Today in Science History -
Unlike many of the
crossword puzzles found in many magazines, the majority of the words and clues
in this 1965 Electronics World "Electronic
Crosswords" puzzle pertain to electronics, physics, mathematics, and other
technical topics. Only a couple pertain to items not used in modern electronics
assemblies, but you probably know what they are, anyway. I took the liberty of
inserting alternate clues for the non-technical words, thus effectively
rendering the entire crossword puzzle as totally compliant as my weekly RF Cafe
Crossword Puzzles. You're welcome.
Founded in 2004,
LadyBug Technologies has quickly built a reputation as one of the world's
premier (they would argue "the" world's premier) manufacturers of RF and
microwave power measurement test equipment. Their line of fast, accurate and
NIST-traceable power sensors cover the 9 kHz to 50 GHz frequency range with
86 dB of dynamic range. In the process, LadyBug engineers have produced many
very helpful instructional and educational videos for the benefit of their
customers who use the power sensors, but also for anyone interested in making
precision power measurements. A few of the videos are presented below, including
titles such as "Peak and Pulse Power Demonstration," "RF Noise and Power Sensors
Power Meters ," and "75 Ohm RF Power Measurements." and you can access the
entire collection on LadyBug Technologies' YouTube channel...
Preparing for a
technician career in electronics today is not so different than it was in 1970,
when this article on resume preparation appeared in Popular Electronics
magazine. Sure, particular job descriptions have changed, but the basics are pretty
much the same. In 1970, being able to list television and radio repair on your resume
was a valuable indication of your schematic reading and troubleshooting prowess.
The keywords Sams Photofacts would jump right off the page at a knowledgeable interviewer
(you can still buy documentation packages from Sams Technical Publishing). Then,
as now, having a two-year college electronics degree or a stint in the armed forces
as an electronics technician - or both, preferably - is almost a requirement for
landing a job at a defense or aerospace electronics company...
"Seventy-five years is a long time. It's
so long that most of us don't remember a time before the transistor, and long enough
for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In
honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue's package
of articles explores the transistor's historical journey and potential future. In
'The First Transistor and How it Worked,' Glenn Zorpette dives deep into how the
point-contact transistor came to be. Then, in 'The Ultimate Transistor Timeline,'
Stephen Cass lays out the device's evolution, from the flurry of successors to the
point-contact transistor to the complex devices in today's laboratories that might
one day go commercial. The transistor would never have become so useful and so ubiquitous
if the semiconductor industry had not succeeded in making it small and cheap..."
We recently passed the 62nd anniversary
of the first successful
earth-moon-earth (EME) communication path by amateur radio operators. What is
today a routine operation by Hams was a big deal back in the day. The moon was still
a mystery to most of the world since at the time not even an unmanned probe had
been sent for exploration. As reported in this 1960 issue of Electronics World magazine,
1,296 MHz was the frequency of choice using a 1 kW klystron on the transmit
end and a highly sensitive parametric amplifier on the receive end, with high gain
parabolic antennas on both ends. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has
allocated the 144.00-144.20 MHz, 222.0-222.025 MHz, 432.00-432.07 MHz,
902.8-903.0 MHz, 1295.8-1296.05 MHz, and 2303.9-2304.2 MHz bands
for various modes of EME operation per Part 97 rules...
With more than 1000
custom-built symbols, this has got to be the most comprehensive set of
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...
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
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. 50 Ω and 75 Ω models are available, along with
a full line of precision calibration and connector adaptors.
My first exposure to
bare die integrated circuits was in the early 1980's, while working at the Westinghouse
Oceanic Division in Annapolis, Maryland. It was my first job as an electronics technician
after separating from the U.S. Air Force. After working there on the evening shift
for a couple years building sonar systems for the U.S. Navy, I had an opportunity
to move to the day shift if I could pass muster for a high level security clearance.
A small group of engineers, with just one technician, was formed to serve the needs
of a "special" customer. A couple other guys with more seniority them me interviewed
for the position, but they failed the background check, which included two polygraph
tests ...but I digress. Part of my job entailed building microcircuit assemblies
using bare IC die and surface mount passive devices epoxied to very tiny printed
circuit substrates, and then using a thermosonic wirebond machine to do the interconnections.
