By now, most people involved with spread spectrum
communications are (or should be) aware that Hollywood starlet
Hedy Lamarr is credited
for being the first to suggest a frequency hopping scheme for secure communications.
If you do a Google search on Hedy Lamarr and spread spectrum, you see that except for
a few mentions on tech websites, it has only been in the news since the end of the last
decade. Scientific American magazine ran an article titled, "Hedy Lamarr: Not
Just a Pretty Face," in 2008. Google honored her in 2015 with a Doodle on their homepage.
"The most beautiful woman in the world," with the assistance of her co-inventor-composer
George Antheil ...
Most people who were around in the 1970s remember
the sitcom "Laverne &
Shirley." It was popular as a part of the whole 1950s renaissance that was happening
with shows like "Happy Days," "Grease," "American Graffiti," et al, that captured the
attention of the parents of us teenagers as well as us. I was being held against my will
at Southern Senior High School at the time, and many of the kids adopted a "greaser"
lifestyle that included cigarette packs rolled up in t-shirt sleeves and Brylcreem in
the hair (mainly just the guys), leather jackets and
Keds high-top sneakers (guys and gals), and poodle skirts and saddle
Oxford shoes (mainly just the gals). Two weirdo characters, Lenny and Squiggy, made cameo ...
I love this quote by UK engineer James Newman:
"I just got suckered into it bit by bit." This story about Mr. Newman's effort to build
a 16-bit computer using discrete components appeared in Popular Science magazine.
Newman wanted to create a functional, programmable computer that would provide a visual
indication of how data flow and computation occurs within a microprocessor; the result
is his "Megaprocessor." To do that, he constructed this 10-meter-long by
2-meter-tall rack of circuits consisting of more than 40,000 discrete transistors. An
Intel 8086 microprocessor has ~29,000 ...
Albert Michelson is a name known to anyone who
has taken (and paid attention during) a course in physics
for his being the first person to accurately measure the speed of light in air. Born
in 1852 to Jewish parents in Poland, his family emigrated to America in 1855 initially
settling in Virginia City, Nevada. That happens to be where the fictional TV family of
the Cartwrights owned their sprawling Ponderosa ranch in the series Bonanza.
Screenwriters for the show took a bit of historical liberty in depicting young Michelson
as having attending primary school in ...
Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio is a
quite interesting documentary about the struggle that Edwin H Armstrong - inventor
of the superregenerative and superheterodyne circuits, and of wideband frequency modulation
(FM) - had with Lee DeForest - inventor of the Audio amplifying tube - and David Sarnoff
- CEO of Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Extensive legal battles ensued between Armstrong
and DeForest over vacuum tube patents, and Sarnoff's transition from biggest cheerleader
to biggest thwarter of Armstrong's efforts are epic. A huge amount of historical information
and vintage film clips ...
Mjölnir's Secret: Microwave Oven Magnets - Who Knew?
The secret of
Mjölnir, Thor's hammer, has finally
been revealed. As it turns out, being found 'worthy' of lifting Mjölner requires having
the right thumbprint. Well, at least inventor / maker Allen Pan's version of the hammer
does. The July/August issue of Popular Science ran an article on Pan's cleverly
converted toy Mjölnir wherein he buried four lead-acid batteries to power a scrounged
microwave oven transformer for duty as an electromagnet. An Arduino Uno-driven sensor
detects Pan's unique thumbprint and disables
Morse Code vs. Texting Contest on the Jay Leno's "The Tonight
On the May 13, 2005 episode of The Tonight
Show, Jay Leno held a speed contest between two Ham Radio operators using
and two Millennials using their smartphones for texting (SMS).
At least one member of the audience thought texting would win. Mr. Chip Margelli
(K7JA) did the sending. He declares, "Let me assure you
that we never saw that message before I flipped the blue card over. Each message, in
rehearsal, was different. The character count was the same as the one during dress rehearsal
FPV Drone Tour of the Russian Duga-1 OTH Radar Antenna
Radio controlled drones have gotten a bad name,
mostly due to moronic operators that have no regard for other people's privacy or safety.
I would like to be able to say those types are in the minority, but unfortunately they
probably do make up the majority of drone owners. That is because unlike with R/C airplanes
and helicopters that require at least a modicum of skill and common sense to fly successfully,
even the cheapest drones incorporate stability systems that are so good even a caveman
could fly one. At the opposite end of the drooling loser contingent of the drone pilot
spectrum is the rapidly growing number of highly skilled pilots that advance not just
Explosive Charges Bring down 48 VOA Towers in North Carolina
This item appeared on the ARRL news website. It
links to a video showing an engineered demolition of a shortwave antenna farm in North
Carolina commissioned by the Voice of America (VOA) in 1963, during the Cold War. The
video provides an aerial view of the entire line of towers collapsing as the precisely
timed charges go off. The most impressive aspect is that explosives are detonated only
on every other tower in such a way that the falling tower takes out the one next to it
almost in a dominoes manner (see yellow circle). 25 pounds
of explosives were used rather than possibly 50 if every tower's guy lines had been
Old vs. New Car Design - Video
Very recently while watching a 1960s era TV show
I asked myself a question I've asked many times before: If one of those heavy, bulky
vintage cars constructed of thick pressed sheet steel body components, full steel tube
frames, and cast iron 8-cylinder engine blocks was to have a head-on collision with a
modern car built with light-weight materials of composite construction and minimal structural
bulk, which would be the victor? My gut reaction was to think that the result would be
like a sledge hammer and a Coke can colliding;
I'd rather be the sledge hammer. I know cars are engineered to sacrifice the car to preserve
the passenger compartment by ...
