Today in Science History -
Hugo Gernsback was the Ulrich L. Rhode
of the early 20th century; he was very accomplished in many areas of electronics,
was a prolific publisher of technical content, knew everyone of any import in the
technology realm, had successful business ventures, and seemed to always be getting
presented with awards from one group or another. With guys like Gernsback and Rhode,
organizations considered themselves honored to have their offers accepted in order
to be worthy of the recipient's attention. This collection of industry New Briefs
in the January 1967 issue of Radio−Electronics magazine included the Antique Wireless
Association (still in existence) giving an award to Gernsback. It also reported
on General Motors using silver-zinc battery packs, SCR's and specially designed
ac motors in its experimental Electrovair II - a conversion of its gas-powered Corvair.
The government-controlled BBC's domination over "free" radio broadcasting was getting
a challenge from the Popular Music Authority...
"Satellite powered by 48 AA batteries and
a $20 microprocessor shows a low-cost way to
reduce space junk. Common sense suggests that space missions can only happen
with multimillion-dollar budgets, materials built to withstand the unforgiving conditions
beyond Earth's atmosphere, and as a result of work done by highly trained specialists.
But a team of engineering students from Brown University has turned that assumption
on its head. They built a satellite on a shoestring budget and using off-the-shelf
supplies available at most hardware stores. They even sent the satellite - which
is powered by 48 Energizer AA batteries and a $20 microprocessor popular with robot
hobbyists - into space about 10 months ago, hitching a ride on Elon Musk's SpaceX
When you read today where someone writes
about, "back in the eighties...," you naturally think of 1980-something. This 1949
Radio & Television News magazine advertisement from by Bell Telephone
Laboratories mention of "back in the eighties" was referencing the 1880s, not the
1980s. What was six decades ago at the time is now thirteen decades ago - yikes!
The picture juxtaposes a telephone pole massively populated with horizontal cross
timbers, insulators, and wires, with an engineer holding up a section of coaxial
cable that was in the process of replacing the poles and wires. Thanks to Bell Labs'
relentless R&D efforts, those early single-channel,
short distance twisted pairs were obsoleted by 1,800-channel coax. Fiber optic
cables today typically support more than 30,000 voice channels...
A relatively new feature has been appearing
on the Microwaves & RF website entitled "Measuring
with Humor," compliments of Fluke Calibration. I just saw it and don't know
how long it has been running, but there are four of them thus far. The comic depicts
situations commonly experienced by people in the test equipment realm. Fluke, of
course, is one of America's most well-known and oldest test equipment manufacturers.
I have used
Fluke (founded in 1948) gear since first entering the electronic and electrical
field in the 1970s. It always seemed strange to me that a high end electronic test
equipment company would assume the name "Fluke," even though it is the name of company
founder John Fluke. Even though a fluke can be defined as an unexpected stroke of
good luck, it often has a negative connotation describing an outlier event not typical
of the norm. The Fluke company's good reputation is due to smart employees who design
and manufacture good products - definitely not a fluke.
Adolph Mangieri, who authored articles in
other electronic magazines in the 1970s and 1980s, provides a good introduction
junction field effect transistors (JFETs) in this 1973 piece in Popular
Electronics magazine. As mentioned, JFETs were a relative newcomer at the time
to the commercial electronics world because of high fabrication costs. Obtaining
consistent pinch−off voltages and gains was largely responsible for the relatively
high production costs due to substrate purity and doping issues. Semiconductor processing
and some circuit application examples are included. One of the first big commercial
applications of the JFET was probably transistorized multimeters, which enabled
a very high input impedance. Doing so helped minimize the loading effect on the
meter on the circuit under test...
