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Cell Service

In today’s world, land line phones are becoming ancient technology.  More and more customers are leaving phone line systems for VoIP systems, while others, myself included, operate solely through their cellular service.  It never ceases to amaze me, however, that the quality of cellular service at home leaves something to be desired.  I have moved three times in the past two years, and haven’t been able to average more than a 2-bar signal in any of my homes. Excessive dropped calls, poor reception and sound quality, and the especially hated voice mail notice from calls that never rang. Sound familiar?  Well it may be time to invest in an amplification system to boost cellular signal while around the house.

The setup is simple, intuitive, and available for purchase from several manufacturers. It consists of a pair of antennas, one high gain and one low gain, and an amplification system.  The system works best if the large gain antenna is mounted outside of the house, but it is not necessary. The system improves your service by relaying the signals from the high gain antenna, through the amplifier, through a smaller antenna mounted somewhere inside the home and out to your cellphone . Transmitting works in the reverse fashion starting from the cell phone, to the small antenna, then through the amplifier and out the large antenna to the service tower.  The benefits to be gained here are two fold.  First, the antenna that communicates directly with the tower will have a much stronger response (higher gain) to the signals, both in and out, than the cell phone because of its sheer size.  Secondly, the signal is being amplified again through an in-line amplifier. The result is a serious increase in local signal to your cell phone resulting in better battery life, fewer dropped and missed calls, and just plain better quality service. This type of setup is not limited to the home either. There are also systems available for installation in your vehicle which operate on the same principle.

Popular Science has a full length article describing these setups and even points out some manufacturers and models of devices available today.

Home Configuration
Automotive Configuration


Read More | Popular Science

Gallery: Making your Cellular Service More Reliable


SmartcartCart filled parking lots may soon be a sight of the past.  A new smart cart created by a college student with all sorts of gadgets called “B.O.S.S” - which stands for “Battery Operated Smart Servant” - actually follows the shopper around the store, avoids obstacles, and most importantly, it can be made to return itself! While that sounds cool and all, we will certainly miss the days of the teenage part-timer running around parking lots to collect stray carts in the rain.

Read More | CNN

Gallery: BOSS: Robot Shopping Cart That Returns Itself

JCB Planelike CarA car - though it looks more like a wingless plane - built by JCB Dieselmax has shattered the previous diesel engine land speed record of 236 mph (380km/h). The vehicle definitely did it’s thing, reaching an average speed of 328.767 mph (529 km/h) during two runs in Utah, USA. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile confirmed the tests on Tuesday, and an attempt to surpass the new record will be made on Wednesday.

Read More | BBC News

Gallery: JCB Diesel-Powered Car shatters Land Speed Record

Nuvi 660Hinging on what must be a successful nuvi 360 launch, Garmin looks to be gearing up for the holiday release of the nuvi 660. The 660 just received FCC approval, which gives Garmin the go-ahead to start pumping these things out. Some of the new features cited for this one include a 4.3-inch display, GTM20 and GTM21 functionality (to help with driving during heavy traffic periods), and a super-cool FM transmitter. If strong enough, imagine the ability to broadcast your directions to another car that is traveling with you to the same destination. While cool, we somehow don’t think that this is the intention. Still, we think we will see this one hit retail sometime this November.

Read More | MobileWhack

Gallery: Garmin nuvi 660 GPS Gets FCC Approval

Make your own kind of electricityIf only there were a way to harness the electricity of the people just walking down the street ...

Researchers in Japan are working on that one, and they might have hit on the answer. Specifically, it’s scientists at the East Japan Railway Company, and they’re testing the development of a ticket gate that would generate electricity from each person who walks through. That’s potentially thousands or even tens of thousands of people each day, and even a small amount of electricity generated by each of these people would be enough to power the station for perhaps the entire day.

The technology involved is piezoelectricity, the same kind of energy used in quartz clocks and computers, which use frequency multipliers to reach the megahertz range. The scientists actually have a device in place, at the railway company’s head office in Shibuya; and they are testing it for a week or so. The machine embedded in the gate generates a small amount of electricity each time someone walks through. Assuming that tests are successful and the company can justify the installation cost in eventual savings, piezo-powered gates will begin appearing in train stations sometime later this year.

