Homepage Archive #12

These archive pages are provided in order to make it easier for you to find items that you remember seeing on the RF Cafe homepage. Of course probably the easiest way to find anything on the website is to use the "Search RF Cafe" box at the top of every page. About RF Cafe.

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2012:  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 (no archives before 2012)

Please Thank Amplical for

Helping to Deliver RF Cafe

Amplical focuses on premium quality amplifiers and attenuators at affordable prices. Amplifiers are tuned for exceptional amplitude flatness and our attenuators are designed for precision and the utmost in accuracy. Their products are typically available from stock. It is their pleasure and honor to provide you with both an exceptional product and exceptional service. Amplical features GaAs technology.

Merry Christmas 2012!

David Bowie & Bing Crosby croon together in "The Little Drummer Boy" - RF CafeNever one to worry about being un-PC,  I want to wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a very Merry one, and a Happy & Prosperous New Year to All, regardless of your beliefs! These are a few of my favorite Christmas videos. Enjoy. Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas in Sarajevo" - RF Cafe  Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Canon in D" - RF CafeCasting Crowns - I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - RF Cafe Videos for Engineers

Pat Nelson: Ace of Test Pilots
(as seen in A Christmas Story)

Pat Nelson: Ace of Test Pilots, A CHristmas Story - RF CafeDo you remember the scene in A Christmas Story where the kids Ralphie's the classroom all wear fake teeth and the teacher, Mrs. Shields, collects them and tosses them in her desk drawer? That drawer is filled with many formerly confiscated items, including a copy of "Pat Nelson: Ace of Test Pilots" (copyright 1937). The story is about a daring young pilot who is regarded by his peers as one of the best test pilots and racing pilots in the country. Pat's life is one of tragedy and victory. His father was killed during a robbery that also left his youngest brother, 'The Kid,' paralyzed from a bullet wound, and his other brother missing after being absconded by the gang of thugs. The book appeals to me from many aspects. As my AirplanesAndRockets.com website attests to, I have been a lifelong lover of aircraft of all types. As my RFCafe.com website attests to, I have been a lifelong lover of electronics of all types. The Kid, happens to be an "expert radio Ham" (license number W-103) who is constantly in contact with Pat when he's in the air. He (The Kid) was "a true member of that great clan of radio amateurs who never leave their post when danger threatens" ...

An Inexpensive

Impedance Bridge

An Inexpensive Impedance Bridge, July 1944 QST - RF CafeHere is an amazingly detailed article on how to construct and operate a near-lab-quality impedance bridge out of relatively inexpensive components. A bridge is used to determine the precise value of a resistor, capacitor, or inductor. Prior to modern, easily affordable digital impedance meters, both amateurs and professionals relied on such devices for lab and field work. Why might you need to measure the value of a component when most are marked with a value? One common application is when a variable version of a component (or components) is soldered into the circuit while tweaking for optimal performance, and then the variable is replaced either with a single fixed component or a fixed component with a smaller-range variable component (the latter provides adjustment, but over a smaller range of values). It is not uncommon when doing the initial tuning on a complete home-built transceiver to have many variable components in place initially, and then solder in fixed versions later...

MegaPhase End-of-the-World

Savings Alert - Time Is Short!

MegaPhase "End of the World" Alert - RF CafeMegaPhase's 2012 "End of the World" Savings! For orders placed by 12/21/12 receive 15% discount off all GrooveTube® cables, 10% off all RF cables, 5% off all Accessories (torque wrenches, torque screwdrivers, adapters). Equip your labs for 2013 NOW with MegaPhase's T&M and System product line. Lock in your 15%, 10%, 5% discounts MAYANEND by December 21, 2012.

