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 RadioShack Consumer Electronics Glossary: A

Computers, Networking: An Ethernet LAN 10 Mbps baseband transmission standard using 50-ohm coaxial cable (RG-58 A/U) with BNC connectors connected to network cards via T-connectors. Unused connections must be terminated using 50-ohm terminators. The maximum cable length is 185 meters. Also called Thinnet.
Computers, Networking: An Ethernet LAN 10 Mbps baseband transmission standard using 50-ohm coaxial cable (RG-58 A/U) with BNC connectors connected to network cards via T-connectors. Unused connections must be terminated using 50-ohm terminators. The maximum cable length is 500 meters. Also called Thicknnet.
Computers, Networking: An Ethernet LAN 10 Mbps baseband transmission standard using broadband 50-ohm coaxial cable (RG-58 A/U) with BNC connectors connected to network cards via T-connectors. Unused connections must be terminated using 50-ohm terminators. The maximum cable length is 3600 meters.
Computers, Networking: An Ethernet LAN 10 Mbps baseband transmission standard using fiber-optic cable.
Computers, Networking: An Ethernet LAN 10 Mbps baseband transmission standard using twisted-pair telephone wire.
Video: The aspect ratio for widescreen DTV video.
Acronym: 1st Generation Wireless
Telephony: A term used to describe analog cellular telephones.
1xEv-DO CDMA: see CDMA, HDR.
1xRTT CDMA: see CDMA, 1xRTT.
2D Mode
Metal Detectors:  see Scan, Wide.
GPS Acronym: 2 Dimensional Mode
GPS: A two-dimensional GPS position fix that includes only horizontal coordinates (no elevation). It requires a minimum of three visible satellites.
Acronym: 2nd Generation Wireless
Telephony: A term used to describe digital cellular telephones that use circuit-switched networks.
Acronym: 2.5 Generation Wireless
Telephony: A term used to describe wireless telecommunications technology that uses circuit-switched networks to approach the capabilities offered by 3G networks. 2.5G is an interim stage in wireless telecommunications development.
3D Mode
Acronym: 3 Dimensional Mode
GPS: A three-dimensional GPS position fix that includes horizontal coordinates plus elevation. It requires a minimum of four visible satellites.
Acronym: 3rd Generation Wireless
Telephony: A term used to describe digital cellular telephones that use packet-switched networks.
3G 1x: see CDMA, HDR.
Cables: The standard impedance for twin-lead antenna connections found on older antennas and televisions (click here for an illustration).
Video: The aspect ratio for NTSC video.
Acronym: 4th Generation Wireless
Telephony: A term used to describe the next generation of wireless telecommunications, expected to deliver wireless multimedia content anywhere, anytime and to any device.
5.1 Sound
Audio: A sound encoding method consisting of five full-bandwidth channels (front right, front left, center, rear right and rear left) plus ".1", a limited-bandwidth subwoofer channel.
Cables: The standard impedance for coax computer networking cable (click here for an illustration).
Cables: The standard impedance for coax audio/video cable used between antennas and receivers/television (click here for an illustration).
8 mm
Video: A videotape format used in older and some current camcorders.
Telephony: The IEEE standard for wireless local area networks (WLAN's).
A: see Ampere.
a-: see atto-.
AAC (.aac)
Acronym: Advanced Audio Coding
Audio: An audio codec developed by the Fraunhofer Institute to create audio files at lower bit rates while maintaining audio quality. Like MP3, it is a form of lossy compression.
Acronym: Artists Against Piracy
Audio: A coalition of recording artists with the aim to educate the public about the harm that illegal recordings do to artists and the industry.
Absolute Humidity: see Humidity, Absolute
Absolute Temperature Scale: see Temperature Scale, Absolute
Absolute Zero
Measurement, Weather: A hypothetical temperature characterized by a complete absence of heat and defined as 0³ Celsius, or -459.67³ Fahrenheit.
Acronym: Alternating Current
DIY, Electronics: An electrical current which changes the direction of its flow in a regular manner. The number of times that the current cycles per second is called Hertz. Compare to DC.
Acronym: Audio Coding 3
Audio: A digital audio data compression algorithm used by Dolby®.
Measurement: The degree of conformity of an indicated value to an accepted standard value, or ideal value.
