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ANTENTOP- 02- 2003, # 003

The Wireless Power Transmission System




Copyright 1992


Oliver Nichelson

333 North 760 East

American Fork, Utah 84003






Historical Problems

Tesla described his wireless power transmission method by three characteristics: 1) the reduction or elimination of electromagnetic radiations, 2) that it operated through the earth, and 3) that the mechanism of transmission is an electric current - as contrasted with radiations. Modern analysts, on the other hand, model Tesla's transmission system on present day broadcast radio technology. This model assumes an antenna propagating electromagnetic waves into the air where these radiations either will not or will, depending on the presuppositions of the writer, bring about the effects claimed by the inventor.

Anachronistic interpretation - applying the assumptions of today's electrical theories to Tesla's original turn of the century researches - is only half the problem of understanding the inventor's wireless method. The situation is further complicated by the similar sounding descriptions Tesla gave to his earlier and later transmission techniques.

In his early work Tesla attempted electronic transmission by modifying the atmosphere. This is the case in his patent entitled Method of Intensifying and Utilizing Effects Transmitted Through Natural Media, #685,953, applied for in June 1899. In this patent he proposes a very powerful signal generator to ionize atmospheric gases and, by that, create a conductive path between the transmitter and receiver through which a current could be sent. Later, when Tesla disclosed what he described as through-the-earth (or water) transmission with essentially the same type of apparatus and operating at ELF frequencies, it has been assumed by modern authorities that Tesla was mistaken about his method of propagation and was really witnessing earth-ionosphere cavity resonance at Schuman frequencies [1,2].

Tesla, though, was more than an engineer of conventional methods. He was an electrical researcher who investigated fundamental issues of the science. It will be shown that the three characteristics of Tesla's wireless transmission system describe an electrostatic wireless method that used the earth as a conductor and transmitted displacement currents. At moderate power levels the system could

be used for communication. At greater levels, power could be sent by wireless.

Non-Hertzian Transmission

During 1899 - 1900 Tesla set up a laboratory in Colorado Springs to investigate wireless signal transmission. It was during this period he discovered that a properly configured receiver could detect waves, initiated by lightning strikes, propagating through the earth. When he incorporated this discovery into a patent he differentiated the earlier technology dealing with "effects transmitted through natural media" from the new form of signaling that involved the transmission of energy. This is seen in his patent Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy Through the Natural Mediums, #787,412, applied for 11 months after the previous patent, in May 1900.

A great deal of detail about the apparatus for generating and receiving electrical signals (tuned resonant circuits that were recognized in 1943 by the Supreme Court as the basis of commercial radio designs) is given in the patent but it assumes, or more likely, avoids revealing, the physics behind the mode of propagation. Tesla does point toward his novel transmission technique when he notes in the patent that the "globe may ... behave ... as a conductor of limited size;"[3] and that low frequency oscillations keep the "radiation of energy into space in the form of hertzian or electromagnetic waves... very small."[4] These two claims, alone, indicate a technology different from today's.

The illustration (see Figure 1 on the next page)for the patent is of a transmitter consisting of an elevated capacitance, a coil, a signal generator, and a single electrode in the earth. The receiver is pictured as having a mechanism to oscillate at the same period as the transmitter, a capacitor, a detector, and two earthed plates.

To understand Tesla's wireless transmission system it is necessary to look at his technical writings on the physics behind his engineering. One of his lectures on evacuated tube illumination provides a good example.

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