1996 - 2016
BSEE - KB3UON
RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The Internet was still largely an unknown entity at the time and not much was available in the form of WYSIWYG ...
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Here is page 1 of the March 2014 homepage archive
everything RF is a search engine for RF & 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 126,356 components listed from more than 342 manufacturers. Download datasheets, Request quotes or contact the Suppliers for more information via everything RF. Its fast & easy!
What is capable of putting out more power, a solid state amplifier or a vacuum tube amplifier? The simple answer is that given a large enough array of power combiners, a solid state power amplifier can theoretically put out as much power as a tube amp, but the complexity is much, much greater. A single vacuum tube can output RF power levels in the megawatt range, but even the highest power GaN semiconductor devices do not reach the kilowatt realm. That is the reason there are still so many vacuum tube transmitters - the tubes themselves - still being produced today. Equivalent size solid state transmitters are generally much larger...
Noisecom has been a leading provider of RF & microwave noise generating equipment used in commercial & military applications since 1985. We provide noise diodes, calibrated noise sources, jitter sources, cryogenic noise standards, and computer controlled instruments for either Precision C/N, or broad band white Gaussian noise. Noise Com provides off the shelf as well as custom designed noise testing solutions.
Artech House and Cambridge University Press have generously donated many engineering books to RF Cafe over the years. They are often used as the basis of my RF Cafe Quizzes, and then are made available to monthly RF Cafe Book Drawing winners for selection. More than a hundred books have been given away since the feature began, and I have always paid the shipping and handling costs. In an effort to reduce the rather large collection of books on-hand, I am going to offer, for the month of April, to make them available for only the cost of shipping and a small packaging and handling fee. For a flat fee of a mere...
"R2-D2" - Walter urch, sound designer for the film American Graffiti. That's film lingo for "reel two, dialog two," and is what Mr. Murch had said to producer George Lucas during the editing process. Lucas was also in the process of writing the script for Star Wars and needed a name for his robot. Seen in the November 2013 edition of Smithsonian magazine (p 81).
By late 1962, the U.S. was launching new satellites at a very rapid pace. Many were destroyed on the launch pad, others never turned on once in orbit, still more turned on and operated in a crippled form and/or only for a small portion of their intended lifespans. It was a learning period for the entire satellite, rocket, mission control, Earth-based tracking stations, and the communications equipment that dialoged with the satellites. The "race" part of the Space Race moniker was literal. Popular Electronics, QST, Electronics World, and other electronics communications publications regularly printed a list of newly commissioned satellites. The lists presented here came from five different 1962-1963 editions of Popular Electronics. The feature was repeated for many years. Incidentally, the "mc" frequency unit used at the time...
This week's custom-made engineering crossword puzzle has the name of the WWW's most popular high tech website integrated among the matrix's words. As always, every word and clue is related to science, engineering, physics, mathematics, etc., as pulled from a custom dictionary of words and clues that has been over a decade in the making. Let me know if you would like to have your company's or school's name included in a future puzzle.
Boonton Electronics is recognized as a leader in high-performance test instrumentation and sensors. They are a manufacturer of test equipment dedicated to measuring the power of RF and microwave systems used in both military and commercial sectors. The company also manufactures modulation analyzers, impedance measuring instruments, RF voltmeters and audio analyzers.
Take a break from the work day drudgery and cogitate on some of these high tech zingers. Some juxtapose a riddle and a joke to form a clever quip. To wit (get it - to 'wit'?): • There's a band called 1023MB. They haven't had any gigs yet. • A photon checks into a hotel and the bellhop asks him if he has any luggage. The photon replies 'No I'm traveling light.'" • What is a physicist's favorite food???
Working crossword puzzles has been shown to be a simple activity that can help prevent or at least stave off some forms of mental atrophy. It is a medical fact that as you grow old and/or cease presenting yourself on a regular basis with mental and physical challenges, your brain actually begins to lose gray matter and synapse interconnections are lost. Working crossword puzzles is a healthy mental exercise that helps increase your vocabulary and improve cognitive skills. That is one reason I create a weekly crossword puzzle for RF Cafe visitors. Electronics magazines of the last century regularly published theme-based crosswords, like this one from a 1960 edition of Electronics World.
"AirBulb: When there is Light, there is Music." That is the tag line for a Kickstarter product that is seeking investor funding to bring to market their combination LED light bulb and speaker. An app is used on your smartphone, tablet, or any device with Bluetooth to stream stereo audio to the AirBulb, and it also adjusts the LED light spectrum and intensity. AirBulb is already designed and tested, so the money is mainly needed for expensive production tooling. Officially: "What is AirBulb? AirBulb combines LED bulb and wireless speaker together at an affordable price. Integrated with Bluetooth technology, you can play music or control the lighting...
