If there’s one thing that ties together all the media coming out of the Apollo era, it’s probably the iconic Quindar tones. These quarter-second beeps served as control tones for the globe-spanning communications network needed to talk to the Apollo astronauts, and any attempt to recreate the Apollo-era sound would be glaringly wrong without them. And that’s why [CuriousMarc] whipped up this Quindar tone system.
The video below starts with a detailed treatment of what Quindar tones are and why they were used, a topic we’ve covered ourselves in the past. To recap, Quindar tones are a form of in-band signaling, with a 2,525-Hz pure sine wave intro tone that signaled the transmitters connected to Mission Control in Houston over leased telephone lines to key up. The 2,475-Hz outro tone turned off the transmitters and connected the line to the receivers.
To recreate the sound quality of the original circuitry, and to keep in the retro vibe, [Marc]’s Quindar homage avoided digital circuitry as much as possible, opting instead to generate the two tones with an XR-2206 function generator chip. The chip can rapidly switch back and forth between two frequencies, making it perfect for FSK applications or, in this case, reproducing the two slightly different tones. [Marc] added a dual mono-stable multi-vibrator to pulse the tone, giving the 250-ms pulse, and an audio gate, which uses a MOSFET to switch the tone into an audio stream. All this got soldered up to a piece of perf board and stuffed in the base of a cheap intercom microphone, which while not period accurate still has a cool retro look — and now, a retro sound, too.
Hats off to [CuriousMarc] and his merry band for probing the mysteries of Apollo-era comms and keeping the accomplishments of all those engineers alive. The methods they used are still relevant after all these years, and there seems to be no end to what we can learn from them.
Continue reading “Add A Little Quindar To Your Comms For That Apollo-Era Sound” →
The “Navigation Thing“ was designed and built by [Jan Mrázek] as part of a night game activity for high school students during week-long seminar. A night-time path through a forest had stations with simple tasks, and the Navigation Thing used GPS, digital compass, a beeper, and a ring of RGB LEDs to provide a bit of “Wow factor” while guiding a group of students from one station to the next. The devices had a clear design direction:
“I wanted to build a device which a participant would find, insert batteries, and follow the beeping to find the next stop. Imagine the strong feeling of straying in the middle of the night in an unknown terrain far away from civilization trusting only a beeping thing you found. That was the feeling I wanted to achieve.”
The Navigation Things (there are six in total) guide users to fixed waypoints with GPS, a digital compass, and a ring of WS2812 LEDs — but the primary means of feedback to the user is a beeping that gets faster as you approach the destination. [Jan] had only four days to make all six units, which was doable. But as most of us know, delivering on a tight deadline is often less about doing the work you know about, and more about effectively handling the unexpected obstacles that inevitably pop up in the process.
Continue reading “Navigation Thing: Four Days, Three Problems, And Fake Piezos” →
USB sticks are very handy. They are a very portable and relatively inexpensive means of storing data. Possibly the most annoying part about using one of these devices is when you inevitable leave it behind somewhere by accident. This is especially true if it contains sensitive information. [Eurekaguy] feels your pain, and he’s developed a solution to the problem.
[Eurekaguy] designed a custom cap for USB sticks that beeps approximately every minute after the USB stick has been plugged in for five minutes. The cap is 3D printed and then slightly modified with four 1mm holes. Two wires are routed between these holes to make contact points for the VCC and GND pins of the USB stick.
The beep circuit is comprised of a tiny PIC12F629 microcontroller along with a couple of other supporting components. The circuit is wired together dead bug style to conserve space. Three AG5 batteries power the circuit. A small piezo speaker provides the repeating beep to remind you to grab your USB stick before you walk away from the computer.
[Matt] brought together a TV remote and cordless phone to add a locator system to the remote control. One of the best features of a cordless phone is the pager button on the base. When you press it the handset beeps until found. Matt gutted one and got rid of the unnecessary parts. He then cracked open his TV remote housing and inserted the telephone handset’s circuit board, speaker, and battery. The base station is used just like normal to locate the phone/remote combo, and has been modified with a charging cable to top-off the telephone battery which powers everything in the newly hacked unit. [Matt’s] demonstration video is embedded after the break.
It’s too bad that he got rid of the microphone. It would be interesting to take calls on this thing.
Continue reading “Paging System For Your TV Remote” →