RF Cafe Visits Beantown
On Tuesday, June 9, Melanie and I spent an enjoyable, albeit very busy, day in
Beantown, at the
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. This was the fifth time in the history of the International
Microwave Symposium (IMS) that Boston hosted the event. Being a big fan of M*A*S*H, I cannot
think of Boston without also thinking of
Charles Emerson Winchester, III.
IMS 2009 was a huge success from the standpoint
of RF Cafe. My purpose was to spend a full day making contacts with as many of my advertisers
as possible. Perhaps unbelievably, I have only ever met a handful of the many advertisers
who have invested their promotional budgets in RF Cafe. They are the people that help to deliver
the vast resources of RF Cafe to you, and who, for the last two years, have provided for my
full-time income. Fortunately, my objective of meeting everyone was achieved, and I got many
good photos of the exhibit hall displays (see below).
Journal website, "Based on initial registration data for IMS2009 that took place June
7-12 in Boston, technical registration was 2,676, an 11% increase over 2008 registration and
exhibit-only registration numbers indicate 2,131 participants, an 83% increase over 2008.
IMS2009 attracted 559 exhibiting companies, also an 11% increase over the number of exhibitors
in 2008. According to preliminary results, the total number of IMS2009 participants, including
exhibitor booth staff and guests, was 9,316 attendees, an 11% increase over 2008 participation.
" So, it appears to have been a huge success for the IEEE and MWJ as well. "Bravo," as the
early New Englander's might have said!
This was my first time in Boston in about 25 years. I do not recall enough about what the
city used to look like to determine whether it has changed much in that time; I assume that
it has. My first impression while driving around Framingham and the outskirts of Boston the
afternoon and evening before was that if there was a recession going on, it was not evident.
The mall parking lots were packed with cars, and the one mall we visited was chock full of
people, with every store space occupied. Rarely was a For Sale sign seen on the front lawn
of any house, and 4 Sale by Owner signs were not taped on the back windows of all the cars.
Boston's vital signs seemed normal.
Rachel Marano & Terry Johnson
Kirt B. &
Spectrum Microwave Filters
/ Systems & Components
Anatech Electronics / AMCrf
Applied Wave Research (AWR)
Sherry Hess & Barry Manz
Empower RF Systems
High Frequency Electronics
Gary Breed & Kirt B.
American Microwave Corp
American Standard Circuits
Richard Song & Tommy Choi
Michelle Kim & Edward Lee
(inc'l. Stealth Microwave)
Davy Jones - Arrr...
Cambridge University Press
Amplical / NoiseWave
Micro Devices (RFMD)
AAlistair Upton & Jeff
As with most of the well-preserved New England areas, there is an amazing abundance of
Early American architecture to behold. The old fire houses, municipal buildings, stone walled
bridges, and ornate row houses were everywhere. Surely, I was a hazard to nearby motorists
and pedestrians alike as I strained my neck to take in all the sights.
way to the Convention & Exhibition Center Tuesday morning, we chose to take a route through
the city rather than circumnavigate the sights by using the throughway. While sitting at a
stoplight, I looked up and saw an array of cabling strung overhead that had separators every
few feet to keep the spacing constant, even as the cabling turned a corner. At first I thought
it was just old electric service wires still awaiting a budget for burying beneath the streets.
Then it occurred to me that they were trolley car power cables. I looked down and saw tracks
buried in the pavement. Moments later, darned if a trolley didn't appear at the corner of
the intersection. It shares a lane with auto traffic. Very cool.
I have to say that one of the most obvious presences in Boston is
Dunkin Donuts stores. There are
more Dunkin Donuts stores than there are McDonalds - literally. I love DD coffee and donuts,
so I found myself thinking that if I was ever forced to live in Boston, it would bearable
if for no other reason than the abundance of Dunkin Donuts stores. Come to find out, Dunkin
Donuts was born in Quincy, MA, just south of Boston. A cool nerd sighting was the huge
MathWorks complex in Framingham, close
to our motel - I bet they eat lots of donuts in meetings there.
Parking at the convention center was a fairly reasonable $10, and included a shuttle ride
from the parking lot (we elected to walk). What was not reasonable was the $41 in tolls paid
along the NY/MA Throughway system (each direction).
