How We Listen to
Stars and Satellites
you have never paid much attention to the state of the art in telescopes,
then you might believe they consist of either the $99 Tasco jobs
in Walmart's toy department or the 200" Hale atop Mount Palomar.
You might also think that objects which emit or reflect light in
the visible spectrum are the only things studied. You might not
radio telescopes have been built to detect frequencies ranging
from HF all the way up into cosmic rays. Newer telescopes search
for gravity waves and even neutrino and 'dark matter' pseudo particles.
You might not know that there is a broad selection of optical telescopes
for amateur and research grade telescopes and that the line between
amateur and research grade telescopes...
Copper Mountain Adds 4 Port
to VNA Line
Mountain Technologies releases the new
Planar 808/1 vector network analyzer, adding to its full size
VNA line. CMT makes high performance PC-driven VNAs at an affordable
price point without sacrificing metrological quality. Planar 808/1
is a four port VNA which operates with an external PC, opening a
new range of possibilities for users who need highly accurate multiport
instrumentation for lab, production, or field use. At just 19 pounds,
Planar 808/1 is a more mobile and transportable solution than a
traditional bench top unit. This lab quality VNA offers an extensive
feature set, multiple data saving options, and is fully programmable
for incorporation in automated applications.
Thanks to Asian Circuits
for Ongoing Support
Circuits, with its HQ in Toronto, Canada, and production facilities
in China, has emerged as a well known turn-key PCB assembly service
provider. Asian Circuits is known for providing electronic manufacturing
services, including PCB fabrication, components sourcing, and complete
electronic assembly. Our online
PCB assembly quote generator can help you estimate the assembly
cost of your PCB project. We cater to customers primarily located
in the U.S. and Canada.
Linx FM Series GPS Rx Module
for High Position
Technologies announces its launch of the self-contained, high-performance
FM GPS receiver modules. At just 15x13 mm in size, the
MediaTek MT3339-based FM Series gives the module fast lock times
and high position accuracy even at low signal levels. Very low power
consumption helps maximize runtimes in battery powered applications,
such as positioning and navigation, location tracking, marine, and
asset management. Simultaneously acquires on 66 channels and track
on up to 22 channels. The GPS receiver is completely self-contained
and only requires an antenna.
RF & Microwave Magazine
The RF & microwave trade magazines have updated their online
articles for October. Here are a few that might interest you.
Analyzing the Role of Local
Oscillator Phase Noise in
Reciprocal Mixing, ACS
100W High Power Silicon PIN
Diode SPDT Switches,
Next Generation Wireless:
Riding On the Back of
Measure Vector and Area
with an Oscilloscope X-Y
Display, Arthur Pini
How to Think in dB,
Uncertainties in Spectrum
Analysis, Bob Nelson
Evaluate EDA Software for
a Wireless World,
Dr. Stephen Maas
Beyond CMOS Vs. GaAs:
Pick the Right Technology,
Stable Microwave Oscillators
before digital communications was widely adopted, there was a great
stable frequency-determining devices / systems. That is to say,
low bit error rates (BER) for digital
communications are not the sole motivation for oscillators with
low short-term and long-term stability and low levels of jitter.
One obvious need for precise frequency control is radar, in order
for accurate ranging (the second 'R' in radar)
and in the case of Doppler systems, for accurate radial velocity
reporting and clutter cancellation. Those capabilities existed long
before digital systems came online. Aside from radar, precise frequency
was needed in order to reduce guard band width between assigned
channel assignments, thereby enabling more broadcast stations
(commercial and military) to coexist
in an allotted frequency...
How to Be Funny at the Office
Skills Every Founder Needs to Master" is the theme of the November
2013 Inc magazine issue. Topics such as "How to Do More
of What You're Good at and Less of What You're Bad At," "How to
Take a Fresh Approach to a Staid Old Business," and "How to Really
Connect with Customers," are typical. I scanned over a few to see
what the entrepreneurial business owners had to say about their
experiences that they considered most to be useful. Then, I arrived
at the last one, Tip No.29: How
to Be Funny at the Office. This I had to read. Something just
didn't seem right, though, as I progressed through the story. Take
this passage from a Q&A session...
