Category Archives: Uncategorized

Canada Just Celebrated Its 150th Anniversary of the Enactment of the Constitution Act

To celebrate this anniversary, Michael Dunn of Electronic Design News’ (EDN’s), has compiled a number of blogs on Canada’s technological past and present with a focus on engineers, technologies, institutions, and facilities. Many are informative and fascinating, such as the time in 1978 when a Soviet satellite, with a nuclear reactor still on board, burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere, scattering radioactive debris over Northwest Canada.–The-Institutions

The Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has taught a number of space-related courses at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and defense-related courses for Armed Forces Canada and Canada’s Defense, Research, and Development.

Canadian Flag

Latest Cyber News

466590main_07-2010_soc-img2On May 23rd, the Qatari News Agency (QNA) was hacked, initiating a political fallout. It is believed, by the U.S. intelligence community, that Russia may have been responsible. The hack centered around the creation and broadcast of a fake video that wrongly indicated Qatar leader’s allegiance with movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah, establishing a narrative across the Middle East.
The Applied Technology Institute (ATI) offers a Cyber Leader Course (CLC), which provides cyber leaders with the information they need to understand the Cyber Security landscape. The course exercises provide an opportunity to understand how an attacker gains access and moves around a network. Cyber leaders learn that once an attacker gains access to a network, they can change information, such as web pages, user accounts, passwords and log files.
For more information on this course, visit
Upcoming course dates include:
  • September 6–7 2017 and
  • October 1–2 2017
Both courses are held in Hanover, MD.

First SPY-6(V) Radar BMD Test

An Arleigh Burke class destroyer
An Arleigh Burke class destroyer

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on Radar, Missiles & Defense.  The news below would be of interest to our readers.

The U.S. Navy successfully conducted a flight test March 15 with the AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) off the west coast of Hawaii, Naval Sea Systems Command announced in a March 30 release.

During a flight test designated Vigilant Hunter, the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR searched for, detected and maintained track on a short-range ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai. This is the first in a series of ballistic missile defense flight tests planned for the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR.

Read more here.

DRONE DISASTER Facebook’s massive Aquila drone that hopes to bring internet to the whole world CRASHES

GOVERNMENT authorities are investigating Facebook’s massive drone Aquila after it crash landed.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTBS) launched a probe into the inaugural flight of Facebook’s drone which the social networking giant hopes will be able to bring internet to remote parts of the world.

Following the flight, Facebook said in a statement: “We were happy with the successful first test flight and were able to verify several performance models and components including aerodynamics, batteries, control systems and crew training, with no major unexpected results.”

However it has now emerged that the inaugural flight, which took place in July, was not without incident.

Peter Knudson, a NTSB spokesman, has today confirmed that when flying over Arizona in the United States the drone suffered “substantial” damage in a crash.

No one was harmed in the incident, and there was no damage on the ground.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in July: “We gathered lots of data about our models and the aircraft structure – and after two years of development, it was emotional to see Aquila actually get off the ground.

“But as big as this milestone is, we still have a lot of work to do.

“Eventually, our goal is to have a fleet of Aquilas flying together at 60,000 feet, communicating with each other with lasers and staying aloft for months at a time – something that’s never been done before.

“To get there, we need to solve some difficult engineering challenges.”

The crash could prove to be a setback for Facebook’s plan, which hopes to bring extensive internet access to under-served areas of the world such as parts of Africa, India and the Middle East.

Super-Moon Photos and Facts

One of the super-moon photos is a humorous hoax. Can you spot it? We knew that ATI’s instructors are world-class experts. They are the best in the business, averaging 25 to 35 years of experience, and are carefully selected for their ability to explain advanced technology in a readily understandable manner. We did not know that many are talented photographers. We challenged them to take some photographs of the November 13-14 super-moon.  See our previous post and then the resulting photographs.

Tom Logsdon, who teaches Orbital & Launch Mechanics – Fundamentals provided us some of the orbits key parameters.

Here are the best, most appropriate, average orbital parameters for Earth’s.

perigee radius: 363,300 Km (for the super-moon it was 356,508 Km (or 221,524 miles)

apogee radius: 405,400 Km

Inclination to the ecliptic plane: 5.145 deg

(the plane containing the Earth and the moon)

orbital eccentricity: 0. 0549 (sometimes quoted as 5.49 percent)

recession rate from the Earth: 3.8 cm/yr

Siderial month: 27.3 days

Synodic month: 29.5 days

( the sidereal month is the time it takes for the moon to make one 360 deg trip around the earth;

the synodic month is the month we observe from the spinning earth…it involves a few extra degrees of travel beyond the sidereal month)

Dr. Peter Zipfel Shalimar, Florida

  Dr. Peter Zipfel

Six Degree of Freedom Modeling of Missile and Aircraft Simulations

Aerospace Simulations In C++

  James  Jenkins, Riva, MD

Sonar Signal Processing

 Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Engineering Systems Modeling with Excel / VBA

Thermal & Fluid Systems Modeling

  Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

Fundamentals of Synthetic Aperture Radar

Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

The photos that beat them all! Taken by the wife or Matt Moran

Get Your Camera Ready – Super-Moon November 13-14.

