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A single reed bulb horn.

Classic bicycle horns usually consist of a single horn operating at a single resonance frequency, with a reed made of steel located in the throat of the horn, and supplied with air by a rubber squeeze bulb. Other variations include battery operated klaxon horns, and small air horns powered by a small can of compressed gas.

Automobile horns are usually electric klaxons, driven by a flat circular steel diaphragm that has an electromagnet acting upon it and is attached to a contactor that repeatedly interrupts the current to the electromagnet. This arrangement works like a buzzer or electric bell and is commonly known as "Sounding one's horn". There is usually a screw to adjust the distance/tension of the electrical contacts for best operation. A spiral exponential horn shape (sometimes called the "snail") is cast into the body of the horn to project the sound effectively. Sound levels are approximately 107-109 decibels, and current draw 5-6 amperes. Horns can be used singly, but are often arranged in pairs to produce a chord consisting of two notes, sounded together; although this only increases the sound output by 3 decibels, the use of two differing frequencies with their beat frequencies and missing fundamental is more perceptible than the use of two horns of identical frequency, particularly in an environment with a high ambient noise level. Typical frequencies of a pair of horns of this design are 500 and 405–420 Hz (approximately B4 and G#4).

Some cars, and many motor scooters or motorcycles, now use a cheaper and smaller alternative design, which, despite retaining the name "horn", abandons the actual horn ducting and instead relies on a larger flat diaphragm to reach the required sound level. Sound levels are approximately 109-112 decibels, and current draw 2.5-5 amperes. Again, these horns can be either single, or arranged in pairs; typical frequencies for a pair are 420-440 and 340–370 Hz (approximately G#4-A4 and F4-F#4) for this design.

Truck horns may be electromagnetic klaxons of similar design, but often are purely acoustic, driven by air from an air compressor which diesel trucks have already on board to operate the air brakes. Such air horns are often used as trim items, with chromed straight horns mounted on top of the cab. This design may also be installed on customized automobiles, using a small electrical compressor. Usually two are used, sometimes more. The frequencies vary in order to produce a variety of different chords, but in general are lower than those of automobile horns; for instance 125 through 180 Hz (approximately B2-F#3). Sound levels are approximately 117-118 decibels.

Train horns can be grouped from one to five horns, to form a chord that has the notes sounded together; these are operated by compressed air from the air system.

Ships signal to each other and to the shore with horns (sometimes referred to as whistles) that are driven with compressed air or from steam tapped from the power plant. Low frequencies are used because they travel further than high frequencies; ships horns have been heard as far as ten miles away.[1] Traditionally, the lower the frequency, the larger the ship. The RMS Queen Mary, an ocean liner launched in 1934, had three horns based on 55 Hz, a frequency chosen because it was low enough that the very loud sound of it would not be painful to the passengers.[2] Modern International Maritime Organization regulations specify ships' horn frequencies to be in the range 70–200 Hz for vessels that are over 200 meters in length.[3]

Foghorns use low frequency tones to warn ships away from unseen coastlines. The large horn mouth is aimed out to sea.

Civil defense sirens and emergency service sirens often employ one or more acoustic horns to focus or distribute the sound.

Portable aerosol-driven air horns are used for small craft water safety as well as for sports events and recreational activities.

Contents

Horn grille

A horn grille is a part of some designs of automobile or other motor vehicle that has an electric horn, such as a motor scooter.

The radiators of modern cars no longer determine their shape of the grilles, which have become more abstract, the radiator being of different proportions from the grille and over 15 centimetres behind it. Usually grilles are now designed such that the sound of a horn can readily come out through them. But those designs which maintain the notion that the shape of the grille shall reflect the shape of the radiator behind it no longer have front fenders with rather large crevices which would permit the old trumpet-shaped horns to be mounted on top of them. Thus some cars, often British ones, have a pair of round horn grilles mounted on either side of the radiator grille, behind each of which a horn is located. A luxury car's horn grilles are usually chrome-plated.

Cars with rear engines, such as the Volkswagen Beetle and the early Porsches, necessarily have no radiator grilles in front, and so have horn grilles placed below their headlights.

Some motor scooters have this feature as well, placed below the handlebars. Their horn grilles may be cheap plastic. These vehicles and the cheaper cars have only one horn.

