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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RF Cafe Engineering Crossword with Weekly Headlines February 26, 2017
For the sake of avid cruciverbalists amongst us, each week I create a new engineering 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 (2/20 - 2/24) "High Tech News" column on the RF Cafe homepage (see the Headline Archives page ...
"Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have discovered large uniform reversible changes in electrical resistance as oxygen ions migrate in an oxide material. The discovery could open a route to ionotronic memories. Aalto University ion migration probe It transpires that potential difference drives oxygen ions away from one electrical contact, causing an abrupt change in oxide lattice structure and an increase of electrical resistance. Reversal of the voltage polarity fully restores the original material ..."
Telephones Will "Ring" with Musical Tones
If you thought that custom ringtones have only been around since the mobile phone, you will be surprised to learn that according to this news brief in a 1956 issue of Popular Electronics, Bell Telephone Labs was experimenting with such features. Bell was exploiting the convenience, small size, and relatively inexpensive transistor to enable customers with deeper pockets to her something other than the standard mechanical bell ringer. The irony is, of course, that some people nowadays use a ringtone in their smartphones that sounds ...
Single Atomic Layer Semiconductors Get Within Reach
"Semiconductors, as thin as a single layer of atoms, are no longer a dream of the future: Researchers in Germany, the United States and Poland have together developed a two-dimensional material that could revolutionize electronics. Its semiconducting properties make this material appear suited for advanced applications even much better than graphene. The new material, introduced to the public in the scientific magazine ACS Nano ..."
Elegoo Mega 2560 Arduino Project Kit
Arduino has been a sensation in the techie world for about a decade now. Not too long ago electronics 'starter kits' consisted of a battery, a solderless breadboard, a handful of Rs, Ls, and Cs, LEDs, a neon bulb, a couple simple ICs and transistors, and some jumper wires. Compare that to this kit with an Arduino microcontroller and code IDE, LCD, joystick, remote controller, motion and ultrasonic sensors, stepper motor controller, keypad, RFID module, and much more PLUS all the stuff you got with the old type starter kits - all for a paltry $60 (equiv. to $15 in 1977). Many add-ons available like an übercool robotic arm ...
Amateur Radio Balloon Part of 2017 National Scout Jamboree
"A high-altitude Amateur Radio balloon, K2BSA-11, will be launched from the 2017 National Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in West Virginia. The balloon is expected to reach an altitude of 48,000 feet and will transmit on 144.390 MHz APRS. An onboard GPS/computer will shift APRS frequencies based on the balloon’s location around the globe. Carrying out the July 20 launch from the Summit Bechtel Reserve will be Bill Brown WB8ELK; Keith Kaiser, WA0TJT, and other members of the K2BSA Radio Scouting team. They are hoping that the balloon will ..."
Modular 5G Antenna Stacks for High Data Rate
"The new antennas – including the 5-6 GHz Adaptrix CMM200.A – feature a patent-pending, modular interlocking system to help operators scale capacity – when more capacity or speed is needed at a location, another module is clipped to the side of the existing installation. This first-in-the-industry antenna system means that when you need to add capacity, you simply attach extra panels. You can build them up vertically or horizontally like Lego blocks. You don't need to worry about spacing, alignment or ..."
R.F. Energy Powers Incandescent Lamp
Wireless power distribution has been in the news a lot for the last couple years. It began with a goal of just wirelessly charging mobile devices like cellphones, smart watches, and tablet computers. Next came articles about charging electric cars wirelessly while sitting in a parking lot or garage, or even at a stop light. In each instance, the item being charged needed to sit in close proximity to an electric induction coil to be effective. Just a couple days ago, however, a new item ...
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ Brings Wi-Fi® Indoor Positioning
"Wi-Fi feature delivers indoor navigation, asset tracking, and network management. Wi-Fi® now includes advanced capabilities that bring location determination indoors to meet growing market demand for mobile location-based services. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ brings the same great user experience indoors as is expected from outdoor location-based services (LBS), and enables the creation of new, feature-rich applications and services that will benefit many markets including ..."
