RF Cafe Software
About RF Cafe
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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Click for Page 2 of the December 2015 homepage archives.
Mac's Radio Service Shop:
Barney, Beauty, and BCI
Before most people listened to radio and television programming via cable, satellite, and/or the Internet, broadcasts were received over the air, usually from local stations. A common problem in the days of vacuum tube Ham transmitters back in the day was inadvertently causing broadcast interference (BCI) or specifically in the case of television, TVI, due to insufficient filtering, shielding, or design. Nowadays, we generally refer to all such unintentional and incidental radiation as radio frequency interference (RFI). Lots of articles were written on the subject in the 1940s through about the 1970s. Some RF spectrum is shared by more than one entity per FCC and other countries' band plans, with primary and secondary allocations assigned ...
Northrop Unveils Sixth Gen
"Northrop Grumman unveiled its vision of the so-called sixth-generation fighter, showing reporters a laser-firing aircraft that looks like a cross between the B-2 bomber and the X-47B drone. Chris Hernandez, Northrop's vice president for research, technology and advanced design, laid out the basic parameters for the sixth-gen fighter (Northrop refers to it as NG Air Dominance): it must boast long range because it’s unlikely to have many bases to operate from overseas; it must 'carry a lot of weapons;' survivability will be key. What do those requirements and physics lead you to? 'This looks a lot like a baby B-2 and this is really ..."
1715-1745 MHz VCO
Z-Communications, Inc. announces a new RoHS compliant VCO model USSP1730-LF in the L-band. The USSP1730-LF operates from 1715 to 1745 MHz within a tuning voltage range of 1 to 4 Vdc. This remarkable VCO features phase noise of -94 dBc/Hz @ 10kHz offset while operating off a 5 Vdc supply and typically drawing only 19 mA of current. The low cost USSP1730-LF provides the end user a nominal output power of 3.5 dBm into a 50Ω load while operating over the industrial temperature range of -40 to 85ºC. This high performing VCO ...
Anatech Electronics Newsletter
Anatech Electronics, a manufacturer of RF and microwave filters, has published its December 2015 newsletter. As always, it includes both company news and some tidbits about relevant industry happenings. This month, Sam Benzacar theme is "Connected Cars: More Interference Sources?," where he discusses the history and current state of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and vehicle autonomy. The government can't keep it's fleet of Amtrak trains on the tracks and prevent them from colliding with each other; their role in autonomous cars should be wonderful ...
Notable Quote: Dr. Raymond Stantz
"Personally, I liked the University. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything. You've never been out of college, you don't know what it's like out there. I've worked in the private sector. They expect results." Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), in Ghostbusters. While funny, it must be recognized that a lot of valuable research and applications adaptable to industry comes from universities and a lot of crap comes from "out there."
Oxide Transforms from Insulator to Conductor from Small Changes
"Ultrafast pump-probe microscopy on individual vanadium dioxide microcrystals measures the spatial and temporal variability of ultrafast dynamics of the insulator-to-metal transition. Surprisingly, nominally identical crystals show dramatically different transition times. Additional results from nano-imaging (lower right) reveal a complex structure suggesting high sensitivity to heterogeneous nanoscale features ..."
Free Engineering Whitepapers
and Magazine Subscriptions
The free whitepapers, pamphlets, books, magazines, and chapter examples listed here are a small sample of a lot of new items that are offered for FREE through TradePub. The publishers make them available to qualifying people as a promotional campaign for their full line of offerings. Note: I earn a few pennies (literally) when you download one of these or the many other pubs available, so please help yourself.
Nanopillars Becoming the New Black in Photovoltaics
"These nanopillars would negate the reflective properties of the metal wires needed for shunting power to and from the device, thus allowing more photons to pass through the surface. Now, a collaboration among researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell has yielded another approach to producing nanopillars on the surface of solar cells that promises to allow more photons through so more electricity ..."
