Carl & Jerry: "BBI"
We are solidly in the middle of baseball season
in America, so this "Carl & Jerry" story from a 1950 edition of Popular Electronics comes at a good time. As is
the case with many "Carl & Jerry" episodes, this one involves the use of an amateur radio rig. Find out how and why
Jerry willingly commits "Baseball Interference" (BBI) to beat the opposing team at their own game.
Dr Sundaram Kumar, of American Standard
Circuits, Inc., has published a paper titled, "Thermal Management of High Frequency Circuits by Blind Hole Technology." For effective thermal management
of high power and dense electronics, the heat sink forms the bulkiest component, and aluminum, owing to its light weight
and easy machinability, is the preferred choice for airborne PCB devices used in aerospace and defense telecommunications.
In this paper, we present a versatile and robust fabrication...
Please Thank Bittele for
Supporting RF Cafe
Bittele Electronics is
a leading Turn-Key PCB assembly manufacturer in the EMS industry. They will answer all your questions and solve all your problems
in PCB design and layout, PCB fabrication, functional
testing to RoHS rules, quick-turn PCB assembly, and FREE prototype
RF Connectors and Cables
by Joe Cahak
Joe Cahak, owner of
Sunshine Design Engineering Services, has submitted another
fine article for posting here titled, "RF Connectors and
Cables." It is a very nice treatment on various flavors of coaxial cables and connectors that includes specifications
on the most commonly used types, governing equations, and recommendations on proper care and cleaning. Joe has also provided
a list of the manufacturers, industry standards, and technical references he has found most useful during his many decades
of automated RF testing experience. "RF Connectors and Cables" serves as a great introduction for newcomers to the
RF and microwave realm, as well as a quick reference for bookmarking regardless...
Competitor to the Transistor?
news from May 1958: "Hardly a month passes nowadays without the announcement of some 'sensational' new amplifying device.
The great majority of these startling inventions, after their brief flurry in the popular and technical press, disappear
into oblivion. But we believe that the
Tecnetron, just announced in France, has a brilliant and enduring future." Have you ever heard of a Tecnetron?
I didn't think so; neither had I before reading this article in Radio-Electronics. I guess that pretty much negates the
preceding prediction. The holy grail of the Tecnetron, whose etymology in and of itself is worth reading...
Here's what can
(probably will) happen if you do like I did and fail to check the oil level in your air compressor. Fortunately,
it was a cheap model so the oversight was was more of an embarrassment than a great financial loss. It would cost $98 to
replace the entire compressor compared to $45 + shipping to buy just the connecting rod, piston, and counterbalance set
(can't buy just the con rod). Metal from the con rod was seized on the shaft. 25¢ worth
of oil and a little bit of good common sense would have prevented the loss.
Engineering Crossword Puzzle
for June 29, 2014
For the sake of avid cruciverbalists, each week I create a new
engineering crossword puzzle that
has a theme related to engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical words. You will never be asked
the name of a movie star unless he/she was involved in a technical endeavor (e.g., Hedy Lamar).
The New Radio Receivers
World War II came to an end in Europe in May of 1945,
and in the South Pacific in September of the year. By the end of 1944, Americans were becoming confident that their fathers,
sons, and husbands would soon finally be home. Manufacturers began advertising the eminent return and availability of
that had gone out of production due to material shortages during the war years. Advertisements ran in trade and hobby magazines
as early as 1944 promising lines of goods that in many cases had not even been designed yet or production planned. Some
products being promised, however, were merely models that were already in production before...
Please Welcome Spartant
as a New RF Cafe Supporter!
At Spartant, our mission is to provide
you RF test tools and instrumentation that are clean,
uncomplicated and easy to use; nonetheless, our products are high-performance, rugged and
Whether you work in a development lab, production test, classroom or field, these tools will help you win the daily battles.
Perfect for getting the job done efficiently and cleanly, yet not encumbered by features you don't need, Spartant delivers
powerful, simple, electronic tools.
