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 1 of the December 2015 homepage archives.
N. Korea's Analysis Red Star OS Rife with Spy Tools (U.S. gov't envious)
"The U.S.-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry said Thursday that researchers at the Riken institute had conclusively identified and earned the right to name the element. It provisionally was named ununtrium. The new name wasn't immediately disclosed. A joint working group of the IUPAC and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics were due to announce decisions on naming rights to elements 113, 115, 117 and ..."
Today as I write this it is New Year's Eve. The year 1935 could be considered 'metal tube's eve' as a new paradigm was about to hit the world of high frequency circuit design. Thentofore[sic], vacuum tubes were almost exclusively encased in a glass envelope. Metal-encased tubes provided, among others, benefits like better heat dissipation, smaller physical size, ruggedness, inherent RF shielding, and lower parasitic values of capacitance and inductance due to smaller plate areas and shorter lead lengths, respectively. The highest barrier to widespread adoption, history would show, was the higher cost of production that made consumer products more expensive at a time when not every household saw the need for ...
"Here's one way to end the year on a bright note. A powerful solar storm set to slam Earth today will make for stunning views of the Northern Lights just before New Year's Eve. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center said the "strong" storm [G3] could allow the Northern Lights to dip as far south as Oregon and Illinois ..."
RF Cafe visitor Mike H. sent me these two photos of the same type Silvertone radio as I discovered in Tony Packo's. He says there is no part number marked anywhere, so its identity was still a mystery. Well, no more! I decided to use my paid subscription to newspapers.com to search for an advertisement from an old newspaper. Sure enough, there was a full-page advertisement by Sears, Roebuck, and Co., in the October 23, 1936 edition of the Rio Grande Farmer that appears to include this model. Until proven otherwise, I hereby declare the Tony Packo's radio to be the '7 Tube Silvertone Battery Console.' Battery powered radios were quite common in 1937 because commercial AC power distribution lines did not extend to many rural locations, and many urban homes did not have service, either. Lead-acid storage batteries powered ...
Step by Step Crowdfunding: Everything You Need to Raise Money from the Crowd, by Joseph Hogue. Ever wonder how some people raise money crowdfunding and fundraising time and again while 60% of campaigns fail? Even Hollywood fame hasn't been able to save some crowdfunding campaigns from epic fails. It's because with all the media attention around crowdfunding, no one covers the actual process of how to run a successful campaign! In this step-by-step guide, you will find the actual process you need from idea conception through pre-launch and fulfillment to make your fundraising or crowdfunding campaign a success. ...
"Materials have uncommon electrical and quantum-level properties at the nanoscale that disappear at the millimeter-scale, where most chips are manufactured. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is looking for a way to capture the benefits of both worlds: the nanoscale manufacturing while upsizing to a more practical millimeter scale. The agency has now set that challenge to 10 laboratories nationwide in its Atoms to Products program. "These 'atomic-scale' ..."
It seems that creating almost cartoonish-looking antenna arrays for the purpose of signal gain and directivity are usually relegated to the domains of military and amateur radio practitioners, but this article from a 1952 edition of Radio & Television News magazine was done by the Channel Master Laboratories television antenna company. Successfully mounting and phasing even two antennas can be challenging, but in this case four Yagis were arrayed and tuned for operation. Trying to make the system work over the entire 4 octave band that is the VHF broadcast realm (54 MHz for channel 2 to 210 MHz for channel 13) would be nearly impossible without extremely ...
"A group of researchers in Japan and China identified the requirements for the development of new types of extremely low power consumption electric devices by studying Cr-doped (Sb, Bi) 2Te3 thin films. This study has been reported in Nature Communications At extremely low temperatures, an electric current flows around the edge of the film without energy loss, and under no ..."
Somehow, even with trolling daily for technical headlines, I managed to miss (until recently) that back in April of this year, IEEE's Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) acquired the copyright to Phillip Smith's legendary eponymous graphing format: the Smith Chart. Per a column by 2015 IEEE president Tim Lee in the Xplore publication: Mr. Tim Lee, IEEE's 2015 president. "In 2015, the MTT-S had the opportunity to meet with Mrs. Anita Smith and her family and propose a way to preserve the legacy of her husband and their father. The MTT-S offered to buy the rights from the Smith family of the Smith trademark belonging to Analog Instruments, along with the copyright. In return, the MTT-S would make the Smith chart available to students, practitioners, and indeed people all over the world involved ...
"In the nanoworld, tiny particles of gold can operate like snow blowers, churning through surface layers of an important class of semiconductors to dig unerringly straight paths. The surprising trenching capability, reported by scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and IBM, is an important addition to the toolkit of nature-supplied 'self-assembly' methods that researchers aim to harness for making useful ..."
"If it's jobs you want, take away their shovels and give them spoons." - Anon. This part of a quotation is ascribed to various economists (most often Milton Friedman) and commentators in regard to people and systems which buck modern mechanization while touting the virtues of manual labor. The story's setting is usually a canal project, ore mine, or other venue requiring massive digging and a proprietor's boast of greater concern for the rapid replacement of human workers with machines. An amazingly thorough investigation into the matter is presented by The Quote Investigator. See also Techno-Skeptics' Objection Growing Louder
This is amazing. I remember back in the early 1990s a 10 Msps DAC was the realm of military radar applications and space electronics, and the cost for a hand-built hybrid flat pack was about $20k per device. Now, Maxim Integrated has announced the MAX5869 16-Bit, 5.9 Gsps Interpolating and Modulating RF DAC with JESD204B interface providing direct RF synthesis with 600 MHz instantaneous bandwidth from DC to greater than 2.8 GHz. Like I said - amazing. An NDA is required for full details and pricing. I'm sure it's not cheap, but a heck of a lot less than $20k ...
Here on page 402 of the Montgomery Ward 1969 Christmas catalog is a special type bar print head for the company's 'Signature' line of electric typewriters that permits special characters for engineering, mathematics, international language, and medicine. If you look down the page here, you'll see a red key on the keyboard that activates the Dial-A-Type type bar. The 'type bar,' BTW, is the arm with the embossed character on the end that strikes the inked ribbon to print a character on the paper. Although I could not find any instructions online, it appears the two rows of characters are accessed with the normal and shifted key presses, and a twist of the Dial-a-Type head ...
Skyworks introduces two new global navigation low noise amplifiers. The SKY65605-21 and SKY65611-11 are both designed for BeiDou / GPS / GLONASS / Galileo receiver applications and are optimized to operate from 1559 to 1606 MHz. Each device integrates all output matching components, thereby requiring only a single external input matching component. Ideal applications include smartphones, personal navigation ...
If Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was still in existence today, undoubtedly they would be running an advertisement mentioning not just radio and television in their list of wireless communications accomplishments since Marconi's message "first forged in 1901 from the mere sound of three dots," but also cellphones, satellite navigation, cable television, and Wi-Fi. Founded in 1919, RCA was bought by General Electric in 1986 and then subsequently broken into components and sold off to other companies like Sony, NBC, and ...
"A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created a super-strong yet light structural metal with extremely high specific strength and modulus, or stiffness-to-weight ratio. The new metal is composed of magnesium infused with a dense and even dispersal of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles. It could be used to make lighter airplanes, spacecraft, and cars, helping to improve fuel ..."
This is the final engineering and science themed crossword puzzle for the year 2015. All 36 crosswords this year, as with every one of the last 16 years, was custom made by me for RF Cafe visitors who's interest in crosswords ranges from the avid cruciverbalist to the curious technical type who is looking for an educational way to pass some time. Have a safe New Year's celebration, and be sure to check back on January 3, 2016. Thanks for your patronage in 2015!
"As 2015 draws to a close, The Engineer takes a look back at some of the biggest engineering stories of the year, from Crossrail and Bloodhound, to Hinkley Point and Tim Peake’s space adventure. The year started in much the same way as it is now ending: with controversy over fracking. In January, a bill calling for a moratorium on fracking was defeated in the House of Commons. We asked our readers via a poll for their ..."
This weather map appearing on a blog by Steven Goddard shows that roughly 3/4 of the weather stations in the U.S. reported temperatures of 60° or more on Christmas Eve of 1955. Ashland KS, Geary OK and Encinal, TX were all over 90°. Fort Lauderdale was 85°. "Last winter, the East Coast had record cold. That was ignored because it was 'less than 1% of the Earth.' But this week, the Eastern U.S. defines the global climate." I verified the warm weather via the Newspapers.com website records (click thumbnails).
Billed at the time as the longest microwave relay system in the world, this report on Bell Telephone Systems' transcontinental installation came just a month after being put into commercial service. At a cost of $40 million ($650 million in 2015 dollars per BLS Inflation Calculator), the system relays telephone calls and radio and video program material along a chain of 107 microwave towers, spaced approximately 30 miles apart. It was a big deal to be able to watch a TV show from New York City in Los Angeles, and vice versa; we take worldwide broadcasts for granted nowadays.
