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"I wonder sometimes if manufacturers of foolproof items keep a fool or two on their payroll to test things." - Alan Coren

Today in Science History

Poll: How Much Vacation Do You Get Each Year?

Poll: How Much Vacation Do You Get Each Year? - RF CafePlease take a few moments and vote in this new poll. Thanks for your participation. - Kirt B.

Mac's Service Shop: Shelf Life of Capacitors & Batteries

Mac's Service Shop: Shelf Life of Capacitors & Batteries, August 1972 Popular Electronics - RF CafeOne of the first things a knowledgeable restorer of vintage electronic gear does prior to plugging in a newly acquired piece of hardware is to replace all of the original paper capacitors. Those things notoriously lose the internally contained smoke that makes them work soon after power is applied. Episodes of conflagration often ensue. According to Mac McGregor, the typical shelf life of a paper capacitor (and some mica and ceramics back in the day) is about five years. In that time the insulation resistance can drop from 5000 MΩ to less than 2 MΩ. Ohm's Law quickly reveals that with used across ...

Tips for Increasing Yields When Wire Bonding Small MESA Chips

Tips for Increasing Yields When Wire Bonding Small MESA Chips - RF CafeMany moons ago (early-mid 1980s), I did quite a bit of microcircuit assembly and wire bonding in an engineering prototype lab at Westinghouse. It was a unique and valuable experience. When this app note notice showed up in a recent edition of NASA tech Briefs, I though it would be good to let you know about. "The common failure modes of wire bonds, for instance cratering / peeling, bond wire damage, trailing wire bond tails, poor adhesion, and missed bond pads, are exacerbated when wire bonding small MESA chips. There are many variables that need to be balanced to optimize a wire bond process, and limit the amount of time consuming and costly ..."

RF Cafe Engineering Crossword Puzzle w/Weekly Headlines for July 23

RF Cafe Engineering Crossword Puzzle w/Weekly Headlines July 23, 2017For the sake of avid cruciverbalists amongst us, each week I create a new crossword puzzle that has a theme related to engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical words. Clues in this puzzle with an asterisk (*) are pulled from this past week's (7/17 - 7/21) "Tech Industry Headlines" column on the RF Cafe homepage (see the Headline Archives page for help). Enjoy! ...

The Use of COTS Components in Space

The Use of COTS Components in Space - RF Cafe"The use of selected Electrical, Electronic, and Electromechanical (EEE) commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components in space applications is slowly expanding - too slowly - and not free of myths. It is imperative to be aware of the pitfalls posed by these myths to reach a decision whether to use COTS parts in a specific space mission. Myth 1: The main drive to use COTS in space is cost savings. The use of COTS in space is not a paved road to cost savings. In order not to misinterpret the term 'cost savings,' it should be emphasized that for an EEE component the following applies ..."

Triad RF Systems Intros TTRM1081 Bi-Directional SSPA

Triad RF Systems Intros TTRM1081 Bi-Directional SSPA - RF CafeTriad RF Systems announces the availability of their TTRM1081, an L-Band bi-directional SSPA suitable for high data-rate wireless links. Applications include UAVs and military mesh networks. Rx noise figure is approximately 1.3 dB and Tx/Rx switching speed is 1 μS. This class AB LDMOS module is designed for both military and commercial applications. It 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. The latest device technologies and design methods are employed ...

Claude Shannon’s New York Years

Claude Shannon’s New York Years - RF Cafe"By day, Claude Shannon labored on top-secret war projects at Bell Labs. By night, he worked out the details of information theory. Looking back on the last months of 1940, Claude Shannon was quite open about his desire to avoid the World War II draft: 'Things were moving fast there, and I could smell the war coming along. And it seemed to me I would be safer working full-time for the war effort, safer against the draft, which I didn't exactly fancy. I was a frail man, as I am now.... I was trying to play the game, to the best of my ability. But not only that, I thought I'd probably contribute ..."

