Scottish Spaceport Plans Announced

Scotland is being considered as the site of the UK’s first-ever spaceport, which could be here as early as 2018, it was reported this week.

The spaceport would be the first one ever built outside of the US.

What’s more, Scotland are definitely the odds-on favourite to be granted this prestigious (not to mention historic) prize, as eight UK aerodromes have been short listed as possibilities and six of them are located in Scotland. 

It is thought that the spaceport would not only increase the country’s revenue by providing a site for satellite launches, but also through tourism, with ‘space tourism’ expected to increase in the next few decades.

Chief Secretary to The Treasury Danny Alexander (who was born in Edinborough), told BBC News, “I am delighted that the government is pushing forward with its ambitious plans to open a spaceport in the UK by 2018. Spaceports will be key to us opening up the final frontier of commercial space travel (…) Scotland has a proud association with space exploration. We celebrated Neil Armstrong’s Scottish ancestry when he became the first man on the Moon and only last week an amazing Scottish company was responsible for building the UK Space Agency’s first satellite (…) The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future.”

UKube-1, a satellite designed and built by Glasgow-based firm Clyde Space, was launched earlier this week. It was the first ever spacecraft to be fully assembled in Scotland, but it may turn out to be the first of many.

According to the BBC, UK profits from the space industry are now exceeding £11bn a year and it provides employment for some 34,000 people. It is also a significant growth industry, with employment figures rising by 9% since 2011.

The recent interest in the development of UK-based, but more specifically Scottish, space exploration technologies has also become linked to the current debate over Scottish independence, with the Scottish government suggesting that a vote for independence on September 18th would only strengthen the space initiative.

A spokeswoman said, “Scotland is proving that it has the expertise to attract and support such a specialized, global industry, and as such an independent Scotland will be an attractive option for spaceport pioneers.”

However, it seems probable that the plans for a Scottish-based spaceport will go ahead either way, whether Scotland is declared an independent nation or not. In addition, doubts about the potential strength of an independent Scotland’s economy may also act to the detriment of its space research.

As with all things, time will tell…

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28276525

MH370: Motorola cargo comprised walkie-talkies, besides batteries and chargers

Anyway ladies and gentlemen, i have one more brilliant 2 way Radio article for you to read, i know, you don’t have to thank me each and every one, just click a social like to the article to show your appreciation.

A two-tonne consignment aboard the ill-fated  MH370 flight is believed to comprise walkie-talkies, lithium ion batteries and their chargers.

The cargo manifest released in the preliminary report of the incident shows that the plane was carrying 200kg of the batteries while the balance is said to be “radio accessories and chargers”.

The revelation by Malaysia Airlines confirms a report by fz.com on March 25 that revealed that the shipper of the lithium ion batteries, walkie-talkies and chargers was Motorola.

Quoting a source at that time, fz.com reported that the goods were shipped from the factory’s facility in Penang.

The goods were sent by lorries to the KL International Airport, and based on the master air waybill, the items were sent from Penang on March 6.

Of the 2.4 tonnes that was shipped from the plant in Penang, only about 200kg comprised the batteries.

Though the cargo manifest and master air waybill indicated lithium ion batteries, it did not reveal that walkie-talkies made up the rest of the consignment.

MAS later said in a statement that they were “radio accessories and chargers”.

The air waybill prepared by NNR Global Logistics Sdn Bhd on behalf of its client, Motorola, showed that two loads were packed, one being 1,990kg for 133 pieces and another being 463kg for 67 pieces.

The batteries and accompanying goods were later shipped by NNR Global Logistics, while the balance divided into “13 packages”, were forwarded by Kerry Logistics (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

The cargo manifest showed the plane carried 9,947kg in three large shipments.

While mangosteens from Muar, Johor weighed the heaviest at 4,566kg and the 2,453kg worth of lithium ion batteries and accompanying goods (written up only as “consolidated”) are more or less accounted for, the other 2,250kg of “consolidated” items have sparked interest.