Get your cameras ready. The biggest, brightest full moon will be visible November 13 and 14, 2016. Take photos especially around moon rise and set times. If you get a good photo, please send a copy to us at ATI. We will feature a selection in a future blog post. The article below give useful hints on how to get good photos. You want some recognizable items in the foreground, such as a tree, person or building, to help frame the photo and to give a size prospective.

A full moon won’t be this close again until 2034…so the largest and most visible moon in 86 years.
This should also be a fun discussion and viewing opportunity for those of you who have children or grandchildren.
On its elliptical orbit, the moon will come to within 221,524 miles of the Earth. It will be closer than at any time since January 1948, almost 69 years ago. The moon orbits the earth, but the dimensions of the orbit do not remain constant.
The Slooh Community Observatory will offer a live broadcast for November’s full moon on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT on Nov. 14).


A mere 49 years later –for me- the CHICAGO CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!!

It has happened… the wild and amazing 2016 World Series…..THE CUBS HAVE WON!!!

So maybe this is a bit extravagant, but I first started watching and listening…..on the radio…. back in 1967. Growing up in Illinois, I was a third generation Cub fan following my father and his father and family (except for one renegade aunt who always supported the White Sox). The Cubs played at Wrigley Field back then, too, but only day games. No night games until 1988. Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, was playing first after many Golden Glove years at short. And then the heartbreak of 1969. But enough!

Last night in Game 7 in a 10-inning matchup with the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs played fun, exciting, and winning baseball!

Some of the facts
· The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.
· Last night was only the 4th time in history that a Game 7 went into extra innings.
· It was 1985 when the last team came back from a 3-1 Series deficit.
· Retiring Cubs catcher David Ross in his last at-bat hit a homer.
· Game 7 was played in Cleveland. Thousands of Cubs fans surrounded Wrigley Field in anticipation.
· Bill Murray
· Wrigley Field is still the best baseball park in the country!

Links to some of the newspaper coverage
Chicago Tribune
Washington Post
New York Times



 Falcon 9 Two-stage Launch Vehicle April 14, 2015 -- The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 4:10 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA
Falcon 9 Two-stage Launch Vehicle April 14, 2015 — The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 4:10 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

