A Fessenden oscillator is an electro-acoustic transducer invented by Reginald Fessenden, with development starting in 1912 at the Submarine Signal Company of Boston.It was the first successful acoustical echo ranging device. Similar in operating principle to a dynamic voice coil loudspeaker, it was an early kind of transducer, capable of creating underwater sounds and of picking up their echoes.
The creation of this device was motivated by the RMS Titanic disaster of 1912, which highlighted the need to protect ships from collisions with icebergs, obstacles, and other ships. Because of its relatively low operating frequency, it has been replaced in modern transducers by piezoelectric devices.
The oscillator in the name referred to the fact that the device vibrated and moved water in response to a driving AC current. It was not an electronic oscillator but a mechanical one in that it generated repetitive mechanical vibrations. Electronic oscillators did not yet exist when this device was created. Because the design of the device does not depend on a resonant response, it should not be considered a harmonic oscillator.
The Fessenden oscillator somewhat resembled a modern dynamic microphone or dynamic loudspeaker in overall construction. A circular metal plate, clamped at its edge, in contact with the water on one side, was attached on the other side to a copper tube, which was free to move in the circular gap of a magnet system. The magnet system had a direct-current winding to provide a polarizing magnetic field in the gap, and an alternating current winding that induced currents in the copper tube. These induced currents produced a magnetic field that reacted against the polarizing field. The resulting force was communicated to the membrane and in turn provided acoustic vibrations into the water.
Unlike previous underwater sound sources such as underwater bells, the Fessenden oscillator was reversible; the AC winding could be connected to a head set and underwater sounds and echoes could be heard. Using this device Fessenden was able to detect icebergs at a distance of about 2 miles, and occasionally detected echoes from the sea floor.
The device could also be used as an underwater telegraph, sending Morse code through the water. The Fessenden underwater signalling apparatus, or more usually just "The Fessenden", was fitted to Royal Navy submarines in World War I.British K-series submarines were equipped with Fessenden oscillators starting in 1915. However, a submarine signalling the surface could be heard by any nearby (enemy) hydrophone, so the system had restricted utility during wartime patrols.
During the First World War the Fessenden oscillator was applied to detection of submarines, but its rather low operating frequency of around 1 kilohertz gave it a very broad beam, unsuitable for detecting and localising small targets. In peacetime, the oscillator was used for depth finding, where the lack of directionality was not a concern, and Fessenden designed a commercial fathometer using a carbon microphone as receiver, for the Submarine Signal Company.
Acoustics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics technology may be called an acoustical engineer. The application of acoustics is present in almost all aspects of modern society with the most obvious being the audio and noise control industries.
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect objects on or under the surface of the water, such as other vessels. Two types of technology share the name "sonar": passive sonar is essentially listening for the sound made by vessels; active sonar is emitting pulses of sounds and listening for echoes. Sonar may be used as a means of acoustic location and of measurement of the echo characteristics of "targets" in the water. Acoustic location in air was used before the introduction of radar. Sonar may also be used for robot navigation, and SODAR is used for atmospheric investigations. The term sonar is also used for the equipment used to generate and receive the sound. The acoustic frequencies used in sonar systems vary from very low (infrasonic) to extremely high (ultrasonic). The study of underwater sound is known as underwater acoustics or hydroacoustics.
A hydrophone is a microphone designed to be used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sound. Most hydrophones are based on a piezoelectric transducer that generates an electric potential when subjected to a pressure change, such as a sound wave. Some piezoelectric transducers can also serve as a sound projector, but not all have this capability, and some may be destroyed if used in such a manner.
A microphone, colloquially named mic or mike, is a device – a transducer – that converts sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, hearing aids, public address systems for concert halls and public events, motion picture production, live and recorded audio engineering, sound recording, two-way radios, megaphones, radio and television broadcasting, and in computers for recording voice, speech recognition, VoIP, and for non-acoustic purposes such as ultrasonic sensors or knock sensors.
Echo sounding is a type of sonar used to determine the depth of water by transmitting sound waves into water. The time interval between emission and return of a pulse is recorded, which is used to determine the depth of water along with the speed of sound in water at the time. This information is then typically used for navigation purposes or in order to obtain depths for charting purposes. Echo sounding can also refer to hydroacoustic "echo sounders" defined as active sound in water (sonar) used to study fish. Hydroacoustic assessments have traditionally employed mobile surveys from boats to evaluate fish biomass and spatial distributions. Conversely, fixed-location techniques use stationary transducers to monitor passing fish.
A transducer is a device that converts energy from one form to another. Usually a transducer converts a signal in one form of energy to a signal in another.
Bioacoustics is a cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics. Usually it refers to the investigation of sound production, dispersion and reception in animals. This involves neurophysiological and anatomical basis of sound production and detection, and relation of acoustic signals to the medium they disperse through. The findings provide clues about the evolution of acoustic mechanisms, and from that, the evolution of animals that employ them.