Since 1994, leading wireless electronics companies have relied on 3Gmetalworx to deliver cutting edge solutions for advanced RF/EMI PCB-level shielding requirements. From prototyping and design services to JIT manufacturing supply, our clients depend on us to provide a seamless service pathway supporting entire product lifecycle. All our shields can incorporate engagement tabs, trace / component relief, tuning / access openings, and thermal relief.
Some of the earliest television display schemes were mechanically scanned light projection systems rather than electronically raster scanned cathode ray tubes. This 1930 vintage article from Radio News magazine reports on a scheme developed by Arthur Watson whereby a specially formed rotating Monel disk served as the rotating reflecting surface to produce the light scanning action. This invention was hailed as a breakthrough that would finally make commercial TV available to the masses. "Mechanical televisions" worked by transmitting scanned images of the original subject in the form of amplitude modulated electrical signals whose voltage was determined by the level of reflected light. A synchronizing signal...
The good folks at Advanced Test Equipment Rentals have put together a pretty darn nice collection of How-To videos for some of the equipment that they make available. Examples are "How to Use Anritsu MT9083A Optical Time Domain Reflector (OTDR)," "How to Use a Kaelus iPA Passive Intermodulation (PIM) Tester," and "How to use Fluke 435 II Power Analyzer." Even if you don't plan to use the exact manufacturer and model, these videos are still useful for tips. Operations manager Martin Jahn also has a short video where he...
Orbel, a leading manufacturer of etched and stamped EMI / RFI shielding, recently introduced its 2014 catalog. With more than 1,000 designs and ideas to choose from, expert designers are on staff for support and to satisfy your custom design needs. Orbel is able to meet your demands for board level shielding, finger-stock, gaskets, metalized fabric gaskets, photo-etched precision metal parts, precision metal stampings, and electroplated
How would you pluralize VCO, BJT, or SAW? My awareness of certain often seen grammatical errors in both technical and non-technical media is heightened by the large numbers of technical articles I read, so certain errors tend to stand out. Some of the errors are likely made out of uncertainness and/or an unwillingness to challenge de facto (yet still incorrect) standards. Capitalization in titles is one area of flagrant abuse, where capitalizing all words, capitalizing the first letter of every word, capitalizing the first letter of only the first...
Former USAF radar technician Elbert Cook, who last year sent photos of a scale model he was building of the MPN-14 ASR/PAR radar system, has submitted photos of when the 3rd Combat Communication Group (aka 3CCG or 3rd MOB) sent one of its systems to Minot AFB, ND, for a TPX-42 secondary radar system installation. The TPX-42 is the unit that interrogates an aircraft's transponder to paint the familiar 3-digit octal IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) code on the PPI (Plan Position Indicator) display for ATC (Air Traffic Control) use. The purpose of the photos is to show how improvisation...
This story from a 1963 edition of Popular Electronics proves that my ongoing effort to point out that the sometimes harmless, sometimes harmful tensions between engineers and technicians is not a recent development. I have told of my own witnessing of engineer vs. technician pi**ing contests stretching back into the early 1980s during my first job as an electronics technician at Westinghouse Electric. Rather than joining the fray, I appreciated the abilities of engineers to provide, typically but with some exceptions, a good combination of academic and real-world experience. Being a technician myself at the time...
This Electronics Curves Quiz will probably prove to be a little more of a challenge than some of the ones previously appearing in Popular Electronics magazine. Being a rocket scientist won't help you much here, but being a seasoned electronics technician, hobbyist, or engineer will sure come in handy. Be careful to note the axis unit labels - I got tripped up by that from being lazy and missed one.
Anatech Electronics has published its March 2014 newsletter. As always, it includes both company news and some tidbits about relevant industry events, regulations, and standards. This month, Sam Benzacar offers his views on the subjects of AT&T's Digital Life service, LightSquared "Crawling back to life," the challenges of Defense contracting, and IMS2014 in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Capacitors come in a huge variety of package configurations, chemical makeups, physical constructions and sizes, capacitance values, and voltage and power handling abilities. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses for a particular application. When capacitors are functioning properly, life is great, but when one decides to fail either completely or partially, troubleshooting the cause can be a real challenge. The best kind of electrical component failure from a troubleshooting perspective is one where the component releases its life-giving internal smoke and in the process leaving a clearly visible clue like a cracked case or a nice black mark when none should be...
