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Oct 30, 2013

Iron Dome

IRON DOME /1/ /2/

Israel's Iron shield "Iron Dome" against air threats seems to be working.

 A single launcher can protect against a medium-size city

Video: Iron Dome

Iron Dome is an advanced defense system, designed for quick detection, discrimination and interception of rockets & mortar threats with ranges of up to and over 70 km and against aircraft, helicopters, UAVs and PGMs. The system is effective in all weather conditions, including low clouds, rain, dust storms or fog.

Video: Does Israel's Iron Dome Actually Work?

The Iron Dome provides robust, yet selective defense. Its ability to discriminate between threats headed towards the defended area and those that will fall into the sea or open fields reduces costs and limits unnecessary interceptor launches. A single launcher can protect against a medium-size city

Video: Iron Dome in Action in Israel: Shooting Down Rockets

Iron Dome uses a unique interceptor with a special warhead that detonates the targets in the air within seconds. The system can handle multiple threats simultaneously and efficiently.

The Iron Dome system includes the following components:

· Mobile detection and tracking radar - Multi-Mission Radar (MMR)
· Battle Management & Control Unit
· Sensors
· Mobile Missile Firing Unit (MFU) with 20 "TAMIR" interceptors

The Iron Dome meets the following requirements:

· All weather operation
· Effective and selective handling of salvo threats aimed at the “Defended Zone“
· Threat warhead is detonated on its trajectory
· Threats are destroyed outside the defended area, during their flight
· Ignores targets predicted to fall outside the defended area zone
· Capable of continuous operation day/night and in all weather conditions
· The system can be connected to the high echelon Air Situation Picture
· Enables classification of target threat families
· The Battery with all its components is transportable and moveable
· Interceptors are maintenance free with a life cycle of 15 years.

Israel is also making drones. Try this link to see more about them.


/1/ Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

/2/ YouTube

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Beriev's Airboat and Sukhoi's Latest 5th Generation Stealth Fighter

The Beriev Be-200 Altair is a multipurpose amphibious aircraft designed by the Beriev Aircraft Company and manufactured by Irkut. Marketed as being designed for fire fighting, search and rescue, maritime patrol, cargo, and passenger transportation, it has a capacity of 12 tonnes (12,000 litres, 3,170 US gallons) of water, or up to 72 passengers.

Video: Be-200 Altair Multipurpose Amphibian Aircraft by Beriev Aircraft Company, first flight 1998

The Sukhoi PAK FA ("Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation") is a twin-engine jet fighter being developed by Sukhoi for the Russian Air Force. The Sukhoi T-50 is the prototype for PAK FA. The PAK FA is one of only a handful of stealth jet programs worldwide.

The PAK FA, a fifth generation jet fighter, is intended to be the successor to the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian inventory and serve as the basis of the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA being developed with India.The T-50 prototype performed its first flight 29 January 2010. There is also T-51 but it is less known.

Video: Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA Stealth Technology, first flight 2010


/1/ Wikipedia

/2/ YouTube

/3/ UAC United Aircraft Corporation

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Oct 23, 2013

Advanced Airlocks and Other Rotating Wheel Space Station Parts


Both scientists and science fiction writers have thought about rotating wheel space stations since the beginning of the 20th Century.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky wrote about using rotation to create an artificial gravity in space in 1903.

Tsiolkovsky with his ear trumpet

Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (17 September [O.S. 5 September] 1857 – 19 September 1935) was a Russian and Soviet rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory.

Hermann Noordung's Space Station 1929. (Achs-Körper - axle body, Aufzugschacht - elevator shaft, K: electric cable to an external observatory, Kondensatorrohre - condenser pipes, S: airlock, Treppenschacht - stairwell, Verdampfungsrohr - boiler pipe)

Herman Potočnik (Noordung) introduced a spinning wheel station with a 30 meter diameter in his Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Travel).