Pasternack Introduces

New VNA Cal Kits

Pasternack Introduces New VNA Cal Kits - RF CafePasternack introduces their new lines of vector network analyzer calibration kits. The new vector network analyzer (VNA) calibration kits from Pasternack provide the RF components needed to enable stable and accurate error corrected measurements of DUTs using a VNA from DC to 26.5 GHz in one convenient kit. Calibration of a DUT using Pasternack's kit allows for precise measurements needed to meet IEEE 287 standards. Pasternack's VNA calibration kits offer broad VNA coverage for the most popular models including Agilent®, Anritsu®, Rohde & Schwarz® and other VNAs.

Free e-Book -Doing Innovation:

Creating Economic Value

IEEE- Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value - RF CafeThe first eBook in IEEE-USA's Innovation Series, Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value – Book 1: Perspectives on Innovation, was written by Gerard H. (Gus) Gaynor, Retired 3M Director of Engineering. The Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value series was written out of the author's concern that "while innovation appears to receive considerable attention in the academic and business media, these so-called innovations provide little, if any, consistent and significant economic growth."

PartSim Online Analog

Circuit Simulator

PartSim Online Circuit Analysis Simulator by Aspen Labs - RF CafeSimulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis (SPICE) has been around since 1973. The basic computational engine has always been open source. It began as a simple analog circuit simulator that took a structured text file as the input net list and provided a text file output that contained the calculated values that the user specified such as DC bias points, transient analysis, and AC analysis. Component models started with relatively simple definitions. If you wanted a graph of the response, it was in the form of text characters with a standard 80-column division on the y-axis and the x-axis was as many divisions as it needed to be to cover all the points calculated (often printed out on fan-fold paper in a pin printer). Yes, I personally used those versions in the mid 1980s. As time progressed, improvements were added to the computational engine to handle a wider range of component models including digital and RF/microwave. More parameters were added to component models to yield a better agreement between simulation and laboratory measurements. Lagging...

Mayan Apocalypse

7-Day Weather Forecast

Mayan Apocalypse Weather Forecast - RF Cafe

RF Cafe visitor Bob D. sent me this Mayan Apocalypse Weather Forecast graphic. Is this great or what? Note that there is nothing for Saturday, the day after the world ends. Don't forget to ask your doomsdayer friends to assign you all their worldly goods today since they won't be needing anything after tomorrow. Please consider RF Cafe as a beneficiary in your end-of-the-world planning (send to rfcafe@yahoo.com via PayPal).

December Magazine Articles

The engineering magazines have posted their December issue articles online now. Here are a few you might be interested in reading.

Understand Uncertainty for Better Test Accuracy, by Antonio Castro

Ultra Low Noise Amplifiers Improve Cell Coverage and Reduce Costs, by Paul Mattheijssen

A 5G Wireless Communications Vision, by Gerhard Fettweis

Notable Quote

"If the Mayans were so good at predicting the future, why aren't the Mayan cites still around?" - RF Cafe"If the Mayans were so good at predicting the future, why aren't the Mayan cites still around?"- Anon  (nor did they predict the coming of Spanish conquistadores - KRB)

Skyworks Launches High

Linearity, Low Power Amplifier

Skyworks Launches High Linearity and Low Power Drive Amplifier - RF CafeSkyworks introduces a highly efficient, broadband, 13 dB gain, GaAs HBT drive amplifier in a small 2 x 2 millimeter quad flat, no lead package. The SKY67130-396LF draws less than 23 mA at 3.3 V, while achieving +39 dBm OIP3, providing the market with a very compelling, high linearity solution.  On-die active bias design ensures consistent performance and unconditional stability.

A Few Year-End Job Hunting

Tips from the IEEE

2012 Holiday Networking for Both Candidates and Hiring Managers to Jumpstart Your Career in 2013

Nuclear Engineering: $99,920 median salary 

In the Field with International

Pacific Highway (IPH) Crew

In the Field with IPH, December 1931 QST - RF CafeIt is hard to imagine a time when there wasn't a vast network of highways connecting not just the interior of the continental U.S., but also interconnecting all of the countries in North America. Just as pioneers in covered wagons and on horseback forged the routes that became the Oregon Trail in the early 19th century, so did teams of explorers, cartographers and engineers do the heavy lifting in the early 20th century in establishing the first defined roads for expediting the transportation of goods and persons all up and down the continent's west coast. Radio operators were among the crews of the International Pacific Highway (IPH) project. Heavy, bulky, and fragile tube-based radio equipment was transported in vehicles equally bereft of adequate facilities in the form of power and shock absorbing suspensions. This story from a 1931 edition of the ARRL's QST magazine tells of harrowing experiences in the jungles and mountains of South America, including... 