Actual Pressure: see Pressure, Actual
GPS: To find and lock onto GPS satellite signals in order to calculate position.
Active Component: see Component, Active.
Active Filter: see Filter, Active.
Active Noise Reduction: see Noise Reduction, Active.
Electronics: The element of a potentiometer that is adjusted to vary the resistance. Actuators are either Rotary (turning) and Linear (sliding).
Acronym: Analog to Digital
Electronics: A device that converts an analog signal to a digital signal, such as an A/D Converter IC.
A/D Converter
Acronym: Analog to Digital Converter
Electronics: A device that converts an analog signal to a digital signal.
Digital Video: A device that converts analog video information (a photograph or video frame) into a series of numbers that a computer can store and manipulate.
Connections: A piece of hardware that allows the user to connect incompatible plugs and/or sockets.
Computer: A piece of hardware that allows the user to connect an input and output port of different types.
Electronics: A device that converts power, such as from AC to DC voltages. The types of adapters are: AC to DC, AC to AC (Foreign, or Travel Adapters), DC to DC (Car Adapters), and DC to AC (Inverters). Also called Converters.
Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding: See ATRAC.
Plug 'n Power: A House Code on a controller and a Unit Code on a module together make up what is called an address. 
Acronym: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
Internet: A technology which allows high-speed Internet connections on standard telephone lines (POTS). It is called asymmetric because the data rate when receiving (downstream rate) is different from the data rate when transmitting (upstream rate). ADSL supports upstream data rates of 1.5 Mbps to 9 Mbps, and downstream data rates of 16 to 640 Kbps. Compare to SDSL.
Advanced Audio Coding: See AAC.
Advanced Mobile Telephone System: See AMPS.
Weather: A statement that is issued by the National Weather Service for probable weather situations of inconvenience that are not dangerous enough to meet the criteria for a warning, but, if not observed, could lead to hazardous situations. Some examples include snow advisories stating possible slick streets, or fog advisories for patchy fog condition causing temporary restrictions to visibility.
Weather: of or pertaining to the air, atmosphere, or aviation.
Acronym: Automation of Field Operations and Services
Weather: The computer system that links National Weather Service offices together for weather data transmission.
Acronym: Ampere-Hour
Batteries, Measurement: A measure of battery capacity. A battery rated at one ampere-hour can (under optimum conditions) produce one amp of current for one hour. The higher this number, the longer the battery will deliver useful power.
Acronym: Audio Interchange File Format
Audio: A type of file used to store digital sound. This is the most common digital music format on Macintosh® Computers.
Weather: The mixture of gases that make up the earth's atmosphere. The principal gases that compose dry air are nitrogen (N2) at 78.09%, oxygen (O2) at 20.946%, argon (A) at 0.93%, and carbon dioxide (CO2) at 0.033%. One of the most important constituents of air and most important gases in meteorology is water vapor (H2)).
Air Mass
Weather: An extensive body of air in which the horizontal temperature and moisture characteristics are similar.
Air Test
Metal Detectors: A test performed by passing metal samples of various sizes under the detector's search coil to check target responses. This test is not an accurate indicator of ground depth penetration.
Telephony: The amount of time spent talking on a cellular telephone.
Computers, Digital Audio, Digital Video: A structured formula or set of instructions and operations designed to accomplish a particular task.
Alkaline Cell
Batteries: A primary battery cell that delivers more current than a carbon-zinc cell. Also called Alkaline Manganese Cell.
Alkaline Manganese Cell: see Alkaline Cell.
All Call
Communications, Scanners: An message identification code that is programmed to be received and decoded by all users in a communications group. This allows a dispatcher, for example, to communicate with all users at once.
Alligator Clip
DIY: A spring clip on the end of a test lead that allows the user to make a secure but temporary connection.
All Metal
Metal Detectors: A mode or control setting that allows total acceptance of metal targets. Usually associated with ground balance mode.
GPS: A data file that contains orbit information on all satellites, clock corrections, and atmospheric delay parameters. It is transmitted by a GPS satellite to a GPS receiver, where it facilitates rapid satellite vehicle acquisition within GPS receivers. Almanac data must be acquired before GPS navigation can begin.