PMI Intros 250 MHz - 8.5 GHz
Monolithics Industries (PMI) introduces
PE210R258R515SFFLM Rev. B, a 0.25 to 8.5 GHz, low noise
amplifier with a small signal gain window of +9.0 dB to +13 dB.
The noise figure for this unit is ≤4.5 dB max (valid from
0.5 to 8.5 GHz) and offers an OP1dB of +16 dB min.
The operating voltage is +12VDC and the current draw is 300mA max.
The unit is supplied with removable SMA(F) connectors in our standard
The Electronic Iron Curtain
Take a look at the RF feedthrough and lightning arresting choke
on the feed line on the original
Voice of America transmitter in Munich, Germany. Now that is
serious stuff. This story from an early Popular Electronics
reports on the extreme lengths to which the Soviet bloc went in
order to prevent its countrymen from hearing radio signals broadcast
by the Voice of America and other non-state-approved beacons. Quarter
megawatt transmitters sent messages of freedom that could be picked
up by even the most remote crystal sets that didn't have the advantage
of amplification. Ground-wave, sky-wave, and short-wave jamming
techniques were employed to ensure the only signal that could be
received was a buzz-saw type noise. Not so long ago, and certainly
in 1959, America was viewed as a beacon of freedom, both figuratively
via word-of-mouth and underground newspapers, and literally via
Bendix Model 75P6U
1940s Era AM/FM Radio
Cafe contributor Bob Davis has added another vintage radio to his
collection - a
Bendix Model 75P6U AM/FM tabletop radio. More extensive restoration
is planned, but for now just replacing all the electrolytic and
wax-paper type capacitors put the set into working order.
the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics
Industry, by T. Smith, D. Sonnenfeld, and D. Pellow. I've
never been one to shy away from a good argument when it comes to
bucking against the ill winds of political correctness. In general,
PCness causes the vast majority to suffer for the benefit of a relative
few who often assert their 'rights' (real
or imagined) to special privilege out of spite and/or self-righteousness.
The subject of exploitation of the world's poor and desperate to
the advantage of the rest of us bothers my conscience in a conflicted
manner. On the one hand I realize that the exploited often consider
their new conditions to be better than what they previously endured,
but on the other hand there is a moral obligation to not rationalize
away our complicity in the matter. The most egregious offenders
are those who make a lot of noise about profiting from the misfortunes
of said poor while obliviously...
A Lost Art: Wire-Wrapping
this week's Featured Book, I wanted to find something on wire-wrapping.
Although I was not successful at finding a book currently in publication
that is dedicated to wire-wrapping,
I did find a great page on Wikipedia full of information and great
high-res pictures. There are plenty more resources if you do a Google
search. Wire wrapping (w/w) used the
be a very popular method for prototyping circuits when DIP and SIP
packages dominated the electronics landscape. If done properly where
wraps were placed on posts in order to make changes easier and where
care was taken to avoid crosstalk from long parallel signals runs,
w/w was useful at frequencies into the tens of megahertz, even with
digital circuits. I personally have wire-wrapped more than a hundred
boards both as engineering prototypes and as deliverable assemblies
for military equipment. A well-done w/w board...
Floating Data Center
came first, the chicken or the egg? The same can probably be asked
of Google and the
government's (NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS, and various
other 3-letter agencies) need for a massive data collection
capability that at first glance has the appearance of a benign private
company. Even though Larry Page and Sergey Brin undoubtedly developed
and built Google without any help from the Fed, their current intertwinings
with every facet of government from low level agency personnel all
the way up to the prez himself is unquestionable. You don't get
that kind of access and wield such influence without giving up something
in return - usually your honor and personal motto
(in this case abandoning "Don't Be Evil").
We have all witnessed hypocrisy on the part of Google's executives
in the form of a pimped-out Boeing 767 aircraft for globe trotting
under the guise of eco-warrioring, along with special landing privileges
at military installations. Add to that...
Thanks Much to everything RF
is a search engine for
microwave components. everything RF lists complete catalogs
from various RF & microwave component manufacturers and enables
engineers to search through them by specification. There are over
124,463 components listed from more than 281 manufacturers. Download
datasheets, request quotes or contact the suppliers for more information
via everything RF. Its Fast & Easy!
