These images have been chosen for their uniqueness. Subject matter ranges from
historic events, to really cool phenomena in science and engineering, to relevant
place, to ingenious contraptions, to interesting products (which now has its own
dedicated Featured Product
Cool Pic Archive Pages
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looks like something from a video game, and in fact, I thought the story was a hoax
at first; Photoshopped images are rampant on the Internet. I even verified its existence
by doing a
Google satellite map on the area just to make sure. Yep, it's
real. Here is a massive structure that is reportedly a Tesla generator of some sort.
One of the pictures on the AboveTopSecret.com website shows a sign on the gate of
the apparently abandoned site that, translated, reads, "Isled. the center of the
high energies." There is no information about what the structure was used for, but
if you zoom out on the satellite image, you will see to the southeast a round area
defined that is about 250 meters in diameter - possibly an underground synchrotron
laboratory? Ah, I just found some
additional info on it - the footprint of a former giant dome (cupola)
that covered an unknown structure. It could have been my guess of a synchrotron,
and/or, looking again at the satellite photo, there appears to be some sort or antenna
This gives a whole new meaning to "e-book."
Computer geek cum sculptor Steven Rodrig created these books out of electronics
waste that includes printed circuit boards and components. Per his
page, "Steven's innovative sculpture, which he refers to as 'PCB Mixed Media, is
created from recycling and restructuring circuit boards and electronics parts."
"Part of my discovery has been to develop special tools and use other tools in an
unconventional way in order to manipulate each circuit board to form something other
than what was originally intended." A sea turtle, shoes, an arachnid with orange
and black tantalum capacitors for legs, multiple books, a dragonfly and other insects,
and a faux city model that included vacuum tubes atop buildings are among his creations.
There's even a binary bra. I wonder if Steven uses only Pb-free solder in his works?
The RFID Journal website has a new
interactive world map that displays RFID deployments. "The goal is to show how widespread
RFID adoption has become, and to help you find information regarding deployments
relevant to your own RFID applications." Just like with Google Maps, there is a
form you can fill out to put your own company and/or deployment on the map. You
can even have it link to a press release that your company has issued. Information
about the specific location pops up when you hover your mouse over a spot. You can
zoom in on a area by drawing a rectangle with the left mouse button. Conspicuously
non-densely populated are Japan and the eastern/southeastern regions of China. It
is hard to believe that RFID is not very widespread there. Maybe their RFID people
don't visit the RFID Journal website as often as Americans, Europeans, and Indians.
Transistor.org has a huge collection of radios, including this
one of the world's first consumer transistorized radio, the Regency TR-1. Nearly
100,000 were sold in the first year at a price of $49.95
2011 dollars). Available in five designer colors, it was
introduced in 1954 in time for the Christmas season. The TR-1 used four germanium
transistors and a 22.5 volt battery. Texas Instruments and Industrial Development
Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.) consorted to produce the radio. An earplug accessory
was available for $7.50 ($462.70 in 2011 dollars).
Transistor.org also has a nice
resource for beginners in radio restoration and a few articles detailing the innards
of restoration projects. It's worth a couple minutes of your time.
Risinger decided it was about time that somebody created a single image of the entire
night sky. So, with the assistance of his retired father, he dedicated a full year
to photographing and then stitching together data from 37,440 separate exposures.
The pair covered 45,000 miles by air and 15,000 miles by land. Braving thin, bone-chilling
mountain air and wild animals in the U.S. western states and the Northern Cape in
South Africa proved in some ways to be the easy part. The overwhelming task of sorting
and processing the images required the application of some pretty sophisticated
software, and a huge learning curve. Says Nick, "I divided the sky into 624 uniformly
spaced areas and entered their coordinates into the computer which gave me assurance
that I was on target and would finish without any gaps. Each frame received a total
of 60 exposures: 4 short, 4 medium, and 4 long shots for each camera which would
help to reduce the amount of noise, overhead satellite trails and other unwanted
artifacts." An array of six cameras, each with a unique filter, was mounted on an
Maybe you have seen the
Flow Chart that has been posted here on RF Cafe for many years. It is a satirical
take on how to deal with problems in a project, but also pokes fun at the overused
flow chart format itself. If you didn't know better, you might think this featured
flow chart was a spoof as well. All the trademarks of a ruse are present, including
seemingly unnecessary complexity and keywords like "misguided," "ragers," and "trolls."
The surest sign that something might be amiss is the name of a government agency
at the top. However, this flow chart is actually real and, according to a number
of website authors who have adopted the process for their own blogs, forums, et
al, useful. USAF officials decided a couple years ago to finally embrace the Web
rather than eschew it as nothing but a security risk, so they had this guideline
created and implemented. I have to say that if there was one branch of the government
likely get something right, it would be the USAF.
