The First Ten Years of the Microwave Engineering Journey
The Radar/Waveguide Era (1952-1961)
I joined Texas Instruments in 1952 as a co-op student attending school at Southern Methodist University. I worked as a technician on the RD-47 Recorder that was used in a Antisubmarine Magnetic Airborne Detection System. Technician Jim Handy and I worked for Ralph Dosher.I became a Design Engineer in 1954 and was assigned to work in a Microwave Engineering group led by Dr. Leland D. Strom. Members of the group included Senior Engineer John Maxwell, and Technician Roy H. Rushing. We were responsible for design of the Microwave circuitry used on the APS-38 RADAR System. The first Antenna test range was located in the parking lot behind the office located at 6000 Lemmon Avenue. My first assignment was to participate in the design and construction of a new antenna test range facility located in Grapevine Texas.The facility became a 400 foot test range using a 35 foot windmill tower for location of the transmitting antenna. The photograph on the left shows Robert Coats and Systems Engineer Bill Bell on the cover of the 1955 issue of the Texas Instruments monthly magazine. They are testing an APS-38 Radar Antenna at the Grapevine Antenna site.
The leader of our microwave group Lee Strom, graduated from Iowa State University and was among the early students to receive an MSEE degree at SMU. In 1955 he was the first recipient of the Texas Instruments Fellowship in Applied Science. He attended the University of Texas, Austin and completed his Doctoral studies in 1957. He returned to TI to become the assistant chief engineer of the advanced studies branch of TI's Engineering Department (ERDL).
In the summer of 1954 my selective service classification was 1A, and I expected to be drafted into the military service. When we received a contract to develop Microwave Test Equipment (Frequency Meters) for Sandia Corporation to be used in performing tests on the Atom Bomb, the company secured an occupational deferment of 2A for me and I worked on the program for over three years. Additional Designers assigned to the program included Doyle Stevenson and Bill Townes.We were all investigated and assigned "Q" clearances, and worked in a laboratory designed for special security protection
In 1957 I joined a team developing an Antisubmarine Radar (APS-80) under the guidance of project engineer Doyle Grandberry. One of the challanges facing the group was to find a supplier of a Dual Channel Rotating Waveguide Joint; one that provided both a high-power X-Band ASW channel and an IFF L-Band channel. Three companies failed in their attempt to develop the component. Bogart Corporation went bankrupt in their attempt to do so. I led a three member team that was successful in the development. Members included Mechanical Engineer Bill Ruge and Technician Bill Young. The component was used successfully in three Radar systems over a 20 year period.
In 1958 Texas Instruments formed a new Microwave Products Department with the goal of developing and marketing Low-Noise Amplifiers and Sources utilizing Varactor Diodes.I was responsible for the development of Low-Noise Parametric Amplifiers for (1) use in the APS-80 Radar System and, (2) use as Frequency Translation Amplifiers in a Communications Systems by Collins Radio.At the left is a photo of an X-Band amplifier and it's assembly in the RADAR.
As the title of this page indicates, the transmission-line of choice during this period was rectangular waveguide. Most of the Radars were X-Band and used silver plated brass RG 52/U waveguide. It was 1 x 0.5 inch rectangular tube with a 0.05 inch wall thickness. Aluminum waveguide was used later when satisfactory fabrication techniques were developed. Most of the Radars were Antisubmarine Warefare (ASW) systems. These included the APS-31, APS-38, APS-45, APS-80 airborne radars; and the ASR-4 airport surveillance Radar. In the mid-1950's Lee Strom, Lee Vilbig, and Ray McCord led a team that developed a Ka-Band Side-Looking Photo Reconnaissance Radar (APQ-55). I worked for Mike Rice on that program for a short period of time. The semi-conductor division was just in the project stage in the early 1950's and it's success was probably due to the financing available from the Radar sales. In 1953 the offices of both GSI and Texas Instruments were located at 6000 Lemmon Avenue in Dallas, Texas. The organization chart listed a total of less than 300 employees. I worked at TI for almost 45 years in eight locations. In that period I had a total of 37 supervisiors.