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Cool Pic Archive #30

Cool Pic Archive Pages

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These images have been chosen for their uniqueness. Subject matter ranges from historic events, to really cool phenomena in science and engineering, to relevant place, to ingenious contraptions, to interesting products (which now has its own dedicated Featured Product category).

Changji-Guquan UHV DC Transmission Link in Anhui, China

Changji-Guquan UHV DC Transmission Link in Anhui Province, China - RF Cafe Cool PicWhen up in a small airplane or helicopter, I have never had any sense of fear of heights, but when at the top edge of a really tall building or at the precipice of a high cliff, the need to control the panic sensation is required. It is not strong enough to prevent me from going there, but I'm definitely not one of those fearless types that will go anywhere with reckless abandon. Even seeing a photo like this one on the IEEE Spectrum website invokes the fight or flight emotion. You need to click on the thumbnail to see the larger version to really get a sense of the height at which the technicians are working. The story is about China's Changji-Guquan ultrahigh-voltage direct-current transmission link along the Yangtze River, in Anhui province. Arguments abound over whether DC or AC is better overall for electrical distribution, but the main reason for this DC line is to accommodate energy storage at locations throughout the country...

WWII Cable Production - in Color!

Color Photos of World War II Cable Production - RF CafeIn the last few years, many color photos from the WWII era have been appearing, being a stark contrast to the B&W photos we have been used to seeing. The Smithsonian Institute's Air & Space magazine published this photo of what appears to be an electrical cable production station. Obviously it was a staged public relations shot, but its color content, snaking arrays of cables, and excellent lighting effect could easily win it a prize. At first glance I though it might be steel control cables for the PB2Y flying boats into which they were installed. A close look at the ends of the cables inside the work station assembly area reveals ring lugs on the ends of the cables, as might be found on control lines between cockpit elevator and aileron control yokes (or joy sticks), rudder pedals, wing flaps, trim tabs, etc. However, notice that the cables are being terminated inside a rather small junction box, which suggests...

Varian Associates Radar Illustrations by C.E.B. Bernard

Varian Associates Radar Illustrations by C.E.B. Bernard - RF CafeFrequent RF Cafe visitor who goes by the moniker "Unknown Engineer" sent me a hyperlink to a PDF file on Amazon's CloudFront* content delivery network (CDN - basically a file server) that contains no fewer than 17 amazing radar and vacuum tube related line drawings published by Varian Associates' TWT Division, Palo Alto Tube Division, Solid State Division, Eastern Tube Division, Western Tube Division, Solid State West Division. These highly detailed and busy drawings were done around 1975 by British illustrator/artist C.E.B. Bernard; a search for his works did not reveal much. The events shown are fictitious, as are the accompanying hand-printed stories. Some of the puns are pretty clever, but are somewhat dated for today's readers. To wit, the name Memamadun Ptolemy, which for the uninitiated is an allusion to the movie "Blues in the Night," where the actual words are "My momma done 'tol me..." (get it?). Another worthy mention is, "Tube V or not Tube V, that is the question," an obvious play on Shakespeare's "To be or not to be, that is the question" line by Prince Hamlet. If you recognize those, you'll find other familiar takeoffs as well...

Kuwait Now Building Integrated Circuits?

Integrated circuit in Kuwait (Cool Pic) - RF CafeA friend of our family who is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve has just been deployed to Kuwait for a year. While researching some information about Kuwait, I ran across this image that appears to be a close-up of an integrated circuit built there. Lighting effects from the top SiO2 passivation layer makes fine detail difficult, but the topology is typical of mixed analog and digital ICs, with a rather large memory section on the left side. A 5G smartphone device? My guess is the dark square area at center bottom is the I/O steering circuitry. A couple large FETs appear in the upper right corner, and the 6 printed spiral inductors below them could be impedance matching inductors if this is some sort of RF interface. I am no expert on IC layout, but this seems to be a pretty crappy design - certainly no competition for Qualcomm. A hyperlink to the image source is included, so maybe you can do a better job of discerning the chip's function ...

