RF Cafe Software
About RF Cafe
1996 - 2016
BSEE - KB3UON
RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The Internet was still largely an unknown entity at the time and not much was available in the form of WYSIWYG ...
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RF Cafe Moved to Erie, PA, in May of 2008RF Cafe is now located in Erie, Pennsylvania. We got tired of the long, hot, humid summers in the South and searched for a location in the North that 1) was affordable, 2) was not land-locked (i.e., close to a large body of water), 3) had friendly people, and 4) had a low population content of Illegal Aliens (all of NC is full of them). Erie delivered on all four requirements, so here we are.
Mt. Airy (superseded by above)
Here is the official RF Cafe workshop. It is a combination of electronics equipment and model airplane equipment. See below for the electronics bench. There is not much time available these days for pursuing modeling, but most of what I do anymore has replaced nitro fuel power with electric power. The new lithium-based battery technology and brushless motors have provided power trains that equal, and in many cases exceed, the fuel-powered versions. Here is my Model Aircraft website.
The other side of the workshop contains the household maintenance and project equipment and supplies. Everything is within the modest budget of RF Cafe's proprietor (that's me). Bench top versions of a band saw, drill press, grinder, belt sander, and power miter saw are used both from a cost and available space standpoint. I have a respectable collection of power hand tools like a couple drills (including a hammer drill), a grinder, planer, orbital sander, corner sander, belt sander, reciprocating saw, circular saw, saber saw, etc.
Official RF Cafe electronics workbench. I have sold off some equipment over the years because most of what I needed was available in the labs where I worked. Only the essentials remain, like an oscilloscope, triple output DC power supply, DMM, analog multimeter, and very importantly, a Metcal SP200 instant-on soldering system. After using a Metcal for the first time when working for Xetron, in Cincinnati, OH, I cannot bear to wait for a soldering iron to heat up. It also does a great job of maintaining a constant tip temperature regardless of the heat load (to within reason, obviously). Almost all of my test equipment has been purchased through eBay. Here is a free tip (not my idea) that will serve you well. If you really want the best chance at winning a bid at a good price, never place your bid until the last possible moment; I normally wait for less than 10 seconds left. That is called "sniping," (not snipping). Doing so discourages the back and forth price increases throughout the auction. Just be sure that the price you snipe with is the maximum price you are willing to pay, since you only have one shot at it, and there could be someone else lying in wait just like you.
I installed this whole-house surge protector (GE Industrial Systems SurgePro™) shortly after moving in. Sitting atop this hill, we receive quite a lot of lightning strikes so the $80 is a small price to pay. I have, and still do, always used local surge protectors at the receptacles, so this is an extra level of protection. We are not the highest point around, but I am seriously considering installing a lightning rod. That wonderful invention by Benjamin Franklin prevented the rampant lightning-induced fires in Philadelphia's tall buildings (where they were installed). The official RF Cafe UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is an APC model NS1250. It provides surge protection and power backup. Here at the hilltop of Mt. Airy, we get more than our fair share of power outages, too, so this UPS's ability to let my entire Dell XPS 400 computer system to run for about 20 minutes on backup is a really nice feature for riding through the hiccups. One of the most annoying features of the brief outages is that the cable modem and wireless router. They are also plugged into the backup outlet to eliminate that hemorrhoid. To top off the whole suite, I have a Troy-Bilt, 5550 W portable gasoline powered generator (no, it is not left over from the Y2K scare).
|La Crosse, and includes a remote wireless anemometer, thermometer, and hygrometer. The inside unit sits on the official RF Cafe work station. Somehow during the household move in April, I managed to misplace the cable that goes between the local receiver and the computer, so my software is not recording a log of the local weather at the moment. For the same reason some people memorize pi (π) to the 100th decimal point, I like to track weather statistics. NOAA has nothing to fear from my efforts, but they are certainly more accurate than what I can get from AccuWeather.com. Sure, I do not have the Nexrad weather radar capabilities of AccuWeather, either, but with my newly acquired vantage point that sports a 180° of the Blue Ridge mountains, I can usually look out the window and see weather rolling in.|