Because of the high maintenance needed to monitor and filter spammers from the RF Cafe Forums, I decided that it would
be best to just archive the pages to make all the good information posted in the past available for review. It is unfortunate
that the scumbags of the world ruin an otherwise useful venue for people wanting to exchanged useful ideas and views.
It seems that the more formal social media like Facebook pretty much dominate this kind of venue anymore anyway, so if
you would like to post something on RF Cafe's
page, please do.
Below are all of the forum threads, including all
the responses to the original posts.
Post subject: Multiple RF Engineers Needed by
Itron Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:21 am
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Itron Inc. is a leading technology provider
to the global energy and water industries. Itron Inc. consists of Itron
in North America and Actaris outside of North America. Our company is
the world’s leading provider of metering, data collection and utility
software solutions, with nearly 8,000 utilities worldwide relying on
our technology to optimize the delivery and use of energy and water.
Our products include electricity, gas and water meters, data collection
and communication systems, including automated meter reading (AMR) and
advanced metering infrastructure (AMI); meter data management and related
software applications; as well as project management, installation,
and consulting services. Please click on the banner below to learn about
the RF engineering jobs now available.
I worked for Itron in the early 1990s as an RF design engineer
in Waseca, MN. The Waseca location began life as Enscan ("Engergy scanning,"
I think), which was born of a project developed by the EF Johnson company
and the University of Minnesota. Itron had bought Enscan shortly before
I arrived, while the company was still operating out of a portion of
the EF Johnson building. Just about everyone was a former EF Johnson
employee. The company's biggest product achievement was the ERT (Encoder-Receiver-Transmitter),
which is the radio modem unit that is embedded in utility meters. A
high volume production facility was in operation that turned out thousands
(maybe 10s of thousands) of units each day, running 24/7 shifts. A custom
ASIC handled the digital data and control of the unit, while an ingenious
RF circuit that used a single transistor as both the transmitter PA
and the receiver front end worked in the 900 MHz ISM band. The simple
superregenerative receiver would be "wakened" once every second or so
to listen for an interrogator. If it heard its unique ID code being
called, the transistor switched into PA mode and blasted out a consumption
message using a frequency hopping spread spectrum format. If its name
was not being called, it went back to sleep. This scheme permitted the
ERTs to run on a lithium battery with a published life expectancy of
around 12 years - an truly significant accomplishment for its day. Remember
that this all predated cellphones. Those EF Johnson guys were a very
talented bunch. I worked on the interrogation system that was mounted
in a van with a 1/4-wave whip antenna on the top. It had already been
designed and field proven, but the steadily rising ambient noise in
the 900 MHz ISM band was beginning to cause meter read rates to decrease
(meaning either a human would have to go read the missed meter, or a
second pass with the van would be needed). My job was to redesign whatever
parts were necessary to get the read success rate back to where it should
be. Today, Itron still uses the Waseca facility to manufacture its ERTs
- a rare thing in a day when it seems like everything electronic is
Worth mentioning is that one technician I worked
with was actually a crewman on the famous Edmond Fitzgerald coal freighter
that went down in a storm in Lake Superior. Fortunately he, Grant, was
not onboard during the fateful voyage. Now I feel an urge to listen
to Gordon Lightfoot's song about it...
Oh, must give my buddy
Bob an honorable mention. Bob could single-handedly lift the 200+ pound
interrogation chassis into and out of the van. My guess is that the
unit has since been repackaged into a suitcase-sized chassis.
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster