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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What Can Stop a Bad Guy (or 3) with a Gun?
This video is going viral. Three thugs bust into a house with guns drawn and move like a SWAT team. The lady living there comes out firing and the trio of heroes scatter like cockroaches when a light is turned on. One runs right through a glass door pane as he flees. What would likely have happened to the woman if she hadn't taken control? Death? Rape? Mortal wound? "When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away."
Chinese Radar Capable of Detecting 'Invisible' Targets 100 km Away
This is amazing! "A top Chinese military technology company shocked physicists around the world this week when it announced it had developed a new form of radar able to detect stealth planes 100km away. The breakthrough relies on a ghostly phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, which Albert Einstein dubbed 'spooky action at a distance'. China Electronics Technology Group Corporation said on Sunday that the new radar system's entangled photons had detected targets 100 km away ..."
Saelig Intros 5-in-1 PC-Hosted Test Scope with Signature Analysis
Saelig Company has introduced the Syscomp SIG-101 Signature Analyzer - a PC-based two-channel 200 kHz oscilloscope, sampling at 2MSa/s, that includes an arbitrary waveform generator, and an 8-bit digital I/O port. Building on the CGR-101, its successful predecessor, the SIG-101 also adds calibrated signature techniques to the oscilloscope waveform display capabilities for quickly troubleshooting circuit boards. Unlike most PC-based oscilloscopes with 8-bit A/D sampling, the SIG-101 has an 11-bit A/D that gives eight times ...
Voltage multipliers were found in nearly every form of battery-powered electronics in the days of vacuum tubes, because of the 100-volt or more requirement for plate voltages. Primary batteries in 30, 45, and 67½ volt sizes were produced by Eveready, Burgess, and a few other companies in order to help simplify biasing circuits. They were bulky and heavy, often comprising a significant portion of the assembly's volume. Heavy transformers contributed mightily to the weight and size as well. Exell still manufactures 30, 45, and 67½ V ...
TV Energy Efficiency Ratings 'Flawed'
This story is reminiscent of the VW EPA scandal. My 2008 model Sharp 26" LCD, is rated at 120 W. Here is a table of power usage for various TV sizes and display types. "The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said many sets were designed to perform well in government tests, but used more energy in regular use. It said energy consumption could be twice the expected amount. But the U.S. Consumer Technology Association said modern TVs were an 'efficiency success story.' The NRDC said it found many television sets disabled energy saving features ..."
Anatech Electronics Intros 3 New Filter Designs
Anatech Electronics offers the industry's largest portfolio of high-performance standard and customized RF and microwave filters and filter-related products for military, commercial, aerospace and defense, and industrial applications up to 40 GHz. Anatech has introduced 3 new filter designs: a 32 MHz IF SAW filter in an SMD package, a 564 MHz cavity bandpass filter with N connectors, and a 417 / 427 MHz ceramic duplexer in an SMD package ...
Work Experience for Students Essential Say Engineering Employers
"62% of engineering employers say graduates don't have the right skills for today's workplace, while 68% are concerned that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change, according to the 2016 Skills and Demand in Industry report, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology today. To address these growing concerns over skills ..."
Water-Powered Cubesat Satellite Shoots for the Moon
"A cereal box-size satellite, fueled by water power, is in the running for the first tiny satellite to orbit the moon. A Cornell University student team called the Cislunar Explorers is developing the little orbiter as part of NASA's Cube Quest Challenge, which is offering $5.5 million in total to teams that build small satellites known as cubesats. Cislunar means 'between Earth and the moon,' which is exactly where the winning ..."
Antenova's Beltii Antenna for Small PCBs in GNSS Devices at 1559-1609 MHz
"Antenova Ltd, manufacturer of antennas and RF antenna modules for M2M and the Internet of Things, is announcing Beltii, (P/N SR4G013), a brand new embedded antenna which measures only 15.6mm x 3.3mm x 4.4mm, and operates with all global public satellite constellations. The antenna has been cleverly designed to work over a very small ground plane on a small PCB, where it can be placed in a corner position, and does not need any ground ..."