A source familiar with aviation forwarding industry practices said the mystery surrounding the cargo manifest and the exact loads that went onto the ill-fated MH370 can only be resolved if MAS revealed the house air waybills.

The source added that without the house air waybill and the packing list, the cargo manifest and the master air waybill were redundant because only those two documents would properly state the goods and the shipper.

“It is understandable that MAS cannot reveal the other two documents simply because they may not have it.

 “As for the house air waybill and packing list, the Customs Department, the freight forwarder and the shipper should come forward and reveal them,” he said.

Days after the Beijing-bound flight went missing along with 239 passengers and the crew on March 8, Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the plane was carrying 200kg of “small” lithium ion batteries.

He said the load was not considered hazardous as it was packaged in accordance to safety regulations.

In response, the aviation source said though the shipment contained batteries and declared as dangerous goods, they are within specified permissible levels.

“The dangerous threshold for lithium ion batteries is not measured by its weight but its watt per hour measurement. For instance, a handphone probably would measure 100 grams watt per hour which is not lethal.

“The watt per hour measurement indicates the battery activity by the hour,” he had said while cautioning that forwarding companies and shippers often failed to declare “hidden dangerous goods” in the shipment.

These include flammable liquids, lubricants, corrosive and oxidising materials that could and have resulted in fires onboard flights, he said.

Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/mh370-motorola-cargo-comprised-walkie-talkies-besides-batteries-and-chargers#ixzz31gub3d3V

What Is Audio Surveillance?

Again another short article i thought was fascinating on the subject of earpiece’s, what would you do if i didn’t post this ehh? you’d have to look at the original article, and the chances you found it could be slim, so deem yourself lucky that i’ve shared this glorious article with you.

Audio surveillance is the act of listening to third-party conversations and recording them. This technique is frequently used by law enforcement, private detectives and government spy agencies. Most audio surveillance consists of either bugging a room, wearing a wire, tapping a phone or distance listening. Each provides distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation.

Wiretapping is one of the most common and simple form of audio surveillance. This is preferred because it is highly inconspicuous and allows for two sides of a conversation to be clearly recorded. Small audio devices, commonly called bugs, are attached to the internal circuitry of a telephone to pick up a conversation. A signal is wirelessly transmitted to another device that records the conversation. The drawback of this method is getting access to a subject’s telephone to properly wiretap it.

audio surveillanceA room microphone is another audio surveillance technique that often is utilized. This involves planting a wireless microphone in a room to pick up conversations. Disguised room microphones are available to look like pens, clocks, stuffed animals and a variety of other covert forms. This microphone sends a signal to a receiver, just like a wiretap does, and the signal can be directly recorded. The disadvantage here is access to some rooms and getting only one side of a phone conversation if it takes place in that room.

Concealable transmitters known as body wires are well-known devices that have been featured in many television shows and movies. A small microphone and transmitting device are worn under the clothes of a person in order to send a signal back to a receiver and record a conversation. This allows the person wearing the wire to ask questions and get specific details that simply listening to other people’s conversations could not provide. The disadvantage of this method is getting access to the person needed to be recorded and also concealing the microphone in a way that hides it but allows for clear recording.

Long-distance microphones are another covert means of audio surveillance. A parabolic microphone, often called a shotgun microphone because of its long shape, has a powerful ability to pick up conversations up to 300 feet (91.4 m) away. Its main disadvantage is its high sensitivity. It can pick up other noises and cannot function if obstructions, such as trees and automobiles, are between the microphone and the conversation.

Do I need a license to Use a 2 Way Radio?

Probably not, but it depends on how powerful you need the radio to be.

 

Most countries have a regulatory body that governs the use of radio frequencies. They do this so that different groups can use radio signals without interfering with each other (especially in the case of the emergency services). Here in the UK, radio transmission is regulated by Ofcom (Office of Communications), which is, in turn, regulated by the UK government.

