Category Archives: Slightly Off Topic

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Approaches Jupiter

Juno-NASA

SWLing Post readers might recall the Juno spacecraft we featured in a post dating back to October, 2013. During an Earth flyby, NASA invited ham radio operators around the world to say “HI” to Juno in a coordinated Morse Code message.

It was a unique opportunity for sure, and I made time to participate. NASA even followed up with a paper QSL card:

JunoQSLFront-Med JunoQSLBack-Med

Juno is now reaching the insertion point of Jupiter and its true mission begins. According to NASA:

Juno’s primary goal is to improve our understanding of Jupiter’s formation and evolution. The spacecraft will investigate the planet’s origins, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno’s study of Jupiter will help us to understand the history of our own solar system and provide new insight into how planetary systems form and develop in our galaxy and beyond.

Juno will have to withstand Jupiter’s intense radiation and gravity, and–though the craft was designed with this in mind–NASA reminds us that this is very much uncharted territory in space exploration.

Check out the following 360 video from NASA:

Click here to view on YouTube.

If you’d like to follow Juno’s progress, I encourage you to bookmark the Juno news page on NASA’s website.

The Snowbirds in Québec City

DSC_4513Maybe it’s my radio-loving fascination with technology, travel, and what at times seems like sheer magic–-but for some reason I’ve long been something of an aviation enthusiast, as well. Over the years, I’ve discovered quite a lot of SWLs and ham radio operators share this interest…and if you’re one of these folks, well, have I got a post for you.

Aerien-Quebec

Wednesday in Québec City, as the sun dipped in the sky, viewers standing on the city’s walled fortifications were treated to an amazing aviation display which included a CF-18 Hornet, the CH-146 Griffon and last but definitely not least, the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron––aka, the Snowbirds.

In the first act, helicopters:  four CH-146 Griffon helicopters in neat formation, and then the Canadian Coast Guard demonstrated lowering a guy from a emergency helicopter onto a Coast Guard boat in the middle of the St. Lawrence, , then drawing him back up into the chopper a few minutes later––with, of course, maneuvers throughout.

For the second act, the CF-18 Hornet pounded the sky with an assault of black-and-yellow speed, twice turning and showing both back and belly.

And for the finale, the Snowbirds skimmed into view in exquisite formation, and with tight, astonishing precision, glided around the ramparts of the old walled city, leaving perfectly drawn contrails of colored smoke.

Here are a few photos I snagged of the demo:

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The Snowbirds

This particular public event wasn’t granted permission for a full acrobatic show, but the Snowbirds were in the air at least thirty minutes and showed off every one of their nine-plane position formations.  And were they ever precise!

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The Snowbirds gave us a flawless and graceful show, one I’ll never forget. Canadian readers, you should be mighty proud of your Snowbirds; they’re an aviation team to be reckoned with.

Will notes: first moderately priced TV manufactured in quantity

Television-TV-Nostalgia

(AP Photo/Ed Ford)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Will Jones, who writes:
This television set [above], retailing for $100, is reportedly the first moderately priced receiver manufactured in quantity. Rose Clare Leonard watches the screen, which reproduces a 5×7 image, as she tunes in at the first public post-war showing at a New York department store, on August 24, 1945.
Although television was invented prior to World War II, the war prevented mass production. Soon after the war, sales and production picked up, and by 1948, regular commercial network programming had begun.
Thank you for that bit of history, Will!

Real-time Flight Status And Radar For All US/Canada Flights

FlightAwareFor those who receive (and send) flight data from ADS-B capable devices such as the RTL-SDR dongles or have Apps for their tablets and phones, FlightAware announced on Wednesday this change to their service:

Hi from FlightAware,

After months of development, we released a large upgrade to our back-end flight tracking engine on Tuesday. Not only did the upgrade include dozens of bug fixes and flight tracking improvements, but we added a massive enhancement for US and Canadian flight tracking — the flight status and radar data is now live with no more five minute delay! Previously, the US/Canada data feed contained a five minute delay in addition to our ~30 second processing time, but now all data is less than a minute delayed from real time. In addition to the general improvement, this yields a lot of additional benefits:

  • More seamless transition between RADAR, ADS-B, and MLAT positions
  • Flights will no longer transition from “Arriving soon” to “Arrived 5 minutes ago”
  • Fewer estimated positions due to delayed RADAR data

Now that the radar data in the US and Canada is real-time, we’ll soon be enabling public MLAT data in the US, which is real-time just like our ADS-B data.

This is a major upgrade in data for folks in North America, and it will make using programs like PlanePlotter even more useful!

For those who might be interested in building their own dedicated ADS-B receiver, information may be found here. Of course FlightAware may be used as an online flight checking service just for tracking the progress of a given flight, which is in itself a lot of fun!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

While Not Directly Radio Related . . .

While not directly radio related, this was too amazing not to share (so forgive me in advance! There is an Arduino involved, if that helps?!)

The video above is of a robot which can solve Rubik’s Cube in about 1 second.

I will not embarrass myself in telling how long it takes me to solve it . . . .

It is, however, easy to see how radio hobbyists could find these Arduino boards quite intriguing!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.