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Tech Smorgasbord Archives - 35

These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with the "cafe" genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme of RF Cafe.

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 |
| 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 |

Please send me an e-mail if you have a good subject.

Glowing Trees a Problem
for Astronomers

A Dream of Trees Aglow at Night - RF CafeA controversy brews over the merits of breeding plants that glow like a lightning bug. Proponents say glowing trees could eventually replace electric street lights, thereby reducing pollution created by generating stations. Opponents say messing around with tree genes is dangerous and should be disallowed since it could lead to unanticipated environmental ramifications on both plant and animal species. The unique aspect of this effort is that it is being pursued primarily by genetic hobbyists rather than corporations - at least for now. There is bound to be a huge financial potential for such a copyrighted line of plants. My opposition to the concept is primarily a concern for light pollution projected skyward. Astronomers have a difficult enough time with ever-encroaching sources of ambient light, but a planet overrun by cross-bred and mutated glowing plants (and possibly animals), especially if they are capable of emitting levels high enough to replace street lights, would effectively blind billions of dollars of investments in telescopes... 


Google's White Spaces
Spectrum Database

Google's Spectrum Database - RF Cafe SmorgasbordThere are not many technical realms where Google engineers have not either entered or created. Wireless connectivity is key to their continued dominance in the information domain, so they understandably have a vested interest in the "white space" spectrum debate. White space comprises portions of the electromagnetic spectrum where bands are either unlicensed or where licensed bands are or will be up for grabs. An example of the former is the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band, and an example of the latter is some parts of the broadcast television band that is being vacated in areas. Google is working with the FCC to build a real-time database of what they term "dynamic spectrum" in order to provide useful information to both users and providers. A separate database is available for fixed and mobile spectrum. Enter your location of interest and the map zooms into that region. For instance, in my town of Erie, Pennsylvania, there are 21 channels available as of January...


Ham Etiquette (or lack thereof)

Ham Etiquette (or lack thereof) - RF CafeOften in the letters to the editor section of ARRL's QST magazine there are lamentations about an overwhelming lack of technical knowledge and/or proper etiquette and manners amongst fellow Hams. One contributor commented, "Today, it's hard to distinguish a radio amateur from a CB operator." DX operation (long distance) seems to be the most affected aspect, although the problem is fairly widespread. Most writers blame the problem on the ease with which a license may be obtained these days. Ever since a requirement to demonstrate proficiency in Morse code was removed, ostensibly, the quality of operators has plummeted (my license was earned in the sans code test era). That may be so, but I propose the problem is much deeper - it is societal. Every generation whines...


The Electrician's Trade
Demystified! - A Review by Moi

The Electrician's Trade Demystified - RF CafeThe Electrician's Trade Demystified!, by David Herres, is, per the cover's claim, "Everything an aspiring electrician NEEDS to KNOW." That is a pretty bold claim for a book of 250 pages when considering how wide AND deep the field of electrical tradesmanship really is. However, because of the way in which David approaches the subject, I am convinced that within reasonable constraints of expectations, the book does an excellent job at informing an aspiring electrician with everything he needs to know. How can I corroborate the assertion, you might ask? Simple. There is no attempt to cover every chapter word by word or to impart a comprehensive knowledge of every topic to the reader. Instead, all chapters are addressed in terms of what kind of material is contained, how it is arranged, what material should be memorized by every electrician, and how the table of contents and