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
Major 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).
to the Microwave 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.
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
On the 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.
Rachel Marano & Terry Johnson
Narda Microwave East
RF Dude Consulting
Kirt B. &
Spectrum Microwave Filters
/ Systems &
Anatech Electronics / AMCrf
Applied Wave Research (AWR)
Sherry Hess & Barry Manz
Empower RF Systems
Gary Breed & Kirt B.
American Microwave Corp
American Standard Circuits
Richard Song & Tommy Choi
Michelle Kim & Edward Lee
(inc'l. Stealth Microwave)
Network International Corp (NIC)
Davy Jones - Arrr...
Cambridge University Press
Amplical / NoiseWave
RF Micro Devices (RFMD)
AAlistair Upton & Jeff
I have to say that one of the most obvious presences in Boston is
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
complex in Framingham, close to our motel - I bet they eat lots of donuts in meetings
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
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
Historical 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
Workbench (originally TxRx Designer), and then other marketable
So, thanks to Gary for that! Alan Conrad, of Microwave & RF magazine, later did me a big favor by
writing an article on the
Designer 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