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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Japan's Saltwater Radio Aerial

When I purchased my 1999 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight Special Anniversary car earlier this past January, it did not have a radio aerial antenna—snapped off some time previous.

As such, I only got one radio station… and oldies station that played all the rock and roll I grew up with.

Bopping my head to a Led Zeppelin tune, and perched low in this large, floating dream car, I suddenly realized that I was old. All I needed to complete the look was a fedora (with tiny feather in the brim), and maybe a cigar to chomp on.

My buddy Chris A., however, seems to feel my pain, and has offered to provide a few rubber aerials for me to try out (for the car)—so we'll see.

While I have certainly heard of rubber aerials, I have never heard of seawater aerials.

The Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has revealed its SeaAerial… a column of seawater sprayed high into the air to act as a radio transceiver antenna… and it can apparently receive digital terrestrial broadcast.

The radio frequencies we deal with daily are generally short and strong, so we don't really need a tall antenna.

But, over greater distances, signals get weaker, so a longer antenna is needed.

Welcome to the Mitsubishi SeaAerial that can be turned on and off easily, and even easily moved, if required.
Here's a demonstration of a very small water plume via the Mitsubishi Sea Aerial powering a television set.
Now… before you try this at home, you need seawater.

Seawater has more mineral ions dissolved in it, which actually helps it conduct electricity.

Want to kill someone quicker? Drop a live toaster into someone's bathtub filled with seawater, as opposed to tap water. ZZZZZt!

Now… seawater still isn't that great a conductor of electricity… metals are. Remember that for later.

So… for those of you who are smarter than me—I  don't know who that is, but I'm sure you do—Mitsubishi isn't the first to create a seawater antenna.

The U.S. Navy has been fooling with one for years, with the main problem being that it has to ensure that the water spraying nozzle MUST be kept OUT of the water to stop the electrical circuit from being grounded in the sea (which would kill the radio signal).
As you can see from the middle image, the water plume will be HUGE!
Mitsubishi has created a new type of nozzle—an insulated one—that transmits the radio signal to the saltwater plume.

There is a quarter-wavelength tube of insulated material inside the nozzle that separates the plume from the surrounding seawater to maintain the electrical circuit.

As mentioned, metal is a better conductor than water and seawater… now since they didn't feel like electrocuting all saline in the area, Mitsubishi is sticking with seawater… but because their SeaAerial design can generate greater plume heights than previous achieved by the U.S. Navy, they have determined an ideal plume height, generating a 70 percent increase in efficiency.

I think the longest plume I ever achieved was about 1.83 meters (6-feet), and was able to put out a campfire thanks to the copious consumption and quaffing of beer.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks to Chris A. (and Rob), I now have a new car antenna... and thanks to Shane over at Kelly's Service Garage in Etobicoke (Burnhamthorpe and Martingrove), I have it on my car! I can now listen to sports radio once again. Ahhhhhh. Thanks, guys!

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