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Project Needles: not a hipster knitting collective

It's 1963. You're in a cold war with Russia. You want to keep up communication capabilities globally. Communication satellites haven't come into their own. The ionosphere is fickle and jammable. What do you do? You fire 480 million tiny copper wires into space to create an artificial dipole antenna belt around the earth. You call it Project West Ford. It works. [more inside]
posted by cortex on Aug 27, 2013 - 26 comments

CQ DE H2O

Liquid antenna turns sea water into signal. "The US Navy has created a device which turns a jet of sea water into an impromptu liquid antenna, creating a powerful, high frequency broadcast tower for ships, emergency situations and easy transportation." [more inside]
posted by mykescipark on Nov 9, 2010 - 42 comments

That'd make one hell of a trapeze

Technicians free climb 1768 ft to the top of a transmission tower to fix it. (SLYT)
posted by beepbeepboopboop on Sep 14, 2010 - 294 comments

Chuck Schumer, raising the bar. Nevermind that $42,000,000,000 trade deficit thing.

iPhone 4's reception woes, wherein bridging the area where the metal bands meet (affectionately dubbed "the spot") results in a dramatic loss in signal strength, have been widely covered in the media over the past few weeks. Apple acknowledged the concerns publicly with a letter to customers where they concluded that the issue was not with the phone, but rather that they were being too generous in the way the software communicated signal quality as bars. After an update to iOS, the bars are in fact different but the problems persist. Most recently, Consumer Reports stated it was unable to recommend iPhone 4 because of the significant design flaw, despite listing it as the highest rated overall smartphone they've tested to date. The latest wrinkle in the story has been an open letter to Steve Jobs from Chuck Schumer, yes -- United States Senator from New York Chuck Schumer, in which he questions the adequacy and transparency of Apple's response to customer concerns. Apple will be holding a press conference at 10AM tomorrow in San Francisco to address the matter. [more inside]
posted by cgomez on Jul 15, 2010 - 465 comments

Through an RDF, darkly

"That stainless steel band that runs around is the primary structural element of the phone. And there are these three slits in it. It turns out, this is part of some brilliant engineering which actually uses the stainless steel band as part of the antenna system... it's never been done before. And it's really cool engineering!"
Less than three weeks after Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 4's (previously) revolutionary signal-boosting design, the internet discovers a fatal flaw that causes calls to drop when the bottom-left corner is touched. Jobs personally offered one customer a solution via email: "Just avoid holding it in that way." Apple's marketing department apparently didn't get the memo. [more inside]
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis on Jun 25, 2010 - 230 comments

Ham Radio and Antennas

It's no secret that amateur radio operators, or hams, often build their own equipment. Especially with the aid of antenna tuners, most anything can be used as an antenna. One group of hams took this to the extreme, using ladders and shopping carts as antennas as they started an annual competition that would eventually see trucks, train tracks, a tree, and even a pair of exercise machines and a football stadium used. I stumbled across the site last night, and it turns out that this year's competition is this weekend! Ham radio, by the way, no longer requires a Morse code exam, just a set of questions on electrical and operations theory. Those curious can take practice tests online, since the FCC releases the question pools.
posted by fogster on May 22, 2008 - 23 comments

And You Thought HAARP Was Just Tinfoil?

The HF Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) (a Google Video) radio signals are clearly heard in the 40 meter band, echoing off the Moon. This video shows S-meter readings as seen on a Yaesu FT-1000MP amateur radio (ham radio) transceiver located in San Jose, California. And of course a thorough explanation of what you are watching/hearing can be found on About the HAARP - LWA Moon Bounce Experiment.
posted by jackspace on Jan 23, 2008 - 7 comments

Build your own wokfi system!

USB adaptors & a Spider Skimmer = Poor Man's Wifi!
posted by X-00 on May 16, 2004 - 7 comments

Swan song for a great explorer.

Swan song for a great explorer. Tomorow, the Galileo explorer will make a flyby of Jovian moon Amalthea ending pehaps the geatest unmanned mission in NASA history. Galileo telemetry may not survive the flyby having already receieved much more radiation than it was designed for. Even if it does survive, this will be its final orbit scheduled to crash into Jupiter in September of next year. In spite of antenna difficulties, the spacecraft returned many beautiful images of Jupiter's moons, along with coverage of the Shoemaker-Levy collision and the first atmospheric probe to decend into Jupiter's weather.
posted by KirkJobSluder on Nov 3, 2002 - 9 comments

How to build a bomb

How to build a bomb isn't all there is to the Internet as press would have you think. Anyway it's harder than just getting some plans, as this guy found out. So why not build a bomb shelter instead? Or build your own train, hovercraft, speedboat, car or plane - can't fly - don't worry build a flight simulator! Toast your success with DIY firewater cooked with your solar furnace. Enjoy your CB radio, listen to MP3s or toy with your sextant. And with all the kinky clothes and loads of pervy toys to make who has time to build bombs? I can see the bumper stickers now "Make leg spreaders, not war!"
posted by DrDoberman on Oct 14, 2002 - 13 comments

acoustic.space.lab

acoustic.space.lab a project 25 media artists and activists, who converted a Soviet-era 32meter dish antenna in Irbene, in the forests of western Latvia, which also happens to be a top 5 most precise radiotelescopes in the world, into one of the coolest art projects ever. [via milov]
posted by riffola on Jan 11, 2002 - 3 comments

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