Interference from Left Field
1970, the airwaves were really getting crowded. Lots of high power commercial and military
gear was online, and the radio listening public was setting new record highs every year. As
such, many new sources for
radio interference were being discovered, and sometimes the problems caused went well
beyond just a little noise being superimposed on top of Neil Diamond's newly released
Cracklin' Rosie or the lads from Liverpool's The Long and Winding Road. Often,
the interference was overwhelmingly annoying. The FCC was being flooded with complaints. Digital
computers were creating a whole new...
New Quiz: Frequency-Agile
Antennas for Wireless Comms
quiz is based on the new book
Antennas for Wireless Communications , by Aldo Petosa. Proliferation of smart phones,
tablets, and other portable devices are placing greater demands for services. Many of the
proposed solutions to deal with these demands will have a significant impact on antenna designs.
Antennas with frequency agility are considered a promising technology to help implement these
new solutions. This book provides readers with a sense of the capabilities of frequency agile
antennas, the widely diverse methods for achieving tunability, the current achievable performance,
and the challenges still facing FAA designs.
Super-Radars for Missile Ship
would be sort of meaningless these days since just about everything is "super" anymore, especially
with regard to military, space, or aerospace systems. Lately, when I hear the term "super-something,"
I think of a really funny radio commercial with a meeting of super-geniuses. I don't recall
the exact subjects, but the chairman asks his members for items to add to their agenda of
things to do. Someone pipes up with an idea to solve world hunger, then another suggests they
design a nuclear fusion generator to power the world with clean energy, etc. Enthusiasm exudes
from the empaneled super geniuses. Finally, someone suggests that they do whatever it is the
commercial is trying to sell...
by Fairview Microwave
Microwave a preeminent supplier of on-demand microwave and RF components, has released a new
line of compact
hot-switchable variable attenuators. RF attenuators are used to reduce the amplitude of
an electronic signature in many common electronic scenarios including lab testing equipment,
distributed antenna systems (DAS) and power and signal monitoring
systems. Fairview Microwave's new line of variable step attenuators come in 3 and 6 GHz
frequency models and several different connector configurations including...
The Electronic Husband
is really clever. Appearing in a 1955 edition of Popular Electronics, "The Electronic
Husband" is one wife's attempt to quantify her husband's interest in all things electronic
by adapting forms of Ohm's Law to fit observed behavior. In the process of writing the parody,
Mrs. Jeanne DeGood demonstrates a good basic knowledge of Mr. DeGood's second passion.
I think after all the articles that Melanie has proof read for me that she probably knows
a lot of these equations as well.
AWR’s University Portal
Provides Better Access
Corporation announces a new
added onto its main navigation menu that provides focused, in depth content to the company’s
rapidly-growing academic user base. The site is clearly and concisely organized with dedicated
areas for students, faculty, and graduates to easily navigate and get the information they
need. The student portal offers links to educational content, tutorials and how-to, technical
content, and information about other AWR University-focused content. The graduate portal provides
PMI Intros Low Phase Noise,
400° Analog Phase Shifter
Monolithics Industries has introduced Model Number
PS-5G18G-400-A-SFF, a 5 to 18 GHz, low phase noise,
analog phase shifter with capability for phase shifting from 0 to 400°. Operates from
a single positive control voltage of 0 to +10 VDC with a phase voltage sensitivity of
40°/volt. This model offers a typical modulation bandwidth of 50 MHz and is supplied
in our PE2 housing measuring only 1.08” x 0.71” x 0.29” and can be used with the SMA connectors
or in a surface mount configuration. A new test report has been added to our web site wish
contains phase noise data.
RCA's Numitron Readout
Numitron was their answer to the Nixie tube (manufactured by Burroughs
Corporation). It was a simpler 7-segment incandescent display that, with all lines
energized, formed the number 8. It worked off +3.5 to +5 volts, with each element requiring
24 mA of current. The number 8 drew 192 mA of current and dissipated 0.672 W
at 3.5 volts and a whopping 0.96 W at 5 volts! RCA marketed a BCD-to-7-segment display
driver. The Numitron was pitched as a sensible alternative to the 7-segment LED display, but
with an element size of 0.35" wide by 0.6" high, there was no real advantage over the LEDs,
which were just...
