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Author Topic: Wisdom of the Ancients  (Read 1756 times)
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I don't know why, but a question popped into my head, prompted by a decades-old memory of reading a book given to my mother when she was a child.

A utility company remotely monitors the water levels behind its dams - an operator at headquarters calls a phone number, and the water level is immediately reported to them, even though the remote site is unmanned.

How, using early 1930s technology?

(If you know the answer, keep it to yourself - please allow some discussion, I'm curious)
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Interesting!  How accurate is the report?  How many different levels?  The sensor is the easy part, but how to indicate it over the phone?
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I don't recall the accuracy, but of the order of 30cm ( one foot) I would guess, over a range of 20 metres.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 11:51:04 am by AWOL » Logged

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The system didn't rely on the HQ operator being musically-trained, or able to read Morse.
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Well one snarky answer might be, the remote office was staffed by women instead of men, so it would still be 'unamanned', but even for the 1930's I doubt that is the case.

Note, automatic telegraph repeaters date to the 1840's or so, 5-bit Baudot teleprinters date to the early 1900's, and AT&T purchased that company that would produce Teletypes in 1930, and the competing Telex's (later TWX) was also of the same era.

So, I could imagine something encoded in fixed logic that when connected, sent the appropriate letters to an appropriate teleprinter what the lake level was.

Wire recorders (and later tape recorders) to play back fixed voice messages were somewhat later.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 11:55:49 am by MichaelMeissner » Logged

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So, I could imagine something encoded in fixed logic that when connected, sent the appropriate letters to an appropriate teleprinter what the lake level was.
No, the communication was telephonic.
Quote
Wire recorders (and later tape recorders) to play back fixed voice messages were somewhat later.
Yes, but...
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After a quick look on the web they had jukebox's. So you could have enough vinyl records in there for all the levels. The level sensor could be mechanical with some kind of float in the water, this could stay mechanical all the way back to the jukebox for record selection. When the phone rings it puts in the money or triggers it and the sound is connected to the phone line.
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No jukebox, sorry, though you're on the right track...
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No jukebox, sorry, though you're on the right track...

Hmm, how about a mechanical arm that moves the record needle to different tracks depending on the water level?

I feel like I should know this, theres only 7 dams within 25 miles of my house.
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how about a mechanical arm that moves the record needle to different tracks depending on the water level?
Bingo! And a specially cut record with concentric rather than spiral tracks.
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how about a mechanical arm that moves the record needle to different tracks depending on the water level?
Bingo! And a specially cut record with concentric rather than spiral tracks.

Cool. I'm surprised I have never heard of or seen one of these.
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You're joking right?
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Yeah , you can still get records like that with musical loops on them. Wonder how reliable it was.
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You implied 60 tracks above.  Very difficult mechanically.  I like my idea better in PM.
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Yeah , you can still get records like that with musical loops on them. Wonder how reliable it was.

Ive got loads, i think they were called scratches.
Very reliable.
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