Z-Communications Intros Fixed Frequency 990 MHz PLO
Z-Communications announces a new Fixed Frequency Synthesizer model SFS0990C-LF. The SFS0990C-LF is a preprogrammed synthesizer that is phase locked at 990 MHz to an external 10 MHz reference oscillator. This PLL features an exceptionally low typical phase noise of -119 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz, -100 dBc/Hz at 1 kHz, and -141 dBc/Hz at 100 kHz offsets. The RoHS compliant SFS0990C-LF is designed to deliver a typical output power of +1 dBm ...
Thank Maxwell for Cellphones
"Now that the world has become addicted to portable electronics, billions of people have come to see the companies providing these gadgets as the most innovative, and the people who head those companies as the most exalted, of all time. 'Genius' is a starter category in this discussion. But clever and appealing though today’s electronic gadgets may be, to the historian they are nothing but the inevitable fifth-order elaborations of two fundamental ideas: electromagnetic radiation, the theory of which was formulated by James Clerk Maxwell in the 1860s ..."
Please Visit Triad RF System to Thank Them for Their Support
Triad RF Systems designs and manufactures RF power amplifiers and systems. Triad RF Systems comprises three partners (hence 'Triad') with over 40 years of accumulated knowledge of what is required to design, manufacture, market, sell and service RF/Microwave amplifiers and amplifier systems. "We view Triad more as a technology partner than a vendor for our line-of-sight communications product line." Please check to see how we can help your project ...
TV Show Features "Wires and Pliers"
When I first saw this picture of Dr. Martin L. Klein, I though he was Superman. No, it doesn't take a superman to teach electronics on television, but the familiarity of George Reeves as the star of the "Adventures of Superman" series in from 1953 through 1958 would have been a good reason to use him in the "Wires and Pliers" TV show. Dr. Klein and his techie sidekick Aram Solomonian performed a weekly show presenting basic electronics to the audience. BTW, as long as I am ...
Xilinx Integrates Analogue RF into MPSoCs
"Xilinx has integrated RF-class analogue technology into its 16nm MPSoCs resulting in a family of RFSoCs which eliminate discrete data converters resulting, claims Xilinx, in a 50-75% power and footprint reduction for 5G massive-MIMO and millimeter wave wireless backhaul applications. Xilinx Large scale 2D antenna array systems will be key to the increase in spectral efficiency and network densification needed for 5G ..."
EE Shows off Helium Balloon Mobile Masts
"Mobile phone provider EE has demonstrated helium balloons and drones that could provide 4G mobile coverage following damage to existing infrastructure. The devices are fitted with small mobile sites that include a base station and an antenna. They could also be used to connect remote parts of the UK where coverage is thin. EE said it planned to deploy such a network in a UK rural area this year. The drones can stay airborne for up to an hour at a time and the "helikite" balloons for several weeks as they have ..."
India's New Network of Radio Broadcasting
When this story was written in 1938, India was a country of roughly 2 million square miles, while the 48 United States had about 3.1 million square miles. Radio station growth in the U.S. already had a 3-decade head start in establishing a nationwide network of broadcast and receiving stations. Manufacturing of the required equipment was well established within our borders. India, by contrast, relied heavily on outside sources for equipment and the training of operators and servicemen. The U.S. never has ...
Nokia Delivers World's First 5GTF Connection
"Nokia has successfully implemented the world's first connection based on the 5GTF (5G Technology Forum) 'pre-standard', marking a further milestone in Nokia's momentum to make 5G a commercial reality. The test adds another key component to the development of 5G and the implementation of the first 5G applications, demonstrating the ability to provide fast pace implementation based on early standards including device ..."
Anatech Electronics Newsletter - February 2017
Anatech Electronics, a manufacturer of RF and microwave filters, has published its February newsletter. As always, it includes both company news and some tidbits about relevant industry happenings. In it, Sam Benzacar discusses, among other topics, the continuing and even growing problem of passive intermodulation (PIM) products that are generated at the contact point of dissimilar metals - particularly where corrosion is present - and the resulting nonlinear junction. Even coaxial cable connectors than have the same type of plating can develop scratches ...
Engineering Career and Job Hunting Advice for February 2017
While looking around the Web for good job search and career enhancement articles, an article by The Savvy Intern's Lauren Kirkpatrick titled "Millennial Stereotype Busted: 'Paying Your Dues' is Bullsh*t," struck a chord. It's a short piece and, as you might guess from the title, somewhat naively attitudinal (a 2013 graduate). However, she does bring up a good point about how the world has changed from even as recently as the 1980s when I first hit ...