A sonobuoy is a relatively small buoy expendable sonar system that is dropped/ejected from aircraft or ships conducting anti-submarine warfare or underwater acoustic research.
In the field of acoustics, a diaphragm is a transducer intended to inter-convert mechanical vibrations to sounds, or vice versa. It is commonly constructed of a thin membrane or sheet of various materials, suspended at its edges. The varying air pressure of sound waves imparts mechanical vibrations to the diaphragm which can then be converted to some other type of signal; examples of this type of diaphragm are found in microphones and the human eardrum. Conversely a diaphragm vibrated by a source of energy beats against the air, creating sound waves. Examples of this type of diaphragm are loudspeaker cones and earphone diaphragms and are found in air horns.
A pickup is a transducer that captures or senses mechanical vibrations produced by musical instruments, particularly stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, and converts these to an electrical signal that is amplified using an instrument amplifier to produce musical sounds through a loudspeaker in a speaker enclosure. The signal from a pickup can also be recorded directly.
A towed array sonar is a system of hydrophones towed behind a submarine or a surface ship on a cable. Trailing the hydrophones behind the vessel, on a cable that can be kilometres long, keeps the array's sensors away from the ship's own noise sources, greatly improving its signal-to-noise ratio, and hence the effectiveness of detecting and tracking faint contacts, such as quiet, low noise-emitting submarine threats, or seismic signals.
A tactile transducer or "bass shaker" is a device which is made on the principle that low bass frequencies can be felt as well as heard. They can be compared with a common loudspeaker, just that the diaphragm is missing. Instead, another object is used as a diaphragm. A shaker transmits low-frequency vibrations into various surfaces so that they can be felt by people. This is called tactile sound. Tactile transducers may augment or in some cases substitute for a subwoofer. One benefit of tactile transducers is they produce little or no noise, if properly installed, as compared with a subwoofer speaker enclosure.
Underwater acoustics is the study of the propagation of sound in water and the interaction of the mechanical waves that constitute sound with the water, its contents and its boundaries. The water may be in the ocean, a lake, a river or a tank. Typical frequencies associated with underwater acoustics are between 10 Hz and 1 MHz. The propagation of sound in the ocean at frequencies lower than 10 Hz is usually not possible without penetrating deep into the seabed, whereas frequencies above 1 MHz are rarely used because they are absorbed very quickly. Underwater acoustics is sometimes known as hydroacoustics.
Ultrasonic transducers or ultrasonic sensors are a type of acoustic sensor divided into three broad categories: transmitters, receivers and transceivers. Transmitters convert electrical signals into ultrasound, receivers convert ultrasound into electrical signals, and transceivers can both transmit and receive ultrasound.
The ASA Silver Medal is an award presented by the Acoustical Society of America to individuals, without age limitation, for contributions to the advancement of science, engineering, or human welfare through the application of acoustic principles or through research accomplishments in acoustics. The medal is awarded in a number of categories depending on the technical committee responsible for making the nomination.
Geophysical MASINT is a branch of Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) that involves phenomena transmitted through the earth and manmade structures including emitted or reflected sounds, pressure waves, vibrations, and magnetic field or ionosphere disturbances.
Acoustic quieting is the process of making machinery quieter by damping vibrations to prevent them from reaching the observer. Machinery vibrates, causing sound waves in air, hydroacoustic waves in water, and mechanical stresses in solid matter. Quieting is achieved by absorbing the vibrational energy or minimizing the source of the vibration. It may also be redirected away from the observer.
The Gruppenhorchgerät was a hydrophone array which was used on Nazi Germany's U-boats in World War II.
Radio acoustic ranging, occasionally written as "radio-acoustic ranging" and sometimes abbreviated RAR, was a method for determining a ship's precise location at sea by detonating an explosive charge underwater near the ship, detecting the arrival of the underwater sound waves at remote locations, and radioing the time of arrival of the sound waves at the remote stations to the ship, allowing the ship's crew to use triangulation to determine the ship's position. Developed by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1923 and 1924 for use in accurately fixing the position of survey ships during hydrographic survey operations, it was the first navigation technique in human history other than dead reckoning that did not require visual observation of a landmark, marker, light, or celestial body, and the first non-visual means to provide precise positions. First employed operationally in 1924, radio acoustic ranging remained in use until 1944, when new radio navigation techniques developed during World War II rendered it obsolete.
Submarine signals or Submarine signal had a specific, even proprietary, meaning in the early 20th century. It applied to a navigation aid system developed, patented and produced by the Submarine Signal Company of Boston. The company produced submarine signals for sending as aids to navigation and receiving of those signals by ships. ATLAS-Werke, at the time Norddeutsche Maschinenund Armaturenfabrik, of Germany manufactured the equipment under license.