1 mil gold wire was used. A week-long class at the company's plant in Baltimore
provided the basics, but the work we did was very unique and required developing
new techniques that probably would not pass inspection by the crotchety Navy inspectors...
Call me a snob, but IMHO except for rare
circumstances, if you expect to hold the title of "engineer," you really should
earned a college degree in engineering. Sure, there are talented people without
an engineering degree that can do certain engineering jobs more competently than
someone with an engineering degree; however, it certainly is not so in the majority
of instances. It is foolish to look around at all the technology you share your
life with and conclude that people without the benefit of a formal engineering education
could turn out so much at such a fast pace. When someone learns that you are an
engineer, there is an automatic assumption that you hold at least a Bachelor's degree
in engineering, software, or the physical sciences. If you tell someone you are
a technician, the assumption is that you have earned an Associate's degree and/or
received training in the military specific to your job's nature. When I see messages
like the one in this advertisement, I get a little perturbed because: 1) It is misleading
since unaware people will believe that becoming an engineer really is a easy as
taking some home instruction courses, and 2) It diminishes the accomplishments,
financial and time investment, and hard work of those who did earn an engineering
There is an article on the EETimes website
Days Should Be Numbered - There Is a Better Way." It basically an infomercial
for the Occam Group's process of "reverse order processing" which eliminates soldering
of electronics assemblies. "Our vision is to first attach components to a 'component
board' and test that assembly before encapsulation and circuitization. This ensures
that all assemblies are known to be good at the outset. There are several methods
for adding component connections, including traditional plating techniques and additive
printed circuits. By removing solder, thermal excursions are greatly diminished."
It sounds good, but upon visiting Occam's website
I could not find any useful information about how they work their claimed magic,
and no photos of actual products or processes. The idea sounds good, but might still
be in the vaporware phase of development. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
If this 1960 Popular Electronics
magazine article was written today, the title would more likely be, "One
IC Pocket Radio," and rather than a couple dozen resistors, capacitors, and
inductors (and a transformer), and there might be one or two decoupling capacitors.
Everything else would be contained within the integrated circuit. There are plenty
of single-chip radio circuits available from distributors like Digi-Key, Newark
Electronics, etc. Oh, and how many of you even know what a phenolic board looks
like? Better yet, how many of you can identify the unique smell of one heating up
or burning due to component overheating? If you can't, then consider yourself lucky,
because that probably means you're 40-50 years younger than I am, and you have that
much longer to live then me...
New Scheme rotates
all Banners in all locations on the page! RF Cafe typically receives 8,000-15,000
website visits each weekday.
RF Cafe is a favorite of engineers,
technicians, hobbyists, and students all over the world. With more than 12,000 pages
in the Google search index, RF Cafe returns in favorable positions on many
types of key searches, both for text and images. New content is added on a daily
basis, which keeps the major search engines interested enough to spider it multiple
times each day. Items added on the homepage often can be found in a Google search
within a few hours of being posted. I also re-broadcast homepage items on LinkedIn.
If you need your company news to be seen, RF Cafe is the place to be.
Triad RF Systems designs and manufactures
RF power amplifiers
and systems. Triad RF Systems comprises three partners (hence "Triad") with
over 40 years of accumulated knowledge of what is required to design, manufacture,
market, sell and service RF/Microwave amplifiers and amplifier systems. PA, LNA,
bi-directional, and frequency translating amplifiers are available, in formats including
tower mount, benchtop, rack mount, and chassis mount. "We view Triad more as a technology
partner than a vendor for our line-of-sight communications product line." Please
check to see how they can help your project.
This set of six
comics appeared in the March 1956 issue of Radio-Electronics magazine. The one
on page 84 is pretty clever, but would need to be modernized in our semiconductor
era. I'm not quite getting the page 114 comic. Computer dating is a fairly recent
phenomenon - or is it? The page 142 comic suggest otherwise. In fact, I know three
married couples who met via an online dating service, all within the last ten years;
my daughter is one of them! The shopper in the page 145 comic might have misinterpreted
the gist of the signs, but taken literally maybe her assumption isn't so unreasonable.