It has been a while since I saw the quotient rule for derivatives applied. Probably the last time was in a college text book, because I'm pretty sure I haven't had the occasion to use it since then - except maybe back in the days when I was writing my RF Workbench software and needed to derive closed form solutions for group delay in filters. This 1933 article from Radio News magazine presented the quotient rule as part of a discussion for finding the impedance of a load for maximum power transfer. Pure resistances were used in the example, but the method applies as well to complex impedances.
AWR, the innovation leader in high-frequency EDA, provides software solutions that maximize user productivity for the design of high-frequency ICs and communications systems for the aerospace / defense, semiconductor, computer, consumer electronics, and telecommunications markets. Free Trial Downloads Available.
I do a lot of my purchasing on Amazon for convenience, but also because that's where I can usually find the best price and shipping is almost always free. They also have a no-hassle return policy where if the problem is their fault, they pay return shipping; otherwise, you pay only the cost to mail it back. If I need something that there is a fair chance it will need to returned, I'll buy locally to avoid a potential return shipping cost. Cellphones are a good example of finding a good price online. This unlocked Samsung S5830 Galaxy Ace is a good example, as are of course just about any form of electronics, tools, housewares, and of course movies, books, and software.
Here is a great look inside the planning and operation of the "Minitrack" systems used for Project Vanguard to track the Sputnik, Echo, Explorer, and other early Earth artificial satellites during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) activities. "Essentially, the [IBM 704's] storage function works by means of doughnut-shaped cores, about the size of pinheads, which are strung on a complex of wires in such a way that several wires pass through each core. Combinations of electrical impulses on these wires alter the magnetic states of the cores. A line of cores, some magnetized and some neutral, represents a number or other collection of symbols in much the same way...
The latest batch of new articles have been posted online by magazines such as Microwaves & RF, EE Times, Microwave Product Digest, etc. Enjoy!
• Managing Output
Transients in RF Signal
Generators, P. Perez-Lara
• Change Test Strategy from
Serial to Parallel, P. Scalisi
• Bouncing Short Beats Clean
One for Power System
Testing, Glen Chenier
• Precipitation Radar Employs
Variable Pulse Repetition,
• Future of Flexible Electronics
• Millimeter Wave Sub-
Assemblies Enable Next
Generation R&D Projects
The March 2014 LadyBug Technologies newsletter is now available. Founded in 2005, LadyBug Technologies manufactures the PowerSensor™ line of miniaturized USB RF & Microwave Power Sensors. "Our software developers are currently working on Gemini’s applications. The product will offer many new exciting features. One of these new features is "Math Windows"; these are pre-defined windows that can be opened within the application and can be used to process measurements from two or more sensors
"If you think there's no big deal about those two little letters 'E' and 'X', just ask my wife if she is the same as my ex-wife." - RF Cafe visitor Mr. Steve Gilbert, in response to my Day in History item for March 4th. In it, I stated, "1930: President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Coolidge Dam on Gila River in AZ." Steve's comment was in regard to my use of "President" vs. "Ex-President." Technically, it is correct to refer to an ex-president as "President," but I laughed so hard at his comment that I had to ask for permission to post it.
Here is yet another them-vs.-us scenario regarding engineers-vs.-technicians. Maybe I misinterpret the author, but a jab definitely seems to be included in the emphasis put on the technician attempting to score points with his proposal requirement. This otherwise interesting and instructive anecdote is a bit tainted by shifting at least part of the blame for a hurried research effort off onto the customer's imposed time schedule. I'm not looking to rag on anyone, but just have seen way too much of the class warfare in our electronics realm. It certainly exists everywhere.
This week's RF & Microwave Engineering Crossword Puzzle, as do all my crosswords, uses only technical type words pulled from a hand-assembled dictionary that has been added to for over a decade. You will find no other crossword puzzle like it anywhere on the Internet.
1940 was a big year in the commercial broadcast industry because it was when the FCC began licensing stations for FM operation. Amazingly, that was only four years after Edwin Armstrong first came up with his frequency modulation scheme - fast moving for the government. Simultaneously, equipment manufacturers were cranking out transmitters, receivers, antennas (new frequencies), writing installation and operation guidelines, training servicemen, and doing scores of other vitally important tasks. The advent of FM was considered a very significant technical improvement because of immunity to electrical noise interference. If for no other reason, you should look at this article to see the photo of the megavolt...
