Now this really puts the "cool" in Cool Product.
Marshall Radio Telemetry is a company that makes tracking devices for falconry and
hunting dogs. Transmitters operate on 216.005-219.995 and 433/434 MHz bands, with
line-of-site range of about 60 miles and run times of up to 40 days on some models.
433 MHz models require a Ham license to use legally.
Power is supplied by a 3 V lithium cell. Hand-held
receivers incorporate a Yagi antenna for direction finding and "a new polyphase
noise floor reduction feature." The entire unit folds into a compact format. Digital
processing has replaced traditional analog methods. These are very impressive products
that have been refined to a high degree. Marshall Radio Telemetry currently has
a job opening for a you love the outdoors and have been dreaming of a chance to
combine work and pleasure, this just might be your opportunity! View the
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.
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you are a Star Wars fan and always wanted one of those hovering
that Luke and Leia rode during the Jedi woodlands chase, then your wait may soon
be over. Aussie inventor Chris Malloy has a prototype model built and is now testing
his Hoverbike. The production
model will be gyro stabilized and will have safety features incorporated like fully
protecting the rider against contact with the propellers. Unlike a helicopter, the
Hoverbike will not be able to autorotate in the event of a failure, so a parachute
will be necessary. Here are the design specifications: Airspeed Vne - 150 KIAS (untested),
Hover (out of ground effect) - >10,000 ft (estimated), Dry weight - 110kg, Max
gross weight - 270kg, Total thrust - 295kg, Engine - 80kw @ 7500rpm. If you would
like to help finance the Hoverbike, you can
donate and have
a chance to win a prototype.
I normally reserve this space
for products directly related to engineering, but this
Livescribe pen idea seemed
like a worthy subject for engineers, managers, sales people, and students. Using
an IR detector with specially printed paper, Livescribe records not just everything
your write, but also an audio recording that is time-stamped to synchronize with
what you write. That way, if you are taking notes based on a discussion or presentation,
you can tap the pen on the word or drawing you made at the time, and hear what was
being said that made you write it down. The pen stores everything in onboard 4 GB
or 8 GB RAM than is transferred via miniUSB. Surely a wireless version is in the
works. To save money, you can make the special dot-coded paper on your printer,
or, you can buy pre-printed paper and notebooks. There are even cool
5-6-2011It seems these days there is almost nothing
that isn't made if you look hard enough to find it. I was reading about early telegraph
(wired and wireless) systems where a coherer was used as the signal detection element.
In fact the coherer, developed by Mr. Marconi, was the first type of detector. As
with most contraptions of the era, it was of simple construction with all macro-scale
components. Fundamentally, it consists of metal filings between two electrodes.
A vacuum is needed for longevity of operation, but as the
website demonstrates, a vacuum is not necessary. In its untriggered state, the metal
filings do not complete a conduction path betwixt electrodes. When a high voltage
from a spark (wireless) or pulse generator exists momentarily between the electrodes,
the metal filings rearrange to form a short circuit. Resistance between electrodes
goes from infinity to near zero. The problem is that the short persists until the
tube is given a tap. Receiver designers solved the problem by arranging for a little
hammer to whack the tube immediately after a pulse is received and recorded. Ingenious.
You can buy a new
coherer on eBay for a mere $45. See one in action on
Nathan Bergey, an Appalachian State University
alum who studied physics and astronomy, has come up with a light display that illuminates
whenever the International Space Station (ISS) is overhead in your location. Says,
Mr. Bergey, "Human space flight is an awesome part of living in the future. But
why does it still seem so abstract? There are people in space right now! Did you
know that? ISS-Notify is a simple attempt at making our space program more
real. Many times a day the ISS passes overhead unnoticed. Often it happens during
the day when it's too bright to see the tiny dot in the sky. So this light will
pulse and shine whenever the station is overhead -- making the invisible visible."
The light interfaces with your computer. Kits and fully functional units are available.
p.s. I have seen it with binoculars. My soon-to-arrive Celestron 8" catadioptric
telescope should provide an even better view.
A huge amount of free software is available on
the Internet. It is not hard to find with a good search engine. Most of it comes
with a disclaimer warning the user that calculations might be incorrect, and that
a user's misunderstanding of the input requirements could produce errant results.
Don't let that stop you, though, because if you read the fine print of the kilobuck
software, you get the same admonishment. The first place I look is on some of the
highly trafficked amateur radio websites like
The DX Zone.
Here is a page-o-links for
antenna simulation software and online applets. The
ARRL website has
similar products. Likewise for
propagation calculations. Keep in mind that many - if not most - of the programs
are written by engineers and technicians who use the results in their own endeavors.
Many of the aforementioned kilobuck software vendors offer free evaluation versions
that are perfectly adequate for small projects. Some also have academic discounts
for students, so check them out, too.