His eyes were at least as blue as any I had ever seen before, buried in a gentle
and intelligent face. His movements were gentle and supple, too, the carefully
measured movements of a supremely confident individual. When the line of
engineers and managers stretching out in front of me finally melted away, those
blue eyes never left my face until I, too, moved on.
His name was Neal Armstrong. Two weeks earlier, he and Edwin Aldrin — two
lighthearted gazelles — were frolicking across the lunar landscape while Michael
Collins quietly orbited the moon in the Apollo Capsule circling overhead.
Up there on our roomy stage at Rockwell International, Armstrong had told us
that, when he and his two companions were in their Apollo capsule 350 feet
above Cape Canaveral awaiting liftoff, it suddenly dawned on them that “our 6
million-pound Saturn V moon rocket was 90-percent high explosives divided
between three enormously powerful stages each of which was awarded to the
lowest bidder!”
He and his compatriots were the heroes. But, he showered compliments on us,
nevertheless. “The S-II stage, designed and built here in Seal Beach, California,
provided us with the smoothest ride of all,” he told us. “I’m not sure why it turned
out to be so smooth. But I am quite sure nearly every expert in this room could
explain it to me in five minutes or so.”
Rockets, old and new, have exploded — and failed in various other ways! — on a
fairly regular basis. America’s modern multistage chemical rockets carrying
unmanned satellites into orbit, have a 94-percent success rate. They fail on one
flight in 16. Those with astronauts on board are, on average, four times more
reliable: over the years, they have failed on about one mission in 64.
Booster rockets are extremely delicate machines. Consequently, the September
1, 2016, ground-test failure of the Falcon 9 built by SpaceX, was not at all
surprising. According to the Los Angeles Times, their (unmanned) flights headed
for Earth orbit have experienced a success rate of 93-percent. In other words, the
SpaceX boosters have failed, on average, on one flight in 14, a tad more
frequently than the long-term average for American boosters headed toward
New booster rockets fail more often during their initial break-in period when their
designers are trying to find and eliminate any flaws in their design. In the early
days of the space program, the first seven Vanguard rockets, for example, failed
to reach their desired orbits.
Will the failure of the $72 million Falcon 9 with a $200 million Facebook
Communication Satellite on top cause SpaceX to stop launching satellites into
orbit? Not likely. The destruction of the Hindenburg Dirigible did cause a thriving
industry to collapse. But there are hardly any other examples of disasters that
have caused the captains of Industry to bail out of a successful business.
Most satellites and their boosters are adequately insured. And their insurance
payouts almost always arrived promptly without serious hassle.
Will large numbers of customers abandon SpaceX as a result of this expensive
ground-test explosion? Not likely. Measured in terms of dollars-per-pound
delivered into orbit, a launch on the Falcon 9 costs only about half as much as a
launch on any other competitive booster produced and marketed in the United
This article was written by Tom Logsdon who teaches frequent short courses for
The Applied Technology Institute Headquartered in Riva, Maryland, a stone’s
throw from Annapolis, just North of Washington, D.C.
Upcoming courses to be taught by Mr. Logsdon include:
* “The GPS and Its International Competitors.” Colorado Springs, Colorado.
December 5-8, 2016
* “Launch Vehicles and Orbital Mechanics.” Albuquerque, New Mexico, January
23-26, 2017.
*The GPS and Its International Competitors” Columbia, Maryland. February
20-23, 2017.
*Launch Vehicles and Orbital Mechanics.” Columbia, Maryland. February 28-
March 3, 2017.
* “Team-Based Problem Solving” Columbia, Maryland. March 21-22, 2017.
* ”The GPS and Its International Competitors.” Columbia, Maryland. April 17-20,
1. “Rocket Explosion is Another Crisis for Elon Musk.” Russ Mitchell. Los Angeles
Times. September 2, 2016. Pg. C2.
2. “Launch Delays Likely after Blast.” Samantha Masunga. Los Angeles Times.
September 2, 2016. Pg. C1.
3. “Rocket Launch is a Blow to SpaceX, Facebook.” Samantha Masunga and Jim
Puzzanghara. Los Angeles Times. September 2, 2016. Pg. 1.

U.S. Naval Academy Videos

ATI is proud that several of our instructors and friends are U.S. Naval Academy graduates or instructors.

The U.S. Naval Academy was founded in Annapolis on Oct. 10, 1845. This video highlights the Naval Academy and Its traditions.

With over 80,000 graduates, the US Naval Academy has created a legacy for many to follow, including a former President of the United States, Super Bowl MVP, Heisman Trophy winners, Olympic gold medalists, CEOs, astronauts, entrepreneurs, Rhodes scholars, Medal of Honor winners, noted scholars, and fellow alumni who have achieved greatness in every field they entered.

Review of “12 Popular Software Defined Radios”

John Reyland, PhD
Instructor of ATI’s “Signal Processing for Software Defined Radio”
ATI offers two scheduled courses on Software Defined Radios (SDR). Additional courses are offered on-site at your facility worldwide to groups of 8 or more.

Practical Software Defined Radio Development

Software Defined Radio Development- Practical Applications
The schedule for these SDR courses is provided at the link below. Check frequently as additional courses are added based on the demand. If you are interested in courses for the SDR area, please post a comment on the ATI blog and send an email to Visit:

First we should define what is a Software Defined Radio (SDR). The author of the reviewed article neglects to do this so I will provide a definition. In my view an SDR is a radio system with control and reconfiguration defined by a highly organized SDR frameworks. This frame work reads configuration files and reconfigures radio hardware and software to bring about the desired radio operation. An example of a standardized set of SDR configuration files is the Software Communication Architecture (SCA) domain profile. SCA domain profile is a set of Extensible Markup Language (XML) files that describe waveform components and interconnections. One example of an SDR that meets this definition is at:

This is a useful article on examples of Software Defined Radios and the source of inspiration for this tutorial blog post.

None of the radios in the reviewed article meet this strict definition. So here is a simpler definition that will cover most of them. An SDR is a hardware device that tunes to a range of radio frequency carriers. The selected carrier is down converted to an intermediate frequency, filtered and converted to a stream of digital samples. Ironically, this definition does not imply any user changeable software at all! Indeed, there is very little user changeable software in most of these 12 devices. The author neglects to mention that the “software defined” part is written in GNU radio, Simulink or some pre-written third party software (for example, see ) running on the computer the SDR is connected to. These products are more properly called SDR front end tuners. To be fair, I will admit that common usage seems to prefer calling them SDRs.