Every year a day or two before Christmas I put up a couple music videos that I particularly like, figuring
that many visitors are like-minded and will appreciate them as well.
This video by Cloverton is titled "A Hallelujah Christmas." You might recognize the music adapted from Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
It was on September 11, 1977 that David Bowie and Bing Crosby joined together at the Elstree Studios in London, England. Crosby was there to tape what would prove to be his final Christmas TV special (he died on October 14, 1977 — 33 days after taping the duet) and he invited Bowie to appear as a guest star.
"Airbus is leading a research group looking at terahertz imaging technology and it is claiming a breakthrough which will see the imaging technology used in space observation, medical imaging, industrial automation and security screening. The work to develop a new camera that delivers high accuracy using terahertz waves with lower operating costs in part of a European Union project called TeraTOP. In security screening applications terahertz imagers ..."
Antenova, manufacturer of antennas and RF antenna modules for M2M and the Internet of Things, has just released two new modules for GPS and GNSS. Both provide an easy drop-in receiver solution – a neat way to add a location capability to very small consumer devices. The two modules are similar, both measuring 9.0 x 9.0 x 1.8 mm, with low current consumption, making them suitable for smaller portable devices, such as smart watches, navigation devices, OBD II modules, asset tracking ...
"Researchers at TU/e have developed a very tiny wireless temperature sensor that is powered in a very special way: from the radio waves that are part of the sensor's wireless network. This means that the sensor needs not even a single wire, nor a battery that would have to be replaced. The arrival of such sensors is an important development on route towards smart buildings, for instance. But the applications are many and various. The smart buildings of the future will be full ..."
"ATEC is seeking multiple Entry Level Inside Sales candidates. Our growing company is seeking multiple strong individuals that can assist our Inside Sales Department with serving our customers in a fast paced environment. You will receive and distribute inbound and make outbound calls, via phone and or web from our customers such as Qualcomm, NASA, Boeing, and other military and contract work. This position can lead into career path to a Sr. Sales position ..."
"Father Christmas [aka Santa Claus] looks to be giving Rudolph and his reindeer pals a night off this year after upgrading his sleigh. American engineering firm Boston Dynamics has created a group of robot reindeer that are capable of dragging Santa's sled, as revealed in its Christmas message. The firm, which develops technology for the U.S. military, posted the festive video on YouTube, featuring a female member of staff dressed as Mrs Claus driving the automated animals ..."
What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know: An Insider Reveals How to Get Smart Funding for Your Billion Dollar Idea, by Brian Cohen and John Kador. Maybe 2016 will be the year you finally launch a business using a concept you have been developing. Short of trying a crowd funded scheme such as Kickstarter, you'll probably need funding - lots of it, especially if your idea is hardware-intensive. This popular book promises to provide "Terrific advice from a master of the angel investing game. Brian Cohen reveals the art and craft of raising angel money. An investment in this book will pay off a thousandfold ..."
"SpaceX sent a Falcon rocket soaring toward orbit Monday night with 11 small satellites, its first mission since an accident last summer. Then in an even more amazing feat, it landed the 15-story leftover booster back on Earth safely. It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX. The company led by billionaire Elon Musk is striving for reusability to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people. SpaceX employees broke into cheers and chants, some of them jumping ..."
This is part 5 in a series that began in the October 1951 issue of Radio & Television News magazine. Previous articles dealt with crystal diodes in AM and FM radios, and this article shift gears by moving into television applications. Crystal diodes were and are still used in frequency generation, envelope detection, frequency mixing, and AC signal rectification. Vacuum tubes could be used for the latter three applications but many physical issues such as size, weight, power consumption, and heat dissipation proved to be major drawbacks as designers strived to reduce the size of electronics assemblies, make them more energy efficient, lower the cost of manufacturing, increase reliability, and decrease weight. Demands ...
Anatech Electronics today introduced the AD1747-1842D335 cavity duplexer designed for use in wireless communications systems (Band IV). The duplexer has a receive passband of 1710 to 1785 MHz and transmit passband of 1805 to 1880 MHz, passband return loss greater than 14 dB, and insertion loss of 1.2 dB or less. Ripple is 0.8 dB or less and isolation is at least 50 dB ...
