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Comment Re:Ahem (Score 1) 348

I just started working on a job in Vivado, which is Xilinx's new development environment for their latest multi-thousand dollar FPGAs. The supplied editor does not know what VHDL is. I use Emacs to edit my source code, because it has a VHDL template processor. If only the people developing the latest IDEs had any idea what their customers actually did or a living...

Comment Re:Tips for a pirate radio operator... (Score 2) 157

I actually built and ran a pirate radio station in Tucson 15-20 years ago, Radio Limbo 103.3. I agree with your tip, but I took it a step further. The transmitter was a 1 watt unit that we hiked way up into the mountains north of town, giving it a 3000 foot elevation advantage. We transmitted through a Yagi made from a modified FM receiving antenna. The uplink was on UHF, and the rig was solar powered. It covered most of the city (about a 10 mile radius in the preferred direction) reasonably well.

The other thing we did, which really made the station great, was to get about a hundred DJs to volunteer for 1 or 2 hour slots, to make the programming interesting.

Comment Re:People say "custom-made" like it's a bad thing (Score 2) 474

It's difficult to even define standard interfaces that make sense 50 years in the future. But you have a good point - modular hardware is a lot easier to upgrade than complete systems. I work on a telescope that was originally built in 1965, so I get to replace bits and pieces of it with new stuff now and then. However, sometimes all I have to do is correct a little design mistake from way back when to get it running in tip-top form.

Comment Probably using a CHAMP-WB (Score 1) 122

Curtiss-Wright makes a circuit board that would be perfect for this work. This board is an FPGA next to a DAC that can spit out an RF signal whose modulation is about 6 GHz wide, calculated by the FPGA. Using this technology, ANY type of waveform or modulation can be sent to the radar transmitter.

I just ordered (for my radio astronomy job) its cousin, which is all A/D converter, as our radio telescope doesn't have a transmitter, just a receiver.

Comment Why is wetness even a problem? (Score 1) 74

The USB charging port is only 5V, and the resistance of water, even salt water, is high enough that it shouldn't disturb the charging process. I can see why you wouldn't want to submerge your 120V hair dryer in the bathtub with you, but this is a completely different scenario. Am I missing something?

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