Goddard Satellite Missions of the 1960s

NASA Goddard Satellites of the 1960 Decade - RF CafeAmerica's first successful orbiting of a satellite launch happened on February 1, 1958 with the launch of Explorer 1 atop a Juno 1 rocket. Our first attempted satellite launch was the Vanguard TV3, on December 6, 1957, but it unfortunately succumbed to a failed booster rocket (it rose only 4 feet off the launch pad). Russia had already launched its Sputnik 1 satellite on October 4, 1957, making it the very first manmade satellite to orbit the earth - to the forever chagrin of U.S. scientists. Fortunately, advances occurred rapidly for the U.S. space program after Explorer 1. In its first full decade of existence, the Goddard Space Flight Center, located in Greenbelt, Maryland, was responsible for launching more than 100 different spacecraft ...


Electronic Component Sculptures

Electronic Component Sculptures - RF CafeWhile doing a little research about a Popular Electronics article, I ran across some examples of electronic component art / sculpture. A Google image search on the topic yields hundreds of results, with most being duplicates. I always try to locate the original image so as to give proper credit to the designer, but more often that not the pictures are posted on websites without a reference. To avoid unfairly attracting attention from the creator's work, I always use thumbnails and provide hyperlinks to the websites where I found ...

Thomas Edison Photo on New York Times Meeting Room Wall

Thomas Edison Photo on New York Times Meeting Room Wall - RF CafeA headline news story appeared today that reported on president-elect Donald Trump's meeting with the New York Times editorial board. My eye was immediately drawn to the large photograph of Thomas Edison on the wall behind Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Many other recognizable people of note are there as well. From what I can find out, those are all autographed pictures of people who have visited the boardroom. I have identified ...


Lampen & Röhren (Lamps & Tubes) Online Museum

Lampen & Röhren (Lamps & Tubes) Online Museum - RF CafeIf you like pictures of sehr cool-looking devices involving vacuum-filled (an oxymoron?) glass enclosures, i.e., lamps and tubes, then you will want to spend a few minutes perusing the personal collection of Giorgio Basile, of Nivelles, Belgium. Per the homepage of his Lamps & Tubes website: "My collection consists of more than 3,500 lamps and vacuum tubes. This is a wide area! In addition to well known incandescent lamps, radio tubes and cathode ray tubes, it includes, among others: arc lamps, light sources for the laboratory, transmitting tubes, camera tubes, flash lamps, microwave tubes, photocells, photomultipliers, radiation detectors, rectifiers, relays, thyratrons ..."


2016 EPSRC Science Photography Competition Winners

EPSRC Science Photography Competition - 2016 - RF CafeThe winners of the 2016 EPSRC "Science Photography Competition" have been announced. It was held by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the "UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering." Recipients of funding from EPSRC submit photographs for judging. This year's top prize titled "Microwave Ion-Trap Chip for Quantum Computation" went to Mrs. Diana Prado Lopes Aude Craik, University of Oxford, for her photo of a gold ion trap. Per the website, it "shows the chip's gold wire-bonds ...


Telefontornet in Stockholm, Sweden

Telefontornet in Stockholm, Sweden - RF CafeThis late 19th century photo of a telephone cable tower in Stockholm, Sweden, is seen frequently on the Internet. The 'telefontonet' tower, owned by Stockholms Allmänna Telefon AB (which later merged with Ericsson), supported 5,500 lines. Those four decorative turrets at the top were added to beautify the tower after residents complained about it being an eyesore. Raise your hand if you think it was a good solution. A couple decades later, the company began burying phone lines underground and the tower was eventually taken down. At a smaller scale, many modern data centers look a lot ...


NIST 83 GHz 16-Antenna Array

NIST 83 GHz 16-Antenna Array (NIST) - RF CafeFor many years I posted a weekly "Cool Pic" item derived from articles I read in magazines and websites. I'm not sure why I stopped doing so - probably due to lack of time - but seeing this über-cool-looking 16-element antenna array that operates at 83 GHz. At initial inspection it appears to be a 16-port switch unit because unless you are familiar with how small an 83 GHz antenna can be, those devices hanging off each port look like push-on coaxial connectors, but they're not. This work is being done by engineers at the NIST in a project researching how to best increase available wireless channel frequencies and bandwidth


Anaconda Copper Mining Company Advertisement

Anaconda Copper Mining Advertisement in the April 29, 1950 Saturday Evening Post - RF CafeIt's not often that you will see a full-page ad promoting a particular element in the periodic table, but in 1950 that wasn't the case. This advertisement for Anaconda Copper Mining Company promoted the virtues of element number 29 - copper (Cu , from the Latin "cuprum"). Aluminum and iron were other popular topics of advertising. If you do a search on the history of Anaconda, which is today owned by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), what dominates is the harm done to workers and to the environment. The short video below is one of the less vicious reports on the company's operations in Butte, Montana and in Chile. As with many forms of mining back in the day, miners were subject to very hazardous conditions, lived in company towns in company houses, sent their kids to company schools, and bought their groceries at company stores. It was a rough life, and we who enjoy the abundant freedoms and conveniences availed to us today owe ...


Tornado Tracks Map for 56 Years

Tornado Tracks Map for 56 Years - RF Cafe Cool PicJohn Nelson is a User Experience Lead* for IDV Solutions (business intelligence software) who likes to graph various types of data in a visually meaningful way. One of his latest projects is plotting the paths of tornados in the U.S. for the past 56 years based on data from NOAA as available on Data.gov. The storms are presented according to the tornado F scale rating; the brighter lines represent more violent storms. One commenter asked why all of the tracks appear to be straight lines when we know that tornados typically take circuitous paths as they wreak their havoc. The answer is that the only the beginning and end points for the storms were available. *So, what is a User Experience Lead? According to a job description I located: "Senior User Experience (UX) Leads are responsible for defining successful high-level strategies for client projects including multimedia, desktop and mobile websites, web-based applications, technology solutions, and other digital experiences. Gather, define, and clarify clients' business objectives, brands, and audiences. Ttranslate this understanding into documentation that defines the 'big idea' and guiding creative vision that will shape the entire project." Qualifications include BS/BA degree in psychology, human factors, interactive design, information architecture, library science, anthropology, or related field.


General Electric Black-Daylight TV Advertisement

General Electric Black-Daylight TV Advertisement in the April 29, 1950 Saturday Evening Post - RF CafeYou might think I tend to dwell too much on the past because of all the articles posted and references to vintage electronics companies and their employees. Maybe I do. My motivation is two-fold. First, I enjoy waxing nostalgic over the simpler, less crowded days of yore that were the 1920s through 1940s, and even into the 1950s. Things were not ideal by any means, but America was a thriving bastion of national innovation and manufacturing. A "wow" factor surrounded new discoveries and deserving heroes were created. Our friends as well as our enemies were well-defined and our schools put more effort into teaching literature, mathematics, and science than into what "rights" could be demanded without earning them. Second, which really follows from the first, is that I hope by reminding people of, or in some cases - especially younger website visitors - introducing for the first time, the fact that being a country that is fundamentally independent while at...


Sparkling Waters Bench in Auckland, New Zealand

Sparkling Waters Bench in Auckland, New Zealand - RF CafeSome might call it artistic license. I call it epic failure. The May 2012 edition of QST (p.79) had a photo from Bob Kernish, KD2ADL, of an avant-garde-style public bench in Auckland, New Zealand, that features a repeating string of Morse Code characters. Bob was puzzled over the apparent message, "SPARKLAG WATERS." After checking with some Aussie Hams, they believe it was intended to say, "SPARKLING WATERS." I'm guessing it was a government project, designed by committee, and no authority on Morse Code was engaged during the process. The project was probably over budget and late, so there was no more money to re-paint the message. Per the poster's investigation, "The Port of Auckland is part of the Waitemata Harbour ('sparkling waters' is the translation of this Maori word)." Maybe the Maoris pronounce "ing" an just "g." The original photo and a short description of the phenomenon is available at https://auckland-west.co.nz/?p=9153 . These benches are located at the entrance to Queens Wharf. I did a search using Street View on Google Maps, but could not locate the benches. Maybe they were installed after the Google camera vehicle captured their images. I cannot find a spot that looks like the other photo on the page. There appears to be trolley or train track embedded in the sidewalk, and I do not see them anywhere...


