Spy listening devices are wireless in the 21st century

marzo 18, 2010 Technology No Commenti


Being the movie aficionado that I am, the other day I was watching a German movie called The Lives Of Others, about a Stasi agent in 1980s German Democratic Republic.
When I came to the scene in which the main character finds out that his home had been bugged, and that he had been listened to for years, I could not help but smile.

In fact, in this scene he uncovers the hundreds of meters of cables which were placed within his walls, and that were connecting hidden audio transmitters which enabled a listener, placed in a room in the adjacent building, to listen to all his conversations.

I had a nostalgic smile, thinking of what results the Stasi was able to achieve with its primitive equipment, especially if we compare those bugs with today’s modern listening devices.

First of all, the modern hidden transmitters do not need cables to operate, as they are powered either by a battery or can harness power from the telephone line cables. This allows for an unlimited duration of the surveillance operation.

But the most important feature is the possibility of transmitting the intelligence gathered, not via airwaves to the next building, but via a phone call to anywhere, even the other end of the world. In fact, a GSM bug can house a SIM card just like the one we have on our cellphones, and use it to place a secret phone call towards a preset number.

The person who receives the call just has to pick up the phone, wherever he is and whatever he is doing, and can comfortably listen in, without having to sit for long hours waiting for a sound or a sign.

Quite an improvement, huh?

Who needs a pilot to carry heavy loads?

marzo 18, 2010 Technology No Commenti


Boeing has just completed a run of test flight, to assess the potentials of the new version of their unmanned helicopter Hummingbird.

This new version, named A160T, is capable of carrying a sling payload just below 600 kilos of material, at a distance of approximately 150 nautical miles, and to return to its launch base. This is a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) which does not require any direct human intervention during its trip, except of course for the preparation of its payload and for programming of its itinerary towards destination.

During the tests, the Hummingbird UAV has been seriously put to work, by taking it to a height of approximately 3650 meters (12000 feet) on a full load, and making it hover on its position for a couple of minutes. Also, it has been used for night operation simulations, also in nasty weather conditions; all tests have been easily passed with flying colors and extreme precision.

The Hummingbird is one of Boeing’s spearheads in the unmanned aerial vehicles field, as it is in operations since years and holds the current record for the longest unmanned flight without refueling.

Thanks to its flexibility and precision, this specific model can be used for short range loading and unloading operations, around the clock and continuously, day and night, in order to optimize the supply (and resupply) of military material for troops deployed in war zones which may not be easily reached with conventional air or ground vehicles.

Furthermore, if properly equipped with video and photo cameras, it can be a useful tool for reconnaissance missions, target acquiring and aerial video surveillance.

A rocket powered helicopter, very easy to use

marzo 18, 2010 Technology No Commenti


Dragonfly DF1 mini helicopter is a one seat chopper, manufactured my Swisscopter, a firm that in spite of its name is operating out of Tucson, Arizona. The particularity of this vehicle lies in the fact that motion is provided not by a normal engine placed on the copter’s body, but by small rockets housed on the tips of its rotor blades.

These rockets are powered by hydrogen peroxide, contained in two tanks placed on either side of the pilot seat. Thanks to this. The mini copter can take its pilot to a height of approximately 4000 meters, with a maximum speed of 185 kilometers per hour.

This rocket powered helicopter is very easy to maneuver, and the rockets on the blades guarantee a higher stability and fewer vibrations.

In the past, there had already been attempts at building rocket choppers, without success due to several technical issue, which seem to have been overcome by Dragonfly, that also adds an extreme ease of use and simplified controls.

Without fuel, its weight is only 106 kgs, and on a fully loaded tank it has a working range of approximately 100 minutes of continuous flight.
There are several possible fields of applications for this item, ranging from transportation of light ammunition and military equipment in war zones with a rough terrain, to aerial TV and movie shooting.

Swisscopter has already completed the first testing phase, and is expected to launch its product on the market by the end of the current year; for this reason, along with a version with a closed cockpit with a carbon fiber shell, they are also studying the possibility to create a two-seater model, for applications that require maximum concentration, and where having to pilot the copter would be a distraction.

The price for the Dragonfly micro helicopter has not been disclosed yet.


marzo: 2010
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