"One of the least orderly and most poorly executed
of NASA projects," was the description given to the
Surveyor program whose goal was to land on the moon and send back images, both still
and motion (in preparation for a manned landing). That, from a congressional sub-committee.
Yes, the very same Congress that famously cannot balance its own budget or create successful
programs of its own. It is a classic case of "The pot calling the kettle black." NASA
was and always has been at the bleeding edge of new technology and as such lives in uncharted
territory. Unexpected pitfalls lurk everywhere - a minefield of "gotchas." Not that every
organization can't benefit from external oversight to prevent "blinders-on" engineering
and management teams from straying too far off the defined path, but having the notoriously
pompous and buffoonish bureaucrats ...
This article in the November issue of MWJ
Chris Tojeira discusses the need to capture and store huge amounts
of RF measurement data for radar and SIGINT applications - which nowadays include not
just military and aerospace applications, but also automotive, security, and other commercial
sensors systems. "A summary of the features and techniques used to provide real-time,
ultra-wideband, RF signal recording in a small, rugged package optimized for size, weight
and power (SWaP). Ultra-wideband RF signal recorders have allowed engineers to capture
large swaths of the RF spectrum for wide bandwidth radar systems and improved SIGINT
capabilities. While real-time recording of a GHz or more of RF bandwidth ..."
QRM and QRN (manmade and natural interference,
respectively) has been a problem to be dealt with since the beginning of radio communications.
Amplitude modulation (AM) was and is still the most vulnerable because there are so many
sources of electrical and electromagnetism generation - both intentional and unintentional.
Filters can take care of out-of-band noise, but inband noise needs to be dealt with differently.
Some inband interference can be reduced in effectiveness with circuits using specific
time constants that address specific noise types. One of the most successful methods
for mitigating generic noise is to limit the opportunity for noise signals to enter the
system by employing directional antennas...
"Rice University scientists have built a better
epoxy for electronic applications. Epoxy combined with ultrastiff
graphene foam invented in the Rice lab of chemist James Tour is substantially
tougher than pure epoxy and far more conductive than other epoxy composites while retaining
the material's low density. It could improve upon epoxies in current use that weaken
the material's structure with the addition of conductive fillers. The new material is
detailed in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano. By itself, epoxy is an insulator,
and is commonly used in coatings, adhesives, electronics, industrial tooling and structural
composites. Metal or carbon fillers are often added for applications where conductivity
is desired, like electromagnetic shielding ..."
I love me some good "Mac's Service Shop" episodes.
In this saga, Barney got an earful from a customer who referred to all
electronics technicians as "robbers, crooks, and inefficient boobs." During a bout
of self-assessment as to whether the woman had a point, Mac makes the following obvious
and somewhat profound observation, "The manufacturer has to daddy the first breakdown
because it happened before any of us touched the receiver." That statement is as true
today as it was nearly six decades previous. It applies to every product made, electronic
or otherwise, provided the user hasn't been abusive purposely or accidentally. Truth
is that depending on the design and manufacturing process, even subsequent breakdowns
could easily be blamed on the product itself and not on the repair effort that remedied
the first breakdown - a point Mac also makes. Is Mac a sage or would modern sarcastic
lingo label him as Captain Obvious? Knowing Mac as well as we do, "sage" is the appropriate
term. Read on for proof of the assertion. Comparison of the procurement and cost-of-ownership
between consumer and military electronics gear ensues ...
It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, so
a lot of people will be off work, sitting at home waiting for the turkey, mashed potatoes
and gravy, hot rolls, assorted vegetables, and of course pumpkin pie for the grand finale.
If that describes you, or you are visiting from elsewhere, here are a couple of
electronics-themed comics from vintage Radio-Electronics magazines to bide the time.
For anyone not old enough to remember when reel-to-reel magnetic tape players (see example
to the left) were the prized possession of every true audiophile, the comic on the bottom
might be a bit confusing. Recorded music quality was better than other formats, and the
machines had much finer control over play speed accuracy. Buying factory-recorded song
reels was very expensive ...
This week's RF Cafe crossword puzzle contains the
usual assortment of engineering and science related words and clues, but there are also
a few specific words commemorating our
Day holiday (indicated by a asterisk *) that is celebrated
each year on the fourth Thursday of November. Macy's 90th Thanksgiving Day Parade occurs
on the morning of November 24th and follows a route along Central Park West and 6th Avenue.
Interestingly, the parade was cancelled during the World War II years of 1942, 1943,
Communication Systems is a supplier of high performance connectorized
RF modular system components,
shielded project cases, and special purpose solutions up through 40 GHz. Lotus is
a privately owned company with mechanical and electronic design, manufacture, test controlled
from its Middlesex, MA, facility. They have multiple 4 axis CNC machines and LPKF circuit
plotters. Lotus can provide custom extension of our standard products, custom designs
for specific applications and prototyping for your new products ...