However, if you are only planning on using a small device, Ofcom do allow some ‘licence free’ walkie-talkies. Here’s a description, taken from walkie-talkie-radio.co.uk,

“The UK government allows small, low-powered handheld radios that use a set of eight frequencies in the UHF band (around 446Mhz) to be sold and used without the need for any licensing. They may be used for both business and personal / leisure purposes. Radios that meet this standard (usually called “PMR446″ radios) can only have a power output of 0.5 watts, which means that their range is less than the more powerful licensable business walkie-talkies, that have power outputs of 4 to 5 watts”.

One of the benefits of the European Union is that the standard for license-free radios is exactly the same, right across the EU. This means that if your radio is license-free in the UK, it will also be license free anywhere else in the EU).

If you wanted to use a more powerful radio (say anything over 5 watts for a handheld or 25 watts for vehicle radios and base stations), then you will need a license. 2wayradionline.co.uk has more on this,

“Licensed handheld walkie-talkies can have 5 watts power output, but “licence-free” PMR446 radios can only have ½ watt power output, so the licensed radios will have a better range and better signal penetration in buildings”.

The most basic licence available to you would be the ‘UK Simple’ license,

“This licence is effectively a licence to use the more powerful radios anywhere in the United Kingdom, using a set of frequencies that are shared by all users of this licence. This licence is quick and easy to apply for, costs £75 per organization, and is valid for five years. It is ideal for most users of business radios, and is the only choice for those who need to be able to use their radios anywhere in the UK”.

It is also possible to get a ‘Technically assigned Geographic License’ – essentially, this license allows you to use a specific frequency (or set of frequencies) that are uniquely yours. The catch is that you can only use them within a specific location. These licenses aren’t especially expensive to maintain, but the cost is rising in major cities, especially London.

If you are setting yourself up as an equipment lender, or rental firm, then you’ll need a UK Simple Business Radio Supplier’s License. This license allocates you a set of frequencies that you rent out to clients, along with your own equipment. Because the frequencies are licensed to you, the hirer of the equipment need not worry about obtaining their own license.

Getting any one of these licenses is as simple as visiting the licensing section of Ofcom’s website.  

Hope that helps!

SOURCES

http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/

http://www.walkie-talkie-radio.co.uk/two-way-radio-licencing-in-the-uk.html

IED blast in Afghanistan inspires ex-Green Beret to reinvent two-way radio

Boy. The brand new Two way Radio is awesome. I mean it’s just so beautiful so sophisticated. I pity those who grew up without the Two way Radio.

U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. Tom Katis was headed through the mountains from Asadabad to Jalalabad in Northeastern Afghanistan to catch a plane out of the country for a week of leave in January 2003 when 70 pounds of plastic explosives buried in the road detonated directly under the lead vehicle in his convoy, setting off an ambush.

Shooting erupted from the reeds along the Kunar River, and Katis found his crew switching among numerous radio channels to call in air support and a medical helicopter for two wounded soldiers, as well as to update his commander and coordinate with nearby units.

Tom Katis

“I had to take guys off team frequencies to monitor empty traffic. All of a sudden, the team was not on the same frequency,” said Katis. “We all had radios that cost $15,000 each, and we’re yelling at each other.”

At that moment, Katis decided that even when operating as designed, radios were too difficult to use in combat. Live-only microphones caused missed connections. Choices had to be made quickly between satellite and line-of-sight systems.

That trauma was the kernel for Voxer, a San Francisco-based “push-to-talk” smartphone application developer that Katis co-founded in 2007 and hopes will take a big chunk of the multi-billion-dollar two-way radio hardware and services industry.

After finishing his second Army tour in 2003, Katis immediately co-founded a private security firm called Triple Canopy that has grown to 8,000 employees by catering to military, government and corporate customers around the world.

The radio idea stuck with Katis, however, who had worked a stint at a startup in Silicon Valley from 1999 to 2001.