Klaxon

Switches to sound Klaxon on a Submarine

Klaxon is a trademark for an electromechanical horn or alerting device. Mainly used on automobiles, trains and ships, klaxons produce an easily-identifiable sound often transcribed onomatopoeiacally as "awooga" or "ah-WOOGA". Like most mechanical horns, the klaxon has largely been replaced by solid-state electronic alarms, though the memorable tone itself has persisted.

The klaxon's characteristic sound is produced by a spring-steel diaphragm with a rivet in the center that is repeatedly struck by the teeth of a rotating cogwheel. The diaphragm is attached to a horn that acts as an acoustic transformer and controls the direction of the sound.

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In the first klaxons, the wheel was driven either by hand or an electric motor. The electric version has been credited to the inventor Miller Reese Hutchison, an associate of Thomas Edison.

The Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co. of Newark, New Jersey bought the rights to the device in 1908. F. W. Lovell, the founder, coined the name klaxon from the Ancient Greek verb klazō, "to shriek".

Klaxons were first fitted to automobiles and bicycles in 1908. Electric klaxons were the first electrical devices to be fitted to private automobiles. They were originally powered by 6-volt dry cells, and from 1911 by rechargeable batteries. Later hand-powered versions were used as military evacuation alarms and factory sirens. The klaxon is also famous for its use as a submarine dive alarm. Oliver Lucas of Birmingham, England developed a standard electric car horn in 1910.

The English company Klaxon Signals Ltd. has been based in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England for the last 80 years, with premises also in Birmingham. The French Klaxon company was acquired by the Italian Fiamm Group in the 1990s.

In 2005 Klaxon sold the rights for the hooter or klaxon range to Moflash Signalling Ltd., based in the original Klaxon Factory in Birmingham England. The Famous Klaxet ES and A1 hooters returned home to Birmingham after 10 years.

References

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Klaxon is a trademark for an electromechanical horn or alerting device. Mainly used on automobiles, trains and ships, they alert listeners of the vehicle's arrival and possible danger.

The klaxon's characteristic sound is produced by a spring-steel diaphragm with a rivet in the center that is repeatedly struck by the teeth of a rotating cog wheel. The diaphragm is attached to a horn that acts as an acoustic transformer as well as controlling the direction of the sound.

In the first klaxons, the wheel was driven either by hand or by an electric motor. The electric version has been credited to inventor Miller Reese Hutchison, an associate of Thomas Edison.

The Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co. of Newark, New Jersey bought the rights to the device in 1908. F. W. Lovell, the founder, coined the name klaxon from the Ancient Greek verb klazō, "to shriek".

Klaxons were first fitted to automobiles and bicycles in 1908. Electric klaxons were the first electrical devices to be fitted to private automobiles. They were originally powered by 6-volt dry cells, and from 1911 by rechargeable batteries. Later hand-powered versions were used as military evacuation alarms and factory sirens. The klaxon is also famous for its use as a submarine dive alarm. Oliver Lucas of Birmingham, England developed a standard electric car horn in 1910. The English company Klaxon Signals Ltd. has been based in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England for the last 80 years, with premises also in Birmingham. The French Klaxon company was acquired by the Italian Fiamm Group in the 1990s.

In 2005 Klaxon sold the rights for the hooter or klaxon range to Moflash Signalling Ltd., based in the original Klaxon Factory in Birmingham England. The Famous Klaxet ES and A1 hooters returned home to Birmingham after 10 years.

Generalization of the word in foreign languages

Several foreign languages use a form of the word as the general term for a car's horn, regardless of whether it is still the same mechanism (very rarely so) or not. In French, the spelling remains the same, as "klaxon", in Slovak an acute accent is added "klaxón". In Romanian and in Spanish it's altered to "claxon", which is also the popular word for it in Dutch (mostly used in Belgium). In Peru, the formal name for the horns of an automobile is naturalized as "clácson".

The same applies to some languages that do not use the Latin alphabet. In Japanese, the term for a car's horn is written as "kurakushon" (クラクション?). And Arabic uses the word transliterated as "klax" to refer to a car's horn (كلاكس in Arabic script).

Popular culture

  • The Klaxon: March of the Automobiles was composed by Henry Fillmore in 1929 for the Cincinnati Automobile Show, and was originally performed on twelve automobile horns.

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