"Mozilla earlier this week launched the first
full edition of its
Internet Health Report. The report is 'an open source effort to explore
the state of human life on the Internet,' wrote Mozilla Executive Director Mark Surman
in an online post. It consists of research and analysis about the Internet compiled by
researchers, engineers, data scientists, policy analysts and artists in Mozilla's extended
community. The digital rights, open source, and Internet freedom movements stand for
the idea that it is possible to build a digital world that is open, accessible and welcoming
to all, according to Mozilla. The Internet Health Report is based on the principles of
the recently expanded Mozilla Manifesto ..."
"Miniaturized semiconductor devices with energy
harvesting features have paved the way to wearable technologies and sensors. Although
thermoelectric systems have attractive features in this context,
the ability to maintain large temperature differences across device terminals remains
increasingly difficult to achieve with accelerated trends in device miniaturization.
As a result, a group of scientists in applied sciences and engineering has developed
and demonstrated a proposal on an architectural solution to the problem in which engineered
thin-film active materials are integrated into flexible three-dimensional (3-D) forms.
The approach enabled efficient thermal ..."
Since 1961, MECA Electronics
has designed and manufactured an extensive line of
RF & microwave
components for in-building, satellite, radar, radio, telemetry, mobile radio, aviation &
ATC. Attenuators, directional & hybrid couplers, isolators & circulators, power
dividers & combiners, loads, DC blocks, bias-Ts and adapters & cables. MECA has
long been the 'backbone' of high performance wired and air-interfaced networks such as
in-building applications, satellite communications, radar, radio communications, telemetry
applications, mobile radio, aviation & air traffic communications ...
Most of us
here in America recognize the
Packard Bell name from the line of personal computers they sold in the 1980s and
1990s. I owned three of them, beginning with an Intel 80286 model, then an 80486, and
finally a Pentium model. They were in the "pizza box" format that sat on the desk with
the CRT monitor on top; I always preferred that configuration over the tower type. Before
Packard Bell made personal computers, they made personal radios for the desktop beginning
back in the 1930s. That explains why Mr. J.T. Goode, an engineer with Packard Bell, would
write an article in 1947 regarding a method to tune antennas using light bulbs
Be sure to check in on Monday, November 26th,
at around 3:00 pm EST to watch the "live" landing of NASA's InSight
(Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat
Transport) probe on Mars. "Live," of course, is a relative thing when the telecast
is coming from Mars. The physical distance to Mars will be a little more than 89 million
miles away, which corresponds to just tad under 8 minutes for radio waves, so we won't
know how the landing went until that long after the event really occurs. NASA controllers
will still have their usual "7 minutes of
terror" as with Curiosity. InSight will use a combination of old-fashioned rigid,
spring-loaded legs (a la
Viking landers) and a modern automated rocket descent. I'll post
this again on Monday as a reminder.
Empower RF Systems will demonstrate a suite of
high power solid state transmitting amplifiers at the 55th Annual AOC International
Symposium and Convention - Washington, DC November 27 – 29th , 2018. The equipment suite
consists of the models 2162, 2170, and 2215 providing compact and rugged EA, communications,
and threat emitter capability from 20 to 6000 MHz, and will be housed in Los Angeles
while being controlled and monitored by the Empower booth demonstration team who will
be exercising the system software demonstrating capabilities of the configurable amplifiers ...
KR Electronics designs and manufactures high quality
filters for both the commercial and military markets. KR Electronics manufactures all
filter types: lowpass, highpass,
bandpass, bandstop and individually synthesizes filters for special applications - both
commercial and military. State of the art computer synthesis, analysis and test methods
are used to meet the most challenging specifications. Please visit their website today
to see how they might be of assistance ...
"Canadian researchers use scissors and glue to
transform RFID tag into device that can sense its environment While smart devices
are proliferating in the industrial and domestic environments, concerns remain that they
will not be sustainable unless their need for batteries and/or charging is removed. Researchers
at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, are claiming a major advance in this
area through making simple modifications to a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag,
a battery-free device used to make objects machine-readable for the location and identification,
and which are increasingly ubiquitous in common objects ..."
