Click for Page 2 of the August 2015 homepage archives.
The Old Radio Builder
A nice mixture of the classic and the sybaritic describes some of the projects designed and built by Mike Starcher (KB4YJ), owner of The Old Radio Builder website. He has both a "Vintage Homebrew" area and a "Modern Homebrew" area, as well as "Restorations" on vintage equipment - you'll appreciate the photo at the top of the page if you've seen the inside of some barn or garage finds. There's even a page of tips for how to take really nice photos of your components and hardware. Some of Mike's projects feature a nicely crafted mahogany base onto which is mounted wafer type variable capacitors, vacuum tube bases, hand-wound coils, transformers, resistors, and a nicely painted black front panel with vintage dials. Structures are left open to showcase the craftsman-like handiwork that includes carefully ...
Making Modern Tubes
In no way do I advocate going back to the 'old ways' for manufacturing electronic components, but I do admire and like to give credit to the people who used to perform the tedious procedure of building vacuum tubes, hand-wire chassis assemblies, circuit boards, etc. The process required being able to sit or stand at the same work station and perform the same range of operations day after day, often for years on end. Of course at the time, automation processes were not what they are today and machinery needed to be driven by mechanical means using motors, solenoids, and limit switches. That made employing people more financially rewarding than using a machine. You can find details on the algorithms and methodology for designing those contraptions in older engineering handbooks. It is an amazing sight to to tour a WWII vintage battleship and look at the hardware that ...
Triad RF Systems Intros 800-2500 MHz,
12 W Linear Amplifier Module
Triad-RF-Systems-800-2500MHz-12W-Linear-Amplifier-8-13-2015.htm" > This wideband GaAs linear amplifier module is capable of supporting any signal type and modulation format, including but not limited to 3-4G telecom, WLAN, OFDM, DVB, and CW/AM/FM. Due to several state-of-the-art circuits, this unit is highly immune from damage due to any out of spec DC voltage conditions that may be applied. Its rugged construction guarantees fault-free operation in the most extreme environments Triad-RF-Systems-800-2500MHz-12W-Linear-Amplifier-8-13-2015.htm" > ...
The Skin Effect Talking Lightbeam
Modulating a light beam for secure communications was not a new concept is 1939 when Gerald Mosteller invented his device, but doing so with inexpensive equipment, using 'outside-the-box' thinking, was new. Exploiting the relatively recently discovered physical phenomenon of 'skin effect,' his system used a specific range of frequencies to modulate the filament of a standard flashlight type incandescent light bulb that could effect temperature changes - and therefore intensity changes - rapidly and of significant amplitude to transmit information in the audio frequency range. Mr. Mosteller's contraption evolved as the result of a college thesis project. There does not exist a plethora of modern-day modulated light communications systems using incandescent bulbs as the source, so it is safe to assume insurmountable physical and/or financial obstacles ...
Private Advertising Available
Once Again on RF Cafe!
I am now set up to once again host private advertising in the form of graphical banners in all page borders, and as textual Highlighted Ads on the Parts Vendor pages. If your company is interested in reaching RF Cafe's very diverse and extensive range of visitors, please review my Advertising Information page. Plans are available starting at $40 per month for an appearance on four vendor pages ...
Please Welcome Centric RF
as an RF Cafe Advertiser !
Centric RF is a company offering from stock various RF and Microwave coaxial components, including Attenuators, Adapters, Cable Assemblies, Terminations, Power Dividers, and more. They believe in offering high performance parts from stock at a reasonable cost. Their parts operate in the frequency ranges of 0-110 GHz, and at power levels from 0.5-500 watts. "Order today, ship today!" BTW, the proprietor of Centric RF is the former owner of a major RF component distributor company who decided to do it all over again from the ground up, so you'll be in good hands.
New Radio Altimeter Increases Air Safety
In 1938, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric Company, United Air Lines, and Boeing worked together to developed the first practical microwave radio altimeter for use in commercial aircraft. This is not a radar unit in that the distance is not determined solely by emitting a signal and measuring the time taken to the target (the ground in this case) and back again. Rather, the radio altimeter relies on a heterodyned beat frequency generated between a reference signal and that of the transmitted and received ground-directed signal. Author Washburn does a nice job explaining the process, so I needn't add to it. It is interesting to note the statement about the 500 MHz used being the "highest frequency ever to be used for practical purposes" ...
Printing a Verdict -- The Power of
3D Printed Evidence at Trial
IMS ExpertServices periodically sends me e-mails that highlight recent key court cases that can significantly affect the effectiveness of expert testimony. This article by Annie Dike, writing for IMS ExpertServices, writes about a very unique and creative application in courtrooms for the newfangled 3D printers: creating objects that jurors in patent infringement and product liability litigation proceedings can hold in their hands and examine when considering a verdict. Her example includes creating exact (or nearly so) copies of both the original and the contested versions of an invention in order to highlight the similarities or differences, depending on whether you are a defendant or a plaintiff, of the two designs. This could be a great strategy for you or your ...
Peregrine Semiconductor Awarded
Peregrine-Semiconductor-Awarded-QML-Certification-8-11-2015.htm" > Peregrine Semiconductor Corp., founder of RF SOI (silicon on insulator) and pioneer of advanced RF solutions, announces that it has been awarded qualified manufacturers list (QML) certification, class Q (military) and V (space). After a thorough evaluation, Peregrine demonstrated to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Land and Maritime that it fully complies with MIL-PRF-38535, the performance specification used by the Department of Defense for monolithic integrated circuits that operate in severe environments. "This is a giant step forward for Peregrine's high reliability products and demonstrates our continued commitment to serving the aerospace and defense market—an industry we have served for over 15 years," says Duncan Pilgrim Peregrine-Semiconductor-Awarded-QML-Certification-8-11-2015.htm" > ...
Tweezers for Working with Tiny
Surface Mount Components
If you work with surface mount components, you know how challenging it can be positioning and holding them while soldering and unsoldering. Having a good pair of tweezers can make the difference between a good experience and a disaster. These two types of tweezers can definitely make you life better, and they're very inexpensive. The set of six black tweezers have various tip shapes that are non-magnetic and have an anti-static finish. The white-tipped tweezer uses ceramic material that can stand soldering type temperatures without transferring the heat to your fingers. At less than $5 each, you can outfit your home and work labs with quality tweezers and still have money left over to donate to RF Cafe ;-)
Crosley Radio Advertisement
I am still looking in old electronics magazines for an ad featuring my 1941 Crosley model 03CB console radio, but thus far with no luck. What makes the model special is that it was probably one of the last new radios sold prior to the shift of material usage to military equipment in World War II. In fact, not long ago I found this brief news piece in a 1942 edition of Radio-Craft: "Crosley Scraps 1943 Line for Military Radios" reporting on how Crosley was converting its production line to support military ...
Free RF, Microwaves, & Radar Posters
These posters from some well-known companies in the microwaves and RF realm are available free to qualified persons. Supplies are limited on most of these, so if you want one, you had better move quickly. There are many other posters available that can be downloaded and printed, but I believe the ones here get mailed to you. There was a time when many companies offered free posters and/or cardboard calculators, but now they have been largely obsoleted by online resources and smartphone apps ...
Free Engineering White Papers
& Books for August 2015
The free whitepapers, pamphlets, books, magazines, and chapter examples listed here are a small sample of a lot of new items that are offered for FREE through TradePub. The publishers make them available to qualifying people as a promotional campaign for their full line of offerings. Note: I earn a few pennies (literally) when you download one of these or the many other pubs available, so please help yourself ...
NI AWR White Paper Details Co-Sim
w/VSS and LabVIEW Signal Processing
NI-AWR-White-Paper-Co-Simulation-VSS-LabVIEW-8-10-2015.htm" > NI (formerly AWR Corporation) announces a new NI-AWR-White-Paper-Co-Simulation-VSS-LabVIEW-8-10-2015.htm" > NI AWR Design Environment™ white paper that describes how Visual System Simulator™ (VSS) system design software and LabVIEW can co-simulate, enabling system designers to better analyze, optimize, and verify complex RF systems inclusive of DSP blocks. "Co-Simulation with Visual System Simulator and LabVIEW for Enhanced Signal Processing" can be downloaded on the NI AWR website.
Notable Quote: Dr. Ben Carson
"I'm the only one who has removed half a brain, but if you went to Washington, you'd think someone beat me to it." - Dr. Ben Carson, pediatric neurosurgeon and presidential candidate. Hearing this audio clip on the news caused me to laugh out loud (I can't stand watching political debates). My detestation for the vast majority of politicians of every stripe makes me believe there is truth in what was said - figuratively and literally. For the record, this is not an endorsement, just recognition of someone who evidently despises status quo politics as much as I do ...
Short Waves and War
Here in one short editorial article, Hugo Gernsback outlines the application of shortwaves in 'the next war' to maintain wireless surveillance of the airspace over towns and cities via what is essentially radar, to detonate explosive devices by means of a powerful 'special combination impulse,' and long-distance wireless communications via radios 'so small that one man can easily carry it.' This might seem rather moot in today's world, but in 1935 it required a certain amount of knowledge of wireless communications and a vision regarding its potential. In my readings of a great many early- to mid-20th-century technical articles on electronics, aeronautics, physics, etc., it is interesting to notice how authors of the pre-WWII era referred to ...
Pasternack Debuts Multi-Market
Electromechanical RF Switches
Pasternack-Multi-Market-Electromechanical-Switches-8-10-2015.htm" > Pasternack, a leading manufacturer and supplier of RF, microwave and millimeter wave products, introduces a large portfolio of in-stock general purpose multi-market coaxial packaged electromechanical switches for RF, microwave and millimeter wave applications. These new electromechanical switches are uniquely qualified for use in numerous applications including military communications, radar, commercial and military aviation, SATCOM, test & instrumentation, medical equipment and others. Pasternack's newest electromechanical switches consist of 134 connectorized designs that are guaranteed for 1 million life cycles. These new general purpose switches complement Pasternack's existing Pasternack-Multi-Market-Electromechanical-Switches-8-10-2015.htm" > ...
The Propagation of Short Waves
This is the second of a two-part series discussing the propagation of shortwaves, the first part having appeared in the previous edition of Short Wave Craft. Keep in mind that at the time of the writing, no instrumented sounding rockets had been sent into the upper atmosphere for empirical measurements, so the author's conjectures being inaccurate are forgivable. Mr. Meyer's supposition that there are "cosmically-located network of conductive lines" that influence seasonal propagation as the earth moves through them during its revolution around the sun is actually not an unreasonable theory for its era. It certainly is no more outlandish than a modern-day celebrated astrophysical genius proposing a series of vibrating 'strings' in an 11-dimensional ...
RF & Microwave Engineering
Crossword Puzzle for August 9, 2015
This week's crossword puzzle, as with all RF Cafe puzzles, uses only words pertaining to engineering, science, mathematics, mechanics, chemistry, astronomy, etc. You will never find a reference to some obscure geological feature or city, or be asked to recall the name of some numbnut movie star or fashion designer. Enjoy! ...
How Soon Shall We Have Television?
If you think government bureaucracies meddling in the affairs of private business is a relatively new phenomenon, think again. Elected and unelected persons and agencies have since the inception of control over the populace made it their business to dictate which pursuits of technology are sanctioned and which are not. Often, the motivation lies in who within those bureaucracies stands to benefit monetarily from the decision. In this story lamenting the painfully and, in the author's opinion, unnecessarily long time experienced in bringing commercial broadcast television to the marketplace - in 1935. One of the primary stumbling blocks was the FCC preventing companies from televising paid commercials during programs because, in the FCC's view, picture quality was not good enough to serve advertisers' interests. In this story lamenting the painfully ...
Schematic & Alignment Radio Data:
Motovox, Kennedy, & RCA-Victor
Nowadays a Web search will quite often get you what you need thanks to people (like me) who go to the trouble of making the information available. The stuff doesn't just magically appear or get posted by benevolent governmental entities. These Radio Service Data Sheets are for the RCA-Victor Radiola Model M-30 Automotive Radio Set, the Kennedy Superheterodyne Short-Wave Converter Radio, and the Motovox Models 10A All-Electric and 10E Battery-Operated "Moto-Tetradynes." You're welcome.
RFMW Intros Low PIM High Power
RFMW-Low-PIM-High-Power-Flange-Attenuator-8-6-2015.htm" > RFMW announces design and sales support for low passive inter-modulation (PIM) RFMW-Low-PIM-High-Power-Flange-Attenuator-8-6-2015.htm" > attenuators from EMC Technology. When comparing the new 33P7024 (100 Watt) series to standard attenuators the difference is typically ≥ 10 dBc. The 33P702403.00F offers 3dB of attenuation while the 33P702430.00F offers 30 dB attenuation. Designed for demanding infrastructure applications, both EMC's 33P702403.00F and 33P702430.00F operate to 2.7 GHz with a maximum VSWR of 1.30:1. Featuring a tab ...
Video Demonstration of Windfreak's
SynthNV RF Generator / Network Analyzer
In this short video, Saelig's Tech Support Manager Al MacRobbie introduces the features of Windfreak Technologies' SynthNV module, a versatile 34.4 MHz - 4.4 GHz USB powered and programmed RF signal generator / RF power detector. A lot of these USB synthesizers and various types of test equipment are becoming available, and this is a great way to get a look at the multitude of features they offer along with small size and relatively low cost ...
Highland Technology Intros 16-Channel
VME RTD/Resistance Input Module
Highland-Technology-16-Channel-VME-RTD-Resistance-Input-Module-8-5-2015.htm" > Highland Technology announces the latest release in its line of VME test and measurement modules, the V410 RTD/resistance Input Module. The V410 features 16 independent channels configurable for 2-wire, 3-wire, and 4-wire resistance measurement and capable of measuring from 1 ohm to 3 megohms. This makes the V410 suitable for 100-ohm and 1000-ohm RTDs, thermistors, and other resistive sensors. It can also read Highland-Technology-16-Channel-VME-RTD-Resistance-Input-Module-8-5-2015.htm" > cryogenic diodes. Look-up tables are included for 100 and 1000 ohm, 385 and 392 platinum RTDs. The built-in self-test reports both internal errors and wiring faults. Any channel of the V410 may be switched to a front-panel D9 test connector for in-crate Highland-Technology-16-Channel-VME-RTD-Resistance-Input-Module-8-5-2015.htm" > ...
Understanding, Building, and
Using Baluns and Ununs
Understanding, Building, and Using Baluns and Ununs, by Jerry Sevick. Dr. Sevick, W2FMI, is widely known in amateur radio circles for his work with transmission line transformers, baluns and ununs. This successor to the popular and authoritative Baluns and Ununs includes a great deal of new tutorial material, and also includes new designs not in the previous book, along with crystal clear explanations of how and why they work.
V.L.F. Loop Antenna
If you have been searching for a do-it-yourself VLF loop antenna that can be resonated from approximately 14 to 25 kHz, then look no more. This article from a 1963 edition of Electronics World presents a relatively simple to build job that reportedly provides excellent reception. At these frequencies a wavelength is measured in miles, which makes even a simple dipole antenna impractical, so the multi-turn loop is the only alternative. It is the same principle that allows the little ferrite-core antenna inside your AM radio to work so well when the shortest wavelength in the commercial AM broadcast band is nearly 600 feet ...
Saelig Introduces Multiple Instrument
System MIS4 Universal Test System
Saelig-Multiple-Instrument-System-MIS4-Universal-Test-System-7-29-2015.htm" > Saelig Company has introduced the ABI Electronics' Multiple Instrument Station MIS4, an all-in-one testing tool that provides all commonly required test instruments in one compact programmable hardware module, mounted in a compact case or installed in a PC drive bay. Controlled by ABI's sophisticated SYSTEM 8 Ultimate PC software with a simple yet programmable operator interface, the Saelig-Multiple-Instrument-System-MIS4-Universal-Test-System-7-29-2015.htm" > MIS4 combines eight laboratory instruments: a 3-channel 350 MHz digital storage oscilloscope with sophisticated triggering options and automatic measurements; a 1.1 GHz frequency counter and three 350 MHz counters; a 14-bit dual-channel Saelig-Multiple-Instrument-System-MIS4-Universal-Test-System-7-29-2015.htm" > ...
Introducing the Keysight Software
Selector Mobile App
Keysight-Software-Selector-Mobile-App-8-4-2015.htm" > Keysight offers 230+ measurement applications based on innovative algorithms and up-to-date standards-based capabilities. Use our new mobile app to easily search by application / technology or instrument, and select the perfect standalone or embedded test and measurement software for your application. Then help us make this new app better for you. Try it and tell us about your experience. We'll incorporate your feedback and suggestions into the next revision Keysight-Software-Selector-Mobile-App-8-4-2015.htm" > ...
Mac's Radio Service Shop:
Safety in Servicing
It's time to gather 'round for another story about fictional radio service shop owner Mac McGregor and his trusted sidekick technician, Barney. In this episode, an errantly wired bypass capacitor on a chassis from one of the old AC/DC radio sets caused Mac to get a 300-volt wakeup call when his hand brushed against it. After explaining the situation to Barney and apprising him of the danger it poses to an owner who unwittingly sticks his/her hand into the back of the cabinet, Mac lists a few other common dangers to watch for. Radios that ran on either AC or DC power were very common back in the early days because there were homes and businesses that had both type systems wired in to the premises - in part due to the famous battle between Thomas Edison's preferred DC electrical distribution system and Nikola Tesla's preferred AC electrical distribution system. Another reason for DC compatibility was that prior to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, many ...
NuWaves Engineering Seeking
a Software Developer
The Software Developer reports directly to the VP of Engineering, Director of Engineering, or Deputy Director of Engineering. The Software Developer works closely with the Engineering technical teams and with Program Management to design, develop, and support software solutions. The Software Developer applies sound engineering principles to the design, development, and documentation of systems, software and products. The Software Developer ensures all work carried out is in compliance with company design, quality, and process standards. Essential Functions: Develops software solutions by studying information needs; conferring with users; studying systems flow, data usage and ...
Notable Quote: David Hilbert
"Although infinity is needed in mathematics, it occurs nowhere in the physical universe." - David Hilbert, mathematician, quoted in Nature.
Durban U. of Technology Adopts NI AWR
Software, Improves Pass Rate
NI-AWR-Durban-University-Technology-Adopts-Software-8-3-2015.htm" > NI (formerly AWR Corporation) announces that the South African Durban University of Technology (DUT) has adopted NI AWR Design Environment™ for its RF design course. Expecting a steep learning curve and a semester-long migration period, Prof. Stuart MacPherson was pleasantly surprised with the software's ease of use and support, enabling him to completely transition to the new tool even before the semester began. "Implementing NI AWR software in the DUT RF design curriculum has resulted in the academic level of the course being advanced and the pass rate being improved," said Prof. MacPherson, associate director at NI-AWR-Durban-University-Technology-Adopts-Software-8-3-2015.htm" > ...
Congrats to Michael M. for Winning
the July 2015 Book Drawing !!!