Notable Tech Quote
- Response (referring to AM/FM) given
by Ham radio operator when ask by policeman in Virginia what type
of radio he had installed in his car (hat
tip to RF Cafe visitor KA). Virginia DOT requires that "A
vehicle displaying Call Letter License Plates is subject to inspection
by DMV or any police officer to determine if the operator and the
vehicle comply with the requirements." You must "Have operational
transmitting and receiving equipment permanently installed in your
vehicle." The specific wording requires Tx AND Rx equipment
(AM/FM radio is Rx only and therefore might
not qualify), but that could just be bureaucratic ineptness.
Now thieves on the prowl for
mobile rigs know exactly which vehicles to target for a guaranteed
payoff. BTW, I also learned while researching details on...
Fiber Optics Amplifier Tutorial
tutorial should be useful both as an introduction to
fiber optic amplifiers and for learning more details on them.
We believe that even people already having a substantial experience
with fiber amplifiers will find it helpful for deepening the understanding.
The focus is on the underlying physics and the resulting technical
consequences; we do not simply treat a fiber amplifier as a “black
box”, but rather look inside. By RP Photonics
Mozilla Lightbeam - Shining the
Truth on Websites
couple years ago, Mozilla published an add-on tool called Collusion
for monitoring which websites were tracking your movements around
the Internet. A follow-on app named
Lightbeam, with even greater power, has been released:
"Shining a spotlight on online data tracking to help people understand
the Web around them." As with Collusion, Lightbeam gives you a picture
of all the websites that are notified of your presence on your targeted
website. For instance, when you evaluate RF Cafe using Lightbeam,
you will discover that Google and DoubleClick
(a Google subsidiary) are notified
in order to serve pay-per-click banner advertisements. I depend
on them to generate revenue for putting food on my table and a roof
over my head. To be honest, I have no idea what happens after Google
checks in, other than being fairly confident that the NSA is also
notified as they are for every click, e-mail, or phone call you
Puzzle for 10/27/2013
crossword puzzle was constructed specially for the good folks
in the engineering department of Brigham Young University (BYU).
Event planner J.M. wrote to request the use of a crossword, and
in response I created one for them. If you have a similar need,
I will be glad to do the same for your group if I have the time.
Many thanks to Orbel
Once Again for Support
Corp. is the leading designer and manufacturer of
RF Shielding and EMI/RFI Isolation Products for printed circuit
boards and electronic enclosures. Orbel also specializes in thin
gauge photo etched metal parts and precision metal stampings made
from a wide variety of material options. We manage every aspect
of metal stamping from design, prototyping, short to medium runs
and high volume stamping.
Spartant Wideband Signal
has developed a new line of
wideband RF signal generators that have a USB interface. Their
initial products include two models: 25-6000 MHz and 25-3000 MHz,
both featuring USB for control / power and both having a +13 dBm
maximum output power with phase noise of -106 dBc/Hz @100 kHz
offset @250-1000 MHz. As with most USB test instruments, the
size is kept small (about the size of a deck
of cards) by having the user interface reside in software
installed on the user's computer. An Ethernet interface will
be available in the near future.
Anyone Can Make
today's throw-away society, most people would never consider attempting
repair a speaker if it were to develop a tear or a puncture.
Why should you bother when a replacement is so inexpensive? Well,
there are several reasons you might want to affect the repair yourself.
First, the speaker might be integrated into the system in such a
manner that replacing it would be difficult or even impossible.
Second, some speakers are actually pretty darn expensive, especially
large diameter models and high quality models regardless of size.
Third, a replacement might not be available, as with a vintage radio
or television. Fourth, maybe you just want the challenge and satisfaction
of repairing the speaker rather than adding its bulk to a landfill...
Empower RF Requests Your
Presence at AOC
is pleased to be once again conducting a "live" demonstration of
an ultra broadband (20 to 1000 MHz),
high power (1 kW CW)
amplifier platform which is housed in an industry leading 5U
chassis. The fact that we are controlling this amplifier through
a wireless connection and highlighting diagnostics and remote control
features through an iPad is equally impressive and, we believe,
also industry leading. Our live demonstrations throughout 2013 have
been well received and, for us, a serious validation of the next
generation amplifier platforms we have designed...