Channel Master Yagi Antenna Ad
Next Spring I will be installing an old-fashioned (but newly manufactured) Channel Master television antenna on a short tower with a rotator. Here in Erie, Pennsylvania, under certain conditions I can receive broadcasts from Erie and many of the cities that border close to Lake Erie like Toronto and Waterloo, Canada and even Detroit. AM radio stations are easily pulled in from the same areas, but FM does not do quite so well. I plan to also integrate some form of FM antenna on the installation. There is something insulting about paying for cable or satellite TV and then having to suffer the deluge of commercials as well (I have neither). Nobody likes sitting through commercials, but at least if the programming is being delivered at no cost, it is not unreasonable for the broadcast ...
A Disease for the Wireless Age
"Does every era have a characteristic disease? After all, demonic possession was all the rage in the Middle Ages: these days, not so much. In Victorian times, female hysteria was a common diagnosis. More recently, we've seen a variety of 20th century candidates Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Parental Alienation Syndrome, and the peculiarly French affliction known as jambes lourdes (heavy legs), which can be relieved by drinking lots of tea or walking in the ocean. For the Internet Age, though, we need a disease more appropriate to an ..."
Career Advice Articles
A lot of career advice has been published in the three months since I last posted a list like this. A lot of what's out there does not really apply to the typical RF cafe visitor (i.e., intelligent, resourceful, technically competent, intolerance of BS), so I put some effort into vetting these articles before recommending them to you. The targeted audience ranges from college students looking for their ...
Resolutions to Make Right Now
• The Right - and Wrong - Ways to
Sneak out for a Job Interview
• How To Pick A Job That Will Keep
Your Brain Healthy
• How to Translate Book Smarts
into Job Search Success <more>
DoD Could Declare EM Spectrum
a Domain of Warfare
"Pentagon officials are drafting new policy that would officially recognize the electromagnetic spectrum as a 'domain' of warfare, joining land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, Breaking Defense has learned. The designation would mark the biggest shift in Defense Department doctrine since cyberspace became a domain in 2006. With jamming, spoofing, radio, and radar all covered under the new concept, it could potentially bring new funding and clear focus to an area long afflicted by shortfalls ..."
"It's a Wonderful Life"
Engineering Crossword Puzzle
In keeping with the holiday movie theme begun with last week's "A Charlie Brown Christmas," this week's crossword puzzle contains clues for names of characters appearing in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" (all the other words are engineering and science related as usual), which first aired in movie theaters in December of 1946. Clues for those characters' names are marked with an asterisk ...
'Stellarator' Could Finally Make Fusion Power a Reality
"Scientists have successfully switched on the world's largest 'Stellarator' fusion reactor. Dubbed Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), the reactor is designed to contain super-hot plasma for more than 30 minutes at a time. This week, the reactor produced a special super-hot gas for a tenth of a second. Scientists hope that, if it can work for longer, it could eventually lead to limitless supplies of clean and cheap energy ..."
Have You Seen Them Before?
These are close-up photos of common household objects. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to identify each one. Most are fairly easy, but a couple are a little outdated since they appeared in a 1939 edition of Boys' Life magazine. Answers are way down at the bottom of the page ...
How I Handle Unsolicited Telephone Calls
A short while back I came up with what has turned out to be a pretty effective way to handle those pain-in-the-donkey unsolicited telephone calls. We don't have caller ID on our home phone so we have to answer every time it rings or risk missing a wanted call. It is well known that once you pick up, the call centers then know yours is a good number to call so it gets passed on to even more call spammers. Being listed on the federal "Do Not Call" list is only one line of defense, and does almost no good for out-of-country sources. Most of the callers will keep talking over you until you hang up, even after expressing no desire to deal with them. So, what I do now as soon as I determine it is a spam call is start speaking a list of keywords for which the FBI, DHS, and other ...
Werbel Microwave Intros 10 MHz Laboratory-Grade Power Divider
The WMPD08-0.01-X series power divider is a laboratory-grade 10-MHz splitter / combiner for synchronizing test equipment clock signals. It offers typical channel isolation > 35 dB (22 dB minimum), maximum insertion loss of 0.6 dB, and maximum port SWR of 1.25. Phase and amplitude balance are < 1 degree and < 0.1 dB at all ports. May be customized with BNC, N or SMA female connectors. Made in USA by Werbel Microwave LLC ...
