inexplicable reason I went backwards on this three-part "Tube Family Tree" series that appeared in Popular Electronics.
Author Louis Garner, Jr., starts out with the early history of vacuum tubes, beginning
with Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb and then quickly progresses to Lee
de Forest's Audion amplifier tube, and on through the evolution of multi-grid vacuum
tubes that are specially designed for low noise receiver front ends, high power
transmitters, voltage and current regulators, video cameras, pulse forming networks,
traveling wave tubes, and many other types. There is quite a bit of information
and history contained in these three installments that will do a very nice job of
Joint Venture for Filters
Skyworks Solutions, an innovator of high performance
analog semiconductors enabling a broad range of end markets, today announced the
creation of a joint venture with Panasonic Corporation, one of the largest electronic
product manufacturers in the world, to design, develop and deliver high performance
filters including surface acoustic wave (SAW) and temperature compensated (TC) SAW
devices. At the core of the joint venture is Panasonic Filter Division's engineering
and process talent , expertise in filter design and leading edge products as well
as 412 fundamental filter patents...
from British Pathé
British Pathé (named in deference of French moviemaker Charles Pathé) has uploaded
its entire collection of 85,000 historic films, in high resolution, to its YouTube
channel. Subjects span a pretty wide range, but fortunately there is a search function
so you can narrow the field down easily to topics like "electronics," "radar," "telephone,"
"transmitter," "atomic," etc. If you also like historical accounts of automobiles,
motorcycles, airplanes, medicine, trains, boats, chemistry, or just about any other
subject, British Pathé probably has something related to that as well.
Most videos are only a few minutes long, so they do not take much time to view.
It seems that some of the videos on the pages of their website have been edited
for brevity, but the YouTube versions...
AWR Corporation, the innovation
leader in high-frequency EDA software, releases
NI AWR Design Environment™ V11, its first major software release
in 2014, which includes new features, enhancements, and user interface changes to
Microwave Office®/Analog Office® circuit design software, Visual System Simulator™
(VSS) system design software, AXIEM® 3D planar electromagnetic (EM) software, and
Analyst™ 3D finite element method (FEM) EM software...
Succoring a Soroban
you know what a
soroban is? I have to admit ignorance prior to reading this 1963
"Carl and Jerry" adventure in Popular Electronics. As with many of these
stories, real equipment, people, and companies were referenced; this time it was
the Pastoriza Personal Analog Computer, a modular electronics system for calculating
differential equations. The cost was around $300 (~$2,300
in c2014 money). Analog Devices bought the company from James Pastoriza in
1969. What does the Pastoriza computer have to do with the story, you might ask?
Nothing, really; it was mentioned in a discussion Carl and Jerry had when accepting
a calculating speed challenge from obnoxious dormitory mate...
Microwave Circulator Design, 2nd Edition, by Douglas K.
Linkhart. Circulator design has advanced significantly since the first edition of
this book was published 25 years ago. The objective of this second edition is to
present theory, information, and design procedures that will enable microwave engineers
and technicians to design and build circulators successfully. This resource contains
a discussion of the various units used in the circulator design computations, as
well as covers the theory of operation. This book presents numerous applications,
giving microwave engineers new ideas about how to solve problems using circulators.
See RF Cafe Quiz #59.
Features Res-net Microwave
Television's Manufacturing Marvels will soon shed
some light on the business sector consisting of passive electronic components built
for microwave & RF applications, and on Res-net Microwave,
one of the very successful microwave component
manufacturers in that sector. The 2-minute profile will air on the Fox Business
Network on May 8th between 9:3-9:45pm ET. Manufacturing Marvels narrator John Criswell
will describe and show some of Res-net's special manufacturing capabilities...