RF Cafe's raison d'être is and always has
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It's Monday again. Here is another batch
comics to help cheer you up. They appeared in the April 1963 issue of Radio−Electronics
magazine. Usually the meaning of the comics is immediately apparent, or maybe after
a little critical investigation, but I'm going to need some help with the page 20
comic. I must be missing something obvious. There is nothing else on the page it
came from that it is supposed to go with. Maybe it is simply implying the lonely
life of a TV repairman on a service call. The page 49 comic plays on the era's popular
notion of a husband-wife battle involving his quest for bigger and better (and more
expensive) electronics gear. If you don't "get" the humor, note the stacking of
the equipment - which is stereo. Page 88's topic is as apt today as it was 60 years
ago. Page 105 is yet another instance of man's obsession with stereos back in the
"IDTechEx, an independent market research
and business intelligence provider claims that 6G will arrive in 2028 at the earliest
in its recently published market research report, "6G
Market 2023-2043: Technology, Trends, Forecasts, Players". 6G, compared to its
predecessor, is expected to offer significantly better communication capabilities,
such as Tbps-level peak data rates, microsecond-level latency, and 99.99999% network
dependability. Although 6G promises a lot, it is unlikely that 6G will be in daily
life soon, despite the fact that several important companies and nations have already
begun 6G research, as shown in the figure below, the telecom industry needs to address
several issues before seeing the success of 6G. The difficulties are not only in
THz technology but also in identifying applications that will fuel 6G adoption.
IDTechEx has been researching 5G and 6G for years. This article will discuss some
of the hardware-related hurdles to 6G connectivity..."
A lot of famous people have been or are
radio operators, including many present-day astronauts who broadcast from the
International Space Station (ISS). Some media people, like Tim Allen, star of the
Home Improvement and Last Man Standing fame, became a Ham after
playing a character who is one on his show. A 1958 edition of Popular Electronics
magazine published a story titled "VIP's Are Hams Too!," which included Arthur Godfrey
(9K4LIB), Herbert Hoover, Jr. (W6ZH), and Arthur Collins (W0CXX). I wrote an article
on radio host Jean Shepherd (K2ORS), of "A Christmas Story" fame. Senator Barry
Goldwater (K7UGA), of Arizona, was also an active Ham, as evidenced here in this
May 1967 edition of the ARRL's QST magazine. Senator Goldwater also appeared
in the June 1967 issue of QST...
"Automakers need to rein in
electromagnetic interference before it pumps the brakes on in-vehicle connectivity
innovations. In early 1979, Ralph Liuzzi installed a mobile transmitter in his customer's
Cadillac Seville. However, Mr. Liuzzi found that whenever he attempted to transmit,
the car's engine would stall, resulting in a serious safety hazard for both driver
and pedestrians. At the time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) cited a 'lack of documentation on the effects of Electromagnetic Interference
(EMI) on automobile electronic engine control systems,' but reviewed the case and
eventually found that indeed EMI played a key role in the system malfunction. 'The
problem of EMI is a relatively new one in automotive technology since electronics
have only recently been introduced into usage in automobiles,' the NHTSA said in
its report. Now, more than 40 years later, the problem of EMI has only grown..."
This is another Radio Service Data Sheet
which appeared in the May 1936 edition of Radio-Craft magazine. I post
this schematic and functional description of the
Hetro Air-Ace Series M, 9-Tube 4-Band Superhet manufacturers' publications for
the benefit of hobbyists and archivists who might be searching for such information
either in a effort to restore a radio to working condition, or to collect archival
information. A thorough search on the Internet turned up no examples of a surviving
instance of the Hetro Air-Ace Series M radio. BTW, the "Air Ace" part of the
name refers to the radio air, as in "on the air" or "over the air," not a fighter
pilot ace with a certain number of kills painted on the side of his airplane...
New Scheme rotates
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If you need your company news to be seen, RF Cafe is the place to be.
Berkeley Nucleonics Corporation (BNC) is
a leading manufacturer of precision electronic instrumentation for test, measurement,
and nuclear research. Founded in 1963, BNC initially developed custom pulse generators.
We became known for meeting the most stringent requirements for high precision and
stability, and for producing instruments of unsurpassed reliability and performance.
