Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Water Antenna

PostedAugust 21, 2011

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Randy Atkins: Since salt water conducts electricity, Navy electrical engineer Daniel Tam thought…. 

Daniel Tam: …maybe I can utilize the sea water as my antenna element.

Randy Atkins: After a trip to Home Depot, Tam connected a device called a “current probe” to a radio and pumped a vertical stream of water through it.

Daniel Tam: On the ships the fire hose easily can generate a stream at least 100 feet in the air.

Randy Atkins: It worked. Height determines frequency and…

Daniel Tam: I can transfer more information using a thicker water stream. 

Randy Atkins: Just turn the water off and the antennas disappear when not in use. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

The system will likely take at least a decade of development and testing before being deployed.