EE Times Silicon 60: 2016's Emerging Companies to Watch
"It has been a year since EE Times produced a version16.1 of the Silicon 60. Over that time while the global economic situation can - at best - be said to have stabilized the semiconductor and electronics industries are on the edge of 'great expectations.' There seems no doubt that the Internet of Things will have a revolutionary impact on how people can live their lives, but exactly how that will manifest itself ..."
Crosley Model AC-7 & Atwater Kent Model 30 Radio Service Data Sheets
Have you ever heard of a Mershon condenser? Me neither, but this Crosley Model AC-7 radio used one (or more). Ohio State University alums are familiar with the name Mershon, if not the man. Ralph Mershon was, among other things, an early manufacturer of electrolytic capacitors. This 1930 service sheet for a Crosley radio mentions the propensity of Mershon capacitors to experience breakdown of the electrolyte when the radio is not used for many months. Rejuvenation is necessary via a prescribed procedure to ensure ...
Nano-Scale Canadian Flag Sets World Record
"The Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo set a world record for creating a Canadian flag measuring about one one-hundredth the width of a human hair. Guinness World Records granted the inaugural award for smallest national flag to the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at Waterloo for the flag measuring 1.178 micrometres in length. It is invisible without the aid of an ..."
Notable Tech Quote: Simon Segars
"The ability to code is now as important as grammar and mathematics skills and it can unlock important new career options. I can easily imagine a new wave of design entrepreneurs looking back and citing today as the day their passion for technology began." - Simon Segars, CEO of ARM
On the Road to 5G, Advances in Enabling Technology
This online webinar will be broadcast on September 28, at 8am PT/ 11am ET. Sponsored by Rogers Corporation, presented by Art Aguayo. "Consumption of mobile data continues to grow at a rate exceeding 50% annually through 2020. In order to support this growth, mobile networks are going through evolutionary and revolutionary changes. We are all well aware of the evolutionary changes in the networks, 3G to 4G (FDD-LTE and TD-LTE) and how implementation of additional frequency bands, small cells, ..."
"Real 5G" Will Broadcast Above 6 GHz
"Brace yourself - the debate over what should and shouldn't count as 5G has only begun. Defining the next generation of wireless networks is complicated, partly because engineers are developing so many exciting technologies at once and have yet to agree on the standards by which they will operate. Stéphane Téral, an analyst at IHS Markit, recently weighed in by criticizing the use of '5G' to describe sub-6 GHz developments in ..."
Withwave Intros 3.5 mm Compact Calibration Kit
Withwave's Compact Calibration Kits offer excellent performance characteristics for fine-tuning in production environments and quality testing facilities, using 50 ohm N-type & 3.5 mm connectors up to 6 GHz and 9 GHz respectively. These Cal Kits include all needed calibration standards (Open, Short, Load, and Through) in one unit. It is the best solution available for ease of use in VNA calibration, especially in the field. We solve your performance ...
Worldwide AC Voltage & Frequency Standards
Just as it seems unlikely that the world will anytime soon converge on a single, common language (Esperanto failed), it is also unlikely that 'last-mile' electrical distribution systems will agree on a common voltage and frequency standard. In both cases, local implementations are so entrenched that a wholesale realignment would be prohibitively expensive in terms of both resources and finances. The global nature of all aspects of industrial, commercial, and consumer products has necessitated that accommodation be made for all existing systems, and that object ...
Millitech Intros E-Band Linear-to-Circular Polarizer
"Millitech, a leader in millimeter-wave technology and a brand of Smiths Microwave, announces its high performance E-Band Linear-to-Circular Polarizer. Offering a low axial ratio of > 0.6 dB, a low insertion loss of < 0.5 dB, and a typical VSWR of 1.25:1 within the high and low unlicensed communication bands (71 – 86 GHz), the polarizer can be optimized for any frequency you require from 18 – 110 GHz and ..."
