Wireless Waffle - A whole spectrum of radio related rubbish
"London to be underwater by 2019" says eminent scientistsignal strength
Tuesday 11 February, 2014, 19:09 - Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
Given the current extreme weather battering the UK, the time seemed very apt to give a plug to an excellent novel whose plot-line is chillingly familiar.

flood - stephen baxterFlood by British hard-fiction author Stephen Baxter begins with the River Thames flooding in London and leads to a tale of global catastrophe. The follow-up, Ark, continues the story as the human race battles for survival.

The hard-fiction genre of books aim to use existing scientific theories but weave them into a piece of fiction. They're not about visits from aliens, or interstellar war, but instead focus on 'what might happen' by developing current scientific thinking. At the end of many stories, the author will divulge which bits of the book are real and which are made-up - and the bits that are real are often more incredulous than the fictitious bits.

If you have never read a science fiction book of any kind, Steven Baxter's books come highly recommended by Wireless Waffle and in many cases may not remain fiction for that much longer!
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90 years of the 'time pips'signal strength
Friday 7 February, 2014, 13:43 - Broadcasting, Licensed, Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
What a disappointment it was to find a recording called 90 years of the time pips, to discover that it is a special version of the pips¹ designed to celebrate their 90th birthday.

Wouldn't it have been more fun to have calculated how many pips there have been in 90 years and then created audio that just pipped (or beeped continuously) through all 90 years? How many pips would that be?

90 years × 365.25 days × 24 hours = 788,940 hours²

The first 5 pips have a duration of a tenth of a second, and the final pip has a duration of half a second, so the total duration of the pips each hour is exactly 1 second (5 × 0.1 + 0.5). A constant tone of duration 788,940 seconds (which is 9 days, 3 hours and 9 minutes precisely) would therefore represent '90 years of the time pips' much more accurately.

So here for your listening pleasure, is the Wireless Waffle tribute to the pips... 90 years of pips compressed into 9 days, 3 hours and 9 minutes.

play 90 years of the pips
Just click the play button, sit back and enjoy!

gladys knight and the pips¹ Not to be confused with Gladys Knight's backing group who, whilst also played on the BBC from time-to-time, are not the pips in question here.

² Of course the pips have not been broadcast every hour over that period. Other time signals (such as the chimes of Big Ben) are used on some hours. Equally the BBC has not always been a 24 hour service, so this figure is probably a significant over-estimate.
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Superfast Broadband - Is It Really Necessary?signal strength
Thursday 7 February, 2013, 13:15 - Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
fibre superfast broadband says ofcomAt the IET, Ofcom's chief technology officer, Steve Ungar, gave the annual IET Appleton lecture (parts of which can be viewed on the IET.tv web-site). The title of the lecture was 'Superfast Broadband - what will it take to make it happen', though the opening slide (shown on the right) suggested that Ofcom's views on superfast broadband are clearly that 'superfast equals fibre'. Whether or not wireless (eg LTE) or even satellite services could deliver superfast broadband was discussed in the question and answer session at the end of the presentation at which Dr Ungar indicated that, of course, both had a role to play. But the Freudian slip on the opening slide clearly shows in which direction Ofcom sees the future of high speed broadband.

This slip-up aside, one of the most interesting slides presented by Dr Ungar compared the connection speed that users enjoy with the amount of data they consumed. This diagram is reproduced below (the data is taken from Ofcom's 2012 Infrastructure Report. What it shows are some things that are obvious and others which maybe are not.

speed lines usage
The obvious first:
  • The chart shows that users with connection speeds of below around 5 Mbps do not consume as much data as those with faster connections. This is relatively obvious because the slower the connection, the lesser the ability to consume data. A user with a 1 Mbps connection would have to use their connection 5 times longer to download the same amount of data as a user with a 5 Mbps connection.
  • The chart also shows that those who specifically elect to have a very high speed connection of over 16 Mbps consume more data than those with a slower connection. In effect, those who are paying for higher speed connections (which accounts for approximately 10% of all connections) are doing so because they actually want to use them.

What is not obvious and is quite surprising is that for those with connection speeds in the range of 6 to 16 Mbps, the amount of data they consume each month remains remarkably consistent (at around 28 Gbytes). Having a faster connection does not lead to using more Internet. It thus seems that there is a natural plateau of usage for an average user that is pretty consistent. And that plateau can be reached with a connection speed of 5 Mbps or greater.

Whilst the height of this plateau will inevitably rise as the number of connected devices in homes increases, it does suggest that, for today's British household, a connection speed of 5 Mbps or greater, with a data cap of 40 Gbytes per month (to allow for the occasional peak now and then) would satisfy around 90% of Internet users. Returning to the question of superfast broadband, it therefore seems somewhat gung-ho to be spending hundreds of millions of pounds investing in a fibre-based system which, even Dr Ungar admitted, would only ever reach around two-thirds of the population.