Book Set Winner Selected!
to winner Steve Gilbert, of Brecksville, Ohio! Steve's name was drawn form a pool
of about 100 entrants. The results of the questionnaire will be summarized and posted
Said Steve upon learning he had won, "All
right, this is the first thing I've won since 1980 when I won five free lunches
at Arby's on a radio contest for being the first to person to phone in and identify
the mystery song... which happened to be 'Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road'
by Louden Wainwright III. One of my favorite hobbies is finding mistakes in
"I think high self-esteem
is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good…Maybe you're not the
best, so you should work a little harder." Also... "Stephen Hawking is getting a
divorce. That's scary. If the smartest guy in the world can't figure out women,
we're screwed." - Jay Leno
an email with a few of these career news stories, so I took the opportunity to search
for a few more that should be useful. Enjoy.
Apprenticeships Help Create
Jobs, So Why Are They in
Managers Beware: What
Toxic "Jane" or "Joe" Can
Do to Your Team
Why Social Networks Are
IEEE-USA Rolls out
New Hope for Enhancing
U.K. Skills: Apprenticeships
Recruitment Gets Scientific
must be the early prototype for
Google Glass," was the first thing that came to mind when I saw
this story in a 1962 edition of Popular Electronics? It is intended to
allow 'future' astronauts to have improved situational awareness by providing means
to look behind himself without needing to turn around, and to receive mission data
via a miniature CRT embedded within the viewer. Voice communications is featured
as well. Hughes Aircraft Company (nowadays just 'Hughes')
might just want to consider assigning a handful of its highly paid attorneys to
look into a patent infringement action based on the original content of its "Electrocular"
RF Upconverter for Satellites
NuWaves Engineering, an international Radio
Frequency (RF) and Microwave solutions provider, announced today that the company
has been awarded a contract from a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contractor to
rapidly develop a custom RF upconverter module for use in a government
satellite application. The custom RF upconverter will not only translate an
IF signal to an RF signal, but it will also provide power amplification in support
of the government's mission...
Dr. Cynthia Furse
(note Smith Chart earrings in her photo), a Professor
of Electromagnetics at the University of Utah's Department of Electrical Engineering,
has produced a
very nice video series that covers a wide
range of topics and techniques on the venerable
Smith Chart. The ten videos begin with an introduction, progress
through reflection coefficients, shorts and opens, impedance matching, a slot line
example, and finally a summary. Dr. Furse rose to worldwide fame about a decade
ago a least partially based on the colorful handmade quit she created with a Smith
Chart pattern; it is an exquisite example of juxtapositioning...
Puzzle for April 27, 2014
crossword puzzle has an amateur radio theme. Every word and clue
is not specific to ham radio, but every word and clue is related to engineering,
science, technology, math, chemistry, etc. If you want to exploit your knowledge
of movie stars and fashion designers, try the NTY puzzle.
Here are a few
tidbits of breaking
electronic communications news from 1940. "Mayday" had evidently
recently been adopted as the preferred distress call rather than "SOS" or even "Help!"
For some unknown reason a radio owner desperate to get his set working again dragged
a potato across the top of a vacuum tube and it suddenly started receiving the local
station. An employee of Edison Company of NYC devised a "storm detector" for warning
of potential lightning strikes in the area (possibly akin
to Franklin's Bells?). In other news, 'long life' vacuum tubes were announced
that would last up to 4½ years, and some police departments were finally receiving
portable radios. It was an exciting time!
Electric Paint Pen
don't have to have a PhD in electrical engineering to make nutty drawings, but it
helps if you do it using conductive ink and a 12 kV neon sign transformer.
The ink came from the Bare Conductive™ company's
product line that is supplied in a jar for brush application or in a pen format.
Evidently conductive paint is a big deal because it was just back in February of
this year (see "The Art of Technology") that I mentioned another Kickstarter
project called Circuit Scribe that produced a similar product. Bare Conductive is
in production with not just the aforementioned conductive ink media, but also peripheral
products for use in experimentation, including the custom interface circuit board
shown below. I doubt the Electric Paint is meant to be incorporated into commercial
Getting Brains into Gear with the
Student Competition. The popular FEKO Student Competition is once again open
to all under-graduates and post-graduates who work on a supervised project in electromagnetic
engineering and make use of FEKO. This annual competition is an opportunity for
students to showcase their work. There are some attractive prizes up for grabs –
a state-of-the-art laptop computer or attendance to an industry related conference
anywhere in the world...
