The No-Frills Technical Links Page
Page Two

A big bunch of technical links without a lot of fanfare or decoration.

Click here to go to Page One, if you missed it.

Numbers, especially random numbers:

Bored at work?  Download  The value of pi to 400,000,000 decimal places.

HighPi  A website dedicated to Pi.  A million digits of pi on the web site's first (and only?) page.  Is this a maximum-length domain name?
Pi to more decimal places than you will ever need
More pi resources.
Pi Pages on the Internet.

200 million digits of pi, in plain text files, 10 megabytes each.
200 million digits of pi, compressed files.
The first 10 million digits of pi, in 1-million digit chunks, plain text.
Same as above, compressed files, 529 k-bytes each.
Also available:  1/pi to 200 million decimal places.
And for the precocious young geek who has memorized everything else, Pi in hexadecimal format  (3.243F6A8885A308D31319)  to 500 digits.

Be sure to visit The Digit Warehouse.

Japanese Man Recites First 100,000 Digits of Pi.  At some point, the limiting factor will be the person's speaking rate and the number of hours he can stay awake.  If you can clearly recite three digits per second, that would yield about 10,000 digits per hour, including time off for rest periods.

10,000 factorial.
The Prime Pages ... featuring ... The first 15 million prime numbers.
Find the Prime Factors of a Number.
600,000,000 random bits!
Request Hotbits.  (Random numbers generated by some kind of radioactive process.)
Random Noise Sources
Convert text to binary just for fun.
 New!   Shortwave Espionage:  A huge list of links to web sites dealing with numbers stations, which are mysterious shortwave signals which apparently broadcast coded messages to persons unknown, by having someone monotonously read lists of numbers.  More about numbers stations.  Click on "Resources" for many additional links.
Recordings of numbers stations


Due to lack of interest (on my part, at least), this section has been removed.  The people who are really into cryptography are now light-years ahead of me.


Word Reference: Dictionaries; translation from (to) English to (from) Spanish, German, Italian and French.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Translate with Babel Fish

Phonetic alphabets and word lists:  [1] [2] [3]

Lists of word lists:  [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Word lists come in handy when playing or studying word games, learning the morse code, or analyzing cryptograms.
Bartleby quotations.
Fun with Words
World Wide Words
 Excellent:   A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia.  (19 pages of them!)

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Reference Section:

ASCII lookup table.
Smith chart.
The Reference Desk:  "The single best source for facts on the Net."  At least that's what they say.
One interesting subsection of theirs is the Reference Site-of-the-Day.
A complete list of two-letter internet country codes.
Numerous links regarding Weights and measures.
Electrical Conversions, Formulas & References
A handy assortment of Cheat sheets.
Dewey Decimal numbers
How Stuff Works
Ask An Expert
Expert Central
Master-Keyed Lock Vulnerability
Circuit Sage:  "Making circuit design easy.  A new routine every week."
Fast track instrumentation information from numerous manufacturers.
Bowden's Hobby Circuits
Lakeview Research:  Tons of information about USB, serial ports, parallel ports, and other stuff.
Objective Science
All about the Analemma from NASA's "Ask a High-Energy Astronomer" service.
Map showing the number of Congressmen from each state
Census 2000 Shows Resident Population of 281,421,906.  Details including interesting maps on the U.S. Census web site.
The World's Tallest Buildings
Interactive Weather Information Network, featuring Texas Zone Forecasts.  (I'm in zone 117.)
Router?  Bridge?  Switch?  Hub?  What's the difference?

