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RF & Microwave Magazine Article Archive - 2020

RF & Microwave Magazine Article Archive 2018 - RF CafeIf you are like me, you spend a lot of time reading articles from technical magazines. Sometimes I read the entire article, but usually I just scan the text for highlights and look at the schematics, block diagrams, and charts / graphs. Often, I want to go back and find an article but cannot recall where I saw it. A Google search will usually eventually reveal a hyperlink to the article, but a lot of times it takes a lot of digging. Since my key interests are not necessarily the same as RF Cafe visitors, an attempt will be made to catalog all of them. If there is a magazine not included here that you would like me to include in the list, please send me an e-mail and I will try to incorporate its articles, too.

Aerospace & Defense | EDN | Electronic Design | High Frequency Electronics | IEEE Spectrum | Microwave Journal | Microwaves & RF | Microwave Product Digest |

Aerospace Defense


Practical 3D Printing of Antennas and RF Electronics - RF CafeMssrs. G. Kiesel, P. Bowden, K. Cook, M. Habib, J. Marsh, D. Reid, C. Phillips, and B. Baker of Georgia Tech Research Institute have an interesting article on the Aerospace Defense website entitled, "Practical 3D Printing of Antennas and RF Electronics." The earliest forms of 3D printing involved depositing successive layers of a pasty substance on a substrate, with a curing steps between layers. Next can using a melted polymer (plastic) filament to lay down tiers without the need for intermittent curing. For many years processes have been developed for 3D printing metallic structures. Many of these techniques are being used in "additive manufacturing" schemes to produce marketable items, including complex 3D shapes needed for medicine, automotive, and aerospace markets. This article discusses 3D printing in the RF & microwave realm.


Antenna-on-Package Simplifies Automotive In-Cabin Radar Sensor Design

Antenna-on-Package Technology Simplifies Automotive In-Cabin Radar Sensor Design - RF CafeMr. Kishore Ramaiah has an interesting article on the EDN website entitled, "Antenna-on-Package Technology Simplifies Automotive In-Cabin Radar Sensor Design." 60 GHz and 77 GHz have quarter wavelengths of 1.25 mm (0.0492") and 0.973 mm (0.0383"), respectively, meaning efficient radiators (antennas) can be fabricated directly on the IC substrate, thus saving some of the complexity and expense of creating and matching an off-chip antenna. The story begins: "Millimeter-wave (mmW) radar is one of the primary sensing modalities for automotive and industrial applications because of its ability to detect objects from a few centimeters to several hundred meters with high distance, angle, and velocity accuracy, even in challenging environmental conditions. A typical radar sensor consists of a radar chipset along with other electronic components such as the power-management circuit, flash memory, and interface peripherals assembled on a PCB. Transmit and receive antennas are also typically implemented on the PCB..."

Quickly Assess Coax Cable Shielding Quality

Quickly Assess Coax Cable Shielding Quality - RF CafeKenneth Wyatt has a good article on the EDN website entitled, "Quickly Assess Relative Coax-Cable-Shielding Quality." It begins: "Testing most products for radiated emissions usually requires all I/O and power cables to be attached to the equipment under test (EUT) and spread out in accordance with the specific product standard. In many cases, we test engineers simply grab the nearest cables and hope for the best during the compliance test. Unfortunately, poor-quality cables can lead to emissions failures due to poor shielding or poor shield termination (via 'pigtails') to the connectors. In an earlier article, I related the issue of HDMI cable radiation due to shield pigtails. I also graphically demonstrate why cable shield pigtails lead to radiated emissions in the video. In addition to the shield pigtail issue, coax cables..."

EDN's 2020 Mind of the Engineer Survey

EDN's 2020 Mind of the Engineer Survey - RF CafeEDN has published the results of their 2020 "Mind of the Engineer" survey. It reflects changes in attitudes and workplace preferences in this era of the Wuhan Virus (aka COVID-19). Many engineers - and other workers - are discovering that they really like working remotely from home. Of course some jobs require a physical presence at an office building, but a lot of engineers are setting up labs in their homes where possible. "What's on the design engineer's mind in 2020, the year pundits claim will change the workplace forever with the option to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic? The electronic design arena is already starting to witness the change, as corroborated in the latest 'Mind of the Engineer' survey carried out by AspenCore, the parent company of EDN. For instance, while most engineers prefer to conduct circuit design and simulation at work, European designers are happy to do circuit design and research remotely..."

