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Homepage Archive September 2013


Here is page 1 of the September 2013 homepage archive.

A Portable Thyratron Tester

A Portable Thyratron Tester, February 1957 Radio & Television News - RF CafeThe thyratron is not necessarily a familiar type of vacuum tube to most RF and microwave electronics practitioners unless they happen to be involved in radar, imaging (x-ray), particle accelerators, etc. It is basically a high speed, high current switch used in pulse forming networks for firing magnetrons (via a high-voltage transformer). Both the S-band airport surveillance radar and the X-band precision approach radar I worked on in the USAF employed thyratrons. The X-band radar had been modified by the time I came on the scene to use a solid state thyratron (one of the earliest adaptations), but the S-band radar still used its original vacuum tube thyratron. While I don't recall for certain, I believe the thyratron in the thumbnail image is the one it used. The accompanying ruler is 12" long to give you an idea of the size. They used to burn out and have to be replaced... (personal anecdote included)

Please Visit PCB Material World

in Appreciation of Support

PCB Material World is an independent  distributor and market maker of PCB raw materials. They buy and sell PCB raw materials such as copper clad laminates, copper foil, drill backer and entry, among other items. They also buy surplus, obsolete, and offcut RF copper clad laminates. PCB Material World has been with RF Cafe since 2009!

The Polyglot Patent Boom

The Polyglot Patent Boom: SciAm Oct 2013 - RF CafeI knew that a polyglot was a person who spoke many languages, but wasn't sure how it applied to patents. According to Merriam-Webster, the second definition of 'polyglot' is, "a book containing versions of the same text in several languages." The multilingual person is definition number one. Scientific American magazine ran an article titled, "The Polyglot Patent Boom" that discusses how the number of U.S. patents awarded to assignees in multiple countries is - and has been for a while - on the rise. A look at the thumbnail of the stacked chart included in the article illustrates the phenomenon. It begins on the left in 1985 and terminates on the right at 2010, and shows U.S. patents awarded with at least one assignee being a citizen of China. Orange, red, and purple portions...

Notable Quote

"I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work." - Ashton Kutcher - RF Cafe Notable Quote"I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work." - Ashton Kutcher re never having had a job below him, at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards (see video).

Tales from the Cube:

Soldering at Sea

Tales from the Cube: Soldering at Sea - RF CafeMr. Steve Gross has a nifty story from his time in the U.S. Navy as a shipboard electronics technician in this edition of EDN's "Tales from the Cube." When at sea, access to spare parts is very limited so you often have to exercise a combination of ingenuity and creativity (not necessarily mutually inclusive traits) to get the job done. In his case it was the need to find a suitable replacement for a Darlington pair transistor in a piece of specialized test equipment. With the help of a visiting engineer, he came up with a working circuit. This scenario reminds me of another of my own tales from earlier days as a technician, but only from the standpoint of constructing a semiconductor component from pieces of others...

Skyworks Intros Low Noise

VGAs for LTE and WCDMA

Skyworks Intros Low Noise, Variable Gain Amplifiers for LTE and WCDMA Infrastructure Applications - RF CafeSkyworks Solutions introduces five highly linear, active bias, low noise variable gain amplifiers for LTE and WCDMA infrastructure systems. The SKY65369-11 (832–862 MHz), SKY65370-11 (814–849 MHz), SKY65371-11 (880–915 MHz), SKY65373-11 (1710–1785 MHz) and SKY65374-11 (1850–1915 MHz) receive modules are fully integrated, high performance devices that combine several discrete components into a single, easy-to-use solution.

Cypress Industries

Listing Added

Instrumentation Cable, Deutsch Connector to many breakouts - RF CafeCypress Industries, located in Austin, TX, manufactures industrial cable assemblies to be as dependable as every part of the equipment they control. To minimize downtime, maximize ROI and manage your operations, you need a cabling system that provides complete control and provides the right data at the right time. Phone: 866-844-6699

Thanks to American Standard

Circuits (ASC) for Support

ASC Inc. has earned a solid reputation as a reliable source for printed circuit boards. Our focus is to provide PCBs for research and development as well as production requirements for business today. They have the unique ability to adjust to the ever changing schedule in business today, where flexibility is the key to saving your company time and money in the manufacturing cycle. From prototype to production, the ASC team will supply a quality product on time. ASC is a reliable manufacturer that will be serving the electronics industry for many years to come.