Herman Potocnik, a relatively obscure officer in the Austrian Imperial Army who became an engineer and published in 1928 a seminal book

Herman Potočnik (pseudonym Hermann Noordung; December 22, 1892 – August 27, 1929) was an Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer and pioneer of cosmonautics (astronautics) of Slovene ethnicity.

Wernher von Braun with his rotating wheel space station in a 1956 film.

In the 1950s, Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley, writing in Collier's Magazine, updated the idea, in part as a way to stage spacecraft headed for Mars. They envisioned a rotating wheel with a diameter of 76 meters (250 feet).

Notice the similarities between Wernher von Braun, Russian, and Herman Noordung designs (and maybe even some more earlier designs which are maybe not widely known?).


These space stations can be seen in several early films from Russia and America. Here are some samples of them.

Von Braun Space Station 1956

Russian Space Station 1957 (USSR)

Kubrick Space Station 1968

Current ISS Space Station 2011 which does not yet have any rotating wheel (2013)


Since it is usually most preferred to have all windows towards Earth and since direct sun light is not preferred it is most likely that the rotating wheel is kept in such an attitude that its one side is always pointing towards the sun and maybe all windows closed on that side and the other side is directed as much as possible towards Earth. There might be also other schemes to orientate the spinning wheel. Whatever the spinning wheel needs a different orientation schema than the other parts of the station.

Due to this reason it is required that the wheel is not directly connected to any other partt of the station (ISS for an example). This would allow more freedom for the wheel to be oriented and it also prohibits the collision with the other parts of the station. This adds safety to the operation of the station complex.


The connection to other parts of the station system can be done using a small movable airlock or an Advanced Airlock (AA). You could also call it a Space Station Shuttle (SSS). This shuttle or airlock is actually a small space ship which can be controlled using advanced automatic electronics. The main job for this automatic airlock is to shuttle between different parts of the station system. It also serves as a temporary living quarter for the working space men etc. In this concept all station parts can be kept in a safe distance from each other and they can be independently oriented as required.

Advanced Airlock (AA) allows the station parts to be kept separated which adds safety and allows better orientation freedom of different parts.

The Multi-purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) might have some similarities with an AA but it lacks engines and controls to move by it self.

Video: Raffaello MPLM Moved To Payload Canister


Here is an idea about an advanced airlock which uses a laser beam to connect different parts of the station together (see the following picture). Station parts A and C have extensions with doors to an advanced airlock. Stations are connected using a laser beam. The beam will be automatically controlled so that it builds a bridge between the parts. The advanced airlock then uses this beam to guide itself between the doors an automatically dock with them. It is some kind of a free elevator which can go any direction (not just up or down)
An Advanced Airlock or a Space Station Shuttle that uses laser beam to travel between different parts of the space station system. A and C are space station parts and B is the shuttle.

This same laser beam can also be used to control the distance and position between the different parts of the station. One could of course use a wire cable but to allow more freedom and avoid collisions a laser beam is better than a cable. If any of the station parts looses the beam or the distance between gets too long or short an alarm is given.

The Space Station Shuttle (SSS) operation should be robust, fully automatic and fast since it would be used often especially during the building phase of any new station part.

If the distances between any two parts are short one could use some kind of a flexible tube (a rubber convolute or similar). The doors and airlock should anyway be there for security reasons.

For small distances a convolute (B) or similar might replace the shuttle.

A convolute


The currently running Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and Space X Dragon might have some similarities with the AA design. There are also other modules from Japan and Russia that can dock with ISS.

Video: Automated Transfer Vehicle ATV-4

Video: Space X Dragon docking with ISS


The International Space Station (ISS) has been many years up there but common people do not know very much about it and what is going on there. The following video gives some information and also critics. I find ISS anyway useful and the critics is a bit populistic approach to the problem of space population which is anyway to become.

Video: Story about the International Space Station (ISS)

The following video could give some more info..


/1/ Wikipedia

/2/ YouTube

/3/ NASA, ESA, etc.