Advanced Energy Needs an RF Electrical Engineer

Advanced Energy Looking for an RF Electrical Engineer - RF CafeAdvanced Energy has devoted more than three decades to perfecting power enabling design breakthroughs and driving growth for leading semiconductor and industrial customers. Our precision power and control technologies, along with our applications know-how, inspire close partnerships and perpetual innovation in thin-film and industrial manufacturing. The RF Engineer performs engineering work in applied research, design, development, testing, manufacturing, and documentation of RF products or systems. In this role, you will work with customers to understand their equipment ...

Spintronics Gets a Boost Through Measuring and Controlling Spin Voltage

Spintronics Gets a Boost Through Measuring and Controlling Spin Voltage - RF Cafe"Researchers at Harvard University have taken an important step in the realization of 'spintronic' devices by developing a technique for both measuring and controlling the spin voltage of electrons, also known as their spin chemical potential. This spin voltage characterizes the tendency of electron spins to diffuse through a material. Whereas in a conducting material electrons can physically move from point A to point B (an electric current), with spin voltage the spin of an electron can be transferred to a neighboring electron. This communication ..."

Thanks to BBTLine for Continued Support!

BBTLine - BroadBand Transmission Line Products - RF CafeBBTLine offers a unique patented combiner / splitter design that allows for more compact devices while maintaining low insertion loss, excellent return loss and excellent amplitude/phase balance. These are not standard Wilkinson-style RF splitters. 2- and 4-way, broadband 0.5 - 6 GHz, low loss (0.7 dB @ 6 GHz), excellent amplitude / θ balance (±0.1 dB, ±1°), surface mount & connectorized. Please visit BBTLine today to see how they can help your project ...

New Technique for Manipulating Polarization of Terahertz Radiation

New Technique for Manipulating Polarization of Terahertz Radiation - RF Cafe"Researchers at Brown University have developed a new kind of polarizing beam splitter for terahertz radiation, which could prove useful in imaging and communications systems. The technique uses stacks of carefully spaced metal plates to make a polarizing beam splitter, a device that splits a beam of light by its differing polarization states, sending vertically polarized light in one direction and horizontally polarized light in another. Such a beam splitter could be useful in a wide variety of systems that make use of terahertz radiation, from imaging systems to future ..."

Royal Mint to Welcome Amateur Radio

Royal Mint to Welcome Amateur Radio - RF Cafe"The Royal Mint Experience in Wales will host 'The Royal Mint Radio Experience,' July 30 until August 5 at the Royal Mint's new visitor center in Llantrisant, Wales. School children and members of the public have been invited to enjoy a fun, informal, and interactive Amateur Radio workshop. According to an announcement from the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), visitors will get the chance to use the FUNcube-1 CubeSat, launched in 2013 and used by schools and educational groups around the world. 'We're delighted to be supporting this event which will give visitors to the Royal ..."

Samsung Starts Production at World's Biggest Fab

Samsung Starts Production at World's Biggest Fab - RF Cafe"Samsung Electronics has announced that its wafer fab at Pyeongtaek, South Korea, has started shipping products and that it will focus on the production of 64-layer vertical NAND ICs. According to reports Samsung Electronics has earmarked 15.6T won ($13.5B) over the past two years and coming years to build out Pyeongtaek's line 1. The company has announced it now plans to spend another 14.4T won ($12.5B) to expand its semiconductor production capacity there with a Pyeongtaek line Samsung also plans to invest 6T won in its Hwaseong, South Korea, site ..."

Electronics-Themed Comics, January 1969 Electronics World

Electronics-Themed Comics, January 1969 Electronics World - RF CafeI chuckled out loud when I saw this comic. Of course the situation would never really occur (then again, maybe it could...). The artist is G. Lyons, who does not appear to have made many other appearances in Electronics World magazine. He might have been a loyal reader who submitted it as a one-time stint at fame ...

