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Homepage Archive - September 2020 (page 2)

See Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5  of the September 2020 homepage archives.

Monday 14

Many Thanks to Berkeley Nucleonics for Continued Support!

Berkeley Nucleonics Corp - RF CafeBerkeley 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 procedures.

Channel Master Corporation

Channel Master Corporation, November 1951 Radio & Television News - RF CafeAs evidenced by this advertisement in a circa 1951 issue of Radio & Television News magazine, Channel Master has been producing commercial broadcast television and radio antennas and antenna accessories for a really long time. They are one of the very few companies still making such items, with RCA being another. A few years ago I bought a high gain Channel Master VHF-UHF-FM antenna for use with my vintage Alliance Model U-100 Tenna-Rotor. Both companies still sell remote control (wired) antenna rotators. Being an ardent over-the-air broadcast adherent, having a good old-fashioned steerable, multielement antenna is quite nice. I can dial in any TV or FM radio station within 50 miles, and some from over 100 miles away. I would like to have a similar setup for AM radio, but the antenna length gets out of hand at 530 to 1,700 MHz (525 to 1,705 MHz including 10 kHz channel spacing)...

Silk Hard Drive Stores Optical Data

Silk Hard Drive Stores Optical Data - RF Cafe"Researchers in the U.S. and China have made the first silk hard drive using a technique called tip-enhanced near-field infrared nanolithography (TNINL). The device, which can store digital data with a density of 64 GB per square inch, is robust in the face of harsh conditions such as heat, moisture, gamma radiation or high magnetic fields. While a silk-based hard drive is unlikely to match the speed and storage capacity of state-of-the-art solid-state drives at the same cost, its unique set of features makes it promising for electronics that could be implanted in the body. Lithography techniques are routinely used to make devices with optical storage densities as high as several hundred GB per square inch. However, it can be time-consuming to create small features with these methods, and it also requires costly and sophisticated fabrication procedures..."

Radio Set Prints Newspaper

Radio Set Prints Newspaper, April 1934 Radio-Craft - RF CafeWriting about 'outdated' methods of radio-based facsimile machine implementation in 1934 seems a bit incredible considering how relatively new both technologies were at the time. Nevertheless, Radio-Craft magazine editor Hugo Gernsback reported on the new era of fax machines that were on display at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. Of course fax machines of that time were not exactly desktop models that could be located in a corner of your office or cubicle (not that cubicles were common). If you substitute transistors for vacuum tubes, stepper motors for simple DC motors and solenoids, and solid state lasers and LEDs for incandescent light sources, the fundamentals have not changed much...

Tales from the Cube: Tracking down a Misplaced Oscillation

Tales from the Cube: Tracking down a Misplaced Oscillation - RF CafeIf you like stories about problems caused by the "because we've always done it that way" mindset, then you'll appreciate this "Tales from the Cube" episode by Marshall Bell. While "Tracking down a Misplaced Oscillation," Mr. Bell applies a seasoned designer's instinctive method of ruling out potential causes of a problem from the device under test (DUT) and then verifying the test setup. In this instance, what was likely an expensive new iteration of an integrated circuit could have been avoided. Yours truly once solved a longstanding transmitter oscillation issue. Upon starting at a new company, I was assigned to resolve the problem which occurred after the unit warmed up. Previous "solutions" involved sprinkling capacitors around the power supply and control lines. Turns out it was the output transistor voltage biasing scheme causing the problem. A simple change cured the oscillations over all temperature ranges. Many times a fresh set of eyes can spot what other highly competent investigators overlook.

Thanks to TotalTemp Technologies for Continued Support!

TotalTemp Technologies - RF CafeTotalTemp Technologies has more than 40 years of combined experience providing thermal platforms. Thermal Platforms are available to provide temperatures between −100°C and +200°C for cryogenic cooling, recirculating circulating coolers, temperature chambers and temperature controllers, thermal range safety controllers, space simulation chambers, hybrid benchtop chambers, custom systems and platforms. Manual and automated configurations for laboratory and production environments. Please contact TotalTemp Technologies today to learn how they can help your project.

