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Cool Product Archive - 21

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.

All Featured Product Archive Pages:

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 |

Build a Candle Snuffer Using a 555 Timer

Build a Candle Snuffer Using a 555 Timer (Delayed Light Turn-Off) - RF CafeA couple days ago I posted an update on the Watkins-Johnson databook page that had an unauthorized gag graph titled, "WJ-G1/SMG1 Phase vs. VCTL vs. Frequency vs. Phase of the Moon." When RF Cafe visitor and sometimes contributor Dr. Marek Klemes* read that, he sent me a note about remembering this "Delayed Light Turn-Off" circuit from the Signetics 555/556 Timer Databook. It took a bit of creative Googling, but he managed to find the datasheet (to the right). The text was a bit washed out from the original low resolution scan, so I reproduced the labels (green). This Rube Goldberg-ish contraption works thusly: After a delay determined by the values selected for R1 and C1, the output of the NE555 timer goes high and causes resistor RL to heat up enough to ignite match M1. M1 subsequently lights the fuse on firecracker FC1, which has tied to its body a string that wraps around a pulley and holds a rock (which weighs precisely 2π pounds ...


The Cryotron Files: How the Inventor of the Microchip Put Himself in the KGB's Sights

The Cryotron Files: How the Inventor of the Microchip Put Himself in the KGB's Sights - RF Cafe

Longtime RF Cafe visitor, electrical engineer, and occasional contributor Alan Dewey sent me a note yesterday saying a book for which he helped provide a large amount of research data has been published by authors Iain Dey and Douglas Buck. "The Cryotron Files: How the Inventor of the Microchip Put Himself in the KGB's Sights," is an extensive delve into the background of Dr. Dudley Allen Buck, whose son, Douglas, conducted an extensive investigation into his father's mysterious death that happened to coincide with the death of his colleague and two other scientists just days after being visited by Soviet computer experts. Dr. Buck was a superconductivity researcher during his short, highly productive life. A cryotron, BTW, is a superconducting switch that would make for very low power supercomputers if it could be made practical in IC form ...


Mini-Circuits' DIY Vector Network Analyzer Kit

Mini-Circuits' DIY Vector Network Analyzer Kit - RF CafeAn advertisement for Mini-Circuits' DIY Vector Network Analyzer Kit appeared in the October issue of Microwaves & RF magazine. It is evidently the first of a planned series of University Projects. Billed as an attempt to "Bridge the gap between textbook theory and real-world measurement," Project No. 1-UVNA-63 targets college laboratories as low-cost means of procuring a high performance vector network analyzer (VNA) at a reasonable cost ($2,495.00). The frequency range is 100 MHz to 6 GHz. Having the student build the 1-UVNA-63 provides a familiarity with a block diagram level understanding of 2-port VNAs and gives hands-on experience with assembling RF components. Included are filters, directional couplers, a transceiver PCB (made by Vayyar) ...


Vintage ARRA Attenuator Advertisement in Microwaves & RF Magazine

Vintage ARRA Attenuator Advertisement in Microwaves & RF MagazineTake a look at this ARRA (Antenna & Radome Research Associates) attenuator advertisement that appeared in the September 2018 issue of Microwaves & RF magazine a tell me if it reminds you of something you might have seen in the 1960's through 1980's. That might not have been the intention, but seeing it sure triggered my nostalgia mechanism. Even the tag line, "When it comes to attenuators, nobody - but nobody - can fill our shoes," idiom, being somewhat dated, conjures up memories of vintage company slogans. Of course the black and white format feeds the perception. Maybe I'm wrong, but if it appeals to me for any reason, the ad designers have done their job ...


Rohde & Schwarz's Pocket Guide: Key Characteristics of Signal Generators and Modulation Methods

Rohde & Schwarz's Pocket Guide: Key Characteristics of Signal Generators and Modulation Methods - RF CafeRohde & Schwarz has been publishing a series of good old-fashioned printed (aka hard copy) Pocket Guides on RF test and measurement topics. This latest one titled, "Key Characteristics of Signal Generators and Modulation Methods: Pocket Guide," arrived in my mailbox (the physical one at the curb, not Outlook). There are 116 pages chock full of an amazing amount of descriptions, equations, tables, and graphs. The main topic areas are analog, vector, and arbitrary (ARB) waveform generators, and analog and digital modulation methods. It also reviews associated topics like phase noise, VSWR, intercept points, etc. A sampling of them are reproduced below. You can get your own free copy by filling out the form on the R&S website ...


