The first supersonic jet with vertical takeoff and landing

giugno 28, 2010 Technology No Commenti

For the first time in history of military aviation, a jet fighter capable of taking off and landing vertically, and also equipped with Stealth capabilities to escape enemy radars, has been able to flay beyond the wall of sound.

This achievement was reached by an F-35 series jet fighter, called F-35B, which a few months ago had already completed its first test run for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and last week reached the supersonic speed of mach 1.07, a first step towards a final target speed of Mach 1.6.

The Joint Strike Fighter program, which includes development of this kind of aircraft, had already reached the not-to-be-proud-of achievement of being the most expensive weapon program in the history of the United States (and the world, of course), but thanks to these results, the money spent is finally paying off.

The program stems from the idea of building jet fighter planes with different characteristics and capabilities, but all based on using common parts for at least 70%, which makes maintenance a lot easier, as well as providing a high level of flexibility and interchangeability of the different systems on board of an aircraft, with the final aim to replace fighters currently in service and using a common standard.

For example, the F-35 jet, both conventional and with vertical takeoff, should in the long run replace F-16s and A-10s used by most of the NATO countries, and should sport two interchangeable engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce.
All this, in 2009 only, cost a whopping 650 billion dollars, that is, around 43% of the entire Department of defense budget for the year.

A wall is not enough to stop a radar camera

giugno 28, 2010 Technology No Commenti

In Japan, researchers from the public broadcasting company NHK are working on the development of a new kind of camera called “millimeter wave”, which works with a principle similar to radars, and is capable of visualizing images of objects and people thanks to the usage of radio waves instead of visible light, even if the people or objects in question are hidden behind a thick cloud of smoke or fog, or even behind a wooden wall.

This is made possible because the camera itself can emit radio waves at a frequency of approximately 60 GHz. Once these waves detect a person or an object, they basically bounce on it, and they are then picked up by a receiver. What the receiver does is measure the time that the wave uses to travel to the object and come back to the camera, thus being able to produce an image by using these response times.

The images generated by using this radar camera, at the present stage, are blurred and at a very low quality, but at least, they can be used to detect the presence of a person or an object behind the obstacle that blocks our view.

Due to the low resolution of these images (which is a point that researchers are working on) it would not be possible to use this technology for real TV footage to be sent on air, but this kind of technology can be very useful not only in the video surveillance field, for example to detect the presence of a group of people in an area under control.

Alternatively, it could be a life saver if used by firefighters during rescue operations in a place where fire broke out, allowing them to detect the presence of moving people on the other side of a thick cloud of black smoke, allowing firemen to promptly intervene and possibly save lives in danger.

A high definition Action Cam for your adventures

giugno 28, 2010 Technology No Commenti

To take video footage of extreme sports or parachute jumps, or of a simple bicycle trip with your friends, to mount them on your helmet while riding your bike or to keep them in your backpack during a picnic, the so called Action Cams are becoming more and more common.
Thanks to their sturdiness and ease of use, they can be used not only in situations like the ones above, but also as you would do with your ordinary camcorder.

The latest addition in this field is HD170 manufactured by Drift Innovation. What makes this action cam particular is that it is the first one of its kind to sport a LCD display to play back the footage being shot, thus being able to optimize the quality of your videos; it is also equipped with a small infrared remote control.

Thanks to its display you will be, for example, able to mount it on the bar of your bicycle and see at any time what you are shooting, while you can start or stop recording with the remote control, which can conveniently be strapped on one of the handles.

Furthermore, while in photo mode, HD170 can shoot images continuously at preset intervals, for example every few seconds; to reduce the noise level it is also equipped with an external microphone, which you will be able to place inside your helmet or in your car, so that your videos can have a real soundtrack or live commentary instead of just wind noise.

Of course, all this comes in high definition, with a 1720×1080 resolution and a wide-angle 170 degrees lens (hence the name), and with a price tag of 330 dollars.

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