One of the major advantages of the age of powerful
personal computers - be they in the form of desktop systems, tablets, or smartphone apps
- is that for most
computation-intensive tasks there only needs to be one or maybe at most a few people
smart enough to know how to do them. Everyone else who has to perform the task just needs
to be able to input the proper parameters to ensure a useful output. That is a significant
statement, because in the days before ubiquitous computer availability and incredible
computing power, highly capable engineers, scientists, analysts, and mathematicians either
had to be on staff or an expert external resource was used for difficult and/or time-intensive
tasks. Over time, fewer and fewer people are needed to produce very precise and reliable
results. In many ways, other than the creative intuition involved in concept, creation,
and execution, a large part of the product design and planning phases have been automated ...
has been offering free high tech whitepapers, app notes, magazine subscriptions, and
books for many years. LinkedIn, as you probably know, has become a major force in the
professional career networking realm. Whether your goal is to find a new job, properly
quit an existing job, locate special interest groups, research topics on interest, or
other such things, LinkedIn is a good first stop. Here are a few resources currently
Mistakes that Cost You Clients and Credibility," "Maximizing LinkedIn
for Business," "Optimize Your LinkedIn Skills," and "How to Network on LinkedIn
Like a Pro." You're welcome.
Longtime RF Cafe visitor, electrical engineer, and occasional contributor Alan H.
Dewey sent me a note yesterday saying a book for which he helped provide a large amount
of research data has been published by authors Iain Dey and Douglas Buck. "The Cryotron Files:
How the Inventor of the Microchip Put Himself in the KGB's Sights," is an extensive
delve into the background of Dr. Dudley Allen Buck, whose son, Douglas, conducted
an extensive investigation into his father's mysterious death that happened to coincide
with the death of his colleague and two other scientists just days after being visited
by Soviet computer experts. Dr. Buck was a superconductivity researcher during his
short, highly productive life. A cryotron, BTW, is a superconducting switch that would
make for very low power supercomputers if it could be made practical in IC form ...
MECA Electronics has created an app note titled
"Isolator/Circulator Basics" on their website blog. "An RF isolator
is a two-port ferromagnetic passive device which is used to protect other RF components
from excessive signal reflection. Isolators are common place in laboratory applications
to separate a device under test (DUT) from sensitive signal sources. An RF circulator
is a three-port ferromagnetic passive device used to control the direction of signal
flow in a circuit and is a very effective, low-cost alternative to expensive cavity duplexers
in base station and in-building mesh networks. Examples of both applications will be
covered later in this article. " You can find app notes for power coupler, dividers,
and combiners, passive intermodulation products, hybrid couplers, and more on MECA Electronics'
website blog ...
In 1960, futurists were predicting that within
10 years it would be possible to beam television signals between continents and directly
into homes. It was the eve of Project Echo, which boosted a 100-foot-diameter inflatable
metallized plastic ball into low Earth orbit to reflect signals efficiently back through
the atmosphere. Engineers and scientists were already planning the next best thing -
a satellite that not only reflected, but also amplified, possibly frequency converted,
and would even steer signals that impinge upon it. Envisioned in this article is hundreds
of satellites being available for relaying signals between all regions of the Earth on
then-standard VHF channels. We now have successful
satellite television systems, but they operate at Ku-band due to bandwidth
requirements and need special converters to interface with a television ...
Rohde & Schwarz USA (R&S USA) has produced
a primer titled, "Fundamentals
of Modern Vector Network Analyzers - Primer." One of the most common measuring tasks
in RF engineering is the analysis of circuits, from simple filters and amplifiers to
complex satellite communication modules. As an extremely versatile test instrument, a
VNA is the ideal equipment for quickly and precisely uncovering signal integrity problems,
such as reflections and crosstalk. This primer describes the fundamentals of vector network
analysis, as well as practical instructions for improving accuracy, performing calibration,
and making typical linear and time-domain measurements. In this primer you will learn
about: Introduction to Network Analyzers Scattering Parameters ...
Innovative Power Products (IPP) has over 30 years
of experience designing & manufacturing RF & microwave passive components. Their
high power, broadband couplers,
combiners, resistors, baluns, terminations and attenuators are fabricated using the
latest materials and design tools available, resulting in unrivaled product performance.
Applications in military, medical, industrial and commercial markets. Take a couple minutes
to visit their website and see how IPP can help you today ...
"Intel announced a new
5G chip for smartphones and other gadgets that the company will release
next year. The company said it expects the chip, which supports speeds up to 6 Gbps,
to ship in commercial devices starting in 2020. That timeframe is notable considering
Fast Company reported that Apple will launch a 5G iPhone with Intel's 5G chip in 2020.
The Fast Company report even cited the model number of Intel's chip - 8161 - which is
just one digit off from the name of Intel's chip announced today, the XMM 8160 5G modem.
Intel's Cormac Conroy, VP and GM of the company's communication and devices group, declined
to discuss Apple and Intel's 5G customer prospects ..."