Electronics-Themed Comics November 1948 Radio & TV News
These three electronics-themed comics appeared in the November 1948 issue of Radio & Television News magazine. You don't need to be of the era in order to appreciate the humor, but Millennials might need a little assistance with the second one. That contraption sitting the desk is called a 'turntable,' and it used to play audio media called 'records' by spinning them at a certain rate (33-1/3 rpm, 45 rpm, 78 rpm), while that horizontal lever called a 'tone arm' held a piezoelectric needle in the grooved tracks of the record. The joke here is the guy having to spin his head while trying to read the printed label. I'm just joshing the Millennials, of course, since they use spinning disks called CDs and DVDs for listening to music - or do they? Is everyone now using solid state ...
Mobile Recruiting: The Key to Your Next Job Could Be in Your Pocket
"We shop, watch TV and read news on our phones, so why not apply for jobs from one? Increasingly, we do. Some recruiters say half or more of their applicants apply for jobs using their smartphones. "I probably applied for 90 percent of my positions on my mobile device," says Kirk Coleman of Plano, Texas. Coleman says he was fine letting his thumbs do the talking, filling out forms and connecting to his LinkedIn profile. 'Being the generation that I am, a millennial, people kind of want it here and now. That's the mentality ..."
Pasternack Flexible / Twistable Waveguides Operate up to 40 GHz
Pasternack, a leading provider of RF, microwave and millimeter wave products, expands their waveguide product portfolio with the addition of new flexible waveguides that operate up to 40 GHz over nine frequency bands. This offering consists of 36 unique models of flexible waveguide twists ranging in size from WR-137 (as low as 5.85 GHz) to WR-28 (up to 40 GHz). Pasternack's flexible/twistable waveguides, also referred to as a "flexguide," utilize helically wound silver coated brass strips surrounded by a flexible and twistable, yet durable, neoprene sleeve ...
"White Graphene" Could Change Electronics
"Strictly speaking, hexagonal boron nitride is a semiconductor, but its band gap is so big that, for all practical purposes, it behaves like an insulator. It's because of this pseudo-insulator characteristic that researchers have been interested in combining boron nitride with other two-dimensional materials such as graphene to create hybrid materials capable of doing what each constituent can't do on its own. Now researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a process for producing a nearly perfect single layer of hexagonal boron ..."
Bell Telephone Laboratories Advertisement: Pipe Circuits
I have always been a stickler for creating neat, orderly arrangements when building any type of circuit assembly. Many moons ago when starting out as an electrician, I made a point of installing straight runs of Romex type cable with no twists, evenly spaced staples, and keeping the identification marking to the outside. Conduit was precisely bent and installed, again with organized parallel runs and even spacing where possible (all while conforming to the NNEC). Circuit breaker panel wiring looked like something seen in an Apollo space capsule. Electrical inspectors often complimented my work. Moving on to an electronics career, the habits carried over when prototyping and even when directing layout for production PCBs or chassis assemblies, including cabling. The greatest enjoyment I had was when laying out runs of waveguide ...
CERN in a Shoebox? Tiny Particle Accelerators Are Coming/h4>
"Scientists could soon develop particle accelerators that can fit into a shoebox, experts say. The project, which is still in its infancy, would rely on lasers, rather than microwaves, to ramp particles to near light speed. Using lasers, 'you can accelerate particles in a shorter distance to get to a higher energy,' said Joel England, a researcher at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, and one of the principal researchers involved in the project. The earliest forms of the technology would probably be used for medical physics and experiments to watch atoms in real time ..."
Electronic Properties of Materials
Electronic Properties of Materials, by Rolf E. Hummel, is a text on the electrical, optical, magnetic, and thermal properties of materials stresses concepts rather than mathematical formalism. Suitable for advanced undergraduates, it is intended for materials and electrical engineers who want to gain a fundamental understanding of alloys, semiconductor devices, lasers, magnetic materials, and so forth. The book is organized to be used in a one-semester course; to that end each section of applications, after the introduction to the fundamentals of electron theory, can be read independently of the others. Many examples from engineering practice serve to provide an understanding of common devices and methods ...
