Category Archives: history

The Final Days of the Fire Lookouts

For more than a century, the United States Forest Service has employed men and women to monitor vast swaths of wilderness from isolated lookout towers. Armed with little more than a pair of binoculars and a map, these lookouts served as an early warning system for combating wildfires. Eventually the …read more

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Posted in Current Events, drone, environmental monitoring, Featured, firefighting, history, lookout, slider, tool hacks, tower, uav, weather satellite, wildfire | Leave a comment

A Virtual Tour of the B-17

The Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” is arguably the most recognizable aircraft of the Second World War. Made infamous by the daring daylight strategic bombing runs they carried out over Germany, more than 12,000 of these four-engined bombers were produced between 1939 and 1945. Thanks to the plane’s renowned survivability in …read more

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Posted in aircraft, B-17, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, bomber, Featured, history, tour, wwii | Leave a comment

Hackaday Celebrates 15 Years and Oh How the Hardware Has Changed

Today marks exactly 15 years since Hackaday began featuring one Hack a Day, and we’ve haven’t missed a day since. Over 5,477 days we’ve published 34,057 articles, and the Hackaday community has logged 903,114 comments. It’s an amazing body of work from our writers and editors, a humbling level of …read more

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Posted in 15th Anniversary, Current Events, Featured, hackaday, history, Interest, Original Art, restrospective, slider | Leave a comment

Echos of the Cold War: Nuclear-Powered Missiles Have Been Tried Before

On August 8th, an experimental nuclear device exploded at a military test facility in Nyonoksa, Russia. Thirty kilometers away, radiation levels in the city of Severodvinsk reportedly peaked at twenty times normal levels for the span of a few hours. Rumors began circulating about the severity of the event, and …read more

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Posted in Current Events, Featured, heat exchanger, history, liquid cooling, Nuclear Reactor, nuclear weapon, Original Art, radiation, ramjet, Rosatom, russia, Skyfall, Soviet Union, weapons hacks | Leave a comment

Apollo’s PLSS And The Science Of Keeping Humans Alive In Space

Ever since humans came up with the bright idea to explore parts of the Earth which were significantly less hospitable to human life than the plains of Africa where humankind evolved, there’s been a constant pressure to better protect ourselves against the elements to keep our bodies comfortable. Those first …read more

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Posted in apollo, Featured, history, laika, nasa, plss, science, space, space race | Leave a comment

The Power Of Directional Antennas

AM broadcasting had a big problem, but usually only at night. During the day the AM signals had limited range, but at night they could travel across the country. With simple wire antennas, any two stations on the same frequency would interfere with each other. Because of this, the FCC …read more

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Posted in am radio, antenna, antennas, directional antennas, history, radio hacks | Leave a comment

Radio Piracy on the High Seas: Commercial Demand for Taboo Music

The true story of pirate radio is a complicated fight over the airwaves. Maybe you have a picture in your mind of some kid in his mom’s basement playing records, but the pirate stations we are thinking about — Radio Caroline and Radio Northsea International — were major business operations. …read more

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Posted in Featured, history, pirate radio, radio caroline, radio northesea international, shortwave | Leave a comment

Bell Labs, Skunk Works, and the Crowd Sourcing of Innovation

I’ve noticed that we hear a lot less from corporate research labs than we used to. They still exist, though. Sure, Bell Labs is owned by Nokia and there is still some hot research at IBM even though they quit publication of the fabled IBM Technical Disclosure Bulletin in 1998. But today innovation is more likely to come from a small company attracting venture capital than from an established company investing in research. Why is that? And should it be that way?

The Way We Were

There was a time when every big company had a significant research and development …read more

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Posted in bell labs, Business, Featured, history, ibm, lockheed, Nobel, rants, skunk work, skunk works, transistor, Volta | Leave a comment

EF50: the Tube that Changed Everything

From today’s perspective, vacuum tubes are pretty low tech. But for a while they were the pinnacle of high tech, and heavy research followed the promise shown by early vacuum tubes in transmission and computing. Indeed, as time progressed, tubes became very sophisticated and difficult to manufacture. After all, they were as ubiquitous as ICs are today, so it is hardly surprising that they got a lot of R&D.

Prior to 1938, for example, tubes were built as if they were light bulbs. As the demands on them grew more sophisticated, the traditional light bulb design wasn’t sufficient. For one, …read more

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Posted in bbc, ef50, Hackaday Columns, history, pye, radar, tube, valve, wireless hacks | Leave a comment

Oops… Britain Launched A Satellite, But Who Remembers It?

Did you know Britain launched its first satellite after the program had already been given the axe? Me neither, until some stories of my dad’s involvement in aerospace efforts came out and I dug a little deeper into the story.

I grew up on a small farm with a workshop next to the house, that housed my dad’s blacksmith business. In front of the workshop was a yard with a greenhouse beyond it, along one edge of which there lay a long gas cylinder about a foot (300mm) in diameter. To us kids it looked like a torpedo, and I …read more

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Posted in Black Arrow, Hackaday Columns, history, Prospero, satellite, satellite launch, space | Leave a comment