These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced
(no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
here to return to the Table of Contents.
Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
as busy as most peoples' lives are, precious little time is left over
for recreational reading. A seemingly endless selection of engineering
monthly publications are available at no cost:
, Microwave Journal
Microwave Product Digest
, et al. Most libraries carry copies of
science magazines like
, and Popular
, that are freely available; some libraries even allow you
to check them out for a week or two. Add to that list the plethora of
online reading material available. All the aforementioned provide a
healthy diet of information overload. Maybe for people working in the
science or engineering realm that can be considered not so much recreational
reading as competency maintenance.
So with all the free or mostly
free information available, why would I suggest that you add the American
Radio Relay League's
magazine to your reading list even if you are not a Ham radio hobbyist?
Simple. The articles presented are always, without exception, well-written
and chock full of information that is profitable for consumption by
engineers and technicians.
The magazines that I read each month
are gone through literally from cover to cover; if I do not feel compelled
to do so, the title gets dropped from my list. That is not to say that
I read every last word of each one, but I am sure to not miss anything
I consider useful. In fact, a lot of the material I get for the weekly
and monthly content for RF Cafe comes directly from those sources (sometimes
it comes from people sending me e-mails). Since receiving QST as part
of my ARRL membership - which began last spring - it has assumed an
honored spot on my list.
Right at the top of the chart of my favorite features are the monthly
Q&A-format columns, because the guys hosting them are extremely
knowledgeable about all aspects of RF.
Doctor Is In
, written by Joel R. Hallas (W1ZR), is the first feature
I look for. He is the kind of guy you would like to have as a mentor
when you show up for work, fresh out of college, on your first day on
the job. You can tell from his answers to questions that he knows most
of the stuff cold, and doesn't have to go look it up. I had the good
fortune to work with a guy just like him: Jim Wilson, a life-long Ham
and engineer at Westinghouse in Annapolis, MD (likely retired now).
I was a technician at the time.
The scanned page to the right
is an example from the December 2010 edition of QST
(it is purposely illegible in order
to not violate any copyright)
Topics such as SWR matching,
mast-mounted antenna configurations, proper wattmeter usage, and a very
eye-opening (even to W1ZR) RFI sleuthing exercise are covered.
It is not unusual for Mr. Hallas to include antenna plots or other
more technical content as part of the answer to a question.
very well done column is Hints & Kinks, by Steve Sant Andrea (AG1YK).
As the title suggests, you can expect to find all kinds of good tidbits
on how to implement your ideas, including solving some issues that have
been evading and confounding you for a while. Sometimes those ideas
come from reader submissions, while others are Mr. Sant Andrea's ideas
for the questioner.
RFI, EMI, and other noisy gremlins are a
continual nuisance to everyone involved in radio communications, so
this column's frequent attention to such matters, including the December
issue, make for very interesting reading.
For those interested
in vintage radios and their accompanying history, John Dilks (K2TQN)
provides an interesting read. Having restored an old
floor model radio many moons ago, I enjoy the column. There
are usually some cool photographs printed each month.
Ward Silver (NØAX) does a series that is a little more technically rigorous,
which helps to give balance to the magazine's content. Even after being
an engineer for 20 years and a technician for 10 years before that,
I still find myself sometimes thinking, "Oh, yeah, I used to know that!"
In the December edition of QST, shown to the right, Mr. Silver discusses
the makeup of a sinusoidal waveform. If you are a little rusty on how
to convert between peak, effective, and average voltage and current,
or how to calculate the power under the curve, this is a great way to
do a refresh. Even though I know those particular formulas by heart
after working with them forever, it is still useful to read through
everything - even if it just a proofreading exercise in case an error
slipped in (so a correction can be printed).
of the magazine include product reviews, news about amateur radio events
at home and around the world, and columns written by guest authors.
In fact, QST is yet another possible venue for you to potentially have
your own articles published. If you have submitted a relevant paper
to other magazines but have not made the cut, maybe with a little editing
to fit the QST format you can get it published there! It's worth a try.
Remember that QST's vast audience is composed of not just hobbyists,
but career technicians and engineers, all of whom appreciate fresh ideas.
So, I highly recommend signing up for your own copy of QST each
month since the full content is not made available for free online (they
have to make money to cover costs and run the organization). The subscription
is included in a yearly
membership in the ARRL
, which at this time is a mere $39 per year.
After finishing with my copy of QST each month, I put it in a stack
with most of my other magazines to drop off at the local library, doctor's
office, or dentist's office. Hopefully, doing so will inspire someone
else to get involved, or at lease gain an appreciation for the activities
and services provided by others. You might want to consider doing the
Along with the magazine, the ARRL offers many world class
quality publications that are useful for professionals, all at far less
than what you pay for titles by the "big boys" like
. Check out the
RF Cafe advertiser Coaxial Dynamics is a regular advertiser in QST!