Decoding News Helicopter Signals on YouTube

news-heli2

A serendipitous YouTube video recommendation led [Oona] to a raw copy of a news helicopter car chase video. While watching the video she noticed an odd sound playing from her left speaker. That was all it took to put [Oona] on the hunt. Decoding mystery signals is a bit of an obsession for her. We last saw [Oona] decoding radio signals for bus stop displays. She isolated the left audio channel and sent it through baudline software, which helped her determine it was a binary frequency shift keyed (BFSK) signal. A bit more work with SoX, and she had a 1200 baud bit stream.

Opening up the decoded file in a hex editor revealed the data. Packets were 47 bytes each. Most of the data packets was static. However, thee groups of bytes continuously changed. [Oona] decoded these numbers as latitude and longitude, and plotted the resulting data on Google Earth. Plotting her data against the position of the car in the video revealed a match. [Oona] had a complete track of the news helicopter as it followed the car. The telemetry data is in 7-bit Bell 202 ASCII, and is most likely part of an Interruptible Foldback (IFB) system used by the helicopter news crew and the studio producers. Click past the break for the YouTube video that started this all.

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Hello from SupplyFrame – your new evil overlords !

Supply Frame Logo

A couple of weeks ago one of our engineers woke up and read that HackADay was going up for sale. His first reaction was much the same as most regular readers of HackADay, he was worried and concerned that a site that he has read daily for years was going to be sold to someone who would promptly carve it up and ruin it. So he bumped it up the chain here at SupplyFrame and we decided that HaD would be a good fit for us and so we made an offer and here we are!

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Whats up with these subdomains at Hackaday?

hackaday-asyrum-1We recently added two subdomains to hackaday.com

We thought we would share our thoughts and goals with these wonderful additions.

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Announcing: Hackaday videos and behind the scenes mailing list

hadfilm2

We’re starting a few new things at hackaday. As always, our goal is to share awesome hacks from as diverse a crowd as possible. We’ve played with video a bit before, but now we’re really going to start having some fun with it.

Our first exploration into this area was the hacked portal gun. People enjoyed looking at it, and those seeking more in depth technical knowledge came to the site to get it. Instead of focusing the video on the technology or the build itself, we used it as an interesting way to get the attention of people with relevant interests. This video proved to us that our idea was solid.

We have now stepped up our production in terms of quality and quantity.  We will be releasing videos that may be humorous, like a fake commercial or skit, or may be serious in the style of a documentary. They will all have some kind of hack at their core and that hack will be broken down in an article here.

I would also like to extend the opportunity for you to help. There are two ways you can do so:

  1. Sign up for our email list(it is in the right column). I’ll be sharing behind the scenes info and previews about upcoming video projects and asking for ideas on how to improve them.  The list will be very informal, and only deal with behind the scenes kind of stuff it will not be a mailing of the daily posts.
  2. Submit a project or idea that you think would make a cool video. You can email that directly to caleb@. Of course, we would prefer projects that haven’t been released yet, but that isn’t necessary. We’re looking for things that are visually stunning, or could possibly have highly cinematic potential. Not necessarily the most technically difficult thing.

We hope to start releasing videos next week, so keep your eyes peeled. We filmed all week, and my cheeks hurt from laughing so much.

Inventor of the 555 timer passes away

August 15th 2012, the news was reported that [Hanz Camenzind], the creator of the 555 timer, has passed away.  We are all familiar with 555 timer, but many of you may not be aware that [Hanz] also created the first class D amplifier. Actually, he had over 20 patents under his belt as well as a few books.

He is survived by His Wife, Daughter, and three Sons.

Hackaday Store: It exists again

We used to have a store. Actually, it was just me, pumping out shirts and stickers from my garage.  However, I found that over time, I wasn’t particularly happy with the quality of the shirts. The vinyl would crack over time, and I wasn’t the fastest person in the world to get an order out the door. I shut down the store because I didn’t want to too poorly in the name of hackaday.  I’ve had TONS of emails asking me to turn it back on.

Today, we’re turning on another store. It isn’t fancy. It isn’t amazing. It should, however, provide higher quality products than we had before, and more different products to choose from. I’ve put shirts, coffee mugs, and stickers in so far. The graphics were all done correctly for each format, so they should turn out very nice.When you buy Hackaday merchandise, you help ensure Hackaday will stick around as long as possible.

Now, lets talk a little bit about where we should go from here.

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Heathkit closes down, again.

With this rather large flip flop, Heathkit has closed its doors… again. The company that so many of us remember fondly from their myriad of electronics kits originally closed its doors in 1992. Last year, there was an announcement of a revival and a call for kit submissions. Unfortunately, it looks like that just didn’t work out. While this isn’t an official announcement, the facts appear to line up to Heathkit closing their doors.

If you’d like to re-live a few fond memories, here’s a Heathkit unboxing at EMSL.

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