Many Thanks to NuWaves
for Continued Support!
Engineering is a veteran-owned premier supplier of RF systems, subsystems, RF products and
Engineering Design Services designed to
customer requirements. We are a turnkey provider for RF and
communication custom designs with full project management and design responsibilities; taking ownership
from the conceptual idea to production. Learn
about NuWaves' capabilities.
Hobnobbing with Harbaugh
is a little electronics hobbyist humor in the form of a comic series titled "Hobnobbing
with Harbaugh," compliments of Popular Electronics. Citizens Band radio and dirty
hippies were the topic of the day in the 1970, so that's what you see in a couple of these
comics. The marriage proposal comic can be considered as 'amateur' in more ways than one!
You don't need to be an amateur radio operator to appreciate these comic strips.
More Great Magazine Articles
these articles are used to pitch company products, but they also offer useful information
on application and state of the art components and systems. Companies like Hittite have a
huge inventory of RF components that cover a wide array of technologies. Lots of radar-related
stuff this time...
Skyworks Secures Military
& Aerospace Hi-Rel Designs
Solutions an innovator of high performance analog semiconductors enabling a broad range of
end markets, today announced that is has captured
hi-rel and COTS sockets with several aerospace and defense suppliers such as Cobham, EADS,
Herley and Teledyne. Skyworks’ solutions are being leveraged for microwave switching,
attenuation, receiver protection and mixer and detector applications in commercial and military
radios, avionics systems, software defined radios and navigation platforms that support major
tier-one aerospace and defense companies such as Boeing, L-3 Communications, Northrup Grumman
The Amana Radarange
legend goes, the use of microwaves for preparing food was pursued after a serendipitous discovery
by Raytheon engineer Percy Spencer whereby he noticed the chocolate bar in his pocket had
melted while he was working near a radar transmitter magnetron. Being a newly discovered phenomenon
in 1945, Mr. Spencer was probably not aware that his own body parts were being likewise cooked,
but he did recognize the commercial potential of an oven that used microwaves to cook food.
It only took Raytheon (Amana) to have the first
Radarange available for sale to professional kitchens. This article was printed a full
decade after the discovery and even then the size and power consumption was too great for
grandma's countertop. Of course grandma would never even...
for January 28, 2014
and Millimeter-Wave Electronic Packaging, by Rick Sturdivant. Packaging of electronic
components at microwave and millimeter-wave frequencies requires the same level of engineering
effort for lower frequency electronics plus a set of additional activities which are unique
due to the higher frequency of operation. Without careful attention to these additional issues,
it is not possible to successfully engineer electronic packaging at these frequencies. This
resource presents the packaging issues which are unique to microwave and millimeter-wave frequencies
and reviews lower frequency packaging techniques and how they can be tailored or analyzed
for higher frequency designs.
VidaRF Intros 12.0-14.5 GHz
Broadband Coaxial Isolator
introduces the VCI-120145-1, a
to 14.5 GHz coaxial isolator which features a rugged body with stainless steel SMA
connectors, sealed and painted if required. Isolation is 20 dB min, with an insertion
loss of 0.4 dB or less, VSWR of 1.25:1, maximum power handling of 1W, and operational
temperature of -54 to +85C. Other frequencies and connector configuration available per request
in this package size of 0.50" x 0.67" x 0.50".
Determine Your Device Display
Pixel Count for Width & Height
design has unarguably become a major source of headache for designers because of the widely
varying non-standard standards for both desktop and
mobile device displays. Compound
that with the massive amount of information which needs to be fitted into the available space
and the task is daunting. RF Cafe screen space has been necessarily
(some say annoyingly) crammed with content. Some of the "clutter" has been necessitated
by the need to make a living (i.e., advertising), but the majority
is driven by a desire to provide as much data as possible without the need to endlessly scroll
up and down pages and, most importantly, not having to click all around the website to find
what you're looking for. One thing I implemented a long time ago was a unique
(my original idea) menu system that avoids an HTML file...