“The first thing that was obvious was that everything needed to go on the Internet,” said Katis, a graduate of Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics and economics who interrupted his business career to re-enroll in the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

At Triple Canopy, Katis in 2004 met Matt Ranney, who became Voxer’s co-founder and CTO. What they and early Voxer employees later created was an Internet-based hybrid between a walkie-talkie and a group messaging application that enables users to talk live or send voice, text and photo messages that can be retrieved at will, all while displaying individual users’ locations. Venture investors to date have funded their efforts with $30 million.

It’s a deceptively simple system, according to Gartner, but Voxer has received 126 patents around the world to protect its inventions, which Katis says provide a platform for significantly improving communications in the private sector and government.

In May 2011, Voxer released a free version of its app and, though it was initially slow to catch on, it exploded to nearly 70 million users by 2012.

At that point Voxer had to choose whether to focus on the consumer app and generate money through advertising or some other vehicle — a vision that many other entrepreneurs were chasing — or try to build a communications product that businesses and governments would be willing to buy. For Katis and his cohorts, the choice was clear.

“A free consumer app was not going to solve the problems we want to solve,” said Katis in an interview in Voxer’s San Francisco headquarters in the historic Phelan Building on Market Street. “I think I can build a much bigger company than that. This is a hundred-billion-dollar industry that I think we can go and take a very meaningful piece of.”

Katis still loves and intends to keep the free app, but Voxer turned its attentions to building more sophisticated features, including encryption, a web-browser-based version for administrators, an installed appliance that companies or government agencies (think three letters) can run themselves and a function that mimics the way two-way radios squawk out transmissions in real-time.

Voxer launched a roughly $10-a-month-per-user business version in June 2013 and, while Katis says the first year was very much a learning process concerning how to make corporate sales, the company just scored its biggest customer yet, the North American division of a major international automobile manufacturer, the identity of which it cannot yet make public. In addition, Roto-Rooter, the national plumbing repair business, in April started to roll Voxer out to about 900 people, a quarter of its field staff, and Voxer has trials underway with various U.S. agencies.

Most of the sales to date have been to companies that asked to upgrade from the free app, said Katis, adding that the company is now hiring in sales and marketing.

One inbound customer was Chris Marino, owner of Xtreme Snow Pros, a snow removal service in Mahwah, N.J., who used the business version last winter for the first time after testing out many different two-way radio systems. Most of the other systems required hardware purchases were more expensive and less versatile, he said.

Marino’s staff balloons during snow season from five to 70 employees with seasonal help, and Voxer lets him communicate with each one individually or all at once from his desk.

“Voxer Business was an incredible asset to us,” Marino said. “It’s a truly great product.”

 

What Headset Fits My Bike?

The headset of a bicycle is, in simplest terms, the part of the bike that allows the steering column and front wheel to rotate and turn. It is, therefore, fairly important to the general running of a bike (as we’re sure you’ll agree!)

A bicycle headset generally consists of two cups that are pressed to the top and bottom of the headtube, there are bearings inside the cups that provide low friction contact between the cup and the steerer. This setup allows the rider to be able to steer and operate the bike with maximum efficiency.

Today’s bikes use lots of different headset styles, so we’ll take you through a few of the most common ones (because we’re nice like that).