New RF & Microwave Products
EuMW - everythingRF
has issued a newsletter highlighting some of the new items introduced
European Microwave Week. It is the largest event for the RF &
Microwave Industry in Europe. This year, 2013, it was held in Nuremberg,
Germany from the 6-11 October. There were over 200 companies that
took part in the exhibition.
Please Thank JFW Industries
Industries is a world leader in designing and manufacturing of passive
and application specific test systems. These components include
attenuators, RF switches, and specialized test systems for use in
the cellular, telecom, OEM test equipment, medical, automotive,
defense, and automated test systems markets. Application specific
designs are the cornerstone of JFW's continuous technical advances
in RF components
Measuring Peak and Pulse
Power w/USB Power
technology and measuring techniques advance, the time eventually
comes when continuing to use old methods not only doesn't make sense,
but can actually harm your reputation by providing data that cannot
be duplicated by customers who long ago adopted the new ways. Orwill
Hawkins, of LadyBug Technologies, has written a white paper describing
how to make accurate, repeatable peak and
pulse power measurements on waveforms using the precision of
modern instruments that provide a graphical view of the entity being
investigated. USB power meters provide an inexpensive means of obtaining
high quality measurements and the benefits of a graphical display
environment (on your computer) at a
relatively low cost. I particularly like the use of the word 'mesial'
in describing the midpoint of a pulse's rising and falling edges.
Device Input Parameters
with Vector Analysis
Cahak, of Sunshine Design Engineering Services, has published yet
another paper in his series on making RF test measurements. This
article will cover a recent test experience that utilized some thinking
about the test fixture, the bias requirements and the device mounting
and special calibration offsets needed to
de-embed the test fixture response from the device response
within the test fixture. The device also had to have bias on several
ports simultaneously. We had to establish a "reference plane" within
the fixture, from which we can use the Vector Network Analyzer's
Port Extension or Phase Offset to dial out the distance from our
1 port calibration reference plane to the point of short reference
within the fixture. With this phase offset compensation we can then
measure the device capacitance of the part...
AWR.TV Playing AWR's IMS2013
Corporation has launched a fully redesigned
portal directly from within its main website framework to enhance
the viewing experience of AWR’s hundreds of demos and tutorial videos.
The new AWR.TV platform now supports multiple platforms for ready
viewing on mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones, and Android handsets/tablets.
Recently added additions to the AWR.TV platform include AWR’s nine
MicroApps presentations from IMS 2013.
Don't Lose Your Mobile Rig
the car is parked in a dark remote spot it is better to do the job
where the car is. This is because auto burglary is a lesser crime
than stealing the whole damn car." That remark was made by a 'former'
thief who ostensibly gave up a life of crime after spending nearly
two decades in the slammer for various infractions of the law. One
of his specialties was breaking into cars to
steal radios - AM, FM, CB, Ham, or whatever was available. Mr. X
volunteered his insight for the benefit of QST readers who might
want to take proactive steps to help minimize the chance of being
Thanks Again to Triad RF
Systems for Their
source for RF Front Ends, transceivers and amplifier systems that
just plain work! Solutions for integrating high performance HPAs
into sophisticated RF subsystems and systems without sacrificing
efficiency and linearity. Please remember that
DCH Systems merged with Triad RF Systems earlier this year.
Skyworks Front Ends Support
Solutions announced that its industry leading wireless connectivity
FEMs are being leveraged by Broadcom for use in several of the company’s
5G WiFi solutions, enabling some of the fastest download speeds
available in access points, routers, DSL/cable gateways, PCs, smartphones
and tablets. Skyworks' complete 2.4 and 5 GHz 802.11a/g/n/ac
solutions integrate the power amplifier, filter, power detector,
T/R switch, diplexer and associated matching in an ultra-compact
form factor, delivering all the essential functionality from the
output of the SOC to the antenna.
