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About RF Cafe

Copyright: 1996 - 2024


    Kirt Blattenberger,


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 typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrivedAllied Brass Carolina Collection Rectangular Frameless Rail Moun

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Editorial: Radio-Light

You might think that being concerned about the inefficiency of traditional Edison type incandescent light bulbs is a recent thing. However, as this 1945 Radio-Craft magazine editorial by Hugo Gernsback points out, it was known early on that only about 10% of the energy consumed by those bulbs actually create light while the rest is dissipated as heat. The difference is that at the time, the "science" was telling us we were headed for a new Ice Age, whereas nowadays the same science is telling us we're headed for planetary death by Global Warming. He postulates a world that will someday be powered by the conversion of solar energy to electricity, and also predicts communications via visible light rather than radio waves. Vacuum tubes would operate at and emit visible light signals to eliminate cables...

Job Openings at ARRL Headquarters

"The National Association for Amateur Radio® is hiring for these positions at its Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut." Who is the NAAR, you might ask? A WWW search might leave you wondering, but according to the HTML "description" meta tag on the ColourTree Super Ring Customized Size Order to Make 42' x 42' x webpage, "The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for amateur radio, connecting hams around the U.S. with news, information and resources." Hence, NAAR=ARRL. Positions include: Lab Engineer EMC/RFI Specialist, Administrative Assistant, Director of Information Technology, Marketing Communications Associate, Public Relations & Outreach Manager, Social Media Strategist...

Optical Pairing Speeds and Secures Wireless Communications

"Han and Leia. George and Amal. Kermit and Miss Piggy. Gomez and Morticia. History's greatest couples rely on communication to make them so strong their power cannot be denied. But that's not just true for people (or Muppets), it's also true for lasers. According to new research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, recently published in Nature Photonics, adding two lasers together as a sort of optical 'IT couple' promises to make wireless communications faster and more secure than ever before. Most laser-based communications - think fiber optics, commonly used for things like high-speed internet - is transmitted in the form of a laser beam traveling through a cable. Optical communications is exceptionally fast but is limited by the fact that it must travel through physical cables..."

Exodus AMP2033-LC, 6–18 GHz TWT Replacement

Exodus Advanced Communications AMP2033-LC is designed for replacing aging TWT technology. A broadband, rugged EMC Class A/AB linear design for all modulations & industry standards. Covers 6.0-18.0 GHz, produces >100 W Minimum, 50 W P1dB, with a minimum 50 dB gain. Designed for EMI/RFI, lab, CW/pulse and all communication applications. Excellent flatness, optional monitoring parameters for forward/reflected power, VSWR, voltage, current & temperature sensing for superb-reliability. Exodus Quiet-Cool technology in our compact 5U-chassis weighing a nominal 75 lbs. Exodus is a multinational RF communication equipment and engineering service company serving both commercial and government entities and their affiliates worldwide...

Will You Pay for TV?

The 1950s was a time of transition in the television watching business. Broadcasters were experimenting with pay-TV systems to replace or supplement over-the-air service. Much as people today think that everything on the Internet should be free, the same mindset prevailed then regarding television programming. Early coding and decoding schemes seem really hokey by today's standards, using computer-type punch cards. I remember the area around Annapolis, Maryland, where I grew up, had both over-the-air and cable-based subscription services in conjunction with the open broadcasts. I spent at least a little time playing with the horizontal and vertical picture sync settings on the back of the TV set that, if lucky...

RF & Electronics Symbols for Visio

With more than 1000 custom-built symbols, this has got to be the most comprehensive set of Visio Symbols available for RF, analog, and digital system and schematic drawings! Every object has been built to fit proportionally on the provided A-, B- and C-size drawing page templates (or can use your own). Symbols are provided for equipment racks and test equipment, system block diagrams, conceptual drawings, and schematics. Unlike previous versions, these are NOT Stencils, but instead are all contained on tabbed pages within a single Visio document. That puts everything in front of you in its full glory. Just copy and paste what you need on your drawing. The file format is XML so everything plays nicely with Visio 2013 and later...

Many Thanks to ConductRF for Continued Support!