Design and Verify 5G Systems

Design and Verify 5G Systems - RF CafeOver on the EDN website, Mssrs. L. Rizzatti, R. Squiers, and M. Castren have a good article entitled, "Design and Verify 5G Systems." It begins with recalling some of the features of previous generations, then, as the title implies, focuses on current 5G system definitions, expectations, and requirements. "Starting in the 1980s, the mobile industry has been upgrading the wireless technology at the rate of one new standard every decade. The first-generation (1G) cell phones launched in the '80s, although they were not referred to as 1G at the time, were based on an analog technology that supported only voice communication with poor quality. The second generation (2G) mobile phones introduced in the '90s upgraded analog voice transmission to digital voice communication, added support for short message service / multimedia messaging service (SMS/SMM)..."

Review: CMT's IoTest Antenna Testing Kit

Review: CMT's IoTest Antenna Testing Kit - RF CafeKenneth Wyatt, a consulting engineer, has a very useful article on the EDN website entitled, "Kit for Testing Wireless and IoT Antennas," which features Copper Mountain Technologies' IoTest Antenna Testing Kit. FCC certification can be an expensive process, so if you are developing a wireless product, a setup like this could save you a bundle by allowing you to do an initial level of measurement prior to submission to a certification lab or consultant. Mr. Wyatt begins, "In recent years, many of my clients have been developing products that incorporate wireless and cellular communications into IoT products. I've also been partnering with a local CTIA-approved wireless test lab, BluFlux in Louisville, Colorado, to help mitigate various EMC issues. In working with BluFlux, the major issue seemed to be self-generated EMI affecting the cellular LTE and GPS receiver sensitivity..."

The Mathematics of Gaussian Probability Distribution

The Mathematics of Gaussian Probability Distribution - RF CafeEveryone reading the is familiar with the "bell curve," and most have been exposed to the mathematics of it. Standard deviations, normal distribution, mean, median, variance, etc., are seen often in technical writings. John Dunn has a good intro (or refresher) on the EDN website entitled, "The Mathematics of Gaussian Probability Distribution." It begins: "All sorts of physical processes in this analog world exhibit some degree of randomness. Think of noise, for example. Many noisy processes are described by Gaussian probability distributions. We should take a look at the mathematics of that. Consider the equation of the “bell curve” for a Gaussian probability distribution by starting with a very simple equation..."

Aspects of 6G That Will Matter to Wireless Design Engineers

Aspects of 6G That Will Matter to Wireless Design Engineers - RF CafeIf 5G began life as and still does to many people remain a nebulous concept, then the definition of 6G is really up for grabs. This article on the EDN website by Jessy Cavazos, entitled "Aspects of 6G That Will Matter to Wireless Design Engineers," is one of the first attempts I've seen to explain it. Here is her summation: "In addition to the next-level evolution in automated driving and smart manufacturing, 6G will enable innovative applications by combining sensing, imaging, and precise timing with mobility and truly leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent networks. Further integrating communications technologies into society, 6G technology will bring mixed reality experiences and telepresence to life, while playing a pivotal role in achieving global sustainability, improving society, and increasing productivity across industries."

Understand Damaging Effects of Phase Dispersion

Understand Damaging Effects of Phase Dispersion - RF CafeJohn Dunn has a good article on the EDN website entitled, "Understand the Damaging Effects of Phase Dispersion." He begins: "Amplitude modulation, or AM, is probably the simplest method of getting a voice or some music onto a radio signal and then sending that signal off to some far distant place. Because of that simplicity, a study of AM signals is a convenient tool for showing a damaging effect arising from phase dispersion. With AM radio, the audio signal usually gets reproduced pretty nicely at the receiving end, but not always. Sometimes a phrase like, 'You give us 22 minutes and we'll give you the news' can come out sounding like 'Y'mph gvmmph ush tentee-two mnshunts...' and maybe you would wonder why. Consider an AM signal source from which there is a carrier that, just for the sake of example, we can amplitude modulate using either the first or the second of two 'audio' signals..."

