Living On The Digital Edge ▲


Your Best Option For A Used Apple

Those shiny new Apple Mac computers might carry a hefty price tag, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a PC if you don’t have that kind of money to spare. You can find good deals on used Mac computers for about the same amount it would cost you to get a new PC. Your best option for a used Apple machine?

Don’t let the word ‘Used’ startle you as many of these bad boy Mac machines are equipped with efficient amounts of RAM, hard drive storage, and processor power.

What operating system do they run you ask? Well most of them can run the latest release of MacOS or whichever version you prefer. And the great thing about Macs is the Boot Camp service which gives you the ability to run Windows as a virtual system. You can also use Linux by downloading the free VirtualBox program. Run whatever OS you like; the Mac doesn’t mind dude.

If you are looking to run the latest version of MacOS, High Sierra, which will be released on September 25, you must meet these hardware requirements.

iMac: late 2009 or newer
MacBook/MacBook (Retina): late 2009 or newer
MacBook Pro: mid-2010 or newer
MacBook Air: late 2010 or newer
Mac Mini: mid-2010 or newer
Mac Pro: mid-2010 or newer

eBay is the hub when it comes to finding affordable Mac computers. Search with a keyword containing the model and year like ‘macbook pro 2010′ to find great deals.

A few things you should do before you order is to check the product description, the seller’s feedback, and the seller’s return policy to make sure you know what you’re getting.

Get a taste of the Macintosh for a fraction of the price.

Cassini: The Final Chapter

The flagship-class unmanned robotic spacecraft named Cassini is planned to descend into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn; the date scheduled is Sep. 15, 2017. This is Cassini’s Grand Finale. It has run out of fuel.

“The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997, aboard a Titan IVB/Centaur and entered orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004, after an interplanetary voyage that included flybys of Earth, Venus, and Jupiter.”

Outer Planets Flagship include: Cassini, Galileo, Viking 1-2, and Voyager.

Very large radio telescopes on Earth were also listening to Huygens‘ 10-watt transmission using the technique of very long baseline interferometry and aperture synthesis mode.

At 11:25 CET on January 14, the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia detected the carrier signal from Huygens. The GBT continued to detect the carrier signal well after Cassini stopped listening to the incoming data stream.

The GBT sits near the heart of the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, a unique area located in the town of Green Bank, West Virginia, where authorities limit all radio transmissions to avoid emissions toward the GBT and the Sugar Grove Station.

The “Great Big Thing” is only 148 meters or 485 feet tall.

This reminds me of the 1997 film called Contact.

Farewell to The Great Cassini!

1. New NASA video of Saturn with stunning real images from Cassini
2. NASA is about to destroy a $3.26 billion spacecraft by flying it into Saturn
3. SpaceX launches secret Air Force spaceplane (Sep 7, 2017)

Is The TYT-9800 Getting Popular?

Is the TYT-9800 getting popular? I’m hearing more of these radios every day and there’s a reason why. What is it?

Without a doubt it’s the price. The “other guys” sold a VHF/UHF transceiver of excellent quality, all equipped with four bands, but the price was kind of hefty. This is a point in time where the VHF band has become diminished. I think it’s fair to say so.

The price point on the TYT TYT-TH-9800 is under $200? This is very reasonably priced. Is it worth it?

One comment pointed out that the speaker jack was weak; whether this is true or not is to be seen. This would have to be examined.

One thing is for sure though. I’ve heard the radio on the air and it doesn’t sound that bad at all. Maybe it’s all in the tweaking. The transmit audio is very decent.

Overall a decent radio for the price with caveats. It could be that QC is a hit or miss junction.

Transmits on 10M (29Mhz), 6M (52Mhz), 2M (146Mhz) & 70cm (440Mhz).

I think that the 6 meter band would be worth it! Comeback time!

Although software-defined radio is nothing new, the technological aspects keep expanding and exciting breakthroughs are advancing. What do have when you mix Kiwi with Beagle? Here’s a new one for you: KiwiSDR Kit Software Defined Radio with BeagleBone Green by Seeedstudio. SDR that covers 10 kHz to 30 MHz. The KiwiSDR Kit is plug and play, working right out of the box. Price is approximately $299.00 at this time.

Browser Supported Is Linux & More
The Kiwi is different from other SDRs. It is a standalone device that attaches to your local network and is optionally accessed through the Internet. A browser is used to connect to the user interface. Most other SDRs generate raw IQ data and need to be connected directly to a PC or laptop running OS-specific, installed software.

Browsers supported include Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera on Windows, Linux and Mac.

Power Supply Advice
You may have to get the DC supply. Here’s a source for Power Supply Advice. “The Kiwi must be powered using the round connector DC jack on the Kiwi board (2.1mm ID, 5.5mm OD).”

Antenna Advice
Also, you supply the antenna such as: 10-80 Meter magnetic Alpha Loop HF transceiver antenna. A G5RV Wire Antenna will work. Wire antennas offer good results, although an active antenna is preferred. More for Antenna Advice.