Sunday 13

Radio & Wireless Themed Crossword Puzzle for September 13th

Radio & Wireless Themed Crossword Puzzle for September 13th, 2020 - RF CafeSeptember 13th's custom Radio & Wireless themed crossword puzzle contains only only words from my custom-created lexicon related to engineering, science, mathematics, chemistry, physics, astronomy, etc. (1,000s of them). You will never find among the words names of politicians, mountain ranges, exotic foods or plants, movie stars, or anything of the sort. You might, however, find someone or something in the otherwise excluded list directly related to this puzzle's technology theme, such as Hedy Lamarr or the Bikini Atoll, respectively. The technically inclined cruciverbalists amongst us will appreciate the effort.

Friday 11

Swan Electronics Frequency Counter

Swan Electronics Frequency Counter, November 1976 QST - RF CafeSwan Electronics was another of the many electronics equipment companies that was started in the founder's garage - literally - and built a loyal customer following in their areas of specialty. Probably the most famous example is Bill Hewett and Dave Packard's garage (known affectionately among enthusiasts as "The HP Garage"). As evidenced by this RF frequency counter advertisement in QST magazine (six pages worth), Swan manufactured a line of products for the radio amateur including transceivers, antennas, and a few pieces of test equipment. Swan Electronics merged with Cubic Corporation in 1967. Information on this frequency counter and some of the other accessories sold by Swan Electronics can be found on this Swan Virtual Museum website...

Advances in DC Power Supplies

Axiom Test Equipment Blog: Advances in DC Power Supplies - RF CafeAxiom Test Equipment, an electronic test equipment rental and sales company has published a new blog post entitled "Advances in DC Power Supplies" that offers advice on how to determine what the specifications need to be for your DC power supply application. Programmability of many models permits not just setting of constant DC voltage and current levels, but also in some cases setting of source impedance and creation of complex outputs similar to those possible with dedicated waveform generators. Often the needs of a DC power supply for design and development differ from those of production floors and repair / alignment activities, so you cannot always apply a one-size-fits-all philosophy. "Advances in DC Power Supplies" is a good place to start your research. Additionally, user manuals provided by manufacturers are a great source for application suggestions...

Transistor-Integrated Cooling

Transistor-Integrated Cooling - RF Cafe"Managing the heat generated in electronics is a huge problem, especially with the constant push to reduce the size and pack as many transistors as possible in the same chip. The whole problem is how to manage such high heat fluxes efficiently. Usually, electronic technologies, designed by electrical engineers, and cooling systems, designed by mechanical engineers, are done independently and separately. But now, EPFL researchers have quietly revolutionized the process by combining these two design steps into one: They've developed an integrated microfluidic cooling technology together with the electronics that can efficiently manage the large heat fluxes generated by transistors. Their research, which has been published in Nature, will lead to even more compact electronic devices..."

Radio Fever

Radio Fever - Using HF Electric Fields in Modern Medicine, April 1932 Radio News - RF Cafe"My God, man! Drilling holes in his head isn't the answer! Now put away your butcher knives and let me save this patient before it's too late!" Those classic words were uttered by Dr. McCoy in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," after Lt. Chekov (promoted from Ensign after the TV series) sustained brain damage as a result of falling from a "nuclear wessel" when 20th century naval surgeons were about to open his skull to relieve pressure from swelling. Look at these images from a 1932 article on using radio waves "to produce protective fever in killing germs of a number of diseases." 10 to 30 meters was a popular wavelength band at a power of about 500 watts. The patient's body part to be treated is placed between the plates to act "as a dielectric" while the liquids are heated via induced oscillations similar to how a microwave oven works. How did the doctors know when the treat...

September 11, 2001 - Never Forget

Islamic terrorist attack on UAL Flight 93, September 11, 2001 - RF CafeIslamic terrorist attack on the Pentagon, September 11, 2001 - RF CafeIslamic terrorist attack on the twin towers, September 11, 2001 - RF CafeIncredibly, 18 years has passed since the extremist Islamic attack on American soil on the morning of September 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 citizens died that day. World leaders have embarked on a path of colonizing our homelands with groups of
people that are known to harbor sympathies for the terrorists. They dwell among us now and mean to do us harm when opportunity presents itself - which it has on numerous occasions in the past many years. Never forget the people who died in the burning towers, the Pentagon, and the airplanes, and those left behind to grieve and get on with life. Never forget the police and military members who fought - and some died - to keep us safe and free. Never forget the rotten politicians who imperil our existence with their selfish agendas.

Many Thanks to Qorvo / Custom MMIC for Their Continued Support

Qorvo / Custom MMIC- RF CafeQorvo / Custom MMIC is a fabless RF and microwave MMIC designer entrusted by government and defense industry OEMs. Custom and off-the-shelf products include switches, phase shifters, attenuators, mixers and multipliers, and low noise, low phase noise, and distributed amplifiers. From next-generation long range military radar systems, to advanced aerospace and space-qualified satellite communications, microwave signal chains are being pushed to new limits - and no one understands this more than Custom MMIC. Please contact Qorvo / Custom MMIC today to see how they use their modern engineering, testing and packaging facility to help your project. 

Thursday 10

Radio Astrology

Radio Astrology, October 1976 QST - RF CafeMy interest in astronomy really took off while I was living in the barracks at Robins AFB, Georgia, back in the 1979-1982 timeframe. Being in the middle of a huge airfield is not the best place for observing because of all the lights. I discovered that the roof of the three-story barracks was a good place to escape the human and motorized traffic. The lock on the roof access hatch in the stairwell had been left off so I would drag my telescope up there when the skies were clear. The heat coming off the roof would wreak havoc with viewing, but my telescope was not all that great anyway. One time while headed to the roof, equipment in tow, a guy I knew stopped me to ask what I was doing. When I explained about my interest in astronomy, he got really enthusiastic and began tell me about how he followed the stars, too - as an astrologer. After politely indulging his story, I continued skyward. From that time on I have been careful to always emphasize "astronomy" as opposed to "astrology," lest another such encounter ensue. Historically, there has been a close connection...

Harnessing Quantum Technologies at Room Temperature

Harnessing Quantum Technologies at Room Temperature - RF Cafe"Quantum research in both information science and sensing shows great promise for enabling a host of new defense applications. A major hindrance to transitioning breakthroughs from the laboratory to practical use, however, is the extensive equipment needed to cool and trap atoms to exploit their quantum features. To address this challenge, DARPA has announced its Science of Atomic Vapors for New Technologies (SAVaNT) program. SAVaNT seeks to advance the performance of room-temperature atomic vapors to enable future opportunities for unprecedented combinations of low size, weight, and power (SWaP) with performance across multiple Department of Defense domains..."

How Dependable Are Your Meter Readings?

How Dependable Are Your Meter Readings?, October 1937 Radio-Craft - RF CafeThere is no arguing that digital multimeters are vastly superior to analog meters in many - maybe even most - ways. However, analog meters still have applications that make them indispensible in situations like monitoring slow variations in parameters and for quick visual approximations of values. One example is looking for variation of voltage or current levels under varying loads. Yes, digital instruments are available that emulate an analog display in certain modes, but that just proves the point of he usefulness of an analog movement. Another is the familiar control panel filled with meters where clusters are trimmed to be centered or at one extreme when the system is running optimally. Yes, effectively the same result can be obtained with digital readouts and colored status lights...

Past, Present, & Future of Microelectronics & PCB Production

The Past, Present, & Future of Microelectronics & PCB Production by San Francisco Circuits - RF CafeSan Francisco Circuits PCB School: How do you keep up with new developments in microelectronics as devices become smaller and the space on a PCB becomes even more important? PCB packages keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller... as the world keeps demanding more dense PCBs. Will microelectronics be able to meet the new demands in this new world? What does the new world of microelectronics and PCB production look like? San Francisco Circuits, a provider of advanced printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication, assembly, and services, makes the point that as devices continue to have reduced form factors, precision in microelectronics becomes even more imperative. Not to mention, smaller PCBs affect overall PCB design, production, and even assembly...

Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Model

Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Model - RF CafeIt's a couple days late for the anniversary of the September 8, 1966, debut of Star Trek, but this fairly extensive slideshow on the Smithsonian Institution website has a lot of good information about the history of the original U.S.S. Enterprise model used for taping the TV show. The model, made of poplar wood and molded plastic, was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1974, where it underwent restoration before being paced on display. Overall length was a little of 11 feet, and the crew saucer had a diameter of about 5 feet. Here is a short video documentary of some of the U.S.S. Enterprise restoration work being done. Every few weeks, Melanie and I watch episodes of the original 3-season series from our DVD set.

Please Visit Empower RF's Website in Appreciation of Their Support

Empower RF Systems - RF CafeEmpower RF Systems is a global leader in power amplifier solutions. Empower RF Systems is an established and technologically superior supplier of high power solid state RF & microwave amplifiers. Our offerings include modules, intelligent rack-mount amplifiers, and multi-function RF Power Amplifier solutions to 6 GHz in broadband and band specific designs. Output power combinations range from tens of watts to multi-kilowatts. Unprecedented size, weight and power reduction of our amplifiers is superior to anything in the market at similar frequencies and power levels.

Wednesday 9

Great Britain Interference Survey

Great Britain Interference Survey, November 1976 QST - RF CafeWhen I began reading this piece I wasn't sure whether it was reporting on interference caused to amateur radio operation or interference caused by amateur radio operation. It turns out to be the latter. Ever since radio operation began in the days of Marconi, unintentional interference has been a problem. The problem has always been a combination of improper transmitter and/or receiver filtering. Electromagnetic spectrum regulatory agencies attempt to assess and address interference through operational band assignments for particular segments of the spectrum, including how much residual (unintentional) power can be emitted outside of band or within a defined power mask. Amateur radio operators are often the first group to be suspected of causing interference, no doubt due to the "amateur" part of their moniker. In truth, many amateurs are some of the most knowledgeable and responsible users of the airwaves...

Decoding Numbers Stations

Decoding Numbers Stations, November 2019 QST - RF CafeA fascinating article entitled "Decoding Numbers Stations" appeared in the November 2019 issue of the ARRL's QST magazine. Fortunately, it is the month's free article made available to everyone. I had planned to do some research into it and doing a write−up but just haven't had the time, so I'm posting this brief intro instead. Per author Allison McLellan, "Scanning through the bands on AM, you stumble upon something odd. It might be the last few notes of a folk song, a sound clip from an old cartoon, or phrases in a different language. A voice cuts through the static, methodically calling out, 'Mike, India, Whiskey, One, Four…' But this isn't a fellow ham announcing their call sign. These are numbers stations, an eerie subset of radio stations that has intrigued hams and non-hams alike for decades. Behind the Voices Numbers stations are shortwave AM radio stations that transmit messages via voice or Morse code, believed to be coded in onetime pad (OTP) cryptography. In OTPs, the message is comprised of strings of numbers or letters assigned to the letters of the message, based on a pre-determined, randomized key shared between the transmitting and receiving parties..."

Lockheed Tests U.S. Space Force Phased Array Antenna

Lockheed Tests U.S. Space Force Phased Array Antenna - RF Cafe"A new prototype antenna for the U.S. Space Force has passed a milestone test, the contractors involved announced August 31. The new multi-band, multimission antenna is under development to address a serious problem: As the military puts an ever-increasing number of satellites on orbit, where will the services put all of the antennas needed to connect to them? The single-phased array antenna can connect simultaneously with multiple satellites at once over multiple frequencies, even if they are in different orbits. The prototype could significantly reduce the terrestrial footprint needed to leverage the Defense Department's growing portfolio of space-based systems..."

RF Cafe Quiz: RF, Microwave, and Millimeter-Wave Components

RF Cafe Quiz #46: RF, Microwave, and Millimeter-Wave ComponentsAll RF Cafe quizzes make great fodder for employment interviews for technicians or engineers - particularly those who are fresh out of school or are relatively new to the work world. Come to think of it, they would make equally excellent study material for the same persons who are going to be interviewed for a job. This RF, Microwave, and Millimeter-Wave Components quiz is based on the information presented in Handbook of RF, Microwave, and Millimeter-Wave Components, by Sergey M. Smolskiy, Leonid A. Belov, and Victor N. Kochemasov.

Data Acquisition 101 Seminar by NI

NI Data Acquisition 101 Seminar - RF CafeThe company formerly known as National Instruments is conducting an online seminar entitled, "Data Acquisition 101: How to Spec and Select Your Next DAQ System," on September 22, from noon to 1 PM Eastern. "If you're looking to build a better DAQ system, start here! We've curated a DAQ checklist to ensure you think of everything for your next test. In this webinar, we'll review the basics of data acquisition and provide expert tips to refine your hardware and software selection. You'll learn how resolution impacts your data and how sample rates might not always be what they seem. We'll also highlight NI's hardware and software options for DAQ, and help you choose the right fit for your needs and budget. Join us on September 22, and get ready to take better data..."

Many Thanks to Nova Microwave for Continuing Support!

Nova Microwave Circulators & Isolators - RF CafeNova Microwave is a leader in technically differentiated electronic and radio frequency Ferrite Circulators and Isolators that connect, protect and control critical commercial and military wireless telecommunications systems. Our staff is dedicated to research and development of standard and custom design quality Ferrite Circulators and Isolators from 380 MHz to 26.5 GHz. Available in single or multi-junction topographies, the Nova Microwave product line of is specifically designed for use in varied environmental and temperature extremes. 

Tuesday 8

Vintage Centralab Ceramic Capacitors Ad

Centralab Ceramic Capacitors, November 1951 Radio & Television News - RF CafeCentralab (Central Radio Laboratories, aka CRL) was a major manufacturer of capacitors in the early days of radio and television, and pioneered many of the ceramic compounds that eventually replaced paper and mica as dielectrics. In fact, according to this 2-page advertisement in a 1951 issue of Radio & Television News magazine, their researchers mixed and tested more than 20,000 ceramic compounds while developing a line of capacitors that met strict precision, stability, and durability tests. It is reminiscent of Thomas Edison reportedly having tried a thousand or more filament types for his incandescent light bulb before arriving on a suitable candidate. Centralab did not invent ceramic capacitors, but they played an important role in their adoption. As with many of the early electronics companies, Centralab no longer exists. It was bought by Philips...

World's 1st Phased Array 4D Imaging Radar Chip

RFISee Phased Array 4D Imaging Radar Chip - RF Cafe"RFISee, a developer of affordable imaging radars for the automotive industry, has unveiled the world's first phased array 4D imaging radar on a chip. RFISee's all weather radar has proven its ability to detect cars from 500 meters away and pedestrians from 200 meters away, with an angular resolution greater than 1 degree. The company's engineers have adapted Phased Array antenna technology, used in cutting edge military systems including the F-35 fighter jet and in air defense systems, while at the same time reducing the price to the current level of automotive sensors. Prototypes of RFISee's radar are under evaluation by top automotive OEMs and Tier-1s. Unlike many traditional and new types of radars, RFISee's patented 4D imaging radar uses a powerful focused beam..."

Vacuum Tube Quiz

Vacuum Tube Quiz, February 1961 Popular Electronics - RF CafeThere are still a lot of vacuum tube guys out there who might remember enough about them to score well on this quiz that appeared in the February 1961 edition of Popular Electronics magazine. My own exposure was mainly with airport surveillance and precision approach radars while in the USAF. The VHF and UHF aeronautical band radios also contained vacuum tubes, but we didn't service them. We didn't have a lot of the fancy special purpose tubes shown here, but I was able to guess correctly on some of them based on how the tube is constructed and the response curves. Still, I'm embarrassed to tell you my overall score...

Get Your Custom-Designed RF Cafe Gear!

Custom-Designed RF-Themed Cups, T-Shirts, Mouse Pads, Clocks (Cafe Press) - RF CafeThis 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 Cafe. Thanks...

RF Test Engineer Needed by Empower RF Systems

RF Test Engineer Needed by Empower RF Systems - RF CafeEmpower RF Systems, a leading provider of high-power ultra-broadband radio frequency (RF) amplifier solutions, is looking for an RF Test Engineer. The successful candidate will reporting to the Production Test Manager and partner closely with our engineering teams. The RF Test Engineer develops and performs test solutions for RF products from concept through manufacturing release. He/she supports product development evaluations and final product characterization testing, and works with the development team in providing testability planning, strategies and methodologies. Specify and recommend test resources, processes, capabilities, and technology, set-up test circuits to measure the electrical parameters of products...

Thanks to PCB Directory for Continued Support!

PCB  Directory - RF CafePCB Directory is the largest directory of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Manufacturers, Assembly houses, and Design Services on the Internet. We have listed the leading printed circuit board manufacturers around the world and made them searchable by their capabilities - Number of laminates used, Board thicknesses supported, Number of layers supported, Types of substrates (FR-4, Rogers, flexible, rigid), Geographical location (U.S., China), kinds of services (manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, prototype), and more. Fast turn-around on quotations for PCB fabrication and assembly.

These archive pages are provided in order to make it easier for you to find items that you remember seeing on the RF Cafe homepage. Of course probably the easiest way to find anything on the website is to use the "Search RF Cafe" box at the top of every page. About RF Cafe.

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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