Rough Science
Explore the Challenges
Solve the Web Challenge
Meet the Rough Scientists
About the TV Series
Discover More
Site Map
Explore the Challenges

The Challenge: Make a Transmitter and Receiver

WARNING: Most unlicensed radio broadcasts are illegal in the U.S. The following is for informational purposes only.

With just a basic tool kit, some copper wire, a piece of coke, a car battery, a bottle of rum, and some old kitchen pots and pans would we be able to transmit a signal across the island and successfully decipher the message?

What sort of signal are we going to transmit?

Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to communicate over distances greater than the human voice can travel. More rudimentary attempts included the use of smoke, fires and waving flags. Mirrors were also used to flash the image of the sun to distant objects.

Mobile phone and satelliteAfter the discovery of electricity, a revolution in communication took place. Wires were stretched from one point to another and an electric current passed through them, controlled by a switch called a telegraph key. A light or buzzer could be turned on and off over great distances and using a simple code, such as the Morse system, people were able to communicate almost instantly over distances that had previously required days or weeks by horse or train.

In 1901, Marconi sent a signal across the Atlantic using the recently discovered radio waves. It paved the way for today's complex wireless communications systems such as satellites and mobile phones.