5-20-2011Judging by what people are paying for collectibles
on eBay these days, you wouldn't know the world is in a severe recession. I have
seen vintage airplane and rocket model kits and "firsts" of electronics gadgets
that originally sold for under $25 sell for many hundreds of dollars. This letter
dated 1946, from J.B. Dow of the Navy Department to E.F. McDonald Jr. of Zenith
Radio Corporation in appreciation for their contributions to early developments
in shortwave radio, is a little different than the aforementioned cases, but I have
seen these types of documents sell for surprising amounts as well. I have no idea
what the intrinsic value of a document like this is, but an eBay auction might be
just the venue to decide. RF Cafe visitor Sam Y., the proprietor of the letter,
wrote asking me to help make its availability known, so here you are.
Disclaimer: I neither endorse nor receive compensation for
the article; I'm just here to help.
You might think I am getting desperate for
a Cool Product topic when a cooking pot that has a built-in USB port for charging
portable devices is featured, but this is more than just a gimmic.
is a Japanese company that designs and manufactures energy harvesting products that
exploit a breakthrough oxide compound material capable of converting heat-waste
into electrical energy (Seebeck
effect) at temperatures much higher than possible previously. An interesting
chart showing the performance of various types of
materials as a function of temperature is shown. The pot can recharge a typical
mobile phone in 3-5 hours. That's a lot of heat used to provide maybe 1200 mAh of
energy, but if you are boiling down tomatoes for canning or grapes for jam, you
might as well disconnect from the grid to charge your iPhone. No price is given.
An idea whose time has come? The last year
has brought many news stories about how the cell phone service providers are desperately
seeking ways to offload some of the data congestion from cell towers to local networks.
Data downloads from smartphones now dominates traffic, and has created a near crisis
for cellular companies. All current wireless technology is on the table in exploring
means to relieve the bottleneck created by relatively sparse cell tower availability.
Since operations like texting are often within a small local area, accomplishing
the transfer via Bluetooth or ZigBee in offices or school rooms is viable, and for
larger venues the use of WiFi networks could be the best answer. In cities around
the world where nearly contiguous WiFi coverage is available, such a scheme is very
practical. A couple years ago, inventor/consultant Gunther Knapp devised a high
efficiency, non-invasive Wall Coupler
for WiFi frequencies. He published an article in the
May 2006 HFE detailing the design and operation. Maybe it is time
for an investment group to consider exploiting this idea!
5-27-2011Apps for smartphones are all the rage. Many
product manufacturers are providing apps as part of the package. What makes this
particular app cool is that it is part of a wireless telemetry system offered for
remote controlled models. It used to be that a modeler was satisfied just to have
reliable communications from his transmitter to his airborne receiver. That is especially
true these days when the total value of an airplane, engine, and associated hardware
can easily exceed $2,000. The guys who build incredibly detailed scale aircraft
that reflect many hundreds of hours of building, painting, and detailing a WWII
era B-17 bomber or a twin-turbine F-15 model put it all on the line the moment the
plane is put in motion. Any failure of the receiver to properly decode the transmitter's
signal can - and often does - result in total loss of all their effort. RF interference
has in the past been the most prominent cause, either from nearby unintentional
radiators or from dopes who switch on their transmitter operating on the same channel
(the FCC reserves 50 frequencies exclusively for airborne R/C). Fortunately for
the modeling <more>
Apps for mobile devices cover a lot of ground,
but the standard user interfaces can limit the effectiveness of some tasks. Arcade
style games is an example. Sure, 4-year-olds who were handed iPads with an image
of their portion of the national debt to get them crying
(and therefore breathing) upon exiting the womb rather than getting whacked
on the posterior, are fully adept at performing any hand-eye coordination exercise
with precision, and have no need for seemingly superfluous ancillary devices to
extract maximum satisfaction from any software. The rest of us, particularly those
of us who grew up with arcade boxes, can appreciate the nostalgic - and maybe even
necessary for the dexterity-challenged generation - appeal of this iCade physical
interface for the iPad. For me, it brings back memories of Asteroids and Donkey
Kong with Don Hicks and
Allen Coker at the base bowling alley.
Cool indeed, maybe even rad.
Are you in the market for an additional 4
kB of RAM? Are you worried about your computer not working properly if the dreaded
EMP event ever occurs? If so, you might be interested in one of these circa 1945
RCA Selectron 4096H memory tubes - aka "memory organs" in the era. This 4x1024 memory
is comprised of stacks of plates with eyelets mounted on a mica insulator layer
that store charge as electrons are streamed from the cathode. Depending on the potential
of the eyelets, they would either attract or repel the electrons, thereby determining
whether a "0" or a "1" is being represented. Read, Write, and Signal Out lines are
used to determine the bit sense. That means two driver circuits and one sense circuit
is required for each bit. See the
Theory page for a full description of operation secondary emission bistability
(sounds like a psychology term). Next in the line
of memory evolution was the magnetic core memory.