Sunday, January 25, 2009

Microwave meter videos

I made a few videos of the simple microwave / 2.4GHz meter dealing with work office's microwave oven--woe be unto whomever hangs around the hinge.

The first is a full examination of the space of the microwave oven, and is entirely inappropriate for those with short attention spans (stick to the second video, you).

This one is a short proof the detection is when the microwave oven is busily heating my hot water for tea.

The other amazing news is there is a very strong microwave signal that the northwest corner of the roof of Ryerson intercepts that appears to be coming from either the Admin building or the hospital: it strongly peaks in the southwest direction, almost pegs the meter on the 200mV scale, and when I added a headphone to the meter I could audibly hear some sort of signal that reminded me of a TV video sync noise.
What is this signal? Am I hearing a horizontal sync? Or is there some other signal that has a repetitive sync noise that runs at 12-18 kilohertz?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicago FM radio band scan

Here's a band scan of all FM radio stations heard Wednesday night in Chicago with a Degen 1103. I attached it to two random length wire dipoles, oriented north/south and east/west and could switch between the two.

I used V-Soft's signal strength database to ID the strongest stations. This helps when not all stations are in Chicago.

For medium and low strength stations, I used the FCC database for various queries:
for all stations within 100km of me, for instance, click here.

You can get radio coverage maps from the FCC, or more refined maps from Radio Locator that show how likely it is to pick up the station.

Antenna is the orientation of the dipole; so the note "east/west" means the wire is strung east/west and sensitive to signals coming from the north or south.
Station IDs were either heard, inferred from strength, music type, from the list of Chicago stations, or best guess from distant station lists.

Frequency Call sign Strength Antenna notes
87.7 WLFM-LP spanish news (tv carrier)
88.1 WCRX east/west dance mono
88.1 WSSD north/south R&B / announcer talking over song
88.5 WHPK-FM strong "very local, college"
88.9 WIIT weak east/west college
89.3 WKKC smooth music
89.5 hip-hop
89.7 WONU Christian
90.1 WMBI-FM strong Christian
90.5 WRTW? rap
90.7 WAUS weak classical
90.9 WDCB north/south
91.1 WGSI weak focus on the family / fox news / faint music
91.5 WBEZ strong
91.9 WJCH piano music
92.3 WPWX rap
92.5 clear (trace)
92.7 WCPT
93.1 WXRT-FM
93.3 clear (trace) north/south
93.5 WVIX spanish
93.9 WLIT-FM talk
93.7 WTRX-FM or WBCT north/south country
94.1 clear (trace)
94.3 WJKL christian
94.7 WLS-FM rock
94.9 clear (trace)
95.1 WIIL
95.5 WNUA jazz
95.7 clear (trace)
95.9 WEFM or WERV-FM east/west jazz
96.3 WBBM-FM rock?
96.5 clear
96.7 WSSR
97.1 WDRV
97.3 WQBW? faint "Milwaukee, WI 104mi"
97.5 WHMS lite
98.1 WIBN or WZOE north/south "seeger, classic hits radio online"
98.3 strong local CPU
98.7 WFMT classical
98.9 WBYR "fort wayne, IN ""The Bear"" 153mi range"
99.1 WXTT east/west "Extra rock Danville, IL 114mi"
99.5 WUSN country
99.9 WCPQ strong
100.3 WILV 70's
100.5 clear (trace)
100.7 W264BF east/west Christian
101.1 WKQX alt
101.3 clear
101.5 WBCH? WBNQ? WNSN? modern WBCH? WBNQ? WNSN?
101.9 WTMX R&B
102.1 clear (trace)
102.3 WYCA east/west gospel
102.7 WVAZ love or Christian
102.9 clear (trace)
103.1 WVIV-FM spanish
103.5 WKSC-FM modern/dance
103.7 clear (trace)
103.9 WXRD east/west rock (political)
104.3 WJMK rock
104.5 clear (trace)
104.7 WCFL east/west christian
105.1 WOJO spanish
105.5 WJLE country
105.9 WCFS-FM country
106.3 WSRB hip-hop
106.7 WPPN spanish
106.9 WXXC Marion, Indiana!
107.1 WZVN rock
107.5 WGCI-FM hip-hop
107.9 WLEY-FM spanish

Since formatting is horrible, here is the Excel spreadsheet.

If a frequency is not listed, it was a channel subject to bad interference from a neighboring station.

The idea of finding the clear channels is to find one suitable for meteor scatter work: a normally too-distant station (because it is over the horizon) can suddenly boom in because the signal is reflected from a ionized meteor trail halfway between the listener and broadcaster.

Some interesting results: WXXC and WBYR, located in Marion and Fort Wayne, IN, at 150 miles away.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Re: Interesting development

The anagram was "HAT found a Neptune", if you were curious, the second Neptune class exoplanet found. The preprint describes the discovery. The star is in the constellation Eridanus, just south of Taurus in the evening sky. It transits a metal-rich star from our perspective nearly every 5 days, is slightly above the mass of our Neptune, half the size of our Jupiter, orbits the star at only 4 to 5 million miles from the star and is quite warm at about 880K.

What's interesting is HAT has been taking data on this star for over four years before the announcement. The preprint suggests the transit wasn't detected until three years of data were combined to find the shallow dip of the planet in front of the star.

A point of pride is this star is scheduled to be monitored for transits by the next generation satellite Kepler.

EDIT: The star is GSC 03561-02092 and the planet is called HAT-P-11b. (in case you were wondering).

Monday, January 05, 2009

An interesting development at exoplanet blog Oklo

"Last night, I received a mysterious e-mail from Gaspar Bakos of the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA. It consisted of a single line:

A phaeton tuned fun"

UPDATE: Just like the science discoveries of old, I believe the Hungarian-made Automated Telescope (HAT) has created an anagram. The exercise is left to the reader.

Very big image of Saturn

If you haven't seen this newly released image of Saturn yet, then by all means take a look.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Reprocessed Mirach's Ghost

I am never truly happy with processing images, just like Jennifer. This particular image has vignetting around the edges from the lack of a flat field. I applied the flat field for this image when processing.

But as always, this still lacks a certain tonal value around the star, in my opinion.

Here's the previous image: