-- Technical Headlines --
All the News Fit to Link™
Man Arrested for Charging His Electric Car at Son's School
Bluetooth Smart Gets Smarter
Malaysia to Offer 700 MHz Spectrum Auction in 2018
China Formally Awards LTE Operating Licenses
Army Opts for Obsolete Electronic Technology to Keep Soldier and Ground Systems Running
December is YOTA Month!
European Equipment Capex to Grow 50% Next Year
Laser Light at Useful Wavelengths from Semiconductor Nanowires
UK Government Paves Way for Driverless Cars
Sony May Buy Renesas Fab
CCA Urges FCC to Form Task Force Focusing on Wireless Competition
Apple Completes Key China Mobile Deal
Microsoft: NSA Hacks Were an 'Earthquake' for Tech
Hackers Steal over 2 Million Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Passwords
Mathematical Scientist Suggests Possible Test for Existence of Axions
Imperial Congress Exempts Some Employees from Obamacare (all others subsidized by taxpayers)
The Swiss Quad Antenna
This design for a "Swiss Quad" antenna appeared in the September 1967 edition of QST magazine. One of its touted strong points is not needing spreaders or a boom. I am not an antenna design guy, so I can't comment on its usefulness. No gain measurement was provided by the author. The article states that the antenna had not yet enjoyed widespread adaptation in the U.S. at the time of the writing. A Google search for Swiss Quad antennas turns up a handful of modern examples. I could not locate an example of a computer-generated gain plot (radiation pattern) for the Swiss Quad, so if you know where one exists, please let me know so I can post a hyperlink. Maybe you own a copy of EZNEC and can model it?
Aug 1960 Popular Electronics
You have to be careful when working this crossword puzzle from the August 1960 edition of Popular Electronics because in one instance the name of a certain federal agency has changed since then, and in another instance the element cited as being "commonly used" no longer is. It will add to the challenge, which, honestly, is not all that great. I did not have the magazine page with the solution available when posting this so I had to work the puzzle myself to create a solution.
The Tube Tester
1960 Popular Electronics
Like a fool, many years ago I donated a perfectly fine vacuum tube tester that had been given to me by an über-engineer/ham I worked with during the time (nearly 30 years ago) I was restoring my first vintage tube radio. Bad move. It was a really nice tester: a B&K Model 650 Dyna-Quik Dynamic Mutual Conductance Tube & Transistor Tester. It was sold shortly after I had also given away as a wedding gift the Crosley floor console radio that I restored. Another bad move. Now, many moons later, I am working to restore yet another Crosley tube radio and I sure wish I had held on to it. Similar tube testers are routinely selling on eBay for $100-$200. At some point I'll buy another tube tester, maybe...
Many years have passed since I sat in a college classroom to learn about transistor fundamentals. The industry had long moved past germanium transistors and was solidly into silicon. Having been formally introduced to transistors in the USAF, I was familiar with their functionality from a technician's perspective of checking for gain, proper bias (as indicated on "educated" schematics), and determining go-no-go health by performing a front-to-back resistance measurement using an ohmmeter. Holes, energy bands, gate widths, and doping levels were first encountered in solid state physics class, however. This article does a nice job of introducing the terms and concepts at a layman's level. I actually found the vacuum tube circuits in our radar unit easier to troubleshoot than transistor circuits, partially because I had a little experience with them prior to enlistment and also because the point-to-point component mounting made it easy to isolate or remove components...
Thanks to Windfreak
Technologies for Support!
Windfreak Tech designs, manufactures, tests and sells high value radio frequency products such as RF Signal Generators & Synthesizers, RF Power Detectors, RF Mixers, RF Upconverters and RF downconverters. We develop high quality, reliable, low cost products to make your life easier. Windfreak Tech is developing high quality, low cost products to make life easier for RF Engineers and hobbyist. Future products will be more synthesizers, transmitters, receivers and test equipment. All at low cost.
The Future of Mobile
Forrester Research Report: The Future of Mobile Application Development. This report, which is the vision report of the mobile app development playbook for Application Development and Delivery professionals, focuses on the changes application developers need to understand if they want to build modern applications that deliver contextual customer experiences. With more than 1 billion smartphones worldwide, and tablets numbering in the hundreds of millions, the scope of the mobile revolution rivals that of the move from monolithic systems to client/server computing in the 1990s...
How to Break into
the Aviation Radio Game
Yes, this is another article that will probably appeal to a small percentage of RF Cafe visitors, but please countenance my indulgence in things aeronautical as well as things electrical. The early 1930s was a time when both airplanes and electronics were a wonder and a mystery to most of the public worldwide. Of course today both are still a mystery to the public but the wonder is gone - it's merely taken for granted. Many idiosyncrasies of airborne electronic communications were encountered for the first time, like the need for proper grounding and static electricity dissipation. Ruggedization of chassis assemblies in terms of mechanical vibration and shock as well as for temperature extremes...
Mary Burke, W3CUL Wins
1956 Edison Award
$5,000 in 1956 currency is equivalent to about $43,000 in 2013, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Inflation Calculator." That is the value of the amateur radio equipment used by Mrs. Mary Burke in her work handling "an average of 3000 messages per month, principally for service personnel overseas." For her tireless efforts, she was the first woman to win the coveted Edison Award Cup (sponsored by General Electric). Most of Mrs. Burke's communications was via Morse code, where she restrained herself to "about 30 words a minute to maintain accuracy". Way to go, Mary!
for December 1, 2013
This is a BIG crossword puzzle so be prepared to spend some time on it. In fact, if you find yourself being dragged along for a major Christmas shopping jaunt, then you might print it out and take it with you to be entertained whilst sitting on the mall bench. As always, this puzzle contains only science, engineer, and mathematics type words - no numbnut movie star names or obscure mountain peak names.
Sony Patents a Wireless
"Wearable computing device, comprising a wig that is adapted to cover at least a part of a head of a user, at least one sensor for providing input data, a processing unit that is coupled to the at least one sensor for processing said input data, and a communication interface that is coupled to the processing unit for communicating with a second computing device. The[sic] at least one sensor, the processing unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig and at least partly covered by the wig in order to be visually hidden during use." That is the description of patent application #20130311132 submitted to the USPTO by Sony Corporation on November 21st of this year. Features include, but are not limited to, wireless communications from an onboard microprocessor to...
Baluns: What They Do
and How They Do It
Baluns are not devices familiar to most engineers even if they have been in the RF business for many years. Most have heard of them but few probably really know what a balun is, how it works, and how it is used. Admittedly, it wasn't until maybe a decade ago that I ever even came into contact with one - at least that I was aware of. Having spent most of my career connecting cables and waveguide to pre-designed, pre-packaged components, there was never a need to convert between balanced and unbalanced transmission lines. The many analog circuits that I did always used ICs that had single- or double-ended inputs and/or outputs so it was never necessary to be concerned with the details. Now that I have been reading the ARRL's QST magazine monthly for the last few years, an appreciation for...
- Gift Suggestions -
Your New Job Title Is "Accomplice," by Scott Adams. If you are looking for a gift for your engineer spouse, friend, son, or daughter, then what could be better than the latest collection of Dilbert comics? Both traditional paperback and newfangled Kindle versions are available. Not the reading type? How about a Dilbert 2014 Calendar? Seriously, if you are buying the calendar because your engineer is not a reader, then he/she would be better served with Learn to Read, by Zac the Rat (the name doesn't really rhyme, BTW).
Sagetech Announces Principal
Development Engineer Position
This is one of the best job descriptions I have ever seen. It reads like it was written by real engineers who need a really good person to work with the team. To wit:
EE UAV Avionics Design and Certification
"Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in civil airspace are the next big thing. Sagetech is a leader in UAV avionics and has exciting projects starting now in FAA / military UAV design and certification. We are building a kick-ass team. You might fit if this grabs you: We seek highly talented, disciplined, imaginative engineers (RF design, embedded, or FPGA programmers) who love creating novel and highly efficient solutions in a requirements-based design environment. That’s not easy. We seek team members who are like us, who are energized by challenge."
Notable Tech Quote
"Twitter is the only place where you're thrilled when a complete stranger starts following you."
PMI Intros PIN Diode Transfer
Switch for 0.5 to 18 GHz
PMI Model No. SWN-2181-TRA is a pin diode transfer switch that operates over a frequency range of 0.5 to 18.0 GHz. It has 60 dB min of isolation, max insertion loss of 3.5 dB and a max input power of +10 dBm CW. This model incorporates a TTL compatible driver for easy system integration and is supplied with removable 2.92 mm (F) connectors in a housing that measures 1.0" x 1.0" x 0.25"
Hints and Kinks
for the Experimenter
"Kink" is not a word you hear very often anymore in reference to having a problem in a process or task, but it turns up fairly regularly in hobby and do-it-yourself types of magazines as "Hints and Kinks" columns. Having a kink in the neck or a kink in the garden hose are more familiar uses of the word. "Kink" appears in QST, my older model airplane magazines, in some of the Popular Electronics magazines, and likely in many others. "Hints and Kinks" type columns typically are collections of ideas submitted by readers explaining how they solved a particular problem or how they came up with a new way of doing something. Some are outdated but many are timeless in their application and usefulness. I put all the ones here in to the latter category.
Selected Job Tips from IEEE
Here are this week's suggestions, plus a couple others I found as well.
- 6 Memorable Engineering
- 7 Missed Opportunities
That Can Cost You That
- Can You Make a Workplace
U-Turn? (leave, then go back)
- How's the Engineering Job
Market? Depends on Whom
- Engineering the Perfect
- U. of Maryland School of
Engineering job Search Tips
What is a Servomechanism?
Servo-mechanisms are all around us in the form of electronically actuated controls for our cars, stepper motors in our ink jet printers, overhead garage door openers, and anywhere else you can identify where a combination of electricity and mechanics operates with some form of positional sensing and feedback. The author of this article in one instance declares a control circuit with a human operator as part of the operation as being "open loop," but I contend that the human element is part of the loop and therefore constitutes a component in the effectively "closed" loop, albeit not strictly a pure electromechanical system. Those of us who operate radio-controlled model airplanes, boats, cars, etc., are very familiar with servos for moving control surfaces as commanded by the transmitter's joystick position.
Does Anyone Still Make
Does anyone still manufacture new vacuum tubes? The simple answer is yes if you are referring to the kind used in household radio and television sets, but don't expect to find a full line of replacements. Also, don't expect them to be made anywhere other than places like China and Russia. China does it because mainly to service the rest of the world's demand for restoring and maintaining vintage equipment. Russia probably does it to supply its own military and civilian populace which largely still hasn't heard of transistorized electronics (just joking, kinda). Three of the most widely available newly produced vacuum tubes are made by JJ Electronics, Valve Art, and Ruby Tubes. They are all over...
Please Thank Reactel
for Helping Deliver RF Cafe
Established in 1979, Reactel is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of RF and Microwave filters, diplexers, and sub-assemblies. We offer a line of filters covering DC-50 GHz. The latest in CAD/CAM methods and equipment in all of our design and manufacturing processes are used. We feature a modern, well-equipped machine shop complete with multiple CNCs, which gives us the ability to produce long production runs quickly and economically. Our testing department is equipped with the latest in Agilent Technologies Network Analyzers offering quick, dependable, and accurate measurements.
New Life for Old Computers
Remember the old adage about not throwing away that wide tie because someday it will be back in style? Well, the good folks at Neverware have built a business model and product that exploits that concept. "Neverware installs powerful software on schools' existing computers, taking over the 'heavy lifting' and allowing the computers to run like new. Neverware's servers can supercharge any PC - even if it's ten years old and missing its hard drive." Those of us who have been using computers since the 1970s ['78 for me] know this system as a network with dumb terminals. The main difference between then and now is wireless connectivity rather than copper cables. Calling the server a "Juicebox" helps the sales pitch and with cinching the deal - it sounds trendy. I have long predicted that the "personal" computer in business and other large networks like in schools and government offices would eventually come full circle...