Tech Smorgasbord Archives - 27
2010 Salary Survey
It seems like a long time since I last reported on a salary survey for the electrical engineering realm. This one from Electronic Design was
released a week or so ago. More than 2.500 readers representing a cross section of the industry responded, so that is a respectable sample size.
Per the article, engineers recouped some of the 2009 losses - those who still have jobs, anyway. Hiring is still dismal at best. Average increase
was 1.2%, compared to 2009 decrease of 3.6%, so we still have not caught up to the 2008 levels.
As expected, higher degrees earned higher salaries, with a PhD at $110.2 k, BS at $91.5k, AS at $74.9k. Lots more on the website.
Electronics Engineering Realm
IC / Semi
Test & Measurement
Contract Design & Mfg.
IEEE Spectrum)In the U.S. alone, 130k computers and
300k cellphones are trashed each day. All that e-waste has to go somewhere. The U.S. EPA has placed nearly impossible to comply with restrictions
on what can be accepted into landfills, so much - if not most - of the toxic content is shipped overseas where there is not quite so much concern
about the poisoning of people and environment. If you look around the Web, you will find disgusting photos of disposal sites and the natives
who work in them to extract recyclable metals and components. I saw one video of guys in a 3rd world country wearing rubber hip boots in a slush
of acid in a battery reclamation operation. I am no eco-Nazi, but anybody with a tinge of human compassion would be repulsed by what is going
on behind the scenes to accommodate our (inc'l my) appetite for cheap products. Europe, China, Russia, Brazil, and other industrialized
countries are equally culpable, so don't point the bony finger of indignation at the U.S. Progress and free market capitalism is the key to
a robust and contented economy and people, but destroying the planet is not acceptable collateral damage. Don't just blame it on the "evil"
corporations, because they cannot do anything without politicians as willing accomplices - the Ds are just as bad as the Rs.
Color CodesMaybe I'm wrong, but my guess is that most engineers
and technicians under 35 years old cannot readily interpret numerical color codes. With the advent and subsequent ubiquity of laser-marked numerical
codes on both surface mount and low-watt leaded resistors, capacitors, and inductors, the old mnemonic I learned in my high school electrical
vocational classes back in the 1970s (which is way too politically incorrect to print here) is passé. In an attempt to encourage
a color code renaissance, I have added RF Cafe's color-coded, 10-digit phone number in the footer of these pages. A lot of people use a graphic
image of their phone number and/or e-mail on web pages to thwart web bots that are data mining contact information when it is in text form.
color code mnemonics and/or suggestions for new usage
and I will create a page for them.
Good Power Brown-Outs
In July of 2010, the DoE published a study on energy savings resulting from lowering the voltage on distribution lines in a cross-section of
user groups. Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR) is the term used for using a line voltage level that is less than the "standard" 120 V from which most appliances are
designed to operate. Ohm's law dictates that lower V results in lower P (P=V2/R), but of course you cannot arbitrarily reduce the
supply voltage because at some point the item stops working properly and/or experiences a shortened lifespan due to stress.
The study did a pretty good job of acknowledging conditions under which no conservation is realized, and concluded that a nation-wide deployment
of the CVR scheme would result in around 3% savings - a worthwhile goal that does not even require a complete implementation of the Smart Grid
PC Monitor, LCD
13-W CFL Bulb
42-W CFL Bulb
LED (low qual)
LED (high qual)
Corps and the AARS
everyone is a radio operator, but that has only been the case for less than two decades. Prior to the ubiquitous presence of cell phones, land
lines provided a comprehensive communications net for most of the civilized world. While today's teens cannot imagine a world without cell phones,
most of the rest of us cannot imagine no phones at all. Such was the case around 1925 when that Army Amateur Radio Service (AARS) was created
to provide access between men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and friends and relatives back home, and to assist during times of emergency.
The Army considered AARS to be a huge success in terms of improving morale, reducing costs, and having a new cadre of radio operators highly
trained in military communications techniques. Indeed, many AARS operators returned to duty - this time in uniform - during WWII Today, Amateur
operators continue to provide similar services through Military
Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and other networks. New operators are always welcome.
Beloit College Mindset List
Beloit College)Most students entering college for
the first time this fall, the Class of 2014, were born in 1992 ('58 for me). "Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking
sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall's entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email
generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow." The Wisconsin school has been releasing a list of generational
factoids every year since 1988. Here are a few of the 75. -- 1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive. 2. Email is
just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail. 19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists
while chatting on the phone. 51. Food has always been irradiated. 75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial
Day at Indianapolis.
EE Times 2010 "Silicon 60"
EE Times)First published in April 2004, the list has been updated based on the latest corporate, commercial, technology
and market conditions. "The Silicon 60 includes startups involved in semiconductor technologies for analog circuits, memory, logic, power, MEMS,
optoelectronics, EDA software, foundry manufacturing, semiconductor production equipment, electronic subsystems, displays, packaging and materials."
A couple of interest to RF Cafe visitors are: Baolab Microsystems (MEMS for RF relays inside
CMOS), Black Sand Technologies (CMOS RF PA), GainSpan (WiFi), Lime Microsystems (wireless broadband),
Mirics Semiconductor (RF mixed signal ICs), Ozmo Devices (wireless PAN), Rayspan (metamaterials for RF front-ends),
RFaxis (RF front-ends).
Need Money for Your Wireless Startup?
I'll let them speak on this one:
If you are a new start-up or small company looking
to take your business forward, this programme is for you. Perhaps you need to raise money but don't know where to go and what to ask for. Maybe
you need to enhance your presentation or pitching skills or you could use some extra cash or support. Could it be that you need a link into
the industry to move your business forward? Cambridge Wireless is providing master classes, workshops and support from its industry leaders.
At the project's core is a competition with prizes for the best in five categories: Cognitive and/or green radio, Hot applications and services,
Wireless health and wellness, Technology design in wireless, and Emerging disruptive ideas. This competition is open and free to enter for companies
in the East of England, as well as for Cambridge Wireless members throughout the UK.
Flash - Helium-3 Shortage
Save those canisters of helium (He-4) from your kid's
birthday party - they could be worth a fortune if the doomsday prediction for the earth's helium supply pans out as prognosticated. He-3 is
a rare isotope that is mostly manufactured via the radioactive decay of tritium (H-3). 1 L cost $100 in 2009, but $2,150k in 2010. It is used
extensively for cooling high sensitivity measurement instruments like MRIs, bomb-sniffing neutron detectors, and even the LHC at CERN. The world
uses 40 kL/yr, and the U.S. is the major supplier - mainly from recycled nuclear warhead and nuclear power station H-3. We are shutting all
those sources down at a rapid rate, so tritium will become more scare, hence less He-3. Not to worry about the predicted depletion in 40 years,
though, because just about every other country is increasing supplies of tritium. So like most other assets nowadays, our politicians will see
to it that the U.S. technological lead is eliminated. It's called social justice.
From Dust to Dust
Sky & Telescope)
Chaotic interstellar gasses and dust accrete to form more orderly
planets and suns, while simultaneously more orderly suns explode and planets collide back into chaotic states. Collectively, they maintain the
balance of energy conservation that keeps Messrs. Joule and Einstein pleased. In 1959, order arose out of chaos as Bell Labs scientists constructed
the Horn Antenna to listen for signals from passive Echo satellites. While attempting to eliminate weak background noise, a faint signal at
7.35 centimeters persisted in every region of the sky. Eventually, astronomers Penzias and Wilson deduced it was the signature of the Big Bang
that permeates our universe. Now a national landmark under the care(?) of the
National Park Service, the Horn Antenna
is decaying back to a chaotic state due to neglect. Please write to Edson Beall requesting proper preservation of this important bit of history. I did.
HEATBALLs to the Rescue
HEATBALL.de)As is often the case, when idiotic bureaucrats pass laws to cater to some lobby group that is padding
their coffers with donations, there are entrepreneurial types who think of ingenious ways to thwart the idiocy. The entire western world, in
an attempt to save the earth from Global Warming (recently changed to Climate Change), is banning Edison's incandescent light bulbs.
2012 is the cutoff date for most countries. Siegfried Rotthäuser has introduced the HEATBALL, which coincidentally looks just like an
incandescent bulb. Exploiting the fact that 96% of an incandescent bulb's energy is converted into heat (the remaining 4% as light), he can
legally sell these as heaters, thereby circumventing the law. 100W bulbs, er, heaters, are €1.69 ($2.35) each - supporting your incandescent
habit isn't cheap.
How Green Is Your Red?
Technology is a wonderful thing... as long as it is not used for nefarious purposes. Take this infrared
thermal image of people's homes in Belgium. The Belgian government's "Zoom Into
Your Roof" online project aims to show homeowners how their houses stack up in terms of insulation. By searching for their address, residents
can zoom in to see if heat, represented in dark red, is escaping from the house. Yes, it is helpful to residents, but do you really thing the
government is spending money just so people can see how well their houses rate in the efficiency realm? No, neither do I. Remember that global
Cap & Trade is coming to a country near you. I think of this as the IR version of those pesky speed trap cameras that send you a ticket
by mail, only here the EPA (or equiv.) will send you an energy hog bill for being too red. Imaging is performed by airplanes, and
possibly black helicopters.
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 World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at
the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps
while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got
Mail" when a new message arrived...
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