Today in Science History -
Since its launching on November 30 of last
year (2022), I have seen / heard a lot of news reports about the
ChatGPT content generator hosted by OpenAI.org. They label it a "chatbot." The
GPT suffix is an acronym for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. ChatGPT is an artificial
intelligence (AI) algorithm that creates a paragraph or two about a topic which
you enter in the webpage. Proponents hail it as one of the first instances of making
AI available to the public, and to facilitate information search and dissemination.
Opponents warn that ChatGPT is a scheme which can feed on its own self-generated
inaccuracies when generated content is posted online and used later by the same
algorithm. One aspect that occurred to me whilst experimenting with ChatGPT is that
while you are helping to train the AI algorithm, it is simultaneously training you
to communicate effectively with it, so it's a two-way process. Sometimes it takes
many iterations of a query to get the preferred results. Feedback can be provided
to ChatGPT regarding the usefulness of its reply by clicking on the up or down thumb
icons. I could go into a little more detail about ChatGPT, but why not let the chatbot
extoll its own virtues...
Berkeley Nucleonics Corporation (BNC), a
leading manufacturer of precision electronic instrumentation for RF/microwave research,
will conduct a seminar on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, at 10:00 am Pacific
Time, entitled, "Vector
Signal Generators & Radar Simulations - Key Fundamentals & Latest Technology."
It covers the latest on vector signal generators and radar simulation. As radar
simulation matures, the demanding need for high-performing system equipment increases.
The Berkeley Nucleonics RF Team discusses vector signal generators and how they
are called upon as the next line of RF Technology solutions in radar signal simulation.
John Reynolds, Edgar Guzman, and Cameron Simmons collectively team up to provide
you with key discussions and demonstrations about the sought-after agenda topics
including: Introduction to Vector Signal Generators, Applications of Vector Signal
Generators, How VSGs Work, Types of VSGs, Advantages of Using VSGs in Radar Simulation...
The radar system I worked on in the USAF
used two early memory types described in this 1956 Popular Electronics
magazine article. In fact, the radar was designed during that era, so it is no surprise.
Our IFF secondary radar had a whopping 1 kilobyte of
magnetic core memory in its processor circuitry. It consisted of 1024 tiny toroids
mounted in a square matrix with four hair-width enamel coated wires running through
them as x and y magnetization current lines, sense, and inhibit functions. If my
memory serves me (pun intended) after three decades away from it, the TTL circuitry
(no microprocessor) stored range values to calculate speed and direction from sample
to sample. The other memory type was a mercury acoustic delay line contraption having
a piezoelectric transducer at one end to launch an electrical pulse along its length
and another transducer at the other end to convert back to an electrical pulse.
It was used to cancel out stationary targets (clutter) as part of the MTI (moving
target indication) circuitry in our precision approach radar (PAR)...
"It's not at every university that laser
pulses powerful enough to burn paper and skin are sent blazing down a hallway. But
that's what happened in UMD's Energy Research Facility, an unremarkable looking
building on the northeast corner of campus. If you visit the utilitarian white and
gray hall now, it seems like any other university hall - as long as you don't peak
behind a cork board and spot the metal plate covering a hole in the wall. UMD Physics
Professor Howard Milchberg and his colleagues transformed the hallway into a laboratory.
Their efforts were to temporarily transfigure thin air into a fiber optic cable
- or, more specifically, an
waveguide - that would guide light for tens of meters. Like one of the fiber
optic internet cables that provide efficient highways for streams of optical data,
an air waveguide prescribes a path for light. These air waveguides have many potential
applications related to collecting or transmitting light, such as detecting light
emitted by atmospheric pollution, long-range laser communication or even laser weaponry.
With an air waveguide, there is no need to unspool solid cable..."
The announcement and public demonstration
of Senatore Guglielmo Marconi's "death
ray" device was the coming true of some of the worst fears of science fiction
aficionados. Application of these newly created centimeter−wave "beams" could roast
the flesh of man or beast when supplied with great enough power. The diminutive
wavelength not only would heat liquids, but also provided a means of detecting and
measuring energy reflected off of "targets" such as aircraft and boats. Its applications
were endless. Although not called so, one of the article's diagrams looks to be
an example of a bistatic radar system. The early magnetron implementation is quite
different than the modern cavity arrangement. The page to the left is the one referenced
in the article...
With more than 1000
custom-built symbols, this has got to be the most comprehensive set of
Symbols available for RF, analog, and digital system and schematic drawings!