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Oct 14, 2013

Inflatable Life Capsule - "Space Lifeboat"

Based on the NASA's latest Inflatable Heat Shield (IHS) innovation it is now rather straight forward to figure out how an inflatable Space Lifeboat (SLB / ISLB) or an Inflatable Life Capsule (ILC) should look like and how it should be used.

Video: HIAD or IHS Re-entry (Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, Inflatable Heat Shield)

An IHS might also be called a HIAD (Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator).

An Inflatable Life Capsule is similar to a lifeboat in an ocean ship.

In picture 1 we see an ILC connected to some space vehicle (ISS, a rocket or similar). The idea behind an ILC is similar to a lifeboat in a ship. A lifeboat is a boat carried for emergency evacuation in the event of a disaster aboard a ship. In case of an ILC it is attached to a space ship.

A Futuristic Space Ship

NASA has been experimenting with X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) which can carry 8 persons back to Earth. More about that is in link 7.

Lets see what parts an ISLB is made of (see picture 1).

1) Portable Life Suppoort System (PLSS), space suit, space man (or a doll for testing)
2) Seat pan, seat belts and the support for side packs and RCS jets.
3) Inflatable heat shield IHS or HIAD (See IRVE 3 for an example)
4) Parachute System (See BRS Parachutes for an example)
5) RCS fuel packs including RCS jets on both sides, not shown, similar to pack 4 (see picture 4 for details)

Picture 1: Initial condition - a space man needs to be rescued to Earth

The sequence from space to Earth is shown in pictures 1 to 7.

When a space man needs a transport to Earth he first takes the ILC out of its container (picture 1). Then he binds him self to the seat pan with seat belts and moves it to some distance from the vehicle (picture 2).

Picture 2: Fasten seat belts.

Now he inflates the heat shield (or HIAD) (picture 3.). At the same time the parachute system (under legs) and fuel packs (on both sides) turn to their reentry position.

Picture 3: Inflate the heat shield and turn side packs to their position. The parachute pack and 2 RCS fuel and jet packs will turn.

Before reenter you usually need to do some adjustment to your speed and/or attitude.  This is done by firing the RCS (Reaction Control System) jets as required (picture 4).

Picture 4: Start return - fire jets so that the attitude and speed is correct for the reentry. In this picture the fuel packs with RCS jets are shown. There are 4 jets altogether. To go "forward" you fire all 4 jets at the same time.

Now starts the reentry phase which may take some time (picture 5.

Picture 5: Reentry - during reentry keep the attitude using RCS jets.

During the reentry period the ILC must be kept in right attitude and stabilized (not spinning etc.). The atmospheric drag will take care of the deceleration which is relative to the size of the HIAD and weight of the whole space lifeboat and its passenger.

Picture 6: Shoot the parachute - at some low altitude open the parachute so that the landing is smooth.

At 25000 meters or so the parachute is shot out of its container (see PRS Parachutes video for an example) (picture 6).

Picture 7: Splashdown - activate the radio beacon to be sea rescued

Splashdown should be rather smooth since a real parachute is used for the final phase (picture 7). The IRVE-3 test for an example did not use any parachute at the final phase and had higher speed at the end. One possibility might be to use a bit larger shield (HIAD) and use that partially as a parachute and have somewhat harder splashdown compared to the parachute version.

Note that in case of stormy sea the PLSS should be able to support the life for some time even under water. Hopefully until the rescue is made. And the HIAD of course keeps the lifeboat floated.

An inflatable life raft is very similar to an ILC.

Here is the flat ILC or space lifeboat and its parts again in 3-view.

Inflatable Space Lifeboat

Here is a typical life raft open sequence which is very much similar but of course the device is more simple since it only have to handle the on Earth environment.

Typical on Earth life raft open sequence.