Ametherm Listing Added

Inrush Current Limiting Resistors - RF CafeAmetherm is a manufacturer of reliable and effective inrush current limiting thermistor solutions. Samples available. Located in Carson City, NV, you can contact them at 800-808-2434.

Hollywood Meets Hallicrafters

Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford face off in front of a pair of vintage Hallicrafters in Relativity Media's Paranoia (QST) - RF CafeJohn Dilks reported in the August 2013 edition of QST on his opportunity of a lifetime when he received a call from a friend saying that the producers of the film Paranoia needed some really convincing vintage tube radios as props. John is the author of the monthly "Vintage Radio" column in the ARRL's flagship publication, and owns a huge collection of exactly the type of equipment being sought. Paranoia is a saga starring Harrison Ford and Liam Hemsworth. Per IMDB, "An entry-level employee at a powerful corporation finds himself occupying a corner office, but at a dangerous price: he must spy on his boss's old mentor to secure for him a multi-billion dollar advantage." John, his son, and friend Nick England...

Electrical Engineering

Crossword for 9/29/2013

Electrical Engineering Crossword Puzzle for September 29, 2013 - RF CafeThis week's crossword puzzle has an electrical engineering theme with all the entries being selected from a personally hand-assembled list of words and clues. Instead of being asked for the names of movie stars and botanical oddities, you need to know electronics, physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, and other technical stuff. BTW, even though the crossword puzzle titles alternate with terms like 'electrical,' 'wireless,' and 'microwave,' they all use the same dictionary. I only vary titles for SEO purposes.

USAF Radar Tech Mike Skees

Checks in with a LOT of Info

USAF Radar Tech Mike Skees Checks in with a LOT of Info - RF CafeWow. If you were a radar technician in the U.S. Air Force anytime between the 1970s and 1990s, you'll probably want to read Mike Skees' letter. It is so chock full of names, locations and dates that you will almost certainly find at least one person you recognize. If your name is not yet on my list of honored USAF radar techs, please send me an e-mail and I'll be glad to add you.

AWR Announces a Full Slate

of Activities For EuMW 2013

AWR Corporation, the innovation leader in high-frequency EDA software, announces that a full slate of activities will be offering during EuMW 2013. Select software demonstrations to MicroApps to an EU User Group Meeting as well as a PA design lunch and learn with Cree and a Customer Appreciation happy hour with National Instruments are all in the works. AWR and its parent company of National Instruments will present seven MicroApps at the EuMW 2013 MicroApps Theater (Stand #109) throughout the week.

Comparison Method

for Determining VSWR

Determining Voltage Standing-Wave Ratios, June 1954 Radio & Television News - RF CafeMeasuring voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) is a fairly common and simple operation these days with readily available and relatively inexpensive test equipment. Inserting a power meter in series with a signal to measuring the incident and reflected power, or even simpler, inserting a bidirectional power coupler in series with the signal and measuring the difference between the forward and reverse ports is a routine matter for even modestly equipped laboratories, Ham shacks, or field operations. Simply plug the two values into the following equation for the answer:  VSWR=(1 + β)/(1-β), where β=√(Prev/Pfwd). What if all you have is an oscilloscope, then how would you make the measurement? Actually, the calculation is even simpler...

PMI Intros Successive

Detection Log Video Amplifier

PMI Intros 315 to 362 MHz Successive Detection Log Video Amplifier (SDLVA) - RF CafePMI model SDLVA-315M362M Successive Detection Log Video Amplifiers (SDLVA) offers 65 dB Dynamic Range over the frequency range of 315 to 362 MHz. This model offers a fast rise time of 35 nsec maximum and a recovery time of less than 500 nsec. The unit is temperature compensated such that log accuracy over temperature remains less than ±2.5 dB over the full operating temperature range of -33 to +77 °C.

Interface Torque Transducer

Used in MIT Electric Race Car

Interface Torque Transducer Used in MIT Motorsports Formula SAE Electric Race Car (MIT image) - RF CafeFormula SAE is a student design competition organized by SAE International, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. Conceived of in 1978 at the University of Houston, the first organized competition was held at the University of Texas at Austin in 1981 and included only 6 teams. Since then it's grown into a major event including well over 100 teams from all over the world. During development of the Electric Vehicle, the MIT team faced many challenges including testing and optimizing their new electric motor powered drive train. They needed to characterize their motors and turned to the experts at Interface for help developing an electric motor test stand. After consulting with an Interface application engineer, the HRDT (High Resolution Digital Torque Transducer) with integrated couplings was selected.

Advanced Test Equip. Corp.

Job Fair on October 2, 2013

Advanced Test Equipment Corp is growing & expanding!! Established in 1981 ATEC is a worldwide Hi-Tech equipment Rental company seeking energetic individuals to work in a fast pace environment. Open house will be WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 2nd 9:00am to NOON. All positions are Full-Time perm positions. For more information see our website at www.atecorp.com
  • Inside Sales (Entry level and JR level positions)
  • Accounts Receivable Billing Specialist
  • Warehouse Shipping & Receiving Clerk
  • Calibration Technicians
  • SQL Writer
  • Programmer

Linx's GM Series GNSS Rx

Tracks Multiple Satellites

Linx's GM Series GNSS Receiver Module Makes Tracking Multiple Satellite Constellations Easy - RF CafeLinx Technologies is pleased to announce its launch of the GM Series Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver module to market. The GM Series GNSS receiver module is an autonomous, high-performance Global Satellite Navigation System receiver designed for navigation, asset tracking and positioning applications of all kinds. Based on the MediaTek chipset, it can simultaneously acquire and track several satellite constellations. These include the United States GPS system, Europe's GALILEO, Russia's GLONASS and Japan's QZSS.

CEL Announces Discontinued

Line of GaAs ICs

CEL: California Eastern Laboratories GaAs IC Discontinuation - RF CafeAn RF Cafe visitor sent me a note about California Eastern Labs (CEL) shutting down some of their GaAs IC line of components. If you are a user and need to have parts for future production and/or repair, then now is the time to check in with them or your CEL supplier.

Shooting Holes

in the iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s Teardown: Shooting Holes in the Product - RF CafeSome people adopt quite literally the expression 'shooting holes' in a theory, argument, or claim. That is definitely the case for video blogger Richard Ryan, who takes aim at (another firearms expression) an iPhone 5s with his Barrett M82A1 50 caliber sniper rifle. I know from experience performing many teardowns of phones, wireless routers, Bluetooth devices, etc., that getting the cases open can be challenging - particularly if your goal is to preserve the integrity of the product - but Mr. Ryan's method does seem a bit extreme. His tactic is no more shocking than, say, dropping an iPhone 5 in a kitchen blender. The approach used by the folks at RCR Wireless, Design News, and Chipworks...

LadyBug Intros Low

Frequency RF Power Sensor

LB559A USB CW Wide Dynamic Range PowerSensor+™ - RF CafeLadyBug Technologies announces its new low frequency RF Power Sensor. The new LB559A-LF1 Sensor adds coverage below 100 kHz to LadyBug's laboratory accuracy RF and microwave power sensor portfolio. Designed for calibration, medical and test applications, the new LB559A-LF1 Sensor includes a powerful full featured Windows GUI application. . Options include a variety of connector options, support for programmatic measurements, a recorder output, and hardware triggering input and output. Measurement speed is up to 2,000 measurements per second and the dynamic range is -55 to +20 dBm. 

How to Embed Playable Song

Samples in a Web Page

My son-in-law, Matt Cochran, who has a degree in microbiology and is a certified dog trainer, also runs a disk jockey side business. He just wrote to ask for advice on how to embed playable song sample clips into a web page so potential customers can listen to music that he has purchased for playing during his gigs. Embedding an audio or video file is simple, but doing so without violating a copyright requires finding a legal, linkable sample file to call from your own page. Amazon.com is the perfect source. Although there are undoubtedly other, even better ways of accomplishing the objective, this one I devised is pretty much bulletproof...

