Archive for October, 2008

DIY Friday: Pumpkin-carving Robots

Thursday, October 30th, 2008


Every Halloween, I have grand plans for pumpkin carving. I make sketches. I pick out the perfect pumpkin with all the right proportions. And, inevitably, it ends up looking like a kindergartener’s craft project. Well, not this year! Why, you ask? One word: Robots.

For a more traditional pumpkin, you can take the lead of the robotics experts at the Detroit Science Center, who made the cut at thanks to their innovations in halloween hardware. (I have to note their tagline here: "Pumpkin carving has been reborn. This time it is a little bit deformed."…maybe this IS the perfect site to showcase my skills…)

If you’re going for something a bit more advanced – with a kind of headless horseman vibe – check out this guy’s robot, which he used to carve a rather disturbing likeness of himself.



Of course, if you’re looking for more of a chill-out-on-the-couch-while-eating-candy-and-pretend-not-to-hear-the-trick-or-treaters-at-the-door kind of Halloween, virtual pumpkin carving might be more your speed.

To illustrate the extent of my artistic skills, here’s my creation:

Picture 3

Happy Halloween!

Live Via WiMAX

Thursday, October 30th, 2008



Atop Snow King mountain in Idaho, sits a new radio tower providing Internet access using new WiMAX technology. But it can do more than that.

KIFI-TV announced back in May a pioneering way of electronic news gathering that doesn’t use microwave or satellite to get the live feed back to the studio:

KIFI News Group calls it WiNG or Wireless Internet News Gathering. KIFI News Group General Manager, Mark Danielson, says, "The WiNG project is based on using the Internet to send content (video and sound) from the scene of a news event back to the station for LIVE broadcast on its television stations and web sites. Danielson says, “The breakthrough is the ability for KIFI field crews to send near Broadcast Quality LIVE shots over wireless Internet."

Danielson says, "WiNG allows KIFI News Group the capability to bring its customers breaking news and information from locations that have never been accessible to routine live news gathering. What KIFI News Group has developed with DigitalBridge Communications has the potential to revolutionize news gathering.” As WiMAX is deployed across the country, Danielson says he expects ordinary news vehicles to turn into fleets of Wireless Internet News Gathering vehicles – allowing for more aggressive coverage of late breaking news and weather events. Danielson says, “In the end, consumers will win as their hunger for breaking news and weather is satisfied by faster access to breaking news from aggressive media companies like his.”

TVNewsday filed this report earlier today on how this could truly be the new scheme for live reports, especially for stations on a tight budget:

Pioneering work on adapting WiMAX for ENG is now underway at KIFI, News-Press & Gazette’s ABC affiliate in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

And so far the fourth-generation wireless broadband access service is showing a lot of promise.

"This opens up a whole new world," says Mark Danielson, general manager of the KIFI News Group, who has dubbed its system Wireless Internet News Gathering or, simply, WING.

Unlike so-called third-generation, high-speed mobile technologies like EVDO, WiMAX can provide enough upstream bandwidth for live video.

It’s not the best, but it is "definitely acceptable," says Danielson. "Most viewers probably couldn’t tell you we’re doing anything different."

Danielson can tell you about the difference in cost. Satellite is out of the question for the nation’s 163rd largest market. Outfitting a microwave truck costs about $200,000.

But KIFI spent just $12,000 to equip a Toyota Highlander SUV with the necessary hardware and software to send video via WiMAX.

"Plus, I don’t have to have any receive sites," Danielson says. "I just have to be in a place where WiMAX exists with Digital Bridge."

Digital Bridge Communications is the local WiMAX service provider, with which KIFI has been closely working. Its BridgeMaxx service covers much of the same ground as KIFI: Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Rexburg and a number of towns in Sun Valley.

"This is a unique product that was developed for them," says Doug Smith, Digital Bridge’s CIO. "This was a first for both of us and one of the first, if not the first, instances of doing broadcast over WiMAX in the U.S. that I’m aware of."

Broadcasters elsewhere may soon be able to experiment with live video via WiMax.

Using spectrum mostly in the 2.5 GHz band, WiMAX is just getting started in the United States, and it is expected to pop up in markets across the country over the next few years.

The big player is (or will be) Clearwire Corp., a planned joint venture that will include some of the biggest names in telecom and high tech: Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House, Google and Intel.

Sprint Nextel, which will own 51 percent of the venture, is folding in its Xohm WiMax unit, which launched a commercial service in Baltimore just last month.

If it all comes together, Clearwire expects to roll out WiMAX service in markets covering about 140 million people by 2010.

But what works in one place may not work in another.

In Idaho, KIFI and Digital Bridge worked out a "special priority service" that guarantees KIFI 2 Mbps upstream throughput when needed for a live shot.

A guaranteed upload speed of 2 Mbps is unusual for broadband wireless service providers. Typically, they offer such speeds only for downloads and much slower upstream bit rates for keystrokes, e-mail and occasional peer-to-peer traffic.

A news operation, of course, works the other way. It needs only small swaths of downstream bandwidth and huge chunks for sending video back to the studio.

Cutting a deal for the fat upstream pipe may not be possible everywhere.

As the service becomes popular, it will be more difficult for a station to set up the sort of sweetheart deal that KIFI has with Digital Bridge. Even in Idaho Falls, the priority service is only available for regularly scheduled newscasts.

"My verbal agreement with them is around news time," said Danielson. "We’re learning that their peak time also happens to be around 4 in the afternoon. It’s become complicated for them, but they’ve been able to deliver."

A wireless service provider could be forced to choose between the larger group of customers — some of whom are corporate and paying huge fees — and a steady paycheck from a news operation.

Raycom Media, the station group based in Montgomery, Ala., is intrigued by the KIFI experiment.

David Folsom, vice president-CTO at Raycom Media, says he will probably give it a try in Lubbock, Texas, the only Raycom market where WiMAX is going to be available. A company called Xanadoo is building a system there using licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum.

"The biggest hang-up at the moment is that nobody has created the glue yet for it," says Folsom. "You have a modem and a laptop and a camera but that doesn’t necessarily make a remote facility. You need all the parts and pieces."

Nobody knows that better than KIFI, which had to assemble its system form parts and pieces.

Key pieces come from Steambox, a Seattle-based company that specializes to pushing video over IP networks. It’s supplying the software that runs on a laptop and encodes and compresses the video for WiMAX transmission as well as the decoder that receives and processes the signal for broadcast back at the station.

"It really became a three-way partnership between us, Digital Bridge and Streambox constantly modifying and make this technology work," says Danielson. "There really are no blueprints for doing what we’re doing yet."

"We’ll see long term whether the QoS [quality of service] holds up," says Folsom. "The people in the field are not IT people; they’re reporters. The issue is the human interface part and we’re working on that right now."

Danielson maintains that using WiMAX is not that tough, even for the non-technical types.

"They have a camera, a BridgeMAXX modem, a converter box … and a laptop computer with the Streambox encoder software. You look at the truck and go, ‘That’s it?’ There’s nothing to it. It’s simple. There’s no 40-foot mast to worry about."

Aside from the quality of the signal, Danielson’s biggest worry is latency of about three interminable seconds in the talk-back between the studio and the remote site.

"We compensate by cueing the reporter about a second-and-a-half before the anchor is done talking," Danielson says. "As far as having audio and video in sync, we have not had any of those issues."

In any event, Danielson and Folsom agree that WiMAX is a step up from EVDO, a widely available wireless access service that has been adopted by many broadcasters for sending video, but only when satellite and microwave isn’t possible.

Folsom says he doesn’t depend on EVDO for live shots. "We use it for those circumstances in which there’s no other way we can do it because we’re out of our normal microwave footprint or there’s some other overriding reason like the weather.

"I don’t suggest for a minute that EVDO is competing with WiMAX at all, but since WiMAX’s footprint is so tiny right now and EVDO is everywhere, we’re using Verizon EVDO+ and it’s been fairly decent for us," says Folsom. "I don’t have a lot of complaints."

While EVDO is improving, Danielson won’t go that way again. EVDO can’t promise bandwidth, he says, noting that an upstream throughput of 1 Mbps is considered a stretch.

At least for the present, KIFI sees WiMAX as a complement to microwave, not as a substitute.

"We still rely heavily on microwave for our primary system. The only downside with microwave is it’s line-of-sight to your receive towers," he says.

Eastern Idaho is mountainous so there are many spots that are out of microwave range of the station. That’s where WiMAX can help. "BridgeMAXX is more like cellular technology where any place you’re within a radius of a WiMAX tower you have the ability to send," says Tory Willmer, KIFI’s IT manager.

That Eastern Idaho is also sparsely populated helps, Danielson adds.

Even though its spectrum is licensed, WiMAX, like any radio service, is susceptible to interference, he says. So the more remote the place, the less the chance of interference.

WiMAX is one of two fourth-generation mobile wireless technologies. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is coming on the heels of EVDO and other third generation services and, while still several years away, promises a more ubiquitous coverage and faster upstream service.

But WiMAX is here now.

"It’s a great application for broadcast," says Danielseon. "I predict this is going to be the way things are done in the future. You could have a fleet of WING vehicles with WiMAX at a fraction of the cost of a couple satellite trucks or live trucks."




Mars Lander Hits the Snooze Button

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

We were all jazzed about NASA’s Mars Lander back in May, when the Lander successfully navigated a complicated descent sequence onto the Red Planet.


But since touching down, the Lander has been beset by problems, and now it looks like the end may be near for the mission:

NASA’S Phoenix Mars Lander entered safe mode late yesterday in response to a low-power fault brought on by deteriorating weather conditions. While engineers anticipated that a fault could occur due to the diminishing power supply, the lander also unexpectedly switched to the "B" side of its redundant electronics and shut down one of its two batteries.

During safe mode, the lander stops non-critical activities and awaits further instructions from the mission team. Within hours of receiving information of the safing event, mission engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and at Lockheed Martin in Denver, were able to send commands to restart battery charging. It is not likely that any energy was lost.

Weather conditions at the landing site in the north polar region of Mars have deteriorated in recent days, with overnight temperatures falling to -141F (-96C), and daytime temperatures only as high as -50F (-45C), the lowest temperatures experienced so far in the mission. A mild dust storm blowing through the area, along with water-ice clouds, further complicated the situation by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the lander’s solar arrays, thereby reducing the amount of power it could generate. Low temperatures caused the lander’s battery heaters to turn on Tuesday for the first time, creating another drain on precious power supplies.

Science activities will remain on hold for the next several days to allow the spacecraft to recharge and conserve power. Attempts to resume normal operations will not take place before the weekend.

The shut down is not unexpected:

"This is a precarious time for Phoenix," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of JPL. "We’re in the bonus round of the extended mission, and we’re aware that the end could come at any time. The engineering team is doing all it can to keep the spacecraft alive and collecting science, but at this point survivability depends on some factors out of our control, such as the weather and temperatures on Mars."

The Arizona Daily Star has more:

If Phoenix is able to bounce back from the power failure, it’s not clear what the lander will be able to do, as engineers already have shut down heaters that warm the robotic arm and the oven-like science instrument known as the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer.
It won’t be long before Phoenix reaches a state in which it requires more energy to stay alive than it can take in through its solar arrays.
The forecast for Mars? More dust and cold.
You can keep up to date on the continuing developments at the Mars Lander Blog.


Venezuelan Satellite Launched in China

Thursday, October 30th, 2008


Simon Bolivar (or VENESAT-1, the ITU designation) launched Wednesday (16:53 UTC) via a Chang Zheng-3B (CZ3B-11) launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province. The news, via China Daily:

Carried by a Long March 3II rocket, the satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center located in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The satellite was produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation with an all-up weight of 5,100 kg and an designed longevity of 15 years.

The orbiter, named as Venezuela 1 Telecom Satellite, is the first telecom satellite of Venezuela which will be used in broadcasting, tele-education and medical service by coving the most regions of South America and the Caribbean region.

It will of great importance to improve living standards of the people living in the country’s remote areas.

Here’s the video…


Spitzer Spots Spock’s Planet

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Star Trek fans may remember Spock’s home star, Epsilon Eridani. Now, with the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope, the discovery of asteroid belts within the nearby system (10.5 light years away) is prompting new comparisons to our own system — and perhaps a planet Vulcan:

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has detected two asteroid belts around Epsilon Eridani, the planetary system closest to ours and home to Star Trek’s fictitious First Officer Spock, the space agency reported yesterday.