Every object has been built to fit proportionally on the provided A-, B- and C-size
drawing page templates (or can use your own). Symbols are provided for equipment
racks and test equipment, system block diagrams, conceptual drawings, and schematics.
Unlike previous versions, these are NOT Stencils, but instead are all contained
on tabbed pages within a single Visio document. That puts everything in front of
you in its full glory. Just copy and paste what you need on your drawing. The file
format is XML so everything plays nicely with Visio 2013 and later...
Innovative Power Products has been designing
and manufacturing RF and Microwave passive components since 2005. We use the latest
design tools available to build our baluns, 90-degree couplers, directional couplers,
combiners/dividers, single-ended transformers, resistors, terminations, and custom
products. Applications in military, medical, industrial, and commercial markets
are serviced around the world. Products listed on the website link to detailed mechanical
drawings, electrical specifications, and performance data. If you cannot find a
product that meets your requirements on our website, contact us to speak with one
of our experienced design engineers about your project.
tech-themed comics appeared in a 1964 issue of Radio−Electronics magazine.
Servicing entertainment electronic systems was a big thing in the day, as evidenced
by many of the comics posted here over the past few years (see huge list at bottom
of page). The comic on page 50 shows an oscilloscope display that was not probable
before digital test equipment came to be. It was possible to generate such a waveform
on a cathode ray tube (CRT) face as a reference image, but it would require very
sophisticated circuitry. There were special applications - like air traffic control
plan position indicators (PPI's) - where pains were taken to be able to add annotation
to the display (e.g., aircraft IFF data). A common method for superimposing fixed
references (such as the music scale here) was to add a composite video signal that
was added in with the sampled signal. It is the opposite of devising a scheme to
add o-scope type video to a standard raster scan TV picture. The page 82 comic is
interesting because it depicts a Ham cogitating...
"A transdisciplinary Northwestern University
research team has developed a revolutionary transistor that is expected be ideal
for lightweight, flexible, high-performance bioelectronics. The
electrochemical transistor is compatible with blood and water and can amplify
important signals, making it especially useful for biomedical sensing. Such a transistor
could enable wearable devices for onsite signal processing, right at the biology-device
interface. Potential applications include measuring heartbeat and levels of sodium
and potassium in blood as well as eye motion for studying sleep disorders. 'All
modern electronics use transistors, which rapidly turn current on and off,' said
Tobin J. Marks, a co-corresponding author of the study. "Here we use chemistry to
enhance the switching. Our electrochemical transistor takes performance to a totally
new level. You have all the properties of a conventional transistor but far higher
This is the third and final installment
of a 1947 Radio News magazine series on iron core transformer and reactor
design. You of course are familiar with transformers, but what about reactors? A
reactor is an inductive element used to limit overvoltage or short circuit current
from a source to a load. These days they are most often seen in electrical distribution
substations, associated with transformers. I did not intend to imply that you will
learn something about reactors here; they were covered in Part 1 ("The design
and construction of iron core transformers and reactors"). Part 2 is titled
"Complete details for designing and constructing your own iron core reactors." I
will attempt to procure the June and July issues. In the mean time, part 3 reviews
the basics of
transformer turns ratio and current transformation...
Bittele Electronics, a Toronto-based PCB
assembly company specializing in high quality prototype and low-to-mid volume printed
circuit board assembly, announced today that it successfully renewed the
ISO 9001:2015 quality management certification for its Markham, Ontario, facility.
Bittele says the ISO 9001:2015 certification renewal demonstrates its commitment
to quality and continuous improvement. The ISO 9001:2015 certification is a quality
audit and comprehensive process review that includes writing quality procedures
and taking actions to improve a quality system. Bittele partnered with SGS Canada,
a leading testing and certification company, to thoroughly audit and review its
quality management system and verify compliance with the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
"The ISO 9001:2015 certification embodies our core values and reminds us of the
importance of our strategic, winning partnerships with our customers and vendors,"
said Ben Yang, CEO of Bittele Electronics. "This certification demonstrates our
belief in continually improving our processes. We want to thank our employees who
worked with our Quality Department to achieve this monumental goal...
Yeah, I thought the same thing when I saw
this in a 1957 issue of Popular Electronics magazine ... a "Wamoscope?"
Was it produced by the Wham-O toy company that makes the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee,
the Super Ball, and Silly String? Wham-O was founded in 1948, so why not? It looks
like one of the flashlights that held about six "D" cell batteries that you'd see
on old police shows. Actually, Wamoscope is derived from "WAve-MOdulated oscilloSCOPE."