We continue to maintain a leadership position as a developer of custom pulse, signal,
light, and function generators. Our designs incorporate the latest innovations in
software and hardware engineering, surface mount production, and automated testing
Don't let the title scare you away from
Mathematic Quiz." It appeared in the June 1969 issue of Popular Electronics
magazine, and was created by quizmaster Robert Balin. There are no scary equations
to complete and no mental calculations to bend your brain. Instead, the "mathematics"
required is to recognize physical and electrical signal shapes which are described
by common mathematics terms. For instance, a cardioid approximates the electromagnetic
radiation pattern of many directional antennas, which may include a parabolic dish.
Differentiator and integrator circuits generate distinct waveforms. Phase angles
and critical angles are familiar to circuit designers and radio operators. Shape
letter "E" will likely be familiar according to its name, although you might not
know what it is in the world of electronics...
"Currently, LCD screens are the most dominant
and popular display technology for televisions and monitors, but they are unlikely
to get significantly better in the future. Now a new study finds the kind of physics
that make microscopic 'invisibility
cloaks' possible may lead to next-generation 'metasurface' displays roughly
1/100 the thickness of the average human hair that could offer 10 times the resolution
and consume half as much energy as LCD screens. LCD technology depends on liquid
crystal cells that are constantly lit by a backlight. Polarizers in front and behind
the pixels filter light waves based on their polarity, or the direction in which
they vibrate, and the liquid crystal cells can rotate the way these filters are
oriented to switch light transmissions on and off. LCD screens do continue to see
advances by improving the liquid crystals, the display technology or the backlight.
'However, improvement on LCD technologies are now mostly just..."
Here are the schematics, chassis layout,
and service info for the
Howard Explorer Model W Deluxe 19 Tube All-Wave Superheterodyne console
style (sits on the floor) radio. The wooden cabinet format is somewhat unusual in
that the top is a flat surface rather than the having more typical curvaceous lines
that radios of the era sported. It looks a lot like the models with built-in phonographs,
where the top would tilt upward. The Radio Service Data Sheets that were published
in Radio-Craft usually seem to have more information included than those published
in other magazines, at least in the same era (1940-ish). It might have to do with
how much material is provided by the manufacturer rather than a decision by the
magazine editors. This one appeared in the September 1934 issue. Believe it or not,
there are still people searching for such data. I could not find an example of a
real surviving Howard Explorer Model W radio...
Given that this "Morse
Code Rhythm Patterns from A to Z" article (p58) appeared in the April issue
of QST magazine, I was careful to ascertain that it was not written for
fools. It seems authentic, but for the life of me I don't know how many people would
find the proposed Morse Code learning system to be a natural method. Author Bill
Cody (K3CDY) is a musician who is accustomed to reading music, so for him and other
talented musical types, maybe such a system facilitates the learning of code. To
people like me, it's like suggesting a method for more easily learning how to apply
a bandage by adapting brain surgery principles. Unfortunately, you'll need to be
an ARRL member for access to the online article, or maybe you can borrow a copy
of the magazine from a friend (but you'll still need to sign in for the music/code
sheets). I'm still trying to figure out which article is the April Fools bait. BTW,
I remember using one of those Isolate Pad Circuit-Board Construction tools when
making proto boards (p91).
We "Baby Boomers" remember a time when cell
towers did not present a ubiquitous (and, frankly, ugly) presence across the landscape.
Microwave relay towers for television and telephone links could be spotted sitting
atop hilltops and mountain ridges in some areas, and giant television and radio
station towers sat behind broadcast stations, and multi-element antennas dotted
house rooftops everywhere. Our grandparents (Millennials' great grandparents) remember
when even microwave relay towers were missing. This 1936 article reports on the
first microwave links spanning the English Channel to replace expensive and trouble-prone
submerged cable. Part of the impetus, not mentioned within, was the building inevitability
of war with Germany and the vulnerability of those communications links to being
compromised by Nazi submarines and divers...
RF Cascade Workbook is the next phase in the evolution of
RF Cafe's long-running series, RF Cascade Workbook. Chances are you have
never used a spreadsheet quite like this (click here for screen capture). It is a full-featured RF system
cascade parameter and frequency planner that includes filters and mixers for a mere
$45. Built in MS Excel, using RF Cascade Workbook 2018 is a cinch
and the format is entirely customizable. It is significantly easier and faster than
using a multi-thousand dollar simulator when a high level system analysis is all
that is needed. An intro video takes you through the main features...
