RF Cafe Software
About RF Cafe
1996 - 2016
BSEE - KB3UON
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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Inside Facebook's Luleå Server Farm 70 miles from Arctic Circle
"Mark Zuckerberg has given a rare glimpse inside one of Facebook's secretive server farms. The Facebook boss said he is going to reveal more pictures from Facebook's facilities around the world. To kick off the project, he revealed a stunning series of pictures of the firm's gigantic Luleå data center in Sweden. 'Over the next few months, I'm going to start posting some rare photos of the most advanced technology Facebook is building around the world,' Zuckerberg posted ..."
EDI CON USA Completes Successful Inaugural Event
EDI CON USA 2016, a conference that brings together engineers working on high-frequency analog and high-speed digital designs, had a successful inaugural event in the US on September 20-22 in Boston, MA. "We are very pleased with our first EDI CON USA, which exceeded our expectations in number of exhibitors and submitted abstracts for the conference program. We appreciate the support of the EDI CON USA exhibitors, received very positive feedback from conference attendees, and look forward to building on these strengths for next year ..."
Modern Theory of Electricity (Part I)
Sal ammoniac is a new term for me; it appeared in this 1395 issue of Radio-News magazine. It is a rare mineral composed of ammonium chloride. I suppose I should have been familiar with it because of its use for cleaning soldering iron tips. This compound is another example of how two otherwise lethal elements can form a molecule that is safe for human consumption, like sodium chloride (table salt). Per Wikipedia, sal ammoniac is used the Netherlands, it is still widely used in the production of salty licorice candy known as Salmiak. Sal ammoniac was also used in solution with sulphuric acid as a battery electrolyte. Anyway, the main theme of this article positive ...
UK Petition on European R&D Needs Votes
"A petition to the UK government asking for UK access to European collaborative R&D to be maintained after Brexit has received 38,369 signatures as of this posting. However, the petition needs to exceed 100,000 signatures by January 12, 2017 to ensure that it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons. The petition states that UK access to EU R&D programs stimulates billions of pounds of investment ..."
Raytheon Missile Defense Radar 101 Whiteboard Video
These fast-mo videos of whiteboard hand sketching are some of the most clever and effective presentation schemes of the last decade. A nifty one produced by Raytheon showed up in a news story titled "Raytheon Wins MDA Gallium Nitride Radar Deal," on the Breaking Defense website.
Next High-Performance Transistor Could Be Made From Lateral Nanowires
"Five years ago, Intel introduced today's high-performance transistor to the world. Dubbed the FinFET, the device takes its name from its appearance: The transistor's current-carrying channel sticks up vertically in the shape of a fin, and the gate that controls it drapes over the sides. The result is a much tighter control over the flow of current, which in modern microprocessors can fairly easily sneak across the transistor when it’s supposed to be shut off. But well before the FinFET exploded onto ..."
WindFreak Intros Innovative Low-Cost SynthDH PRO RF Signal Generator
Windfreak Technologies is excited to announce the launch of the new SynthHD PRO. The revolutionary SynthHD PRO has all the features of the original SynthHD, but has a milled aluminum case designed to be used in more rugged environments and to enhance electrical and thermal performance. The new SynthHD PRO Dual Channel RF Signal Generator is also designed for higher amplitude accuracy due to extra hours on the calibration bench getting a fully unique 5000 point calibration lookup table. For the SynthHD PRO datasheet, software user's manual, and software download ...
Nanomaterial Could Yield Lossless Charge and Energy Transport
"Empirical evidence is continuing to pile up confirming that so-called topological insulators - materials that behave as conductors near their surfaces, but act as insulators throughout the bulk of their interiors - do exist. Now, researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Germany, have produced a new type of topological matter. It can carry an electrical current on its surface at room temperature and then get that ..."
Chaos-Based Microchips Propose a Challenge to Moore's Law
"Developed by researchers at North Carolina State University, the integrated circuits can reportedly be manufactured with off the shelf fabrication processes and could lead to novel computer architectures that do more with less circuitry and fewer transistors. Moore's law states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double every two years in order to keep up with processing demands. This goal has so far been addressed by shrinking the size of individual transistors ..."
How Dependable Are Your Meter Readings?
There 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 ...