A planet near the inner asteroid belt was identified eight years ago. The newly spotted planet is in the vicinity of the outer belt.

Epsilon Eridani is around 10 light-years, or 62 trillion miles (98 trillion kilometers), away from Earth’s solar system and, at a mere 850 million years old, is considered a younger, similar version of our own 4.5- billion-year-old system. Star Trek creators made it the home of Vulcan, and it’s possible that there are as-yet-unseen Earth-like planets between the star system and its inner ring, astronomer Massimo Marengo of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told McClatchy Newspapers.

"We certainly haven’t seen it yet, but if its solar system is anything like ours, then there should be planets like ours," Marengo told USA Today.



Naturally, this prompted an active discussion on Slashdot, with several citations to literary fiction. More serious discussions abound.

The update from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics doesn’t mention Mr. Spock or Vulcans, just what it means to scientists:

Epsilon Eridani and its planetary system show remarkable similarities to our solar system at a comparable age.

"Studying Epsilon Eridani is like having a time machine to look at our solar system when it was young," said Smithsonian astronomer Massimo Marengo (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). Marengo is a co-author of the discovery paper, which will appear in the Jan. 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Lead author Dana Backman (SETI Institute) agreed, saying, "This system probably looks a lot like ours did when life first took root on Earth."

Our solar system has a rocky asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, about 3 astronomical units from the Sun. (An astronomical unit equals the average Earth-Sun distance of 93 million miles.) In total, it contains about 1/20 the mass of Earth’s Moon. Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the team of astronomers found an identical asteroid belt orbiting Epsilon Eridani at a similar distance of 3 astronomical units.

They also discovered a second asteroid belt 20 astronomical units from Epsilon Eridani (about where Uranus is located in our solar system). The second asteroid belt contains about as much mass as Earth’s Moon.

A third, icy ring of material seen previously extends about 35 to 100 astronomical units from Epsilon Eridani. A similar icy reservoir in our solar system is called the Kuiper Belt. However, Epsilon Eridani’s outer ring holds about 100 times more material than ours.

When the Sun was 850 million years old, theorists calculate that our Kuiper Belt looked about the same as that of Epsilon Eridani. Since then, much of the Kuiper Belt material was swept away, some hurled out of the solar system and some sent plunging into the inner planets in an event called the Late Heavy Bombardment. (The Moon shows evidence of the Late Heavy Bombardment – giant craters that formed the lunar seas of lava called mare.) It is possible that Epsilon Eridani will undergo a similar dramatic clearing in the future.


Some of us would like to believe another planet like ours exists, which recalls the power of the Vulcan Mind Meld in convincing people to think otherwise. 

Here’s one of my favorite clips from the original TV series:

Vint Cerf in Space!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008


Okay, we don’t mean physically in space. But Father of the Internet Vint Cerf (pictured above) wants to replace the current point-to-point communications infrastructure between spacecraft and earth with an internet-style networking protocol.

Technology Review has more:

Cerf, who is Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist, is working with a team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he is also a visiting scientist, and at the MITRE Corporation, based in Washington, DC, to design and implement a revolutionary new scheme for space communication. The project, dubbed the Interplanetary Internet, will be tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009, and Cerf hopes that by 2010, new space missions will be designed to use the protocols.

The article features an interview with Cerf:

TR:What are the challenges of building such a network in space? 

VC:We started by working on a set of protocols that could deal with two very important properties of space communication. The first is delay. The distances between the planets are very large. For example, when Earth and Mars are closest together, it still takes 3.5 minutes for a radio signal moving at the speed of light to propagate. If I were on Mars and you were on Earth, it would take seven minutes at best before you heard a response. When Earth and Mars are farthest apart, the round trip takes 40 minutes! The reason we can talk back and forth on Earth so easily is that propagation times are very short by comparison.

The other problem is that the planets and their satellites are in motion, and most are rotating. The rotation of the planets means that if you are talking to something that is on the surface of the planet, it may rotate out of the line of sight so you cannot talk to it anymore, until the device on the surface rotates into view again. The same could be said for some orbiting satellites. You have to develop protocols that will deal with the fact that you cannot always communicate with the other party: the communication is both delayed and potentially disrupted. So that is what we designed: a delay- and disruption-tolerant networking system [DTN]. It will allow us to maintain communications more effectively, getting much more data because we don’t have to be in direct line of sight with the ultimate recipient in order to transfer data. The new protocols will be proposed to serve as a potential international standard for space networking.

