Emil's Vintage Technology Site is chock full of information on products
from the early to mid 20th century. Wind-up clocks, console televisions, Bakelite
slide viewers, radio voltmeters, even bijou adapters are included. A lot of the
images are from magazines, but some are of the actual products and/or their original
packaging. There are also vintage technology items available for sale. You might
even have something that he is willing to pay for. A page of links to other collector
websites is provided as well.
Featured Product Archive
The inventions and products featured on these pages were chosen either for their
uniqueness in the RF engineering realm, or are simply awesome (or ridiculous) enough
to warrant an appearance.
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"Don't pay thousands for an old HP signal
generator!" That's the admonition offered by the makers of the the
It could be sound advice. Running under Windows via a USB port, for $249 you get
this 137 MHz to 4.4 GHz software-tunable, PLL-synthesized RF signal generator. Some
specs: Phase noise < -107 dBc at 100 kHz offset at 2 GHz, 0.4° RMS from 100 Hz
to 1 MHz (good for 64PSK). Pmax into 50 Ω is 0 dBm @137.5 MHz, 0 dBm @500MHz, 1.5
dBm @1 GHz, 5 dBm @2GHz, 0 dBm @4 GHz, accuracy is based on an onboard 25 ppm 10
MHz crystal oscillator. It takes up a whole lot less space on a workbench than a
3U-high rack-mount chassis!
You have seen or used one of those plug-in
OBD handheld automotive diagnostic devices that scan your vehicle's onboard computer
for stored data. Police investigators use them at accident scenes to collect info
on your driving history (acceleration, speed, braking)
for possible use in court. Cell phones and PDAs are now being heavily used to solve
crimes and prosecute criminals (and a few innocents).
Portable systems like CelleBrite Mobile's forensics kit includes cables and a handheld
computer that can pull pictures, videos, text messages, call logs, and other data
from cellphones and PDAs at a crime scene. Laws are being placed on the books detailing
how data extraction must be conducted in order to avoid tainting evidence. It is
somewhat like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of evidence gathering, where
the act of observing the data affects the quality of the data collected.
For many years I have wondered why cruise
controls in vehicles did not include a braking function that would be able to maintain
speed when going downhill or being impeded by multilane traffic. Well, it appears
Bosch, TRW, Delphi, and others already thought of that and have solutions in their
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) systems. This particular video is of the Bosch system.
A mm-wave radar unit measures distance and relative speed to feed data to the microprocessor
that determines when to apply the brakes or when to give it the gas. ACC is smart
enough to compensate for rapidly varying traffic speeds, as well as for lane changes
and even going around corners. An ability to monitor vehicles in multiple lanes
is incorporated into it decision making. High-end auto makers like Lexus, Audi,
Mercedes, et al, have been offering it for a few years. The low-end heaps I can
afford are still waiting for a price reduction; I will be tapping the brakes and
mashing the Resume button myself for many more years.
Apps for phones have been around a long time,
and in most realms of technology, the level of sophistication grows over time. MW
Toolbox for the Android is a good example. The free Lite version includes attenuator
(pi and T, reflectometer, and mismatch error limit calculators. For the über rich
that can afford the €1.99 ($2.60) price tag, you also get microstrip, stripline,
coplanar waveguide, power and voltage converter, field intensity and power density
converter, parallel LCR impedance, series LCR impedance, inductor & capacitance
impedance, Ohm's Law, and radar equation calculators. The author is taking requests
for new calculators.
A new version of the wildly popular
RF Stencils for Visio has finally been released. A lot of people
have wanted pre-colored symbols and the addition of new symbols. Done. I also included
the connector points for Visio's built-in interconnect lines that follow components
as they are dragged around
the drawing. Test equipment and rack stencils
now have text that scales with the object as the size is changed (not a built-in
Visio action). The ARRL schematic symbols are still include for the still low, low
price of $15. Upgrades for v1 users are a mere $10. You would burn up that much
money creating just one of these symbols on your own at an engineer's rate.
A couple weeks ago, RF Cafe visitor Patrick Stox, of LBA Technology, contacted
me with a story and photos
of an über triplexer project that engineers at the company had completed. The pictures
alone of these huge filters are cool enough, but the location for installation is
really unique. They recently shipped a specially built advanced technology medium
wave (540-1700 kHz @ 100 kW) triplexer system to the Broadcasting Corporation of
China for installation in Taiwan. Site limitations required that the triplexer operate
into an electrically short tower in the middle of a lake, with only a small platform
area 30 feet above the water available for the tower base and the triplexing equipment.
The Pocket Radar Personal Radar PR1000 can
reliably measure a baseball pitch from the backstop on 90 foot baseball fields,
or a car from 1/2 a mile away with accuracy of +/- 1 mph. Operating in K-band at
24.125 GHz, the Doppler algorithms measures from 7 to 375 mi/hr (11 to 600 k/hr)
with an accuracy of ±1 mi/hr (±2 k/hr). Weight is just 4.5 oz. with batteries (10,000
readings on 2 "AAA" alkaline batteries). Operating temperature range is 20 to 140
°F (-6 to 60 °C) A zero IF receiver is used along with a dielectric resonator oscillator
and high-gain vertically-polarized planar antenna array. The PR1000 can measure
acceleration by making and storing up to 10 measurements in 0.75 sec increments
- you have to do the math.
A year or so ago I posted information on AlphiMAX's
web-based Point-to-Point Estimator. It is a very well-designed application for planning
wireless radio links that enables you to compare equipment performance, while taking
into account the 3-D terrain details of your separated network points. The program
has been upgraded with significant new features that include, among others, an ability
to integrate with the Google Earth database and the addition of new products operating
up to 23 GHz. All of this is provided at no cost to the user; i.e., it is FREE.
AlphiMAX developed the tool to facilitate their primary business of providing technical
resources to system planning and implementation engineers as well as to equipment
8-27-2010Amanogawa is the name for a Japanese flowering
cherry tree. It is also the name of a website that offers more than a score of Java
applets for electromagnetic calculations and accompanying dynamic plots. It is all
free. Smith charts, antenna fields, shielding effectiveness, transmission lines,
standing wave visualization, and waveguide fields are the subject of very professionally
done coding. The creators wrote a book called Fundamentals
of Applied Electromagnetics that includes a CD with everything here and more.
RF Cafe visitor Gary M. recently wrote to
recommend a product called
ACF-50 for corrosion control on electronic and mechanical components. It is
a rust dissolver as well as a preventative coating, and is used by top aircraft
manufacturers. ACF-50 is certified under
Mil-PRF-81309F, and manufactured under ISO 9000 certified processes.
Uses include cleaning and protection of electrical connectors, component leads,
sockets, cables, and PCBs. The October 2010 edition of
QST magazine has an excellent
article titled, "Is Your Tower Still Safe?," that explains the corrosion process
and how to deal with it through proper preparation, including sacrificial anode
usage and coatings. While not specifically mentioned in the article, ACF-50 could
be a suitable compound to help control such issues.
The proprietor of the
Excel Hero website contacted me because of a recent addition to
his large collection of unbelievably clever Excel spreadsheets. If you appreciate
the power of VBA (Visual Basic for Application - I use it
in the RF Cascade Workbook series), then you have to spend some time on the
site. This particular spreadsheet is for a Smith Chart that is created dynamically
from textbook equations. There is a very nice tutorial included. It does not have
the built-in ability to plot actual impedance or admittance points, but if you want
to do so, you can take a look at the equations I created in my
Smith Chart for Excel file (free) and integrate them into this