Mitigate Clock Intermodulation Effects in Characterization Setups

Mitigate Clock Intermodulation Effects in Characterization Setups - RF CafeMessrs. Krunal Maniar and Ryan Andrews have published an article on the EDN website entitled, "Mitigate Clock Intermodulation Effects in Characterization Setups." Intermods have been an issue since the beginning of electronic - even before digital circuits. It begins: "Mixed-signal PCBs present unique challenges in high-performance applications, such as vibration analysis and other multi-channel data acquisition systems. Nonlinear signal-chain elements introduce unwanted harmonic distortion, increasing the magnitude of the input signal's harmonic content. Meanwhile, multiple switching elements produce intermodulation artifacts that present themselves as frequency spurs asynchronous to the signals of interest. The noise and distortion degradation introduced by these nonidealities can significantly limit the overall performance of applications aiming for high resolution at high bandwidth. In this article, we'll explain how clocks and other switching elements produce intermodulation artifacts..."

Oscilloscope Cursors Complement Other Measurement Tools

Arthur Pini

Match Modular EMI AC Line Filters to Application's DC Supply Needs

Gary Bocock

Design PCBs for EMI, Part 4: More on Partitioning

Kenneth Wyatt

Electronic Design

Tektronix Function Generator Teardown

Tektronix Function Generator Teardown - RF CafeAs a great appreciator of equipment teardown reports, I always like reading through articles like Paul Rako's "The Tektronix Function Generator Teardown" on the Design News website. This is a Tektronix FG503 function generator of a 1970s vintage, contained in a TM503 mainframe chassis along with a PG502 pulse generator, an RG501 ramp generator. The entire assembly is very well p[reserved. One of the nice things about photos of the older equipment it the presence of leaded discrete and IC components, so it is easier to visualize what a circuit is doing, aided by a schematic. Circuits from the pre-IC era are even easier to follow because every item in the schematic is right in front of you - except the occasional use of a "gimmick" capacitor or inductor. Here is my HP5212A Electronic Counter teardown if you're interested.

Are Quantum-Tunnel Transistors Real?

Are Quantum-Tunnel Transistors Real - RF CafeNow that the wonder material graphene and the wonder wireless communications scheme of 5G has had their respective heydays, much attention is being given to quantum computing and quantum-tunnel transistors. "Quantum," which already had its own heyday back in early last century, is in vogue again - like wide ties, big-framed eyeglasses, and miniskirts. Lee Goldberg has a piece entitled "Are Quantum-Tunnel Transistors Real, and What Do They Mean for Power Tech?" posted over on the Electronic Design website in case you are interested in learning about the latest happenings in the field of quantum-tunnel transistors. They actually have nothing to do with quantum computers, and get their name due to tunneling effects (a la the familiar tunnel diode) that are exploited in this new "Bizen" phenomena that is being touted as a replacement for CMOS ICs. Time will tell how accurate the prediction is, as with the recently mentioned Wamoscope.

2020's Perfect Storm: Wi−Fi 6, BLE, and AI?

2020's Perfect Storm: Wi-Fi 6, BLE, and AI? - RF CafeWi−Fi 6 is a familiar term, but it is not as well defined or understood as 5G - not that 5G is all that well understood. Richard Edgar has a piece on the Electronic Design website entitled, "2020's Perfect Storm: Wi−Fi 6, BLE, and AI?," which helps unmuddy the waters a bit for Wi−Fi 6. He begins, "The innovations of connectivity and AI are about to shift into full gear as new advances - edge computing, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) v5.2, to name a few - arrive in full force. These developments are quite significant. Wi-Fi 6 will improve robustness and performance, while Bluetooth audio sharing will make it possible for multiple consumers to personally enjoy the audio of a single device. In addition, edge computing will give a significant boost to the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT). This is a win-win for those wishing to utilize these technologies, but not everyone will feel like a winner in 2020. The year could bring hardship to AI hardware startups that have risen up after years of long-term and highly intensive R&D. In many ways, this process has led to incredible results, including complex..."

