The telegraph and radiotelegraph improved man's ability to communicate by allowing speedy passage of information between two distant points. However, it failed to satisfy one of man's other communications needs; that is, the ability to hear and be heard, by voice, at a great distance. In an effort to improve on the telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell developed the principles on which modern communications are built. He developed the modulation of an electric current by complex waveforms, the demodulation of the resulting wave, and recovery of the original waveform. This section will examine the process of varying an electric current in amplitude at an audio frequency.
If an rf carrier is to convey intelligence, some feature of the carrier must be varied in accordance with the information to be transmitted. In the case of speech intelligence, sound waves must be converted to electrical energy.
A MICROPHONE is an energy converter that changes sound energy into electrical energy. A diaphragm in the microphone moves in and out in accordance with the compression and rarefaction of the atmosphere caused by sound waves. The diaphragm is connected to a device that causes current flow in proportion to the instantaneous pressure delivered to it. Many devices can perform this function. The particular device used in a given application depends on the characteristics desired, such as sensitivity, frequency response, impedance matching, power requirements, and ruggedness.
The SENSITIVITY or EFFICIENCY of a microphone is usually expressed in terms of the electrical power level which the microphone delivers to a matched-impedance load compared to the sound level being converted. The sensitivity is rated in dB and must be as high as possible. A high microphone output requires less gain in the amplifiers used with the microphone. This keeps the effects of thermal noise, amplifier hum, and noise pickup at a minimum.
For good quality sound reproduction, the electrical signal from the microphone must correspond in frequency content to the original sound waves. The microphone response should be uniform, or flat, within its frequency range and free from the electrical or mechanical generation of new frequencies.
The impedance of a microphone is important in that it must be matched to the microphone cable and to the amplifier input as well as to the amplifier input load. Exact impedance matching is not always possible, especially in the case where the impedance of the microphone increases with an increase in frequency. A long microphone cable tends to seriously attenuate the high frequencies if the microphone impedance is high. This attenuation is caused by the increased capacitive action of the line at higher frequencies. If the microphone has a low impedance, a lower voltage is developed in the microphone, and more voltage is available at the load. Because many microphone lines used aboard ship are long, low-impedance microphones must be used to preserve a sufficiently high voltage level- over the required frequency range.
The symbol used to represent a microphone in a schematic diagram is shown in figure 1-32. The schematic symbol identifies neither the type of microphone used nor its characteristics.
Figure 1 - 32. - Microphone schematic symbol.
CARBON MICROPHONE. - Operation of the SINGLE-BUTTON CARBON MICROPHONE figure 1-33, view (A) is based on varying the resistance of a pile of carbon granules located within the microphone. An insulated cup, referred to as the button, holds the loosely piled granules. It is so mounted that it is in constant contact with the thin metal diaphragm. Sound waves striking the diaphragm vary the pressure on the button which varies the pressure on the pile of carbon granules. The dc resistance of the carbon granule pile is varied by this pressure. This varying resistance is in series with a battery and the primary of a transformer. The changing resistance of the carbon pile produces a corresponding change in the current of the circuit. The varying current in the transformer primary produces an alternating voltage in the secondary. The transformer steps up the voltage and matches the low impedance of the microphone to the high impedance of the first amplifier. The voltage across the secondary may be as high as 25 volts peak. The impedance of this type of microphone varies from 50 to 200 ohms. This effect is caused by the pressure of compression and rarefaction of sound waves, discussed in chapter 1 of NEETS, Module 10, Introduction to Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas.
Figure 1-33A. - Carbon microphones. SINGLE-BUTTON CARBON MICROPHONE
The DOUBLE-BUTTON CARBON MICROPHONE is shown in figure 1-33, view (B). Here, one button is positioned on each side of the diaphragm so that an increase in resistance on one side is accompanied by a simultaneous decrease in resistance on the other. Each button is in series with the battery and one-half of the transformer primary. The decreasing current in one-half of the primary and the increasing current in the other half produces an output voltage in the secondary winding. The output voltage is proportional to the sum of the primary winding signal components. This action is similar to that of push-pull amplifiers.