/1/ YouTube inflatable heat shield NASA IRVE

/2/ Shootable parachutes BRS Aviation

/3/ Wikipedia PLSS and space suits

/4/ Wikipedia Atmospheric reentry and Skip reentry

/5/ YouTube HIAD video

/6/ MIT/NASA Science Reporter video: PLSS Part

/7/ YouTube Video: NASA X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV)

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IRVE and IXV - NASA's and ESA's New Re-entry Vehicles

IRVE (Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment)

I was my self thinking that a simple re-entry method might be an inflatable parachute made of fire resistant material and an astronaut wearing a fire proof space suit. Well, it seems to be that NASA has been thinking the same problem and doing IRVE (Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment) which is very similar.

IRVE is inflatable and made of fire proof materials. They are not using it as a parachute but more like a heat shield in front of the entry vehicle (or astronaut). It could most likely to be understood to be a combination of a heat shield and a parachute. We could call it an inflatable heat shield (IHS).

General Electric MOOSE. The design was proposed by General Electric in the early 1960s.

IHS or a similar device has also the potential to be used as some kind of a personal space jump device (SJD) for a space man similar to the GE MOOSE but all in a single backpack.

IRVE (Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment)

Here is an animation how IRVE works.

IRVE 3 Animation

NASA has actually tested IRVE already several times and it has proven to bee a good idea. Most likely they will be using it as the primary device when landing any planet with gas around it (like Earth or Mars) since now it is rather easy to adjust the descend speed just by adjusting the diameter of the inflatable shield.

This is very much the device they have been missing to actually land on Mars etc. The following video will explain the ideas.

Video: NASA X IRVE 3 - A New Way To Land On Other Planets

In the future they will be doing HEART (High Energy Atmospheric Reentry Tests) at NASA sending material from ISS to Earth. These tests will improve the inflatable heat shield (IHS) technology. The following video shows an animation of that.

Video: HEART

The following picture shows IRVE-3 parts.
IRVE-3 Parts

IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle)

ESA in Europe has also been experimenting with re-entry vehicles and discovered IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle). But this is more conventional re-entry vehicle with parachutes and heat shields. The heat shield is made of two large parts and not of tiles as the space shuttle had. Lets talk about IRVE first since I find it more simple solution although IXV is meant to cover a longer distance with its lifting body design.

IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle)

Here is an animation how IXV works during a re-entry.

IXV Lifting Body Re-entry Animation

Also ESA has tested IXV. Until now they have tested at least the final part of the re-entry and will most likely to test the whole entry in the future. The following video shows the final test.

Video: ESA IXV Splashdown 19.6.2013 in Sardinia, Italy

Here are the main parts of the IXV.

IXV Outer Parts


/1/ YouTube

/2/ NASA

/3/ ESA

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Oct 4, 2013

Apollo Space Suit (Part 9, Apollo Control Systems)

The Apollo space suit was the result of the evolution that took place during the preparation for the Apollo mission during 1960's and before. One could say that the evolution to protect human against low pressure in high altitudes started already when Wiley Post constructed his first pressure suit in 1934.

Wiley Post's 1935 pressure suit

Sep 24, 2013

What is a LPV Approach?


LPV Approach or Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance Approach is a modern instrument approach procedure that uses SBAS with GPS to attain the most precise position available today. A LPV approach can get a pilot down to a 200-250 feet decision altitude, making it possible for an aircraft to land at runways in very low visibility. Without SBAS and GPS capabilities, pilots flying in extremely poor visibility conditions might otherwise have to fly to an alternate airport.

Using LPV you can go automated down to 200-300 ft or about ½ nm from the touch down point.


A satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) is a system that supports wide-area or regional augmentation through the use of additional satellite-broadcast messages. Such systems are commonly composed of multiple ground stations, located at accurately-surveyed points. The ground stations take measurements of one or more of the GNSS satellites, the satellite signals, or other environmental factors which may impact the signal received by the users. Using these measurements, information messages are created and sent to one or more satellites for broadcast to the end users.