Amateurs - Your Thoughts
May be Worth Money
the Golden Age of Radio (admittedly a subjective
term), electronics innovators were generally as likely to
be hobbyists (amateurs) as they were
to be professionals with college degrees. In fact, according to
this open letter from Eugene F. McDonald, president of
Zenith Radio Corporation, in 1939, his company recognized the
fact that most of their best ideas came from amateur radio operators,
and that their engineering staff was populated overwhelmingly with
Hams. Accordingly, the letter was a solicitation to amateurs to
submit their ideas to the company to give designers not just valuable
technical information gleaned from real-world experimentation
(aka the School of Hard Knocks) but
also insight into what type of equipment the Ham world would like
to have made available for sale. Wouldn't it be great to still see
the foundational electronics brands...
Hams in Space
I admit that the
Hams in Space
organizational patch caught my eye and that's why I'm writing about
it. Their little ploy worked on me mainly because of its vintage
design motif, but I'll be honest and admit there might have been
another reason as well. "Hams In Space is one of the KD0HKD.COM
Satellite Web Sites where you can learn how the Hams in Space
Team can come to your Amateur Radio Club Meeting, Hamfest, or Event
to provide a presentation on FM Amateur Radio Satellites!"
PMI Intros High Speed
SPST Switch for x-Band
P1T-9D25G-90-T-SFF is a high speed, solid state, single pole
single throw switch capable of switching within 20 ns. The
frequency range is 9.25 GHz (±30 MHz) with >90 dB
Microsoft Visio 2003 Inside Out
is still a mainstay for generating Office-compatible engineering
block diagrams and schematics. Its ability to be programmed for
automation makes it even more valuable to the code-writing guru.
Microsoft Visio 2003 Inside Out covers all the ins
and outs that you'll need to know to exploit its powers and to learn
clever tricks for usage. "This supremely organized reference packs
hundreds of timesaving solutions, troubleshooting tips, and workarounds
all in concise, fast-answer format. It’s all muscle and no fluff.
Discover the best and fastest ways to perform everyday tasks, and
challenge yourself to new levels of Visio mastery!"
Silvertone Radio Discovered
at Tony Packo's
you happen to be a fan of the M*A*S*H television series from the
1970s, then undoubtedly you are familiar with Corporal Maxwell Q.
Klinger's multiple mentions of his old neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio
haunts - some manufactured and some real. His Toledo Mud Hens ball
team, for instance, is real. Uncle Abdul (Klinger
is of Lebanese-American descent) and his original wife Laverne
Esposito (from the Hungarian side of Toledo)
were obviously fictional; however, it was because of Laverne that
Klinger was introduced to
Tony Packo's Cafe - a real place. The Hungarian style hot dogs
from Tony Packo's were tops according to Max.
In fact, his mention on the television show launched Tony Packo's
to stardom and to being a highly prized tourist destination. On
Feb. 24, 1976, Jamie Farr (Klinger)
put Tony Packo's on the map...
Problems Like Doctors
Palmer has a good piece on the Design News website titled "How
to Be a 'Doctor of Engineering' Without Going to Grad School"
about how, according to input from his son who is in medical school,
the diagnosis technique being taught to aspiring doctors is similar
to the troubleshooting technique used by (in Dave's case) mechanical
engineers to get to the root of problems that are reported by customers.
Doctors, at least during their training phase, use a four-step process
termed "differential diagnosis." The doctor first notes symptoms
and medical history, then considers possible causes for the malady,
then prioritizes the list according to likelihood, and finally tests
his conclusions by applying diagnosis and curative techniques. The
parallel to electronic as well as mechanical troubleshooting...
Firefox Add-On Inserting
Popup into Web
advertising has hit a new low in the last few months. I have been
noticing that every time I use the Firefox browser that
are constantly popping up as the cursor is moved around the
screen - even on the RF Cafe website -- which does not have and
never has had popup ads. The screen capture below shows what I was
seeing on my own website (RF Cafe)!
I am NOT responsible for any popups that you might get, and neither
are any of my advertisers. A Google search about the issue turned
up many complaints about the same type of thing, primarily on Firefox.
It turns out that an add-in, which must have been installed stealthily
with an upgrade, was responsible. I don't visit questionable websites,
so there is little chance it was picked up in that manner unless...