Computers: A data format in which the content can contain both letters and numbers, such as F13.
Alphanumeric Memory Dial
Telephony: A cellular telephone memory dialing option option that displays each stored individual's name and telephone number on the handset.
Alternating Current: see AC.
Electronics: One half of a cycle of alternating current.
Elements of a waveform
DIY, Electronics: A device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy (AC power).
Weather, Measurement: An instrument used to determine the altitude of an object with respect to a fixed level, usually sea level.
Altimeter, Pressure
Weather: An aneroid barometer calibrated to indicate altitude in feet instead of units of pressure. It is read accurately only in a standard atmosphere and when the correct altimeter setting is used.
Measurement: The measure of a height of an airborne object in respect to a constant pressure surface or above mean sea level.
GPS: The vertical elevation of an object above a surface (as sea level or land) of a planet or natural satellite.
Weather: A middle cloud composed of flattened, thick, gray, globular masses and primarily made up of water droplets. In the mid-latitudes, cloud bases are usually found between 8,000 and 18,000 feet. Altocumulus clouds have roll-like patches or puffs forming a wavy pattern. Sometimes confused with cirrocumulus clouds, its elements (individual clouds) have a larger mass and cast a shadow on other elements. It may form several sub-types, such as altocumulus castellanus or altocumulus lenticularis.
Altocumulus Lenticularis
Weather: A lentil- or plate-shaped altocumulus cloud generated by the disturbance of horizontal airflow by a prominent mountain range.
Altocumulus Castellanus
Weather:A middle cloud with vertical development that forms from altocumulus clouds. It is composed primarily of ice crystals in its higher portions and characterized by its turrets, protuberances, or crenelated tops that resemble a castle. These clouds indicate instability and turbulence at the altitudes where they occur.
Weather: A middle cloud composed of water droplets, and sometimes ice crystals, in the mid-latitudes. Cloud bases are generally found between 15,000 and 20,000 feet. White to gray in color, it can create a fibrous veil or sheet, sometimes obscuring the sun or moon. It is a good indicator of precipitation, as it often precedes a storm system.
Acronym (Communications, Telephony): Amplitude Modulation
Communications, Telephony: A modulation method that modulates a signal onto a carrier wave so that the amplitude varies according to a characteristic of the signal. Also called MW (medium wave).
Acronym (Computers): Automated Mapping
Computers: The automatic conversion of particular styles in a source document to a corresponding class in HTML documents.
Amateur Radio: See Ham.
American National Standards Institute: See ANSI.
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers: See ASCAP.
DIY: A testing device used for measuring current in amps. Also called an Amp Meter.
Ammeter Shunt
DIY: A low-resistance conductor placed in parallel across the ammeter movement to carry most of the current and increase the range of the ammeter.
Audio, Video: short for Amplifier.
Measurement: short for Ampere.
DIY, Measurement: The unit of measurement for current, named for André Marie Ampère, and equal to one coulomb per second.
Amp-hour: See AH.
Ampere-hour: See AH.
Audio, DIY, Video: An electronic device that increases the current, voltage, or power of an electrical (and generally either an audio or video) signal. Specific types of amplifiers are: Audio Amplifiers, Distribution Amplifiers, In-Line Amplifiers, and Signal Amplifiers.
Amplifier, Audio
Audio: An audio component (rated in watts and either stand-alone or within an audio receiver) that amplifies the audio signal.
Amplifier, Broadband: see Amplifier, Wideband.
Amplifier, Distribution
Audio, Video: A device that splits an incoming signal and then amplifies the outgoing signals in order to compensate for a poor signal or signal loss due to splitters, connectors or long cable runs (over 100' for coax).
Amplifier, In-line
Audio, Video: A device with a single input and output that is used in line within a cable run to amplify the signal strength and compensate for a poor signal or signal loss due to splitters, connectors or long cable runs (over 100' for coax).
Amplifier, Operational: see Op-Amp.
Amplifier, Signal
Audio, Video: A device that amplifies a signal to compensate for a poor signal or signal loss due to splitters, connectors or long cable runs (over 100' for coax).
Amplifier, Wideband
Electronics: A device that amplifies a signal over a wide range of frequencies with a flat response. Also called a Broadband Amplifier.