Selecting the Best Resistor

Technology for the Application

Selecting the Best Resistor Technology for the Application - RF CafeVishay engineering director Yuval Hernik has a brief primer posted on EDN discussing considerations when selecting resistors for your design. Resistors seem like - and are - the simplest of electronics elements (other than wires), but a thoughtless selection could spell doom as surely as the wrong transistor or transformer. Aside from special properties that must be accounted for in high frequency circuits (stray reactance, composition), there are 'design centering' needs to account for tolerances in resistance, temperature coefficient, and mechanical environment.

Vintage Allen-Bradley

Resistors Advertisement

Allen-Bradley Resistors Advertisement, December 1931 QST - RF CafeAllen-Bradley has been making resistors for a long time. From my earliest days in electronics in the 1970s, I remember using their products in hobby projects and then later in professional applications. Rockwell Automation now owns Allen-Bradley, so if you want historical information, you will have to do a search for pages like this one, which shows an advertisement from the December 1931 edition of the ARRL's QST magazine. According to Wikipedia: "The company was initially founded as the Compression Rheostat Company by Dr. Stanton Allen and Lynde Bradley with an initial investment of $1,000 in 1903. In 1910 the company was renamed the Allen-Bradley Company." 

AWR Blog Online Videos

as Educational Resource

Latest AWR Blog Showcases Online Videos as Innovative Educational Resource - RF CafeSherry Hess, VP of Marketing at AWR, has posted a new blog discussing the value of online videos as an innovative educational resource for providing remote learning. The blog, "Kahn Academy—I'm a Fan!" lauds the Kahn Academy website, which provides over 3,500 online videos on all facets of education. It compares this education model to AWR's own AWR.TV online video channel, which is a valuable resource for customers, university students, and anyone interested in AWR's RF/microwave design software.

Pasternack Introduces

New Line of RF Filters

Pasternack Introduces New Line of RF Filters - RF CafePasternack introduces their new lines of lowpass filters and highpass filters. The new RF filters from Pasternack are passive components that allow frequency signals to pass within a certain range and attenuate (reject) frequencies outside that given range, in this case, up to 3 GHz. Both the new lowpass and highpass filters are constructed using the Combline design, which provides outstanding VSWR and long term performance.

Thanks to MECA Electronics

for Continued Support!

MECA ElectronicsMECA Electronics manufactures RF & microwave components including fixed attenuators, directional & hybrid couplers, isolators/circulators, power divider/combiners, RF loads, DC blocks, bias Tees 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.

Machinist Calc Pro

Machinist Calc Pro - RF CafeOver on the Design News website, Jon Titus, former editor of numerous electronics magazines and all-around electronics whiz, is recommending the Machinist Calc Pro to people who do a lot of metal machining and woodworking projects. It performs a lot of commonly needed functions like bolt hole patterns, thread tapping tables, spindle feed and speed, etc. Amazon has it on sale now for $70, and if you buy before then end of the year, you can get an additional $20 rebate from the manufacturer.

Thanks to Pasternack for

Continued Support!

Pasternack is a global supplier of RF, microwave and fiber optic components supported by a growing list of international distributors who service customers in more than 30 countries worldwide and partner with us in pursuit of our vision to be the world's most recognized and trusted provider of urgently needed RF, microwave and fiber optic components and assemblies.

Free Technical Magazine


Many of the engineering and science magazines offer free subscriptions to qualified people. Their advertisers foot the bill. Here are a few select examples, but there are many others available for just about every interest.

Free Lightwave Magazine Subscription - RF CafeLightwave - Optical communications technology, applications, and industry trend information.