Major Pollution Levels in Delhi, Bejing
If you are old enough to remember the 1960s and 70s in America, then surely you recall news and documentary coverage of extreme pollution levels in major cities like Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In many cases the smog looked similar to the way cities like Beijing and Delhi do today. This is evidently the price a society pays for technological advancement. An honest assessment of the situation concludes that advanced western societies have exported much of their smog-producing industry to places like Delhi and Beijing. Environmental and human rights activists here bear some responsibility for the suffering in other countries. Those activists exploit all the benefits and conveniences of state-of-the-art technology to get publicity for providing clean water to Saharan tribes at the expense of the lady in the above picture. Good intentions don't always product only good results.
The Ionosphere and Radio Transmission
Reading through this article reminds me of studying for the amateur radio exams. In fact, the information presented in this 1940 QST piece does not seem to be lacking anything that contemporary discussions include. My point is that a great amount of knowledge had already been amassed about earth's upper atmosphere a mere four decades after the first transatlantic radio communications were accomplished by Marconi on December 12, 1901 from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada. Considering that at the time no instrumented sounding rockets had been launched into the extreme upper layers (F1 & F2, beginning at around 120 mi | 200 km), a lot had been discerned about characteristics as they pertain to radio communications. Balloons were ...
Saelig Introduces 2 GHz / 6 GHz RF Vector Signal Generators
Saelig Company announces the availability of Triarchy Techologies' VSG2G1 and VSG6G1 RF Vector Signal Generators - very cost effective USB-connected portable, pocketable RF signal sources with capabilities that provide features and functions comparable to full-size analog RF signal generators. Offering frequency ranges up to 2.2 GHz (VSG2G1) or 6.2 GHz (VSG6G1), frequency sweep, frequency hopping using I&Q modulation, and arbitrary signal generation are possible. The compact signal sources can generate most RF signal modulations that RF engineers might need, since the VSGxG1's many test functions can be customized ...
"Patent Exhaustion Means No Remedy for Refills"
This article by Annie Dike, writing for IMS ExpertServices, discusses the concept of patent exhaustion (aka the 'first-sale doctrine') as it applies to copyrights and patents. Not being a lawyer, I needed to do a little additional research on it to comprehend what was being stated. International sales complicates an already muddy subject, so much so that even the U.S. Supreme Court could not agree on its interpretation when deciding cases involving a third party's right to re-sell a product which had been previously legally purchased. Ms. Dike's example pertains to a printer company seeking to prevent another company from re-filling and re-selling its ink cartridges. Another prominent example I found in a search involved well-known technical book publisher John Wiley & Sons, whereby Wiley sought to prevent a Thai company ...
Notable Tech Quote: Joseph W. Krutch
"Technology made large populations possible; large populations now make technology indispensable." – Joseph W. Krutch, writer and naturalist. Having passed on in 1970, he wrote this without even imagining how nearly half a century later entire populations would be walking around with their gazed inexorably fixed on a small, thin communications box, while being largely unaware of what was happening around them ...
UK Scientists Make Fastest THz Modulator
"The fastest electro-optic THz switch yet has emerged from free electron laser research at the University of Exeter. Graphene, meta-material and plasmonics-based; the exotic device can modulate a THz beam to 60% depth at 40MHz. "40MHz is not fast compared with telecoms modulators, but it is better than state-of-the-art at THz," Professor Geoff Nash told Electronics Weekly. It is based on ribbons of graphene, made by chemical vapour deposition on an oxidised silicon wafer ..."
"Clarity on Parity" Amateur Radio Video
If you have ever lived in a neighborhood with a Nazi-like HOA, then you understand how frustrating it can be when you have to get permission from "the board" for something as innocuous as planting some bushes in front of your home ... In 1985, the ARRL petitioned the FCC to codify law that would ensure no governmental agency - local, state, or federal - could prohibit reasonable installations of antennas for Ham operations ... As so often happens, over time the original intent of the law has been reinterpreted, diminished, or outright dismissed by individual agencies and governing bodies to the point that once again the ARRL found it necessary to petition the government to clarify and enforce its stance regarding the rights of Hams to build and operate communications equipment. Its current incarnation is in the form of The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 ...