TR: Is this going to require putting new infrastructure in space?

VC: The answer is yes and no. For example, the Deep Impact spacecraft [now called EPOXI] is already in orbit around the sun. It was used to launch a probe into a comet to examine its interior. EPOXI is being temporarily repurposed to test the new DTN protocols. The spacecraft has processing, memory, radio equipment, and solar panels for power so we don’t have to put new hardware up. We just have to upload new software. We are lucky to not have to field any new equipment yet, but the DTN protocols eventually have to show up in a fairly significant number of devices in the system to create the kind of network that can serve space-communication needs. Some specialized spacecraft could become store-and-forward routers. Each time a new mission is launched, using the standard bundle protocol, previous mission assets that are still in operation could be used to support the communication requirements of the new mission. In this way, we hope to accrete a kind of interplanetary backbone network.

Cerf is supporting Barack Obama for president because of the latter’s positions on net neutrality, according to CNET. But maybe he’s just gunning for the position of CTO of the United States?

Private Space Flight Carries on Proud Aviation Tradition: Zero Leg-Room

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Over the past several years, there has been an explosion of private investment in the space industry. SpaceX may be the best known, with its founder investing $100 Million of his own money and a tremendous amount of time and energy in the hopes of developing a fleet of privately operated rockets. Richard Branson has also entered the fray with his Virgin Galactic space tourism project. And Robert Bigelow, a Las Vegas hotel magnate, has grand plans for a private space station/hotel.

Another player in the commercial space race that you may not have heard of is Copenhagen Suborbitals, which just conducted a successful booster test last week. The test was a major step for the Danish company.

XLR-2 hybrid rocket motor test from Sonny W. on Vimeo.

Copenhagen Suborbitals is currently developing a series of suborbital space vehicles designed to validate and test performance, paving the way for manned space flight on a micro-size spacecraft, or MSC…

Two rocket vehicles are under development: a small unmanned sounding rocket, named Hybrid Atmospheric Test Vehicle, or HATV, and a larger booster rocket named Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter, or HEAT, designed to carry a micro spacecraft into a suborbital trajectory in space.

Both boosters systems will be hybrid rockets using epoxy as solid propellant…

Before the spacecraft goes into a zero gravity parabola, the booster system will be jettisoned. After a while of atmospheric re-entry, the spacecraft will be slowed by two episodes of deployed parachutes. Finally, the spacecraft will touchdown on land.

It will not be possible for the astronaut to move around inside the MSC. Only the arms will be free “to operate a few (backup) systems like grabbing on to handles or a vomit bag, as well as additional oxygen mask and the MSC abort system, if necessary after touchdown.”

It’s that last bit that’s drawn Copenhagen a bit of bad press. In fact, Gizmodo compared the idea to a cruel form of punishment:

How’s this for a nightmare scenario: you’re crammed into a rocket the size of a closet, only large enough for you to stand up in. The top is a clear dome so you can see out, but it’s too small for you to bend your legs, let alone walk around in. You are then launched into space. Aaauuughghghghhh!

It’s also been described as a “one -man Roman candle ride into space”. Though it doesn’t look like an entirely pleasant way to travel, if given the opportunity I’m pretty sure I’d pop a few Valium and try to enjoy the crazy, claustrophobic ride.

Bella Lancio di Razzi

Monday, October 27th, 2008



Yes, the Delta rocket is still working. This time for the Italian COSMO/SKYMED-3 and the United Launch Alliance:

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, on behalf of Boeing Launch Services, successfully launched the third Italian-built Constellation of Small Satellites for Mediterranean Basin Observation or COSMO-SkyMed 3 satellite at 7:28 p.m., October 24. ULA successfully launched the first two Cosmo satellites on Delta II vehicles June 7, 2007 and Dec. 8, 2007.

