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Your RF Cafe
Airplanes and Rockets:
International Space Station (ISS)
is a prime example of what nations working together (primarily the U.S., Russia, the EU, and Japan) can
achieve. Beginning in 1998 with a single Russian-built Zaryna module, the scifi-like structure has grown to
around 25 components. The above video shows that evolution. Orbiting at 355 km altitude, it takes the ISS 91
minutes to round the Earth while traveling 27,744 km/h.
IEEE-USA held it first Online Student Video Scholarship Competition in 2008 called, "How Engineers Make a World of Difference." The goal is for undergraduate engineering students to produce videos targeting a 11-to-13-year-old audience to pitch how engineers improve quality of life. Click the icon to see the top 3 winners for 2009.
Nano is going 3-D with this newly developed method of "nano origami." Researchers at MIT are folding 2-D nano objects into shapes using electrical currents. A 3-D nanoscale capacitor has been developed, which allows it to store more energy. Extra layers also promote faster information flow, just as the human brain's many folds allow for quicker communication between brain regions. This looks like shape-shifting to me. Today a capacitor, tomorrow the world.
In the world of IFR piloting, an adage is, "Die by your instruments." What that means is your artificial horizon, turn & bank indicator, altimeter, airspeed indicator, etc., are far more reliable than physical perception when flying blind, so ignore physical instincts and trust the instruments. Imagine doing that down to 250 feet MDA. Having a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radar) system at your disposal can make the process a lot more natural. Unlike a GPS-based system that combines stored mapping data with fixes to generate an artificial "view," FLIR is a real-time image (albeit not in the visible spectrum). This video effectively demonstrates the incredible capability of FLIR.
coil meets Monte Python's
Knights Who Say "Ni"
meets Faraday's shield... all to the 'electrifying' tune of Lucas' Stormtroopers' "The Imperial March." There
sure seems to be a lot of amateur high voltage generators out there worldwide judging by the number of videos
on YouTube. Maybe there is a world domination conspiracy going on that should be looked into.☺
This report from Forbes highlights a recent trend in H1B recruitment - countries are attempting to lure their nationals back to the homeland. Billboards in Silicon Valley are being used to convince hardware & software engineers, scientists, and managers with advanced degrees and experience to return to China. It's a sweet deal for those countries. First they got the technology transfers while we exported manufacturing; now they get the warm bodies (and brains).
The "How Stuff Works" guy explores the construction of a cathode ray tube (CRT) using a highly unusual method of gaining access to the guts of it. Let's just say you should not try this at home (unless you live in the country, anyway). Warning: Do not view if the exercising of 2nd Amendment rights bothers you.
world is an increasingly dangerous place. Just as we run antivirus and firewall software on our computers to
protect against cyber terrorists, prudence dictates protecting physical assets as well. Accordingly, the RF
Cafe board of directors decided at the last meeting that enlisting the services of a security force is in
order. Here is a short video of the intensive training undergone by members of the staff. Consider your own
The brave new world of nanotechnology has produced another nanowonder. Berkeley scientists have created an AM radio that combines the tunable RF front-end, envelope detector, and amplifier all in a single nanotube. The only other components are a battery and a speaker. I always wonder how anyone even thought to try something like this, since it was not one of those serendipitous discoveries like Percy Spencer's microwave oven. I found the story in SciAm.
A year or so ago there were news reports of pieces of a complex, 2,0000 year old mechanism found in a shipwreck near Antikythera, Greece that had been subject to new imaging techniques to help reveal details buried in fragile, barnacle encrusted clumps. The find occurred a century ago, but just recently the former curator of the Science Museum in London, Michael Wright, completed a fully functional replica. It accurately reproduces planetary motion, including retrogrades, and predicts eclipses. Mr. Wright's ability to decode and reconstruct the mechanism is nearly as amazing as the ability of the Greeks' to design and build it in the first place.
Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany, is the world's largest model train layout. As with most hobbies these days,
electronics technologies are a big part of the system. 500k working hours and €8.7M have created 9 km of track
with 700 locomotives & 10k cars, 2.8k buildings & bridges, 250k lights, on 900 m^2 of landscape. Control of it
all requires 33 computers. It will double in size. The operations center looks like it could be a nuclear
It is easy while dwelling in the realm of 0201 resistors and isolators in 1 sq. cm packages to forget about the world of macro electronics. Believe it or not, DIP packages and leaded resistors are still the norm in many industries where d'Arsonval movement analog meters can still be found on lab benches used. This video of the Chevrolet Volt's 16 kWh, T-shaped lithium-ion battery provides a glimpse. The battery pack is 6 feet long (1.8 meters) and weighs nearly 400 pounds (181 kg).