Terrestrial wireless networks (3G) can already deliver the kind of speeds required (HSPA+ offers connection speeds of up to 42 Mbps and even faster if MIMO antennas are used) and tariffs with unlimited data (subject to the usual fair use policies) can be had for around GBP20 per month. Even satellite broadband tariffs, often seen as uneconomical, can offer connection speeds of 20 Mbps with unlimited data download for around GBP35 per month. As things stand, both 3G and satellite networks can provide speeds and packages that exceed what Ofcom has shown to be the average requirement of a typical Internet user of today. As with all such technologies, as time progresses, they will improve and may well stay ahead of requirements.

digital divideWhat Dr Ungar also pointed out was that the 'last few metres' of almost all Internet connections today are wireless, whether it is the few metres from the WiFi hub to the tablet, or from the cellular mast to the smartphone. To support the kinds of speeds likely to be necessary in the future, it is almost certain that fibre will be needed to deliver connections to wireless access points. In cities these are likely to be homes, streetlamps and anywhere else that a wireless hub can be located. Outside these areas, the availability of fibre will be sparse.

But the good news is, that in rural areas, existing wireless technologies can already deliver the kinds of speeds and data packages that meet the needs of the everyday Internet user. The so-called digital divide between urban and rural areas can already be spanned using existing technologies and services (in fact even Ferrets can do it), all that's needed is for regulators to take a step back and recognise that superfast broadband is not always necessary and that, by association, fibre is not necessarily the solution to every ill. A more balanced investment strategy that takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of each of the possible Internet connectivity solutions, and levels the playing field between them, might yield much greater public satisfaction.
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Soldery Songsignal strength
Sunday 23 December, 2012, 23:02 - Radio Randomness, Satellites, Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
It seems there are very few songs which touch on the topic of satellite communications unless you count:
  • Sleeping Satellite by Tasmin Archer;
  • Satellite by Lena (Germany's Eurovision winner in 2010); and
  • Satellite by Oceanlab.
But none of those songs are really about satellite technology as such, they just happen to have ‘satellite’ in their title. There are, however, some songs which have lyrics that are actually about satellites. For example:
I'm just talking to a satellite,
Twenty thousand miles up in the sky each night

Taken from Electric Light Orchestra's Calling America.

There’s also:
I saw two shooting stars last night,
I wished on them but they were only satellites,
It's wrong to wish on space hardware.
I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care.

Taken from Kirsty Macoll's New England.

So it was nice to be alerted to a piece of work which is not only about satellites, but is very specifically endorsing the use of C-Band satellite services (3400 – 4200 MHz) over and above the use of Ku-Band (10700 – 12500 MHz) in sub-Saharan Africa where C-Band reception is more reliable than Ku-Band due to the fact that it deals with rain fading much better than Ku-Band does.

The song is by Cameroonian artist Wes. In it, he laments the loss of his Ku-band equipment, and the main thrust of the song is that he is short of some solder with which to complete the installation of his new C-Band parts. The video has him stood in front of his non-functional C-Band dish whilst his team try to dance their way into fixing the problem. Eventually they set off on a trek to try and get him some solder as the dancing, no matter how energetic, is clearly not working.

The only odd thing is that there is an Asian lady who, all the way through the song, keeps going on about her blasted spade. Still, it all adds to the ambiance.

The song is called ‘Soldery Song’, and you will need to watch the video whilst at the same time reading the lyrics below as it is quite hard to follow what he is saying due to his strong African English accent (the spade lady's incessant moaning about her spade is shown in brackets)...

SOLDERY SONG – WES


Soldery Song – Wes by jibou

(My Spade, where’s my spade?)

Soldery song: me need a solder
Me got me some parts, now it's me too,
Old part me chuck, and new me part, yeh?

Soldery song: me need me a soldery solder
Me got me some parts, now it's me too,
Old part me chuck, and me new part, yeh?

I throw a my Ku away, melt some solder, done my way
I throw a my Ku away, melt some solder, done my way

Bring us C-band way (with a spade?)
One-a-where they can go?
Hey, I meant to check.
(Spade, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh!) x 2

Soldery song: hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo, me need a solder
Me got me some parts, now it's me too,
Old part me chuck and new me part, yeh?

I throw a my Ku away, melt some solder, done my way
I throw a my Ku away, melt some solder, done my way

Bring us C-band way (with a spade?)
One-a-where they can go?
Hey, I meant to check.
(Spade, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh!) x 2

No more can I Ku, new me parts C-band
No more can I Ku, new me parts knackered!
No more can I Ku, new me parts C-band
No more can I Ku, new me parts knackered!
No more can I Ku, new me parts C-band
No more can I Ku, new me parts knackered!

I throw a my Ku away, melt some solder, done my way x 4

Bring us C-band way (with a spade?)
One-a-where they can go?
(Spade, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh!)
Bring us C-band way (with a spade?)
One-a-where they can go?
Hey, I meant to check.

No more can I Ku, new me parts C-band
No more can I Ku, new me parts knackered!
No more can I Ku, new me parts C-band
No more can I Ku...
(Spade, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh!)

Perhaps some kind Wireless Waffle reader could purchase some solder and send it to Wes to get his C-band equipment up and working. Oh, and whilst you’re at it, give the poor lady a spade too.
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