Month: October 2013

UT-100 – SDR USB dongle transceiver

The RTL2832 USB dongle recievers are already common knowledge among many radio amateurs and a way to introduce the SDR technology to everyone – although i’m not fond of it, given it’s poor performance. We are basically talking about a TV-tuner using custom software that allows it to work just as a ham radio reciever, with the obvious limitations of a US$ 10 product no bigger than my thumb. Because they are cheap and they offer a wide frequency coverage though, they got really popular and manufacturers even started making them especially for amateurs. Next need though would be transmit capabilities; enter the Hides UT-100, an USB dongle with transmit and recieve, the same wideband coverage, but with a heftier price – around US$ 200-230. Based on a IT9507 ccHDtv all-in-one transmitter chip, an IT9133 RF tuner + demodulator and an AD8345 mixer, this little wonder works from 50Mhz to 950Mhz plus 1200Mhz to 1350Mhz in various configurations: the UT-100A can transmit 2Mhz to 8Mhz wide and recieve 5Mhz to 8Mhz wide, the B (the one you want) has the narrower 2Mhz to 4Mhz recieve, the C only transmits and the D only recieves. There are separate antenna ports for RX and TX, the output power is 0dBm (1mW) and there is a digital attenuator from +6dB to -25dB to deal with strong signals on recieve. The software of...

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Copy.com – 15GB of free cloud storage

UPDATE: starting May 1st 2016 Copy.com will stop offering their cloud storage services. Copy is the hottest thing right now in free cloud storage solutions. Yes, everybody loves Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive are trying the same thing with moderate success, but none are really offering enough space to sync all your docs. Enter Copy, with 15GB of free cloud storage and the possibility to get infinitely more (still free), backed up by the data storage and backup giant Barracuda Networks and with a rapid growth during the last few months. What is cloud storage ? For someone who is not familiar with cloud storage yet, this is how it basically works: you install the Copy software on each of your computers, laptops, smartphones, tables and whatever else runs a compatible operating system and you designate a folder on each device and that folder will be copied and then kept in sync across all devices and also on the Copy servers. Whenever you edit a file on one device, the new version will be copied on the other devices as well, so if you add a new set of pictures for example on your tablet it will almost instantly be available on your desktop; of course, on mobile devices by default the content in only uploaded – so it won’t clutter your smartphone with huge amounts of data...

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The Red Tent – must-see movie for radio amateurs

The Red Tent is one of those great movies that masterfully combines action and drama with historic accuracy, keeping you both strapped to the seat to watch the story unfold and giving you something to think about afterwards. Contrary to what it might seem at first, it is not a light sunday afternoon movie and the entire setup – even if it was done almost 45 years old – is a fine example of cinematography and camera work. Adding to that some great acting, the names of two Oscar award winners – Sean Connery and Peter Finch as well as the … beauty contest winner Claudia Cardinale, this is a recipe for a must-see movie. The Red Tent tells the story of General Umberto Nobile and his 1928 expedition aboard the airship Italia, looking to be the first man to reach the North Pole by air. It begins with an old, haunted and tormented Nobile, 40 years after the event, recalling the ghosts of those who participated, to a trial in wich his guilt is to be decided. Slowly, we get into the story, we travel with the expeditionary crew that reaches the North Pole, but due to the weather decide to circle around and return without touching ground. On the return path their airship crash amid the frozen ocean and the survivors establish a tent painted in red...

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Intel Galileo – Arduino with a Pentium

Intel Galileo is the latest Arduino board; yes, you read that right, Intel and Arduino spent quality time together and later the Galileo saw the light of day. Their little baby is compatible with the Arduino software and hardware (yes, development enviroment, shields, the lot), packs seriously more punch than previous Arduino boards and comes with much more connectivity options onboard. At the heart of this 100mm*70mm wonder is the Intel Quark X1000 SoC (System-on-a-Chip) built in the 32nm technology around a 400MHz Pentium 32-bit ISA-compatible processor with 16Kb L1 RAM and 512Kb on-die embedded SRAM; being single-thread and single-core it is rather easy to program, and it supports ACPI sleep states if you were wondering. There is 256MB DRAM, 512KB of memory for sketch storage, 8MB of SPI NOR flash storage for firmware, you can add up to 32GB via the SD card port or virtually unlimited storage via USB 2.0.   The more exotic fatures include a 10/100Mb RJ-45 Ethernet connector, USB 2.0 host & client ports, RS-232 UART port (3.5mm jack), mini PCI-e slot with USB 2.0 host support and a 10-pin J-TAG header for debugging purposes. While we should be aware that the Galileo is part of Intel’s strategy to keep x86 in the game on the long run (they are also donating 50 thousand of these boards to universities) and it costs significantly more...

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Ghe-O Rescue – offroad monster for emergency situations

Ghe-O Rescue is the first creation coming out of the fresh romanian car manufacturer Ghe-O Motors. It is not a car, it is not an SUV and it is not even an offroad vehicle; it is an outright offroad monster. But first, look at this video: You see what I mean, right ? Something that looks like Ronnie Coleman had intercourse with a Hummer, swims like a killer whale and can can pop Defenders out of snow like i’m popping Oreos out of the XL pack – well, you cannot call that anything less than a true monster. And the name is kind fierce but in a funny way – Gheorghe is one of the most popular names in Romania and mostly used in the countryside; generally speaking, saying about someone that he’s a “Gheorghe”, you’re actually saying he’s a redneck of the most unrefined nature, who likes to solve problems trough the most obvious way. Like for example if the door is locked, Gheoghe will tear down the wall instead of looking for the key, just like this huge red bastard would probably do if you show it a wall with a door, locked or unlocked. Freakishly monstrous nature aside, the Ghe-O Rescue is designed as a true rescue vehicle for the least accesible areas: it can efortlessly climb mountains, drive on soft snow and float on water...

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LDG RT-100 – new 100W remote tuner

RT-100 is the codename for the latest automatic antenna tuner from LDG, and this one is the sweetest thing yet: small, compact remote tuner, handles 100W and goes into tune mode automatically when it detects a mismatch, so no need to even know it’s there. Just install it at the base of the antenna and feed it with 12V via the coaxial cable that also brings RF and you’re set. Why do I think the LDG RT-100 is so great, you might ask ? Because all tuners should be remote. The transmitter is 50 ohm, the feedline (coax cable) is also 50 ohm, the only thing that is not matched is the antenna, so normally the matching must be done where the 50 ohm feedline meets the not-so-50ohm load. Sure, you can use a tuner between the transmitter and the feedline – like most people do, because it’s much more convenient to have the tuner inside the shack, but this means you will have reflected power going back and forth trough the feedline since it’s not matched with the load. Reflected power on the feedline creates standing waves, wich means 1. the feedline is now a part of the antenna (antenna radiation pattern deteriorates, noise pickup and interference increases) and 2. more transmit power is wasted on the feedline (6:1 mismatch doubles the feedline losses for example). Anyway, back...

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