Part List
KiwiSDR Board
Beaglebone Green
Unassembled enclosure
Skyworks SE4150L GPS front-end antenna
Micro-SD Card

Any outside event that is planned has a chance of being stifled. You plan, hope, and then wait. Hopefully mother nature will cooperate. The clouds are always a threat. On August 21, 2017, all things agreed for most of us in America. Did you see the eclipse?

Honestly, some solar glasses were bought previously, but the captured magic never occurred to anyone until yesterday. The first observation won the hearts of many! The black moon in front of the great big ol’ sun, which was shining ever so brightly?

Now we are believers in astronomy! Wow!

It’s hard to describe, but you had the feeling that just looking up at the sky would blind you. It is something that we humans take for granted.

The safety issue with welding glasses became obvious after reports came in about the discomfort of some viewing eyes. The reports were troubling, as some complained of sore, red eyes after viewing with welding glasses. Do not think so. Stick with certified solar glasses from now on. Note to self.

There were several amateur radio operators having the QSO party thing, but the bands remained fairly normal, normal lately meaning very poor to non-existent. The event was still very interesting.

You had to chuckle at the poor guys in Carbondale because the clouds would not scatter, or so it seemed. Maybe they got a glimpse at the end.

There were also reports of bumper to bumper traffic with speeds of 7-10 mph on the crowded freeways. Solar eclipse is a term now in the vernacular in America. Hopefully you got to enjoy the day. It was a nice one.

If you missed 2017’s total solar event, start planning for the next one on April 8, 2024: Total Solar Eclipse. You can see the path of the next one, which roughly extends from Dallas to Buffalo and Montreal in Canada.

You have 7 years to prepare for the next one so no excuses. See ya then!

LIVE STREAMING The Great American Eclipse.

1. NASA Live Coverage: Eclipse2017
Coverage Duration: 12pm – 4pm EDT


3. Timeanddate: LIVE Stream
Coming up: Great American Eclipse LIVE


Interactive Map

Find out how long it will last in your neighborhood: Map


Total Eclipse Visible Across 14 States

[Wikipedia] — On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse can be seen in the United States, approximately 70 miles wide.

The total eclipse will be visible crossing fourteen states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Demand For Potties

One of the things in great demand during the eclipse is…a toilet. Demand for toilets is ‘astronomical’…

Back To The ‘Carbondale’ Thing

There’s the Spooky Eclipse Theory In Southern Illinois, with Carbondale being the focus. What?

Cheaper Wire For Ham Antenna Projects

In certain situations less is more!

Especially for listening to the lower bands in this crazy unpredictable solar cycle, I’m accustomed to building my own antennas. Thicker copper wire is usually the standard, but over the years I’ve learned that thinner gauge wire will hold out sufficiently. It’s all in the packaging. Here are a few scattered ideas.

When I built the 160 meter loop I used this type of wire: 14-Guage Galvanized Steel Wire, 1/4 Miles. This is the thicker bare wire and it worked out very well. I’ve had this antenna hanging for a few years and there are no signs of rust that I can tell. Here is another choice: Fi-Shock FW-00001T 1/4 Mile, 17 Gauge Spool Aluminum Wire.

If the The Cobra HF Antenna is going to be deployed, this is the wire to try: RadioShack 100-Ft. (30.4) Three-Conductor Antenna Rotator Cable. It will probably take two rolls to build the Cobra (Sr) antenna and the price is right.

For a vertical antenna project, one will need aerials above or below ground: DOGTEK 500ft Boundary Wire For Electronic Dog Fence System. Isn’t it sly to use this in an amateur radio project? I can’t wait to try it myself!

For something like the Extended Double Zepp (for the low bands) one could try this: Security Burglar Alarm 18/2 Control Cable 500FT. Check it out. You have a 500 ft. roll, but, you have two strands of wire. If my math is correct, you have 1,000 feet of wire!

When building a long antenna like the EDZ, I would probably just leave the wire in tact in a linear-loaded fashion and solder the ends. Why unravel the single strands if you don’t have to? The cable lining will add protection to the sun’s harmful UV rays.

In the past, I had reservations about the thinner strand of wire. However, antennas with the lighter gauge wire have made a believer out of me.

And most of my antennas consist of the heavier gauge wire.

There are major advantages of the lighter gauge wire. Price, easier to manage, and lighter weight. The wind is very active in my location. I’ve learned to leave some slack in the wire antenna. The wind will snap a tightly pulled wire like a pole bean!

In certain situations less is more!

The Wireless FM Transmitter is a new genre for me but there is hope! I recently bought the Music Gear F2516 Wireless FM Transmitter and here’s my take on it. Digital music in the car for little dinero. You just gotta love it!

I grabbed this unit on the cheap and was skeptical from the start. I’ve been smoked a few times on cheap electronic gadgets, specifically at the local dollar store, so I’m somewhat hesitant in the electronic department. Yet I get the urge to try something new occasionally.