X Marks the Spot That Makes Online Ads So Maddening
Raise your hand if you hate popup ads and ads that start playing sound. RF Cafe has never knowingly allowed such ads on the website, but I run into them all the time when searching for daily tech headlines. Per this NY Times article, "Ads pop up and play automatically, daring readers to shut them down with feats of fine motor control. The ads commandeer the screen. They expand and contract. They cover the text and refuse to budge. From Our Advertisers And then there is the dreaded X - the one that invites you to close the ad yet seems impervious to repeated clicks of the cursor or the jabs and ..."
Know "Why" Ceramic Capacitors and You'll Buy Ceramic Capacitors
Maybe it isn't so anymore, but according to Centralab the ceramic raw materials available in abundance in America were electrically superior to those being used in Europe since the early 1900s when German scientists first discovered the dielectric properties of the material. Ceramic capacitors represented a major advance in capacitor technology over liquid and paste dielectric types in most areas of electrical and mechanical specifications such as vibration, aging, vibration and shock, temperature, value stability, voltage and current handling, etc. Centralab ran this advertisement spelling out all the virtues of ceramic capacitors that had accumulated due to their research efforts. Philips Electronics' Components division bought ...
Hugo Gernsback Wearing His Google 'Cardboard' Stereo Viewers?
It is no secret that I consider Hugo Gernsback to be one of America's greatest high tech visionaries. Through his many electronics magazines and books, he has predicted versions of many of the world's inventions ranging from radar and sonar to hands-free radio, satellite communications, and even Google Cardboard. 'Cardboard' is the name given to the inexpensive yet highly functional 3-D stereo virtual reality (VR) viewers designed to work with Android and iPhone Cardboard smartphone apps that are formatted to provide 3-dimensional images. This is a 21st century version of the old View-Master™ toys (which are still in production). Why do I give Mr. Gernsback credit for Cardboard? The clipping below from the December 24, 1965 edition of the Lebanon Daily News in its exaltation of his propensity for ...
Volunteers Aid Pioneering Edsac Computer Rebuild
"Volunteers aid pioneering Edsac computer rebuild - BBC News Think of a shed and objects like spades, forks and compost in a wooden hut at the end of the garden come to mind. However, in the UK, some very old hardware is being brought back to life in some of those scruffy, but often well-organised, workspaces. In them, a group of veteran engineers is toiling to help recreate the pioneering Edsac computer. Designed by Sir Maurice Wilkes, Edsac first ran in 1949 and was made to serve ..."
Keysight Enables 5G Research & Modeling with 5G Software Library
Keysight Technologies today introduced beamforming and channel modeling capabilities in the Keysight EEsof EDA W1906EP 5G Baseband Verification Library. This advanced software library dramatically increases productivity for system architects and baseband physical layer (PHY) designers by providing trusted algorithmic-reference, signal processing intellectual property (IP) for 5G technology research. Keysight will demonstrate its 5G Baseband ...
Electronics-Themed Comics Feb. 1952 & Jan. 1953 Radio & TV News
These two electronics-themed comics appeared in circa 1952-53 Radio & Television News magazine. For some reason the early 50s were a little comic challenged. I really like the one with the guy hanging from the antenna! It's hard to make out the artists' names, but they have appeared on other comics of the era. If you enjoy comics like this, there is a growing list of other comics at the bottom of the page you can check out ...
The Computer That Took Man to the Moon
"During the 1960s, computers occupied whole rooms, but had less power than the PC now sitting in the den of your home. There weren't even pocket calculators back then. At the top of the Saturn was the Apollo spacecraft. And one of the most important components inside of the Saturn was its guidance computer. As Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox noted in their seminal classic Apollo: The Race to the Moon, 'The computer capacity of the mainframes in the Control Center [of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston] was smaller than that of the desktop systems of the 1980s, and onboard computers in the command and lunar modules had less capacity than some pocket calculators ..."
'A Charlie Brown' Christmas Crossword Puzzle
If you have been around RF Cafe or my hobby website, Airplanes and Rockets, for any length of time, you probably know of my being a lifelong fanboy of the Peanuts comic strip, drawn by Charles Schulz. This week's engineering crossword puzzle contains the names of many Peanuts characters who appear in the "A Charlie Brown Christmas" animated feature that first aired on TV on December 9, 1965, on CBS (all the other words are engineering and science related). Clues for those characters' names are marked with an asterisk. If you have never seen ...
