Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by AnalogKid, May 5, 2015.

  1. AnalogKid

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 1, 2013
    May 5, 2015

    Besides that whole Mexican economy problem, another significant thing happened today. On May 5, 1989, “Q Who” aired for the first time, the sixteenth episode in season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This episode introduced the Borg and their signature phrase. Gee, I wonder how the writers came up with that? And, why is the word Who in the title? Well, let’s hop in the TARDIS and see...

    Thirteen years earlier, Tom Baker is having a ball in his third season playing the fourth Doctor. In the serial “The Deadly Assassin” (one of the all-time great arcs), he is back on Gallifrey and battling The Master. Toward the end of a little speech explaining why his evil triumph is inevitable, The Master says “Resistance is futile.”

    OK, that was going to be the end of the story, but, well, no.

    In case you're wondering what triggered this tale, recently I was asked to help out my former engineering department. There are several areas of circuit design in which they have no expertise, and they needed help so badly they asked me. An FPGA (field-programmable logic array) is a single chip with thousands of small logic elements that can be connected together by programming to form much larger and more complex functions; sorta like Legos for the non-analog geek. The task was to create an FPGA circuit to test various connections, functions, and components on a board before installation in a system. Among other things, they asked for some LEDs to blink in a simple rotating pattern called a chaser. With all of the program tasks covered I still had over 2000 logic elements free to play with, so I used 32 of them to "extend" the chaser circuit a bit. To the human eye it appears that one LED is on for 1/2 second, then off for 1/2 second, and then the next one is on for 1/2 second, etc. In fact, while each LED is on it rapidly flashes "DJA" in Morse Code. Ten years ago I did the same thing in a radar controller for the FAA. My initials flash once each second on the face of each system, a total of 2.5 billion times each year in 40 airport control towers around the country.

    Wait, hold your applause... I stole the idea. While the Borg is a collective consciousness that absorbs and depletes individuality, each entity has a different assortment of Borg appliances and -- here it is -- a unique blink pattern to the LED near the eyes. Turns out, each Borg character on screen is flashing in Morse Code the name of an effects crew member or family member. It's important to sign your work.

    cmartinez, Sinus23, ErnieM and 2 others like this.
  2. Reloadron

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2015
    Pretty slick really. Enjoyed the read.

  3. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    I guess that doesn't count as subliminal messaging - which is illegal - since most recipients can't understand it. o_O
  4. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    I like your idea of leaving a secret signature uknown to others. :D

    IIRC, Mark Zbikowski, left an imprint which has spread in billions of billions of DOS' .EXE files. H'4D' H'5A'
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
  5. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
    people with electron microscopes have found signatures on integrated circuits too. and I have heard about buildings with patterns in morse code as part of their decoration.
  6. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008
  7. AnalogKid

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 1, 2013
    In the spirit of the Projects forum, attached is a schematic of the Morse Code flasher done in Altera's Quartus II design software for CPLD's and FPGA's. All parts are from the internal design library.

    Four 8-bit shift registers are strung together to form a single 32-bit shifter, parallel input / serial output. Input H of the bottom device is the first bit shifted out, so the Morse Code can be read going vertically from there. Inputs tied to Vcc are dits, and three consecutive dits form a dah. A single ground input is the gap between dits and dahs within a letter, and three GNDs in a row are the gap between letters. The serial input to the top register sets the logic level that fills in as the bits are shifted out. It is tied to Vcc, so after the initials are done the LED stays on constantly for the rest of that cycle. It works out to about 1/8 second of Morse followed by 3/8 seconds of steady on. After the shifter is a counter and decoder that creates the chase pattern.

    For the record, it makes no sense to do this in a project unless you have either a CPLD with 40 unused macrocells or logic elements, or a microcontroller with spare processing time.

  8. Søren

    Senior Member

    Sep 2, 2006
    Any of you guys had surgery which included bone "routing"?

    Some surgeons autograph their "work" directly in the bone or skull.
    Not the ones I've been working with (I think), but being in an operating theater for hours each weak, you do get a lot of insider knowledge :)

    I think this kind of egocentricity happens in almost any trade, but I've never done it, I have to say, or it wouldn't be a secret :p
  9. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    Liked the Borg reference ;-)

    Years ago I was involved with the UHF Follow-On Program for secure worldwide communications for the Navy. I wrote "Wookie Was Here" and the Marine emblem using a Sharpie pen on several of them. Google the program name; select Images. Take away the solar arrays, and you have a Borg cube.
  10. jgessling

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 31, 2009
    supposedly the DEC building in Nashua NH (code name ZKO) had vertical elements in the front that were actually bar codes. It read "when we deliver, customers win". Along a similar line the DEC HQ in Maynard Mass (the mill) had resistor color codes for the floor numbers. Seems simple except that the building had been added onto so many times that just walking along could put you on another floor. Crazy engineers!