Fiber Optics Introductory
Tutorial by RP
Photonics Consulting GmbH has published a tutorial "that can serve
as an introduction to fiber optics; i.e., for
learning basic of fiber optics, but it also helps to improve
the understanding for people who already have a substantial experience
with optical fibers. The focus is on the physics of wave propagation
and its technical consequences. We do not go into mathematical details,
but rather try to create an intuitive understanding of the operation
principles – often by demonstrating certain effects with numerical
simulations. The simulation and design software RP Fiber Power of
RP Photonics is an excellent tool for such purposes and has been
extensively used for this tutorial." [App
Note page link]
Notable Techie Quote
the mid-'90s, when downsizing was the dominant trend in business,
Dilbert took off." - Scott Adams
Please Visit Anatech in
Electronics designs and manufactures the industry's widest range
of RF and
microwave filters at frequencies up to 40 GHz, as well
as power dividers, directional couplers, and many other product
types. We specialize in standard and custom designs for commercial
wireless, public safety, satcom, and defense applications, and we
can meet stringent military environmental specifications.
It's a Man's Job
Behind That Microphone
course if you listen to any of the
old-time radio broadcasts on the Internet, they are recorded
version of shows made long ago. However, back in the day those shows
were first performed live in front of microphones and recorded in
a broadcast studio. With a cast of two or three or even more, the
actors would voice their lines with as much talent and effort as
those performing for movies. The crew usually included a group of
people responsible for creating background sound effects like horses
running, car horns tooting, airplanes buzzing by, and dogs barking.
All was done real-time with split-second timing required to pull
it off and sound convincing. Radio audiences were unaware of all
the work required as they sat intently listening to the Adventures
of the Lone Ranger and The Shadow. Behind the scenes
were dozens of engineers and technicians tending local radio broadcasting
equipment and all-important telephone lines used for synchronizing...
accurate, reliable, and useful
measurements of RF power in the forward
(transmission) and reverse
(reflection) directions requires careful
selection of test devices and detection equipment. LadyBug Technologies
has produced a white paper describing a method for performing reflection
and transmission measurements using a power sensor and a directional
coupler. It includes a discussion on coupler directivity and impedance
match as a factor in measurement accuracy.
RF & microwave Crossword
Sunday I create a
crossword puzzle using a word list that I personally created
and added to during over a decade of making puzzles. All of the
words are related to engineering, science, mathematics, chemistry,
astronomy, etc. There are no numbnut clues about movie stars or
clothing designers. Enjoy.
Polystyrene: Its Electrical and
has been commonly used in capacitors since long before I came on
the electronics scene. Its widespread use in electronic and electrical
components was first adopted in Europe in the 1920s, and then later
became popular in the U.S. where scientists improved its characteristics
and lowered its cost to where it could be found just about anywhere
current flowed. In its present form, polystyrene can be easily bent,
cut, turned, polished, melted, drilled and tapped - truly a versatile
material. This article provides a brief introduction to polystyrene.
Reduction of Distortion and
Noise with Inverse
circuits seem simple enough intuitively, at least for simple
systems. It is easy, though, for someone not comfortable with algebraic
manipulations to arrive at the wrong conclusion for how a given
feedback constant figures into the calculation. Such was the case
with an article published in the ARRL's QST magazine, when
many readers wrote to the author accusing him of making an erroneous
claim regarding using feedback to cancel out an unwanted harmonic
in an amplifier. The criticism turned out being justified. Here
is a statement of the error and an explanation of the proper approach
which was printed a couple months later.
FCC Spectrum Dashboard
FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
has a very useful website set up for finding information about who
owns spectrum licenses around the country, and what spectrum is
available in your county. The
has four primary methods for searching spectrum in the United States.
You can use the dashboard to find out how spectrum is being used
and by whom. There is an interactive allocation chart like the big
wall charts that the magazines used to give away, only the nice
thing about this one is that it never goes out of date. Of course
the flip side is that if you wanted to research the historical band
allocations you would need to look elsewhere. From the main
page you may perform the following searches. Be aware that the map
does not display where the frequencies are licensed or being used...