Harley-Davidson All-Electric LiveWire Motorcycle

Harley-Davidson All-Electric LiveWire Motorcycle - RF CafeSome hard core bikers consider an electric-powered Harley to be sacrilegious. Can a Harley-Davidson that doesn't make the classic "poTAYto - poTAYto - poTAYto" be considered a Harley? This article on the Electronic Design website does a great job of summarizing all the technical features of H-D's 2020 LiveWire all-electric motorcycle (first released in 2019). The number of sensors and active feedback stabilization and control features is amazing. Its anti-lock braking system features a Rear-Wheel Lift Mitigation system that "borrows the C-ABS sensors and six-axis inertial measurement unit to manage rear-wheel lift during heavy braking, while balancing deceleration and rider control." Hopefully, the 553-pound (~same as ICE version), $30k bike doesn't rely too heavily on all the computer control to the point that its ultimate stability is as dependent on microprocessor control that it has become like the Boeing 737 MAX's MCIS...

Electronic Design's 2019 Continuing Education Survey

Electronic Design's 2019 Continuing Education Survey - RF CafeElectronic Design's 2019 Salary & Career Survey asked readers, among other topics, what their attitudes were regarding continuing education. The main question in that sections was, "What are some of the ways in which you continue your engineering education?" I could not find the total number of respondents to the survey, but of those who did, 87% held a Bachelor's degree or higher. Among resources used to maintain currency in their professions, 60% say they use printed engineering & technology publications while 57% use similar websites. 60% use seminars and webcasts and 65% read whitepapers. 13% attend in-classroom instruction while 31% use online courses. About 45% of employers reimburse costs for seminars and trade shows, 32% pay for college courses, and 23% cover nothing at all. Click the link above for the full report, as well as to access the Job Satisfaction section from last week.

At Last, Voltage-Tunable and Adjustable Thermal Conductivity

Bill Schweber

How to Design an Optimal Electronic Load for High-Current, Low-Voltage Power Supplies (Part 1)

Dwight Larson

A Critical Short Pulse

Frederik Dostal

What Actually Is a Hot Loop?

Frederik Dostal

What's the Difference Between AC-DC and DC-DC Power Supplies?

Paul Rako

Minimizing Power-Supply Voltage Drop on PCBs

Bill Schweber

Stuck in the Middle: How to Choose Your Next Bandpass Filter

James Price

Protection for the Power Supply and Its Load

Bill Schweber

Demystifying Electronic Calibration

Bob Zollo

Inductor Current Measurement in Switched Power Supplies

Frederik Dostal

High Frequency Electronics

Very-High-Frequency Connectors in Defense Systems

Very-High-Frequency Connectors in Defense Systems - RF CafePeter McNeil has an article on the High Frequency Electronics website entitled, "Considerations for Very-High-Frequency Connectors in Defense Systems." He begins, "Of the hundreds of different environments in which microwave coaxial cables and connectors are used, defense systems are probably the most demanding. They're handled by people who don't realize they're not just 'wires,' but technically sophisticated, precision components. After all, they're warfighters, not microwave engineers. So, they're run over by heavy vehicles, used as a handy way to pull equipment carts, and exposed to chemicals, fuels, saltwater, and many other hazards. Aging and various environmental factors are major contributors to the failure of cables and connectors, but it is arguable that most of the damage is done by the people who use them. That's why, according to one assessment, about 75% of microwave cable assemblies are replaced frequently..."