Renewable Energy's

Hidden Cost

Renewable Energy's Hidden Cost - RF CafeI have written in the past that I have always been a huge proponent of research and development into all sorts of energy conversion systems, be they wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear, hydrocarbon, biomass, chemical, or whatever. What I oppose and resent is the politicization of the system where people and groups with agendas (that often includes schemes for enriching and empowering themselves and their crones) feed fallacious and obfuscating data to the public in order to gain acceptance. The generally tech-ignorant and celebrity-stunned public is sadly all too willing to fall in line, particularly when convinced (a simple task) that they are being cheated by anyone with a little bit more than they have, and therefore deserve to have that wealth redistributed...

RF Cafe Quiz #53: Chipless

RFID Reader Architecture

RF Cafe Quiz #53: Chipless RFID Reader ArchitectureThis 10-question quiz is based on the information presented in Chipless RFID Reader Architecture, by Nemai Chandra Karmakar, Randika V. Koswatta, Prasanna Kalansuriya, and Rubayet E-Azim. Some of these books are available as prizes in the monthly RF Cafe Giveaway. Graciously provided by Artech House.

Bird Acquires Distributed

DeltaNode Antenna Systems

Bird Technologies, a leading provider of radio frequency based products, systems, and services, today announced that is has acquired DeltaNode from Scandinavian Health Ltd. for an undisclosed amount of cash. The transaction was completed on September 1. Founded in 2005 by a group of engineers with decades of wireless experience, DeltaNode has since established a strong presence in Europe, the U.S., and Canada, as a supplier of RF-over-fiber distributed antenna systems and repeaters designed to enhance the coverage of commercial wireless and public safety communication systems.  DeltaNode will continue to operate from its facilities in Stockholm, Sweden.

Lissajous Art Circuits

for O-Scopes

Lissajous Art Circuits for O-Scopes - RF CafeRegardless of whether you call it a Lissajous pattern or 'quadrature art,' there is a coolness about feeding signals into the X and Y axes of an oscilloscope and watching the patterns that emerge on the CRT (or possibly LCD these days) display. Using static waveshapes can create amazing-enough Etch-A-Sketch type drawings, but animating the on-screen patterns with time-varying signals into one or both axes really spiffs up the results. This short article by Russ Williams on the EDN website presents a few simple circuits for generating some of the quadrature art examples shown in the thumbnail below. A solderless breadboard, quad opamp IC, and a handful of resistors, capacitors, and inductors will get you started. For test equipment, a simple...

IEEE today's engineer

September 25, 2013

IEEE Today's Engineer Update (9-25-2013) - RF CafeIEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online is a monthly Web publication devoted to the issues affecting U.S. IEEE members' careers, such as professionalism, management skills, engineering performance, engineering skills and competencies, product development practices, project management issues, innovation and entrepreneurship, business practices.

Where Are the Tech Jobs?

Communicating to

   Managers: Prepare and

   Be Confident

Thinking Inside the Box to

   Boost Creativity

21st Century Engineering

Wyoming Recognizes Value

   of a Ph.D.

Free Excerpt of Michael

Steer's Microwave & RF Book

AWR Offers eBook Excerpt of Professor Michael Steer’s Latest Microwave & RF Design Book - RF CafeAWR Corporation, the innovation leader in high-frequency EDA software, announces that for a limited time the company will offer a free eBook download of Chapter 18, “Wideband Amplifiers,” from the new second edition of engineering professor Michael Steer's textbook, Microwave & RF Design: A Systems Approach. The eBook excerpt download also contains embedded video tutorials of Professor Steer demonstrating key principles of design as they pertain to the wideband amplifier case study contained within its pages. This second edition is a comprehensive treatment of RF and microwave design for advanced undergraduate and graduate students (as well as professionals). A key feature of this new edition is the introduction of real-world case studies developed with AWR's popular Microwave Office® circuit design software.

NuWaves Expands Int'l Sales

with Castle Microwave in UK

NuWaves Engineering, an international Radio Frequency (RF) and Embedded Systems solutions provider, announced today that the company has added Castle Microwave as an authorized representative of its commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products and design services for the United Kingdom and Ireland. "As a specialist electronics distributor in the UK and Ireland for over 30 years, Castle Microwave has an impressive track record and a large sales and service footprint," said Jeff Wells, President and CEO of NuWaves Engineering.