Radio Signals from Jupiter
Studied by NBS
the days before space-based radio astronomy, observations on many frequencies required waiting
until nightfall because the Earth's ionospheric activity interfered with signals in many bands
of interest. Two such bands are 18 MHz and 20 MHz (16 and
15 meters, respectively), on which information on lightning-type discharges from Jupiter
are received. Near-real-time maps of ionospheric absorption in the D layer
(caused by solar x-ray activity) are available on the
Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
website for 5 through 30 MHz, which is where long-range high frequency
(HF) communications occur. The F2 layer is where signals are
usually reflected, but absorption in the lower D layer can be severe enough to limit reception.
not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored
him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions
and laughed delightedly at his licentiousness and thought it very superior of him to acquire
vast amounts of gold illicitly. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum
of the 'new, wonderful good society' which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean 'more
money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.' Julius
was always an ambitious villain, but he is only one man." - Cicero, as quoted by the Honorable
Millard F. Caldwell in
Many Thanks for Support
from Electro-Photonics !
LLC is a global supplier of RF &
Microwave components. Our products include SMT hybrid couplers, wire bondable passive
coaxial products, test fixtures and very useful test boards for evaluating components. The
Electro-Photonics team can support your small R&D design requirements with RF & Microwave
test fixtures and save you valuable design and characterization time. Built-to-print and custom
evaluation boards available.
RF Engineering Crossword
Puzzle for January 26, 2014
RF Engineering crossword
puzzle is guaranteed to stump the most ardent weekly workers of the New York Times Sunday
puzzle since its word selection is comprised entirely of the kinds of words and abbreviations
that you and I are familiar with. Unless grandma was an engineer or scientist, it is doubtful
she would know the answer to the clue, "Related to FM by a differential," but you probably
do. Go ahead, give it your best shot.
Getting Feedback Straight
has been widely misunderstood by many electronics enthusiasts, even those who have a fairly
extensive background in circuit design (that which does not involve
feedback). In fact, there have been instances of articles being printed in magazines
like Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics, etc., where the authors got
feedback equations wrong due to improper summing of nodes, necessitating a correction
in a later issue based on reader feedback (a convenient and appropriate
word for this comment). This article discusses feedback in audio circuits to avoid
distortion, but the concepts apply to any frequency of operation. It is possible in many cases
to implement seat-of-the-pants feedback schemes successfully...
API Radiation Tolerant Voltage
Controlled SAW Oscillator
API725 Series is a high performance line of SAW oscillators providing superior communication
distances for frequencies of 350 MHz to 4,000 MHz and phase lock loop for heritage
applications. The radiation tolerant voltage controlled SAW oscillators
(VCSO) are designed for space, satellite communications and aerospace
systems. The VCSOs deliver low phase noise performance (-109 dBc/Hz
at 1 kHz) and low vibration sensitivity (2 x 10-9 per g).
API's space-qualified VCSOs are standard products that can be modified to customer...
So You Want To Be a Ham
able to pass a 5 words-per-minute (wpm)
Morse code test at one time was a primary requirement for obtaining the lowest level amateur
radio operator license - Novice Class - in addition to passing a written test. Many more people
failed the code test than failed the written test. In fact, the code portion kept many aspiring
amateur radio operators from ever even taking the test. It was a barrier which anyone worthy
of the brotherhood must overcome. The intimidation factor was pretty significant. As time
marched on and the ranks of amateur license holders was dwindling quickly, the
FCC in 1990 dropped the code requirement and created the Technician
Class license that required only the passing...
The Elusive SMA Connector
people have contacted me over the years searching for the little "finger wrenches," aka "torque
multipliers" and "thumb wrenches," that many display vendors have handed out for free at trade
show booths. Like a lot of people, I have one of those plastic SMA tools as well with Agilent's
name on it. Other people reportedly have versions with LeCroy's, National Instruments', Noise
Com's, and other companies' names on them. My e-mails to at least three companies have never
gotten responses. Another request just arrived, so I again searched the Internet using terms
like "sma thumb wrench," "sma finger wrench,"
"trade show gift wrench," "sma plastic wrench," "plastic connector...
