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
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
New Quiz: Frequency-Agile
Antennas for Wireless
quiz is based on the new book
Frequency-Agile 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
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
AWR’s University Portal
Corporation announces a new
university portal 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 ongoing educational...
PMI Intros Low Phase Noise,
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
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
Learn about NuWaves' capabilities.
Hobnobbing with Harbaugh
is a little electronics hobbyist humor in the form of a comic series
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
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
Solutions an innovator of high performance analog semiconductors
enabling a broad range of end markets, today announced that is has
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 and Raytheon.
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
VidaRF Intros 12.0-14.5 GHz
introduces the VCI-120145-1, a
12.0 GHz 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
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
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
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
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 relatively simple
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
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
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...
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
for Wireless Communications
- Reflectarray Antennas:
Analysis, Design, Fabrication
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
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
Day Scales New Heights
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)
Laws by Bureaucrats vs. Laws
Passed by Elected
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
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...
A Simple 5- and 10-Meter
article is provided as a reference to how these early
vacuum tube 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
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,
wideband 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
is your complete Turn-Key PCB solution when it comes to
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.
The Future of Connectivity:
Mobile & Automobiles,
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
Crossword Puzzle for
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 November 1999, WOKEN is a Taiwan-based company that specializes
/ 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 markets.
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
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
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).