King’s Bishop to RF
When life-long hobbyist Tom Van Baak’s son displayed
an interest in chess instead of circuitry, hacking, or
programming, they found an interesting way to combine
their interests. Tom — a software engineer by profession
and an ultra-precise time hobbyist on the weekends —
extended his building to a unique chess set.
Like all diligent hobbyists, he has an extensive collection of assorted finds from eBay and the Nuts & Volts
Classifieds section. Over the years, his accumulation of RF
NUTS & VOLTS
Circle #73 on the Reader Service Card.
connections grew large enough that he was able to
construct this complete set of chess pieces for his son.
The pieces — which are gold and silver plated, respectively
— are combinations of BNC, SMA, N, APC7, F, and
UHF connectors and various elbows. The pawns are 50 Ω
terminators. Tom’s detail extended to the kings and
queens, which are gender-accurate; male and female SMA
connectors are mated with larger N connectors to make
The set might be a bit removed from his interests in
atomic clocks, WWVB, GPS, picoseconds, and the like, but
Tom and his son have a beautiful piece of electronics-inspired art to use when they while away those father-son
Learn more about this project, along with Tom’s
elaborate atomic clock museum and home timing lab, at
www.LeapSecond.com or reach Tom via Email at
Da Vinci Decoding
ADartmouth College team has developed a set of
software tools that can determine the true artist of a
painting, print, or drawing. As many pieces of art were
done on a “class project” basis, the artist attributed to a
work often only painted a portion of the image, with
students filling in secondary forms, backgrounds, and
details. Additionally, many famous works of art have had
their creators questioned for decades or more.
The software analyzes various attributes of the artist’s
brush or pen stroke and statistically analyzes them and
any inconsistencies in a work to validate or refute the
authenticity of the piece. Although this may seem
far-fetched, the practice is well-established in other fields,
such as signature authentication.
“We’ve been able to mathematically capture certain
subtle characteristics of an artist’s work that are not necessarily visible to the human eye. We expect this technique —
in collaboration with existing physical authentication — to
play an important role in the field of art authentication.
“What’s remarkable is not only that the mathematics
confirms the expert opinion, but that — conversely — the
true connoisseur is able to see similarities in detail in the
body of an artist’s works that is extracted by relatively
sophisticated techniques,” said Daniel Rockmore,
Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science.
The software, which requires an enormous negative —
8” x 10”, to be exact — that must be digitized at 16,852 x
18,204 pixels, has already supported the long-held belief
that Perugino’s “Madonna With Child,” which resides in
Dartmouth’s own Hood Museum, is not entirely the artist’s
work, but includes the efforts of at least four other painters.
In addition, of 13 Bruegel drawings from the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City, only eight were determined to be authentic.