MECA introduces Low Frequency addition to the H-Series, 100-watt Wilkinson high power combiner/dividers. Available in 2-way and 4-way configurations covering 5 to 500 MHz. With VSWR of 1.30:1 (Typ) and low insertion loss (less than 0.3 dB) all while accommodating load VSWR’s of 2.0:1 or better! Available in N and SMA connectors. Essential for combining unbalanced inputs! All models are weatherproof IP 67 rated. Made in USA.
Advanced Test Equipment Rentals, supplier of complete testing solutions for EMC, now carries the latest EMI receiver and analyzers from top manufacturers Agilent and Rohde & Schwarz, from 20 Hz to 40 GHz, fully compliant to CISPR 16-1-1 with A2LA ISO 17025 calibration certification. The Agilent N9038A MXE EMI receiver and the R&S ESU40 are fully CISPR compliant EMI analyzer. Features like quasi-peak detectors, meters, signal and measurement lists, marker functions, span zoom, zone span, and spectrogram displays.
Empower RF Systems is a global leader in power amplifier solutions that are critical to defense, commercial, and industrial market applications. With our origins in the design of broadband and band-specific SSPAs, Empower continues to advance the science of RF power amplification to produce the toughest, most efficient and cost-effective solutions in the industry. Our priority is to design and deliver high quality, innovative products which solve customer systems and business requirements.
This article by Bob Ambrogi, of IMS Expert Services, reports on three particular cases making their way through the U.S. court system and the U.S. Congress might finally be the death knell for the patent trolls' despised practice. "A patent troll, also called a patent assertion entity, is a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question, thus engaging in economic rent-seeking. Related, less pejorative terms include patent holding company and...
USAF Radar technician Jerry Wright just checked in with his service info. He spent 5 years at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma working on the TPN-19 ground-based mobile airport surveillance radar (ASR) and precision approach radar (PAR). New photos have been offered, so check back later to see them.
Here is this week's batch of useful career enhancement articles that I found on the Web. Some apply specifically to technical job, while others are good advice for any professional.
Engineering Fields That
- Best and Worst Words to
Use in Your Resume
- Looking for a Green Tech
Job? Move to One of These
- Who Needs to Know How
- Bangalore Tech Firms Urging
Employees to Be
- How to Talk to Your Boss
About Your Career Goals
Synergy Microwave, a privately owned and operated U.S. company, has been designing and manufacturing passive and active RF and microwave components, including filters, mixers, VCOs, power dividers, phase comparators and shifters, DC blocks, attenuators, x-formers, and more since 1983. With more than 30 patents, we are constantly striving to serve this industry by providing products that exploit all modern technologies and methods, while also supporting installed bases of equipment.
Thanks to Copper Mountain Technologies (CMT) for continued support! CMT makes affordable, lab-quality vector network analyzers that provide high accuracy, wide dynamic range, a familiar UI and a broad variety of standard features. Operating with an external PC via USB, these VNAs increase productivity and lower costs for test, control, and design applications.
The National Radio Institute (NRI) was one of the first country-wide organizations to offer formal electronics training both as classroom and as self-study courses. Magazines were filled with offers to train men in what was an exciting new career field. The drums of war were beating in the background by December 1940 when this article appeared, and the U.S. military was gearing up for what was sure to be an eventuality. Three months earlier, the Tripartite Pact united Japan, Italy and Germany to formalize the Axis Powers, and Hitler's forces had invaded Western Europe...
In this August 1963 adventure, teenage techno-investigators Carl and Jerry use their home-brew sonar device to help the local sheriff nab a couple bank robbers. The 'Hydro Probe' mentioned in the article was a real product manufactured by the Raymond Development Company of Watertown, Massachusetts (no longer in business). Enjoy.
LadyBug Technologies, manufacturers of patented no-zero no-cal before use USB RF Power Sensors, is pleased to announce new representatives for the state of Nevada. Northern Nevada is served by Jay Stone Associates and Southern Nevada is represented by ACETEC, Inc. Both firms are established LadyBug partner representatives with extensive experience in RF and microwave technology.
Dr. G.W. Ko wrote in search of anyone that has an HP/Agilent Software Upgrade Kit #4395U-010 for sale. This option allows the capability of impedance measurement function for the 4395A is a network / spectrum / impedance analyzer. HP/Agilent no longer offers the upgrade for sale. If you have or know of a source for purchasing the 4395U-010 upgrade kit, please send me an e-mail at RF Cafe and I will pass it along to Dr. Ko. thanks.
