Following last night’s post looking at the Heliograph itself, tonight we are going to look at how the instrument is operated and the leather carrying case that is so important in keeping the heliograph protected on campaign.
The following description of how to set up and use a heliograph comes from a 1911 set of Will’s cigarette cards:
To set up the helio, as hereon shown, the tripod should stand firmly, and be placed so that the head of it is as level as possible. The instrument is then screwed to the main socket, and by passing the jointed arm from hand to hand it is screwed home. A sheltered spot should always be selected for the helio., provided you have a clear range.To align the helio. Using the sighting rod.- The signaller either looks through the hole in the back of the mirror, or places himself in the position shown in the illustration. He now moves his head so as to get the reflection of the distant station covered by the spot on the mirror; he next gets the sighting mark to cover the reflection of the distant station. We here show the helio. With the jointed arm which carries the sighting vane and the duplex mirror. The duplex mirror is only used when the position of the sun renders it impossible to throw the light on to the distant station with the one mirror. On the back of the signalling mirror may be seen the key for signalling the long and short flashes. The operator is here seen signalling with the duplex mirror, his hand being placed on the key, which, when pressed, throws the light from the signalling mirror on to the distant station, and when released directs it on to the ground in front of the helio. As the sun alters its position so must the mechanism be adjusted to retain the light in the required direction. The heliograph comes in a large leather carrying case:This has the contents stamped on the front ‘Helio 5” Mk V’:The top of the case has a large leather strap and buckle to hold down the lid:The case hangs on a canvas shoulder strap, a second webbing strap is attached to the rear:This would pass around the waist when the case was being worn to prevent it from bouncing against the body. The inside of the case has various pockets and mountings top hold the contents securely so they are less likely to break:I am still looking for a tripod for this set, but as a lover of obsolete instruments I am so pleased to have added this to my collection. At some point, on a sunny day, I will have to try it out and see if I can make it work again!