Put That Amateur Radio License To Use On 915 MHz

Amateur radio enthusiasts in the US will be interested in Faraday, an open-source digital radio that runs on 915 MHz, which amateur radio enthusiasts may know better as the 33 cm band.

You can transmit on 915 MHz without a license (in the US), taking advantage of the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) exemption. This means that there’s commodity hardware available for sending and receiving, which is a plus. But you can’t do so with any real power unless you have an amateur radio license. And that’s what makes Faraday interesting — it makes it very easy to transmit and receive digital data, with decent power and range, if you’re licensed. The band is currently under-utilized, so go nuts!

The hardware design and documentation is online, and so is the firmware. The founders of the project would like you to build out a big network of these devices, possibly meshing them together. Our only regret is that the 33 cm band is only really open for use in the US, both with a license and without. Of course, there’s very little the Faraday team can do about that.

We’re no strangers to digital-mode amateur radio around here. But if you’re an amateur who hasn’t played around with digital modes yet, this might be a good way to get your feet wet.

Thanks to [Daniel] for the tip!

Making VR A Little More Usable With A Pinch Gesture Ring

[Florian] wants to browse the web like an internet cowboy from a cyberpunk novel. Unfortunately, VR controllers are great for games but really incapacitate a hand for typing. A new input method was needed, one that would free his fingers for typing, but still give his hands detailed input into the virtual world.

Since VR goggles have… hopefully… already reached peak ridiculousness, his first idea was to glue a Leap Motion controller to the front of it. It couldn’t look any sillier after all.  The Leap controller was designed to track hands, and when combined with the IMU built into the VR contraption, did a pretty good job of putting his hands into the world. Unfortunately, the primary gesture used for a “click” was only registering 80% of the time.

The gesture in question is a pinching motion, pushing the thumb and middle finger together. He couldn’t involve a big button without incapacitating his hands for typing. It took a few iterations, but he arrived at a compact ring design with a momentary switch on it. This is connected to an Arduino on his wrist, but was out of the way enough to allow him to type.

It’s yet another development marching us to usable VR. We personally can’t wait until we can use some technology straight out of  Stephenson or Gibson novel.

The Lotus Sevens: The Real Most-Hackable Cars

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Europe was still struggling to recover from the crippling after-effects of war. In Britain it is referred to as the “austerity period”, with food still rationed and in which “make do and mend” was very much the order of the day. The consumer boom of the late 1950s and 1960s was very far in the future, and if you were a hardware hacker your source materials were limited to whatever you could find from war surplus or whatever prewar junk might come your way. This was a time in which the majority of adults had recently returned from war service, during which they had acquired practical skills through the necessities of battle that they sought an outlet for in peacetime.

One field that benefited from this unexpected flowering of creativity was that of motor racing. Before the war it had been an exclusive pursuit, with bespoke cars at famous circuits like the banked track at Brooklands, in Surrey. In a reflection of the wider social changes that followed the war the motor racers of the post-war years came from humbler backgrounds, they raced homemade specials made from tired-out prewar motors on wartime airfield perimeter tracks like the one at Silverstone which still hosts Formula One racing today.

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