"ULA is pleased to have successfully launched the third of four critical Earth observation systems in this series for Boeing and Thales Alenia Space," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Delta Product Line. "With this 43rd successful commercial launch, the Delta II system continues its record of mission success, which is unparalleled in the U.S. space industry. This achievement is due to the hard work of our professional engineers and technicians along with the tremendous support we receive from our government, industry, and supplier mission partners. We look forward to many more Delta II launches in the years ahead."

Blasting off from Space Launch Complex 2, it marked the fifth successful Delta II vehicle launch procured by The Boeing Company through its commercial launch business. The ULA Delta II 7420-10 configuration vehicle featured an ULA first stage booster powered by a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-27A main engine and four Alliant Techsystems (ATK) strap-on solid rocket boosters. An Aerojet AJ10-118K engine powered the second stage. The payload was encased by a 10-foot-diameter composite payload fairing.

ULA began processing the Delta II launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala., nearly two years ago. In February, the 1st stage arrived from Decatur followed by the 2nd stage in August. The vehicle was erected on its stand at the pad Sept. 16, with solid rocket booster installation completed Sept. 19. Hundreds of ULA technicians, engineers, and management worked to prepare the vehicle for the COSMO-3 mission.

Developed by Thales Alenia Space, Italia for the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Ministry of Defense, COSMO-3 is the third of the four COSMO-SkyMed satellites. Each satellite is equipped with a high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar operating in X-band and is one of a constellation of four radar satellites. The overall objective of the program is global Earth observation and relevant data responding to the needs of the military and scientific community, as well as to the public demand for environmental control.

Here’s a nice video:


And here’s one shot on-site, from a distance:



Elliptical C-band Uplink Antennas

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Via Doug Lung’s RF Report:

In some cases, it isn’t possible to install an uplink dish that meets the FCC off-axis antenna pattern envelope. In the past, the FCC allowed operation of uplinks with non-compliant antennas upon a showing by the licensee that the effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) would be reduced enough to keep the energy in side lobes below the level that would have existed using an uplink with a compliant dish at maximum power. This required a detailed engineering showing that often slowed FCC processing.

In the Eighth Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration (FCC 08-246), the FCC adopted an off-axis EIRP envelope approach as one method for applicants to apply for fixed satellite service (FSS) Earth stations using small antennas operating on conventional C and Ku-band frequencies.

It states, "This off-axis EIRP approach gives earth station applicants the flexibility to reduce their power levels to compensate for a small antenna diameter. Thus, using these envelopes as criteria for licensing should enable us to license more earth station applications routinely, expediting the provision of satellite services to consumers and enhancing the types of services available, without increasing the likelihood of harmful interference to adjacent satellite operators or to terrestrial wireless operators."

The Order adopts rules that facilitate the use of elliptical C-band uplink antennas. While the new rules do not specifically state that the major axis of the elliptical antenna be aligned with the geo-stationary orbit plane, the Order notes that "that starting the off-axis EIRP envelope at 1.5 degrees off-axis within the GSO orbital plane, and at 3.0 degrees outside that plane, has the same effect as requiring elliptical antennas to be aligned with the GSO plane in most cases."

The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) claimed that it is not possible to develop an off-axis EIRP envelope for analog video signals because the power density of such signals fluctuates. SES Americom opposed new analog regulations because the current rules are working well. The FCC decided to retain the current regulatory framework for analog services at this time. It dropped plans for eliminating analog video transmission over satellite entirely, noting, "The record in this proceeding has shown convincingly that requiring the transition from analog to digital video transmissions proposed in the Third Further Notice would be unreasonably expensive and burdensome."


DIY Friday: HAM Radio

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I’m feelin’ a bit old school, so in this week’s DIY Friday we’re tackling a classic: HAM radio.

This site has just about everything you need to know.

Or you can check out this “homebrew receiver”.

Or, if you want to go a bit more hi-tech, you can try this diy radio modem that uses an “iPod” FM Transmitter and a regular FM receiver.

This guy makes HAM radios out of tin cans. (Think SPAM). He even has a miniature one that uses as much power as a Christmas light.

HAM’s have a long tradition of public service. Check out this video (hosted by Walter Cronkite!) about how HAM radio comes through in a disaster.

Whichever project you choose, you’re going to want to build it while watching one of these classic movies featuring HAM radios. Hitchcock was definitely a fan – “Rear Window”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “The Birds” all make the list.