Just as you will never get
everyone to agree on who was the first person to successfully fly a powered aircraft
(Wright, Whitehead, Curtiss, etc.), there will never be a consensus on
the radio. Most people would probably agree that it was Guglielmo Marconi, but this author makes
a case for none other than Thomas Edison. I don't recall ever hear anyone making
that claim before, but before you dismiss the opinion, read on...
Most people working in the RF and microwave
realm are familiar with
Gore coaxial cable and shielding products. They
have been around since 1958 - the year of NASA's birth (and mind, BTW). You might
be interested in the story of Gore's many contributions the space program. From
their webpage: "Gore Space Facts: Gore has provided highly reliable wire and cable
solutions for the space industry since its start over 60 years ago. In fact, Gore
began prototyping designs for fluorocarbon insulated wires and ribbon cables for
use in space vehicles. In 1958, the same year NASA was established Gore began. Gore
products have a 100% failure-free flight record. Gore has been a part of more than
100 spaceflight programs ..."
One of the most interesting things I remember
about what we learned from the Apollo program is that
the moon has a smell. Upon removing their helmets
after the moon walk, Neil Armstrong remarked, 'We were aware of a new scent in the
air of the cabin that clearly came from all the lunar material that had accumulated
on and in our clothes.' Buzz Aldrin described it as 'the smell in the air after
a firecracker has gone off.'
Did you ever wonder what would have transpired
if the lunar module (LM) rockets had failed to fire for a return to the orbiting
Command Module (CM)? Read "In the Event of Moon Disaster" that was prepared
for President Nixon to broadcast to the world if the unthinkable happened. Of course
NASA had all potential scenarios covered in their
Abort Planning document, complimented by extensive
scenario training. Some fools wanted to shut off communications with the LM to prevent
a record of Armstrong and Aldrin panicking which, of course, would never have happen
with the two seasoned professional military aviators.
Today, July 19, 2019, marks the 20th year
of existence for RFCafe.com. It was on this date in 1999 that I registered the domain
name (and the .net version) with Network Solutions, which was the only domain name
registrar at the time. RF Cafe really 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
editors; in fact, my early pages were written using Notepad ...
Custom MMIC, a leading designer and manufacturer
of high performance monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), is proud to
present its annual Women in Engineering Scholarship Award to three accomplished
and deserving young women who personify academic excellence in the fields of math,
science and engineering. The three recipients for 2019 are: Lillian Geller (Westford
Academy), Ananya Gopalan (Chelmsford High School) and Lina Abu-Absi (Groton-Dunstable
Regional High School). These candidates were carefully selected from a large group
of well-qualified and thoroughly impressive applicants from the three target high
schools in towns near Custom MMIC's facility ...
"Scientists from Osaka University in Japan
single-molecule conductors and straightened them
in an effort to improve their performance. The team of scientists made single-molecule
nanowires that measured up to 10 nanometers in length. Through their research, experts
learned that taking the ribbon-like chains and forcing them to lay flat dramatically
improved their conductivity, as opposed to their traditional twisted form. Scientists
believe that this discovery could potentially help them to develop a new generation
of high-tech devices, such as photovoltaics and smartphone screens, that are both
powerful and inexpensive ..."
Axiom Test Equipment
allows you to rent or
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The December 13, 1965 issue of Electronics
magazine was largely dedicated to assessing
Japan's status in the electronics industry. Japan, with the help of the United
States, made a remarkable recovery from defeat during World War II to have
become an emerging power in electronics. "Made in Japan" labels on products had
transformed from being the butt of jokes because of pre-war low quality products
to representing assurance of low cost, high functionality and high value products.
It still does to this day. The Japanese people have worked hard to acquire the world's
respect as smart innovators and hard workers, and have been sure to maintain manufacturing
bases within their borders. When you read this article, be prepared for a few dated
terms like a "Kita" diode ...
Dr. Andrei Muller, progenitor of the
Chart™ software program, has teamed with a handful of able colleagues
to release a commercial version of this paradigm-changing design and analysis tool.
IMHO, it is only a matter of time before one of the major players in RF/microwave
simulation (NI/AWR, Keysight, COMSOL, et al) integrates this incredible analysis
tool into a software package. The following press release was issued on July 17,
2019. "3D Smith Chart™ announces a new version (1.02) of the 3D Smith Chart with
new features. The original 3D Smith Chart tool (version 1.01) extended the Smith
Chart capabilities for the first time since the 1939s to make it usable for circuits
with negative resistance based on a unit sphere that plots circuits with reflection
coefficient magnitudes larger than 1 by mapping them as arcs ..."
Citizen Band (CB) radios were all the rage
during my high school years (1973-76). Previously the domain of over-the-road haulers,
by then everybody who was anybody had a 23-channel CB in his/her car or pickup truck.
My 1969 Camaro SS, of course, sported one - probably the cheapest model available.
Those were the days of C.W. McCall's "Convoy" and Cledus Maggard's "The White Knight"
lyrics. Everybody knew the words to it. Smokey and the Bandit fed the craze.
After all, there were no cellphones. Rather than learning text messaging shortcuts
like OMG, *$ (the company didn't even exist then), B4N, and IMHO, we learned to
use clever words and phrases like "10-4," "bear in the air," and "what's your 20?"
It's been a long time ...
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant
leap for mankind." -
Neil Armstrong, from the moon on July 20,
1969. Armstrong says he did utter the word "a," and that the scratchy radio transmission
masked it. Having been a huge fan (short for "fanatic") of the space program and
builder / launcher of model rockets, I was sure to watch the momentous event on
TV as it was broadcast live from the moon on a Sunday evening at 10:56 PM EDT, a
month before turning 11 years old. The
Estes model rocket company issued certificates to rocketeers
who launched any model during the flight time of Apollo 11; of course I got
mine with an Alpha rocket.
ConductRF, an industry leader in high quality
RF cable assemblies, introduces their line of
RF cables. POWeRUN RF cables are designed for superior performance in the DC
to 18 GHz frequency range at powers up to 170 watts for the WSA74 series and
345 watts for the WSA84 series. High phase and amplitude stability is, and low loss
is standard across the series. Flexible construction is designed for high power
and long cable runs. Rugged outer covering over cable supports outdoor use. Ideal
for commercial and military applications ...
The title of this
IEEE article is misleading in that NASA did not
"draft" Barbie - only Snoopy (and Charlie Brown, BTW). "Snoopy" was the official
name of the Apollo 10 lunar module (LM) and "Charlie Brown" was the
name of the moon-orbiting command module (CM). There was a Gemini astronaut
GI Joe at the time, too. Actually, it was the
Apollo 10 astronauts who chose the Peanuts characters as mascots because of
the popularity of the comic strip and Charles Schulz's giving Snoopy the alter ego
of an astronaut (and, of course, a WWI flying ace). Here is the
Kennedy Space Center account of the history of
NASA's adoption of Snoopy. This Saturday, July 20th, marks the 50th anniversary
Apollo 11 moon landing.
Centric RF is a company offering from stock
various RF and
Microwave coaxial components, including attenuators, adapters, cable assemblies,
terminations, power dividers, and more. We believe in offering high performance
parts from stock at a reasonable cost. Frequency ranges of 0-110 GHz at power
levels from 0.5-500 watts are available off the shelf. Order today, ship today!
Centric RF is currently looking for vendors to partner with them. Please visit Centric
American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) was founded as part of the
Bell Telephone System to build a nationwide wired, long distance communications
service. When this advertisement was printed in a 1917 issue of The Saturday Evening
Post magazine, many American households still did not have a telephone installed,
and most of those that did subscribed to "party line" hookups. Party lines were
a service sharing agreement whereby multiple users were connected to the same telephone
number and agreed to share the line. The upside was a discounted phone bill, but
the downside was the any other member of the "party" could listen in on your conversation.
