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Centenary of the autodyne: historical essay of main stages and development directions of autodyne systems

Keywords:

V.Ya. Noskov, S.M. Smolskiy


Autodynes or autodyne oscillators are open self-oscillating systems using the so-called autodyne effect for functioning. This effect consists in variations of auto-oscillation parameters (amplitude and frequency) as well as parameters of bias voltage of the active element, which determine its operation mode of generation, under influence of outside or own radiation, which is reflected from the object under investigation. Registration of these variations as useful signals of the autodyne and their further processing provide a possibility to obtain necessary information about the object. Originally they connected with the concept of an autodyne the radio receiving set used the valve oscillator, in which the more of beating with the difference frequency was observed under influence of received radio signals. Then these beatings were heard by earphones connected into the bias circuit of the electronic valve. The engineer of Britain company «Marconi’s Wireless Telegraphy» Henry Round is the autodyne inventor, who showed experimentally hundred years ago a possibility of the «autodyne reception» of telegraphy signals with high sensitivity. Further inventions and investigations in the field of autodynes showed that according to the above-mentioned modern definition of autodynes, practically all nonlinear functional devices for frequency conversion fulfilled on the basis od oscillators can be attributed to the first large group of applications (autodyne-receivers). Among them: autodyne converters, mixer and frequency converters, and autodyne synchronous and asynchronous detectors and frequency demodulators. Another scientific direction relates to investigation of the autodyne effect in radiating oscillators, which are under influence of the proper reflected radiation. The whole class of measuring devices (called «measuring oscillators» in the modern literature) is regarded to this direction. They are widely used for solution of the whole class of problems of monitoring of materials and technological process parameters in industry. One more development direction of application of measuring autodynes is related to radio spectroscopy. The operation principle of them is based on the autodyne effect independently on the frequency range and interactions under investigations: registration of oscillation amplitude and frequency variations arising as a result of resonant energy absorption of its electromagnetic radiation by the substance under investigation. The following and the widest application of autodynes connects with radar technology. The first autodyne radar systems were used for measuring of the airplane flight attitude over the Earth surface as well as in devices for collision warning near airdromes. However, autodynes had got the widest application in II World War as a sensor of “proximity” for distant ammunition fuses developed by scientists and engineers of UK and USA. At present, the theory and engineering of autodynes continue to develop both in Russia and in foreign countries finding the new principles of construction, oscillator types, operation modes and analysis methods. In the area of new autodyne applications we need to note their successful usage in biology, medicine, as well as prospects of the application in the radio-sensing systems for atmosphere as the simplest radar transponder and simultaneously telemetric transmitters mounted on the weather-balloons.
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