. Smith....the sound is depicted as a modern CW tone.

And then there's that miniature transmitter in "Britannic". Ugh !
 

Dave Gittins

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Walter Gray, an operator at Cape Race, recalled that Phillips indeed transmitted slowly, at around 15 words per minute. Phillips would have been well aware that many operators of the time were not very experienced, so he tried to make sure he was understood.
 
May 3, 2005
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Remembrance came to mind of a toy telegraph set that I had as a child....probably some time in the middle or late 1940s .

It was a self contained metal toy which had a key and batteries and self contained "innards". "Blinker" light, clicking telegraph sound or buzzer could be selected. The Morse code was also printed on it. The whole thing was about the size of a box of Christmas Cards which I am looking at as I write this .

The "buzzer" sound was probably pretty close to that of Titanic's signal....I regret to admit that I never learned the code until much later and wasn't even aware that such a thing as R.M.S.Titanic ever existed at the time.
 
May 3, 2005
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I wasn't able to get any of those links. But the last entries seem nearly ten years old.

What kind of detector would an amateur been using in his receiving equipment in 1912 ?
Would it have been similar to that on the Titanic ?
Was the " crystal set" (Galena detector with the "cat's whisker" ?) an earlier or later development ?
My radio history is a bit rusty.
How long did "spark" type radio telegraphy last ?
 
May 3, 2005
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PS- One of the worst examples of this was in the TV-Miniseries with George C. Scott as Capt. Smith....the sound is depicted as a modern CW tone.

And then there's that miniature transmitter in "Britannic". Ugh !

General General George Smith Patton, Junior seems to be playing the part of Captain Edward John Smith in one of those "other" Titanic movies. LOL
 

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