I first saw this being pitched in a model
airplane magazine for use as an inexpensive, lightweight tracker in case the model
flies away. If the case if removed, its weight can be as low as 1.25 oz. This
TK-102 GPS/GPRS/GSM Personal Tracker by Sunvalleytek integrates a cellphone with
a GPS receiver so that when you want to locate the unit, you simply give it a call,
and it responds with its GPS coordinates. It can also be programmed to send out
location data at regular intervals, or if the unit is transported outside a defined
area, if it exceeds a predefined speed, and other parameters. The 850, 900, 1800,
and 1900 MHz bands are available. It uses the proven SirF 3 chipset. I couldn't
find info on whether a separate network subscription is required to use the device.
That is a pretty impressive resume for a device that costs less than $100.
Featured Product Archive
The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their
uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough
to warrant an appearance.
| 1 |
Wireless speakers are not exactly new, but
MusicLites ads a new twist (pun intended) to the technology.
Simply screw a Music Lite into any light socket and you instantly have a high fidelity
sound anywhere within a 50-80' range (200' LoS) from
the transmitter. To sweeten the deal even more, you still get the equivalent of
a 65 W light bulb (software-dimmable LEDs) along with
the sound. A 20W amplifier drives MusicLite's 2.75" speaker through the full 50
Hz – 20 kHz audio range. Up to 3 separate transmitters (2.4
GHz ISM band) can address the speakers in up to 5 separate zones. You can
broadcast to and control them from any USB port using a transmitter dongle or even
from your iPhone. A Tx/MusicLite costs $350, and each additional MusicLite costs
$250. Expected lifetime is about 5 years for the light - not sure about the speaker.
Haven't upgraded to the iPad2 yet? It's a
good thing you waited. Here is one made just for you. "Encrusted with 12.5 cts of
'IF' flawless diamonds, a magnificent total of 53 individually set sparkling gems
dwell beautifully in solid 24 ct Apple logo with rear section formed again in 24
ct gold weighing an immense 2 kg." If that's not enough, there are also bone shavings
from a 65 Myr-old T-REX's thigh and crushed, 65-Myr-old Ammolite rock. I guess that's
the "History" part of what you're paying for. But wait, there's more: A single cut
8.5 ct flawless diamond inlaid in its own platinum is surrounded with 12 outer flawless
diamonds. Noooow how much would you pay? For a mere £5M ($8M), you can pick up one
of these Gold History editions compliments of maker-of-expensive-toys-for-the-ultra-rich,
Stuart Hughes. If that is a little out of your price range, there
are many more devices with accoutrements that will set you apart at the next status
meeting or Starbucks rendezvous. (warning: audio plays
automatically on website)
8/12/2011They were the best of times. They were the
worst of times. These seem to be among the worst, but no matter the condition of
the world, there are always those with the means to afford high-end stuff. If it
wasn't so, then there would not be the plethora of big dollar products that perform
basically the same as much cheaper versions for much less money. Don't get me wrong,
I'd love to be able to afford something like this MC275 tube stereo amplifier by
the McIntosh company. According to their website, the MC275's "extraordinary Unity
Coupled Circuit" and "lush sound that presents a powerful and detailed soundstage"
was originally engineered in 1961. The 2011 rendition has been highly polished and
spiffed up with gold plated connectors and binding post and a designer look. The
12AT7 and 12AX7 vacuum tubes on the front row cause me to wax nostalgic over my
former USAF ATC radar days. KT88 tubes drive the outputs to 75W. Pick one up today
for just $6,500. I graciously accept gifts, BTW - thanks in advance.
being able to survive a dunking in the john is no longer enough to qualify as a
rugged cellphone - at least as far as the Guinness Book of World Records is concerned.
It now takes something like the Sonim XP3300 Force™ to make the grade, and in fact
it just did. "The Sonim RPS goes far beyond MIL-SPEC ruggedness... Even wastewater
2 meters deep is no challenge for this IP-68 rated, water and dust proof handset,
which can also be dropped from 2 meters onto concrete. The 2 inch high-resolution
display is protected by a class leading 1.5mm thick Corning® Gorilla® Glass lens
for the highest scratch and shock resistance." 2 meters might be the guaranteed
drop survival height, but this phone lived through a drop onto concrete from 25
m (82'), or about 8 stories high, to qualify for the Guinness record. I rarely carry
a cellphone, but I have a daughter who owns and runs a
horse riding academy who
beats up phones terribly. She could definitely use one.
old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. So goes a familiar saying
about making preparations for a wedding. Vin Marshall's très cool Tube Amp iPod
Dock is a perfect example of the wedding of the old and the new, with possibly something
borrowed, and built from blueprints. Using 3 big honk'n transformers and
8 vacuum tubes (aka valves to the other side of the Pond),
an iPod dock, an aluminum (aka aluminium) chassis,
and a handful of leaded components, the Tube Amp iPod Dock is another retro accessory
for modern technology. The Model 16LS, 16 W stereo tube amp is a commercially available kit
that costs $250. It is built on a PCB, so no classic point-to-point wiring is necessary.