1933 "Century of Progress" World's Fair, held in Chicago, was a big
deal on many fronts. Life in America and around the world was changing rapidly due to
the widespread introduction into homes a decade earlier of electrical and telephone service,
indoor plumbing, and associated appliances. The state of the art was a modern wonder.
Transportation had been made affordable to many families, and leisure time was becoming
more abundant. If it were not for the advent of the stock market crash in 1929, economies
would be thriving because there was so much cool stuff to be had. Many people had taken
up the hobby and/or profession of wireless communications, so a display was included
on the fairgrounds for the craft. An interesting consequence of a combination of noisy
(electrically) electromechanical wonders being promoted
and the desire to demonstrate working amateur radio equipment was a necessity to locate
the two as far apart as possible...
SiteFlex range of ruggedized
Field RF Test Cables are designed Field Test Engineers working in applications that require
on site RF Testing. These cables are directly compatible with Hand-Held Network and Spectrum
analyzers. Common options include: DC to 7 GHz, DC to 9 GHz, DC to 18 GHz,
DC to 27 GHz, DC to 40 GHz, and DC to 50 GHz. ConductRF's
Site-Flex RF Field Test Cables have been designed to support Handheld RF & Microwave
Analyzers. The ruggedized construction includes anti-torque connectors that are firmly
attached to the cables external armor. Crush resistant SF series cable can withstand
1,200 lbs. / sq.in. Additional configurations and lengths are available on request ...
Remember when the first manned spacecraft transported
astronauts to Mars and then back to Earth in the 1970s - a 13-month round trip? In
the mid-1960s, Electronics magazine reported on the preparations being made
by NASA for Mars travel at the same time they were busy preparing the Apollo mission
to the moon. The world's first manned orbit (Apollo 8) of the moon didn't happen
until in December 1968, a mere seven months before the historic July 1969 Apollo 11
moon landing*, but NASA was wasting no time planning for the next big thing. Of course
you know to date we never have made it to Mars with a manned spacecraft, but the headlines
are still filled with "any day now" projections by SpaceX's Elon Musk (whom I like) and
his contemporaries. Sure, I would love to be alive to witness a manned mission to Mars,
but I'd settle ...
Centric RF is a company offering from stock various
RF and Microwave coaxial
components, including attenuators, adapters, cable assemblies, terminations, power
dividers, and more. We believe in offering high performance parts from stock at a reasonable
cost. Frequency ranges of 0-110 GHz at power levels from 0.5-500 watts are available
off the sheld. Order today, ship today! Centric RF is currently looking for vendors to
partner with them. Please visit Centric RF today ...
Microwave Workshops & Exhibition 2018 (MWE2018) will be held on November
28-30, in Yokohama, Japan in the Exhibition Hall D & Annex Hall, Pacifico. Sponsored
by the IEICE APMC Japan National Committee and supported by the Ministry of Internal
Affairs and Communications, the agenda includes workshops in 5 special sessions are allocated
to treat fusion of different technical areas / fields, such as quantum computing and
social infrastructure. 19 regular sessions cover the latest microwave technologies from
active and passive devices to next generation applications and systems such as 5G mobile
communication systems, wireless power transmissions and automotive/vehicular applications.
5 fundamental courses and 4 introductory courses ...
2003, Bittele Electronics has consistently provided low-volume, electronic contract manufacturing
(ECM) and turnkey PCB assembly services. It specializes in board level turnkey
for design engineers needing low volume or prototype multi-layer printed circuit boards.
Free Passive Components: Bittele Electronics is taking
one further step in its commitment of offering the best service to clients of its PCB
assembly business. Bittele is now offering common passive components to its clients FREE
of Charge ...
"It wasn't that long ago that frequencies above
between 5 and 10 GHz were considered impractical for mass-market applications due to
challenges with requisite components, materials, layout, and production tolerances. While
these frequencies have been widely used for mil/aero, scientific, and other advanced
applications, they were viewed as being at the 'outer limits' of practicality for consumer and most industrial situations
(although some 24-GHz sensing has been in use for applications like industrial fluid-level
measurement). This scenario at the higher range of gigahertz frequencies has changed
dramatically due to advances ..."
Each week, for the sake of all avid cruciverbalists
amongst us, I create a new
technology-themed crossword puzzle using only words from my custom-created lexicon
related to engineering, science, mathematics, chemistry, physics, astronomy, etc. You
will never find among the words names of politicians, mountain ranges, exotic foods or
plants, movie stars, or anything of the sort. You might, however, see someone or something
in the exclusion list who or that is directly related to this puzzle's theme, such as
Hedy Lamarr or the Bikini Atoll, respectively - Enjoy ...