A disappointment with these products is that most of them do not have a sensitivity spec. This would be, for a digital signal, the minimum bit error rate for a certain low receive level (for example -100 dBm on the antenna input). For a voice signal sensitivity could be the signal to noise and distortion (SINAD) for a similar low level signal. In my opinion, the lack of serious specs like sensitivity puts these products in the hobby or educational category. A professional application would need a link budget and other parameters like probability of outage. Lack of a sensitivity spec makes these difficult.

Another observation is that most of these SDRs do not tune down into the 3 – 30 MHz HF band, where most of the ham radio signals are. This may be because the tuner chips they use were designed for applications, such as TV and commercial wireless, that did not need these low frequencies. There are a few that offer adapters to reach these low frequencies.

This article provides sparse comments about 12 SDR products. Prices, applications, frequencies and ease of use are given as the reason these 12 were chosen. In what follows I am going to reorder the author’s choices, starting with the products that seem to offer the most usefulness to the average SDR experimenter.

This is a low cost (about $25) 24 MHz to 1.8GHz tuner with a USB interface. You can put together a complete SDR receiver by controlling the RTL-SDR with pre-written SDR software (for example SDR#). The well written book “The Hobbyist’s Guide to the RTL-SDR” by Carl Laufer is an absolute must for getting the most out of this receiver.

This is made by the same company (NooElec) and is very similar to the RTL-SDR. The RTL-SDR started out as a TV tuner for use in countries other than the US. The NESDR is specifically designed for SDR use. A primary difference is the TCXO (Temperature Controlled Crystal Oscillator) in the NESDR has much better specs then the cheap crystal in the RTL-SDR.

HackRF One
This is a higher performance wide range tuning version of the RTL-SDR. With 1-6GHz tuning range and both transmit and receive capability, this may be the best value of any of these SDRs. Price is only $299.00. However, for those who want to program receiver DSP into an on-board FPGA, the USRP may be a better value. The HackRF is RF only, no FPGA.

With a $199 price tag, this is another upgrade from the low cost RTL-SDR. However, unlike the HackRF, the 24MHz – 1.8 GHz tuning range is not much better than the RTL-SDR. Also, unlike the HackRF, the AirSpy does not seem to include a transmitter.

Ubertooth One
This is a USB dongle based SDR with better specs than the RTL-SDR. Tuning range is restricted to the 2.4 GHz ISM bands, not as versatile as the HackRF.

National Instruments USRP
This is similar to Ettus USRP. These devices are both based the Analog Devices AD9361 transceiver chip. The Ettus USRP is commonly used with GNU radio and the NI USRP is probably designed specifically for Labview, a block diagram oriented signal processing tool from National Instruments.

Other devices called SDR

The reset of this list has various circuit cards that could possibly be used as SDRs, however they either have high prices or they simply do not include any radio tuning or they simply were not designed to be SDRs.
Red Pitaya
Surprise, surprise, this is not an SDR even with our simpler definition. There is a 125MHz analog to digital converter (ADC) and a 125 MHz digital to analog converter (DAC). However, there is no antenna matching, AGC, tuning or IF filtering. Seems like the Red Pitaya is more suited to some kind of electrical mechanical control. Now that I have bashed it as an SDR I will point out a very positive feature. The Red Pitaya has a Xilinx ZYNQ FPGA. Some of the other SDRs have a smaller FPGA that, with some effort, the user can implement radio digital signal processing. The Red Pitaya has a much larger FPGA that could possibly perform all the signal processing need to completely decode the received message – if it was a radio.

Quadrus SDR
Except for a much smaller FPGA, Quadrus SDR is similar to the Red Pataya. There are four channels of phase coherent sampling but no front end RF components. Most radio front end circuits provide frequency down converting, filtering and up to about 100 dB of gain to match the receive signal to the ADC dynamic range. Here, we have up to 30 dB gain going directly into the ADC input. Coupled with properly designed radio front end hardware this device could be a good platform for multiple input multiple output (MIMO) signal processing.

This is a 6U Compact-PCI form factor hardware platform that can be used for SDR. This hardware is quite large compared with the other products discussed here. The fact that a card this large only has a Virtex 5 FPGA and no radio hardware tells me it is probably not a good choice for an SDR. The Rad Pitaya will perform better for less money.

ThinkRF WSA5000
With a tuning range up to 27 GHz, this SDR is unique. The pricing starts at $3500, a bit outside the hobby category and more like professional test equipment. Comes with spectrum analysis software.
SignalHound BB60C
This has radio front end components however is it is designed for use as a spectrum analyzer and is not an SDR.