RCA-Victor Model 15U, Radio-Phonograph Data Sheet

RCA-Victor Model 15U, Radio-Phonograph, April 1938 Radio-Craft - RF CafeThis Radio Service Data Sheet for the RCA-Victor Model 15U, which appeared in the April 1938 issue of Radio-Craft, is the first 3-page instance I remember seeing in all the vintage electronics magazines. The Model 15U is a fairly sophisticated outfit, but not that much more so than some other pieces. There is a nice example of the Model 15U on the RadioMuseum.org website (thumbnail at left). It appears to be fairly clean, but not yet fully restored. A lot of adjustments needed to be made during the alignment of both the radio (commercial broadcast and shortwave bands) and the turntable. The electronics repair ...

Wireless System Designer Is Now Available!

Wireless System Designer v1 Is Available Now! - RF CafeFor more than a decade, RF Cascade Workbook 2005™ has been the de facto standard for spreadsheet-based RF system cascade analysis. Wireless System Designer™ is the next phase in the evolution. If you know how to use Excel and you know anything about cascaded system calculations, then you know how to use Wireless System Designer™. This is significantly easier and faster than using the multi-thousand dollar simulators when a quick system analysis is all that is needed. An intro video takes you through the main features ...

Nuclear Radiation & Detection

Nuclear Radiation & Detection, December 1972 Popular Electronics - RF CafeParts 1 and 2 of this series covered the theory of nuclear physics and laboratory investigation devices. This final installation talks about commercially available test instruments for detecting and measuring nuclear radiation levels. My introduction to Geiger counters was in the old The Adventures of Superman television show (the originals with George Reeves) where they were used by villains to verify that their stash of Kryptonite would be sufficient to disable our superhero. I could not find anywhere whether Kryptonite's emission type is alpha particles (helium nucleus; i.e., 2 protons and 2 neutrons), beta particles ...

Guglielmo Marconi Obituary 1874 - 1937

Guglielmo Marconi Obituary 1874 - 1937, October 1937 Radio-Craft - RF CafeNews was a bit slow to spread prior to the Internet. Unless you worked in a newsroom with a ticker machine clacking away all day heralding breaking headlines from around the world, your access was relegated to the discretion of media editors and producers. Items like the demise of radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi on July 20, 1937, due to a heart attack would surely have been broadcast on radio shows (not many households had TVs at the time) and printed in major newspapers, but long lead times for magazines meant a four month delay for publications like Radio-Craft. This story appeared along with separate editorial by Hugo Gernsback ...

Tech Industry Headlines

Tech Industry Headlines - RF Cafe- Archive -

DARPA Calls for Post-Moore's Law Ideas

UK Government Announces £246M 'Faraday Challenge'

Google Maps Adds the International Space Station

China Unicom Could Look Very Different in Month or Two

Microsoft Mints New Fortunes in the Cloud

AMSAT 2017 Space Symposium Issues 1st Call for Papers

Revised FCC Form 605 Will Ask Applicants 'the Felony Question'

Could China's Ban Scrap Plastics Could Be Boon for U.S. Plastics Industry

Regs, Royalties Drag Down Qualcomm

An Oscilloscope Trigger System in the Frequency Domain

An Oscilloscope Trigger System in the Frequency Domain - RF Cafe"If you've been tuned in to Electronic Design's articles this past year in the test and measurement arena, you're probably aware of a series by Colin Mattson (Keysight Technologies) on advanced oscilloscope triggering techniques. In the first article, he elucidates on pulse and pattern modes, where the characteristics of a pulse and the uniqueness of a pattern are utilized as the impetus of signal acquisition. In part two, he delves into edge-mode triggering, where the edge characteristics of a signal are used to mark the trigger for waveform capture. In part three, he ..."