The page 148 comic shows how a "futuristic" concept proposed in the middle of the
last century has not only been realized by 2022, but has evolved much farther than
Copper Mountain Technologies (CMT) has a
whitepaper available entitled, "Near
and Far Field Measurement." It begins, "To obtain optimal performance in an
over the air RF system, the antennas must be chosen to meet specific requirements.
Performance parameters such as size, wind-loading, environmental ruggedness, transmission
pattern, bandwidth, and power handling capability should be considered. Especially
important in an RF system design is the 'link budget.' This parameter determines
the end-to-end RF loss and is affected by transmitter output power, feedline loss,
transmit antenna gain, path loss through the air, receiver antenna gain, feedline
loss once again and receiver noise-figure among other factors. A failure to meet
the link budget in an RF system design will result in noisy performance and loss
of coverage. In this application note, methods of measuring the transmission (or
reception) pattern which determines antenna gain with a VNA will be examined. Most
antennas possess some directionality to their performance..."
Radio & Television News magazine
was not normally in the practice of instructing retail outlet salesmen and service
shop owners in techniques for hacking their wares, but this article in the June
1951 issue is an exception. In it, A.W. Bernsohn, Managing Director of the
National Appliance & Radio Dealers Association, extensively outlines many
tried and true schemes for use in convincing customers that they really do need
a new, reconditioned, or rental portable radio for those lazy, hazy, crazy days
of summer*. Those were the days long before iPods, Walkmans, and smartphones, when
"portable" meant maybe smaller than a breadbox, but powered by batteries rather
than an AC outlet. If any of the featured models appeal to your sense of nostalgia
and you want to lay you hands on one again, try eBay; eventually just about everything
shows up there. M. Bensohn even covers the ramification of Regulation "W" of
the Federal Reserve Act...
"DARPA looks to build on previous success
in radio frequency power output with new
program. Military and civilian uses for radar range broadly, and the possibilities
for radar applications expand almost every day. Whether they are being used to navigate,
control air traffic, track weather patterns, carry out search-and-rescue missions,
map terrain, or countless other functions, radar technologies are constantly advancing.
As radio-frequency (RF) systems, radar capabilities hinge on the ability to sense
and communicate across long distances while maintaining signal strength. Powerful
RF signal capabilities extend mission-critical communications and situational awareness,
but the microelectronic technologies that strengthen RF output - specifically, high
power density transistors..."
When Government controls the media and
deploys military and police forces against citizens as a show of force to discourage
and suppress protesting against injustice, Government wins and Citizens die. No,
I'm not referring to the U.S. In this case China's "Zero Covid" policy resulted
in political prisoners burning to death in a quarantined apartment building. The
"White Paper Revolution" consists of people symbolically waving blank sheets of
paper. Communists cannot abide a challenge to authority, so any measure to end the
situation is justified - including murdering human beings. The world's opinion is
irrelevant, especially since global economies depend heavily on China. Politicians,
university heads, and corporate titans are all sold out to them, therefore will
comply as directed. Evidently, though, most people don't mind because Communism
is being adopted across the Earth. You've been warned...
This is a must-read article for all persons
interested in the history of wireless communications. Seriously. Stop what you are
doing and read it. I guarantee the vast majority have never heard of this challenge
to the veracity of Mr. Guglielmo Marconi's bestowed title of "father
of wireless telegraphy." Most of us are at least passingly familiar with challenges
to Samuel Morse's, Thomas Edison's, and a few other notables' claims to being the
first at a particular technical breakthrough, but herein, as penned by of Lieutenant-Commander
Edward H. Loftin, is a first-hand account of multiple successful challenges by the
U.S. Patent Office against Mr. Marconi and his company, Marconi Wireless Telegraph,
Ltd., regarding filings for patent protection. As with the other aforementioned
individuals, history writers long-ago grew tired of reminding the public of often
dubious assertions of creative individuals - other than that it seems every December
17 the media is sure to bring up Whitehead's and Chanute's claims...
RF Cafe's raison d'être is and always has
been to provide useful, quality content for engineers, technicians, engineering
managers, students, and hobbyists. Part of that mission is offering to post applicable
job openings. HR department employees
and/or managers of hiring companies are welcome to submit opportunities for posting
at no charge. 3rd party recruiters and temp agencies are not included so as to assure
a high quality of listings. Please read through the easy procedure to benefit from
RF Cafe's high quality visitors...