Surprise 12 Volt Battery Mobile Device Charger

12 Volt Battery Mobile Device Charger (Gary Miller Chrysler/Jeep, Erie, PA) - RF CafeSitting in the waiting room in the local Jeep dealership, waiting for the technicians to do the annual inspection on the 2011 Patriot, I noticed a 12 volt car battery sitting on a table. At first I assumed it was just a sales pitch for a new battery, but then I noticed a bunch of small cables coming from its bottom edge. As you can see in the photo I took of it, those cables are mobile device charging cords with mating connectors for Apple, USB, and miniUSB ports. An Internet search did not turn up any of these things, so maybe Mopar engineers came up with it. Times sure have changed from when ...


Rohde & Schwarz Offers Free Charts and Pocket Guides

Rohde & Schwarz Offers Free Charts and Pocket Guides - RF CafeRohde & Schwarz is offering at no cost a variety of reference charts (posters) for hanging on your lab or office wall, and some handy-dandy Pocket Guides. In the current age of (seemingly) paperless offices and laboratories, opening a cardboard package from R&S containing the pictured items caused me to wax nostalgic over the days when sales reps handed out such materials during workplace meetings and at trade shows. Wall charts are still fairly easily obtained, but the spiral-bound pocket guides are more rare. Maybe soon we'll be seeing the resurrection of cardboard slide rule calculators ...


MLinkPlanner Microwave Communications Link Planning Software

MLinkPlanner Microwave Communications Link Planning Software - RF CafeMr. Oleg Sakharov, Director of the Center of Telecom. Technologies, LLC, recently sent me information on the MLinkPlanner software for performing microwave communications link design. Judging only from the provided screenshots and the online documentation, MLinkPlanner looks to be very user friendly and loaded with features. I downloaded the 7-day free trial and did a quick fictitious link between my house in Erie, PA, and the WBEN AM radio station in Buffalo, NY. My route is mostly over Lake Erie, so there was not much in the way of obstructions, other than the curvature of the earth ...


Marki Microwave Mixer Spurious Product Calculator App

Marki Microwave Mixer Spurious Product Calculator App - RF CafeHyperlinks all around the Internet pointing to Hittite's infamous Mixer Spurious Product Calculator broke suddenly when Analog Devices swallowed up Hittite in 2014. The good news is that if you still want to use it, you can find it as the ADI Mixer-Spur Graphical Representation tool on the ADI website. However, Marki Microwave now has a much nicer Spur Calculator that you will want to consider. It provides both a Spur Web format and a Spectrum Analyzer format for presenting mixer spurious products. The interface is very user friendly both for the input and the output specification. The Spur Web screen uses a format pioneered ...


Cool Product: QuickSmith, by Nathan Iyer

QuickSmith, by Nathan Iyer - RF Cafe Cool ProductQuickSmith, a creation of Nathan Iyer, has been around for a long time. It is without a doubt one of the most feature-filled examples of RF design software around. Nathan recently released a Web-based version of QuickSmith on a GitHub server, which means it works on any platform with a browser - desktop or mobile. Access is free, and you can save and reload your design files rather than losing your work once you leave the website. Being online also means that the latest version is always available. The screenshot to the right illustrates where to place series and parallel components, and where to access the sweep ...


Rigol "RF Basics" Technology Guide

Rigol "RF Basics" Technology Guide - RF Cafe Cool ProductYou might think the world doesn't need another RF basics book, but the fact is there are so many new people coming into the field that there is always room for one more - particular a well-done edition like "RF Basics Handbook" from Rigol Technologies. The PDF download is free, but you do need to fill out a submission form. A replication of the table of contents give you an idea of all the topics covered. The photos and drawings are very good quality. Of course the equipment used in the publication are representative of Rigol's product line, but that's to be expected ...


