Archive for January, 2010

British police want UAVs to watch civilians during the 2012 Olympics

Friday, January 29th, 2010

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In what’s sure to be a popular idea, Britain’s Kent Police Department wants to use unmanned aerial vehicles to keep tabs on the massive crowds during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Now, before you start thinking that Ministries and doublethink are soon to follow, Olympic games mean a large influx of people to keep track of, and that means spreading security pretty thin.

Evidently UAV monitoring already has a precedent in Britain through the South Coast Partnership, which uses UAVs to patrol the country’s southern coast. UAVs aren’t yet cleared to fly the skies over London with other manned aircraft, however.

From Pop Sci:

So far, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Britain’s equivalent of the FAA, has not cleared UAVs to fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft. However, the Kent police department has petitioned the CAA to expedite the licensing processes so the police operated UAVs can take to the sky by the time the Olympics starts.

If it goes through, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s only a temporary measure for the Olympics, or if that level of surveillance remains in place in a city already dominated by CCTV security cameras.

The Guardian, via Futurismic, via Popular Science

Honda unveils a home solar hydrogen-producing station

Friday, January 29th, 2010

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Despite its current impracticality, Honda keeps plugging away at its hydrogen vehicle prototype. The company just revealed a component that brings its hydrogen vehicle closer to reality — a more compact solar hydrogen-making machine that you install in your personal garage, turning water into hydrogen fuel .

The Honda Solar Hydrogen Station uses solar power to perform this alchemy, able to produce a half a kilogram of hydrogen during the day (or using cheaper electricity at night), and refueling that car when you park it in the garage that night.

The idea is to create enough hydrogen for a car to make its round-trip daily commute without using any fossil fuels. We can only hope mass production will someday bring the price of each vehicle below the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs now.

Via Ubergizmo

NASA Uses UAVs to Spy on Climate Patterns

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

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Cloud Physics Lidar: A laser-based system that creates detailed images of clouds and mist.

Laser Hygrometer: Bounces a 1.3- micron infrared beam between two mirrors to measure water vapor in the atmosphere.

Chromatograph for Atmospheric Trace Species: Uses an electron-capture detector to analyze air samples for harmful gases.

Micrometeorological Measurement System: A battery of sensors that record temperature, wind speed, and pressure.

Airborne Compact Atmospheric Mapper: A Nikon 8800 digicam that tracks cloud patterns by snapping images every 20 seconds, and two spectrographs that measure gases like the pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

image: nasa source: wired.com

Powering a switch via PoE

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

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So the story goes like this, my roommate needed to tap some IP phones for diagnostic purposes. I found a netgear HUB that would serve that purpose. This was not ideal as the IP phone needed power from the network, or a 48V wall-wart. He asked if I could get PoE to pass through the hub. Easy, I’ll just loop the unused pair and viola! Wrong.

What really happened is I had to do a lot of reading, and found a few key things. According to 802.3 af standards, the PSE or Power Supply Equipment, decides how power is going to be sent, while the PD or Powered Device has to accept BOTH modes.

This might be a good time to explain that 802.3af can send power one of two ways. Using phantom power through pins 1,2,3 and 6 (mode A) or through the unused pairs, pins 4,5,7 and 8 (mode B). In all my testing, Cisco favors mode A power. Probably something about gigglebit standards?

[Kajer] was doing some work with IP phones that use Power over Ethernet. While trying to get this to work with a network switch he decided to use PoE to power the switch itself. The best thing about this is he managed to shoehorn all of the necessary bits into the stock case. Those bits include a bridge rectifier, transistor, resistor, and a 5v power supply. Along the way he discovered he can now power the switch off of USB if he wishes.

source: hackaday

Build your own electric car with the Trexa platform

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

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How about a DIY electric car, with one of these Trexa EV platforms and start build your own electric car! Trexa is gunning to be the first electric vehicle devlopment platform, with a battery, driveline and power electronics built-in.

The Trexa platform offers an unprecedented level of versatility because it contains an entire vehicle’s drivetrain within one low-profile enclosed structure. The platform is highly scalable, so features such as range, suspension, torque, acceleration, and top speed can all be tailored to suit the vehicle’s intended purpose. For starters, the standard platform has an acceleration of 0-60mph in 8 sec, a top speed of 100mph, a 105 mile range, and a charge time of 4 hours (based upon an efficiency of 200Wh per mile — comparable to a Prius in electric mode).

You just add the passenger compartment on top. Want a pickup truck or a hot rod? The choice is yours, provided you’ve got the chops to put it together.

