Wireless Maritime Warning Signaler

For some time past numerous experiments have been carried out with Marconi's wireless telegraphy with a view to employing the system on lighthouses, etc., as a means of preventing maritime disasters. But the endeavors have only been attended with such mediocre success that it has not been considered advisable to develop the matter. But a novel device has now been invented by Mr. J. Gardner, of Manchester (England), which, so far as the present experiments are concerned, has been highly successful. It is termed an automatic signaler, from which it will be gathered that its mechanism is automatic in its action. The inventor claims that by this means an adequate warning is supplied to vessels of impending danger, within a zone, the radius of which has been previously determined. It may be either applied from ship to shore, or from ship to ship while at sea, with equal success and reliability.
The apparatus is somewhat similar to that utilized by Marconi. At the shore station a mast is set up, to the top of which is attached a metallic conductor. This conductor is connected to the transmitting apparatus, which is accommodated in a building in close proximity. The transmitter consists of an induction coil, and the accumulators for the provision of the current. The automatic portion of the instrument consists of a specially cut wheel, bearing the name of the danger spot to which the mast is attached. This wheel controls a Morse key. This wheel is maintained in constant rotation, the periphery being regulated to any desired time, so that one revolution may be completed in one, two, three or more minutes.
Vessels are supplied with a receiver, and directly a ship enters the danger zone the instruments print off on the tape machine in the Morse code the name of the danger spot it is approaching, at the same time setting a bell in motion; both bell and receiver continuing to operate until the ship has once more passed beyond the influence of the transmitting apparatus. All vessels that happen to enter the danger zone receive the warning simultaneously, as with Marconi's system the apparatus is not affected by any climatic conditions.
The preliminary experiments for demonstrating the efficacy of the scheme were conducted at the mouth of the Thames. The shore station was established at Shoeburyness. A steam launch put off from Southend provided with a receiving instrument, the invention of Colonel Hozier—the secretary to Lloyd's—and Mr. Nevill Maskelyne. A stiff breeze was blowing and a thick fog hung over the water. The launch stood about eight miles out to sea, and then the automatic apparatus at the shore station was set in motion, the zone of influence in this instance extending to seven miles. The launch then put about and wended her way shoreward. Suddenly the bell commenced ringing violently, and simultaneously the word "Southend," the name of the danger spot, was printed upon the tape machine. The vessel then put out to sea again, and entered the zone from another quarter, but the moment it entered the range of influence of the shore station the warning was received. For two hours these trials were continued, but with always the same result. The instrument never once failed in its working, thus conclusively testifying to its efficiency and reliability.
There were several well-known shipping men present at the trials, including the representatives of the Cunard, White Star, the American, the P. & O., and other leading steamship lines, and the secretary of Trinity House. In connection with its adaptation for vessels the receivers on two respective ships approaching one another would receive the name and course of the other. In view of the practicability of this automatic signaler and the possibility of reducing the number of maritime disasters by its utilization, the installation of the apparatus at several points of the British coast within the near future is probable.
Scientific American June 8 1901 page 355