ConductRF is continually innovating and developing new and improved solutions for RF Interconnect needs. See the latest TESTeCON RF 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 Artistic Weavers Hinata Area Rug, 2' x 3', Brown today to see how they can help your project! 

Engine Detonation Indicator - new

Electronics has dominated our lives ever since the first commercially available radios became available in the early twentieth century. It was a mysterious miracle science then and still is today. Most people have no understanding of electronics; they just know that life without it is unimaginable. Fantastic new applications for electronics are continually being introduced to supplement or replace mechanical devices. Sensing and control are prime applications for electronics that improve functionality and safety. This promotion of the MIT-Sperry Detonation Indicator, aka the "Knock−O−Meter," is a good example. It appeared in a 1945 issue of Radio−Electronics magazine, near the end of World War II. Today, such a name invokes chuckles and usually implies a joke of a product, but not so at the time...

GE 7-4305C Clock Radio Motor Repair

The synchronous motor in my vintage General Electric Model 7-4305C Roll-Down Number Clock Radio began making grinding noises. An investigation showed it was the 3.6 rpm AC synchronous motor. It was tightly sealed, so I carefully drilled an 1/8" hole in the housing (being sure not to get metal debris inside), inserted a few drops of 3−in−1 oil and shook it around, then re-installed it, plugged it back in and voila - no more noise! (see photos). BTW, if you can even find these motors on eBay, they cost more than an entire clock-radio. Fortunately, I found another 7-4305C at a yard sale so I have a spare...

Controlling Light with Material 3 Atoms Thick

"Most of us control light all the time without even thinking about it, usually in mundane ways: we don a pair of sunglasses and put on sunscreen, and close - or open - our window blinds. But the control of light can also come in high-tech forms. The screen of the computer, tablet, or phone on which you are reading this is one example. Another is telecommunications, which controls light to create signals that carry data along fiber-optic cables. Scientists also use high-tech methods to control light in the laboratory, and now, thanks to a new breakthrough that uses a specialized material only three atoms thick, they can control light more precisely than ever before. The work was conducted in the lab..."

Balsa Weight for Various Densities

Balsa is one of the lightest woods available, and in many respects has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any wood - even oak. The chart at the right gives a comparison of a few familiar wood types. Hobby grade balsa is harvested in the jungles of Ecuador, kiln dried, cut into large blocks, and shipped to the U.S. for final cutting and sanding. Most balsa from hobby shops is in the 8-10 lbs/ft3 realm. The rock-hard stock that nobody wants is sent to the airplane kit manufacturers ;-) The vast majority of the balsa wood I use for building model airplanes comes from Sig, Midwest, and Balsa USA. Other suppliers have materialized in the past few years. Since the rise of mammoth wind turbines for electricity generation, balsa's use as a core material for blades has caused a severe shortage in the modeling realm. Balsa prices have skyrocketed in the past decade...

Boy Scouting and the Radio Amateur

The Boy Scouts of America was formed in 1910 in conjunction with The Boy Scouts Association in the UK. Per their 2007 website statement, "The aim of the Association is to promote the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential, as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities." Part of being a Boy Scout is earning merit badges by performing certain community services and by demonstrating proficiency at defined tasks. Radio proficiency is one such merit badge. In order to earn the Radio merit badge, along with certain other projects the Boy Scout must participate in either Amateur Radio, Broadcast Radio, or Shortwave Listening. This article reports on amateur radio activities across the globe. The Scout oath is, "On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight..."

RF Cascade Workbook

iPhone XR Skeleton Holding Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Funny HalloweeRF Cascade Workbook 2018 is the next phase in the evolution of RF Cafe's long-running series, RF Cascade Workbook. Chances are you have never used a spreadsheet quite like this (click here for screen capture). It is a full-featured RF system cascade parameter and frequency planner that includes filters and mixers for a mere $45. Built in MS Excel, using RF Cascade Workbook 2018 is a cinch and the format is entirely customizable. It is significantly easier and faster than using a multi-thousand dollar simulator when a high level system analysis is all that is needed. An intro video takes you through the main features...

Thanks to Copper Mountain Technologies for Continued Support

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.