  1. Threaded Headsets – These headsets are the most simple and ‘classic’ of all headsets. They were once nearly ubiquitous, but times have moved on since then. According to ParkTool.com, “The “threaded” in the name refers to the external threading at the top of the fork steering column. Bearing cups are pressed into the bike head tube. The bearings, which may be loose ball bearings, retainer ball bearings, or cartridge bearings, sit above and below the pressed races. The top most bearing-race has internal threading, and is held in place by a threaded locknut. The stem has no effect on the headset adjustment”.
  2. Threadless Headsets – Threadless headsets are actually quite similar to their threaded cousins, with one major difference (and you’ll probably see this one coming), there is no threading. According to ParkTool, “The top race uses an internal centering sleeve on the column to maintain alignment to the bearing cup. Pressure is applied to the top race from the stem. Threadless Headsets must use a compatible stem that matches the steering column diameter. The stem binds to the outside of the column, and holds the top race in adjustment. The threadless standards are 1-inch and 1-1/8 inch diameter steering column.”
  3. Low Profile Headsets – Alternately known as ‘Integrated Headsets’, ‘Internal Headsets’ and ‘Zero Stack Headsets’ (amongst others), these headsets use pressure frame cups to secure the bearings. “The cups have a flange, or lip, and sit adjacent to the outer edge of the top and bottom of the headtube. The headtube is a relatively large outside diameter, approximately 50mm, and cups allow the bearings to sit flush or even inside the headtube. The headset bearings sit “internally” to the top and bottom of the headtube. Some models use a cup that holds a cartridge bearing. The cartridge bearing is a slip fit into the cups. The cups act as a bearing holder and do not take bearing movement or wear directly. Other types have the cartridge bearing and cup/holder as a unit. These are simply replaced as a unit when it is worn out. Still another version of this type uses a cup and cone system with caged ball bearings, similar to the conventional threadless headsets”.

Of course, its up to you to decide which of these styles best suites you and your bike.

SOURCES

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/headset-standards

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headset_(bicycle_part

What is Communications Technology?

Broadly speaking, the term ‘communications technology’ can refer to any technology that allows its users to communicate with one another. Using this (admittedly loose) definition, two-way radios and mobile phones fall into the category of ‘communications technology’.

The term also refers to computers and computer-related work. Here in the UK, schoolchildren study a subject called ‘ICT‘ this stands for ‘Information and Technology’ (although when this rapidly ageing writer was at school, it was known simply as ‘IT’ or, ‘Information Technology’).

As the Internet has become a more and more prevalent part of our society, communications over longer distances have become significantly easier. In fact, such communications are easier now than at any other time in Human history. Ergo, it stands to reason that computers should be considered as a prime form of communications technology.

communications technologyBasic, everyday acts such as checking your emails, updating your Facebook or Twitter feed, answering the phone, or taking Skype calls are all a part of ‘communications technology’ as are the two-way radios used by public transport, security firms and the emergency services.

A person who makes a living by working with ‘comms tech’ is likely involved in the designing, creating, implementing or maintaining of communicational systems. Such systems can include radio networks, mobile phone providers, telephone companies, even television. It is a broad and ever-expanding field, which makes it difficult to ascertain exactly what a person actually does if they list it as their job title.

When somebody tells you that they are a plumber, for example, you get a broad idea of what they do for a living all day. If I tell you that I am a professional copywriter, you at least have some notion as to what that entails. A person who works in the field of ‘comm tech’ could be doing almost anything.

In case you’re wondering, the Internet itself can be considered as a communication technology, given that any person who uploads videos or writes blogs is communicating the very second that those blogs are read or those videos are watched.

Telecom’s is a huge field and, as I think you’ll agree, a pretty important one. Without the ability to communicate with others, either via short distances on your mobile or much longer distances (such as the distance between our office in the UK and your home on the African continent), this world would be a vastly different place.

Why Kevlar Is Stronger Than Nylon?

You mean besides reinforcing the tyres on the Batmobile? (True Bat-Fact – look it up).

For those not in the know, Kevlar (or Poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, to give the material its scientific name) is a very tough and durable man-made fibre. It was first developed in 1965 by Polish-American scientist Stephanie Kwolek and has been commercially used around the world since the early 1970’s. Today, Kevlar is available in several grades, which are used for different tasks and exhibit greater, or lesser, tensile strength as well as flexibility and tenacity.

Since its introduction in 1971, Kevlar has been used for body armour (i.e. bullet proof vests), army helmets/protective gear, car and bicycle tyres (I once had a set, actually), protective clothing, paraglider suspension lines, shoe tread, headphones, musical instruments (strings and drumskins), fire resistant clothing, kitchenware (for its non-stick properties), cables and ropes, brake pads in cars, smartphone casing and even wind-turbines.