"There needs to be something to connect the shield of the transmission line to, otherwise it is a bit like one hand clapping." - Joel Hallas (W1ZR), January 2016 QST column: "The Doctor Is In"
Skyworks introduces two new global navigation low-noise amplifier front-end modules with integrated filters: the SKY65713-11 and SKY65715-81. Both solutions support products integrating GNSS functionality such as smartphones, personal navigation devices, wearables, machine to machine (M2M) systems, base stations, asset tracking instruments, professional radios and Internet of Things applications. The devices also provide high linearity, excellent gain, a high IP1 dB, and a superior NF ...
"General Atomics, whose MQ-1 Predator changed the world, is to start testing another potentially revolutionary weapon next month: a 150-kilowatt class laser. Several other companies are developing laser weapons and 'we're looking at all of them,' said Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, in an interview with Breaking Defense. 'The technology is ripe for application on an AC-130.' General Atomics hopes to see AFSOC install a version of the weapon on ..."
Actually, the title of this and other news stories is very misleading regarding exactly what has to be registered. The generally uninformed or marginally informed public believes the definition of a 'drone' is anything that flies without a human pilot in the cockpit. It associates the greatly dramatized and sensationalized reports of public encounters with what are technically classified as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) - multirotor copters. These are for the most part the variety sold in toy stores ranging in cost and complexity from $50 for a basic 4-propeller 'quadcopter' to $500 for a 6-propeller model with an onboard camera and maybe even a First Person View (FPV) wireless system that allows the pilot to fly from a vantage point on the craft while remaining at a remote ...
If the Apple Watch just isn't cool enough for your personal macho image, then consider Breitling's Exospace B55. "The Exospace B55 was entirely developed, assembled, finished and tested in Switzerland, including the production of movement ébauches (blanks) in the workshops of Breitling Chronométrie. The smartphone application was also developed and produced in Switzerland. This was an obvious choice for Breitling, which has always defended Swiss Made tradition and innovation ..."
As evidenced in these mid-last-century magazine advertisements, Sylvania Electric marketing moguls learned early what sells products by exploiting the nature of their audience. The cartoon-style ads shown here appeared in social publications like Look, Life, and Collier's, where both men and women - many of them numbnuts - are the expected audience. Compare these with the type of ad run by Sylvania in a 'serious' magazine like Radio-Craft.
"UL has released a new edition of UL 1283 the standard for Electromagnetic Interference Filters. This revision of ANSI/UL 1283 is being issued to incorporate a revision to section 27, temperature, to be in line with IEC 60939. The sixth edition can be purchased on the UL Standard Sales website. Description '1.1 These requirements cover EMI filters installed on, or connected to, 1000 V or lower potential circuits, 50 – 60 Hz, or up to 1500V dc, and installed in accordance with the NEC ..."
Christmastime is upon us once again, and amazingly another year is coming to an end. This marks my 57th Christmas; where has the time gone? "Tempus fugit," as the dial of my grandmother clock proclaims. In fine tradition, this week's engineering crossword puzzle has a special theme that contains a heart-felt message from all the staff here at RF Cafe (look for the asterisks). We hope you had a good 2015 and that you will have a safe and happy holiday season. Carpe diem ...
"Oxford team demonstrates 'hybrid' logic gate as work towards quantum computer continues. Just over a year ago, the UK government announced an investment of Pounds 270m over five years to help get quantum technology out of laboratories and into the marketplace. Oxford was chosen to lead one of four EPSRC-funded 'Hubs' looking at different aspects of quantum technology - in Oxford's case, shaping the future of quantum networking and computing, towards the ultimate goal of developing a functioning quantum ..."
Vreeland Corporation was an early radio manufacturer located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with multiple patents on file for innovative circuits. The Vreeland band selector system mentioned here was originally filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August of 1927 and had not been awarded by the time of this November 1929 article in Radio-Craft magazine. In fact, it wasn't until five years later, in 1932, that the patent was finally assigned. The official description reads in part, "The general purpose of the invention is to receive the component frequencies of such a band with such uniformity as to avoid material distortion of the modulated wave, and to exclude frequencies outside of the band which the system is designed to receive. Another purpose of the invention is to provide means for shifting the position of the band ...
Here are a couple good Christmas-themed comics from the January 1942 issue of the American Radio Relay League's (ARRL) monthly magazine, . Ironically, the 'Old Year' Father Time with the sickle would not have been able to legally key that transmitter by the time readers had received this edition, because the U.S. government shut down all amateur radio transmissions (except a few specially sanctioned civil defense units) immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th of the previous year (see "War Comes").