Radio Theme Crossword Puzzle for October 31st

This Engineering & Science Theme crossword puzzle for October 31st has many words and clues related to RF, microwave, and mm-wave engineering, optics, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other technical subjects. As always, this crossword contains no names of politicians, mountain ranges, exotic foods or plants, movie stars, or anything of the sort unless it/he/she is related to this puzzle's technology theme (e.g., Reginald Denny or the Tunguska event in Siberia). The technically inclined cruciverbalists amongst us will appreciate the effort. Enjoy!

Many Thanks to Atenlab for Their Continued Support!

Atenlab has been operating in Taiwan for more than a decade, and has sold and installed hundreds chambers around the world. Holistic, affordable Over-the-Air (OTA) measurement systems perform comprehensive measurement and test in a controlled environment. Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) with one-touch operation supports multiple systems - 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G - and major instrument brands. [M]ulti-probe OTA measurement systems offer reduced time measurements over single-probe systems.

Inside the Handie-Talkie

Applying the adjective "portable" to electronics equipment in the vacuum tube era was often a stretch of the term. Usually, portable radios were backpack ordeals with a separate battery carried by second person. They can be seen in a lot of the old War War II movies. It was really not until the advent of the "TANG Sunshades Depot 5'x40' Straight Side Sun Shade Sail 180 GSM" two-way radio sets that a truly hand-held, self-contained system was available. This "Inside the Handi−Talke" article from a 19467 issue of Radio−Craft magazine provides a very detailed look at the internal components and of the schematics. "Walkie−Talkie" was another name often given to the Handi−Talkie, although some might argue that there is a distinct difference. Handi−Talkies used to be widely available on eBay, but are very scarce at this time - and the sale prices reflect that reality. A lot of the listings use the term Handi−Talkie as a ruse...

Intelligent Optical Chip Improves Telecommunications

"From the internet, to fiber or satellite communications and medical diagnostics, our everyday life relies on optical technologies. These technologies use optical pulsed sources to transfer, retrieve or compute information. Gaining control over optical pulse shapes thus paves the way for further advances. Ph.D. student Bennet Fischer and postdoctoral researcher Mario Chemnitz, in the team of Professor Roberto Morandotti of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), developed a smart pulse-shaper integrated on a chip. The device output can autonomously adjust to a user-defined target waveform with strikingly low technical and computational requirements..."

Hobnobbing with Harbaugh: 5 Most Wanted Inventions

Here is a little levity from the "Hobnobbing with Harbaugh" series of comics that appeared in Popular Electronics magazine. Unfortunately, none of the "The 5 Most Wanted Household Inventions" have come to full fruition in the marketplace yet, although the cellphone blockers can be found on the Internet in various unofficial forms. Personal computers were a pipe dream in 1963, but nowadays we do have software like TurboTax to take care of filing taxes, although you still can't simply dump all your receipts into a bin and have it work. Flat-fixing robots might not be needed in a few years as tubeless, airless tires hit the road. Alarm clock vaporizers are not Star Trek phaser-like devices yet, but the same effect can be affected with a low-tech hammer, or a shoe...

Guerrilla RF Jobs

Whilst checking on something else regarding Guerrilla RF, I noticed that they have a few Old Mountain Campfire Forks 41" L Cast Iron CookingMarshmallow R posted that include: SOI Design Engineer, PA Design Engineer, Quality and Reliability Engineer, and Reliability Engineering Technician. They are based in the Greensboro, NC, location. Guerrilla RF was founded by Ryan Pratt the engineer son of an original founder of RF Micro Devices (now Qorvo, who also has many job openings worldwide). I'm not getting paid for this, but please let them know you saw them mentioned on RF Cafe.

Career Opportunities in Electronics

"Unprecedented openings for non-engineers result from industry growth and shortage of skilled men." Thus goes the subtitle for this 1957 Radio & TV News magazine article pitching the promises of a career in electronics technology. It came at a time that predated throw-away everything rather than attempting to repair stuff. It was before the term "personal device" (aka "throw-away") had been coined. It was before placards warning "No user serviceable parts inside" were routinely stuck on practically every item purchasable in a department store. It was a time when people took stuff apart to see how it works, and were actually able to figure it out because parts were large enough to see and actually moved, and even printed circuit boards could be deciphered since trances were on the two outside surfaces and components had leads...


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