Free Asia Electronics Industry (AEI) Magazine Subscription - RF CafeAsia Electronics Industry -Reports on the latest parts and components, material, production equipment and test & measuring instrument.

Free NASA Tech Briefs Magazine Subscription - RF CafeNASA Tech Briefs - Reports of innovations developed by NASA and its industry partners/contractors that can be applied to develop new/improved products and solve engineering or manufacturing problems

Science Theme

Crossword for 12/16/2012

For the sake of avid cruciverbalists, each week I create a new crossword puzzle that has a theme related to engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical words. You will never be asked the name of a movie star unless he/she was involved in a technical endeavor (e.g., Hedy Lamar).

Free e-Book - Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value

IEEE: Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value - RF CafeDoing Innovation: Creating Economic Value, by Georgia Stelluto. Excerpt: "Innovation occupies many pages of the business and academic press, yet under close scrutiny, it is difficult to find innovation that provides economic value. Where are the innovations that have an impact on economic growth? Introducing new features to current products or processes often dominates discussions on innovation. Much confusion abounds as to what innovation really involves..."

Anatech Electronics December Newsletter: SAW Filters

Anatech Electronics December Newsletter: SAW Filters - RF CafeAnatech Electronics / AMCrf has posted their December newsletter. The focus is on SAW filters.

SMA Connector Thumbwheel

Thumbwheels for SMA / K (2.9 mm) / V (2.4 mm) RF Connectors - RF Cafe Many people have written over the years asking where to buy those little donut shaped thumbwheels for SMA / K (2.9 mm) / V (2.4 mm) RF Connectors . A lot of companies hand them out at trade shows, with their company names printed on them. Finding one for sale, though, has been somewhat elusive. Search no longer. RF Cafe visitor Michael M. just provided a source for buying them: Marki Microwave. Marki's main product line originally consisted of high performance mixers, but now they also manufacture amplifiers, filters, power dividers, baluns, couplers, and a host of other RF / microwave components. I couldn't find a price on their website, so you will have to call.

Student Freaks Out When Awoken in Physics Class

Student Freaks Out When Awoken in Physics Class - RF CafeWatch this poor guy freak out when his physics professor wakes him while he naps during class. The lecture was on nuclear physics and atom bombs.

Pasternack Expands Line of Schottky Diode Detectors

Pasternack Enterprises Expands Line of Schottky Diode Detectors - RF CafePasternack announces the expansion of their line of Schottky diode detectors. RF detectors from Pasternack are coaxial components that convert the input RF signal strength into proportional DC voltage at its output, also referred to as “video out”. The positive-biased Schottky detectors offer varying operating frequencies ranging from 500 MHz to 26 GHz and are available with SMA connectors. This line of biased detectors has a RF signal threshold (tangential sensitivity or TSS) of -54 to -52 dBm.

PMI Intros 0.5 to 18 GHz Switch Bit Attenuator

PMI Intros 0.5 to 18 GHz Switch Bit Attenuator - RF CafePMI Model No. SAA-500M18G-20DB-SFF is a switch bit attenuator that operates over the frequency range of 500 MHz to 18 GHz. This model provides 20 dB of attenuation when a TTL "0" is applied and less than 3 dB of insertion loss when TTL "1" is applied. This attenuator switches between states in less than 100 nsec and maintains a maximum VSWR of 2.0:1 into a 50 ohm impedance. ±5 VDC is required to power. Other frequency ranges and attenuation values are available.

Caveat for Buying Test Equipment on eBay

Caveat for Buying Test Equipment on eBay - RF CafeWhile looking around on eBay for a couple pieces of test equipment, I noticed that some of the overseas distributors have products wired for 220 VAC w/o an option for 120 VAC as used in the U.S. They do properly state the voltage, but just be careful because if you are not aware of it, you will need a step-up transformer or pay shipping to return it. Also, a couple of the ARB products have software that will not work on a 64-bit Windows system. If you have any questions, be sure to send a message; they are usually really good about answering quickly.