It combined a traveling-wave tube with a cathode ray tube in a single enclosure.
Operating over a frequency band of 2 GHz to 4 GHs, it combines most of
the essential functions of a microwave receiving set in a single tube envelope,
eliminating many of the tubes and components required by conventional receivers.
There is also an article entitled "The 'Wamoscope' - a Picture Tube That Includes
It was a lot of work, but I finally finished
a version of the "RF & Electronics Schematic & Block Diagram Symbols" that
works well with Microsoft Office™ programs Word™, Excel™, and Power Point™.
This is an equivalent of the extensive set of amplifier, mixer, filter, switch,
connector, waveguide, digital, analog, antenna, and other commonly used symbols
for system block diagrams and schematics created for Visio™. Each of the 1,000 or
so symbols was exported individually from Visio in the EMF file format, then imported
into Word on a Drawing Canvas. The EMF format allows an image to be scaled up or
down without becoming pixelated, so all the shapes can be resized in a document
and still look good. The imported symbols can also be UnGrouped into their original
constituent parts for editing. Check them out!
Since 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.
This custom made
Electronics ABC theme crossword puzzle for January 29th is provided compliments
of RF Cafe. The entire alphabet is used for the first letters of words in the
top half of the crossword puzzle (marked with an asterisk *). All RF Cafe crossword
puzzles are custom made by me, Kirt Blattenberger, and have only words and clues
related to RF, microwave, and mm-wave engineering, optics, mathematics, chemistry,
physics, and other technical subjects. As always, this crossword puzzle contains
no names of politicians, mountain ranges, exotic foods or plants, movie stars, or
anything of the sort unless it/he/she is related to this puzzle's technology theme
(e.g., Reginald Denny or the Tunguska event in Siberia). The technically inclined
cruciverbalists amongst us will appreciate the effort. Enjoy!
This assortment of custom-designed themes
by RF Cafe includes T-Shirts, Mouse Pads, Clocks, Tote Bags, Coffee Mugs and Steins,
Purses, Sweatshirts, and Baseball Caps. Choose from amazingly clever "We Are the World's Matchmakers"
Smith chart design or the "Engineer's Troubleshooting Flow Chart." My "Matchmaker's"
design has been ripped off by other people and used on their products, so please
be sure to purchase only official RF Cafe gear. My markup is only a paltry 50¢ per
item - Cafe Press gets the rest of your purchase price. These would make excellent
gifts for husbands, wives, kids, significant others, and for handing out at company
events or as rewards for excellent service. It's a great way to help support RF
Anritsu has been a global provider of innovative
communications test and measurement solutions for more than 120 years. Anritsu manufactures
a full line of innovative components and accessories for
RF and Microwave Test and Measurement
Equipment including attenuators & terminations; coaxial cables, connectors &
adapters; o-scopes; power meters & sensors; signal generators; antenna, signal,
spectrum, & vector network analyzers (VNAs); calibration kits; Bluetooth &
WLAN testers; PIM testers; amplifiers; power dividers; antennas. "We've Got You
Is that an early tin foil hat prototype
the lady on the cover of this month's Radio−Electronics magazine is modeling?
Tin foil hats for RF radiation conspiracy kooks were probably not even a thing back
in 1960. In some ways it fits in with the x−ray subject of the Bell Telephone Laboratories
infomercial in the same issue. As you can see from the large and ever-growing list
of Bell Labs promotions at the bottom of the page, the world's premier telephone
company didn't get to the top by luck. Bell engineers and scientists were continually
conducting research and development to assure service would be as efficient, affordable,
and reliable as possible. Bell Telephone Laboratories was at the leading edge of
communications technology, both wired and wireless, since day its founder uttered
the words, "Mr. Watson, come here... I want to see you..."
Modelithics is pleased to announce the release
version 23.5.1 of the Modelithics Qorvo GaN Library for use with Keysight Technologies'
PathWave Advanced Design System (ADS) and Cadence AWR Design Environment®. This
latest version offers new models for Qorvo's QPD1025, QPD1028, QPD1425, and QPD1425L
discrete GaN-on-SiC HEMTs. Version 23.5.1 also offers 2 new embedding models for
the T2G6000528-Q3 and T2G6003028-FL devices. The QPD1025 is an 1,800-W device intended
to operate from 0.96 to 1.215 GHz, while the QPD1028 is a 750-W device intended
to operate from 1.2 to 1.4 GHz. The QPD1425 and QPD1425L are 300-W devices intended
for operation from 1.2 to 1.4 GHz. All four of the new models are Angelov-based
models that include features like temperature scaling, self-heating effects, and
intrinsic I-V sensing...