Apple's Iconic Glass Cube
Shattered During Snow Storm
suspect a rock from a snow blower might have hit the
glass panel at Apple's 5th Avenue store. Maybe so, but if it were not for the Earth's
rising temperatures, the extreme cold and massive snowstorm would never have happened and
Apple's insurance company would not be looking at a $450,000 repair charge. It's yet another
victim of anthropogenic global warming. Your 4WD pickup truck in effect broke the glass. A
stander-by commented on the irony of the iStore's glass breaking like so many iPhone displays.
4 New Titles Added
to Monthly Book Drawing
to the gracious contributions of Artech House, there are now four great new titles available
for selection by winners of the monthly
RF Cafe Book Drawing:
- Microwave and Millimeter-
Wave Electronic Packaging
- Bayesian Multiple Target
- Frequency-Agile Antennas
for Wireless Communications
- Reflectarray Antennas:
Analysis, Design, Fabrication
I use many of the books as the
subjects of RF Cafe Quizzes and then make them available
for selection in the drawings. Many times the selected winners never respond to my e-mail
notifications, so after three e-mails I give up on them, making even more options available
for the subsequent months' winner(s). Maybe you will be next!
It's All Greek to Me: NEAZOI.GR
Electronics Resources Website
website is hosted in Greece by a Greek gentleman who contacted me about the "Subminiature
Magnetic Amplifiers" article which I posted a couple days ago. Everything is published
in English. He has a vast
collection of technical data, much of which was self-published, and it is full of great
photos from actual projects. You could spend hours clicking through the site looking at all
the cool stuff. There is a section on magnetics with things like rope memory
(used on the Apollo 11 moon shot), square loop toroids,
and coincident current NOR gates, hand-drawn reverse engineering schematics...
Job-Related News & Stories
JobSite Career Alert just sent out their latest list of good employment-related stories
that you might find interesting. Well, the truth is I only post the ones I think you might
find interesting. Visit their website to see everything.
In Asia, Indian Workers
Using Your iPhone for Work?
Bringing Your Own Device
Might Mean Losing Your
Lessons from Japan
Discover Engineering Family
The HR Capitalist: The 3
Ways Candidates Get
7 Reasons You Should
Update Your Resume Right
Now, Even If You're Not
Looking for a Job
Jobs Open Up in Automobile
Nixie Tube Wristwatch
by Cathode Corner
do you buy the techie who has everything? How about a wristwatch that has a nixie tube display?
I apologize for not discovering this little gem of Nerdom a couple months earlier to be in
time for Christmas, but nearly everyone has a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or other
special occasion between now and next Christmas for which the
Old Nixie Watch can be presented. From the Cathode
Corner website: "The Old Cathode Corner Nixie Watch is the perfect way to show your retro-geek
cred. It is a two-digit wristwatch using Nixie tubes, a forty-year-old display technology
that is delightfully easy to read. The watch requires no button-pushing to operate. Just hold
the watch at your standard viewing angle, and the hours...
Are Your Electrolytics Leaky?
who has dealt with older electronics equipment knows that one of the first kinds of components
to go bad is the
electrolytic capacitor. Materials used at the time degraded fairly rapidly, especially
compared to modern materials, which facilitated leakage of stored charge between the rolled
up layers of conductive plates and interstitial insulating paper (or
other material) layers. Symptoms of electrolytic capacitor malfunction in radio and
television are most often some form of audible noise, light or dark lines within the picture
scan, or outright power supply failure. Since electrolytics are typically large valued capacitors,
they are used in power supply circuits for filtering the line 50 or 60 Hz
(depending on your country) AC...
Laws by Bureaucrats vs. Laws
Passed by Elected Officials
you think your life in America is dictated by people you elect to office, think again. Unelected
bureaucrats routinely write regulations that affect every aspect of your existence, including
whether you will be considered for a particular job that you are technically qualified to
perform, whether you are too 'privileged' to receive financial assistance for college, whether
you can manufacture a particular type of light bulb, what kind of circuit breakers must be
installed in your new home, how much of certain ingredients your food may contain, how many
gallons your toilet may use...