Peregrine Semiconductor Introduces RF Digital Phase Shifter
Peregrine Semiconductor, founder of RF SOI and pioneer of advanced RF solutions, introduces the UltraCMOS® PE44820, an 8-bit digital phase shifter that covers a 358.6-degree phase range. This monolithic, digitally controlled product is easy to design-in and delivers exceptional phase accuracy and high linearity. Supporting a frequency range of 1.7 to 2.2 GHz, the PE44820 is ideal for optimizing the transmission phase angle in the wireless infrastructure and radar markets. It provides reliable and repeatable RF performance to applications such as antenna beamforming, distributed ..."
Please Join in on RF Cafe Forums!
A couple RF Cafe Forums visitors have posted topics recently in search of assistance. Since the venue is still in its infancy, I will occasionally highlight activity in hopes of spurring more interaction. A list of the four most recent forum posts are automatically listed on the RF Cafe homepage. Presently, "Good source for Ansys Designer help? " and "Installing a Garage Door Antenna Extension" are at the top. You can participate either by obtaining your own account login, or anyone can post using the guest username 'guest1' and password 'micro1" (these are listed on the homepage are are subject to change as needed). Please contribute in whatever way you can. Thanks.
Real-Time Interactive Map Plots Space Junk & Satellites Circling Overhead
"Most of the time we are blissfully unaware of the 2,250 satellites flying above our heads. And while some are big enough to be seen by the naked eye, keen amateur astronomers still need to know where to look in the star-studded sky. To make this easier, there is now an interactive map that shows satellites and pieces of space junk passing above cities, and even your home and office, in real-time. Created by artist and engineer Patricio Gonzalez, the 'Line of Sight' map gives a fresh perspective on man-made devices ..."
Ultra-Ultra-Microwave "Radio" of the Future
The ability to generate clean, controlled radio waves at 3 THz in 1937 was about as attainable as putting a man on the moon. That did not stop scientists and engineers from theorizing how to get there and what to do once attained. That's the way science progress happens. An official name had not yet been given to the spectrum realm, but news reporters conjured up the moniker "mystery rays." Even scientists called it the "black gap." Both sound a bit hokey and there is a temptation to poke fun at the renown technical ignorance of most media types, but no less a science giant as Albert Einstein referred to quantum entanglement as "spooky action at a distance." The big idea of author W.E. Shrage was to exploit and extend the concept of a cathode ray tube (CRT) to convert ...
MegaPhase Names Paul Skolnik as Vice President of Sales & Marketing
MegaPhase, a leading provider of RF and microwave interconnects, is pleased to announce that Paul Skolnick has joined the company as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Paul has spent the last 3 decades in sales engineering, sales management and business development for RF and Microwave signal processing components and subsystems for applications in satellite, terrestrial and wireless communications, and electronic warfare. In Skolnick's prior role as Director of Business Development for Crane Aerospace and Electronics Microwave Solutions, he led a team of technical sales ...
Chief Scientist of IoT at China Mobile to Chair EDI CON China 2016
EDI CON China is pleased to announce that Dr. Wai Chen, chief scientist and general manager of IoT at China Mobile, will be the chairman of EDI CON China 2016, taking place 19-21 April, 2016 in Beijing at the China National Convention Center (CNCC). Dr. Chen presented in the plenary session of EDI CON 2015 about IoT Services: "Opportunities and Challenges – A Perspective of a Mobile Operator." He will lead the plenary session in 2016 with an updated outlook from China Mobile and their latest activities in the area of IoT ...
Skyworks Introduces Low-Power Bluetooth® Low Energy FEMs
Skyworks offers two low-power Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) front-end modules (FEMs) for connected home, wearable and industrial applications. The SKY66110-11 and SKY66111-11 FEMs operate between 2.4 to 2.485 GHz, with power consumption of only 10 mA in transmit mode. They are suitable for products operating from coin cell batteries including sensors, beacons, smart watches, thermostats, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, wireless cameras and audio headphones, hearing aids and medical pendants. The FEMs more than double the range when compared to a standalone system ...
