We have a 1909 Marconi Direction Finder at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention that is missing a section called the “Goniometer”. Rather than display the piece with a huge hole in the front I constructed a replica of the Goniometer, using an original as a guide. Here is the original on the left with the repro on the right, aged & stressed to match as best I could:
( A “goniometer” is a device that measures an angle or permits rotation of an object to a definite position. In orthopedics, the former applies more. The art and science of measuring the joint ranges in each plane of the joint are called “goniometry” .)
Thing is I always thought it was “goinometer” and “goinometry” because my dad said it was how you could tell what direction something was “goin”…
A Marconi Direction Finder is a radio direction finder from the very early days of radio. I’m guessing on the details because I’m too lazy to look 'em up. But I would guess there’s a directional antenna someplace (probably a large loop) that should attach to this device, probably mechanically but maybe it drove an electric motor (need to see inside). You turn the knob and the directional antenna rotates proportionally. The signal strength has to be monitored somehow (would probably have been done “organically” by an operator with an earphone), and the bearing to the radio transmitter would be the direction the antenna is pointing when the signal is strongest. It probably would have been referenced to the front of a ship, so 0º would be dead-ahead. The radio operator could determine the direction to steer to intercept a ship in distress. “Steer 37 degrees to port!”.
This type of system was the primary method of locating ships at sea for a good part of the 20th century. The technology obviously would have improved significantly, but the basic idea of pointing a rotating antenna at the source of a transmission to determine the bearing to that source didn’t change until everyone started using GPS.
Essentially it takes the phase difference between the four antennae & amplifies it, so the goniometer is adjusted to the strongest signal, & the direction is read off the dial. Very rudimentary, 1st generation radio direction finding.
Yeah. I understood it was using phase in lieu of rotating the antenna. But I don’t see how the phase gives 'em 360º. I’m thinking it should only be good for 180º. Not that this forum is the place for such a discussion… but don’t tell me if you understand it, anyway. I’d rather try and suss it out myself. Though worst case, I’ll ask my dad who’s got an “old school” MS in EE, from the days when everything was still analog, and he’ll enjoy explaining it to me. . My education is more digital than analog.