Most of the exhibitors that I talked to remarked that while there was a lot of foot traffic
past the booths, a large portion of the actual conversation was from window shoppers and sales
reps looking to pick up lines to add to their repertoire. Design engineers looking for information
on components for their projects were in the minority. Of course, most of them were probably
at the show primarily to attend workshops and build networking contacts. Some people just
roam around picking up all the promotional gifts that were being given away - Fresnel lens
magnifiers, miniature screwdriver sets, pans, USB memory sticks, and mouse pads, and other
nifty freebies. OK, I'll admit, those are items I picked up, but there was a lot more in the
way of other cool stuff.
A big difference between today's shows and those of the 1970s and 1980s is that back then
you needed a large pouch or tote bag to haul home all of the printed databooks that you would
pick up - they were worth their weight in gold and seemed about as dense as gold. Today, you
get a CD or DVD to put in your folder, or better yet, simply a product flyer with a web address
on it. No more hemorrhoids from databooks!
Exhibit Hall A was teaming with activity by the time Melanie and I arrived at around 10:30
am. We came in on the back side of the building, so we had to cross the overhead catwalk to
get to the registration area. It provided a good vantage point to see what was happening.
MegaPhase graciously provided free visitor
tickets for Melanie and me.
Prior to the show, I used the information posted on the
IMS2009.org website to determine which
of my advertisers would have display booths set up. I also sent out e-mails announcing my
intention to see them there on Tuesday, June 9. Once we entered the exhibit floor, the first
thing Melanie and I did was use our list of advertisers to mark the locations of all their
booths. Navigation was made easy by overhead numerical signs and numbers on the floor. It
was obvious that the event organizers knew how to run a show of this magnitude.
Exhibit booths ranged in sophistication from fairly simple backboards with some products
displays and literature, to elaborate setups that even included private customer meeting rooms.
All the displays I saw were very professionally done, regardless of size. Those displays are
not cheap, with even the simpler ones costing $1,000 or more. Larges ones like RFMD had must
have cost many tens of thousands of dollars. Big, friendly smiles were on the faces of all
the booth staff ... and not only when the knew someone was watching. I have to say that, at
least in my last job where I worked in fairly close proximity with the sales folks, that is
generally their disposition most of the time.
A few days after returning from the show, I published photos from the
Booth area. If you are at all one who recognizes and appreciates the genius and hard work
of those who came before us to lay the groundwork for today's RF technologies, then hopefully
someday you will have the opportunity to witness the display that was provided at this year's
IMS show. It is an awe-inspiring collection of some of the most important accomplishments
in the realm of those us who work in the microwave industry. We have arrived, to quote
Isaac Newton, "by
standing on the shoulders of Giants."
I made a point of getting to meet Gary Breed, of
High Frequency Electronics
magazine. I have been a fan of his common sense articles on RF / microwave topics for a long
time. Gary was editor of RF Design
back in the late 1980s when I had just graduated from the University of Vermont with my BSEE.
In the early 1990s, at a time when DOS was still fairly common OS on PCs and lots of people
were writing specialty programs, RF Design ran a software contest in which I ended up placing
somewhere in the top entries with my Spur Finder program. It got me a cool T-shirt, and a
few experimenter kits of surface mount inductor and capacitors. The recognition was a major
motivator for me to continue writing software, and that led to
(originally TxRx Designer), and then other marketable
thanks to Gary for that! Alan Conrad, of
Microwave & RF magazine, later did me a big favor by writing an article on the
software, but I did not get to meet him.
All of the major RF / microwave engineering magazines will be publishing their detailed
versions of the IMS 2009 show within the next month or so, including features like technical
presentations and awards dinners, in which I did not participate. However, I felt compelled
to give you more of a layman's perspective. The only important people I met there were those
with whom I have had primarily an e-mail and/or telephone relationship - many of them for
years. I was also fortunate to run into a handful of engineers I have worked with in the past.
They all at least feigned being glad to see me again. It was a great experience for both Melanie
and me, and well worth the effort involved. Thanks to all!
Here are photographs of the booths and, when possible, personnel from all the RF Cafe advertisers
who were present. Hopefully, those who could not make it this time will be there next time.
If you have a photo of your exhibit booth and would like it added to my collection, please
send it via e-mail. Also, if you would like full-size, unedited versions of any of these
images, let me know and I will be glad to send them to you. The 2010 IMS show will be in Anaheim,
California, and in 2011 will be in Baltimore, Maryland.
Most of the photographs below are of RF Cafe advertisers.
Posted June 19, 2009