Exodus Advanced Communications is a multinational
RF communication equipment and engineering service company serving both commercial
and government entities and their affiliates worldwide. Power amplifiers ranging
from 10 kHz to 51 GHz with various output power levels and noise figure
ranges, we fully support custom designs and manufacturing requirements for both
small and large volume levels. decades of combined experience in the RF field for
numerous applications including military jamming, communications, radar, EMI/EMC
and various commercial projects with all designing and manufacturing of our HPA,
MPA, and LNA products in-house.
This custom RF Cafe
electronics-themed crossword puzzle for March 26th contains words and clues
which pertain exclusively to the subjects of electronics, science, physics, mechanics,
engineering, power distribution, astronomy, chemistry, etc. If you do see names
of people or places, they are intimately related to the aforementioned areas of
study. As always, you will find no references to numbnut movie stars or fashion
designers. Need more crossword RF Cafe puzzles? A list at the bottom of the page
links to hundreds of them dating back to the year 2000. Enjoy.
In the pre-VHS era, companies were vying
to create and set standards for the
home-based video recording and playback industry. The same sort of scenario
played out over color television standards a decade earlier, and over B&W television
a couple decades before that. Such battles for dominance in emerging technologies
were not new, and continue into the current time. Various schemes for Electronic
Video Recording systems were being used by commercial media, but creating devices
affordable to Harry and Harriet Homeowner was a challenge. Betamax, produced by
Sony, hit the store shelves in 1975, then VHS a year later. A sort of 8-track vs.
compact cassette battle ensued, but VHS clearly emerged as the winner - followed
by DVD and Blu-ray. Also reported was the world's most expensive - and feature-filled
- color TV, built by Philips, that was "more computer than television," being able
to operate on eleven different modulation standards...
model 5D128 was a compact, inexpensive tabletop AM radio set. A schematic and
parts list for it appeared in the November 1946 issue of Radio News magazine.
There are still many people who restore and service these vintage radios, and often
it can be difficult or impossible to find schematics and/or tuning information,
so I scan and post them whenever they appear in magazines which I own. While researching
the Belmont 5D128 tabletop radio, I ran across an excellent video created by Mr. Paul
Carson, as part of his Mr. Carlson's Lab series (note how the setting looks like
he's in the ISS). Here is a great video of Mr. Carlson troubleshooting an intermittent
noise problem in a receiver. That "Carlson RF SuperProbe" he is using looks like
a must-have piece of test equipment The Belmont 5D128 was rebranded by other companies
such as Airline, Coronado, Lafayette...
National Company, an early manufacturer
of electronics components for radio products, ran a series of unique advertisements
in the ARRL's QST magazine. Rather than using precious cash for directly
promoting specific products or product lines, company president John Millen occupied
full pages with text explaining why it makes the things it does and how they can
be used to solve problems or enhance performance. This article/ad on TMS condensers
(aka variable capacitors) was number 61 in the series, which means if they printed
one every preceding month, the first would have appeared in the March 1934 issue
Lots of interesting topics were reported
News Briefs from the April 1960 issue of Radio-Electronics magazine.
One that is relevant even today is the assigning of new numeric prefixes tera for
a trillion; giga for a billion; nano for a billionth, and pica for a trillionth.
If you have read vintage science and engineering publications, you know that, for
instance, what is now called pica (a la pF, 10-12) used to be written
as micromicro (a la μμF, 10-6x10-6 = 10-12). Here
is an example of μμF being used. Less commonly seen was something like millimicroamperes,
which is 10-3x10-6 = 10-9, now known as a nanoamperes,
nA. A new television picture tube which used a solid state electron emitter in place
of a heated cathode was announced for portable TVs, potentially doubling battery
life. Did you know that in 1960, the South African government felt that TV would
be detrimental to children and "the less developed races," thereby justifying its
anti-TV policies? Following on the results of the International Geophysical Year
(IGY) discoveries, atmospheric ducts for radio signal transmission propagation were
being found worldwide...