Tag Archives: aerial

Forget HD 3D colour television sets. Welcome to potato and fork television.

Potatoes have eyes – ideal for TV reception

In a blog last week, I mentioned that Jon Hale of the Emporium vintage clothing shop in Greenwich had ‘invented’ a new sound amplification system – he just put his partner Jacki Cook’s iPhone into a drinking glass.

It seems lateral thinking inventiveness runs in Jacki’s family too. She now tells me:

“In the 1960s, when colour television first came out, my mum was moaning to my dad that she wanted a colour telly, but they couldn’t afford to buy one and my dad didn’t really like change. So he painted the screen of our black & white TV in stripes – I guess he used water colours – blue at the top for the sky, a pinky colour in the middle for people’s faces and a bit of green at the bottom for grass and we watched the TV like that for a couple of years.”

“Did your mother appreciate it?” I asked.

“No,” Jacki told me, “No, she didn’t. But he also made television aerials out of potatoes and forks, did my dad. The fork as the conductor stuck in a big potato. So that distracted her.”

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Filed under Eccentrics, Inventions, Television

Flower Power! Prince Charles vindicated! – How to receive television signals using an indoor potted plant

When satellite television was first starting up, I remember watching an edition of BBC TV’s late and much-lamented science show Tomorrow’s World. They said you didn’t need a dish to receive satellite television: just a roughly parabolic dish-shaped object aligned towards the satellite and a feed antenna (the little box suspended in front of the satellite dish). They demonstrated this by using a metal dustbin lid and received a perfect television picture. (That’s a trashcan lid, if you are an American.)

Last night, I was standing at the checkouts in a local B&Q store, waiting to pay, when my friend suddenly said:

“Wait here, I’m just going to see if I can find a busy lizzy to use for my TV aerial.”

And off she went.

No explanation.

It seemed a little odd, but I try to be understanding.

She came back a few minutes later, before I reached the till, but she had not managed to find any busy lizzy plants in the B&Q gardening section.

She told me that, in the late 1970s, she saw an edition of Tomorrow’s World in which they demonstrated that, if you connect a wire from the aerial socket of your TV set to an indoor plant, it will receive and display a picture just as good as any normal metal TV aerial.

Tomorrow’s World successfully demonstrated this with a busy lizzy and my friend tried it herself at the time – baring the wire at the end of the lead connected to the aerial socket of her TV and sticking it into the 12-inch high stalk of her presumably slightly surprised busy lizzy.

It worked. She got perfect TV reception.

“You mean you feed the wire right down inside the whole stalk of the plant?” I asked her last night.

“No,” she explained to me. “You just stick the end of the wire into the side of the stalk.”

“At right angles?”

“At right angles. A busy lizzy has quite a fleshy stalk.  You just stick the end of the wire at 90 degrees into the stalk and the plant acts as a TV aerial for the set and receives signals.”

I looked at her.

“It makes me think Prince Charles might be on to something,” I said. “Talking to plants… What about sticking it into a cannabis plant?”

“Too weak and weedy,” she told me.

“I rather like him,” I said.

She looked at me disapprovingly.

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Filed under Science, Strange phenomena, Television