This is one of my favorite subjects. And it kind of goes along with being prepared for the worst. Small devices such as computers can be easily recharged or used on even a small solar set up. So what can you do with a computer when there is no internet? Quite a lot actually.
I’ve done this before in 2018 with a Linux computer but I’m going to do it this time with a Windows laptop. But it is time to update that post a little bit, I suppose.
And as per my previous recommendation you want to probably use an old laptop and preferably something like a ToughBook. If the internet is down, and life is getting harder you don’t need some baby computer that won’t hold up.
Yep, your computer can be a TV with no internet connection. You do need a USB TV Tuner though. I use the Hauppauge 955Q which is probably obsolete since I couldn’t find it anymore on Amazon. This seems to be the latest generation. Despite which tuner you get make sure that it is ATSC and not PAL. ATSC is US and PAL is European. Your tuner combined with software called NextPVR or probably any number of software programs you can download will give you an Electronic Program Guide and allow you to watch Over The Air Live TV. That program guide does come down from the internet though, and you won’t be able to access it if the grid goes down. Still, you know what your local channels are though.
NOTE: I probably should state that my grid down situation is most likely a hurricane and all the local stations are 40 or so (driving) miles away and inland so they will most likely still be operational. Your situation may vary.
Being able to watch TV during a power outage or while you are Sheltering in Place could provide vital, life saving information. Or it could just provide much needed entertainment in a bad situation.
I’ve been talking a lot about fake GPS Modules a lot……now let’s talk about legit GPS Modules.
First of all I’ll run over the actual legit GPS chips that I own and have dabbled with.
I have several GlobalSat BR-355S4 pucks. These have Sirf Star IV chipsets in them which ONLY receive USA GPS system. I use these with my Uniden Police Scanners. Simply cut the plugs off of them and wire them to a plug that fits the Scanner.
I think it is important to note that as I mentioned above it ONLY receives GPS. While this is probably fine for a police scanner, I don’t think I’d trust my life hiking out in the Mohave Desert with a device that had a Sirf Star IV chipset. I’m not saying GPS would go down………but what if it did?
And I’m not knocking Qualcomm or their Sirf Star IV chipset. I’m just saying I want redundancy in a life or death situation.
I have this on-going project to find a GPS Module that works with my Uniden SDS200 police scanner. Obviously this is so the scanner will auto update its location when a GPS Module is connected.
Uniden sells one for $50, so the goal is to manufacture one for less than that amount of money. Actually, I’ve succeeded several times, with my last build costing about $20.
So, what’s the problem you ask?
Almost every GPS Module I have purchased is FAKE. The GPS Modules that I know are not fake are from Manufacturer recommended sources, and all cost more than $50. More like in the $70 range.
The most commonly counterfeited chips are U-blox and specifically the NEO-6 series chips. An actual, REAL NEO-6M CHIP, not module at Mouser in the US for is $60 for one. A NEO-7 CHIP, not module, can be purchased from Digikey for $31 and I did find that Digikey calls the NEO-6 series “obsolete”. In fact U-blox says the NEO-6 is an old product as well.
So how is that you can do a search for GPS Modules and find $8 NEO-6M modules all over the place? If a legit chip is $31 or more how can a complete module be $8 or $12?
I just started dabbling with GPS modules. I got my first one from Amazon for about $12. I didn’t know almost anything about GPS chips but I did know that U-blox chips are pretty prevalent in the Drone community, so I set out to purchase a module with a U-blox chipset. The Amazon one I linked above (which now shows as unavailable, and I hope I had something to do with that) indicates that it has a NEO-8M chip on it.
I plugged the GPS into my computer and started U-blox U-center software. The GPSTXT data indicated
??:??:?? $GPTXT,01,01,02,u-blox ag - www.u-blox.com*50
??:??:?? $GPTXT,01,01,02,HW UBX-G70xx 00070000 FF7FFFFFo*69
??:??:?? $GPTXT,01,01,02,ROM CORE 1.00 (59842) Jun 27 2012 17:43:52*59
Rebranded Old Chip
Say What? I got a U-blox chip all right but it is a U-blox 7th generation with firmware from 2012. Here’s what the label indicated on the chip.
It says NEO-M8N.
Soooooo, someone took a 7th gen chip that is 10 years old and rebranded it to a current production version.
Not only that, the 7th gen chip does have a firmware upgrade however you can’t apply it because whoever made the module board didn’t include flash rom so it simply cannot be upgraded. How cool is that? Continue reading →