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Hands on: A Ham Radio for Makers

The RS-UV3 lets you build your own Arduino- or Raspberry Pi–based radio

5 min read
Hands on: A Ham Radio for Makers
Photo: Randi Klett

The RS-UV3 is a shot in the arm for amateur radio. Mobile phones and the Internet have made the basic act of talking to a faraway person an everyday experience. This means that much of the appeal of ham radio is now in things like emergency response; technically challenging exercises such as bouncing signals off satellites or ultralow-power long-distance contacts; and exploring a host of digital communications modes.

In some ways, trying out such digital modes has never been easier. Free desktop programs like Fldigi can work with the audio tones used in a smorgasbord of communications schemes, from the 1930s-era radio-fax Hellschreiber protocol to today’s complete bulletin-board systems. But linking the computers running such software to radios is often surprisingly fiddly in the age of painless USB and Bluetooth. Except for high-end rigs, connecting a computer to a ham radio typically involves navigating legacy interfaces and connectors and can call for specialized additional equipment, a turnoff for makers who might otherwise be interested in the possibilities of radio.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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