Even so, I gave it a try. The packaging (hard plastic) requires some cutting with hand pruners, but not that difficult either.

Now to tell on myself. Duh, the packaging says to use it on the FM transmitter. So why do I try it on the AM band? I don’t know, maybe it’s the summer heat getting to me!

After flipping the car radio to the FM broadcast band, the gadget finally played. Like I said, the summer heat can be exhausting sometimes.

For what it is, I am quite surprised at the quality. This gadget actually rocks!

I don’t understand the harsh review online about this little toy. Are you kidding me? For a few bucks I can bring my digital library with me in the car? What’s not to like here? Seriously.

The connection is very simple. This unit is a plug-in type without bluetooth. I’m just doing music and not worried about cellphone transmission. However, I think this would probably work with phone. I’m almost sure it will.

The quality of sound isn’t that bad. It’s not super high fidelity, because I’m playing through factory car speakers, an older car at that. Some may think that the sound is slightly flat on some songs and this depends on the quality of the recording. I really can’t notice the flatness.

There’s slight distortion at times (or crackling if you will) and the bass isn’t ground shaking, but my speakers are old and mediocre. It’s just what I expected.

The FM frequencies were free in my area; in a big city this might not be the case. There may be some interference. Be aware. Also, there are only 4 presets and this unit is not adjustable like the other brands.

Here are the freqs: 88.1 MHz, 88.5 MHz, 88.9 MHz, and 89.3 MHz.

There were open frequencies in my area and the unit worked great.

The cigarette plug charger (included with the package) is kind of big but fits well after applying pressure. I unplug after each usage before going back into the house. The cigarette plug does not have an on/off switch but I do not feel this is a game changer.

The Music Gear F2516 unit does have a power switch, so I need to remember to turn it off, in order to save the battery power.

The Music Gear F2516 does require two AAA batteries to operate. No problem. Just don’t forget to insert them before walking to the car. Hmmm…Yes, I forgot.

For those desiring to spend a little more and get more versatility, try the Nulaxy Wireless In-Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter Radio Adapter Car Kit with 1.44 Inch Display and USB Car Charger.

It’s very nice to bring the iPhone along and hear some preferred tunes. I give this gadget a thumbs up. It’s a cheap transmitter that works surprisingly well. Bingo!

Big Data Is Becoming The Norm

Satellites and GPS technology are tools that have reached big industry. Take railroad for example. One piece of technology will replace 500 employees when indicating a hot box detector. Bad for employees good for stockholders. Is this beneficial for society? Only time will tell. A new farming trend is precision farming. Goodbye to conventional farming? Big data is becoming the new norm on the farm.

With the arrival of GPS and GNSS (global navigation satellite system), farmers can track data like never before. An example in place is the Grain yield monitor: A device coupled with other sensors to calculate and record the crop yield or grain yield as a modern-day combine harvester operates.

What if we bring the Unmanned aerial vehicle into the equation? The Phantom (UAV) could be flying atop your nearby field of crops and a camera can be added as an accessory by the way. Maybe we could spy on the neighbors with the Phantom?

Maybe we could use a Drone with Camera for Beginners!

When spacing the rows of my crops I used a couple of good old tobacco sticks. No, not very high tech, but very practical and efficient. What if one had the equipment to use satellites in the sky to do this Precision farming?

What about the DJI MG-1S – the Agricultural Wonder Drone? Agricultural drones to the rescue!

Waterproof products are very useful, but we sometimes forget the list that’s available. Water repellency is what we’re after, on the car, in the back yard, camping gear, marine, electronics, amateur radio gear, etc. Let’s finish the project with style.

Top Waterproof Products

1. Scotch Electrical Tape Super 33+ Vinyl — The tape’s pressure-sensitive, rubber-resin adhesive and a durable PVC backing provide great protection. Stands up to the elements: from UV rays and moisture to alkalis, acids and corrosion. Stretch it until it breaks!

2. Star brite — For boat covers, bimini tops, sail covers, clothing, car covers, tents, tarps, foul weather gear, convertible tops, and more. It’s easy to use; simply spray the fabric to be restored, and allow it to dry for 6 hours before use.

3. Loctite Heavy Duty Threadlocker — Threadlocker Blue 242 locks threaded metal fasteners against vibration loosening. Sets in 20 minutes; cures in 24 hours. Useful for small motors, mowers, and power equipment. This is also fantastic for antenna assembly, especially those loose wing nut type assembly jobs. Keep your screws from coming loose and have fun.

4. Loctite Clear Silicone Waterproof Sealant — Use for sealing or repairing door frames, windows, vents, toys, appliances, gaskets, weather-stripping, outside of fireplace doors, shoes and boots. Bonds ABS, glass, ceramic, porcelain, wood, aluminum, stainless steel, cultured marble, fiberglass, granite, vinyl tile, some rubbers and plastics.

5. Rain-X Original Glass Water Repellent — Simply apply the treatment to exterior glass and watch the raindrops fly off your windshield while driving.

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