Read More | Orgismo via TreeHugger

Gallery: Japanese Scientists Working on Commuter-generated Electricity

Keep yourself awake with this headsetNow here’s something we can really get behind. It’s a device that will wake you up when you start to fall asleep at the wheel. Insurance companies will love this one, we predict.

It’s the Drive Alert Master, and it looks like a Bluetooth headset but is so not for talking on the phone. Rather, it keeps a virtual eye on your head, looking for clues to your level of drowsiness. If your head tilts downward a certain number of degrees (as in when you’re drowsy and you do the dunking flamingo maneuver), the headset beeps loudly right in your ear. You can program the number of degrees of tilt to allow, from 15 to 30.

The manufacturers say it doesn’t slurp up the battery power very fast, and they certainly have priced it to ship. You can get one for just $14.99 USD.

Read More | SmartHome

Gallery: Drive Alert Master: Keep Yourself Awake, Alive Behind the Wheel

Hybrid ScooterSo we have hybrid cars now. Why not hybrid scooters? That’s the question that a Dutch student asked and then answered himself in designing the Fhybrid, which runs ons an electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery that can get its juice from a tank of hydrogen. The student, Crijn Bouman of Delft University of Technology, actually has a prototype, which you can see him riding in the photo at right.

The scooter is front-wheel drive, so that when you brake, the machine can take that energy and plug it back into the battery. The current distance capability is 124 miles. That’s a lot of trips back and forth to the market.

Oh, yes, Bouman’s top speed is 40 mph.

As of now, the scooter is just a prototype, wich a simulated fuel cell to recharge the battery. Hydrogen production is still costly to depend on as a viable fuel source. But a guy can dream, can’t he?

Read More | LiveScience

Gallery: Hybrid Scooter Powered by Hydrogen

Airport Screening StationJust when you thought you were caught up on airport security comes a report out of the U.K. of a sniffing dog so small you can’t see him with your own eyes. Actually, it’s not a dog at all. It’s more like a gadget. Okay, it’s a nano sensor that is being developed by a team of scientists at the University of Wales. They’re just calling it a “nanodog” because of what it does: It “sniffs” for explosives at a level that a live dog can’t match, one part per trillion. That renders useless even the most clever bomb-hiding methods and devices.

Read More | icWales via Engadget

Gallery: ‘Nanodog’ to Sniff Out Bombs at Airports

nuvi 360 For those out there that have to push it to the extreme just a bit, the Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS device is right up your alley. Rather than opting to be a great GPS unit, the Nuvi 360 also plays MP3s and audio books, and also includes a language converter, picture viewer, world clock, currency converter, anti-theft lock, and has built-in Bluetooth. Oh, and of course, it has maps that will guide you all through the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, as well as a couple other places in North America. Add to that a super thin form factor, coming in at 3.8 by 2.0 by 0.8 inches and weighing just 5.1 ounces, and it seems we have a winner here. I mean, the touch screen is cool, and SD card support is great for a couple of the add-on features too…but the price - ouch. The Garmin Nuvi 360 sells for a staggering $965 USD, although you can find it cheaper, but not by much. If you have nine hundred bucks laying around, or are looking for what may be the ultimate in portable gear, check out the Nuvi 360.

Read More | Nuvi 360 Product page

Gallery: Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS Super Unit

CarGoDeskWith utilities like a cellphone, Wireless Broadband, GotoMyPC, and a laptop, is it now part of the business plan to spend rush hour on the clock?  Well, now with the CarGoDesk, drivers stuck in traffic can boot up that laptop and get to work. 

Specs include a large lockable compartment for the laptop, a secondary storage area for necessary files, a non-skid hinged desktop, and several attachment points for cell phone, PDA, etc.  The CarGoDesk fits in the passenger seat and is secured with the seatbelt.  It’s dimensions are 26.87” L X 16"W X 10.66"T and it weighs 13.7 lbs. empty - but don’t worry, it’s wheels prevent having to lug it around.

Production begins summer 2006.

Read More | CarGoDesk Product Page

Gallery: The CarGoDesk Has Your On-The-Go Work Hook-Up