Consumer Electronics

To Drone or Not To Drone?

With the advent of the many quadcopters and kits, it’s pretty clear that remote-controlled and/or autonomous small aircraft are beginning to break into the mainstream. While hobby aircraft have long been around, it looks like they’re now moving into the commercial sector, as even Amazon is playing with the idea of delivering products via drones. Their team makes some exciting claims, including the ablility covering 86% of 5-lb deliveries via drones that can go as quickly as 50 mph (PDF warning).

Unfortunately for the industry, it looks like the use of these drones will be stifled by some fairly restrictive regulation. While we haven’t seen (to my knowledge) any real malicious acts committed by the operators of the aircraft, there is quite a bit of fear from different governments surrounding the operation of these drones. Recently there was a case of drones entering a no-fly zone near a French nuclear reactor. Obviously it is correct to monitor the area around such sensitive sites, but in this case, it looks like they were simply recording footage of a remote-controlled boat.

There are also issues with the FAA surrounding the commercial use of drones. Even though a ruling by a federal judge struck down a $10,000 fine levied on the videographer for a medical school commercial, the FAA continues to restrict the usage of drones, recently updating their rules to include drones in a prohibition of flight over stadiums and arenas.  The FAA did recently post a “myth-busting article” on their website, which mentions that hobbyists are expected to operate within the model aircraft guidelines.

Personally, I’ve admired the people who have managed to monetize their interests in drones, including these videographers and also some others who use them as aids in the hunt of feral hogs. I’d like to spend time looking into my own business opportunities, but with such an uncertain future regarding the regulation, it looks like it’s best to restrict ideas to the hobbyist realm, for now.

November’s IEEE Spectrum is Sweaty

That’s right, this month’s IEEE Spectrum has lots of sweaty people, and details about how we can use sweat to measure the physical state of the human body. It also brings out a really interesting piece of tech I’d never heard of, called Iontophoresis. This process uses an electrically charged pad on the skin, runs a low current through it, and causes the skin to sweat, which will draw the medication down into the dermis. Here’s a PDF of an excellent article by the Physical Therapy Journal that details the methods and challenges of using this particular technology. So they used these sweat-inducing patches to keep that lovely sweat a’flowing. From that, they went on to measure the electrolytes and other chemicals found in the sweat.

There’s also a great article on turning car bodies “see-through” to be able to see blind spots. Even though it takes quite a while for auto manufacturers to get new tech integrated into their vehicles, maybe someday we’ll get them. At least before the cars drive themselves, right?

SDR looks like fun!

Software Defined Radio is something I haven’t gotten to see much, save for one nicely set-up booth at the Tulsa Mini Maker Faire. So when I stumbled across the following three resources, I knew that I had to write a quick post and save them for future use.

The impact of robotics on the supply chain

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Online shopping has pretty much taken over the world. That’s a pretty obvious statement, but it still amazes me that most of my holiday shopping was done online last year. That’s why this article by the Robotics Business Review (PDF warning!) fascinates me, aside from being about the robotic industry. It gives some good industry examples of how things are going as well.

Kenwood CS-4125 Oscilloscope


Got incredibly lucky this morning, and got this Kenwood CS-4125 oscilloscope, fully functional, for only $50. They sell for considerably more on eBay, but intend to keep it for awhile! It is only 20MHz, but it’s get a basic one without breaking the bank. Also, the service manual is nearly impossible to find. I’m taking a $7 Paypal gamble on a suggested manual site, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Nice to finally find one locally after months of checking Craigslist!

UPDATE: Turns out that the shady site had the right stuff! If you would like a copy of the service manual, feel free to contact me.

Velocity Cruz R102 – Resources for Performance Improvement

For Christmas, my parents bought me a Velocity Cruz R102, which runs an old version of Android, and tends to be rather slow at most tasks. My brother received one as well, and we set to beefing them up.

One of the most helpful resources was this thread on, which lists several ROM’s to download. My favorite has been this one, which helps to root the device, as well as overclock the CPU from 533 MHz to 800 MHz with SetCPU. It runs fairly well now.

Really, the best uses for this device is for reading PDF’s (I use Repligo) and running light apps. It will run some games, but don’t expect to play Angry Birds on here.