Link to Hackade: June 26, 2022

Head for the mountains !! We are all destroyed! You can at least get this idea from the headlines about monster earth-facing sunspots this week. Although the size of any sun spot like the AR3038 is likely to double in a few days, the chances are very low that it will cause problems on Earth. One of the best sunspots this class can handle is an M-Class solar flare, which usually only causes radio blackouts on poles and can cause radiation problems for ISS crews. No, this sunspot probably won’t kill us all. But then again, it’s the 2020s, and almost everything seems as bad as it can be.

Speaking of bad results, it is a pity for poor Sonos customers and their ongoing battle with the company’s strange “glosses”. For whatever reason, customers are getting shipments of Sonos products that they have never ordered, at least one customer has shipped a product worth 15,000. Customers reported ordering five Sonos items, but the company deemed it appropriate to fill the order six times with the product in their apartment. Sonos doesn’t seem to be doing much to fix it; When offering the customer a free shipping label for returning the product, they were expected to scrape the packages to a UPS store. And then there’s the money – Sonos has charged the customer for all the unstructured products, and won’t refund until all are refunded.

If you’ve ever wondered just what the signals above and below your line look like, you’ll want to watch this video Double A Labs. Using an RTL-SDR dongle and some spectrum analyzer software they test the RF signals on the cable with some interesting results. The first 11 minutes or more of the video is dedicated to setting up the hardware and software, although there are some interesting things about broadband network architecture in the beginning. The scans are interesting – you can definitely watch 6-MHz quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) digital channels. We were surprised to learn that these start from the band around 108 MHz FM. There were a few small flashes hidden within the spectrum, such as two unmodulated analog TV carriers in one place, and the fact that the 41 6-MHz QAM channel has jammed more than 400 virtual channels. Broadband really.

In a related note, we found a tip in an RF design series on YouTube this week that is pretty extensive to watch. It covers everything from filters and impedance matching to RF oscillators and amps. Each video is 15 to 30-ish minutes long, so quite digestible, and the production quality is good. If you want to speed up the Dark Arts, you might want to check it out.

And finally, if none of the above gives you a fancy tickle, or if you really need to relax, you might want to spend half an hour watching an analog plotter do its job. It comes from our friend CuriaSmark, who recently repaired the classic Hewlett Packard 7035B XY recorder, a beautiful 1960s design with some interesting features. The main one is the use of photocopier to deal with DC offset input. Mark explains it all in the original teardown and repair videos, we have nothing but the slow Cartesian dance of the pen (almost) in a never ending Lisajas pattern. It is very soothing.

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