Michael M., of Charlotte, NC, is the lucky winner of the July Engineering Book Drawing. Michael wisely seelcted Control Components Using Si,GaAs, and GaN Technologies, by Inder J. Bahl (Graciously provided by Artech House). Each month I randomly select one or two people from my e-mail inbox to receive a free (including shipping), brand new engineering book - usually valued well over $100. I have given away 120 books since 2008.
Triad RF Systems Publishes
Its 1st Newsletter Edition
Triad-RF-Systems-Newsletter-8-3-2015.htm" > Triad RF Systems has published its first-ever Triad-RF-Systems-Newsletter-8-3-2015.htm" >company newsletter. Two new amplifier products are highlighted, and an announcement of their planned appearance at the MILCOM 2015 trade show are among the newsworthy items. Triad RF Systems also has a LinkedIn page titled UAV Data Links that you are encouraged to join Triad-RF-Systems-Newsletter-8-3-2015.htm" ...
$5 for Best Short-Wave Kinks
Here is a handy-dandy baker's dozen worth of 'kinks,' otherwise known as tricks, shortcuts, or clever ideas, that could prove useful while working in the lab at work or in your shop at home. One suggestion is to place a sheet of tracing paper over your schematic while wiring a circuit and draw each connection as it is completed, rather than mark up the original drawing. That was definitely good for a time when making a spare copy of a magazine page or assembly instruction from a kit was not as simple a matter as it is today ...
Sherlock Ohms: The Manometers Were
Getting Light in Their Chambers
What I like most about this adventure of Sherlock Ohms is not so much the problem itself and its resolution, but the comments from readers. Opposing philosophies and attitudes are very stark, ranging from seizing an opportunity to slam management's approach to a problem to actually defending issues unalterable contractual test method compliance , etc. There is also an interesting discussion from the chemistry aspect of the dilemma. It is definitely worth a couple minutes of your time ...
Skyworks Intros High Rel DC to 8 GHz
GaAs IC SPDT Absorptive Switch
Skyworks-DC-8-GHz-GaAs-SPDT-Absorptive-Switch-7-31-2015.htm" > Through its Isolink subsidiary, Skyworks introduces a low-loss, high performance wideband DC to 8 GHz hermetic GaAs IC single-pole, double-throw (SPDT) absorptive switch. The ISO13286 is ideal for high reliability space, satellite, and defense applications. The device performs with 50 dB isolation at 4 GHz and low loss of 1.5 dB at 4 GHz. Testing is available to the screening requirements of MIL-PRF-38535 Class B and S, in addition to the required QCI. The ISO13286 die is produced with Skyworks' GaAs pHEMT process that has shown Skyworks-DC-8-GHz-GaAs-SPDT-Absorptive-Switch-7-31-2015.htm" > ...
Please Welcome Peregrine
Semiconductor as a New Sponsor!
Peregrine Semiconductor, a Murata company, is a leading fabless provider of high-performance, radio frequency integrated circuits, or RFICs. The company's solutions leverage UltraCMOS® technology, a patented, advanced form of silicon on insulator (SOI) that enables the design, manufacture and integration of multiple RF, analog and digital functions onto a single chip. Advancing the performance of RF SOI since 1988, Peregrine today delivers the monolithic integration and superior performance necessary to solve the RF market's biggest challenges. Peregrine's initial advertising effort is promoting is employment opportunities.
& Editors Crossword Puzzle
This week's crossword puzzle has the theme of electronics and engineering magazines and their editors. I have to plead guilty at not knowing who the editor-in-chief (EiC) of many of the publications were. After so often reading the names of the many authors and technical editors and contributing editors, etc., getting printed every month, keeping track is difficult. You should recognize all the magazine names since they are our industry's primary publications. Apologies to Microwaves & RF magazine (Nancy K. Friedrich, EiC), and to High Frequency Electronics (Scott Spencer, EiC), for not including them in the puzzle. The fact is, though, that the more words I insert at the outset, the more difficult it is ...