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Aviation and space travel:

The National Aviation Reporting Center On Anomalous Phenomena.
Shuttle launch video from external camera.
Space Daily:  Cool space news.
Bare bones space headlines
The "Moon Trees":  Trees grown from seeds which once orbited the Moon.
NASA's SOFIA:  The Airborne Telescope Prepares to Take Flight.
Aviation news  for commercial aviation fanatics only.  Useful Information for the Airline Passenger.
The latest crashes
Tail number search:  Identify the owner of an airplane by looking up the tail number.
Airport information  (Just name the airport, for example ABI.)
Air Force One:  U.S. Air Force fact sheet.  (They call it a VC-25A.)
U2 specifications
The B-1B Fact Sheet mentions the ALE-50 Towed Decoy System which looks like a really great idea.
Redbird Airport tech specifications
3-letter FAA airport & beacon identifiers
Aviation pictures:  Unusual approaches, etc.
Numerous aviation links
McDonnell Douglas Historical Rare Birds Photos:  Very odd aircraft from way back in the 20th century.
Space Station Visibility  Just after sunset (or before sunrise), if the sun hits the Space Station just right, and the weather is good, you can see it easily.
Where is the Space Station Now?  Shows the real-time location of the ISS.
Better yet,  J-Track 3D:  Shows the current location of the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory and other objects.
 Very good:   Space station sighting opportunities customized for Dallas, Texas.
Satellite Sighting Schedule (click on "Go to Country").
Ed White biography
Biographies of former astronauts
Space shuttle frequencies

List of solar system objects by radius.

Shift in magnetic north pole affects... Tampa airport.  Runways at a Florida airport are to be given brand new numbers, but not for cosmetic reasons — the changes are thanks to movement in the Earth's magnetic field.  Changes in our planet's core are causing the north magnetic pole to speed towards Russia at nearly 40 miles a year.  But the affects of the magnetic shift are being felt over 3,500 miles south of the Arctic — at Tampa International Airport.

The Misconception of Space Research Byproducts:  Many people believe that we wouldn't have Teflon, Velcro, Tang, or microwave ovens if it were not for the manned space flight program.  They're wrong!

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Nauru and other tiny islands:

One of my many interests is the Republic of Nauru, the third smallest country in the world.  An oval-shaped island lying near the equator, Nauru is the smallest republic in the world.  Here is The Nauru Flag.  According to the World Almanac, the people of Nauru own no television receivers.  Apparently there are no TV sets anywhere on the island.  (What a remarkably advanced society!)

The Constitution of the Republic of Nauru is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.  In the very first sentence of their constitution, the people of Nauru "acknowledge God as the almighty and everlasting Lord and the giver of all good things."

Nauru came to my attention one day in a ham radio store where I saw a QSL card (a ham operator's customized postcard confirming reception or conversation) from station C21AA in Nauru.  Tiny countries and sparsely populated islands are of interest to ham radio fanatics because contact with those countries is usually quite a rare and difficult feat.

Lots of information is available at Nauru Online, however you will soon discover that there's not a lot of internet bandwidth available from Nauru.  The connection is rather slow, possibly due to satellite hops.  (Don't they have underwater fiber-optic lines?)

More background information about Nauru.

Far Side Of Paradise.  Nauru needs all the friends it can get.  There isn't enough arable land to feed its own tiny population, and the rusty desalination plant can't be counted on to produce enough water.  The nation is nearly bankrupt.  Its telephone link with the outside world was down for two months earlier this year, and Nauru's one and only airplane is at risk of being repossessed.  Food and other basic goods imported by ship are down to a trickle because of unpaid debts.

Nauru photo shows "Topside" which is a strip-mined wasteland covering much of the island.

Another island that's interesting is Navassa, which is an uninhabited U.S. territory, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Take a look at the Navassa Island photo tour.

Another interesting little island nation is Niue.
More information about Niue.

It's easy to get a domain name in Tokelau, since they appear to be providing domain registration at no charge!

Tired of the big city?  Visit Salas y Gómez.

Coming soon (maybe):  Information about other small islands, such as Palmyra Atoll, Heard Island and the McDonald Islands, Jan Mayen, Jarvis Island, Johnston Island, The Marshall Islands, Norfolk Island, The Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Wallis and Futana Islands, and many others.  If I somehow had the opportunity to visit one of these places, I'd probably be ready to leave after about an hour.  But from this distance they seem really interesting.

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Other unusual stuff:

Homeland Security News and Resources.