Electronics: The maximum absolute value reached by a waveform.
Amplitude Modulation: See AM.
Amp Meter: See Ammeter.
Acronym: Advanced Mobile Phone System
Telephony: The analog cellular FM system currently used in North America. It operates in the 800 MHz band and uses 30 KHz channels. It is used by analog cellular telephones and by digital cellular telephones in areas that the digital cells do not cover.
A system that uses a physical change to represent variables. Compare to Digital.
Audio: In analog recordings, the audio signals are represented by physical changes (either electromagnetic alteration of the surface of recording tape or grooves in a vinyl record) and read by an electro-mechanical device that converts the analog information back into audio. Each analog recording has a certain amount of signal loss between the original source and the playback, which makes each succeeding generation of copies less accurate than the original.
Communications: The traditional method of modulating radio signals so that they can carry information. AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) are the two most common methods of analog modulation.
Telephony: Refers to cellular telephones that use the AMPS cellular telephone system.
Electronics: A logic gate that outputs "True" when both inputs are "True"; otherwise, the output is "False".
Input 1 Input 2 Output
True True True
True False False
False True False
False False False
Weather, Measurement: A recording anemometer.
Weather, Measurement: An instrument that measures the speed or force of the wind.
Weather, Measurement: Literally, "without air". In weather, used in reference to an aneroid barometer.
Aneroid Barometer: see Barometer, Aneroid.
Aneroid Capsule
Weather: A thin metal disc that is partially evacuated of air and used to measure atmospheric pressure by measuring the expansion and contraction of the disc.
Angle of View
Digital Video: The amount of a scene that can be recorded by a particular lens. This is determined by the focal length of the lens.
Anode (+)
Batteries: The positively charged pole of an electrochemical cell.
Electronics: The electrode through which a direct current enters a component.
Anomalous Propagation
Weather, Communications: The non-standard propagation of a beam of energy, radio or radar, under certain atmospheric conditions, appearing on weather radar as false (non-precipitation) echoes.
Acronym: American National Standards Institute
Electronics: The organization responsible for administrating and coordinating the voluntary standardization system for the private sector in the United States.
Audio, Video, Communications: A device that is designed to either recieve, transmit or receive and transmit a wireless signal.
GPS: A device (as a rod or wire), usually metallic, for radiating or receiving radio waves.
Antenna, Broadcast
Video: An antenna that is designed to pick up signals broadcast from a ground-based source, such as for a local television station.
Antenna, Satellite
Satellite: An antenna, a dish and an LNB, designed to pick up signals broadcast from a satellite in geosynchronous orbit.
Digital Video: The process of reducing jaggies (or stair-stepping) by smoothing the edges where individual pixels are visible.
Weather: A area with relatively high pressure. An area of pressure that has diverging winds and a rotation opposite to the earth's rotation. This is clockwise the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. It is the opposite of an area of low pressure, or a cyclone.
Weather: The upper portion of a cumulonimbus cloud that becomes flat and spread-out, sometimes for hundreds of miles downstream from the parent cloud. It may look smooth or fibrous, but in shape, it resembles a blacksmith's anvil. It indicates the mature or decaying stage of a thunderstorm.
Appliance Module: See Module, Appliance
Audio: A feature on CD players which limits the skipping effect caused by physical shock to the player, such as can occur in vehicles or portable units. Anti-skip works by feeding the music into a buffer memory, and then playing the music from the buffer. If a shock causes the laser eye to lose the track momentarily, the music continues to play from the buffer while the laser eye resets to the position it left. Anti-skip is measured in the number of seconds of sound that can be stored by the buffer memory. As the number of seconds increases, the amount of protection also increases. While anti-skip cannot prevent all skipping, it does greatly limit it. Anti-skip is also listed as ASP (Anti-Skip Protection) and Anti-shock.
Appliance Module: See Module, Appliance
Digital Video: The maximum size of the hole through which light enters a camera.
Internet: A program that enables you to search for a particular file on Internet FTP servers by filename.
Acronym: Attached Resource Computer network
Computers: A type of token-ring LAN that allows different types of cables (twisted pair, coaxial and fiber-optic) to be used on the same network. It was introduced by Datapoint Corporation in 1977 and supports data rates of 2.5 Mbps, on up to 255 computers.
