RF Shorts: Other Items of Interest - Feb 25, 2010

In past issues I've reported on work to restore communications in Haiti after the devastating earthquake. It turns out some of these efforts may be hurting local Haiti Internet Service Providers, as reported in the articles NGO Networks In Haiti Cause Problems For Local ISPs and Nancy Gohring's article on NetworkWorld.com. It sounds somewhat like what happens to local broadcasters in a city when a large number of outside news or sports crews descend on it to cover a national news story or major sports event.

New York Times writer John Quain relates his experiences with Mobile DTV in his article Television That Streams, Even if Traffic Doesn't. Most of the article discusses FLO TV, but he offers comments on ATSC Mobile TV as well—"I found the signal held up well in cross-town Manhattan traffic with only occasional stuttering of the sound and picture. And while Mobile DTV doesn't deliver a high-definition picture—it is intended only for screens up to seven inches—the image was better than that offered by satellite systems I have tried and at least equal to that of Flo TV."

Dr. William E. Gordon, the engineer and scientist who designed and built the Arecibo radio telescope died last week at the age of 92. The Washington Post has a nice article on his life and work—William E. Gordon, 92; father of Arecibo radio telescope.

Wireless communications plays a key role in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. A story by Lakia Clarke-Browne Somerset Soldier Receives Bronze Star describes U.S. Sgt. 1st Class Evan Roberts work as the 580th Signal Company, Direct Signal Support Team telecommunications system chief in Afghanistan. It also talks about his long experience with radio electronics—"I built my first crystal radio when I was six years old."

Sanjay Talwani at TV Technology sister magazine Government Video alerted me to an interesting gadget the FCC has approved for limited police and fire use–a small surveillance robot that operates in the 420-450 MHz band currently used by the military for its PAWS radar system and on a secondary basis by ham radio operators. As expected, neither group is too happy about this. See FCC Approves Miniature 'Recon Scout' for Police, Fireon the Government Video Web site and FCC Unleashes Surveillance Robot on ComLawBlog.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.