SBAS is usually automatic in modern GPS receivers and is automatically used if available (also outside aeronautical applications)!

The following Honeywell and Rockwell Collins videos are very informative about LPV.

Pilot Training Video: LPV

Cutter Aviation, Beechjet and Rockwell Collins LPV video.

See also:

Wikipedia - Performance-based navigation

GPS Approach Types and Needle Sensitivity

WAAS LPV Approach Reveals Expanding Helicopter Airway System

YouTube Video: Precision Instrument Approaches

YouTube Video: Instrument approach at Sion (Switzerland) explained

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Sep 3, 2013

Small Intel Desktop Boards without Fan (2013)

Here is a list of the latest small low cost desktop boards from Intel without fans:

Intel D410PT

(with integrated Atom 1x 1.66Ghz CPU) [FANLESS]

The D410PT as well as the D510MO offer passive cooling and hide on the one hand a -single Core Atom processor (D410) and on the other hand a Dual Core Atom processor (D510 – also used in numerous new netbooks) of the newest generation.

In the area of power consumption (~30 watts) the new mainboards range within the low, classic Intel Atom level. The major advantage of the new mainboard ist he possibility to utilize the 24 pin ATX jack, which makes the use of an additional P4 connector unnecessary.

As with the other mainboard generations, Intel again, focuses on the extension possibilities. Therefore, both mainboards offer a willingly utilized PCI slot, and the D510MO additionally offers a Mini PCIexpress socket and a LPT extension slot. With these possibilities up their sleeve, with minimum effort they offer variable fields of application.

Intel D425KT

(with integrated Atom 1x 1.8Ghz CPU) [FANLESS]

Intel® Desktop Board D425KT with integrated Intel® Atom™ processor D425 and the Intel® NM10 Express Chipset enables low-power consumption and reduces the package footprint by 70 percent. The board also features 10/100 integrated LAN and USB Solid State Drive (SSD) keep-out-zone design – an ideal combination for a diskless usage model.

With breakthrough low-power silicon, the Intel Desktop Board D425KT can also be used with a passive thermal solution based on the recommended boundary conditions.

While this desktop board is small in size, it delivers a powerful Internet experience for all audiences.

Intel D2500HN

(Intel Atom 2x 1.86Ghz CPU) [FANLESS]

- Dual-core Atom
- Passive thermal solution; 35mm z-height
- Legacy features for basic computing needs

Intel D2500CC-E

(Intel Atom 2x 1.86Ghz CPU, 2x LAN, 4x RS232) [FANLESS]

- Dual-core Atom
- DVI-I for full dual-independent display support
- 4 serial ports & headers for multiple peripherals
- Boards are suitable for other devices; ATM, Kiosk, POS, etc.

Intel D2550MUD2

(Intel Atom 2x 1.86Ghz CPU, TPM, DVI) [FANLESS] *new*

- Dual-core Atom with Hyper Threading
- DVI-I for full dual-independent display support
- 3 serial ports & headers for multiple peripherals
- Boards are suitable for other devices; ATM, Kiosk, POS, etc.

Intel D2700MUD

(Intel Atom 2x 2.13Ghz CPU, TPM, DVI) [FANLESS]

- Dual-core Atom with Hyper Threading
- DVI-I for full dual-independent display support
- 3 serial ports & headers for multiple peripherals
- Boards are suitable for other devices; ATM, Kiosk, POS, etc.

Intel D2700DC

(Intel Atom 2x 2.13Ghz CPU, HDMI) [FANLESS]

- Dual-core Atom with Hyper Threading
- 1080 High-Definition playback
- Cost competitive entry-level HTPC

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Jul 24, 2013

"Mechanical Mike" (The Evolution of the Modern Airplane Autopilot)

Wiley Post's Lockheed Vega aircraft, which was called the Winnie Mae, made 1931 a world record for flying around the world in 8 days with Harold Gatty as the navigator. ( Most references /1/ )

Wiley Post and Harold Gatty.