Solving Tough Timing Challenges of 5G Wireless Infrastructure

Solving the Tough Timing Challenges of 5G Wireless Infrastructure - RF CafeDr. Gary Giust has an article on the High Frequency Electronics website entitled, "Solving the Tough Timing Challenges of 5G Wireless Infrastructure." He begins: "Timing is the heartbeat of any electronic system and 5G networks will be particularly dependent on the accuracy, stability and reliability of their clock sources. Traditional quartz timing devices used in 4G networks are faced with new challenges to support higher bandwidths and narrower channels of coming 5G networks. MEMS technology solves these problems, meeting all timing requirements while performing significantly better than quartz solutions in the presence of dynamic environmental stressors such as shock, vibration, and rapid temperature changes. In addition, a 100% semiconductor supply chain inherently provides MEMS solutions with superior quality and reliability compared to quartz, which is critical to supporting the quality-of-service planned for 5G applications..."

The Urgent Need for a U.S. Space Force

The Urgent Need for a U.S. Space Force - RF CafeJust as in the Gulf War air superiority was credited for minimizing damage to bodies and structures on the ground, so will space superiority be essential to surviving global threats on the ground. A strategically sufficient space system of communications and retaliatory weapons will be key to maintaining peace (at least physically if not financially). Gen. Steven Kwast, USAF, ret., has an opinion piece posted on the High Frequency Electronics website entitled "The Urgent Need for a U.S. Space Force," with useful professional insight. "The following is adapted from a speech delivered on November 20, 2019, at Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation lecture series. In June 2018, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to 'begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces..."

Educational Requirements Must Keep Pace to Enable Technology Expansion

William Cave and Vladimir Gelnovatch

Antennas Evolve To Meet 5G Requirements

Mark Miller

Broadband Design of a High Efficiency 200-W GaN HEMT Doherty Amplifier

IEEE Spectrum

The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio

The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio - RF Cafe"The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio." Now there's a loaded title for an article on the IEEE Spectrum website. Written by Julianne Pepitone asserts, "Software-defined radio and cheap hardware are shaking up a hobby long associated with engineering." There are couple ways to look at the situation. One is that the availability of pre-engineered and built equipment is harming the fundamentals of the hobby by removing the requirement for a deeper understanding of the fundamentals. Another is that the real world of engineering is going the same way as well. Freeing up talent from the need to create and fabricate every minute aspect of a project opens opportunity for other creativity and skills building. As a documented lover of vintage equipment, I am willing to allow for modern approaches for vastly improved technology and, coincidently, lower prices. Ditto for all hobbies and activities.

Microwaves & RF

Accurate Models and Discrete Part-Value Optimization Combine to Improve Workflows

Accurate Models and Discrete Part-Value Optimization Combine to Improve Workflows - RF Cafe"A workflow that combines measurement-based models with discrete part-value optimization can aid designers by automatically adjusting a design's component values to optimal manufacturer part values." So begins an article by Chris DeMartino entitled, "Accurate Models and Discrete Part-Value Optimization Combine to Improve Workflows." Chris was an editor for many years at Microwaves & RF magazine where this appears, and is now at Modelithics. "Designing RF filters and other high-frequency circuits with today's simulation software tools often involves performing some form of optimization to achieve the desired performance. For example, take the case of a lumped-element filter. Optimizing such a filter involves adjusting the values of its lumped..."

2019 Salary & Career Report: Employment

2019 Salary & Career Report: Employment (MWRF) - RF CafeMicrowaves & RF magazine just posted the Employment portion of their "2019 Salary & Career Report." It might seem like last year's news and not relevant, but the year has to be over in order to assimilate data from the entire year, so it really is timely. Author James Morra wrote, "Most respondents said that they feel confident about their prospects for employment. But many are also troubled by the possible shortage of skilled engineers and its impact on the broader industry, according to 750 respondents polled by Electronic Design and Machine Design last year. Endeavor's Design Engineering and Sourcing group rolled out the survey with questions on more than 40 separate topics, ranging from salaries to job satisfaction..."

Laser Modulators

Laser Modulators, April 1967 Electronics World - RF CafeAs reported in this 1967 Electronics World magazine piece, lasers were still the things of science fiction to most people. Real-world applications seems to be far off in the future, but in fact, work was underway setting the stage for today's blazingly fast communications systems. The author here references to attaining 5 THz optical transmission speeds through fiber and through the air. At the time, a laboratory filled with bulky prototypes chassis and optical tables were required to get those results. I can remember reading articles in the 1970s when laser power output was measured in "Gillette power," referring to the beam's ability to burn through a number of razor blades (a big deal at the time). In 2020, devices that greatly surpass 5 THz are available in consumer quality IC packages...

Algorithms to Antenna: Modeling Antennas Installed in the Presence of Large Platforms

Honglei Chen, Rick Gentile, Vishwanath Iyer, and Giorgia Zucchelli

Modeling Antennas Installed in the Presence of Large Platforms

Modeling Antennas Installed in the Presence of Large Platforms - RF CafeThis article on the Microwaves & RF website entitled, "Algorithms to Antenna: Modeling Antennas Installed in the Presence of Large Platforms," deals with large conductive solid surfaces and meshes (e.g., towers and steel beam buildings) in the near field. Even with today's powerful PC platforms, solving the huge matrices involved in method of moments (MoM) simulations can take a significant amount of time. That's not so bad once an accurate model has been confirmed, but during the "guesstimate" stage running validation simulations can suck up a lot of time. "To consider the effects of an electrically large platform, a physical-optics (PO) solver helps provide you with a good result without a large increase in simulation time." Sure, it's an infomercial for Mathworks, but then a large portion of these magazine articles are, and they are extremely valuable.

Algorithms to Antenna: Exploring Hybrid-Beamforming Architectures for 5G Systems

Honglei Chen, Rick Gentile, and Tim Reeves

Stuck in the Middle: How to Choose Your Next Bandpass Filter

James Price

Algorithms to Antenna: Classifying Radar Micro-Doppler Signatures

Honglei Chen, Rick Gentile, Chaofeng Wang, and Sara James

What's the Difference Between RMS and Peak Watts?

David M. Foster

Microwave Product Digest

The Value of Testing with Mismatch Terminations

The Value of Testing with Mismatch Terminations - RF CafeA common cause for systems not performing as simulations predict is neglecting to account for an imperfect impedance match between components in the chain. Murray Slovick, of JFW Industries, has an article in Microwave Product Digest (MPD) entitled, "The Value of Testing with Mismatch Terminations," which addresses the issue. "Mismatch loads can be used to test amplifiers and help characterize their performance under conditions that might occur in the field. To do so, a mismatch load (or mismatch termination) is used to present a specified VSWR, rather than the usual 1:1 perfect 50 ohm load. There are many situations in which it becomes necessary to match the impedance of a load to that of the source so as to maximize power transfer. Having a mismatch between a source (an amplifier) and a load reduces the delivered power and efficiency of the system; when a transmission line is terminated with impedance that is not equal..."

Rules of the Road for RF and Microwave Filters

Rules of the Road for RF and Microwave Filters - RF CafeL-com has a useful article posted on the Microwave Product Digest (MPD) website entitled, "Rules of the Road for RF and Microwave Filters." No particular author is credited, so it is likely a re-published company app note. The piece begins: "Interference has been the bane of wireless communications since the earliest days of radio, and scientists and engineers of every era no doubt found their challenges to be the worst. Then, as now, RF and microwave filters are some of the foremost contributors to keeping interference in check, and most of the attention to filter design is focused on end-user devices that use tiny acoustic-wave filters. However, the need for traditional connectorized filters has not abated because in many applications there is no suitable substitute. So, it seems prudent to review some basic rules about key performance specifications..."

Solid-State T/R Module Design and Modeling for Radar Applications

Manjunatha Reddy H. V. and Tabish Khan

The Role and Trending Requirements of RF Limiters in Multifunctional AESA Radar

Fairview Microwave

Amplifier Solutions Corporation (ASC) - RF Cafe
Rigol DHO1000 Oscilloscope - RF Cafe

Crane Aerospace Electronics Microwave Solutions: Space Qualified Passive Products

Windfreak Technologies Frequency Synthesizers - RF Cafe