CHAPTER 1BASIC RADIO
1. In the early days of aviation, pilots used their eyes and a set of rules to find their way and toavoid obstacles and other aircraft. However, the weather is not always kind enough to allow thesesimple pleasures, and soon it became essential to communicate with other aircraft, which might behidden behind cloud, and to be able to navigate when out of sight of the ground.2. Fortunately, the First World War encouraged not only the development of aircraft, but also of radio, the effects of which were demonstrated by Heinrich Hertz in his famous experiment in 1887which proved the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hertz's experiments also showed the importantfact that electromagnetic waves propagate in a vacuum and can be stopped by a metallic screen. Hecalculated their speed, and determined the relationship between frequency and wavelength.3. Nowadays, radio waves are used in aviation not only for communication, but also for basicnavigation, target acquisition and weapon delivery and as a means to ensure the safety of flight in acrowded sky by directing aircraft to follow an exact flight path in three dimensions, so that others canbe kept at a safe distance. This FIS book 2 on avionics sets out to explain how the theory of electromagnetic waves is applied to achieve all the desired aims.
Simplified Transmission and Reception of Radio Waves
4. Radio waves are the product of the changing fields produced by an alternating current.Alternating current is produced by rotating a loop of wire in a magnetic field (or by rotating themagnetic field itself). This makes electrons flow along the wire in accordance with the alternatingvoltage produced. Because the voltage and current are alternating, the electrons flow in one directionfor half the rotation, and in the reverse direction for the second half. This electron flow, alternatelyforwards and backwards, means that the current is continually changing. This changing current in turnproduces fields along the wire.5. If the wire is a closed circuit, then the fields in one part of the wire are generally cancelled outby those in another part. However, an alternating current can be induced in an open circuit with a barewire at the end. In this case, the fields will propagate outwards from the wire in a normal (at 90° to it)direction. If the wire is of the correct length, the fields will resonate and send continuous alternatingwaves of energy outwards. This outward propagation of the fields forms the transmitted radio waves.