A key item of equipment in the Winnie Mae airplane was at the time new Sperry automatic pilot that Wiley Post referred to as "Mechanical Mike" and which he had tested for about 85 flight hours.

Mechanical Mike was located in the cockpit of Winnie Mae.

Developed by Elmer and Lawrence Sperry in the early 1920s, the "robot pilot" used two gyroscopes and was only 9 by 10 by 15 inches in size. One of these was an azimuth (directional) gyroscope, which provided a datum for the heading control of the airplane. The other was a horizontal gyro, providing a datum for longitudinal and lateral control of the airplane.

Lawrence and Elmer Sperry.

The two gyros were air driven and ran at a speed of 15,000 revolutions per minute. The human pilot could shift from automatic pilot to manual control at will, but he could also change course, climb, or dive by turning remote controls to the autopilot, thus effecting flight changes without disengaging the autopilot. The apparatus was provided with a hand-operated clutch for disengaging the autopilot for takeoffs and landings.

Tthe "robot pilot" used two gyroscopes.

A mechanism was incorporated so that when the airplane banked about its longitudinal axis, the stabilized gyroscope resisted the bank, and an airjet, activated valve opened, which, through an oil-operated servo mechanism, moved the control cables to remove the resistance by adjusting the ailerons to roll the airplane wings level.

A mechanism  rolled the airplane wings level. Attitude changes of the aircraft, produced pressure differentials in airflow in the ducts ending near the discs. The result was a proportional change in air valves that was transmitted to the appropriate hydraulic system which, in turn, moved the proper-control surface (elevator for pitch, aileron for bank, and rudder for yaw). The autopilot, which Post called "Mechanical Mike," required no electrical power and functioned very well.

A similar mechanism on the same gyroscope controlled airplane pitch about the lateral axis (nose up, nose level, or nose down) by moving the control cables forward and backward as necessary to adjust the elevators. The other gyroscope controlled the directional gyro (which was set periodically in accordance with the magnetic compass) and through its oil-operated servomechanism made small adjustments on the rudder to yaw the aircraft back to maintain a predetermined heading.

"Mechanical Mike", the Sperry Autopilot. It was a "three-axis" autopilot, that is, one gyroscope sensed pitch changes and roll (bank) changes by the aircraft, and the other gyroscope sensed heading changes (yaw). The air compressor and the hydraulic pump were engine powered. The gyroscopes were driven by compressed air. Compressed air was also used to correct changes of aircraft attitudes in relation to pitch, bank, or yaw, through a system of small air ducts and semilunar plates.

The entire apparatus weighed 70 pounds and it deserves appreciation that such devices had not received extensive trials at the time Post was planning his world flight!

The Evolution of the Sperry autopilot or gyropilot (Mechanical Mike): It got smaller during 1930's.

In 1933, Post repeated his round-the-world flight, but this time did it solo, with the aid of the auto-pilot and radio compass.

The Sperry automatic pilot used by Post for the 1933 flight differed from previous autopilots in an important manner. Other automatic pilots of the time used electrical "pick-offs" to determine the relative motions of the aircraft and the "fixed" axes of the spinning gyroscopes, and utilized a slip-stream, "wind-powered" spinning gear device as the motive power to enable the autopilot to move the control surfaces. The Sperry autopilot was pneumatic. For electrical autopilots an externally placed small propeller blade was necessary to achieve this motive power. This type of device created drag and was relatively inefficient as a source of power.

Post's Sperry autopilot used airjet pick-offs closely associated with the gyroscopic platforms, a system less liable to mechanical troubles that were common in other autopilots which used varying electrical contacts. The airjet pick-off mechanism used in the Winnie Mae was the first autopilot with this new mechanism. The autopilot was completely mechanical (pneumatic) and did not use electrical power. The diagram of the autopilot (above) illustrates the relationships of the various mechanisms constituting the autopilot.