ConductRF's FPA Semi-Flexible Performance RF Cables DC-60 GHz

ConductRF Offers FPA Semi-Flexible Performance RF Cables DC to 60 GHz - RF CafeConductRF's FPA RF Cable Assemblies provide a cost effective high performance solution for applications typically supported by Semi-Rigid or high cost flexible precision cables. Our Multi-layer shielded cable provides both flexibility and form-ability by combining a flexible spiral foil over which is a tin plated copper braid which can be formed. This create a half-way situation, but with added benefits of lower costs, improved performance and enhanced shielding. FPA Cables are available on short lead-times with custom lengths and configurations. Precision SMA, 3.5 mm, 2.92 mm & 2.4 mm are our most common ...

Saelig Intros TekBox TBCGx Comb Generators for EMC Testing

Saelig Intros TekBox TBCGx Comb Generators for EMC Testing - RF CafeSaelig Company announces the availability of two new TekBox TBCGx Comb Generators for EMC testing. The TBCG1 is a radiating comb generator with an internal dipole antenna and a base frequency of 100 MHz. It radiates a comb spectrum that is characterized up to 6 GHz. The comb generator is intended as a quick reference for testing radiated noise measurements in anechoic chambers, TEM/GTEM cells, shielded chambers, or to gauge the effectiveness of cable shielding and other shielding materials. With its built-in dipole antenna the TBCG1 can be used in three orientations to emit vertically- or horizontally ...

Study Reveals 'Cash for Papers' Rewards in China

Study Reveals 'Cash for Papers' Rewards in China - RF Cafe"Chinese researchers were paid an average of $43,000 in 2016 for each paper published in Nature and Science, according to a study by information specialists in China and Canada. Wei Quan from Wuhan University, Bikun Chen at Nanjing University of Science and Technology and Fei Shu at McGill University analysed 168 "cash-per-publication" policies at 100 Chinese universities from 1999 to 2016. The researchers found that Chinese universities offer cash rewards ranging from $30 to $165,000 for papers that are published in journals indexed by Web of Science, with the average amount increasing over ..."

Simple Subsidiary Communications Authorization (SCA) Adapter

Simple Subsidiary Communications Authorization (SCA) Adapter - RF CafeUnlike Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS) which is responsible for your FM radio being able to display song title and station identification via a digital subchannel (began in 1992), Subsidiary Communications Authorization (SCA) has been around as an analog subchannel for more than half a century. SCA (was) used for tasks such as book reading for the blind, telemetry, paging services, and most familiarly - Muzak (aka 'elevator music'). This article presents a simple circuit for stripping the subcarrier off of the FM broadcast signal to permit a listener to avoid commercials, PSAs, weather reports, and other items that are played between songs ...

The Latest in Web Design? Retro Websites Inspired by the ’90s

RF Cafe screen capture August 18, 2000 (Archive.org) - RF CafeThe NY Times has an article about a growing trend to harken back to website layouts reminiscent of the early days of the Internet. RF Cafe, which began life in 1996 as RF Tools on AOL, was there. The RF Cafe logo at the top of this page is the original from 1999.
"Web designs have come a long way in 20 years, but some are taking a step back to evoke a sort of hipster nostalgia for the early days of the internet. They're tipping their hat to the 1990s,' said David Lee, the chief creative officer of Squarespace.' 'I really hate the modern internet,' Mr. Drake said. 'My vision is to bring back making websites as a creative thing, not just as a business thing."
I couldn't agree more ...

Radiocrafts and Digi-Key Enter Global Distribution Agreement

Radiocrafts and Digi-Key Enter Global Distribution Agreement - RF CafeRadiocrafts AS, a leading provider of RF modules, today announced that it has entered a global distribution agreement with Digi-Key Electronics, the industry leader in electronic component selection, availability, and delivery. Design engineers around the world get access to RF modules and design tools from Radiocrafts with short lead-times. Radiocrafts provides surface mount RF modules for wireless networking in the ISM bands world-wide. The modules support industry standard protocols such as Wireless M-Bus, Sigfox and KNX-RF ...

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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 Internet was still largely an unknown entity at the time and not much was available in the form of WYSIWYG ...

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