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Way-Cool-Looking Microwave Components

While perusing engineering and science magazines and websites, I often run across photos of some really cool-looking RF devices that make me wish I had a use for them, or at least had examples to put on display as conversation pieces. Usually the components look the way they do purely due to functional necessity, but sometimes I think the designers intentionally add a little bit of 'wow' factor to them. Waveguide components tend to dominate. Here are few examples of what I mean. The National Electronics Museum, which often lends some of its items to the MTT-S (IEEE's Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, aka IMS - International Microwave Symposium) show, has a great collection of particularly nifty specimens.

 

Antenna Assembly (SAGE Millimeter) - RF CafeVariable Attenuator ( Millimeter Wave Products) - RF CafeSage Millimeter has this Space Qualified 26.8 GHz Integrated Transmitter Module (left) in one of their current magazine advertisements. It is designed and manufactured for small satellite applications. The horn antenna built onto the amplifier assembly definitely looks spiffy. I want one for my curio cabinet of cool stuff.

I also saw some nifty adjustable attenuators, including this one (right) with legs from Millimeter Wave Productss. It is an instrument grade precision attenuator. The gold-plated waveguide 'ears' are the pièce de résistance.

 

Direct-Reading Frequency Meter (Keysight Tchnologies) - RF CafeDirect-Readin Frequency Meter (Flann Microwave) - RF CafeWho wouldn't like to own one of these Direct Reading Frequency Meters (right) made by Flann Microwave? It uses a resonant cavity to somehow cause the rotating cylinder to indicate the applied frequency to within 0.12% accuracy. Keysight Technologies, formerly Agilent Technologies, formerly Hewlett-Packard, also makes a coaxial frequency meter (left). According to the application note from Keysight, "At resonance, power is absorbed by the cavity, producing a dip in the coaxial line power." The details must be a closely held secret in the industry because all of the attempts I made to access technical papers require payment in cash or by registering with your e-mail and personal info.

 

Tracking Feed & Coupler (General Dynamics) - RF CafeI swear something like this from General Dynamics SATCOM's Tracking Feeds & Couplers product line appeared as a spaceship in an episode of Star Wars, or maybe it was Star Trek. It evidently is used in radar tracking systems. Midnight blue paint would add an extra touch of glamor to it, and would go well with a Flann frequency meter..

 

Orthomode Coupler (AFC Microwave) - RF CafeAFC Microwave Components' Orthomode Coupler may well be a copyright infringement on Dr. Seuss's Jing Tingler or maybe the Gar Ginker that appeared in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My daughter, Sally, who has a natural penchant for painting things in Seuss-like color schemes, would do a nice job of enhancing its polished steel exterior.

 

Photoinjector (UCLA Particle Beam Physics Laboratory) - RF CafeThese two versions of UCLA Particle Beam Physics Laboratory's "ORION version of the 1.6 cell RF photocathode gun and related vacuum and waveguide components and ports" need to be displayed side-by-side in my display case in order to profoundly demonstrate the correlation between software models and physical models. A coat of clear lacquer would assure a lasting sheen.

Waveguide Circulator, Nikoha - RF CafeMega Industries Coaxial Switch - RF CafeThere is something innately awesome about the contraptions built for waveguide - especially high power and high frequency components. Nikoha, of Japan, has an entire catalog full such devices, including this high power waveguide circulator (left).

This coaxial RF switch (right) by Mega Industries designed for use in the Fusion Energy Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's 6 megawatt US ITER nuclear fusion system (Iter = "The Way" in Latin).

I could spend hours looking for the things I've seen, but this took long enough. Please send me your suggestions for additions to the page.

 

 

Posted February 19, 2015

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