Hydraulic cylinders were located directly under the unit and connected to the control cables.

The horizontal gyroscopic air pick-offs consisted of two hemispherical discs that were fixed to the gyroscopic platform, and, with the airplane flying straight and level, the edges of the discs received equal pressure from the air jets. If the airplane nose up, and/or banked, as by a gust, one or more of the jets of air would not encounter a portion of the disc, allowing more air to flow out of the respective jet. The difference in airflow activated the associated air valve which then opened a hydraulic valve and caused pistons to be moved which were attached to the respective aileron or elevator surfaces. The proper surfaces moved to return the aircraft to the position where the airflow pickoffs were equal.

The heading gyroscope, which controlled the rudder, was arranged in such a way that the mounting of the hemispherical disc caused die airjets to move with the airplane rather than with the gyroscope. This enabled the pilot to fix the airplane on various headings in the 360° azimuth from North. Otherwise, the mechanism operated identically to that of the horizontal gyroscope.

Sperry autopilot (Mechanical Mike) was located in front of the pilot.

An "elevator" knob at the right of the gyro horizon on the control panel enabled Post to establish a given "pitch attitude" of the airplane to be held by the autopilot. An aileron knob, just above the gyro horizon, permitted a similar setting for bank and a rudder knob, immediately above the direction indicator, was used fo azimuth. A "directional gyro compass" display was mounted immediately to the left of the "artificial horizon," both being centered on the panel in front of the pilot's seat. The lever that shifted the autopilot from manual to automatic was located immediately under the servo-unit hydraulic cylinders, which were mounted just beneath the autopilot gyroscopes in the instrument panel. The hydraulic cylinders were in plain view.

A "caging" knob for the artificial horizon was placed just to its left, and a similar caging knob was just below the directional gyro indicator. The gyros were "caged" during periods of manual, visual flight to save wear and tear on their bearings.

Oil sump and pump and air compressor parts.

Lawrence Sperry was the son of Elmer Ambrose Sperry and his wife, Zula Augusta Goodman. Both father and son were noted inventors. His father was best known for inventing the gyroscopic compass. Lawrence invented a three-way gyrostabilizer, effectively inventing the first autopilot.


/1/ Smithsonian Annuals of Flight, Number 8, Stanley R. Mohler, Bobby H. Johnson,
     "Wiley Post, His Winnie Mae, and the World's First Pressure Suit",
      Smithsonian Institution Press, City of Washington, 1971

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Jun 12, 2013

China's Latest Manned Space Mission

China's latest manned space mission blasts off.

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An Electric Multicopter

World's first manned flight with an electric multicopter.


On October 21st, 2011, Thomas Senkel of e-volo made the first manned flight with an electric multicopter (VTOL), the so called volocopter VC1, at an airstrip in the southwest of Germany. The flight lasted 90 seconds, after which the constructor and test pilot stated: "The flight characteristics are good natured. Without any steering input it would just hover there on the spot". This could be the future of aviation, piloting a device as easy as a car.

More information:

Latest video:

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May 20, 2013

Seventeam 12 V to 3.3 V 15 A Buck Converter Power Supply (1995)

I was interested in converting 12 V to 3.3 V at 15 A and so I stripped down the about 1995 made (in Taiwan) Seventeam PC Power Supply Buck Converter. Here are some photos and schematics of it.

12 to 3.3 V 15 A Buck Converter by Seventeam Electronics Ltd

Apr 23, 2013


The famous German Enigma which was totally cracked first by Poland and then with its help by the allies of World War II. Here is more about how it worked and how it was constructed.

The Enigma Machine

Enigma history by David Kahn, an American cryptologist.

Enigma History by David Kahn

An animation about the cipher mechanism and how it was stepped by the keyboard manually.

How Enigma Works

Enigma's operation principle.

Press "Q" and get "U". Send "U" to the other part. Press "U" get "Q" again (but you have to know the setup).


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