Source: Trexa via Inhabitat

Cell phone based car starter, another take

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

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Dave Had been working on a cell phone activated remote start for his car for a while when we posted the GSM car starter. While both do carry out the same job, we feel that there is enough good information here to share. He’s gone a pretty simple way, by connecting the vibrator motor leads to a headphone jack. He’s using that signal to then activate the remote start by setting off an extra fob. Though it is amazingly simple, this version does have an advantage. As he points out, his cell phone has several features which could be utilized to automate some of his car starts. He can set alarms as well as recurring calendar events to get his car started without his interaction. Lets just hope he doesn’t forget and let his car run too long unattended, especially if it is in a garage attached to his house.

Source: Dave Hacks

Wireless and real-time health tracker

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

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A company calling its collective group of body monitoring products the WIN Human Recorder system has released a new device called the HRS-I. Designed to measure and record a person’s electrocardiographic signals, body surface temperature and overall body movements, the tiny unit can easily be worn under your shirt as you attend to your daily business.

The device communicates wirelessly with a remote base and can last on a single charge for up to three days. Targeted toward companies working to monitor employee health, the HRS-I can be purchased for just 30,000 yen ($331) and the monitoring service costs just 10,000 yen ($110) per month.

Via Nikkei

GSM Car Starter

Saturday, January 16th, 2010




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It’s just starting to warm up around here but it was very cold for a long time. We’re not fond of going anywhere when it’s way below freezing but those professional hermit opportunities never panned out so we’re stuck freezing our butts off. Fed up with his frigid auto, [Aaron] installed a remote starter to warm the car up before he got to it. This didn’t help at work because of the distance from his office to the sizable parking lot is too far for the key fob’s signal to carry. He decided to make his starter work with GSM so he could start the car with a phone call.

The first attempt involved a pre-paid cell phone for $30. The problem is that anyone who called the phone would end up starting the car. After a bit of looking he found a GSM switch that just needs an activated SIM to work. When called, it reads the incoming phone number for authentication but never picks up the phone so there’s no minutes used. He cracked open an extra key-fob and wired up the lock and start buttons to the relays in the GSM switch. Bam! A phone call starts (and locks) his car.

Maybe this isn’t as hardcore as body implants but it’s a fairly clean solution. He uses the car’s 12v system to power the switch and pays $10 every three months to keep the SIM card active. There’s an underwhelming demonstration video after the break showing a cellphone call and a car starting.

Courtesy of Hack A Day

Hydrogen-Powered Yacht for 21st Century Pharaohs

Friday, January 15th, 2010

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Egyptian naval architecture and design studio Pharos Marine has unveiled plans for a sleek new 60 metre eco-friendly superyacht dubbed the Orcageno, driven by an innovative hydrogen diesel-electric system that could theoretically deliver an incredible-sounding range of up to 13,000 nautical miles. Hydrogen fuel contains three times the energy of diesel fuel and produces no carbon monoxide or dioxide in the exhaust. The yacht is based around an advanced slender hull form with an axe bow, offering lower resistance due to low angle of entrance, inspired by Orca the killer whale and the gentler sperm whale (don’t ask us).

The interior features are just as stunning, with a spa and health centre positioned within the curved glass superstructure. A sun deck with Jacuzzi is surrounded by a leather-covered lounging area. The dining room is positioned forward with a fabulous view of the dual-level swimming pool and its hydraulically-operated glass sunroof. There are accommodations for 12 guests and 14 crew in total with the owner’s quarters being of course the most luxurious. The 13,000 nautical mile range is based on a cruising speed of 10 knots, while at the maximum speed of 18 knots the figure drops to a still impressive 7,100 NM.

Courtesy: James Spotting

SilverStat 7 thermostat does everything but cook your breakfast

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

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Well isn’t this the prettiest thermostat you’ve ever seen? It’s the SilverStat 7 from SilverPAC, the same folks who created that elaborate Evolution 5500 remote control we showed you a few weeks ago. This is the smartest thermostat yet, communicating with utility companies, eliminating that pesky meter reading chore they must do every month. It keeps tabs on your energy usage, and similar to that TED 5000 system we reviewed last month, it helpfully displays to you in pretty graphics exactly how much power you’ve been sucking lately.

This is not just for the benefit of the energy mongers and treehuggers. Its Wi-Fi interface and 7-inch display makes it a highly capable network player, showing streaming photos, music and content from your PC or the Internet. It has built-in speakers, Z-Wave home automation so you can manage your lighting and appliances, FM radio, and heck, you can even check your email on the thing.

Look at the gallery full of screenshots of all the various functions this spectacular thermostat can perform. Oh yeah, one more thing: It’s a seven-day programmable thermostat that controls your heating and air conditioning. The wizards at SilverPAC aren’t talking price yet.

Source: SilverPAC, via Gizmodo