I really like the open-source satellite tracking program predict. I'm primarily a Mac user, so to get it I had to use macports to build it. I don't really care for alternate build systems like that, so to use it on my other systems, I decided to bundle it all up, and to spare some people the trouble, I'm going to post it here.
While waiting for parts to arrive to build a proper optical serial interface, I really wanted to get some screenshots off of my oscilloscope. Knowing that the infrared LED in the interface is directly transmitting the serial signal, I figured I should be able to tap into that driving signal to obtain the serial information.
I have a Fluke ScopeMeter 97 that's come in really handy over the years. Before I got it, it was a sales rep's demo unit, so it was used pretty hard. The screen backlight is an electroluminescent panel, and their intensity can fall off pretty dramatically over it's life. This particular display is also transflective, which makes it extremely readable under direct sunlight, but means the backlight is essential to using it in indoor lighting. To use it in the past, I'd shine a bright desk light on it, but I've always wished the backlight would just work.
I have a pair of Acer LCD monitors that I have used since 2006. They were super-cheap when I bought them, but have worked well enough over the years. Some time last year, one of the monitors started having dark lines skittering through the image the entire time it was on. Knowing that it was over 6 years old, I figured one of the backlight tubes was dying and I finally decided to take it apart.
On 4 Oct 1957, the space race began — Russia successfully placed the first artificial satellite, Спутник-1 (Sputnik-1), into orbit around Earth. Sputnik was placed directly into orbit by a single stage rocket. It's payload was a simple radio transmitter that alternated between two frequencies. There were no sensors, or cameras, or solar panels. Some of the smartest people in the world were working on the rocket and satellite designs, at a time when the first commercially-made transistor was only 3 years old. Integrated circuits, ICs or 'computer chips' hadn't even been invented yet!