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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NASA gets interactive for Curiosity mission

The Mars Science Laboratory, AKA "Curiosity" is slated to land on Mars August 5. In preparation for the landing, NASA's come up with a slick interactive game for the Xbox 360 game console. 

Using the Kinect controller, you guide the Curiosity thru EDL (Entry, Descent, and Landing) as the rover makes its way to the Red Planet. I downloaded it tonight and ot to play a few rounds. The more accurate you are at each stage, the more points you are awarded. 

You first guide the vehicle through entry into the Martian atmosphere, and, using your body to keep the vehicle in the "center corridor". You'll go through pockets of turbulence and have to move the vehicle back to keep down the center line.

Next, you enter the descent phase, where you must time your movements to the pyrotechnics that deploy the parachute, eject the heat shield and finally remove the backshell, exposing the rover and leading to the final stage, landing.

In the landing stage you'll use your hands to guide the rover down to the target landing area. Accuracy and ease of landing (with the limited supply of fuel) will count as you put Curiosity down following its "7 minutes of terror".

The game also includes a video and some info on the overall mission. The opening screen contains a countdown timer to the actual landing of Curiosity on August 5th.

The game and video are narrated by Al Chen, who is the Flight Dynamics and Operations Lead for Curiosity. 

It's FREE to download (an Xbox Live membership is required, but you do not need to pay for use of the Live account) and available on the Xbox Live site.

And if you have a Twitter account, you can follow them @MarsCuriosity.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flat TV antenna steals the show

FlatWave digital flat TV antenna by Winegard Co.
$39.90 at flatwave.tv 
Cable television costs a small fortune these days. No wonder more and more Americans are sticking with free over-the-air TV broadcasts. All you need is a TV and a good antenna, like this one. 
Forget the old-school rabbit ears. The FlatWave is made of translucent plastic about a quarter-inch thick. You can tape it to a wall or window, or lay it flat on a table. Just find the spot in your room that delivers the best reception.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The monster continues her reign of terror

Here's Amber making a contact with W1BIM during Field Day last month. She had so much fun at the Titanic event in April that Field Day was a natural progression.

If I can tear her away from Karate lessons and cartoons, I might have her licensed before her 11th birthday!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

San Jacinto QRMer arrested again

via KABC Los Angeles
She's at it again!

Irene Levy, KJ6CEY, of San Jacinto, CA was arrested by authorities after shining a laser pointer at the driver of a fire truck en route to a call and on the return trip.

She gained notoriety in 2010 when she used a ham radio to illegally transmit across the fire and police frequencies, including making bomb threats and other erroneous transmissions.

2010 arrest photo
She was on probation at the time of her arrest and is being held on $25,000 bond.

She was licensed in 2009 and as of now her ham radio license has not been revoked by the FCC.

More info on her arrest is available via ABC 7 Los Angeles.

Monday, July 2, 2012

California pirate pays extra for not answering door

Sometimes it's best to just fess up to the crime and take your medicine, otherwise it'll be a lot worse later.

Once California ham radio operator who was illegally broadcasting a pirate radio station on the Broadcast FM band tacked an additional $7k to his FCC fine because he didn't answer the door when inspectors came to check his equipment.
An amateur radio licensee who should have known better was nailed for running an unauthorized FM station northwest of San Francisco-Oakland. The buccaneer only made things worse by failing to let agents inspect the station.
Brian R. Ragan was operating on 104.9 MHz without a license in Suisun City CA. And since he is the licensee of Amateur Radio Station KF6EGI, the FCC said he should have been aware of the requirement to make his equipment available for FCC inspection on request.
That’s why the FCC came down a little extra hard on Ragan. On 2/25/12, they traced the 104.9 broadcast to his garage and heard the station operating there. But nobody answered.
They left a notice of unlicensed operation.
Ragan contacted the office a couple of days later, and admitted he didn’t answer the door because he was afraid to confront the agents.

More on this story here.