"Marble Machine" by Wintergatan
Maybe you are one of the more than 11 million people
who have already viewed this incredible "Marble
Machine" video, by Swedish musician Martin Molin. Molin designed and built his wooden
music machine using aircraft plywood, ball bearings, Lego blocks, pressure transducers,
plastic tubing, lengths of wire, springs, and a host of other off-the-shelf components,
none of which appear to have required custom metal machining. The huge wooden gears were
designed on his computer, ut out on a band saw, and assembled with glue and screws. 2,000
metal marbles are the lifeblood of the instrument which, by function, must be classified
as percussion. Even the integrated base guitar is
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung
Galaxy Note 3 - "Will It Blend?"
is no denying Blendtec founder Tom Dickson has earned the title of überBlendermeister
with his online "Will It Blend?" series of videos. Using his company's Total Blender,
Tom has over the years inserted, among many other things, popular and often expensive
high-tech devices, and then pressed the appropriate button on the machine to start the
action. Since its beginning in 2007, "Will It Blend?" videos have documented in a combination
of full speed and slow motion the pulverizing of iPhones, iPads, Galaxy phones, Windows
phones, Kindles, laser pointers, wii remote controls, Xbox 360 Kinect, a hearing aid,
a video camera, magnets, and even a cassette tape. In the most recent episode, Tom hosts
might recall seeing the video of Boston Dynamics' "Big Dog" robot that is part of a DARPA
project developing battlefield automatons capable of carrying heavy loads at a swift
pace over rugged terrain. Their newest humaniod, called "Pet-Proto," is enough to give
you nightmares. Add a few lowpass filters on the joint mechanics and this boy would look
like it came straight out of the Transformers or Terminator movies. One big hurdle that
has to be overcome is the power source. Big Dog has an internal combustion engine driving
a hydraulic pump (electronics probably work on batteries), and this Pet-Proto dude has
hydraulic lines from an external supply. The robots are capable of autonomous decision
making and are guided and motivated by GPS, LIDAR, ground sensors, gyroscopes, and other
Crystals Go to War
Many thanks to Kevin, of Roanoke, VA, for sending
me a link to this documentary video covering the entire
production chain for radio crystals
as filmed by Reeves Sound Laboratory, in New York, NY. It was produced during World War II
so the methods used are not anywhere near what is common today. What is the same, fundamentally,
is the ingenuity and hard work that goes into developing a new technology, and particularly
the effort needed to move to high volume production. As with most of these vintage factory
films, a few aspects of normal practices of the era are immediately apparent. First is
the near utter lack of personal safety devices on machinery and accessories for workers.
Fingers run perilously close to diamond-impregnated crystal dicing blades, unprotected
hands and arms are submersed in oils and cleaning solutions, no ear protectors
of automated factory fabrication and assembly lines are awesome. Watching the robots
sling metal panels around for presses using hundreds of thousands of pounds of pressure
to stamp out body panels for the Tesla Model S electric car is an inspiring reminder
of how ingenuous and capable our fellow homo sapiens can be in spite of politicians'
best efforts to enslave an underclass voting bloc of slackers. Think of the amount of
knowledge required to conceive of and execute the processes show in this video - metallurgy,
robotics, software, production planning, material sourcing and handling, factory
environment, structural analysis, safety, testing, budgeting, training, union demands,
human concerns, massive governmental regulation, surface finishing, marketing, work flow,
and a host of other issues. That doesn't even include the brainpower necessary to plan,
design, test, and build all the electrical and electronics parts of the vehicle. Utterly
amazing. It takes 3-5 days from beginning to end to build a Model S. Even
back in the 'old days' when most of the labor was manual, film reels showing masses of
humans working together to make a complex piece of machinery like a Ford Model T
will bring a tear to the eye of any self-respecting tech aficionado.
Turn Your Smartphone into a 3D Hologram
How does anyone even think of this stuff? This
video demonstrating how to turn your smartphone
into a holographic projector was posted by Mrwhosetheboss on August 1, 2015 and has
over 10 million views already - and it's no wonder. He doesn't mention on the video what
inspired the idea. A clear plastic CD jewel case cover it used to make the projection
surface and specially created videos that project onto the four faces are used to create
the holographic effect. The concept reminds of a little multi-faceted mirrored device
that used to be sold which sat in the middle of a record player and turned flip-book
OK Go - "I Won't Let You Down"
OK Go is perhaps best known
for sophisticated videos that require extremely high levels of choreography. Their
I Won't Let You Down
video was posted on YouTube just yesterday and it has nearly 2.5 million views a day
later. Back in 2010 I posted their Mousetrap-like
This Too Shall Pass
video; it now has more than 45 million views. Two major aspects of high technology are
featured here: Honda's UNI-CUB β robotic unicycle and the use of a remote control
octocopter drone for filming the video. Honda is not selling the
UNI-CUB β yet, so Honda must have been involved in the effort; the OK Go video is featured
on the ...