"All-American" TV Technicians
Win Awards for Public Service
the middle of the last century, television technicians were considered nearly as god-like
as doctors, especially those who made house calls to cure an ailing entity - be it a TV with
its vertical synch circuit running amok or a child running a fever. OK, I exaggerate a bit,
but General Electric mounted a media campaign to build a favorable image of TV repairmen in
the public eye. People from every walk of life and of every type employment
(well, maybe not mafia hit men and politicians), gave of their
free time to help community efforts in charitable ways without any expectation of returned
favors (which is why I included politicians along with mafia hit men).
This 2-page advertisement which appeared in a 1958 edition of Radio-Electronics depicted
TV technicians who were bestowed the
"All American Award" for public service...
article is provided as a reference to how these early
transmitters were designed and built. Modifications in the circuit would be required to
adapt this transmitter to modern standards. It is also a good reference for theory and operation
of some of the older equipment that might be valuable for hobbyists who restore old radios
- and there are a lot of us out here!
Featured Book of the Week
Suckers: How to Deal With Bullies in the Workplace, by Barbara Bartlein. The work world
is full of bullies who criticize, blame, intimidate, and humiliate others. In a study of U.S.
workers, 41% reported experiencing psychological aggression at work in the last year. Bullying
occurs in every industry and every profession. It is estimates that more than two million
professionals and managers are pushed out of their jobs each year by bullying. This comes
at a cost to employers of $64 billion a year. Decreased productivity, absenteeism, low morale
and teamwork are all outcomes of a toxic work culture.
Notes on the Getter
you happen to be Estonian, you might think of something entirely different than most of us
do when we hear the word "getter."
In fact, you probably capitalize the word since it is the name of a pop singer from your country,
Getter Jaani. If you are a child living in Japan, you would probably think of
Getter Robo, an anime from a popular cartoon series. I, and I dare say just about
everyone else that visits RF Cafe, knows getter as that silvery deposit
(typically barium) that resides inside vacuum tubes for the purpose
of helping to maintain the vacuum and to absorb pesky random molecules that might otherwise
cause electrical noise in the circuit. This article from a 1958 edition of Radio-Electronics
discusses the purpose of getter...
Notable Tech Quote
is inconceivable that inanimate Matter should, without the Mediation of something else, which
is not material, operate upon, and affect other matter without mutual Contact…That Gravity
should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one body may act upon another
at a distance thro' a Vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which
their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity
that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent..."
- Sir Isaac Newton,
letter to Richard Bently, c. 1692
TPI USB Wideband
Yarbrough, an independent consulting RF engineer, sent me information on a nice compact, inexpensive,
RF signal generator that he has developed. Joining what has become a very extensive array
of USB-powered test instruments - signal generators, power meters, oscilloscopes, multimeters,
spectrum analyzers, software defined radios, etc. - from various vendors, the
TPI Synthesizer generates high spectral purity
signals ranging from 35 MHz to 4.4 GHz with programmable output power levels from
-55 to +10 dBm. Sweeping can be set for both frequency and power for testing both frequency
and amplitude responses of passive and active devices. The unit can be locked...
Many Thanks Bittele Electronics
for Supporting RF Cafe
is your complete Turn-Key PCB solution when it comes to
Electronic Manufacturing Services. At
Bittele we understand the requirements of, and specialize in, your
need for prototype and low-volume production. Our in-house facility provides PCB design &
layout, design for manufacture (DFM), PCB fabrication, component
procurement, and PCB assembly services. Because we do everything in-house at our ISO9001 certified
and IPC-A-600 & IPC-A-610 compliant facility, we ensure your project is top quality and
remains on schedule.
Ode to Old RF Guys
was sent to me by an RF engineer friend of mine, who wrote it for his friend's wife whose
husband is an RF engineer: "Ode to Old RF Guys: I'm sure
you know, we old RF guys have bad joints (high power RF burned all the stuff between our bone
joints away). A common malady is our ears don't work (too many loud booms from power amplifiers
on the bench blowing up, too many straight out of school college kids telling us we don't
know what we're doing, and managers yelling at us for schedule slips as physics is hard to
trick). We have arthritis in our hands from too many times grabbing the needle nose pliers
to tune coils, using tweezers to wrangle parts we can't see anymore, and the countless times
we’ve tightened the RF connector at the end of a cable. We suffer from numb fingers from inadvertently
touching too many over-temperature RF parts..."