Triad RF Systems Intros 20-1000 MHz, 20 W Bidirectional Amplifier
Triad RF Systems has introduced the TTRM1019, a 20-1000 MHz, 20 W Bidirectional Amplifier (BDA). The TTRM1019 is a broadband bi-directional low SWAP amplifier utilizing GaN devices. It is well suited for EW / SIGINT applications and also can be used as a general purpose SSPA for commercial / laboratory use. This class AB GaN module is designed for both military and commercial applications. It is capable of supporting any signal type and ...
New RF Tuned Materials and Devices
"Materials with large dielectric constants - aka 'high-K materials' - have recently come in to the spotlight due to their potential use within future generations of reduced-dimension semiconductor devices. Barium strontium titanate, one such material, possesses an inherently large dielectric constant that can be altered significantly by the application of an electrical field. Though this property has been known to exist for more than half a century and many researchers ..."
"Conquer Radio Frequency" Online Course Is Now Free
This is just a reminder that Wolfspeed is now sponsoring FREE access to Dr. Francesco Fornetti's masterpiece, Conquer Radio Frequency - A Multimedia Conceptual Guide to RF & Microwave Engineering, based on AWR Microwave Office. The material takes an original approach to explaining the fundamental principles behind the design of passive and active RF & microwave circuits ...
New Parasitic Beam Design
Something about the moniker "plumber's delight" for homebuilt antennas always appealed to me. In the early days of radio it referred to antennas built with threaded galvanized or soldered copper plumbing pipe or threaded black gas pipe. Today, it also includes structures that incorporate sections of cemented PVC pipe (with wire elements strung along or within them). A major issue with using threaded pipe is the potential for passive intermodulation products (PIMs) being generated at the dissimilar ...
British Startup Raises £750k to Develop Diamond-Based Electronics
"Originally VC funded with the aim of becoming a device developer using synthetic diamond, British startup Evince Technology was restructured in 2013 to focus on IP development. The company has demonstrated proof of concept devices and is currently developing prototypes of two solid-state devices based on proprietary IP that leverages diamond's unique electronic ..."
R&S Presents Leading-Edge Microwave T&M Solutions at EuMW 2016
From October 4 to 6, 2016, Rohde & Schwarz will demonstrate its expertise in the field of test and measurement, including in the highest frequency ranges, at the European Microwave Week (EuMW) international trade fair in London. The highlights on display in hall S11, booth 3 at ExCel London will include the following T&M solutions: Radar test solutions, Satellite test solutions, Automotive test ...
A Few Great RF & Microwave Engineering Articles for September 2016
Many years have passed since I last did a PCB layout. The world has changed considerably terms of simulation capabilities as nowadays designers often need to perform carefully modeled electromagnetic and thermal simulations to help assure a first-pass success. Companies spend big $-¥-€-£-₩-₨-₱-₫ for software licenses in order to reduce ...
F-35As Suspended Due to Fuel Tank Problem
How can this happen? The problem is contractually non-conforming fuel tank tubing insulation that "is not compatible with fuel." Huh? Of course we'll never know who the supplier was or where they're located. Government contract assignments are as subject to political correctness as men being allowed in women's restrooms. We're doomed ...
SemiGen Diodes, Capacitors, Attenuators, Inductors at EDI CON 2016
"SemiGen is featuring a range of products at EDI Con 2016 in Boston at booth #505. Limiter, Schottky, step recovery and point contact diodes. The SLP7100 series limiter diodes feature a low capacitance, resistance and quick turn on times. These limiters are ideally suited for high-power applications as protection against unwanted power surges or spikes for low noise components ..."