All about fiber optics
Really big custom power transformers
Computer Stupidities:  Tech support horror stories.
Defaced web sites
The Dvorak keyboard
National Infrastructure Protection Center: Major Investigations.  Primarily a list of hackers who have been identified and/or recently captured.
FreakTech:  Cutting edge technology; cool ideas that are just now under development.
Computer-Related Risks:  This is a very interesting and entertaining monthly newsletter about computers making life more complicated for everyone, often as a result of overconfidence in computers and software.
Real-time traffic in Dallas
One newsroom feeds another at Assignment Editor dot com.
Muzak  comes in many flavors.  They give away free samples on their web site.
The Museum of Hoaxes
Postal bar codes explained
Postage rate calculator
Flag Line: Flags of every nation and state.
Urban Legends Reference Pages
International Signal Flags:  Cool demo.
Peak bagging:  The hobby of visiting the highest point in each state.
A Brief History of the U.S. Cent
Uncommonly Difficult IQ Tests
Diving expedition to recover very early underwater telegraph cables
A collection of strange maps.
US Army engineering publications

Horns and sirens:

Remember the words of your Driver's Ed teacher -- the horn is not a toy.

Unless the horn is a toy.  No, not just car horns and wimpy little sirens, this is about ship horns and air raid sirens, and the people who like to make very loud noises just for fun.  This is the same reason people buy firecrackers.  Blowing an enormous horn -- like the kind you'd find on an ocean liner -- seems like a great way to ring in the new year.

When I was young, there were two places on the east side of Abilene that sounded steam whistles at 8:00 a.m., noon, and 5:00 p.m.  On a calm day, they were clearly audible for miles around.  And of course, nothing sounded better (to a little kid like me) on a hot summer night than a locomotive horn as it got farther and farther away.  Unless it was the sound of an old DC-3 getting farther and farther away.  But I digress.

Horn and Whistle dot net.
Ship Horns dot com.
Locomotive Horns, featuring the Amtrak F40 horn, also known as the Nathan/AirChime K5LA.
Train Horns dot net.
Diesel Air Horns dot com.
Air Raid Sirens dot com.
Air Horn Media Clips.
The Victory Siren Page.  A Chrysler air raid siren powered by a 180 horsepower V8 engine!

The professionals:
American Signal dot com.
Air Chime (Canada).
Leslie Controls dot com.

Kids these days are only familiar with those giant outdoor speaker systems, used instead of ordinary sirens.
The manufacturers provide rather lame pre-recorded warning messages, but it just doesn't get the message across, in my opinion, like a siren does, and it's only a matter of time before some cash-starved city begins to play commercials through the city-wide PA system.

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Mysterious subterranean structures:

For some reason I really like "urban exploration", which usually means going places where people are generally not supposed to go.  It's a real treat when I get a tour of a factory or some other building.  Back in 1972 I worked at a radio station that was in the "Penthouse" on the top floor of an old hotel building.  The crawl spaces, basement and stairwells were fun to explore.  That kind of thing could get a person arrested these days.  (So don't do it.)  Once in a while I still get invited to go to interesting places like the 72nd Floor.

Disused and Abandoned Stations in the New York City subway system
The Chicago Tunnel Company Railroad:  This website tells the story about a 60-mile, two-foot gauge electric railroad that operated 149 locomotives and over 3000 freight cars in small tunnels forty feet below the streets of downtown Chicago.
Subway and Rail Photos
Abandoned Subway Stations
Secret underground telephone exchange
Big Hole, Deep Secret
Scotland's Secret Bunker
Pine Springs station
Congressional Relocation Facility at the Greenbrier Hotel.
Raven Rock Mountain bunker
Cheyenne Mountain Complex
More about the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate
Mount Weather
Other Command and Control Facilities
Mount Pony Federal Reserve Bank bunker

Mount Weather:  Primed for Martial Law.  Few Americans — indeed, few Congressional representatives — are aware of the existence of Mount Weather, a mysterious underground military base carved deep inside a mountain near the sleepy rural town of Bluemont, Virginia, near the border with West Virginia, just 46 miles from Washington DC.  Mount Weather — also known as the Western Virginia Office of Controlled Conflict Operations — is buried not just in hard granite, but in secrecy as well.