I remember back in the 1960s when our house had a party line. My sister and I (both
preteens) would sometimes carefully pick up the phone receiver and listen in hopes
EDI CON Online, a new interactive event being
held online September 10-12, 2019, has announced its line up of technical session
speakers. The interactive technical sessions will occur at no cost to attendees,
and sponsors have the opportunity to present workshops and keynote sessions as part
of the daily schedule. The sessions on September 10th will focus on 5G and IoT,
September 11th on radar and antennas, and September 12th on signal integrity and
power integrity. Attendees select the sessions for the online event in a single
sign-on registration portal and can participate ...
That's a lot of gold-plated connector contacts
and gold wire bonding stock (about 63.5 kilomiles of 1 mil wire)! This feature
about the Perth Mint (Australia) having set a new Guinness world record by minting
this one metric tonne (2,204.6 pounds avoirdupois)
solid gold coin has been in the news the last
couple days. It is on display at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The current
spot price of $1,411.10 per ounce sets its bullion value to 2204.6 lb. x 16 oz.
x 1411.1 $/oz. = $49,774,576.96, or $50M in round numbers.
RF Cafe's continued existence depends on
companies like ERZIA providing support. ERZIA produces
microwave and mm-wave
modular amplifiers and integrated assemblies operating from low frequencies
up to 100 GHz. Their catalogue of standard amplifier modules comprises more
than 100 different models, having also a high capacity of customization for amplifiers
and integrated assemblies. Some of products have space heritage and are used in
aerospace, commercial, military and scientific systems, having a wide range of final
A part of Design News' "Space Week 2019"
feature is this "8 Technologies We Owe to the Apollo Space Program."
Not mentioned in the list of NASA innovations are freeze-dried food, space blankets
(those foil-looking things), miniaturized quartz crystal timekeeping, joystick controllers,
and smoke detectors. NASA popularized but did not invent Velcro, Tang, or Teflon.
Says the author, "The innovations of the Apollo program didn't stop at the Moon.
Many technologies were created, or innovated into what they are today, thanks to
the space program."
Since 1961, MECA
Electronics has designed and manufactured an extensive line of
RF & microwave components for in-building, satellite, radar,
radio, telemetry, mobile radio, aviation & ATC. Attenuators, directional &
hybrid couplers, isolators & circulators, power dividers & combiners, loads,
DC blocks, bias-Ts and adapters & cables. MECA has long been the 'backbone'
of high performance wired and air-interfaced networks such as in-building applications,
satellite communications, radar, radio communications, telemetry applications, mobile
radio, aviation & air traffic communications.
Montgomery Ward (aka "Wards" or even "Monkey
Wards") had their own line of radios, electric guitars, and other products that
went by the name of "Airline." Sears, Roebuck and Company, by the way, had the "Silvertone"
series of radios, electric guitars and, other electronics products. This 2-page
radio service data sheet for the
Montgomery Ward Airline Model 04BR-1105A console type radio appeared in a 1941
issue of Radio-Craft magazine. Some of the electronics magazines of the
era ran these features to help out people who wanted to attempt troubleshooting
and aligning their own equipment. Many electronics manufacturers would sell service
data documentation only to authorized dealers and repair shops. Unlike today where ...
Linx Technologies, a Merlin, OR based developer
and manufacturer of antennas, is pleased to introduce the
nanoSplatch™ nSP250 dual-band WiFi/WLAN antenna for embedded applications. nanoSplatch
antennas are a reduced-size evolution of Linx Technologies successful surface-mount
embedded Splatch™ and microSplatch™ antennas. The nanoSplatch™ nSP250 is an ideal
embedded antenna for use in compact or portable devices targeting WiFi/WLAN and
other 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz ISM frequency band technologies such as Bluetooth® and
ZigBee®. The surface-mount nSP250 antenna uses just 80.6 mm2 of board space and
costs under one dollar in volume. In addition, Linx designed the antenna to accommodate
close proximity effects ...