432-Mc. Solar Patrol

432 mc. Solar Patrol Comet ISON - RF CafeNASA (and its predecessor NACA), and private and public operators have been monitoring solar events in the optical realm for many decades while attempting to correlate terrestrial phenomena with it. Auroral light displays in the extreme polar regions have long been known to be caused by solar flare and coronal mass ejections (CME). With the advent of radio, the electrical nature of the upper atmosphere became evident when static and long range propagation affected long range communications. Extreme CME activity eventually was associated with behavior of the electrical power grid; indeed, massive blackouts and brownouts are to blame for many. Last but not least came concern for sun-sourced electrons regarding satellites. More than one 'bird' has been smoked by the sun's ejecta. This November, on Thanksgiving Day, actually, comet ISON...

Featured Book

Dilbert 2.0

Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert, by Scott Adams. This special slipcased collection - weighing in at more than ten pounds with 600 pages and featuring almost 4,000 strips - takes readers behind the scenes and into the early days of Scott Adams' life pre-Dilbert and on to the success that followed when Dilbert became an internationally syndicated sensation. Divided into five different epochs, Dilbert 2.0 gives readers a glance at some of Adams's earliest strips, like those created for Playboy, and a peek at an abundance of special content ranging from numerous rejection letters to Adams' first cartooning check, and more. Adams personally selected the material for this collection and offers original comments and humorous asides throughout.

Huge Resource for Vintage

Data Books and Textbooks

Huge Resource for Vintage Data Books and Textbooks (Arthur Missira) - RF CafeIt was not all that long ago when virtually everything you bought was NOT designed to be thrown away when it broke. Back when ICs, resistors, and capacitors had wire leads and cases were held together with straight-slot and Phillips head screws rather than the microminiature 'security' type screws, it was possible for the able and willing repairman to troubleshoot and repair a device or appliance. Now, in a world that bombards us with admonitions against not being green, practically everything is meant to be thrown away after use - from cellphones and televisions to clothing and the vast quantity of cardboard and Styrofoam packaging that contains our disposable goods. For those of us who lived during the aforementioned times and/or those who dabble in vintage electronics either for hobby or for career necessity, access to data books can sometimes mean the difference...

Notable Quote

Notable Tech Quote for September 23, 2013 - RF Cafe"Keynesian economics is the theory that when consumers don't spend sufficiently, in the opinion of the government, then the government should seize their money and spend it for them." - Steve Forbes

Apple, Samsung Daubert Docs

Should Have Been Sealed

Apple, Samsung Daubert Docs Should Have Been Sealed, by Bob Ambrogi, IMS ExpertServices - RF CafeIMS ExpertServices periodically sends out e-mails that highlight recent key court cases that can significantly affect the effectiveness of expert testimony, both for the plaintiff and for the defendant. You probably remember seeing headlines last year for "The Trial of the Century" involving Apple and Samsung. It turns out in the aftermath that the judge ordered public disclosure of financial records from both parties - against the protestations of both. A superior court ruled, after the Apple, Samsung Daubert Docs Should Have Been Sealed, Federal Circuit Rules, by IMS Expert Services - RF Cafedamage had been done of course, that the judge overstepped her authority. It happens way too often from the benches of all levels. My question is whether the wronged parties are able to sue the judge and/or governing body for incompetence? Do the judges enjoy self-awarded unconstitutional protection against retribution? Attorney Robert Ambrogi weighs in on the situation...

Free White Papers and Tech

Magazines Subscriptions

Well, to be honest they're not completely free. You do need to fill out an application, so some of your time is required. Otherwise, though, the publishers pay the cost.

GPS World - RF CafeWireless Week - RF CafeGPS World

Wireless Week

EDN Europe - RF CafeEETimes Europe - RF CafeEDN Europe

EE Times Europe

Asia Electronics Industry - RF CafeAsia Electronics Industry

Wireless Design & Development - RF CafeWireless Design & Development

There is a huge list of free tech magazines to choose from besides just these.

How Our Commies

Defame America Abroad

How Our Commies Defame America Abroad, February 11, 1950, The Saturday Evening Post - RF CafeJoseph McCarthy is a name widely recognized for his efforts in the 1950s to expose Communist sympathizers in the United States, be they common citizens or holders of high office. His exploits were routinely dismissed as folly and he was accused of "finding a Commie behind every rock." The derisive term 'McCarthyism' was used to describe anyone exhibiting supposedly paranoid obsession with investigating suspected wrong-doing. After many decades of successful application of the charge to shut people up (like calling someone a racist today), a misfortune befell its libelants. In 1995, the Venona papers (secret messages between Moscow and its U.S. agents decrypted by our government), data from Soviet archives and executive-session transcripts of Senate committees were finally opened after a 50-year ban. The information showed that McCarthy was justified in his suspicions after all. This article, which I ran across while looking for interesting old stories and advertisements relating to radio and electronics...