Harmonic Radiation from External Nonlinear Systems
My introduction to passive intermodulation (PIM) issues was while working on a BTS switching system back around the turn of the century (yes, this century), where because of high power levels, the matrix had to be guaranteed to not generate PIM products greater than a certain value. About 1/3 of the units were not passing test. The cause turned out to be a high power attenuator in one of the paths. The manufacturer of the attenuator was a very well established and reputable firm. The PIM levels were intermittent and would come and go after removing ...
Complex Materials Can Self-Organize into Circuits
"Researchers studying the behavior of nanoscale materials at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered remarkable behavior that could advance microprocessors beyond today's silicon-based chips. The study, featured on the cover of Advanced Electronic Materials, shows that a single crystal complex oxide material, when confined to micro- and nanoscales, can act like a multi-component electrical circuit ..."
TRAK Intros Ruggedized, Tactical GPS Time and Frequency System
Smiths Microwave Subsystems is pleased to announce that TRAK has released the 8836 series tactical GPS Time and Frequency System. The design approach integrates a ground-based GPS receiver module (GB-GRAM), a rubidium oscillator, time and frequency signal generation, and control/status circuitry in a compact, ruggedized enclosure. Standard outputs include 1PPS, low noise ...
Electronics Technology Crossword Puzzle for September 18, 2016
For the sake of avid cruciverbalists amongst us, each week I create a new crossword puzzle that has a theme related to engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical words. You will never be asked the name of a movie star unless he/she was involved in a technical endeavor (e.g., Hedy Lamar). Enjoy! ...
Seminar: Design and Analysis of Antennas for a Modern Smartwatch
"Wearable electronics poses many challenges for the antenna design engineer. When designing wearable consumer electronics in particular, rapidly evolving performance requirements, new usage scenarios and regulatory constraints make the ability to accurately and efficiently evaluate and consider different design options critical in being competitive. In this webinar, we will look at some of the challenges facing antenna designers in the design of a new smartwatch product. The presentation will explore some design examples ..."
Coilcraft Listing Added to Inductor Vendors Page
Coilcraft has been added to the Inductor Vendors page on RF Cafe. I'm not sure how they got deleted since they were there originally, but somehow I managed to do it. Apologies to the good folks at Coilcraft. Coilcraft has been a long-time maker of ceramic and ferrite chip inductors, air core spring inductors, RF transformers, tunable inductors, broadband conical inductors, and common mode chokes. Their website includes parametric search tools, SPICE models, and S-parameters. Designer's Kits and free evaluation samples available ...
The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Here is a great chart for your next informal project status meeting, assuming most people in attendance lie in the upper right quadrant and are not likely to have their safe spaces violated. It comes from Carlo Cipolla's book, "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity."
Quantum Effects Observed in '1-Dimensional' Wires
"Researchers have observed quantum effects in electrons by squeezing them into one-dimensional 'quantum wires' and observing the interactions between them. The results could be used to aid in the development of quantum technologies, including quantum computing. Scientists have controlled electrons by packing them so tightly that they start to display quantum effects, using an extension of the technology currently used to make computer processors ..."
Skyworks Intros Front-End Module for Smart Energy and IoT Applications
Skyworks has introduced a highly integrated 470 to 510 MHz front-end module (FEM) that is ideal for smart energy, smart metering (electric, gas, water, heat), security, RFID, industrial and other Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The SKY66115-11 FEM operates over a wide variety of supply voltages at low power consumption, and comes in a small 4 x 4 x 0.9 mm, 16-pin multichip module solution. Its extended ...
The Aircraft-Radio Service Man
As a life-long aircraft enthusiast, my attention is always drawn to photos, drawings, and titles in articles dealing with any aspect - but particularly a historical aspect - of aviation. This 1937 edition of Radio-Craft magazine reported on the fledgling field of aircraft radio maintenance, and in particular the opportunities is presented to radio repairmen. Aircraft electronics - avionics - have of course change significantly over the last 80 years. Accordingly, maintenance has become such a highly specialized skill that other than swapping out entire pieces of equipment, relatively few facilities exist that are qualified ...
