Septa key machines

Anticipating Septa Key

Since Septa is on the verge of introducing their new fare technology, Septa Key, to the Regional Rail system, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reminisce about one of their earlier automated fare systems. In the early 1990s, Septa provided orange refrigerator-sized ticket vending machines at most Regional Rail stations. I scoured the web for a picture of one of these hulking … Continue reading Anticipating Septa Key

HD Radio waveform

Listening to HD Radio with an SDR

“HD Radio” is the technology by which US radio stations broadcast digital audio along with their regular analog signal. Standard FM radios only receive the analog signal and ignore the digital data. You need an HD Radio to listen to the digital audio. HD radios are most popular as features in newer automobiles, but adoption outside of car radios, as well as awareness by the … Continue reading Listening to HD Radio with an SDR

Seeed Studio LoRa Kit

Getting Started with LoRa

LoRa is a radio technology for long range, low bit rate communication among sensors (temperature, light, location etc…) and other IOT devices. The sensors send their data to a radio receiver known as a gateway. The leading protocol used by sensors and gateways to manage communications, frequency, data rate and security is known as LoRaWAN. The gateway transfers the sensor data to the cloud so … Continue reading Getting Started with LoRa

Ardmore, PA Radio Shack Closed

My local Radio Shack closed on June 27, 2017 after 50 years in operation. This was my go to place for electronic parts and occasional electronics since 1988 and it will be greatly missed. Originally the store was listed as one that would remain open, but it was not to be. In addition to the store’s longevity, some of the staff had been there for … Continue reading Ardmore, PA Radio Shack Closed

SDR dongle

Sniffing GSM with SDR

I’ve been fascinated by software defined radio (SDR) for years but investigating the GSM cellular network has always been just a little too challenging and slightly out of reach. All of that changed earlier this year when someone finally posted a workable, step-by-step guide for decoding (but not decrypting) cellular (GSM) radio traffic. For those not familiar, SDR involves moving much of the functionality of … Continue reading Sniffing GSM with SDR

Pushing a bt.tn button

The Internet Button

While perusing the various channels on IFTTT recently, I came across one for something called “bt.tn.” My curiosity led me to a Finnish site that sells a very interesting product: a large pushbutton that can control anything that is connected to the internet. The bt.tn comes in various colors and has both Wi-Fi and cellular models. The operation from a user’s perspective could not be simpler. You … Continue reading The Internet Button

Video Arbor

Video Arbor is Back

Nam Jun Paik (1932 – 2006) was an artist who used video displays and electronic parts in his art to comment on technology, culture, and mass communications. In 1990, the builders of One Franklin Town Apartments in downtown Philadelphia chose Paik to fulfill their city mandated requirement of including original public art in their development project. The installation that Paik created consists of three rows … Continue reading Video Arbor is Back