Gridless vs. Grid Vacuum Tubes - Part II
Assuming the 10 enumerated advantages of a gridless vacuum tube may be added to the 17 enumerated disadvantages of a gridded vacuum tube, there are 27 reasons, per author Henri Dalpayrat why one should consider abandoning the 'old style' tubes for his revolutionary concept. Part 1 of this 2-part series discussed the unavoidably negative features of a gridded vacuum tube. Part 2, presently, extolls the wonders of a gridless tube. Chief among the features is the use of 'compressor bar' elements that are situated parallel to the electron flow rather than in series with it. Another major difference is the cathode element ...
'Tile' Bluetooth Tracking Dongle
"Tile - Never Lose Your Keys, Wallet Or Anything Again. Lose less of everything, including your valuable time. Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-use app that finds everyday items in seconds - like your phone, keys, and wallet." This appeared on one of the tech news websites I visit (I honestly can't recall which), and it looked cool enough to pitch on RF Cafe. Clip the Bluetooth dongle to anything and find it with your phone. Tile also works in reverse - if you have your Tile but can't find your phone, squeeze Tile and it will ring your phone. A networking feature of Tile enables anyone in the vicinity of a Tile to report back to your phone with its whereabouts, whether it is in someone's office or across the country in a thief's backpack ...
Gridless vs. Grid Vacuum Tubes - Part I
This is the first of a two-part article about the strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, vices and virtues of vacuum tubes with and without grids. Author Henri Dalpayrat offers a list of no fewer than 17 drawbacks and limitations of gridded tubes. While necessary to fully control the flow of electrons from the cathode to the plate, their physical presence causes issues with parasitic capacitance, thermal noise, electrical variability due to physical differences, increased manufacturing cost, and lower reliability. Eliminate the control grid(s) and most of those problems go with it. Part 2 was printed in the January issue, which I happen to own, so I'll try to get that posted within the next couple days ...
Narda Safety Test Solutions Releasing Signal Guide for Use Free of Charge
Narda Safety Test Solutions is releasing its private "Signal Guide" for use free of charge. This database contains typical measurement result images for many RF signals, which can be considered as the "fingerprints" of the different signals. By comparing your own result images with the database images, you can distinguish the pure signals from interference and impairments. Radio and TV, analog and digital, second, third and fourth generation mobile telecoms, emergency services communications, WLAN, industrial control signals ...
Bird Technologies SiteHawk SK-200-TC Antenna and Cable Analyzer
Bird Technologies, a leading provider of RF components, subsystems, test equipment, and services, today introduced the SiteHawk SK-200-TC hand-held antenna and cable analyzer that operates from 300 kHz to 200 MHz. The instrument makes it simple to detect problems in coaxial transmission lines and antenna systems and pinpoint their source using distance-to-fault measurements. The SiteHawk SK-200-TC provides all of the measurement capabilities required to evaluate the performance of a communication system's transmission path, and has the same features ...
Dutch Hams Face Hefty Cleaning Cost for Return of QSLs on Downed Flight
"The Netherlands IARU member society VERON has reported that hams there have an opportunity to reclaim their  QSL cards salvaged from the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 — provided they're willing to cover the cost of having them cleaned. VERON spotted the recovered cards in a YouTube video last year, and the Dutch QSL Bureau confirmed that a shipment of QSL cards had been headed for Indonesia, the flight's planned destination ..."
A Christmastide Muddle
Merriam-Webster defines Christmastide as "the festival season from Christmas Eve till after New Year's Day or especially in England till Epiphany." In 1930 when this article appeared in Radio-Craft magazine, most likely everyone knew what Christmastide was, but not so much today. While reading and scanning vintage magazine articles throughout the year, I set aside ones specific to holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, etc., and post them during their respective seasons. This story is about the trouble caused by a well-meaning but unqualified family member attempting to fix a radio that wasn't broken by gifting dear old Dad a Balkite trickle charger (radiomuseum.org has one) for his battery-powered radio set. It also mentions using a potato to test the DC polarity of a power supply or battery. Last but ...
