Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons


As you might expect, acquiring a signal from a satellite traveling at speeds of over 17,400 mph can be a tricky business. A new system called SARAS, which is a Spanish acronym for "Fast Acquisition of Satellites and Launchers," more than doubles the effective area of the receiving dish antenna, allowing the signal to be acquired much faster. Read More
CubeSats are certainly in the process of revolutionizing the satellite industry. They can serve many of the same functions as full-sized satellites, but at a size of 10 x 10 x 10 cm (3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 in) and a mass of under 1.33 kg (2.9 lb), they’re much cheaper to build and get into orbit. With that smaller overall size, however, comes smaller onboard antennas. These severely limit CubeSats’ communications range, restricting them to fairly low orbits. That may be about to change, though, as MIT is developing larger, inflatable antennas. Read More
Reports that the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) had been shut down permanently were apparently a bit premature. According to HAARP program manager James Keeney, the facility is only temporarily off the air while operating contractors are changed. So why does anyone care? Despite being associated with various natural disasters over the past two decades by the conspiracy fringe, HAARP is in reality a facility for studying the ionosphere. Let's take a look at the goings on at HAARP – past, present, and future. Read More
Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed what could become low-cost, X-ray vision. The system, known as "Wi-Vi," is based on a concept similar to radar and sonar imaging, but rather than using high-power signals, this tech uses reflected Wi-Fi signals to track the movement of people behind walls and closed doors. Read More
By now, we’ve all become quite used to seeing QR codes on products, price tags and advertisements – just scan the code with your smartphone’s camera, and it’s converted into readable information. Soon, however, those codes could be facing competition from something known as the rectenna. It’s an inexpensive label-like device that transmits data to a near-field communication (NFC)-enabled smartphone, using that phone’s radio waves as its power source. Read More
Soon, you may be able to correct your cell phone's signal problems by spraying on an antenna. Researchers at the military technology firm Chamtech have developed a special aerosol spray that can essentially add an antenna to whatever it's sprayed on and improve the network coverage in the area. The spray essentially covers a surface with thousands of nanocapacitors. Those nanocapacitors align themselves on the surface, and create a wireless antenna for the devices located in the area. The idea is essentially the nanocapactitors take care of all of the hard work involved in finding a wireless signal, making it easier for your phone or tablet to get connected and stay connected to a network. Read More
Vehicles such as cars, ships and aircraft need to stay in stable contact with earth-orbiting satellites, in order for on-board functions like GPS, internet access and satellite television reception to work properly. As the vehicles move, their orientation to those satellites changes, so electronically-redirectable phased-array antennas are typically required. According to scientists at Germany's Technische Universität Darmstadt, however, these are "either very expensive or only sluggishly redirectable." That's why doctoral candidate Onur Hamza Karabey is working on a low-cost, fast-performing alternative - a liquid crystal antenna. Read More
Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic energy, and when they’re picked up by traditional metallic antennas, the electrons that are generated can be converted into an electrical current. Given that optical waves are also a type of electromagnetic energy, a team of scientists from Tel Aviv University wondered if these could also be converted into electricity, via an antenna. It turns out that they can – if the antenna is very, very short. These “nanoantennas” could replace the silicon semiconductors in special solar panels, which could harvest more energy from a wider spectrum of sunlight than is currently possible. Read More
Satellites are very expensive to put into orbit. This is because the parts that they're built from are costly to make, but also because it requires so much energy to lift their considerable weight off the Earth's surface. It would then follow that satellites would cost less if they could use salvaged parts, and if they were lighter when lifting off from the launch pad. That's where DARPA's proposed Phoenix program comes into play. It would see a purpose-built spacecraft removing usable parts from the plethora of "dead" satellites currently in orbit, then leaving those parts for attachment to newly-arriving satellites. Read More
A patch about the size of the leather name tab on a pair of jeans could save your life one day – should you be stranded at sea, that is. In a project overseen by the European Space Agency (ESA), researchers from Finnish company Patria and the Tampere University of Technology have created a flexible fabric antenna, that can be sewn into life vests. Once activated, that antenna transmits its coordinates to earth-orbiting satellites, that can immediately relay the location to rescue personnel. Read More