Just Keep Flowing In...
Some people like
to complain about the rising world population and the stress it places on the environment
and economy. The upside of more humanity is that there is an unprecedented amount
of research and product design being performed by some really smart people - many
of whom would have gone undiscovered in remote regions of the Earth if not for outreach
programs. The current plethora of great new books and
is evidence of it, like the ones I have hyperlinked below...
α - QAM Is Rising: 1024QAM
Dr. H. Mohammed
Gaps in Return Planes
- Yes or No?, K. Wyatt
Part Average Testing Finds
and Rejects Outlier ICs,
New Ampere Won't Affect
for Advanced Wireless
AWR Corporation, the innovation leader in
high-frequency EDA software, will sponsor the upcoming Microwave Journal Magazine
technical education webinar,
Practical Antenna Design for Advanced Wireless Products. The webinar
will be presented by Henry Lau, CEO of Lexiwave Technology, a solution provider
specializing in RF system and RFIC design for communication and consumer products.
Antenna performance plays a critical role in determining the communication range
and quality of service for wireless devices. This webinar offers participants technical
LinkedIn Did Not Provide Space
article on the Forbes website titled "22
LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won't Tell You" recommended in secret #19:
"Be personal. Your profile is not a resume or CV. Write as if you are having
a conversation with someone. Inject your personality. Let people know your values
and passions. In your summary, discuss what you do outside of work. You want people
to want to know you."
Not wishing to offend author William Arruda by completely ignoring his advice,
I set about writing in effect a short bio explaining (apologizing
for?) my existence and how I got from 'there' to 'here.' That I got a bit
carried away was made abundantly clear by LinkedIn's software informing me that
I had just pasted in 2,236 more characters than they thought would be enough for
any reasonable person. It's always the 'reasonable person' thing that bites me in
Ooooh, I should have posted
this story about 23 days ago, but better late than never. I meant to, but forgot.
The story documents development of the "transistom" device back in the 1958 timeframe. Keep in mind that
it was just a decade earlier that Mssrs. Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley introduced
the transistor amplifier to the world. The transistom was basically a 3-terminal
transistor with two additional leads for a revolutionary power source built from
radioisotopes of magnesium and manganese. In the day, school kids, including me,
were handed blobs of liquid mercury to inspect and pass around in class, demonstrating
how relatively ignorant we were about things we now consider to be extreme health
hazards. Accordingly, encapsulating radioactive material in consumer devices...
have been encouraging people to buy vehicles that were manufactured prior to the
time when electronic ignition systems and/or computer controls were added so that
when "The Big One" hits, the EMP
from a nuclear blast will not shut down their vehicles. In doing so, if you live
through the event, you will at least still have serviceable transportation. Getting
gasoline from a pumping station will be impossible since those computers will be
dead, but there will be a lot of disabled vehicles sitting around with tanks full
of gas for sale. Capitalizing on the vulnerability of modern cars and trucks - and
even boats, motorcycles, and snowmobiles for that matter - to being stopped cold
by a powerful electromagnetic field, military and law enforcement agencies are developing
systems that simulate the results of a nuclear EMP event...
are taught early in your electronics career to be mindful of the tendency for measurement
equipment to affect the circuit it is measuring, and therefore the indicated results.
In the case of high frequency circuits, even minute amounts of capacitance and/or
inductance can render results utterly unusable, but even in circuits operating down
to D.C. the simple internal resistance of a meter can profoundly affect measurement
accuracy. High impedance circuits are particularly vulnerable to such
"loading" effects by test equipment. For example, consider a circuit
being measured that has an impedance of 10 kΩ and the internal resistance of
the VOM is 100 kΩ. If the open circuit "true" voltage level is 11 V, then
voltage division effected by the 100 kΩ meter in series...
RF Cafe visitor and Amateur Extra Lynn L.
sent me a link to this article titled "The Day CRUD Radio Died," by Donald Kimberlin. Mr. Kimberlin
tells a real-life tale of an effort to track down and shut down a pirate broadcast
station in southern Florida. The perpetrator, as it turns out, was an overambitious
teenager who decided to provide a bit of listening enjoyment for his friends and
anyone else within radio range. The hero of the story is a good-natured FCC marshal
who, in spite of having to fight with his agency's bureaucracy, managed to 'convince'
the lad to abandon his post. You will enjoy this quick read. It is posted on the
Broadcaster's Desktop Reference website.
AM/FM Radio w/BT 3.0 Mod
all the time I invest in researching and writing about vintage radios of the vacuum
tube variety, it is somewhat embarrassing to admit that I still do not have an operational
set, although a Crosley 03CB console model is in the works now. I did, however,
Tesslor model R-601S AM/FM radio a couple years ago in order to
be able to enjoy the warm orange glow of vacuum tubes while other projects were
in the works. The R-601S is a nice mix of the old and the new in that while it uses
vacuum tubes for the speaker preamp and output driver circuits, there is a state-of-the-art
solid state receiver front-end and tuner. I did a write-up and video tour of the
Tesslor R-601S radio in 2012. Last Fall (2013), Tesslor
added Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity capability to the R-601S and offered to
update my radio...
Here is an item than
can be worth it's weight in gold. At today's gold spot price of $1283/oz., this
12.8-ounce Eclipse 900-056
Field Service ESD Protection Kit would be worth $16,422. OK,
maybe that's overstated, but depending on what type of equipment you happen to be
working on, zapping an electronic component because you failed to exercise proper
ESD protection measures could potentially (pun intended)
cost that much. Silver closed at $19.39/oz., so maybe it is a bit more realistic
as it makes this ESD work station worth $248. That's about the price of a replacement
smartphone or midrange radio if you zap it while tinkering. Seriously, though, if
you work on microelectronics without adequate ESD protection measures, you're asking
for trouble. Even if you don't fry anything right away, you are likely to create
the "walking wounded" scenario where failure is imminent in the future. $34 for
this ESD work mat is cheap insurance.
Having worked around
resistors and capacitors for more than four decades comes in handy when presented
with 'simple' quizzes like this one that appeared in a 1963 Popular Electronics
RC circuits. Still, there is always some trepidation involved
when being subject, even voluntarily, to a test of any sort, regardless of whether
you are fairly confident that it will be a lead pipe cinch, a cake walk, child's
play, so to speak. Even if nobody else will bear witness to your effort, you would
feel like a real moron if you missed even one of those simple questions that anyone
with your level of experience should get right without even having to think about
it. Such is the irrational fear I have when taking these quizzes prior to posting
them on RF Cafe. I have always been honest about the results...
Technology for Their Support
As a premier manufacturer of
cable assemblies and
RF components, including
non-magnetic connectors, Dongjin TI is highly recognized an
leader in Korea. Our premium products offer a competitive price, on-time delivery
and best quality in the industry. They have no minimum order size and 1-day delivery.