Excellent:  Subterranea Britannica
and Closed Railway Sations in the UK.

Secure, Even If Not Secret:  Underground bunkers, many of which were built to withstand nuclear attack during the Cold War, are scattered in the mountains and foothills outside the nation's capital, including in Virginia.  Over the decades, the subterranean shelters have attained a sort of mythic status, and the events of 9/11 refocused attention on their existence.

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Other technical stuff:

RFC's are reference documents for internet users.  For example...
Choosing a Name for Your Computer -- suggestions that could also be used to name video servers or other machines in high-tech facilities.
Connecting to the Internet  — What Connecting Institutions Should Anticipate.
How to Use Anonymous FTP (from the command line).
Don't Spew:  A Set of Guidelines for Mass Unsolicited Mailings and Postings.  Constitutionally protected freedom of speech does not guarantee the right to seize the private property of others in order to broadcast your speech.

Unicode characters.

2004 Emergency Response Guidebook.  This is an online version of the 2004 ERG (Emergency Response Guidebook) which is produced by the USDOT for first responders during the initial phase of a Dangerous goods/Hazardous Materials incident.  Have you ever wondered what those four digit numbers on the placards on the side of trucks and rail cars mean?

The Editor says...
I got behind a rare truckload of 1963 on the freeway a few weeks ago, but it's not uncommon to see trucks carrying 1977.

BigDog:  The Most Advanced Quadruped Robot on Earth.

Best Programming Language to Learn.  Despite what you might have been told in university, there is no definite answer as to what programming language is best to learn first.

Fastest Supercomputer in the World:  Located in the Terascale Simulation Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, BlueGene/L is used by scientists at Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia National Laboratories.  The 360-teraFLOPS machine handles many challenging scientific simulations, including ab initio molecular dynamics; three-dimensional (3D) dislocation dynamics; and turbulence, shock, and instability phenomena in hydrodynamics.  [It has 131072 processors and 32 terabytes of "Main Memory".*]

Fiber Optic Glossary:  Definitions for numerous terms and acronyms -- everything from 38999 to Zirconium Arc.

Breaking up:  diagnosing a dropped phone.  An accidental drop provides an opportunity to examine the engineering inside a 2.4-GHz cordless phone, revealing a clean modern design and careful attention to RF and EMI issues.

Lake levels in Texas -- reported in real time:  [1] [2] [3] [4]
TV weather reports rarely mention lake levels (or anything else) unless there is bad news to report.  (The subjects of biased and/or suppressed news are covered elsewhere.)  If you have an interest in lake levels, it is easy to bypass the television and get the numbers any time.

Speaking of lake levels, I noticed that on July 3, the North Texas Municipal Water District finally ended mandatory watering restrictions, conceding that the drought is finally over.  But this announcement was made only after all the lakes and rivers were overflowing.  Once again, you can bypass the news media and get information about precipitation and drought straight from the source:
NOAA Precipitation Analysis Page
Drought Monitor: Current Conditions

METAR Translator  Converts weather shorthand to plain English.
RBD METAR  is probably the one I'm most interested in.  At the moment, it says...
SPECI KDAL 021607Z 36015G21KT 10SM BKN024 OVC090 M09/M14 A3062 RMK AO2
...which -- if you can crack the code -- is more information than you would get from a TV weatherman in ten minutes of rambling.

HTML for beginners.  Unlike the mid-90s when HTML was largely practiced by tech-savvy webmasters, it is common now for just about everyone to be required to have a working knowledge of this web markup language.  From the small business owner to the student creating a class project, or even casual individuals working on a blog or personal project online, HTML knowledge is incredibly useful.