Please Visit Empower RF in

Appreciation of Their Support

Empower RF Systems is a global leader in RF power amplifier solutions that are critical to defense, commercial, and industrial market applications. With origins in the design of broadband and band-specific SSPAs, Empower continues to advance the science of RF power amplification to produce the toughest, most efficient and cost-effective solutions in the industry. Their priority is to design and deliver high quality, innovative products which solve customer systems and business requirements.

Wireless Engineering

Crossword for Sept. 22, 2013

Wireless Crossword Puzzle for September 22, 2013 - RF CafeThis week, as with every week, the RF Cafe crossword puzzle uses only words from a custom-built (by me) dictionary of only terms from engineering, mathematics, chemistry, science, physics, aerospace, electronics, mechanics, astronomy, maritime, sci-fi, and related fields and persons affiliated therewith. No numbnut clues for Hollywierd actors, fashion designers, psychics, remote villages, etc., will ever be found. You can get those from the newspaper and practically all online crossword puzzle websites.

Many Thanks to 3Gmetalworx

3gmetalworx3Gmetalworx has been helping deliver this website to you since 2008. Since 1994, leading wireless electronics companies have relied on 3Gmetalworx to deliver cutting edge solutions for advanced RF/EMI PCB-level shielding requirements. From prototyping and design services to JIT manufacturing, 3Gmetalworx provides a seamless service pathway supporting entire product lifecycle with basic shielding cans, single-cavity shield sets, and multi-cavity shield sets.

R/C Aircraft Carrier Launches

R/C Airplane - Video

R/C Aircraft Carrier Launch of R/C Model Airplane (Video) - RF CafeI normally reserve the radio controlled (R/C) model news for my AirplanesAndRockets hobby website, but this is so cool that I know the many former and current military members who visit RF Cafe will appreciate it. For that matter, so will a lot of non-military members. Here is a video of a very large scale R/C model of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier being used as a launch platform for a radio controlled T-38 model airplane. Adding to the cool factor is the use of an R/C tugboat for pushing the aircraft carrier away from the docks before it gets underway. Per the YouTube website description, "Our 13-foot USS Kitty Hawk replica launches her planes to the beach in this RapidNadion adventure. Some aircraft never make it off the deck, and others crash into the drink due to Kitty Hawk's prototype catapult system...

Anatech Electronics'

September 2013 Newsletter

Anatech Electronics Newsletter for September 2013 - RF CafeAnatech Electronics has published its September 2013 newsletter. As always, it includes both company news and some tidbits about relevant industry events, regulations, and standards. This month Sam Benzacar writes about Wi-Fi encryption, the Land Mobile market, and a new study by the FCC on radio interference. He also has a short piece titled, "And They Said Someday We Wouldn't Need Filters" (BTW, Anatech makes filters).

Sherlock Ohms: The Case

of the Common Ground

Sherlock Ohms: Looking for Common Ground - RF CafeYou have probably heard the old (erroneous) adage, "Ground is ground the world around." That might have been true prior to the advent of electronics, but it certainly isn't so anymore. Even in the vacuum tube days it wasn't so. Once frequencies get high enough that reactance rivals resistance for dominance, you can forget about simple grounding concepts for anything other than providing a measure of safety against electrical shock. This latest installment of EDN's Sherlock Ohms series is an account by John Lombard on his experience in, "Looking for Common Ground." He begins, "The term 'ground' should be used more carefully. In our equipment, we distinguish between ground and DC common for good reason. Ground refers to chassis or safety ground to take errant AC voltage..."

Radio Physics Course

Mutual Inductance

Radio Physics Course - Mutual Inductance, July 1934 Radio News - RF CafeHere is a brief primer on mutual inductance between inductors (aka coils). Mutual inductance is your circuit's friend if you want it to occur, as with a transformer, or it can be your circuit's mortal enemy if you don't want it to occur, as when two inductors 'talk' to each other unintentionally because of proximity and relative orientation. One form of mutual inductance not mentioned here but of utmost importance to radio is that existing between elements in a directional antenna like a Yagi or log periodic configuration.