Astronomers Propose Cellphone Search for Galactic Fast Radio Bursts
"Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are brief spurts of radio emission, lasting just one-thousandth of a second, whose origins are mysterious. Fewer than two dozen have been identified in the past decade using giant radio telescopes such as the 1,000-foot dish in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. If [an FRB occurred in out galaxy], astronomers suggest that it would be 'loud' enough that a global network of cell phones or small radio receivers could 'hear' it. The search for nearby ..."
Lossless Metamaterial Could Boost Efficiency of Lasers
"Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a material that could reduce signal losses in photonic devices. The advance has the potential to boost the efficiency of various light-based technologies including fiber optic communication systems, lasers and photovoltaics. The discovery addresses one of the biggest challenges in the field of photonics: minimizing loss of optical (light-based) signals in devices known as plasmonic metamaterials ..."
Collins Builds VLF Comms for B-2 Stealth Bomber
"Military communications experts at the Rockwell Collins Government Systems segment in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are starting full-rate production of a secure and jam-resistant very low frequency (VLF) radio for the U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber to enable the aircraft crew to communicate with national command authorities while on long-range missions. Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, are awarding a $12.9M ..."
Please Welcome Antenna Test Lab Co as RF Cafe's Newest Advertiser!
Since 2001, Antenna Test Lab Co has evaluated countless antennas and RF transmitter products. With a fully anechoic chamber, antennas can be quickly developed and RF products refined and deployed. Antenna maximum test size is 24" x 24" with a depth of 24" or less. Mounting surfaces like drywall, glass, wood, and even curved metal simulated automobile available. The price for a standard resolution 2D or 3D field pattern plot is only $450 - for a passive or radiating antenna. That is an incredible deal!
Banned In Germany: Kids' Doll Labeled an Espionage Device
This is both funny and spooky: "It's nice to have a friend who's a good listener, but a doll called My Friend Cayla listens a little too well, according to German regulators who say the toy is essentially a stealthy espionage device that shares what it hears and is also vulnerable to takeover by third parties. "Cayla ist verboten in Deutschland," says Jochen Homann, the president of Germany's Federal Network Agency, announcing a ban on the doll in Germany on Friday. His agency oversees electronic ..."
Wireless Power Transmission Charges Devices Anywhere In Room
"Disney Research has developed new method that enables users to charge electronic devices wirelessly by transmitting power throughout a room, like a Wi-Fi Network, thereby eliminating the need for electrical cords or charging cradles. The researchers demonstrated the method, called Quasistatic Cavity Resonance (QSCR), inside a specially built 16-by-16-foot room in their lab. They safely generated near-field standing magnetic waves that filled the interior of the room, making it possible to power several cellphones, fans and lights ..."
Lasers Give Space Research Its Broadband Moment
"Thought your Internet speeds were slow? Try being a space scientist for a day. The vast distances involved will throttle data rates to a trickle. You're lucky if a spacecraft can send more than a few megabits per second (Mbps) - a pittance even by dial-up standards. But we might be on the cusp of a change. Just as going from dial-up to broadband revolutionized the Internet and made high-resolution photos and streaming video a given, NASA may be ready to undergo a similar ..."
Chipmakers Embark on Pre-MWC 5G Virtue-Signalling Frenzy
"Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung have issued a flood of announcements all apparently designed to show how incredibly 5G-ready they are. Having regularly dropped the ball on mobile over the past decade Intel is especially desperate to be seen as a viable 5G player and is bombarding tech hacks with relatively open messaging intended to convince us of just that. 'Intel is accelerating the 5G future,' wrote Aicha Evans, GM of the ..."
Wi-Fi, LTE Spar over Location
"Someday indoor location could be as widely used as GPS maps. Taking steps toward that day, six vendors certified at least eight chips for a new Wi-Fi Location service while another company announced new software for similar services over 4G cellular. Both new alternatives aim to provide a better approach than today's Bluetooth and ultrawideband beacons. All sides hope to enable a market that's expected to be big. ABI Research estimates as many as 500 million ..."
The 5G Frontier: Millimeter Wireless
It has been a long time since I read a Robert Lucky article: "Almost limitless bandwidth beckons -if we can tame a wild region of the spectrum. There is an eternal quality to how technology evolves. As existing areas get overworked, new frontiers open up at the fringes. Then innovators rush in to occupy the new territory before it, in turn, becomes overworked. There is an example of such a frontier today in wireless communications. IEEE's 5G wireless initiative has the goal ..."