Z-Comm Intros Low Phase
Noise 10.625 GHz Synthesizer
Inc. announces a new RoHS compliant Fixed Frequency Synthesizer model 10625E-LF. The
is a single frequency PLL solution that is pre-programmed to operate at 10.625 GHz. This fixed frequency device utilizes
ceramic resonator topology to achieve integrated RMS noise performance of better than 0.4° while consuming less than 500 mW
of power. It is designed to operate over the temperature range of -30 to +70°C and delivers +3 dBm of output power
into a 50 Ω load.
Identify That Chassis
Having spent many years professionally scouring the Internet
while attempting to identify electronic components as part of a
effort, I can appreciate how difficult life would be when the only resources available were a few manufacturers' databooks
and a magazine article or two. You might think it would behoove a company to make certain that its products are clearly
marked if not with a part number, at least with an easily identifiable logo. That way a researcher could call the company,
describe the part, and get the required information. Even with today's nano-size packages, laser marking could do the job.
Sometimes, the maker of the next higher assembly (which might be the finished product) purposely
either removes the identification from select components or instructs the vendor to only partially mark...
Another Round of RF
it my imagination or are these tech articles being published at a much faster rate than before? It sure seems like it to
- Receiver Sensitivity and Equivalent Noise Bandwidth (p.22), D. Layne
Flexible and Low Cost Hands-On Lab for Antennas and Propagation, M. Pasian
100 GHz with Coaxial Connectors, W. Oldfield
KKey Test Requirements of Modern Handset Power Amplifiers, D. Hall, H. Nelson, G. Pailloncy
- Microstrip Antenna Boosts
UWB Gain,, R. Kumar, T. Oli, N. Kushwaha, R. Krishna
Digital Predistortion Techniques for Mobile PA Test (p.32), H. Nelson, S. Ferguson
Common To Spectrum Analysis, B. Nelson
Thanks Much to NIC
for Their Continued Support!
NIC is a leading manufacturer
of custom RF & microwave filters and assemblies. For over 20 years,
we have been a trusted partner for military, commercial & space
solutions that includes RF modules, phase shifters, multiplexers, filters, amplifiers, TCXOs, and more. NIC headquarters
is located in Overland Park, KS with additional sales and manufacturing operations in Washington, DC and India.
Our Growing Industry
Today's consumer electronics (CE)
industry has an estimated value of $354 billion per a Statista report. In 1957, according to this article in
the market value was reported to be $13.7 billion ($116 billion in 2014 dollars per the BLS inflation
calculator). The world population in 1957 was 2.89B and grew to 7.10B by 2013. That means population increased by
a factor of 2.45 while the CE industry grew by a factor of 3.05. Within the margin of error of marketing expert estimates,
that represents essentially flat growth. Fret not, though, because while the total spending on consumer electronics per
capita might have been flat...
June 2014 Product Update
Anatech Electronics, Inc. offers the industry’s largest portfolio of high-performance standard and customized RF and
microwave filters and filter-related products for military, commercial, aerospace and defense, and industrial applications
up to 40 GHz. Anatech has released new designs for a 170 MHz cavity bandpass filter, an 882.5 MHz ceramic bandpass filter,
and an 800 MHz helical bandpass filter. All can be ordered directly through their AMCrf web store.
Electronic Alphabet Quiz
This quiz from Popular Electronics is a bit
trickier than others because it requires you to think abstractly rather than concretely. Quiz-maker Robert Balin presents
a series of circuits and components along with the first letters of the related topics. Your mission, should you decide
to accept, is to match the item to the letter. The example provided is matching the letter 'J' to a drawing of that type
of half-wave antenna. I have to admit that my attempt at matching all of the items and letters was taking a lot of time,
so I quit before finishing all of them; my hard head is better at concrete thinking...