ARCnet Plus
Acronym: Attached Resource Computer network Plus
Computers: A new variant of ARCnet that supports data rates of 20 Mbps.
Arm:see Tonearm.
Artifacting, Artifact
Digital Video: Distortion or excess noise that is caused by the sensor, the optical system or image processing (such as compression).
Artists Against Piracy: See AAP.
Acronym: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Audio: A performing-rights licensing organization dedicated to protecting the intellectual-property rights of its members.
Acronym: American Standard Code for Information Interchange
Computers: A standard code used to represent English character.
Aspect Ratio
Digital Video: The ratio between the width and height of an image or image sensor.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode: see ATM.
Acronym: Audio Target Identification
Metal Detectors: A system in which a certain audio pitch identifies the type of metal object located.
Acronym: Asynchronous Transfer Mode
Networking: An international standard for cell relay in which multiple service types (such as voice, video, or data) are carried in fixed-length (53-byte) cells. The fixed-length cells allow cell processing to occur in hardware rather than software, in order to increase transmit speed. ATM is designed to take advantage of high-speed transmission media such as T3.
GPS, Weather: The envelope of air surrounding the earth and bound to it more or less permanently by virtue of the earth's gravitational attraction. The divisions of the atmosphere include the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the ionosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere. See What is Weather? for an illustration of the atmospheric layers.
Measurement: A unit of pressure, also called the standard atmosphere.
Atmosphere, Standard
Weather, Measurement: As defined by the International Civil Aeronautical Organization (ICAO), a standard atmosphere assumes a mean sea level temperature of 15°C, a standard sea level pressure of 1,013.25 millibars or 29.92 inches of mercury, and a temperature lapse rate of 0.65°C per 100 meters up to 11 kilometers in the atmosphere.
Atmospheric Pressure: see Pressure, Atmospheric.
Acronym: Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding
Audio: A digital music file format developed by Sony®.
Internet: A file sent along with an e-mail message so that it can be viewed or saved by the recipient.
Electronics, Audio, Video: To reduce the amplitude of an action or signal.
Connections: A device that reduces signal strength without significantly affecting the signal quality.
atto- (a-)
Measurement: SI unit of decimal measurement, equal to 10-18 or 0.000000000000000001.
Audio, Analog
Audio: An audio signal from an analog source (NTSC broadcast, VCR, Tape Deck, et al.) that is carried either on a 75-ohm coax cable (along with the video signal), or on one (mono) or two (stereo) audio/video patch cables
Audio ID
Metal Detectors: A feature in metal detectors which uses circuitry to produce a different audio tone for each target's conductivity range -- for example, a low tone for iron, and a high tone for coins.
Audio: An individual who has an intense interest in high-quality audio.
Audio Response: see Target Response.
Audio Target Identification: see ATI.
Audio/Video Patch Cable
Audio: A single-conductor cable with an RCA plug on each end, packaged as either a single cable or as a bundle of two, three or four cables (click here for an illustration).
Digital Video: A system that automatically focuses the camera lens.
Automatic Exposure
Digital Video: A feature where the camera automatically adjusts the aperture or shutter speed or both for the proper exposure.
Automatic Flash
Digital Video: A flash unit with a light-sensitive photocell that determines the length of the flash for proper exposure by measuring the light reflected back from the subject.
Automatic Mapping: See AM.
DIY: Used to describe a multimeter that automatically selects the proper range for measurement.
Video: A feature on RCA® camcorders that automatically provides focus, shutter speed, iris and white balance.
Auto Tune
Metal Detectors: A feature in metal detectors which uses circuitry to continuously retune the detector's threshold to the initially tuned audio level at a preset rate after drift and/or target rejection.
Acronym: Audio/Video
Audio, Video: Used to describe audio and video equipment and accessories.
Averaging: See Matrix Metering.
Digital Video: A digital video format used by Microsoft® Windows®.
Acronym: American Wire Gauge
Cable: A measurement describing the diameter of a wire. The larger the gauge, the smaller the wire will be. For example, a 12 AWG wire has a larger diameter than a 16 AWG wire. Also called Gauge (GA).
Satellite: The side-to-side (left-to-right) angle setting on a satellite antenna.

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