ADC RADIO STEAMPUNK LABORATORY

If you are an inventor or experimenter yourself, you will understand Conrow's desire to control the quality and performance of his lab equipment and test apparatus. In today's modern world, we are able to obtain quality components at fairly inexpensive prices. However, in the early 1900s, electrical component quality was often the result of hit-and-miss, trial-and-error manufacturing processes. If you were serious about results on the bench, you had to purchase several of each item and carefully select the "best of the batch" to actually use in your experiments. On many, many occasions, Conrow would mail order parts, only to discover after waiting many days for the items to arrive that they were defective or of very poor quality. As a direct result, Conrow became obsessed with electrical and mechanical component design and manufacture. His basement lab was soon converted into a short-run production facility that could produce highly precise and specialized components as ADC Radio Laboratory, or ADC Radio Lab, as he liked to call it. Later, after marriage in 1925, his wife was a valuable helpmate, research assistant and secretary.




As a logical extension of his component design work, Conrow became highly interested in early plastics and the molding processes associated with them. Further, chemical engineering became increasingly incorporated in his various manufacturing methods. So much so, that he decided to study inorganic and early organic chemistry so as to better predict his chemical results. Again, using his strong math background, Conrow was able to grasp and manipulate chemical reaction equations as easily as electrical engineering problems. When offered a higher paying job with the Missouri State Highway Department as a materials engineer, Conrow jumped at the chance. More funds for his private research suited him perfectly. Later, a move back to his home state of Kansas and finally to lead Research and Development at Ash Grove Lime & Cement, Co. in Chanute Kansas, Conrow merged his two fields of expertise to yield what was to be breakthrough technology for the cement industry. He and his stepson's work with "Electrosonic Testing of Concrete Beams" and later through his work with the ASTM developing the "Conrow Test", (ASTM designation C342, Number Code 91.100.10 ). This background & history of Conrow's work life has greatly intrigued Steampunk Enthusiasts that are interested in Steampunk History, but the more bizarre and little known back story is as mysterious and puzzling as one might expect from such an intelligent, yet troubled man... GHOSTS & STRANGE ATTRACTORS

THE EARLY DAYS

Conrow's initial interest in all things electrical and mechanical were sparked in the late 1890s when a demonstration was put on at the local fair. The magic of electric lights and the early Edison "Talking Machine" at once provided Conrow with the backdrop of his life. Chosen as a child with a "good talking voice", he assisted the Edison employee by speaking as loudly and clearly into the mouth piece as he could. When he and the crowd heard his voice "reproduced" over and over again, it left an indelible impression on Conrow that guided his career path throughout three quarters of the 20th Century.

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EXPERIMENTATION & EDUCATION

Reading every night by the light from his kerosene lamp, Conrow learned everything he could about his heroes Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Working his way through college, he received his Electrical Engineering degree in 1913 and later served in the Army in WWI. With his EE degree and an excellent military service record, Conrow easily obtained a position with Westinghouse in Pittsburgh and then a few years later, at General Electric in Schenectady. His work there allowed him to interact with Charles Steinmetz and ponder his quantitative, mathematical approach to AC power systems. By experimenting in his own home lab, Conrow was able to reproduce much of the research equipment of his day from published articles & patents. With the actual physical equipment built and operating, Conrow was able to compare real-world performance results with the theoretical data that Steinmetz's math anticipated.

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