ATEC Gearing up for 2014
IEEE EMC Symposium
Advanced Test Equipment Rentals,
supplier of complete testing solutions for the Electromagnetic Compliance (EMC) market, is preparing for the last domestic
IEEE International EMC Symposium, August 3-8 in Raleigh, NC, until it returns to Washington DC in 2017. Awareness of EMC
is increasing with the growing demand of wireless communications for monitoring radiation and cross RF signals to ensure
electronics are not affected. Also, the demand to plug equipment like solar panels back into the electrical grid is contributing
to the growth of
NanoDegrees: A New
Paradigm in Tech Credentials
Industry buzzwords are appearing these days faster than IRS
scandals. 'NanoDegree,' coined by Udacity, is
one of them. A NanoDegree provides, "Credentials built by industry leaders to advance your career." It is essentially another
form of online certification in specific fields of study, in Udacity's case, Internet and IT. The ultimate mission is to
reduce the requirement and expectation of a formal college degree - be it Associate, Bachelor, or even higher - for routine
jobs. An intense introduction to or concentration on increasing specific skills, combined with on-the-job experience and
instruction, is really all many high technology jobs require. In order to be a success, employers will need to be convinced
of the value provided by abbreviated educational regimens...
Featured Book: Highly
Integrated Low-Power Radars
Integrated Low-Power Radars, by Sergio Saponara, Maria Greco, and Egidio
Ragonese. In recent years, advances in radio detection and ranging technology, sustained by new achievements in the fields
of signal processing and electronic components, have permitted the adoption of radars in many civil and defense applications.
This resource discusses how highly integrated radar has been adopted by several new markets such as contactless vital sign
monitoring or harbor traffic control, as well...
Mr. Math Analog Computer
Back in the early 1990s, while working for a fine Midwestern
company that made automated utility meter reading (AMR) equipment, an older gentleman was
hired as a contractor to do some design work. He was an instant hit with everyone not just because of his engineering prowess,
but because of his stories of the mechanical and
electronic computers he work on for the U.S. Navy. After being commissioned as an ensign at the U.S. Naval Academy in
Annapolis, Maryland, he spent time studying, researching, and designing massive radar-directed gun pointing systems for
battleships. Just as contraptions like Babbage's difference engine was a marvel of contemporary engineering...
FCC Issues Record $34.9M Fine
to GPS Jammer Manufacturer
Rohde & Schwarz recently played a major
role in the FCC's crackdown on truckers using illegal GPS
Jammers. On March 5, 2014, Rohde & Schwarz set up an instrumented van on a major highway connected to the Portland,
OR, airport and determined that "about every third or fourth truck was radiating at or near the GPS L1 [frequency of 1575.42
MHz]." A report titled, "Strategies for Limiting Civil Interference Effects Inspired by Field Observations," by consultant
Logan Scott, President, LS Consulting, included the R&S measurements in a detailed presentation on the issue of illegal
GPS jamming and the hazards...
I love these kinds of stories because they involve
a combination of luck and skill to solve a long-standing problem. The important lesson to learn from this story is that
Michael Tompkins was smart enough to make the essential cause and effect link to be successful. To be
honest, the scenario by which the discovery was made made me laugh out loud - not because of the pain caused to Mr. Tompkins
but because I have experienced so many similar doinks myself.
Thanks Once Again to
Z-Comm for Support!
Z-Comm has been leading the wireless
world in VCO and PLL technology for over two decades. We are the
largest manufacturer of VCO and PLL modules for the commercial / wireless market. To ensure our
dominance as the leading RF
/ Microwave component supplier, Z-Communications, Inc. invests in continuous research and development to develop state of
the art RF/Microwave components. We hold patents in ultra low noise technology, which enable us to provide excellent performance.
"Successful technocrats are not found
among the ranks of such plodders of limited vision and ambition. Instead, they are found among those who aspire to eminence
through their position in the technical hierarchy. Such men will find their climb made easier by the large number who choose
to remain behind by practicing creative incompetence." - Archibald Putt, in his book
Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat. Hat tip to Lance Lascari, aka "RF Dude"
U. Alberta Student Uses NI AWR
MWO to Design Graphene FET
(formerly AWR Corporation) has published a new success story detailing how Ahsan U. Alam,
a University of Alberta, Canada graduate student, successfully developed a modified top-of-the-barrier model for graphene
field-effect transistors using NI AWR Design Environment™/ Microwave Office® circuit design software. Likewise, an IEEE paper detailing this venture was also recently
presented and presented at the IEEE International Conference on Simulation of Semiconductor Processes and Devices.
