Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Cheap folding phone with two screens?

Does anyone make a low cost folding smart phone with a large non-folding screen? The idea would be to have a phone two screens, one in each half of a folding case, which but up against each other, when the phone is opened. The edges of the case between the two screens would be clear plastic, and slightly curved, to hide the join. The effect would be similar to the distortion you see on a phone with a folding screen, at the fold. With two rigid smaller screens, the phone would be much cheaper to make, and less subject to damage. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Slow Battery Powered High Speed Train for New Developments Between Canberra, Woolongong, Sydney, and Newcastle

Battery Powered Inter-city Train
Under Development
, Railway Gazette,
5 June 2023
This is to suggest 200 kph battery powered high speed trains be run between Canberra,  Sydney, and Newcastle. The trains would run at the lowest speed considered "high", and be modified diesel-electric units, to reduce cost. The batteries would be recharged from overhead catenary wires, extending ten kilometers each side of the stations. The catenary would provide ten minutes charging, while the train slows, stops, then accelerates. This would reduce the size of batteries needed, as the train would be at full speed before it switched to battery power. New settlements would be built, so that stations are no more than 100 km apart, thus limiting the battery capacity needed. The increase in land value from new homes would provide billions of dollars to offset the cost of the rail line. The overhead wires would be powered from the grid at the settlements, with rest of the track would be un-powered, to reduce cost. 

Thursday, May 09, 2024

CIT Cafe and Apprentice Kitchen

Greetings from the CIT Cafe and Apprentice Kitchen in Canberra. This is run by students of the Canberra Institute of Technology, with food cooked by the catering students. There is a formal restaurant upstairs open evenings.

There is some military meeting taking place nearby with people in uniform walking past the Cafe. At least if war breaks out, they will be well fed. :-)

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Touchscreen Water Resistant Android Flip Phone

The Cat S22 Flip is a 2.8" touchscreen, Android 11, 4G LTE GSM phone which is, water resistant. Originally sold for the US T-Mobile network, these phones have been unlocked and work fine on the Australian Telstra network (including Aldi Mobile). At around AU$100 through Amazon, this is a bargain, provided you can put up with the quirks of the phone. 

The phone has a big rubber phone keypad, and a minuscule touch screen. To enter text you either use the physical keyboard, or a virtual touch screen keyboard. The problem is that by default the Kika 12-Key Keyboard app, using T9 predictive text is turned on. When I tried to type on the virtual QWERTY keyboard, the predictive text system came up with weird choices, making text entry extremely difficult. Manually selecting Google's Gboard in settings and deselected predictive text helped, but some applications were still doing predictive text. After reading dozens of suggestions on the web as to how to fix this, involving modding the operating system, or installing yet more apps, I simply updated Gboard via the App Store, and the problem vanished.

The next quirk was that I had to set the APN Data Settings manually. 

This phone has a tiny screen compared to modern folding phones, but having broken several of those, I am prepared to see how rugged the Cat S22 is. I have suggested Unihertz make something similar, but with a bigger screen, and a physical QWERTY keyboard, and a smaller numeric keypad.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Stealthy Optionally Crewed Catamaran for Australian Navy

HMAS Stradbroke Island.
Stealthy Optionally Crewed
Catamaran for Australian Navy
Diagram by Tom Worthington,
CC-BY 21 February 2024
The Australian Government released a fleet plan for the Navy yesterday which included designing and building six large optionally crewed missile carry ships. Australian companies Austal and Incat have both made catamaran high speed transports for the US military, derived from their car ferry designs. Austal have also make trimarans with stealthy tumble-home hulls for the US navy. Both companies offer high levels of automation. They could either (or both) produce vessels for the Australian requirement. I suggest any such design should be designed for these features (but with not all fitted to very vessel):

1. Tumblehome hull: The hull would slope inward above the waterline, and the superstructure would be free of railings, masts, cranes, and other items, to reduce the radar cross-section. All equipment needed on deck would be covered. 

2. Vertical Launch Cells: Rows of vertical launch cells would extend down into each of the catamaran hulls.

3. Drone Hangar:  A covered hangar forward of the flight deck would accommodate UAVs. Automated systems would launch, recover and service the drones.

4. XLUUV Bay: A travelling gantry with cradle between the hulls would pick up Extra-Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUV), while the ship is underway. The bay would be equipped with  ECLIPS robots for automated rearming & refueling, before dropping the XLUUVs back in the water.

5. USV Bay: A bay at the back of the vessel, would allow Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USV) to be launched and recovered. Automated systems would service the USVs.

6. Self Defense Auto-cannons: The four corners of the ship would each have a small caliber auto-cannon similar to the EOS Slinger, for self defence from missiles, drones, and small boats. Each cannon would be equipped with an electro-optical sight, radar, backup power supply, and operator station. This would allow the ship to be defended even if all other power and systems failed.

While the media has made much of the "optionally crewed" feature of the vessels, of more significance is that the ships are highly automated and so only need a small crew, about one quarter of a conventional military vessel, when they are aboard. 

ps: John Birmingham's book "Weapons of Choice" featured highly automated ship warfare. One of the ships was an Australia high speed catamaran HMAS Moreton Bay, apparently inspired by the real HMAS Jervis Bay. This was an Incat built high speed catamaran, which transported troops to East Timor. I wrote a review of the book, and as was John's custom, I hoped he would use my name for a sister ship "USS Stradbroke Island", but unfortunately not. ;-)