RFCafe.EU's Raison d'Être
With a last name like Blattenberger, it is obvious that my ancestors came from
Europe – Germany to be exact. Born in 1958, I am something like a third generation
American. My great-grandfather, originally surnamed Schuldberg which, according
means “Mountain of debt,” and his family fled Germany in the mid-1800s when a warrant
for his arrest was issued due to his involvement in an embezzlement scandal. They
huddled for three months in the belly of an oil tanker as fugitives, sending the
children out at night to scavenge for food from the officer's mess just to survive.
Once in The New World, he started a lawn maintenance business, and changed his last
name to Blattenberg, which means “Mountain of leaves.” The name was further Anglicized
later to its current form of Blattenberger.
Just kidding about the reason
for and method of getting to America, of course, but I am of German descent. I made
up the part about the name change, too, but Blattenberg does mean “mountain of leaves.”
Oh, and there were no oil tankers in the mid 1800s, either.
Why this inanity,
you ask? It is really just a lame lead-in for introducing the new
RFCafé.EU website. Most Americans
of my era are of European ancestry, so we have a relatively recent familial tie
to The Old World. Cultures might vary widely and sometimes deeply between here are
there, but bloodlines run closely. The European Union has, since its formal beginning on November 1,
1993, assembled a strategic collection of 25 independent, democratic member states.
Efforts began as early as 1958 when the
European Economic Community was formed following the Treaty of
Rome (c. 1957, in fact the Europa site's slogan is “Together Since 1957”). After
two devastating World Wars and much debate, the neighboring countries of Europe
came to an agreement on common terms that would greatly reduce the likelihood of
one or more of them waging war against the other(s). Building interdependence for
the purposes of both economic stability and military security, while allowing for
the preservation of individual national identities, has required a lot of give-and-take
on the part of diplomats and ordinary citizens. So far, so good.
We did the
same type of thing here in the United States about 250 years ago (although individual
states, not independent countries), and it has worked well, with a few notable upsets;
e.g., the Civil War.
A common currency, the
euro, was introduced
in an attempt to eliminate constantly changing exchange rate issues involved when
transacting business deals and forming partnerships. On December 31, 1998, the relative
value of each member country's currency was set by the European Commission based
on the market rates, so that one European Currency Unit (ECU) would equal one euro.
A special euro currency sign (€) was designed as the result of a public survey.
The European Commission then chose the final design. On January 1, 2002, the first
hard currency was distributed. The dollar coin is particularly attractive with its
dual metal, concentric construction (I collect them in any condition, so feel free
to mail your spares to me).
As a perusing of the many Vendor pages on RF
Café will attest to, there is a plethora of electronics product manufacturers located
in EU member countries. Some of them even advertise on (i.e., subsidize the existence
of) RF Café. To name a few: European Antennas,
and Mentorport. As with
many American firms that exist to support the military and aerospace industry here,
there are also a huge number of companies in the EU that contribute to similar unified
efforts there. There is not yet, however, a single defense force or aeronautics
program for the EU analogous to the United States' Department of Defense (DoD) and
National Space and Aeronautics Administration (NASA), respectively. Companies like
EADS (European Aeronautics and Defence
Company) are major players for aircraft and space vehicles, and represents a consortium
of EU countries. Airbus, while based in France, is a multinational venture formed
by EU members to compete in the multi-billion dollar civilian and military aircraft
markets. The newly formed Joint
Research Center (JRC) has committed billions of dollars to basic research and
development projects that will fuel the high-tech industry for member countries.
Many others come to mind. The product and services generated by those efforts incorporate
a large amount of electronics components and assemblies. That the EU electronics
industry policies has influence worldwide needs no other example than the
RoHS (Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in
electrical and electronic equipment) directive, which has become a de facto standard
for acceptance of electrical components.
In recognition of the already very
large and growing European RF and electronics industry in particular and the high
technology industry in general, we (I) at RF Café have decided to create a website
that will serve the needs of the many engineers and hobbyists from member countries
that already regularly visit RFCafe.COM.
RFCafe.EU is that website. Although
I may have missed it, there is no other single website that I have found on the
.EU top level domain that serves such a purpose. Hopefully, a new frontier is being
forged. Visitor involvement is highly encouraged. Submission of articles for publication,
participation in the RF Café Forums, notices for events, news headlines, important
dates in history, product announcements, and any other relevant items are hereby
requested. Thanks in advance for your contributions.
So, please, whether
you happen to be a resident of a European Union country or not, spend some time
looking over the new RFCafe.EU website. Then, come back often to witness and influence
Update: Due to some logistical issues with separating the
.COM and .EU website content (forum, borders, menus, etc.), the site will be taken
down until resolved. I would rather wait to launch when all features are working
properly. Sorry for the inconvenience. I will announce when it is up again.