British 2-Pound Marconi Commemorative Coin

British 2-Pound Marconi Commemorative Coin - RF CafeA decision was made by the United Kingdom in 1994 to produce 2-pound (£2) coins for general circulation. Public input was sought regarding a theme for the design of the reverse face (back) of the coins; the obverse (front) would feature the standard bust of the Queen. Four year later, the British Royal Mint issued its first coin. The bi-color coins all have a nickel-brass (dark) inner component and a cupro-nickel (light) outer component. Designs would tell the story, through symbolic devices, of technological development from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution and from the Computer Age to the Internet. An edge inscription was included to identify the object or event being commemorated. Designed by Robert Evans, the third coin in the yearly series pays tribute to the contributions of Guglielmo Marconi. Per the British Royal Mint's website: "100th Anniversary of Marconi's 1st Wireless Transmission across the Atlantic. Radio waves decorating centre and outer border while a spark of electricity linking the zeros of the date represents the generation of the signal designed by Robert Evans." The chosen design contains a rendition of Guglielmo...


The Art of Failure Analysis

"The Art of Failure Analysis" 2012, People on the Beach - RF CafeFor the last few years, IEEE's International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits has held an "Art of Failure Analysis" photo contest. Familiar shapes and pattern occur regularly in nature at the macro level that can be seen and recognized by almost anyone; e.g., the Nautilus spiral, the Fibonacci series in plant life, and fractal structures. It takes a high power optical microscope or even a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to see those familiar sights in the realm of the very small. Sometimes, though, the images are downright bazaar and look eerily familiar. This first-place winner from the 2012 "Art of Failure Analysis" is a good example. Titled, "People on the Beach," this first-prize-winning SEM image by Infineon's Lim Saw Sing. It is an exposed a polyimide surface that was etched by reactive ions. Is that cool or what? "The Hope Terrace" is another familiar sight. It looks just like a formation of tiered cliffs with wind-blown snow or sand upon them. "Silver Leaves" appears to be an infrared type image of a cluster of plants. We have seen a lot plant-like SEM images. "Big Nose" reminds me of Mr. Bill yelling "Oh, nooo...." while pleading for mercy from Sluggo. "Lunar Eclipse" looks more to me like an annular solar eclipse, but I suppose artistic license permits the photographer to name it anything he wants...


Technical University of Denmark's Anechoic Chamber

Technical University of Denmark's Anechoic Chamber - RF Cafe Cool PicPopular Science magazine ran a short feature titled "Outer Space, Indoors," in the January 2013 edition. The main photo is a shot of the inside of the RF anechoic chamber at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Its thousands of RF absorbing pyramids are painted a dark, electric blue with black tips, which makes for a very stunningly artistic image. Narcotics-inspired sculptors of sculptures could scarcely improve on the visual impact of this imminently and supremely functional structure. Interestingly, I could not find a single picture of the anechoic chamber on the DTU website other than a small section of it from before the new paint job. According to my search for the original, the one in PopSci appears to have originated on the website of photographer Alastair Philip Wiper, where many high resolution views of the anechoic chamber's inside are posted. A steel Faraday cage encloses the chamber, but I could not find any photos of it. A picture of the power, data, and RF cabling interface(s) would have been interesting to see.


Samsung Pays Apple $1 Billion in Coins

Samsung Pays Apple $1 Billion in Coins - RF CafeRemember the recent epic patent-related court battle that resulted in Samsung being ordered to pay Apple one billion dollars in damages? Well, Samsung paid payed up - with 30 truckloads of 5-cent coins! Per the article: "This morning more than 30 trucks filled with 5-cent coins arrived at Apple's headquarters in California. Initially, the security company that protects the facility said the trucks were in the wrong place, but minutes later, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) received a call from Samsung CEO explaining that they will pay $1 billion dollars for the fine recently ruled against the South Korean company in this way." While this certainly is hilarious, the fact is that it must have cost Samsung a significant amount of money to have 30 trucks filled with coins and to pay for the security for having it transported to Apple. Sure, it'll cost Apple some amount to process the exchange (no pun intended on the "change" part of "exchange"), but Steve's ghost and Apple shareholders are doing the real laughing as they deposit an additional $1,000,000,000 into the coffers and then collect dividend checks.


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