Standardized Wiring Diagram Symbols & Color Codes feature appeared in a
1956 issue of Popular Electronics magazine, semiconductors were just coming into
common use. Therefore, only the simplest components like a diode and bipolar junction
transistor (BJT) are included. In fact, the only two types of diodes shown are vacuum
tube and selenium. The semiconductor diode is labeled as a crystal rectifier. There
is no light emitting diode (LED), field effect transistor (FET), metal oxide semiconductor
FET (MOSFET), integrated circuit (IC), or other commonly used modern device. Note
also that the "Receptacle 117V" does not show a safety ground connection. The "Vibrator"
was a device commonly used to convert direct current (DC) to alternating current
(AC). About the only people who will find a use for this information are those who
service and/or restore vintage electronic equipment...
"An era of breathtaking
palladium rallies is likely to be ending, analysts said, as rising supply and
stagnant demand erode prices of the metal used to neutralize vehicle exhaust emissions.
Palladium, once the cheapest major precious metal, rocketed from less than $500
an ounce in 2016 to above $3,400 last March, leaving platinum and gold for dust.
Powering the rally was rising demand from automakers who needed more palladium per
vehicle to meet tightening emissions standards. Supply could not keep up, leading
to huge deficits. That is now changing. Electric vehicles (EVs) that do not need
palladium are gaining market share and automakers are substituting some palladium
for cheaper platinum in combustion engine vehicles..."
At first I thought maybe this was intended
to be an April Fools joke, being that it appeared in an April issue of QST
magazine, but it is probably just a coincidence. One of the two topics refers to
a "door knob for UHF," which
in reality was a glass-encased vacuum tube that was shaped a lot like one of the
old glass door knobs. The author penned a humorous take-off. On second thought,
maybe this is a Fool's edition now that I have read the second item. All kidding
aside, "Strays" concludes with a poem dedicated to those who became "Silent Keys"
as a result of World War II...
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...
National Inventors Council (NIC) mentioned by Hugo Gernsback in this 1960
Radio-Electronics magazine "Inventions Wanted" article was established
in 1940 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It served as a collection point for
inventions that had possible national defense and military uses. In the mid-1950's,
NIC's functions were transferred to the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now NIST).
An initial list was published six months earlier, and this list includes both updates
to the former items and new requests. A few examples that have been realized at
this point are: 913) Low-Loss High-Power Ferrites for Use as Microwave Phase Shifter
| 914) A Broad-Band Maser Amplifier for Use in the Microwave Region | 975) A New
Method of Electronically (not with frequency change) Scanning an Antenna | 1024)
High-Power Broad-Band Solid-State RF Amplifiers | 1057) Solid-State Microwave Oscillators
| 1139) Field Portable Digital Radar. What might a 2023 list include? Maybe a fully
autonomous robotic foot soldier, an invisibility cloak for man and machine...
"KIMS developed the world's first continuous
manufacturing technology for
millimeter wave-absorbing magnetic materials. A research team led by Dr. Youn-kyoung
Baek and Dr. Jung-goo Lee succeeded in developing the world's first technology to
consecutively manufacture epsilon iron oxide that can absorb millimeter wave with
a high coercive force equivalent to that of neodymium (Nd) magnets. The researchers
are in the Department of Magnetic Materials in Powder Materials Division at the
Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS), a government-funded research institute
under the Ministry of Science and ICT. Iron oxide material with a high-coercive
epsilon crystal phase is almost the only magnetic material that absorbs ultra-high
frequencies which is a potential 6G frequency band. Until now, it was only formed
in a nano-sized particle of 50 nanometers or less. Japan succeeded to produce pure
epsilon iron oxide..."
We are accustomed these days with stores
having "no questions asked" return policies for just about anything. I once watched
a guy successfully return a 4" PVC plumbing fitting that had clearly been smeared
with glue in the coupling areas. Another time a guy returned a painting drop cloth
that was full of paint, declaring that it wasn't what he wanted. The return counter
bins of Walmart and other stores are always chock full of stuff. Such was not always
the case, though. This episode of
Mac's Radio Service Shop from a 1955 issue of Radio & Television News
magazine, mentions, among other things, how busy he and sidekick Barney had been
right after Christmas doing troubleshooting and repair on various electronic equipment
that had been received as gifts. Imagine receiving a radio for Christmas and not
being able to simply return it to the store where it was purchased - even with a
sale receipt. Nobody would stand for such a situation today...