"One Small Step with Model Aviation," produced by the Academy
of Model Aeronautics (AMA), is a memorial to the launch of Apollo 11 on this
day, July 16, 1969. This short video features of Neil Armstrong's early life as
an avid aeromodeler before and during his time as an aeronautical engineering student
at Purdue University. He is shown here in the dormitory holding a slide rule outfitted
with wings, which was the Purdue Aeromodelers' club logo. It can be seen printed
on their T-shirts. Neil was an AMA member (as I have been since the early 1970s,
AMA#92498). The video includes narration of some of his friends from the era. Here
is my Estes Saturn V rocket model in the Apollo 11
electrolysis and corrosion of boat propellers is not really in line with the
theme of RF Cafe; however, it presents the same sort of problems that grounding
and anchoring systems for radio antennas and equipment shacks have. If you bury
a piece of metal in the Earth, it will, over time, magically disappear. Much effort
has been expended on the part of both amateurs and professionals to mitigate the
anodic action that occurs when dissimilar conductors come into intimate contact
because each metal - be it a base or an alloy - has an electric potential relative
to other metals. What happens when there is a difference of potentials and a conduction
path is present? Yep, current flows. Through that action, material is physically
transferred from the more positive metal to the less positive metal ...
"About a year ago, the U.S. Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency pulled back the covers on its five-year, $1.5-billion scheme
remake the U.S. electronics industry. The Electronics
Resurgence Initiative included efforts in 'aggressive specialization' for chip architectures,
systems that are smart enough to reconfigure themselves for whatever data you throw
at them, open-source hardware, 24-hour push-button system design, and carbon-nanotube-enabled
3D chip manufacturing, among other cool things. As always with DARPA, this is high-risk
research; but if even half of it works out, it could change the nature not just
of what kinds of systems ..."
ConductRF is continually innovating and developing
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Test Cables for labs. ConductRF makes production and test coax cable assemblies
for amplitude and phased matched VNA applications as well as standard & precision
RF connectors. Over 1,000 solutions for low PIM in-building to choose from in the
iBwave component library. They also provide custom coax solutions for applications
where some standard just won't do. A partnership with Newark assures fast, reliable
access. Please visit ConductRF today to see how they can help your project!
Hard as it is to believe, the weekend is
over and another five days of the work week lie ahead. It will be at least four
more days before you can sleep in again and tend to the yard work, home improvements,
camping excursions, sports endeavors, road trips, etc. Even if you love your job,
having a time of reprieve is always welcome. Here is a little for you compliments
of the July 1971 issue of Radio-Electronics magazine. It included a couple
technology-centric comics. I particularly like the one on page 79 - a theme
that occurs in many places. The guy reminds me of an engineer I worked with at Westinghouse
Electric's Oceanic Division back in the 1980s ...
seem to have reached a crossroads in America, as well as in a lot of other similar
countries. Over the last few decades government agencies, universities, public schools,
and media have convinced many people that the only way to succeed and be happy and
productive is to go to college and earn a Bachelor's (or higher) degree - in anything.
Drilled into us continually is that the average person with at least a
four-year degree will
earn up to a million dollars more in his/her lifetime. Sounds good, right? As anyone
with knowledge of statistics will tell you, averages are meaningless without an
accompanying figure for standard deviation. That would be the same as saying if
you stand with one foot in a pot of near boiling water and the other in a pot of
ice water, on the average you would feel just right. The propaganda has been so
This article was sent to me by an RF Cafe
visitor. With the way U.S. companies have been routinely passing off critical technology
to China for nearly three decades now, I'm surprised it is even considered illegal.
"A Lexington businessman has been charged with trying to
sell sensitive technology that was stolen from
his former employer, Norwood electronics company Analog Devices Inc. A federal grand
jury in Boston indicated Haoyang Yu and his company Tricon MMIC LLC with 12 counts
of misappropriating Analog Devices' trade secrets, and with three counts of smuggling
for selling electronic components to a customer in Spain in violation of US export
control laws. Yu was scheduled to appear Friday in US District Court in Boston ..."