Please take a few moments to visit the
everythingRF website to see how they can assist
you with your project. everythingRF is a product discovery platform for RF and microwave
products and services. They currently have 267,269 products from more than 1397
companies across 314 categories in their database and enable engineers to search
for them using their customized parametric search tool. Amplifiers, test equipment,
power couplers and dividers, coaxial connectors, waveguide, antennas, filters, mixers,
power supplies, and everything else. Please visit everythingRF today to see how
they can help you.
of a High-Quality CCTV Camera" article from a 1965 issue of Electronics
World magazine interests me not necessarily because I am interested in CCTV's
but because it has many similarities to the video mapper system used in the radar
system I worked on in the U.S. Air Force. It was probably built around the same
era, so no surprise there. The combination of analog and digital electronics is
likely one of the earliest examples of such an integration. The digital portion
is for timing, not video processing. An electromagnetically scanned vidicon tube
is the heart of the system. Rather than using the television type composite timing/amplitude
signals that require complex circuits to deconstruct and direct portions of the
signal to appropriate circuits, this is truly digital timing. In fact, the timing
diagram show here is one of the earliest I recall seeing in these vintage magazines...
How did we ever accomplish research without
the Internet? Sure, that is a rhetorical question, but I find myself asking that
often when I find information on something I figured there was no way anything would
be available. Such was the case when looking up this
K20 radio. Its Radio Service Data Sheet appeared in the October 1930 edition
of Radio-Craft magazine. Mr. Gordon Bell, WA2YQY, provided the photo of the
one to the left, which I found on the RadioAtticArchives.com website. As with nearly
all radios of the era, is has a nicely styled wooden console cabinet. Note the simplicity
of the tuning indicator...
While not specifically related to RF Cafe
type content, this article on the Physics.org website entitled, "Fun Research
on Cold War-Era Ads About Flying Saucers, UFOs Finds Themes That Remain Relevant
Today," is an interesting bit of sci-fi techno-nostalgia. A study found that
although not exactly the same methods and subjects are being used to influence today's
consumers, the motus operandi (MO) are basically the same. "While ads with flying
saucers and UFOs may use them differently than in the past, desired messages and
reactions from those who place the ads have not changed. Emotion and sensation continue
to motivate purchases, and advertisers consistently seek to share messages about
quality and technology. Plus, the appetite of consumers for big events has never
Back in the 1970s while taking flying lessons,
I used to enjoy watching the
Civil Air Patrol run through its exercises at
in Edgewater, Maryland. For some reason, I never bothered to look into joining.
I wish I had. A few years later while in Basic Training (BT) for the USAF at Lackland
AFB, Texas, there were a couple guys in my squadron who had been long-time members
of the CAP and guess what? They only had to spend the first two weeks in BT, just
long enough to do all the paperwork processing, take a few of the classroom sessions,
get shots, examinations, a head shave, and to have uniforms issued. Then, immediately
before leaving for technical school, they got to sew a stripe onto their shirtsleeves
as an Airman 1st Class. High school ROTC guys got to do the same thing. I don't
know if the Air Force still has that policy; you might want to check it out if you're
planning on joining...
for Electronics" article in a 1965 issue of Electronics World magazine
provides some really interesting information about the properties of glass which
I, for one, either never knew or have forgotten. One such point is that glass is
typically defined with a "softening" temperature rather than a melting temperature.
That is because the final characteristics of the glass is highly dependent on the
cooling down time/temperature profile. Those of us having been in the world of automated
printed circuit assembly (PCA) solder oven operation are familiar with the criticality
of time/temperature profiles, so the concept is not new. In the case of PCA's, profiling
is necessary to accommodate the often widely varying thermal dimension changes over
temperature to prevent fracturing. With glass, it is the final atomic alignment
(or misalignment) that is dependent on the cooling process, akin to tempering of
metal (although the metal is not heated to the point of liquidus flow). At the time
of this article, Corning Glass Works claimed to have >100k unique formulas for
glass using various mixes of elements...