Saelig's Aaronia Drone Detection System Discovers Unwanted UAV Incursions
Is this cool or what? Saelig isn't kidding with their "unique electronics" logo tag line. Saelig Company has introduced the Aaronia Drone Detection System (ADDS) for discovering the incursion of unwanted drones or other remote-controlled flying objects, thus protecting privacy and insuring physical security. Detecting the real-time directional measurement of the radio emissions used for controlling drones, the ADDS system warns the user when drones are in the area and can send automatic alerts ... (they need a look-down/shoot-down system to compliment it)
Revisiting NPR's 1983 Story On 'Cellular'
"A decade after Martin Cooper made the world's first public call from a portable phone in 1973, telephones were becoming truly mobile. 'It's still pretty rare to see someone using a telephone in a car. But it's about to become a lot more common.' That's how NPR host Jim Angle introduced a piece on November 5, 1983, titled 'Cellular Phones Are Completely Mobile' - the earliest mention of the term found in NPR's archives. From the vantage point of 2016 - where mobile ..."
Carmakers, Telecomms Join Forces for 5G Development
"In a cross-industry alliance, Audi, BMW and Daimler along with telecommunications equipment providers Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia as well as semiconductor vendors Intel and Qualcomm will bundle their R&D resources to evolve, test and promote communications solutions for connected mobility. The efforts will focus on the development of 5G mobile technologies. The “5G Automotive Association” announced to develop, test and promote ..."
Don't Drill a Headphone Jack Hole into Your iPhone 7!
"Miffed that you don't have a headphone jack on your new iPhone 7? Don’t want to use the adapter that comes in the box? Don’t want to spend $159 for Apple's new wireless earbuds? Well, good news! There's a 'secret hack' that's gone viral on YouTube. First, you get a drill with a 3.5mm bit. Then, you clamp your phone into a vice. Please promise not to drill a hole into your $649 palm warmer, as the jokester 'TechRax' advises you to do - and at least apparently does - to some hapless, screen freaking-out ..." -- Yep, they're really out there.
RF Cafe Quiz: RF & Analog Company Name Change History
This quiz tests your knowledge on the history of familiar electronics products companies' name changes (aka etymology). Many of you have lived through the plethora of acquisitions, mergers, and name changes represented here. There might be more than one correct answer. You might need a motion sickness pill when navigating all ...
Threats to Extant Undersea Cable
I was surprised to discover that the #1 cause of damage to extant (currently used) undersea cable in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is fishing trawlers that snag them while dragging nets and pots. An infographic in the June 2016 issue of Scientific American lists the hazards as follows ...:
40% - Fish trawling
28% - Ship anchorages
8% - Subsea earthquakes
8% - Shunt (electrical) faults
4% - Amplifier or branching unit
3% - Abrasion (wave seabed, etc.)
9% - Other factors (e.g., sabotage)
World's Largest Radio Telescope Starts Operating in China
"In the search for alien life, China has built the world's biggest radio telescope, which it says could 'lead to discoveries beyond our wildest imagination.' The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), nestled between hills in the mountainous region of Guizhou, began working this week. Built at a cost of ¥1.2B (£140M, $182M), the telescope dwarfs the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, with twice the sensitivity and a reflector as large as 30 football fields ..."
Triad RF Systems Intros 6.4-8.5 GHz SSPA for Any Modulation
The TA1063 class AB GaN SSPA module is designed for both military and commercial applications in the 6.4-8.5 GHz band. 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 to offer high power density, efficiency, and linearity in a small, lightweight package ...
Retired Librarian Who Was Maine’s First Woman Radio Amateur Turns 108
"Mary Cousins, ex-W1GSC, who was the first woman in Maine to obtain an Amateur Radio license, celebrated her 108th birthday on September 20. Now a resident of a care facility in the coastal fishing village of Deer Isle, Cousins was treated to a party complete with a cake decorated with images of local newspaper articles from 1908, the year she was born. The confection also bore an image of her 1933 "Amateur First" radio ..."
Chip Shifts Frequencies of Photon Qubits
"Engineers in the U.S. have developed a chip that can convert visible light into infrared and back again, while preserving the quantum state of the original photons. This capability would allow quantum devices to transmit information to each other via the existing fiber-optic infrastructure. Researchers say this is a significant step in realizing a quantum network of devices and computers that can exchange ..."
Standardized Wiring Diagram Symbols & Color Codes
The standardized wiring diagram symbols chart has been updated recently to reflect recent additions of semiconductor components, including the solid state diode and transistors. Notice the similarity between these symbols and many of the ones in the ARRL Handbook chart. Also presented are a resistor color code chart and capacitor charts for color codes and capacitor dot markings ...