Here it is the year 2019, a full 88 years
after this editorial was published in ARRL's QST magazine, and nobody is
any more certain of the
origin of the term "Ham"
being applied to amateur radio operators than they were in 1931. Being closer to
the date of origin, though, might have given editor Kenneth Warner a bit more insight.
In fact, the term Ham is usually uttered in a mildly pejorative manner; e.g., "he
is such a ham." Per the QST's editor's research, Ham might be a shortening
of Hamlet, referring to Shakespeare's play and the 2-bit actors who endlessly recited
the lines in an attempt to impress others. Analogously, a Ham radio operator would
be a professional broadcaster wannabe. However, Mr. Warner offers an even more plausible
explanation that has the term descending more directly from the craft of amateur
radio operation. Read on to find out ...
"Signals Are Not to Be Used - EU's
Galileo global navigation satellite system nears
100 hours of downtime. Galileo, the EU's global navigation satellite system, has
been down for four days, since July 11, following a mysterious outage. All Galileo
satellites are still non-operational, at the time of writing. According to a
service status page, 24 of the 26 Galileo satellites are listed as 'not usable,'
while the other two are listing a status of 'testing,' which also means they're
not ready for real-world usage. The European GNSS Agency (GSA), the organization
in charge of Galileo, has not published any information in regards to the root of
the outage, which began four days ago, on Thursday, July 11 ..."
Copper Mountain Technologies
develops innovative and robust RF test and measurement solutions for engineers all
over the world. Copper Mountain's extensive line of unique form factor
Vector Network Analyzers
include an RF measurement module and a software application which runs on any Windows
PC, laptop or tablet, connecting to the measurement hardware via USB interface.
The result is a lower cost, faster, more effective test process that fits into the
modern workspace in lab, production, field and secure testing environments.
Unlike all of the other engineering and science-themed
crossword puzzles I have ever seen, every word and clue - without exception - in
RF Cafe puzzles has been personally entered into a very large database of relevant
terms. The list has been built over nearly two decades of creating these crossword
puzzles. Let me know if you would like a custom crossword puzzle built for your
company, school, club, etc. (no charge). The same software, Crossword Express, has
been used to generate the puzzle for all those years. Read down near the bottom
of the linked page and you will see where he was doomed by people distributing his
software without paying for it (I paid for mine). I suffer the same injustice from
people who receive my RF Stencils for Visio and RF Cascade Workbook software without
paying me for my hard work ...
Copper Mountain Technologies is pleased to
announce their strategic relationship with National Instruments. This exclusive
collaboration will bring world-class VNA performance and speed to National Instruments'
PXI solution. National Instruments is set to release the Copper Mountain Technologies
PXIe-S5090 9 GHz 2-Port VNA in August of 2019. National Instruments will be the
exclusive channel for purchasing Copper Mountain Technologies' PXI compatible VNAs.
This solution brings National Instruments' users access to a metrology-grade VNA
and allows Copper Mountain Technologies to expand the solutions it provides for
manufacturing and production ...
"Reliance on satellite navigation and timing
systems has become a single point of failure for much of America and is our largest,
unaddressed critical infrastructure problem." -
Dr. Brad Parkinson, aka "The Father of GPS."
According to the Wikipedia entry, "Bradford Parkinson is an American engineer and
inventor, retired United States Air Force colonel and recalled emeritus professor
at Stanford University. He is best known as the lead architect, advocate and developer,
with early contributions from Ivan Getting and Roger Easton, of the Air Force NAVSTAR
program, better known as Global Positioning System (GPS). "
"Scientists from the Air Force Research Laboratory
at Kirtland Air Force Base have created a new type of microwave weapon that can
take down drones. Using an inaudible and invisible magnetic wave, the high-powered
device could prove a powerful weapon against drones and other unmanned devices.