Carl & Jerry
might be the first appearance of Carl's father, at least in a drawing. In this episode, Carl and Jerry design and build
a "polecat detector." In the process, a little drama is thrown in when a stander-by mistaken believes he
is being insulted. Even if you don't learn how a photocell-based threshold crossing circuit works, you might just learn
the meaning of 'lugubriously.'
Somehow, a week has slipped by since last looking around for useful career and job hunting
stories. For some reason these stories tend to have numbered lists. Here are 6 items from my latest roundup.
10 Things You Need to Know
About Working for a Startup
6 Signs Your Boss Is a
Where Does Your
Go? Inside the ATS System
(click on the infographic links)
4 Don'ts to Remember on
Your First Job
How Much Time Should You
Spend on Your Job Search?
Zenith TV Advertisement
"No Printed Circuitry"
"PCBs? We ain't got no PCBs in our TV sets... We don't have to give
you no stinking PCBs." That is effectively what the
advertisement from a 1958 edition of Radio-Electronics told its potential customers. According to the Zenith communications
department, even though their head R&D guy, Dr. Alexander Ellett, was "the daddy of printed circuit boards," they stuck
with the traditional point-to-point wiring in all their TV chassis. I have to agree with them from a troubleshooting and
component replacement perspective. There's nothing easier than heating a solder lug or terminal post to unwrap a leaded
R, L, or C either to measure its value, isolate it...
RF & Microwave Crossword
Puzzle for June 22, 2014
RF & microwave crossword puzzle
was a galaxy, it would be classified as spiral. If it was top-down hurricane image, it would be in the southern hemisphere
since it rotates clockwise; low pressure areas spin CCW in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the shape is not meant to represent
anything in particular; it was just a convenient way to create the matrix.
Please Thank LadyBug for
Their Ongoing Support!
Founded in 2005, LadyBug
Technologies manufactures the PowerSensor™ line of miniaturized USB RF & microwave power sensors. LadyBug manufactures
high accuracy average, pulse, and pulse profiling sensors
with GUI interfaces covering up to 26.5 GHz and 80 dB
dynamic range. These sensors set a, patented industry standard, no zero / no cal technology. There is no need
to disconnect or wait for internal zeroing and calibration prior to making accurate low power measurements.
Tesla Movie Kickstarter Fund
Rare is the time that I drag anything from my e-mail spam bin back into the inbox,
but I do always check it just in case something slips by. The subject "Tesla Movie" is what caught my eye and caused me
to investigate. Tesla proposes to be a full-feature, star-studded
film documenting the life and times of Nikola Tesla. Its producers have turned to the increasingly popular 'crowdfunding'
venue via Kickstarter as one aspect of fundraising to help bring
it to fruition. Per the Kickstarter website pitch: "Why Crowdfunding? Quite simply we need a boost in finances to keep us
going towards bringing this film to realization. We don't have the financial resources the big studios...
A Unique Attention Getter
Except for a
few notable examples such as the incredibly life-like humanoid robots coming from Japan, the overwhelming majority of
today are either educational tools, special function equipment for performing highly precise tasks
(surgical, exploratory, search & rescue), or part of high volume production lines. Back
in 1940 when this 'Telecan' robot debuted, people though of robots almost exclusively as autonomous devices that would some
day make life easier for the human race, or eventually conquer and subdue the human race into slavery. Constraining robots
to the relatively inefficient layout and proportions of homo sapiens...
RF Calibration Technician
Needed by ATER
Advanced Test Equipment Corp. has
in immediate need for an
RF Calibration Technician to perform calibration and repair of medium to high level test and measurement
equipment. The successful candidate will requires little assistance
and supervision on to create calibration data sheets accurately and efficiently with minimal supervision based upon instrument
specifications and approved calibration procedures, identify and recommend products and related peripherals and accessories
to add to our rental inventory
Interview with KN3NOB
Dave Harbaugh drew the semi-regular Hobnobbing with Harbaugh
series of comic strips in Popular Electronics. His themes were always in the situational comedy style of the day
where Ham operators were depicted as victims of their own obsession with amateur radio, their wives' lack of obsession with
amateur radio, or being at the mercy of some well-meaning but ignorant neighbor, police officer, store clerk, or other such
individual. This particular comic has an on-the-scene TV anchorman making KN3OB's life heck.