According to DuPont, Kevlar’s parent company,

“It’s about resilience, strength, saving the day, and helping keep people safe from harm —DuPont™ Kevlar®. DuPont™ Kevlar® aramid fiber is used to make a variety of clothing, accessories, and equipment safe and cut resistant. It’s lightweight and extraordinarily strong, with five times the strength of steel on an equal-weight basis. Best known for its use in ballistic and stab-resistant body armor, Kevlar® brand aramid fiber has shown its own heroism in helping to save the lives of thousands of people around the world. And since its invention over 40 years ago, things have only gotten better. DuPont™ Kevlar® continues to take on new challenges, with our scientists continuously innovating and working on a range of new opportunities through collaborations with communities, industrial manufacturers, and governments. Together we’re bringing the strength and durability of Kevlar® to so much more. The result? Kevlar® aramid fiber is now successfully used in everything from vehicles and industrial clothing to fiber optics and city roads. And we’re only getting started”.

The discovery of this wonderful material is actually quite an interesting story. Back in 1964, Kwolek’s group was searching for a way to make tyres stronger, but also a little bit lighter. Apparently, the by-products of their solutions were usually thrown away, but Kwolek saw potential in one of them, as it had formed a type of liquid crystal, something that had never been seen in their polymers before. She tested the strength of the new material and discovered that it was extremely strong. The rest, as they say, is Wikipedia.

Oh, Happy New Year, by the way! :)

Images from the Web 03

For our next round of pictures we have, some funnies that have recently come up…..

 

 

 

 

 

thanks for looking!

Voxer Launches Easy Talk Widget on Android, Allowing Quick Access to Walkie-Talkie Chats

Article of the Day………ok so i haven’t got an article each day, but when i get an opportunity I’ll post posts I find fascinating. Lucky enough here is one of these articles that I read and needed to share. If you enjoy it as much as me, please add one of those special social media likes, you know the one that tells everybody you loved something, rather then you sat on your arse and watched Television!

Mobile push to talk pioneer Voxer has just released an update for Android that includes its brand new Easy Talk widget for Android users. The new widget allows you to quickly access your most important chats and listen to live and recorded voice messages. You can also send audio, texts or images right from the lock screen or home screen.

“Voxer’s goal is to facilitate instantaneous communication and make it easy for users to quickly contact each other, reducing the time it takes to send and receive messages,” the company said of the update in a press release. “This is especially important for businesses, where time saved on communication can lead to benefits like cost savings. The Easy Talk widget is designed to help users communicate faster, enabling them to send and receive messages without unlocking their Android device.”

“REPLACING TRADITIONAL TWO-WAY RADIOS AND OTHER COMMUNICATION DEVICES WITH VOXER”

Some features of the Easy Talk widget include:

  • Access from home or lock screen: Users have access to several Voxer features right from the widget, which includes listening and sending voice messages, texts and images.
  • Prioritize important chats: Users can select specific chats that are the most important to them, and add them to the widget. They can access these chats by tapping on the next and previous buttons within the widget.
  • Send and receive live audio: Voice messages can be streamed live for the chat that is visible on the widget, so the user can have constant access to voice messages, even when the Voxer app is not open on their device.
  • Headset integration: The widget streams live audio to headsets, so users can communicate via their headset for easy access.

“Our customers are replacing their traditional two-way radios and other communication devices with Voxer,” said Irv Remedios, head of product, Voxer. “With this widget, we can replicate the live characteristics of traditional PTT, in addition to other features that can help users communicate faster. Android users can organize their chats, providing easy access to the ones that are the most important. With Easy Talk, users can communicate faster than ever before.”

The Easy Talk widget is now available for Voxer Pro and Voxer Business customers with Android devices running 2.3.5 and above.

Read more at http://www.trutower.com/2014/04/23/voxer-push-to-talk-launches-easytalk-feature-android/#MAJCJ5urdE4lBJDi.99