Heathkit Introducing a Full-Featured RF Power Meter

Heathkit Introducing a Full-Featured  RF Power Meter - RF CafeAmateur radio operators take note: Heathkit, which in years past was a prime supplier of homebuilt ham radio gear, has just announced plans to manufacture its first piece of test equipment in three decades. "Now there's the Heathkit┬« HM-1002: Intuitive, intelligent, affordable, accurate measurement. The next-generation Heathkit® HM-1002 Precision RF Meter™ picks up where our venerable SWR / wattmeters of yesteryear -- and everyone else's -- stopped. Incredible new features, yet simple for beginners to assemble and understand. And you can build and maintain it yourself." ...


3D Smith Chart Software is Here!

3D Smith Chart v1.0 Software - RF Cafe Cool ProductDr. Andrei Muller, progenitor of the world's first 3D Smith Chart software program, has teamed with a handful of able colleagues to release this commercial version of this paradigm-changing design and analysis tool. 3D Smith Chart enables you to visualize S-parameter data in ways not possible from the Flatland dweller's perspective that is the traditional 2D Smith chart. Flatland existed in a plane, and from an observer's perspective a 3-dimensional object entering the plane from along the Z-axis seemed to appear out of nowhere ...


Model Rectifier Corporation Advertisement

Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC) Advertisement - January 1972 American Aircraft Modeler - RF CafeThis back-page advertisement by Model Rectifier Corporation (aka MRC) appeared in the January 1972 issue of American Aircraft Modeler magazine. Note the cool collection of [now] vintage test equipment shown in support of testing the R/C system. The advertisement shows a rhombic antenna, the Dana 8015 RF frequency counter, Tektronix 7904 oscilloscope, HP spectrum analyzer, RF communications synthesizer RF generator, Anritsu precision field strength meter. I was 13 years old at the time, and anxiously watched for in the mailbox each month ...


Signetics Fully Encoded, 9046 x N, Random access Write-Only Memory

Signetics Fully Encoded, 9046 x N, Random access Write-Only Memory - RF Cafe Cool ProductRF Cafe visitor Tony C., who is an engineer working for on of America's great, longtime manufacturers of green farm equipment, sent me a link to this unique memory IC released by Signetics on April 1, 1973. Being April 1, 2017, it seems to be an appropriate day to post the Signetics 25120 Fully Encoded, 9046 x N, Random access Write-Only Memory datasheet that per Wikipedia, "...was created 'as a lark' by Signetics engineer John G 'Jack' Curtis and was inspired by a fictitious and humorous vacuum tube datasheet from ..."

April 1, 2017

177,000 Coaxial Connector Adapter Combinations from CoaxSol

177,000 Coaxial Connector Adapter Combinations from CoaxSol - RF CafeHow many times have you dug through a drawer of coaxial connector adapters and found what seemed like every possible combination of TNCs, Ns, SMAs, TNCs, UHFs, SMBs, and <fill in the blank>s except the one you really need? Sometimes the reason is simply because all on hand are being used for something else and cannot be 'borrowed' for your use. Other times it is because the need never existed before. Usually, a quick search on the Internet will turn up exactly want you want, but for decent a quality adapter you will pay a stiff price - especially if it is a rare combination of connector types. The truth is, not often is a combination like QMA-Male-Right-Angle-to-TNC-Female-Bulkhead adapter or ...


EasyEDA® Online Schematic Capture & PCB Layout

 - RF CafeJust as the paperless office, predicted to quickly become a reality when personal computers were beginning to dominate the workplace and home in the 1980s, has yet to occur, neither has desktop software for high-end applications totally replaced online equivalents. Microsoft has made good progress in the last few years in moving part of their Office suite online, you still need a local copy of Visio, Project, and even their Visual Studio software development tools if you want to use them. Graphics and video editing software cannot be used efficiently online. The problem is mostly due to time latency between user input and software display response. Speed on the host server end is addressable with pumped up computing power and extra ...


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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 Internet was still largely an unknown entity at the time and not much was available in the form of WYSIWYG ...

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