"Ham Radio and Me
in High School" - Hilarious!
The 'Me' in this case is
(know to his parents as Chaz Cone), author of a very well-written and entertaining short story
that is reminiscent of a Jean Shepherd radio
tale. Hat tip to RF Cafe visitor Leon Robinson (K5JLR) for sending me the hyperlink. He was
an accomplice to and co-conspirator with W4GKF in the confessed escapades.
Digital Filters for Everyone, by Rusty Allred. Performing
such functions as noise mitigation and signal conditioning, digital filters are everywhere: in your car, in your TV, in
your music player, in your phone, everywhere. But an engineering degree or expensive software is not required to design
and analyze them. In fact, whoever you are and whatever your background, this book will help you understand,
design, analyze and use digital filters. This book was written to make digital filters more accessible
to everyone. Practicing engineers will appreciate its straightforward approach...
Beware Advice from
Columnists with Deadlines
When I search for useful articles that offer career
advice, I do a cursory scan through them to make sure there is no hidden bit of idiocy that ends up poisoning the entire
thing. I would not want to recommend something without have at least performed some minimal amount of vetting. Sometimes,
I don't need to go any father than the headline to flag it as idiocy. Take this one, for example: "How to Go from Working 60 Hours a Week to 40 by Sending 2 Emails
a Week." The author has the very naive view that all a worker needs to do get away with working 40 hours each week is
to send his/her boss an email on Monday morning outlining what he/she plans to accomplish in 40 hours by the end of the
week, and then sending a follow-up on Friday afternoon...
Bionics... a Weird World
Here is an interesting article that appeared in
Popular Electronics discussing some of the early
electronic system developments that were based on sensory elements found in nature. I'm a bit surprised
and disappointed that the author made the mistake of equating a bat's sound-based detection and navigation system to radar
rather than sonar. Yes, the principles of operation are the same regarding transmitting a signal and then computing the
distance based on the round-trip time of the reflected signal, but there is a fundamental difference...
Tech Articles for June 17, 2014
It's hard to believe more than a week has passed since
I posted the last batch of articles. A couple links go to some nice videos produced at the IMS2014 trade show last week.
- Eight Errors
Key Test Requirements of
Modern Handset Power
Amplifiers, G. Pailloncy,
H. Nelson, D. Hall
Get Smarter About
Production Outlier Removal,
Challenging the Status
D. Carlson, and
D. Pilgrim (I know Duncan)
Flexible and Low Cost
Hands-On Lab for Antennas
and Propagation, M. Pasian
Dr. Stephen Maas - 2014
Microwaves & RF Living
Freescale's RF Test Bench
in a Box (video)
Circuit Quiz: Capacitive,
Inductive, or Resistive?
Here is a different type of quiz
from Popular Electronics' master quiz-maker, Robert P. Balin. Rather than the typical format where you need to match
a word or another picture with a picture, this one requires you to consider each description and decide whether it best
describes an inductive, capacitive, or reactive circuit. I confess to messing up on question 20, because I couldn't remember
whether a lagging power factor referred to voltage lagging current or current lagging voltage. Hint: It refers to
current lagging voltage. Another hint: Remember the ELI the ICE...
KR Electronics Intros
70 MHz Bandpass Filter
KR Electronics part number 3157-1 is a 70 MHz
bandpass filter. The filter has a min 0.5 dB bandwidth of 30 MHz. The filter is group delay and amplitude
equalized. Stopband attenuation of 45 dB is maintained to 5 GHz. Elliptic type response for quick transition to the
stopband. The filter is supplied in a 0.6" x 0.6" x 2.25" case with SMA connectors.
The Maker's Bill of Rights
Don't be misled by the word "Maker's" in the title. "Maker" comes from Make
magazine, the website that originally posted "The Maker's Bill of Rights"
as created by Mister Jalopy, Phillip Torrone, and Simon Hill. The trio's collective lament and peeve is the manner in which
so many manufacturers (aka 'the makers,' but not the object addressed in the title) produce
products that are essentially unserviceable by users. It has been a topic of concern by many consumers ever since miniature
and integrated components hit the product scene in the 1960s. "The Maker's Bill of Rights" was published around 2006. Permission
has magnanimously been given to broadcast and promote it far and wide using the poster contained in this PDF document. As
I read down the bullet list, I find myself agreeing...