MW&RF | EDN
is shaping up to be a great year for magazine articles if these I have selected from Microwaves &
RF and Test & Measurement World are any example.
Future of Connectivity:
by Jean-Jacques DeLisle
Feedthrough in Negative-
by Sergio Franco
Two-Wire Remote Sensor
Preamp, by Vlad Rentyuk
to Inspire Technology
Advances, by J-J DeLisle
RFID Hardware Engineers
Needed at SecureRF
a Connecticut based company, develops solutions that combine security and cryptography with
low resource computing devices. Our breakthroughs in authentication and data protection performance
are being applied to mobile payments, wireless sensors, machine-to-machine (M2M) and automated
identification technologies such as NFC and RFID. As we bring our secure products to market
and develop new security and sensor solutions, we are looking for
RFID Hardware Engineers
who have experience with RF wireless communication systems such as NFC and RFID to join our
experienced team. More information and additional job openings can be found at the
Crossword Puzzle for 1/19/2014
is this week's installment of my engineering, science, mathematics, chemistry, physics, astronomy,
etc., based crossword
puzzle. My custom dictionary of about 5,000 hand-picked words assures you that no idiotic
clues for movie stars or clothing designers will get in the way. Enjoy!
Great New Articles
from Microwave Journal
Journal just posted a slew of good articles on their website. Here are a few of the ones
I found most interesting, but you might find others that interest you.
Next Generation Affordable
Smart Antennas, by
J.R. Guerci, T. Driscoll,
R. Hannigan, S. Ebadi,
C. Tegreene, D.E. Smith
Generating Radar Signals
with an Arbitrary Waveform
Generator, by Chris Loberg
Prototyping Massive MIMO
James Kimery, Ian Wong
A Method to Design an
Using a MEMS Digital
Variable Capacitor, by
Measurement Technique to
Test Large Antennas in the
Lab, by Ruska Patton
Please Visit Woken Technology
in Appreciation of Support
in November 1999, WOKEN is a Taiwan-based company that specializes in
Microwave / RF coaxial connectors, cables,
cable assemblies, Microwave / RF antennas and RF accessories. With the experienced R&D
engineers & technicians, active marketing
up-to-date production equipment and measuring instruments, WOKEN designs its own RF / Microwave
products for meeting all kinds of requirements demanded by its customers at communication
Bell Telephone Laboratories
launched in August of 1960, finally allowing America to participate in the Space Race, which
until then was roundly being won by the USSR. Electronics magazines of the day were filled
with prognostications of the future of space communications. Electronics World dedicated most
of their November issue to satellite Earth stations and advancements being made in ultra sensitive
receivers and powerful transmitters. Since the earliest satellites were literally metallic
balls for reflecting radio signals, it was necessary to optimize both ends of the communications
path since there were no circuits onboard the satellite to perform signal processing and re-transmission.
Bell Labs, of course, was at the forefront of the technology. In fact a famously serendipitous
discovery was made by a couple scientists in 1964 using the very antenna featured...
AWR to Preview Design Env v11
at Radio Wireless Week 2014
Corporation, the innovation leader in high-frequency EDA software, will preview in Booth #1
new features and enhancements in its soon-to-be-released
AWR Design Environment™ V11 at
Radio Wireless Week 2014 in Newport Beach, CA from January 20 to 21. Of special interest
are demos of the new configurable PCells (library of parts) antenna
measurement capabilities in AWR’s Analyst™ 3D finite element method
(FEM) EM simulation software.
R&S Intros 1st SigAn & SpecAn
w/500 MHz Analysis BW
Schwarz has once again expanded the analysis bandwidth for its R&S FSW high-end signal
and spectrum analyzers. In the past, 320 MHz was considered an excellent value. Rohde &
Schwarz is the first company to offer
analysis bandwidth of 500 MHz. The new R&S FSW-B500 hardware option is now available
for all analyzers of the R&S FSW family and can therefore be used for measurements in
a frequency range up to 67 GHz. This enables completely new applications for the signal and
spectrum analyzer in research and development as well as for tests on fast wireless connections
such as WLAN or Beyond 4G (5G).