Known as the
Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder
- or THOR for short - the device cost around $15 million to make and is capable
of taking out multiple drones at a time. THOR was created over a period of 18 months
as the need to protect the American military from drones has rapidly increased over
"Nearly 70% of the energy produced in the
U.S. each year is wasted as heat. Much of that heat is less than 100°C and emanates
from things like computers, cars or large industrial processes. Engineers at the
University of California, Berkeley, have developed a
thin-film system that can be applied to sources
of waste heat like these to produce energy at levels unprecedented for this kind
of technology. The thin-film system uses a process called pyroelectric energy conversion,
which the engineers' new study demonstrates is well suited for tapping into waste-heat
energy supplies below ..."
"The ability to control
infrared and terahertz waves using magnetic or
electric fields is one of the great challenges in physics that could revolutionize
optoelectronics, telecommunications and medical diagnostics. A theory from 2006
predicts that it should be possible to use graphene - a monoatomic layer of carbon
atoms - in a magnetic field not only to absorb terahertz and infrared light on demand
but also to control the direction of circular polarization. Researchers from the
University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the University of Manchester have succeeded
in testing this theory ..."
"The team of Toma Susi at the University
of Vienna uses a state-of-the-art electron microscope, the UltraSTEM, to manipulate
strongly bound materials with atomic precision. Since the instruments are fully
computerized, it is possible to show in a simulation how researchers actually use
them. This allows for compelling and largely realistic presentations of the most
recent research in materials science. A
simulation game on display at the Vienna Technical
Museum in a special exhibition is now available online, together with the latest
research advance of silicon impurity manipulation ..."
"A new report by CTIA delves into the ways
in which U.S. carriers have tried to
squeeze the most efficiency out of their wireless
spectrum, while continuing the industry’s perennial call for the government to make
still more available. U.S. wireless providers increased their spectrum efficiency
by 42 times over what it was in 2010, according to the new white paper from CTIA.
In 2010, the industry association said, U.S. wireless networks handled 948 million
bytes per one megahertz of spectrum; now they handle 39.9 billion MBs/MHz,
or more than 589,000 subscribers for each megahertz of spectrum ..."
"Like many amateur radio fans his age, Ron
Kolarik, 71, still recalls the 'pure magic' of his first ham experience nearly 60
years ago. Lately, though, encrypted messages have begun to infiltrate the
amateur bands in ways that he says are antithetical
to the spirit of this beloved hobby. So Kolarik filed a petition, RM-11831 [PDF],
to the U.S. FCC proposing a rule change to 'Reduce Interference and Add Transparency
to Digital Data Communications.' And as the proposal makes its way through the FCC's
process, it has stirred up heated debate that goes straight to the heart of what
ham radio is, and ought to be. The core questions: Should amateur radio - and its
precious spectrum - be protected purely as a hobby, or is it a utility that delivers
data traffic ..."
"Whoooo-hooo! Silicon Valley companies pay
their tech workers more than anywhere else in the world, with the average engineer
in San Francisco pulling down $145,000 last year, according to Hired's annual report
on the state of engineering salaries. And, according to Hired, Bay Area salaries
are up over last year, by two percent. That's something for
tech professionals in the area to cheer about,
yes? Not exactly. That 2% just keeps tech workers even with the U.S. rate of inflation
but puts them behind local increases in the cost of living, which is 4% as calculated
by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for April 2018 through April 2019. And salaries
in other tech heavy areas ..."
"Sprint plans to test a
High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) communications system
for six months starting in November. Documents filed with the FCC show the carrier
has asked for a “special temporary authority” to conduct demonstrations of experimental
transmitters using spectrum frequencies ranging from the 1.9 GHz personal communications
service (PCS) band and the 2.5 GHz broadband radio service (BRS) and educational
broadband service (EBS) bands. The tests will be conducted with HAPSmobile, a joint
venture between Sprint’s parent Softbank and AeroVironment that was formed in 2017 ..."