PA Design Series: Envelope Tracking Sim and Analysis

Webinar: RF PA Design Series, Envelope Tracking Simulation and Analysis - RF CafePA Design Series: Envelope Tracking Simulation and Analysis, December 13, 1:00 PM ET. Modern modulated signals have high peak-to-average power ratios (PAPR.) Power amplifiers that must amplify these high PAPR signals, if using a fixed bias, must be operated at relatively high output power back off, to avoid greatly distorting the signal when its envelope excursion is near its peak. This webcast will provide an overview of Envelope Tracking simulation and analysis.

Many Thanks to Orbel for Long-Time Support! 

Orbel is a precision solutions manufacturer of photo etched components, board level shielding, EMI/RFI gasketing, custom metal stampings, fabric over foam gaskets and plated foils. Orbel's board level shielding products offer engineers the most flexibility for surface mount or thru-hole designs.

FITSAT-1 CubeSat Flight

over Erie, Pennsylvania

FITSAT-1 CubeSat Flight over Erie, Pennsylvania - December 12, 2012 - RF CafeI stayed up late last night (early this morning, actually) to watch the FITSAT-1 CubeSat satellite flash its Morse code "HI DE NIWAKA JAPAN" message via super-bright LEDs over eastern North America. It was scheduled to pass just south of my location in Erie, Pennsylvania, at 1:14 AM, with a lights-on intensity great enough to be easily seen with binoculars. FITSAT-1 is a project conceived of and built by professors and students at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology (FIT) in Japan. In addition to the LED visual display, the satellite also carries several Amateur Radio payloads including a CW beacon on 437.250 MHz, a telemetry beacon on 437.445 MHz and a high-speed data downlink on 5,840.0 MHz. The CubeSat Project was developed by California Polytechnic State University and Stanford University's Space Systems Development Lab. It creates launch opportunities for universities previously unable to access space. A CubeSat...

Longest English Word Takes

213 Minutes to Pronunciate

Longest Word in English Takes 213 Minutes to Pronunciate - RF CafeJust as technologies continually advances with more and more complexity, so, apparently, do words. I remember as a kid back in the late 1960s when the word 'antidisestablishmentarianism' was all the rage. It was pronounced and joked about on all the Prime Time and Late Night variety shows like Carol Burnett , Sonny & Cher, Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson. Those 28 letters and 12 syllables pale in comparison to the new king of the word-length hill. Sporting 189,819 letters, the long version of a giant protein called Titin takes the guy in the embedded video 213 minutes to pronounce. Here is the word in all its glory:


 …+ 189,777 more letters +…


Skyworks Intros High Power

Switches for Base Stations

Skyworks Intros Three High Power Switches for Base Stations, Land Mobile Radios and Military Communications - RF CafeSkyworks is pleased to unveil three high power SPDT switches for multiple applications. The SKY12207-478LF (0.9-4.0 GHz; 50 W), SKY12208-306LF (0.02-2.7 GHz; 50 W) and SKY12210-478LF (0.9-4.0 GHz; 100 W) deliver transmit/receive and failsafe switching functionality for TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE base stations, as well as land mobile radios and military communication systems.  These PIN diode switches handle continuous wave RF input power and provide very low insertion loss in the antenna-to-Rx mode, minimizing the effect on receiver noise figure.

RFMD Intros Absorptive

High-Isolation SPDT Switch

RFMD Absorptive High-Isolation SPDT Switch - RF CafeThe RFSW6124 is an SPDT RF switch featuring a symmetric design for exceptional isolation. Typical applications for this GaAs pHEMT switch include cellular base stations and other communications systems requiring high linearity and power-handling capability. The RFSW6124 uses a non-reflective architecture that terminates ports in the Off state and provides an enable pin for an All-Off state. Control of the switch is both 3V and 5V positive logic-compatible.