Products are ISO9001, ISO14001, ROHS qualified, as required. VSWR reports are available
Wouldn't it be nice if you could
get a free subscription
to your favorite hunting, bicycling, or cooking magazine merely by demonstrating
that you have a vested interest in the subject that advertisers can exploit? Don't
be looking for a year's worth of Field & Stream, Road Bike,
or Baking to arrive in your mailbox anytime soon, but you can, if you are
qualified, received complimentary subscriptions to many of the big-time engineering
magazines. Here are just a few of scores available.
funny and ridiculous I thought as I read this article from a 1940 edition of
National Radio News where author Julius Aceves, a consulting radio engineer,
makes the case for not buying a newfangled, cheap radio that is supplied with a
built-in antenna when using a good old-fashioned
outdoor antenna is the better option. It's not that he doesn't
have a valid point about the larger, obstruction-free outdoor antenna providing
superior signal strength and a greater signal-to-noise ratio; it's that part of
his argument is that in doing so you are denying the outdoor radio antenna companies
revenue. That mindset is akin to telling people they should not buy notebook computers
for the MTT-S Show (IMS2014)
MECA Electronics would appreciate your taking
a few moments to take a look at their newest magazine advertisement that highlights
products they will feature at
IMS2014 in Booth #842.
It's been a couple weeks
since posting links to stories on job searching and career management. I should
put an entry on my weekly calendar to do so. The stock market is way up so the economy
- and therefore the job market, must be going smashingly well - right?
Don't Give It All Away at
the Job Interview
4 Ways to Make the Most
of a Business Opportunity
3 Steps to Take If You Are
Rejected from Your Dream
Newest Organized Labor
Group: Start-up Employees
problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons
are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never
were, and ask why not." - President Kennedy's address to the Irish Parliament in
JFK Presidential Library
of Escondido, CA, is a relatively new startup engineering design and development
Steve Massey, with his many years of circuit and system experience,
is currently consulting with major RF and microwave companies to provide engineering
design services to develop products for the commercial communications and military
marketplace. All levels of service are provided. He will work with you from conception
to schematics to layout to physical products, and everything in-between. RF testing
and PCB prototyping services are available to complement the consultant design services
(see extensive list of
equipment and software). Please call Steve at 760-748-MEGA (6342) to learn more.
"Let's go get it done!"
for April 20, 2014
I considered not bothering
to create these custom
themed crossword puzzles anymore, but in checking the website statistics, I
discovered that my collection of crosswords that began more than a decade ago has
generated more than 58,000 page views just in the last year alone. Evidently there
are people who are interested. Since I make each one new every week, it is easy
for me to create a custom puzzle for your company, school, club, event, etc. Send
email if you have a request.
USAF Tech Elbert Cook
submitted photos of his completed
MPN-13 GCA model with a spiffy real-looking camouflage paint job!
It includes both the maintenance trailer and the operations trailer, complete with
ASR antenna, PAR antennas (az/el), VHF and UHF antennas,
and navigation hazard lights. The "M" part of "MPN" stands for "mobile." As such,
I and hundreds - maybe thousands - of USAF radar technicians have over the decades
disassembled, transported, and reassembled these radars many times. My radar shop
at Robins AFB, GA, participated in what were code-named "Healthy Strikes" two or
three times each year, whereby a claxon in the barracks rudely awoke 5th Combat
Communications Group members at around 5:00 am to signify the beginning of what
would be about a week...
to Thermoformed Packaging
Walter Drake, a thermoformed packaging manufacturer,
has recently released the "Purchasers Guide to Thermoformed Packaging". The guide
will assist buyers and
in the correct selection of thermoformed packaging such as plastic clamshells, thermoformed
trays and blister packs. Walter Drake designs and manufactures custom thermoformed
plastic packaging in the form of clamshells, trays and blisters for the medical,
pharmaceutical, electronic (ESD, static dissipative), consumer and industrial packaging
to Sue an Expert?
article by Bob Ambrogi, of
Services, rhetorically asks the question of whether an 'expert' is required
in order to
sue another 'expert' because of his sworn testimony.
In this particular case an expert was hired
to help prove claims of wrongdoing by a neighboring industrial complex. Being declared
qualified as an 'expert' varies from state to state, but it usually requires extensive
documented professional experience, and/or an advanced college degree, and/or professional
registration as a result of special testing. I, for example, would likely not qualify
to serve as an expert witness in a trial. Like it or not - and many people believe
it to be a form of acceptable payola...