Skyworks Ramps GPS/GNSS

Solutions in Emerging Markets

Skyworks Ramps GPS/GNSS Solutions in Emerging Markets - RF CafeSkyworks Solutions today announced that its highly integrated, low noise amplifier front-end modules are being leveraged by various OEMs to enable GPS and GNSS in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices in emerging markets. Skyworks' modules offer high linearity, excellent gain and an integrated filter, providing manufacturers with cost-effective, high performance solutions in a compact footprint.  These devices are also the first semiconductors to support China's BeiDou navigation satellite system (BDS), China's second-generation system that is enabling GPS in consumer platforms.

Foucault Pendulum Google

Doodle for September 18

Foucault Pendulum Google Doodle for September 18 - RF CafeGoogle's Foucault Pendulum doodle for today is an animation that shows the current time according to pegs that have been knocked down by a swinging pendulum, in commemoration of Jean Bernard Léon Foucault's birthday on September 18, 1819. It is very cool. After watching its motion over a period of many minutes, the update appears to occur only when the web page is refreshed, rather than with real-time action. I also noticed what looks like an error in the displayed position of the pendulum on the near side of the peg array that is illustrated in the screen capture below. Unless the pendulum has just been released, it is impossible for the path to lie between two standing pegs. The pendulum bob's path should never pass between two standing pegs unless it had just been initially released. Probably most widely seen Foucault Pendulum is (or was)...

Z-Comm Intros Octave Tuning

VCO for 3 to 6 GHz

Z-Communications announces a new RoHS compliant VCO model V600ME45-LF ideal for satellite communication applications. The V600ME45-LF operates from 3 to 6 GHz with a tuning voltage range of 0-24 Vdc. This octave tuning VCO features a typical phase noise of -103 dBc/Hz @ 100 kHz offset and an average tuning sensitivity of 147 MHz/V. The V600ME45-LF is designed to deliver a typical output power of 6 dBm into a 50 ohm load while operating from a 12 Vdc supply and drawing only 24 mA. Second harmonic suppression better than -12 dBc.

Hunt-and-Peck Typing:

Bane of the Inept

Hunt-and-Peck Typing: Bane of the Inept - RF CafeThis personal anecdote is humorous only because I caught my typo before it was too late to correct it. Whenever an advertiser makes a payment, I always try to remember to send a thank-you note to let him or her know that payment has been received. The standard e-mail Subject line I use is something like, "RF Cafe: Payment Received - Thanks!" Hunt-and-peckers like me (yeah, intentional self-deprecation) bear the burden of having to look at the computer keyboard most of the time whilst typing. Somehow, even with decades of sitting in front of a computer for hours on most days, the neurons never quite fully connected between my fingers and the word processing region of my brain. Last week I was typing the Subject line for one of the aforementioned e-mail genres while a Windows system file update was occurring in the background. Maybe it doesn't happen on Macs, but on PCs...

USAF Recruitment Ads in

The Saturday Evening Post

U.S. Air Force Recruitment Advertisements in Saturday Evening Post - RF CafeThe original purpose of this note was to announce a couple post-WWI era U.S. Air Force recruitment posters that I ran across in Saturday Evening Post magazines of the day, but I got side-tracked. There is a plethora of old posters available for viewing on the Internet, but I haven't seen these two, which are particularly directed toward flight officers. Except maybe for a C-130, you probably won't see any propeller-driven aircraft in today's USAF material. In fact, it was while I was looking for contemporary recruitment posters to test that hunch that I ran across an entire section of regulations governing the proper - and only official - method of construction the USAF's new (relatively) wings symbol. The official U.S. Air Force "signature" consists of...

Featured Book of the Week

Chipless RFID Reader Architecture, by Nemai Chandra Karmakar. In the era of information communication technology , RFID has been going through tremendous development. RFID technology has the potential of replacing barcodes due to its large information carrying capacity, flexibility in operations, and applications. The deployment of RFID has been hindered by its cost. However, with the advent of low powered ICs, energy scavenging techniques, and low-cost chipless tags, RFID technology has achieved significant development. This book addresses the new reader architecture, presents fundamentals of chipless RFID systems, and covers protocols. Published by Artech House.

