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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


The International Microwave Symposium 2016: Catching the Wireless Waves Aimee Kalnoskas
Between the sessions, papers, workshops, and exhibit halls you got the sense that suddenly the super-hyped world of IoT, M2M, and V2V have finally intersected, and perhaps breathed new life into, the world of microwave, Millimeter wave (MMW), and 5G. At a time where the number of people in the world (6 billion) is exceeded by the number of cellphones…now what? IoT is what. M2M, V2V, IoT. Talk around Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) or what some refer to as 4.5G, is seen as an evolutionary step towards 5G driven largely by need to make those billions of connections possible.

5G: Tall Order or Tall Tale? Barry Manz
If you believe what the wireless industry is saying about 5G, the fifth generation of cellular technology, you’d think it was the equivalent of landing a man on the moon. Not only will we have lightning-quick data rates and expanded coverage, 5G will make it possible to connect everyone with every “thing” that needs to be connected. That’s a tall order that could wind up being a tall tale, for several reasons.

5G: Not Your Average Upgrade Barry Manz
The evolution of wireless (that is, cellular) capability has promised more than its predecessor. At a high level, 2G transitioned from analog to digital modulation and added modest data to voice capability, 3G added a faster but still iffy data rates, and 4G (LTE) represented a massive improvement in speed with data rates adequate for streaming video without hiccups.

Why the Auto Industry Will Drive the Fortunes of the Microwave Industry Barry Manz
The RF and microwave industry faces the same uncertainties and volatility as its more visible counterparts, but when the future has looked uncertain, a new market has serendipitously appeared to save the day. This time, although the industry overall is robust, a huge new market is beginning to emerge in the form of vehicle autonomy that will be much broader in scope than what IoT will bring. Driverless vehicle ubiquity is at least a decade or more away, but in the meantime RF and microwave hardware will be needed in steadily increasing amounts.

The Truth Is Still Out There. And We’re Still Looking. Barry Manz
Contact is one of my favorite films, based on Carl Sagan’s book of that name, in which a great cast searches for and (thanks to scientist Jodie Foster) finds proof of alien life. There’s lots of cool RF stuff in that movie, and in many respects it pretty accurately depicts technology in action. You may have to forgive the formulaic “true believer bests the bureaucracy” element of the film. Of course, neither before nor since the film’s 1997 release has the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) found anything approaching “proof” of alien life.

The “Hotspotization” of America Barry Manz
About a year ago when I was helping my son set up his new life in Nashville, one of the things I chose to do was set up his cable/Internet/phone account. I found it curious that the cable company was offering its most sophisticated set-top box with integrated wireless access point and DVR for $1 less per month than its cheapest version.

Still Great Reasons to Become a Microwave Designer Barry Manz
When I first started writing about RF and microwave technology back in the 1980s, one of the first things I heard was that the industry suffered from a shortage of RF and microwave engineers and that the situation was becoming increasingly dire. As the story went, engineering students avoided the discipline because it was perceived as more difficult than others, that universities were not encouraging students to pursue it (and few even offered it), and that the “real money-making engineering opportunities” lay elsewhere. I still hear this story today from company presidents and engineering managers, so a quarter-century later I would assume that the situation would have risen from dire to catastrophic.

Weird RF Part 3: Communication with Submerged Subs Barry Manz
There is no shortage of stories about bizarre Department of Defense programs, but this one is surely in the top tier. Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) signal propagation (we’re talking 3 to 30Hz) allows signals to pass through the earth and throughout the oceans to depths of several hundred feet, allowing a system at a single location to communicate nearly anywhere on the planet. This made it rather appealing for communicating with submerged submarines and might be able to function in the event of a nuclear strike. The idea was championed not just by the U.S., but by the Soviet Union and India as well. Signals degrade rapidly in the ocean, so when a submarine is submerged, it is less likely to receive communication. The purpose of Elf was to reach deeply submerged subs sufficiently to let them know to surface to receive communications through normal (and better) radio communications.

Bringing RF into the Embedded World: It’s Time Barry Manz
Embedded systems have been almost entirely digital throughout their long history, while RF and microwave technologies were separate subsystems with no effective interface between the two. For many reasons, this “RF/digital divide” should finally be connected.

Smart Cooking with RF Energy Rudy Ramos
With the exception of changes to the exterior design, to match the flavor of the decade’s décor and the addition of digital readouts, the microwave oven has pretty much remained the same since its inception. That is, until now, with the advent of new high-power LDMOS RF transistor technology, that outdated kitchen appliance we’ve all come to depend on for heating up our lunches might just be getting a new lease on life.

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