Boingo, Microsoft, Broadcom Blast Ericsson's LTE-U Claims
"Boingo Wireless, Microsoft, Broadcom and Ruckus Wireless are among those calling out Ericsson for a report in which Ericsson shared results of its LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence tests. Not surprisingly, the tests found that LTE-U will fairly coexist with Wi-Fi. The companies challenged Ericsson's claim that its tests are closely aligned with the Wi-Fi Alliance ..."
IPP Intros SMD 90° Coupler for 4000-6000 MHz
Innovative Power Products introduces their latest 90° coupler that operates over the full 4000 – 6000 MHz band. The new Model IPP-7133, handles 100 watts CW and comes in a small SMD Style package which is only 0.20 x 0.56 x 0.10 (W, L, H) inches and available on tape & reel. The IPP-7133 will combine two signals up to 100 Watts CW of total output power. This coupler has excellent amplitude balance across the full band and insertion loss of <0.25 dB ...
Army, Korean Engineers Find a Way for Allies to Share Spectrum
"The Pentagon has been developing a number of ways to better share the limited resources of the electromagnetic spectrum, both with other U.S. military services and civilian agencies. But considering the number of future missions that are expected to be conducted with coalition partners, sharing spectrum with other countries also is important. Researchers from the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, and the Korea's Agency for Defense Development, or ADD ..."
"101 Bets You Will Always Win"
This is legitimate fodder for RF Cafe because it is science related. In fact, you might use one of these tricks to warm up a lecture or slide show audience. These nifty challenges are a sample of those presented in psychologist Richard Wiseman's book 101 Bets You Will Always Win: The Science of the Seemingly Impossible. I've seen many of them before, but the one about a discharged battery bouncing higher than a charged battery is a new one for me. I wanted to test it myself, but couldn't find identical charged and discharged batteries ...
Whether or not this kind of stuff goes on over the Ham bands these days, I couldn't tell you. It is easy to imagine such obnoxiousness of some people back in the day. Of course if you assume the way kids are portrayed in contemporary movies and TV shows is typical, even the aforementioned behavior would seem mild in comparison. Fortunately, kids today have a plethora of social media venues ...
Engineering Career and Job Hunting Advice for September 2016
Usually, concepts like an infographic formatted resume seem too gimmicky to be used in a serious job search, but if done well, it can demonstrate real creativity and outside-the-box thinking. It could be just the thing you need to defeat the rote processing by HR department drones who are known to run resumes ...
Tuning Materials and Devices to Adapt to Their Environment
"Materials with large dielectric constants - aka "high-K materials" - have recently garnered attention for their potential use within future generations of reduced-dimension semiconductor devices. Barium strontium titanate, one such material, possesses an inherently large dielectric constant that can be altered significantly by an applied electrical field—by as much as a factor of 10. While this property has been known to exist ..."
Anatech Electronics Newsletter for September 2016
Anatech Electronics, a maker of RF and microwave filters, has published its August 2016 newsletter. As always, it includes both company news and some tidbits about relevant industry happenings. This month, Sam Benzacar discusses the topic of "The Sad State of E911," the Fed's pledge of $400M for 5G Research, the FCC's new 3.5 GHz spectrum allocation, and the Apple Watch possibly getting GPS. Anatech's business is to make certain that system and circuit designers have capable filters available ...
Insulator vs. Metal Determination
"The electronic energy states allowed by quantum mechanics determine whether a solid is an insulator or whether it conducts electric current as a metal. Researchers at ETH have now theoretically predicted a novel material whose energy states exhibit a hitherto unknown peculiarity. If one looked deep into three different solids using a super-microscope, one would, in principle, always see the same thing: atomic nuclei arranged in a crystal lattice and electrons, of which some orbit the atomic nuclei and others crisscross the entire crystal lattice ..."