FCC Authorizes 1st LTE-U Equipment
"The FCC's office of engineering and technology has authorized the first LTE unlicensed (LTE-U) devices for operation in the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band. According to a release from the FCC, the action followed a successful industry collaboration to ensure that LTE-U can co-exist with Wi-Fi and other unlicensed devices operating in the band. The FCC noted that industry has developed various standards, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee, that share the ..."
Borophene: A Heterojunction Appeared out of Nowhere
"Scientists at the U.S. Northwestern University have accidentally created a semiconductor junction with the newly-discovered material borophene, that might offer a route to determining if it is electronically useful. Borophene is a molecule made of boron atoms. Like graphene, borophene is a two-dimensional sheet-like molecule, but thought to be a better conductor of electrons than graphene. Unlike graphene, it is not thought to occur in nature and so there are no handy lumps of borophite from which ..."
"Radicians" at the DEW Line
After spending four years as a USAF radar technician, I do not recall ever hearing the term 'radician,' which, according to this article and a few obscure sources on the Internet, is the name given to a radar technician. OK, so I'm a former radician, but I digress. The DEW Line, or Distant Early Warning Line, was a string of radar installations running across the U.S., Canada, and Greenland, just above the Arctic Circle. It was established to protect against potential attacks and/or surveillance by aircraft and/or missiles from the U.S.S.R. Although the radar systems were ...
Two Amateur Radio CubeSats Carrying Transponders Set for Launch
"Two satellites with Amateur Radio transponder payloads have been selected for future NASA launches. AMSAT reports that the TJREVERB CubeSat, developed by students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, will carry a 435/145 MHz FM transponder. The University of Washington-Seattle’s HuskySat-1 has a 145/435 MHz SSB/CW transponder and was developed by students at the University of Washington ..."
IEEE Seeks New Director - Dr. Prendergast Stepping Down
"The IEEE is seeking a new executive director,, announcing this week that E. James Prendergast will retire next year after nearly nine years at the helm of the prestigious technical organization. E. James Prendergast Prendergast joined IEEE as executive director in 2009. Under his tenure, the organization expanded its influence and global presence, opening new offices in Vienna, Austria and Bangalore, India while expanding in China and Singapore, IEEE said. The IEEE said its board has retained an executive search firm, Korn Ferry ..."
Official Logo for 5G is Finally Here
We can all breath again now that the official 5G logo has been announced! How many days and nights have you and I spent wondering what it would look like and when it would arrive (0 for moi)? Finally, here it is in all its black and green glory (it actually looks pretty nice). "The 3GPP has finally released an official logo for the 3GPP 5G specifications from Release 15 onwards. The logo has a new wave pattern, and is based on the existing LTE waves, using the green of the LTE-Advanced Pro version. The idea according to 3GPP, was to keep a familiar design aspect with ..."
Can You Become an Engineer Without an Engineering Degree?
This writer thinks electrical engineering is the easiest field to get the title of 'engineer' without having a degree - compared to civil, mechanical, and chemical engineering. True or hogwash? "Engineering is a time-old field that used to require years of apprenticeship in the industry but now requires years of school just to become licensed. However, could you become an engineer without an engineering degree? If we are going to examine this question, we need to set some groundwork for who exactly we consider an engineer ..."
3 Layers of Graphene Reveals New Kind of Magnet
"Scientists have discovered the magnetism of electrons in three layers of graphene. This study reveals a new kind of magnet and provides insight on how electronic devices using graphene could be made for fundamental studies as well as various applications. Metals have a large density of electrons and to be able to see the wave nature of electrons one has to make metallic wires that are only a few atoms wide. However, in graphene ..."
Directed Energy Atmospheric Lens Could Revolutionize Battlefields
"Within the next fifty years, scientists at BAE Systems believe that battlefield commanders could deploy a new type of directed energy laser and lens system, called a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens which is capable of enhancing commanders' ability to observe adversaries' activities over much greater distances than existing sensors. At the same time, the lens could be used as a form of 'deflector shield' to protect friendly aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops from incoming attacks by high power laser weapons that could also become ..."