Engitek:  Numerous engineering links.
Traffic Light System Simulator written in Java.
IT terms defined and explained
Firewall Follies:  The complacency firewalls breed is ultimately more damaging than the computer pirates they keep out.
Small Parts, Inc. sells really interesting raw materials.
 New:   At Amazon Parts I saw a 2×4×12–inch block of copper that would make a dandy heat sink!
Space Weather Now:  real time solar and geomagnetic observations and measurements.
Space Weather dot com:  Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.
Here is the view from about 1000 miles above Dallas  (with daylight, but without clouds).
Very old recordings by Thomas Edison
Weather conditions in Dallas  (Substitute your zip code to get your weather.)
Standard resistor values
David Allan, designer of atomic clocks, discusses the theory behind standing eggs on end at the equinoxes.
All the technical details about The Plumbing in the White House, along with some White House history.
HAARP: The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program
I bought my anemometer from Fascinating Electronics.
Every audiophile needs a Vacuum Tube Reference Tube CD Player.
Control of Stepping Motors, a tutorial (with links).
Here is a good source of information about specific chemical elements.
The Dead Media Project Discussion of dead communications media, for example, the Edison wax cylinder, quadraphonic stereo, and the IBM Selectric Typewriter.
Test the speed of your internet connection
Zone Forecast, National Weather Service, Anchorage, Alaska Terribly depressing forecast, if you dislike cold and snow as much as I do.
Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms
Solar and Lunar Eclipses during 2007
The Challenges and Opportunities of 42 Volt Automotive Systems.  To meet ever increasing electrical power demands, automakers are moving to increase vehicle battery voltage from today's 14V to approximately 42V.  It has been more than 40 years since US carmakers switched from the standard 6V system, a change triggered by similar power considerations.

 Rhetorical question:   When was the last car manufactured in this country with a six-volt system?  Based upon personal experience, I'm guessing approximately 1951.

I find this very hard to believe.
50 million birds die each year in tower collisions.  The issue arose in August 2003, when the FCC began an inquiry on the issue.  Last week's notice seeks comment on the extent of the effects of communications towers on migratory birds, as well as various legal, substantive and procedural issues related to adopting measures to diminish migratory bird collisions with communications towers.

Basic Stamps and embedded controllers:

Peter H. Anderson (KZ3K) - Embedded Processor Control:  Basic Stamps and well beyond.
Embedded Systems Articles
HAM-PIC Resource Page
PIC Microcontoller Time Methods
PIC Frequency Counter with Frequency Lock function
The AVR Card microcontroller core module seems somewhat like a Basic Stamp, but much more powerful.

Do-it-yourself power generation, transmission and storage:

The Editor is thinking out loud:
One of these days I hope to build an alternator, just to see if I can really do it.  Since I would only use such a thing to charge batteries or power an inverter, I would take the AC power from the alternator and immediately feed it into a full-wave rectifier to make more-or-less unregulated DC.  But instead of building a three-phase alternator, as most people do, I'd probably build a five- or seven-phase alternator, to minimize the ripple on the output of the rectifier.  So far, I'm only dreaming, and I'm still years away from construction.

Cool use of a lawnmower motor and an alternator.  Build your own generator!
Recumbent Generator:  Pedal power supplied by the user in a reclining position.
Many more sources for windmill generator information and hardware.
Building an alternator from scratch for use with a windmill.
Homebrew 10-foot Wind Turbine construction.
Wind Turbine Kits and Parts.
Permanent magnet alternators
Hamster powered night light
The Homebuilt Dynamo:  Low-rpm alternator built from scratch.
Secrets of Lead-Acid Batteries
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) FAQ
Storage Batteries
Technical Resources Web page at PowerStream Technology:  According to ARRL,  this is "a web site where you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about batteries ...and more."
Transformers and coils
US Electricity Generating Capacity, 2003-2005.
Foreign Voltages and Frequencies Guide

Interesting book: Emergency Power for Radio Communications.

The book mentioned immediately above has a section about Anderson Powerpole® Connectors, which are apparently becoming the de facto standard for interchangeable DC power connections used by RACES groups. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
They are also used by model airplane hobbyists [1] [2] [3] [4] and in large battery-powered toys.

Critical Operations Power Systems (COPS) are generally installed in vital infrastructure facilities that, if destroyed or incapacitated, would disrupt national security, the economy, public health or safety; and where enhanced electrical infrastructure for continuity of operation has been deemed necessary by governmental authority.
[1] [2] [3] [4]

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Updated February 22, 2016.

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