Figure 1-33B. - Carbon microphones. DOUBLE-BUTTON CARBON MICROPHONE
One disadvantage of carbon microphones is that of a constant BACKGROUND HISS (hissing noise) which results from random changes in the resistance between individual carbon granules. Other disadvantages are reduced sensitivity and distortion that may result from the granules packing or sticking together. The carbon microphone also has a limited Frequency response. Still another disadvantage is a requirement for an external voltage source.
The disadvantages, however, are offset by advantages that make its use in military applications widespread. It is lightweight, rugged, and can produce an extremely high output.
CRYSTAL MICROPHONE. - The CRYSTAL MICROPHONE uses the PIEZOELECTRIC EFFECT of Rochelle salt, quartz, or other crystalline materials. This means that when mechanical stress is placed upon the material, a voltage (emf) is generated. Since Rochelle salt has the largest voltage output for a given mechanical stress, it is the most commonly used crystal in microphones. View (A) of figure 1-34 is a crystal microphone in which the crystal is mounted so that the sound waves strike it directly. View (B) has a diaphragm that is mechanically linked to the crystal so that the sound waves are indirectly coupled to the crystal.
Figure 1-34A. - Crystal microphones.
Figure 1-34B. - Crystal microphones.
A crystal microphone has a high impedance and does not require an external voltage source. It can be connected directly into the input circuit of a high-gain amplifier. However, because its output is low, several stages of high-gain amplification are required. Crystal microphones are delicate and must be handled with care. Exposure to temperatures above 52 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) may permanently damage the crystal unit. Crystals are also soluble in water and other liquids and must be protected from moisture and excessive humidity.
DYNAMIC MICROPHONE. - A cross section of the DYNAMIC or MOVING-COIL MICROPHONE is shown in figure 1-35. A coil of fine wire is mounted on the back of the diaphragm and located in the magnetic field of a permanent magnet. When sound waves strike the diaphragm, the coil moves back and forth cutting the magnetic lines of force. This induces a voltage into the coil that is an electrical reproduction of the sound waves.
Figure 1-35. - Dynamic microphone.
The sensitivity of the dynamic microphone is almost as high as that of the carbon type. It is lightweight and requires no external voltage. The dynamic microphone is rugged and can withstand the effects of vibration, temperature, and moisture. This microphone has a uniform response over a frequency range that extends from 40 to 15,000 hertz. The impedance is very low (generally 50 ohms or less). A transformer is required to match its impedance to that of the input of an af amplifier.
MAGNETIC MICROPHONE. - The MAGNETIC or MOVING-ARMATURE MICROPHONE (figure 1-36) consists of a coil wound on an armature that is mechanically connected to the diaphragm with a driver rod. The coil is located between the pole pieces of the permanent magnet. Any vibration of the diaphragm vibrates the armature at the same rate. This varies the magnetic flux in the armature and through the coil.
Figure 1-36. - Magnetic microphone action.
When the armature is in its resting position (midway between the two poles), the magnetic flux is established across the air gap. However, no resultant flux is established in the armature. When a compression wave strikes the diaphragm, the armature is deflected to the right. Most of the flux continues to move in the direction of the arrows. However, some flux now flows from the north pole of the magnet across the reduced gap at the upper right, down through the armature, and around to the south pole of the magnet.
When a rarefaction wave occurs at the diaphragm, the armature is deflected to the left. Some flux is now directed from the north pole of the magnet, up through the armature, through the reduced gap at the upper left, and back to the south pole.
The vibrations of the diaphragm cause an alternating flux in the armature which induces an alternating voltage in the coil. This voltage has the same waveform as that of the sound waves striking the diaphragm.
The magnetic microphone is very similar to the dynamic microphone in terms of impedance, sensitivity, and Frequency response. However, it is more resistant to vibration, shock, and rough handling than other types of microphones.
Changing sound waves into electrical impulses is the first step in voice communications. It is common to all the transmission media you will study in the remainder of this chapter. We will discuss the various types of modulation that arc used to transfer this information to a transmission medium in the following sections.
Q.26 What is a microphone?