"Future electronic devices and batteries could become faster and more energy efficient by harnessing new 2-D sheets of electrically-conductive materials. The latest example of such materials comes in the form of newly-created sheets of boron atoms, called borophene, that could outperform even graphene as an electrical conductor in 2-D form. Carbon-based graphene sheets. Even better, their approach to making borophene can be easily replicated by other labs around the world ..."
Planar Monolithics Industries (PMI) announces the availability of new RF/microwave product designs. Included are PMI Model No. P1T-10M1G-80-T-SFF - an absorptive, high speed, SPST switch capable of switching within 200 ns maximum for 10 MHz to 1.0 GHz, PMI Model No. P2T-100M50G-100-T - an bsorptive, SP2T pin diode switch operating over the 0.1 to 50.0 GHz, and PMI Model No. P8T-0R5G18G-60-T-SFF-PN - a high speed, SP8T, absorptive switch is capable of switching within 100 ns for 0.5 to 18.0 GHz ...
EDI CON USA 2016, taking place September 20-22 in Boston, MA at the Hynes Convention Center, is pleased to announce their Call for Papers. Authors are invited to submit technical oral session abstracts/proposals describing work in RF/microwave, EMC/EMI and high-speed digital electronic component or system-level design, modeling or testing. The EDI CON Technical Advisory Committee will review all submissions based on quality, relevance, impact and originality. Prospective authors are welcome to reference products in a design case study or as a proof of concept for a design methodology, as long as product references are presented in an appropriately non-commercial fashion. The deadline for abstract submissions is February 28 ...
The IEEE has created an interactive "Patent Power 2015" chart that ranks companies and their home countries according to the following formula: Pipeline Power = # of 2014 patents x Pipeline Growth Index x Adjusted Pipeline Impact x Pipeline Originality x Pipeline Generality. When all categories are included, Google, Apple, and Facebook take a significant lead, with Qualcomm trailing at a little better than half of those. Microsoft has a shameful 1/3 the Pipeline Power as the leaders. Honeywell and Boeing lead the pack for Aerospace and Military. Apple overwhelms in Electronics. The top three semiconductor companies are from Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. MIT dwarfs other of the world's universities, with Harvard in the #2 spot. Try it yourself ...
Saelig Company has introduced a new line of Siglent SDS2000X Series Digital Oscilloscopes with Super Phosphor technology in bandwidths of 70 MHz, 100 MHz, 200 MHz, and 300 MHz. With real-time sampling rates up to 2 GSa/s, these new scopes feature waveform capture rates of up to 140,000 wfms/s, record length up to 70 Mpoints, and a 256-level color and intensity grading display. Together, these technologies have been collectively dubbed by the manufacturer as "SPO" (Super Phosphor Oscilloscope) technology. The low noise design supports 1-mv/div to 10-V/div voltage settings, with most of the common adjustments ...
"Jaguar is returning to global motorsport with confirmation that it is to participate in the FIA Formula E Championship. In the autumn of 2016, Jaguar will enter the third season of the all-electric drive championship as a manufacturer with its own team, a move that gives the OEM a high-profile opportunity to further the development of EV powertrains. Nick Rogers, group engineering director for Jaguar Land Rover, said: 'Electric vehicles will absolutely play a role in Jaguar Land Rover’s future product portfolio and Formula E will give us a unique opportunity to further our ..."
For all its faults, the Internet has definitely made life better in a lot of ways. Since YouTube was founded 10 years ago, I have benefitted many times from people who have taken the time to record, edit, and post instructional videos. The money I have been able to save by fixing stuff myself rather than paying a serviceman can be measured in the thousands. Subjects range from car, truck, and tractor maintenance to plumbing, drywall, and now (again) a furnace. This morning the indoor temperature was at 70° even though the thermostat was set at 73°. After a little troubleshooting, I noticed the flame would fire for a few seconds, turn off, then fire again for a few seconds, and then shut off for good. The fan motor would then turn on and run ...
According to Amazon, it is not too late to order and receive many of your items in time for Christmas. Whether buying something for yourself or for someone else, some of the best deals are available through Amazon - especially when free shipping is included. By clicking on the banner below, I will earn a few pennies on whatever you buy, and it doesn't cost you any extra. Thanks!
"People give all sorts of electronics as gifts around the holidays: phone chargers, e-book readers, video games, drones and more. But what should we do with the devices they are replacing? Most of our gadgets end up in landfills, others stuffed away in a closet, never to be played with again. In the tech industry, hoarding or disposing of used electronics this way is known as e-waste, and can leave toxic materials and pollutants in the environment. The amount of e-waste is growing every year — by some estimates, consumers threw away 92 billion pounds of used electronics ..."