Listening to the Wireless

I remember years ago when I was a teen camping out with a few park rangers as we guarded a marquee overnight which was being used for a show the following day. To keep us occupied we managed to hook up an old radio and listen to one of the forces’ radio stations which was broadcasting a live baseball game from the US. I have to admit, I don’t have much interest in the game but the fact that we were listening live from a country park in Lincolnshire just amazed me. I guess from then on I’ve always been interested in radio, quickly become a fan of the old Radio 5 before it sold out to sport. I even had dreams of starting a radio show with a friend from round the corner when I was a kid (I dug out the old test transmissions, you can hear them by clicking here). More recently I discover number stations and you can hear an eerie one that I recently found here thanks to Ev‘s shortwave radio.

Anyway, this week the Gadget Show did a review of the top 5 apps for phones and OoTunes featured quite highly. Its a rather nice app that lets you listen to live radio stations from around the world with added features like the opportunity to record. I am now finding myself streaming some of the US talk show stations while I’m feeding Charlie and I’m completely hooked. I know I live in a more technologically advanced world compared with the one when I listened to American baseball but I’m still fascinated by the concept of listening to live radio from the other side of the world.

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Invention Corner – Kite Radio Transmitter

Playing with Kestrel 3 over the weekend has got me thinking about what other uses kites can have. There is a kite festival held out in one of the villages every year and I would really like to go to this years if I haven’t already missed it (its not widely advertised unfortunately – you just stumble on it as we did a couple of years back). I thought about what use a kite could serve at such an event and came up with the idea of a kite radio transmitter. When I had my allotment shed I rigged up a little radio transmitter from a hacked iTrip and was able to boost its range covering the majority of the plots and its a similar set up, coupled with a small mp3 player which would work great when sent up in the air care of kite.

The main advantage of transmitting from the air is that you can increase the broadcasting range as there are no obstacles like buildings to get in the way. Another way to increase range would be aerial length. I read an article recently on how mobile phone companies were able to make their phones without an aerial. All phone aerials have to be of a certain length so building a conventional aerial into a modern compact phone was impossible and the problem was overcome by them actually printing it as part of the circuit board, very clever. I’m think the same thing can be applied to my kite transmitter. Its aerial could be printed along the kite’s wings edges, increasing its length whilst reducing weight.

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