RF Cafe Quiz: Intro to Infrared

and Electro-Optical Systems

RF Cafe Quiz #48: Introduction to Infrared and Electro-Optical Systems - RF CafeThis quiz is based on the information presented in "Introduction to Infrared and Electro-Optical Systems," by Ronald G. Driggers and Melvin H. Friedman. All RF Cafe quizzes would make perfect fodder for employment interviews for technicians or engineers - particularly those who are fresh out of school or are relatively new to the work world. Come to think of it, they would make equally excellent study material for the same persons who are going to be interviewed for a job.

Sherlock Ohms: The Case

of the Scalar EM Waves

Sherlock Ohms: The Case of the Scalar EM Waves - RF CafeSherlock Ohms is a regular feature of Design News that presents submissions from readers about troubleshooting challenges and how they were solved. This one is utterly amazing and is titled "Mystery Signals Show Up in Neurological Amplifiers." Have you heard of scalar electromagnetic waves and the [in]effectiveness of shielding on them? I had not. A Google search resulted in a bunch of conspiracy theory articles referencing Tesla's writings and how the government was using them for mind and weather control. Does anyone have credible information on scalar EM waves? Maybe this Sherlock Ohms case should have been saved for April 1st.

The Making of Young People

Who Will Change the World

"Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World," by Tony Wagner. A childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion, and purpose are the forces that drive young innovators. Wagner shows how we can apply this knowledge as educators and what parents can do to compensate for poor schooling. He takes readers into the most forward-thinking schools, colleges, and workplaces in the country, where teachers and employers are developing cultures of innovation based on collaboration, interdisciplinary problem-solving, and intrinsic motivation. The result is a timely, provocative, and inspiring manifesto that will change how we look at our schools and workplaces, and provide us with a road map for creating the change makers of tomorrow.

Notable Quote

"You could put in this room, de Forest, all the radiotelephone apparatus that the country will ever need" - RF Cafe"I don't care what the majority voted to do, they don't have a right to steal my money just because they vote for it." -- Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, on CNBC (start video at 4:40)

Pasternack Needs an

RF/Microwave Copywriter

Pasternack Enterprises: RF/Microwave Copywriter and Content Manager Job - RF CafePasternack Enterprises announces the availability of a new position at their Irvine, California, location.

• RF/Microwave Copywriter and Content Manager

TriQuint Semiconductor Has

Two New Job Openings

TriQuint just announced two new fulltime openings at their Hillsboro, Oregon, location.

• RF Metrology Engineer

• RF Substrate/Laminate Technologist

Flying Radiomen [and women]

of the Ferrying Division

Flying Radiomen [and Radiowomen] of the Ferrying Division, June 1944 QST - RF Cafe"Necessity is the mother of invention" is an oft-heard phrase that never rang truer than during World War II. Both the Axis and the Allied powers had extremely brilliant and capable people working to defeat each other, driving advances in technology and methods at a break-neck pace for nearly a decade (remember WWII began before the U.S. entered the fray in 1941). Aircraft and radio were powerful new weapons for all sides at that point since both were still in their fledgling modes in WWI. Efficient and effective execution of aircraft ferrying, troop movement, and supply delivery was absolutely dependent on radio equipment and operators that could adapt to new strategic situations and endure all sorts of weather and geographic stresses. While the Army Signal Corps had a good cadre of radio operators available, few were experienced with operating in their gear while airborne. Background noise (audible and electronic) and vibration from the engines and airframe tested the limits of skills...

Amateur Radio Quiz:

Specs or Pepper?

Amateur Radio Quiz: Specs or Pepper? - RF CafePondering a possible purchase puts the potential pocketbook provider in a pickle! Unless, that is, they are a savvy savant of specifications. This quiz will lead you through a jumbled jam of jargon to see how well you speak the language of the specification!

Science & Engineering Theme

Crossword for 12/9/2012

For the sake of avid cruciverbalists, each week I create a new crossword puzzle that has a theme related to engineering, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical words. You will never be asked the name of a movie star unless he/she was involved in a technical endeavor (e.g., Hedy Lamar).