Can you imagine what it cost to manufacture
this PCA? Based on the number of jumper wires and add-on circuit boards, there is
a good chance it is actually a prototype, but sometimes low-volume assemblies live
out their life cycles in this state. I remember back in the 1980s when I built PCAs
for Mil-Spec equipment, we often spent more time doing the patchwork mods than assembling
the original circuits. The maze of wires, components, and auxiliary boards was considered
more efficient than designing a whole new board, particularly if it was a retrofit
for an upgrade or if it was a new design, space and time did not allow for a new
layout. Paperwork for the modifications was highly detailed. It must have cost a
fortune to implement. Look closely at this particular PCA and you will see a vacuum
tube on a vertically oriented add-on board (just below center-right). If you magnify
the area, it looks like a bug because of the sharply bent black wires supporting
it. The motherboard looks like it uses surface mount components, so it cannot be
more than about 30 years old, making the inclusion of a tube suspicious - likely
a prop for the benefit of the picture, but maybe even a nixie. Everything else looks
legit. Mr. Jurvetson
has a huge collection of cool electronics photos.
Veasey is an x-ray artist. Owner and qualified operator of a shielded bunker full
of x-ray equipment, Nick's mission is to, "challenge [the] automatic way that we
react to just physical appearance by highlighting the, often surprising, inner beauty."
He means it quite literally, the inner beauty part. Using lead-lined floors and
walls as backdrops, a huge variety of subjects have been selected for imaging, including
television sets and cameras, a rose and an orchid, children's toys, farm animals
(none harmed in the process, I assume), a host of nasty insects (all harmed, hopefully),
cockles and mussels, boxer shorts (sans human) and a folded shirt, binoculars and
vacuum tubes, a French horn, and a Slinky. Subjects have not been limited to those
which could fit inside the studio, however. Macro images have been assembled from
a collage of many separate images. Vick exposed a bus full of people, a small office
building (including elevator), and the pièce de résistance, a jet airliner being
serviced inside a hangar. The airplane took more than 500 images. I'm guessing the
outdoor images required cooperation with the subjects, especially considering the
x-ray exposures involved. Cobalt, iridium, and ionizing radiation can be scary stuff.
You might want to check out his book,
X-Rays: See Through the World Around You.
If you have ever seen a mapping of neural
connections in the brain, then you will probably think that this mapping of worldwide
Internet connections looks familiar. It should come as no surprise given how patterns
in nature tend to repeat across a very wide range of subjects. According to the
GENI project folks, "It may look like a galaxy, but is actually a map of the Internet,
showing the hardware that serves as its 'skeleton' or infrastructure of the Internet.
Colors indicate geographic location. Despite its obvious complexity, this map represents
just a fraction of the whole network - the rest is simply impossible to accurately
represent." Of course this and other visualizations of complex networks are products
of how humans choose to present them. There might be an added dimension that totally
changes the interpretation. Recall in
Contact (yes, I know it's sci-fi)
how the eccentric rich engineer dude assembled the "alien" message in 3-D and revealed
plans to a worm hole machine.
This week's Cool Pic is more accurately a
Cool Screen Capture. RF Cafe website visitor Ray Gutierrez generously provided a
paper for publication a few years ago, and now has provided a follow-on article
on the subject of intermod cancellation in RF amplifiers. Says Ray, "This paper
is a continuation work for the 'New High Efficiency Intermodulation Cancellation
Technique for Single Stage Amplifiers.' Published in January 2008 on RF Café’s Paper
section. The paper describes configurations for dual and multiple parallel amplifiers
and uses the basic Reflect Forward technique for intermodulation cancellation. Some
new improvements were made to the RFAL technique to improve the efficiency and operation."
Further, "I had done much of the work for this new paper back then but got busy
doing other things in my retirement time. The other day I got back to it and figured
it was a shame to throw it all out without publishing it so that others may benefit.
I do not know if anyone has used this technique in a real product. I did not renew
the USA patent so anyone is now free to use it." Ray's paper is presented here in
HTML format, but at the bottom of the page is a link to the PDF file is you need
As recently as 1960, computers like this UNIVAC
were still the only option for high speed data processing. These compact models
required a mere 25x50-foot, air conditioned room to cool their 5,600 vacuum tubes (your computer has about 107 transistors). NPR
mentions in its story a 1955 Broadway play called
The Desk Set, pitting a fictional computer very much like
UNIVAC against the reference library staff of a major radio-television network,
otherwise known as "the desk set." In the end, the giant computer crashes and a
librarian saves the day – with a hairpin. Katharine Hepburn (the librarian) and
Spencer Tracy starred. A short video shows Walter Cronkite talking about the UNIVAC
going against pundit knowledge and correctly predicted the outcome of the 1952 and
1956 presidential elections. The result? UNIVAC declared, "I like Ike."
Niels Bohr Institute physicist Sasha Mehlhase
designed and built this scale model of the Large Hadron Collider over a span of
almost 35 hours, at a cost of 2000€ ($2589US). Money was provided by the
high energy physics group at the university. His 1:50 scale model uses approximately
9,500 LEGO blocks and is about a meter long by a half meter wide. Mehlase has contacted
the LEGO company about kitting the model, but it is doubtful that there would be
enough interest, especially at the price required, to make the effort worth while.
However, I am offering a full-scale model of the elusive Higgs Boson (aka the "god"
particle), which may or may not actually exist, for a mere $100US. It comes in a
special display case, but don't expect to actually see the theorized particle because
of its diminutively small size and mass. Oh, and it might have decayed back into
pure energy by the time you receive the model, but trust me, it was once there,
so help me god.