Featured Book: Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II
Unmanned Systems of World Wars I and II (Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Agents series), by H. R. Everett. While writing this book, Mr. Everett contacted me for information I have on the QL-17 drone by Temco for Army's Signal Corps Engineering Labs. "Military drones have recently been hailed as a revolutionary new technology that will forever change the conduct of war. And yet the United States and other countries have been deploying such unmanned military systems for more than a century. Written by a renowned authority in the field, this book documents the forgotten legacy of these pioneering efforts, offering the first comprehensive historical and technical accounting of unmanned air, land, sea, and underwater systems... A pioneering Navy roboticist, Everett not only describes these systems in detail but also reverse-engineers ..."
Antenova M2M Announces 'Lucida' Surface Mount LTE Antenna
Antenova Ltd, manufacturer of antennas and RF antenna modules for M2M and the Internet of Things, announces the arrival of Lucida - an SMD antenna for all LTE applications, including MIMO systems. The antenna is fully tested and ready to ship from now. The Lucida antenna does just that, operating in all of the LTE and mobile bands: LTE 700, GSM 850, GSM 900, DCS 1800, PCS 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE B7. This makes it suitable for use in 4G MiFi routers, Femto/Pico base stations, portable devices, remote monitoring, network devices, and wearable devices. Lucida is an ...
Ofcom Issues Fairy Light EMI Warning with 'Wi-Fi Checker' App
Buried in a list published by the UK's Ofcom (equivalent to USA's FCC) of potentially Wi-Fi offending household devices and appliances is the innocuous Fairy Light - a product that has become very popular at Christmas in the last few years. For some reason all the news media has glommed onto this tidbit to make a big deal out of it. The aforementioned list was issued as part of a promotion for Ofcom's new 'Wi-Fi Checker' smartphone app. A search for exactly why these fairy lights might cause Wi-Fi signal degradation did not turn up any information about how they might generate EMI. If there is a switching AC-DC converter somewhere in ...
Notable Tech Quote: "QST" Again
"We have heard that some cats have seven and others nine lives, but darned if we don't believe radio bugs have cats outclassed." - Hiram Percy Maxim, in the April 1919 edition of QST magazine, commenting in "QST" Again (this is the actual document), on the surge of requests for the publication to resume printing after the amateur radio broadcasting ban was lifted once World War I ended. Further, "As we think over the dreary two years of amateur deadness, it's a real hard job to believe that any of us are still in existence ..."
Withwave Coaxial-to-Planar T-Probe™
Mr. Richard Song, a very friendly fellow I knew when he worked for a different company, wrote to me recently saying he was now the Marketing Director for South Korean RF and microwave product company Withwave, Inc. Withwave's offerings are similar to what he had been working on, so the move was a natural transition. Withwave's product line is primarily coaxial connectors, adapters, terminations, attenuators, cable assemblies, and accessories for test applications. One item in particular really interested me: the coaxial-to-planar T-Probe™. Per Withwave's website: "Withwave's T-Probe is coaxial probe that offers one signal pin on center and several fixed pitch ground contact with low inductance. This probe provides excellent electrical performance ..."
New World's Tallest Building Construction in Progress
Saudi Arabia's Jeddah Tower, already built up to the 26th of 200 floors for a total height of World's tallest tower gets $1.2B to complete construction | Fox News 3,280 feet (1,000 m), will replace the Burj Khalifa (2,716 ft | 828 m) as the world's tallest building when complete in 2018. The record won't be held for long if Iraq has its way, though. Basra Province is planning to build the 3,779 foot (1,152 m) Bride Tower with 230 stories topped by a 616 ft high antenna.
Short-Cuts in Radio
First prize in this circa 1936 reader-submitted design ideas went to William G. Scott for his wind-powered battery recharger. It was a rather elaborate contraption made of surplus lawn mower and automobile (Ford Model T, no less) generator. There are two very good reasons why someone would find the need to build his own battery charger in the era. First, good luck finding a commercial product to do the job, and if you could, the cost would be prohibitive for most radio enthusiasts. Second, prior to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, most households not in or near cities and towns had no commercial electric service. Electricity, if any, was ...