Kymeta and TECOM Antenna Technology for the Aviation Market
Kymeta, the company delivering on the promise of global, mobile connectivity and TECOM, a Smiths Microwave brand and a leader in innovative design and manufacturing of high-performance antenna systems, today announced a Partner Development Program Agreement for the aviation market. Under the terms of the agreement, TECOM will incorporate Kymeta® mTenna® technology into an aviation grade terminal to demonstrate connectivity to a Ku-band satellite. Kymeta's flat panel satellite antenna technology offers a lightweight, low profile ...
Dilbert Creator Scott Adams on Endorsing Trump
I posted Scott Adams' previous blog supporting Hillary, so in the spirit of bipartisanship, here is the balance. "As most of you know, I had been endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, for my personal safety, because I live in California. It isn't safe to be a Trump supporter where I live. And it's bad for business too. But recently I switched my endorsement to Trump, and I owe you an explanation. So here it goes ..." Adams is a brave man.
Air Force Moves Ahead with GPS III Preparations
"The Air Force is moving ahead with its delayed GPS III constellation, awarding Lockheed Martin a $395M contract modification for the ninth and tenth of what will be a 32-satellite constellation. Deployment of the third generation of the Global Positioning System, which is expected to have a 25% longer lifespan, three times the accuracy and eight times the anti-jamming capability of GPS II, has been delayed by funding cuts and some technical problems ..."
Bluetooth Toolkits to Make Developing for IoT Easier
"The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has released several updates to their developer Bluetooth toolkit line-up. The latest toolkits empower developers to build faster and smarter when creating things like mobile apps and low-cost beacons, as well as gateways that control IoT sensors. What developers can do today with Bluetooth far surpasses what they could do just a few years ago. Whether it’s connecting a Bluetooth device to the web, using beacons to develop unique ..."
Tribute by Hugo Gernsback to Guglielmo Marconi upon His Death
Dang, I meant to post this article on July 20th. It is an editorial commemoration written by Radio-Craft publisher Hugo Gernsback to radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, who died on that day in 1937. He was only 63 years old. Gernsback states, "The debt which the world owes to Marconi is staggering - if you figure only one single result of his accomplishments - the saving of tens of thousands of lives which would have perished in the sea and otherwise, if had not been for Marconi." The January 1939 issue of Radio-Craft featured an article titled, "Marconi - Father of Radio?," wherein author Edward H. Loftin challenges the veracity of Marconi receiving ...
AT&T Experimenting with Broadband Internet Delivery Using Power Lines
Hams take note! Here we go again with power line carrier schemes. "AT&T has unveiled its Project AirGig experimental program that aims to use power lines as a way to extend internet access to hard-to-reach users in urban, rural and underserved parts of the world. The first field tests involving Project AirGig technologies are set to begin in 2017 through AT&T Labs, the company said in a September 21 announcement, with the goal of eventually delivering low-cost, multigigabit wireless internet ..."
BAE Communications and EW Radio Systems IC Adapts in Nanoseconds
"To address the need for radio systems that can adapt to changing environments on the fly and that can be easily reconfigured once they're in the field, our engineers have developed the innovative MATRICs (Microwave Array Technology for Reconfigurable Integrated Circuits) chip. MATRICs helps address the future requirements of communications, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence systems. The new, general-purpose chip enables engineers to develop customized radio systems without the need ..."
Complex to Real Digital Communications Tutorials
This is a great resource provided by Charan Langton, retired from Loral Space Systems. "Communications is not an easy science. The math is heavy, and intuition is slow to develop. To complicate things further, the field does not stay put. New concepts are always coming to the fore. This website offers tutorials I have written on various topics in analog and digital communications that will help you cut through this complexity. I keep adding to this collection ..."
Skyworks GPIO-Controlled RF Cellular Switches
Skyworks is pleased to introduce a family of GPIO-controlled, high performance RF cellular switches for LTE and GSM applications. The SKY13581-676LF (SP2T), SKY13582-676LF (SP3T) and SKY13626-685LF (SP4T) are for LTE, while the SKY13597-684LF (SP4T) is for GSM. This new family of switches is ideal for smartphones, data cards and MiFi® hotspot applications. These devices are designed to operate over the complete cellular frequency range including support for ...
Science & Electronics Crossword Puzzle for September 25, 2016
Avid cruciverbalists amongst us appreciate that each week I create a new crossword puzzle that has a theme related to engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical words. You will never be asked the name of a movie star unless he/she was involved in a technical endeavor (e.g., Hedy Lamar). Enjoy! ...