There are a few wires to solder between the amp and front panel volume control and
power switch. Fitting the assembly into a nice wooden case would really be the pièce
de résistance! Complete
instructions and plans are available. I'm not sure whether feeding digitized
music into a tube amp can restore that unique sound quality that, so swear audiophiles,
only tubes can provide.
8/19/2011Would you trust your cycling well being to
a wireless brake systems that "only" works 99.999999999997% of the time
(3 failures in a trillion)? That means if you use
your brakes once per minute every minute of your life, you risk running off a cliff
or into a wall once every 1.9 million years. Of course if the once-in-a-million-lifetimes
failure first occurs on the fifth squeeze of the brake handle, you would be out
of luck. However, any non-Darwin-Award candidate would simply squeeze the handle
a second time, upon which there is statistically no chance it would ever fail again
while you own the bike. Saarland
University professor Holger Hermanns, currently chair of
Dependable Systems and Software,
who designed and analyzed the wireless braking system, is using his invention as
a platform for investigating similar systems being developed for planes, trains,
and automobiles. Some technical specs are given in the article.
Modularization has been key to widespread
application of leading edge technology across nearly sector of consumer
(and commercial) products. Look no farther than the
plethora of greeting cards that will record and then play back personal message,
for a price of less than $10. How about wristwatches for $10? That's the power of
modular electronics, especially for highly specialized functions. WiMM Labs has
just pushed the frontier a significantly farther with its Platform module. Within
its 32×36×12.5 mm cube is a 160x160 pixel, full-color, capacitive touch screen LCD,
WiFi and Bluetooth transceivers, an accelerometer, a magnetometer
(compass), and a speaker. Its processor and 32 GB
of RAM are run by the open-source Google Android™ operating system. A price has
not been announced yet, but I'm guessing you won't find one in a greeting card any
Who would have guessed it? Heathkit just put the "kit" back in Heathkit.
Per their homepage, "In late August, Heathkit will debut their new line of Do-it-Yourself
kits for common around-the-house items. The first kit will be a Garage Parking Assistant
(GPA). The Garage Parking assistant kit lets you build your own system that uses
ultrasonic sound waves to locate your car as it enters the garage. The system signals
to the driver using LED lights mounted on the wall when the car is detected and
in the perfect spot for parking. The GPA-100 kit consists of two primary assemblies
- The LED Display in kit form and the pre-assembled ultrasonic range module. The
kit will include everything you need to complete the project except a soldering
iron and hand tools. Next on the market will be a Wireless Swimming Pool Monitor
kit followed by many more. Heathkit wants to continue to bring to its customers
interesting, unique Heathkit products. Heathkit is interested in learning what types
of products kit builders would like to build. Kit builders can submit their suggestions."
8/26/2011Who would have thought that you could own
a brand-new, dual-channel, 200-MHz, 1 GS/s digital oscilloscope for less than $1,000?
If you have a computer with a USB port, the 2200 series from PicoScope will get
you there. Also included are driver and display software that include spectrum analysis,
a multimeter function, and a built-in arbitrary waveform generator. For less than
$270, the 2202 model provides 10 MHz of bandwidth, and a handful of intermediate
models increment up in BW to the ultimate 200 MHz. These o-scopes are small and
light enough to tuck into your laptop computer bag. Since power is provided by the
USB port, there is no bulky external supply to lug along or need to find an AC socket.
PicoScope also offers accessories like a 250 MHz, 10x probe for less than $50, active
differential probes, attenuators, and feed-through terminations for equally reasonable
prices. If you are an instructor, a nifty Educational kit is available that includes
their 100 MHz model and components for performing basic electrical experiments and
demonstrations - a pretty cool addition.
The RF world has a new hero:
Davis, a long-time RF Cafe visitor. Earlier this week, Bob sent me a link to
these SMA torque wrenches that can be used to hold SMA connectors from the coaxial
cable side. In the last decade, I have had dozens of people write to me looking
for such a wrench, and in response, I have spent literally hours searching the Internet,
all to no avail. Until this, they simply did not seem to be available. A common
home brew solution was to grind out a slot in a standard 5/16" deep socket - it
could be messy. Per KCR Products: A full set of coaxial connector sockets for 3.5mm &
SMA electrical connectors. The socket fits between connector nuts allowing a technician
to properly torque each connector in these limited access areas. The default torque
setting for the 3.5mm & 5/16 SMA Wrench for steel connectors is 8 lb-in. SSMA
and SMC versions also available. Woo-hoo!
of NeoCube showed up on one of the engineering and science websites I visit daily.
I'm guessing the "Neo" part of the name stems not from "new" or the guy in The
Matrix, but from the niobium used in the super strong rare earth magnets. Per
their website, "The NeoCube is an entertainment device like no other in the world.
Composed of 216 individual high-energy rare-earth magnets
[larger sets available], the NeoCube allows you to create and recreate an
outrageous number of shapes and patterns. Your NeoCube will provide you with hours
and hours of unequaled entertainment! The NeoCube Alpha is perfect for gaming, expression,
stress relief, dual hemispherical brain stimulation and much more. The NeoCube Is
literally a puzzle with billions of solutions." You can place a NeoCube on you desk
where you used to keep the YBCO
superconducting block that, when cooled with liquid nitrogen,
would levitate a magnet. I'm guessing both the supply of LiN and the novelty ran
out long ago on that one.