Category Archives: Slightly Off Topic

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.

Garth Mullins: “The Coming Zombie Apocalypse”

Garth-MullinsGarth Mullins is an SWL and a radio geek–he’s also a Sociologist and radio producer.

Garth’s latest radio doc, “The Coming Zombie Apocalypse” was recently featured on the CBC program Ideas with Paul Kennedy.

While the documentary doesn’t focus on shortwave radio, Garth did give a nod to shortwave at the end (well played).

Listen to “The Coming Zombie Apocalypse” via the embedded player below, or via the CBC website:

Be sure to check out Garth’s website: http://www.garthmullins.com/ and his previous radio documentary “End of the Dial.”

goTenna: Turn your smartphone into a text transceiver

goTenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Richard Cuff who has apprised me of the goTenna: a small device that allows you to use your smartphone to send and receive messages and share your GPS location with others without the need of mobile phone service.

goTenna describes their device:

“goTenna is a small, rugged device designed to make “No Service” no problem. Just pair your smartphone with a goTenna and communicate off-grid with those near you who also have goTenna, anywhere on the planet, regardless of access to cell reception or wi-fi. goTenna allows you to send and receive texts and share GPS locations on beautiful offline maps, without ever relying on central connectivity. Depend on it in all kinds of situations: when hiking in remote areas, traveling, attending music or sporting events or during an emergency. Plus, because goTenna is end-to-end encrypted, it’s not just for when you’re off-grid, but when you want to be.”

Some sources claim the goTenna is based on “short-wave” radio frequencies;  I discovered that it operates between 150-154 MHz, so this is not the case.  Still, it would be fascinating the see the potential in a device that could use the HF spectrum to create a smart phone mesh network. Though the antenna would need to be longer, communication distances in rural areas could surpass that of VHF frequencies. In the end, text messages would be an ideal format for such a system.