The Cuk Converter
Although I am not a proud miscomputerist
(a made-up word) a la the sadly departed and much revered
Bob Pease, I do allow myself the luxury of being emotionally affected at the sight of a hand-drawn circuit
in a 21st century electronics magazine. Such is the case with Steve Bush's short article on the functional theory of a
converter circuit. Its primary function is to invert the output voltage of a switching power supply using as few components
as necessary. Rather than confuse (and bore) you with my interpretation, I'll let Steve do
Notable Tech Quote
"On closer inspection,
though, the first
question to ask is whether computers are getting smarter or people are getting dumber." - David Auerbach, The Age
columnist, in "Turing Test: What Eugene Said, and Why It Fooled the Judges"
Here Is Why High-End RF Test
Equipment Is So Expensive!
If you want to know why high-end RF test
equipment is so expensive, here is a clue: Look at all the gold-plated coaxial connectors on the back of this Agilent Technologies
(aka Keysight Technology) FFT-based PXI signal analyzer. I show a screen capture of the front
panel connections from a video narrated by Agilent's Joan Gibson at the IMS2014 show. In it, she demonstrates the difference
between stepped vs. swept spectrum analysis. BTW, I'm only partly kidding about the connector-related cost drivers of instruments.
Sr. Engineering Manager
Sought by IC Interconnect
Interconnect is a leading supplier of flip chip wafer bumping, wafer level CSP and back-end services to the semiconductor
and electronics communities. Our customers
have world wide locations and are serviced from our manufacturing locations in Colorado
Springs. IC Interconnect is seeking an experienced
Manager to do development and manufacturing support in a high tech, high volume, small company environment on processes
to support advanced packaging of wafer and die level bare silicon products
Break-Over Torque Wrenches
Introed by Fairview Microwave
Fairview Microwave, a preeminent supplier of on-demand microwave and RF products, announces the release
of a new portfolio of
beak-over type torque wrenches used to precisely fasten RF coaxial connections between components and
systems. Fairview Microwave has added a broad range of these break-over type torque wrenches suitable for multiple RF connector
types including 1.0mm, 2.4mm, 2.92mm, 3.5mm, 7mm, SC, SMA, SMC, SSMA, SSMC, Type N and TNC designs. These RF torque wrenches...
Please Visit Triad RF Systems
in Appreciation of Support
Triad RF Systems was formed
with the objective to solve the problem of high power RF amplifiers
being the Achilles' heel in most RF radios. We have solutions for integrating high performance HPAs
(10 MHz - 20 GHz) into sophisticated RF
and systems without sacrificing efficiency and linearity. Triad RF Systems serves the military, satellite and commercial,
medical, home land security, digital video broadcast, aviation and commercial wireless applications.
Linx Technologies, a long time supporter of RF Cafe, has a nice collection of
RF app notes that do a nice job of boiling
down to the basics of complex topics. They are well-written and have good visuals. Here are a few of their offerings that
might be helpful.
- Guide to Wireless
- RF 101 Information
Low-Cost RF Data Links
The FCC Road: Part 15 from
Concept to Approval
- Considerations for Sending
Data over a Wireless Link
- Understanding Antenna
Specifications and Operation
Science & Engineering
science and engineering theme
crossword puzzle won't take you long to complete. All you need for success is a knowledge of common technical terms
and names. Being a trivia whiz on movies clothing designers, and exotic foods won't do you any good here.
Many Thanks to DongJin TI
for Ongoing Support!
As a premier manufacturer of
Cable Assemblies and RF Components, Dongjin Technology Innovation
is highly recognized an RF industry leader in Korea. Our premium products offer a
competitive price, on-time delivery
and best quality in the industry. No Minimum Order. One Day Delivery MSDS Equivalent product suggestions with drawings and
specification available. VSWR report on request. Whether your requirements are 1 piece or a million, Dong Jin TI has the
knowledge and ability to produce your custom product.