Please Welcome Interface

RF Cafe's Newest Supporter

Interface has been the trusted world leader in force measurement for half a century - from grams to millions of pounds, in hundreds of configurations. We are the preeminent supplier to companies such as Boeing, Airbus, NASA, Ford, GM, NIST and thousands of measurement labs. Our load cells are complimented by highly accurate torque transducers, machine calibration systems, digital indicators, software, and force measurement. Our in-house recalibration and repair labs support a variety test standards.

Thanks to Comdel for

Long-Time Support!

Comdel has been supporting RF Cafe for five years. Comdel designs and manufactures RF and DC power supplies and process instruments for the semiconductor, solar cell/photovoltaics, flat panel, and industrial heating industries. Comdel products are in use worldwide by the industry's major equipment and IC fab manufacturers. Please consider them for your design needs.

When Protons Are

a Negative Force

When Protons Are a Negative Force (Anatoli Bugorski) - RF CafeAnatoli Bugorski has the distinction of being the only person known to have placed part of his body in the path of a high energy proton particle beam ...and lived. At the time, he was working as a researcher at Russia's Institute for High Energy Physics, on the U-70 synchrotron. While troubleshooting a malfunctioning piece of equipment on 13 July 1978, he stuck his head directly in the path of the proton beam. Mr. Bugorski reported that he saw a flash "brighter than a thousand suns," but did not feel any pain. The scenario reminds me of the story I've told before about a guy I worked with in the USAF who inadvertently put is head in front of a transmitting S-band radar antenna feed horn and reported hearing a loud hum in his ears. In both cases safety interlocking mechanisms were believed to have been properly...

Alternative Fuel Vehicles -

Engineering Opportunities

Alternative Fuel Vehicles & Engineering Opportunities - RF CafeElectric cars are good business for electrical and electronics engineers from a multitude of standpoints, and since they are being imposed upon us - ready or not - it might be a good idea to figure out how you can position yourself to benefit from them career-wise. Power generation and distribution engineering has always been a well-paying, challenging aspect of electrical engineering. Control systems, battery management, brushless motors, navigation systems (including collision avoidance and self-navigation), and vehicle power and signal distribution are all technical realms needed to make an electric vehicle fleet viable. All are in their infancy relative to automobiles built for internal combustion engines. Many IC vendors are already designing products specifically to address needs of electric vehicles. As an increasing number of electric-only cars (compared to Prius types whose gasoline engine charges the battery) are put into primary service, the nation's grid is going to feel the stress. In fact, our electricity generation and distribution system is already under severe stress and it is only through impression, near super-human efforts of planners and engineers that blackouts...

Many Thanks to NuWaves

Engineering for Support!

NuWaves Engineering is a premier supplier of RF Systems, Subsystems, RF Products and Engineering Design Services designed to customer requirements. They are a turnkey provider for RF and microwave communication custom designs with full project management and design responsibilities; taking ownership from the conceptual idea to production.

Amateur Radio Stations

Amateur Radio Stations, December 1935 QST - RF CafeThose of you who are not particularly interested in old electronic equipment will please indulge those of us who are. I post these articles occasionally to remind people of from whence we have come. Whether you are an amateur radio operator or just a cellphone user, appreciation is due to the pioneers who took the metaphorical arrows for us so that we may enjoy the micro-size, low cost, high quality communications available today. The full-height equipment racks in the photos were standard fare in the 1930s for long distance (DX) shortwave operators - often only for CW (Morse code). "User serviceable parts inside' was the rule rather than the exception. As much as I like waxing nostalgic over tube-based hardware of yesteryear, I am quite grateful to be typing this note on a computer keyboard and not on a massive teletype machine.

Notable Tech Quote

Notable Tech Quote for September 16, 2013 - RF Cafe"If you have a truly new idea, you don't have to worry about people stealing it. You will have to pound it into their heads." - John A. O'Keefe, assistant chief of the Theoretical Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center from 1958-1974.

Axiom Test Equipment - RF Cafe

Temwell Filters

Amplifier Solutions Corporation (ASC) - RF Cafe