Electrolytic Condenser "Blows Its Top"
Who among us has not purposely hooked up a power supply to an electrolytic capacitor and turned up the voltage until it popped? It was a ritual for new guys in the shop. Admittedly, the ones I've blown up were insignificant compared to the one shown in this photo where the staff at Daven Labs reproduced a test failure and was sure to be rolling film during the process. Hopefully, no one was in the room ...
New System Could Break Bottleneck in Microprocessors
"Engineers at North Carolina State University and at Intel have come up with a solution to one of the modern microprocessor's most persistent problems: communication between the processor's many cores. Their answer is a dedicated set of logic circuits they call the Queue Management Device, or QMD. In simulations, integrating the QMD with the processor's on-chip network, at a minimum, doubled core-to-core communication ..."
Wi-Fi Alliance Assures Coexistence Test Plan on Track for September 21
"Despite naysayers who questioned whether a plan would be ready this month, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) reassured attendees at last week's CTIA Super Mobility 2016 trade show that, indeed, the coexistence Wi-Fi/LTE-U testing plan it’s been developing is expected to be delivered as planned on September 21. The reassurance from the WFA is noteworthy because some members of the LTE community, many of whom were ..."
Some ABCs of V.H.F. Receiver Design
Author Edward Tilton discusses here the tradeoff between bandwidth and sensitivity in receivers, given that broadband noise power follows bandwidth in a 10 log BW fashion. Pulling in the most distant stations requires very low noise in able to get the SNR as high as possible, which requires the minimum bandwidth possible. Prior to highly stable local oscillators, operating successfully in a narrow bandwidth for voice (phone), and particularly for CW (Morse code), dictated the use of a fixed frequency crystal to keep from having to constantly re-tune ...
Keysight to Demo RF/uW, Signal/Power Integrity at EDI CON USA 2016
EDI CON USA 2016 brings together RF, microwave, and high-speed digital design engineers and system integrators for networking, training and learning opportunities. Attendees will find solutions, products and design ideas that they can put into immediate practice for today's communication, defense, consumer electronics, aerospace and medical industries. Keysight (Booth 321) will showcase design, test and service solutions for: mmWave Communication, EW & Satellite ...
Continental to Upgrade Submarine HF/VLF Communications
"RF and microwave experts at Continental Electronics Corp. in Dallas will maintain and upgrade electronic components a U.S. Navy high-power communications system that sends one-way text messages to submerged nuclear ballistic missile submarine forces. The Navy shore VLF/LF transmitter facilities transmit a 50 baud submarine command and control broadcast which is the backbone of the submarine broadcast system, Navy officials say. The VLF/LF radio broadcast provides good performance in atmospheric ..."
Würth SMD Designer Kits for Sale
For Sale: Würth Electronics SMD 0402 Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor Design Kit, SMD Air Coil Inductor Design Kit, and Power Elements Design Kit. These are the kits - all unused - graciously provided by Würth for a product review. I have no need for them at this time, so this could be your lucky day. Full details are available here. They sell on Digi-Key for about $110 each, but you can buy all three for a mere ...
Saelig Intros High Performance 30/60 MHz DDS Signal Generators
Saelig Company has introduced the Siglent SDG1000X Series of Function / Arbitrary Waveform Generators which output sine, square, ramp, and pulse waveforms to 60MHz with a 14-bit sampling rate of 150 MSa/s at up to ±20V. The SDG1000X generators feature Siglent's patented EasyPulse technology for low jitter and very fast rising and falling edges that are frequency-independent even at low duty cycle settings. EasyPulse technology results in a much more versatile generator than ...
Graphene Enables Flat Speakers for Mobile Audio Systems
"Nanomaterials have been responsible for all sorts of innovation of audio speaker designs. We've seen magnetic nanoparticles used to eliminate the need for a magnet in speakers. Carbon nanotubes have also been demonstrated to produce sound with heat. Researchers at KAIST have developed a new speaker design specifically targeted for the mobile audio market that draws its capabilities from nanomaterials. The KAIST researchers have used graphene ..."