RF Cafe visitors are amongst the most intelligent and most clever folks on the World Wide Web. I receive many e-mails, and an occasional phone call, from people in response to items I post on the website. Whenever appropriate, I ask permission to use it for content, with an offer to give full credit and attribution for the idea. I have been surprised at how often the person prefers to keep the communications private, which I always honor. That's too bad because, believe me, you have missed out on some really good insider information over the years. Yesterday...
In the 1960s, most people believed that poetry ought to rhyme. It was not uncommon to see poems appear in magazines of all sorts including even technical publications like Popular Electronics. "More 'Tower' to You" is a good example. Nobody ever claimed that these reader-submitted on-subject poems were of Nobel Prize quality, but many were extremely clever and were almost sure to elicit the chuckle their authors intended; that is to say, they were humorous. What made them humorous is what is true of nearly all good humor - it contains an element of truth.
Alliance Test is a trusted source providing sales, rentals and leasing of refurbished electronic test and measurement equipment to the R&D, manufacturing and quality assurance industries. We carry a full range of used test equipment from manufacturers such as Agilent, Ando, Anritsu, Fluke, HP, Keithley, Lecroy, Rohde & Schwarz, and Tektronix. With Alliance Test, you can recover 30%-40% more on your idle test equipment rather than selling to a dealer.
Copper Mountain Technologies, an industry leader in USB-based, lab-quality vector network analyzers, has announced a career opportunity for a National Sales Manager. Qualifications include understanding VNA test methodology and product strategy, possessing in-depth product expertise to conduct customer demonstration, trials, and providing pre-sales technical support to sales channels, and providing technical and commercial support for on-going projects. Must understand local RF market, establish relationships within the industry
Maybe it's time you had your own ESD-Safe Digital Soldering Iron Station. Whether you do your soldering at home, at work, or at both places, having to tolerate a piece of junk soldering iron can be not only annoying, and can cause irreparable damage to both components (heat, mechanical, and ESD) and circuits boards (layer delamination and metal trace separation). Really nice programmable soldering stations are available today at surprisingly low prices. Many models are available, but this one even includes a fluorescent work lamp. It gets great reviews - just $90 including free shipping. Don't wait for your company to finally supply you with a good soldering station when you can buy one for the cost of a month of cellphone service.
You have probably seen some pretty atrocious coaxial cable connector installations. You might have even been responsible for a few of them. It could be tempting, at least for frequencies in the lower megahertz range, to allow yourself to be a little sloppy with coaxial cable preparation and connector attachment, but doing so can result in marginal functionality if power levels are high or if power levels are very low. When voltage levels are high, excessive air gaps between the inner and outer conductors can result in arcs, and poor connections can generate intermodulation products high enough to cause interference (possibly subjecting you to a violation citation...
Skyworks Solutions today unveiled several wireless networking products incorporating flip-chip packaging, augmenting its existing world-class mobile connectivity portfolio. Skyworks' newest devices leverage innovative and proprietary manufacturing techniques that allow smartphone and tablet OEMs to incorporate smaller, thinner solutions for 802.11ac system-in-package (SiP) modules. As high-end mobile devices deliver ever-increasing functionality and ubiquitous connectivity
The latest batch of new articles have been posted online by magazines such as Microwave Journal, High Frequency Electronics, etc. Here they are for your career edification.
- Tips for Transitioning
Designs to Manufacturing,
- Next Generation's
Modulation: PAM-4, NRZ,
or ENRZ?, Martin Rowe
- Quasi-Optical Techniques for
Properties in the THz
Region, J. Martens,
J. Hesler, and A. Arsenovic
- The Impact of Power
Characteristics in Cognitive
Radio Networks, G. Watkins,
- Beware of the Square Root,
"There's no doubt who was a leader in space after the Apollo Program. Nobody came close to us. And our education system, in science, technology, engineering, and math, was at the top of the world. It's no longer there. We're descending rather rapidly." -- Buzz Aldrin, former NASA astronaut and second person to walk on the moon (Source: Wikipedia) Buzz is one of my all-time favorite astronauts, and is the namesake of Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear.
Advanced Test Equipment Rentals just issued their TEC Talk newsletter for March 2014. It includes hot topics in the tech news world, highlights of new or special function test equipment they have available, and some electronics industry news.
Take a break and work this week's science & engineering themed crossword puzzle. All the words are pulled from a hand-built list of terms, names, and abbreviations that have only to do with science, mathematics, and engineering. If you want a crossword with names of movie stars and obscure countries, try the local newspaper. If you want to exercise your nerd knowledge, this is the one for you.