Agreement w/MECA Electronics
ECM announced a new authorized distribution agreement
with MECA Electronics to supply the manufacturer's line of USA made rugged &
reliable RF/microwave passive DC – 20 GHz microwave components and solutions globally. MECA serves all areas of the RF/Microwave
industries including world class network providers. They have 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 and air traffic communications...
1962, John T. Frye's techie troubleshooting teenagers
Carl and Jerry had graduated from high school and were attending
Parvoo University (PU?) as electrical engineering
students. It was a natural progression. Unlike many of the company names and products
- like the Delco DN278 transistor mentioned here - that appeared in the Popular
Science series, the college's name is fictional. Maybe author Frye had a connection
to Porvoo, Finland, and Anglicized the name. I ran "parvoo" through a couple online
anagram solvers to see if it was a disguised name (which
would be apropos for a detective story) and the closest it came to a real
word is 'vaporo,' which is an Esperanto term...
When I first
saw the title of this poem from a 1941 edition of National Radio News, I thought
it was going to be a plea to amateur radio operators not to give up their hobby
just because the government would eventually prohibit broadcasting during the World
War II years. As it turns out, the poem predated that era and is instead a
generic encouragement to the magazine's readers to press on regardless of obstacles.
It did show up in the Christmas issue, so maybe it was simply a message in the spirit
of peace on Earth and goodwill toward man. In these harsh years of the government
fomenting division and class envy amongst its citizens, it's kind of hard to relate
to such a gentle, kindly mindset, but indeed it did once exist in America. Anyway,
I though it was worth reprinting here. "Don't Quit" is sort of a simpler version of Rudyard Kipling's
famous poem of inspiration titled "If."
for Arduino Development
you haven't yet heard about the Arduino single board computer (SBC)
experimenter's platform, then either you have been in a coma or you are just now
entering the tech world. Think of Arduino as the electronic version of the famous
mechanical Erector Set that was popular beginning in the early 20th century. Or,
consider it the "grown-up" version of Lego's computerized Mindstorms building sets.
Per the official website, "Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform
based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists,
designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments..."
Courtesy Bracke Mfg.
We now have a
source for those much-sought-after plastic
SMA finger wrenches!
Bracke Mfg manager Lawrence P. sent me an email today saying that Bracke will
be glad to mail anyone who requests them a sample of up to 5 of the SMA finger wrenches
- what a guy! I'm guessing he saw the plea posted here on RF Cafe and on various
forums for people looking desperately for the things. The
SMA finger (thumb)
wrench, known also by its Latin binomial nomenclature of 'digitus divellit,'
is a rare breed of tool for the RF / microwave engineer, and appears to be indigenous
to industry trade shows like MTT-S and European Microwave Conference...
Satellites and ET EM Waves
to around 1960, the nature of electromagnetic radiation outside the Earth's atmosphere
was entirely a matter of scientific conjecture. As is evidenced by this 1961 article,
at the time it was still not known for certain whether
electromagnetic energy outside the bands transmitted through the
ionosphere existed for sure. There was of course no reason to believe that low frequency,
long wavelength radio waves were not present along with the rest of the spectrum,
but experiments needed to be developed that would launch satellites above the atmosphere
to detect probable out-of-band signals and then re-transmit them on frequencies
known to easily penetrate the 'ether.' Many failures occurred along the way, but
persistence paid off...
Explaining Tuned Circuits
resonant tank circuits has not changed since they were first investigated
more than a century ago. This "After Class" tutorial that ran in the May 1961 edition
of Popular Electronics is typical of the series where the author speaks
as though he was giving an impromptu lesson to a gathering of students after the
scheduled classroom period was over or, in this instance as though he was having
a casual discussion with a friend who was perplexed by a particular electronics
phenomenon. Figures and equations are often drawn by hand to augment the informal
setting rather than being typeset. Here, "Larry" is amazed...