Interconnect Advances Fuel Technology Growth
By Orwill Hawkins, Vice President of Marketing, LadyBug Technologies

With increased frequencies, higher data rates, and lower noise levels, the microwave industry serves as a leader in technological capability. Demand for quality interconnects has increased right along with other higher-performance areas in the industry.


MMD March 2014
New Military Microwave Digest


E-Band Active X5 Multiplier
Model SFA-743843516-12SF-N1 is an E-band X5 active multiplier with center frequency at 79 GHz with minimum +/-5 GHz operational bandwidth. It converts 14.8 to 16.8 GHz/+5 dBm input signal to deliver 74 to 84 GHz frequency band with more than +16 dBm power.
Sage Millimeter

Hand-Flex™ Coaxial Cable
Covering DC to 12.5 GHz, this 8” coaxial cable, 141-8SMNB+, has a bulkhead Female Type-N connector at one end and SMA-Male at the other. Features include low loss, excellent return loss, hand formable, and an 8mm bend radius for tight installations.

Phase Trimmer Series
This new phase trimmer series is designed for RF applications where phase match between two cables is needed for proper system performance. Phase trimmers, offered from DC to 50 GHz, will give an accurate phase adjustment over a specified frequency range.
RLC Electronics

Planar Monolithics Industries
Model PTRAN-100M18G-SFB-3UVPX-MAH is a transceiver covering the frequency range of 100 MHz to 18 GHz. The transceiver fits into a 3U Open VPX form factor utilizing the high speed VITA 67 RF connector.
Planar Monolithics Industries

SMT High-Power Attenuators
Now available with full design support capabilities are three new SMT high-power attenuators from Anaren. These 30 to 50W devices are high-performance, high-power chip attenuators covering DC to 3.0 GHz and feature high return loss and small footprints.
Richardson RFPD

See all products in this issue

December 2013

By Jim Morgan, President


Q: Is there a particular emerging application or technology that intrigues you?

A: We are experiencing an increase in the assembly of mixed technology modules where customers are using SMT passives right next to semiconductor chips that need wire bonding.
The advantages to mixed technology is both overall cost and size as the boards can be miniaturized in a way that avoids giving up critical performance. Industries that we see using this design approach are broad over military, communications and medical markets. In comparison to assembly designs even two years ago, the amount of mixed technology assemblies we are seeing is up over 100%. The assembly technique and processes used to build these are unique and require up front process development.  SMT contract manufacturing companies that do not specifically deal with hybrid assembly lack the expertise to assemble and in some cases having two vendors provide this service is detrimental to the success of the build as bonding pads and die attach areas cannot be contaminated.

In addition to this I am also seeing a rapid increase in the assembly and mounting of GaN devices and the critical thermal properties that require precise eutectic die attach expertise.

Q: Are you experiencing any effects of the reduction in defense spending or are you anticipating any impact on your business?

A: Through the cutbacks in Q2 of 2013 we have seen a 25% reduction in our overall military business. Our company supports many aspects of the military defense market from new builds to sustaining older systems to spare parts and we have experienced reductions across the board. One immediate problem with these overall is the potential loss of technology and engineering support should this administration continue to cut defense spending and not support the existing programs and parts necessary just to maintain operations. I think most would agree that blanket cuts are not the answer and people in Washington continue to overspend on domestic programs at the expense of National Security and even the readiness and strength of our military equipment.

Q: Deployment of small cells and distributed antenna systems is increasing rapidly as wireless carriers attempt to provide “broadband wireless data everywhere.” If your company is involved in any portion of the “HetNet” market, please tell us how you feel this market will develop.

A: The deployment of Heterogeneous Networks and the increase in available wireless data is a rapidly growing and demanding market. Consumers want fast internet capability on the fly and require quick response time and data transfer rates that do not drain battery life. We have seen several designs to build assemblies in this market and have been working with a few companies on evaluation of MMIC and GaN modules to support this effort. We see this as a growing market and of interest as we look to FY2014. Our concern is the amount of overseas designs and manufacturing opportunities that may influence this work and drive it off shore should these companies be first to market.

Q: China has long been considered the greatest potential global market for many companies in the RF and microwave industry. Do you feel this is still true? Are there other emerging markets that you believe will be lucrative in the next few years?

A: I am not one that has ever put much effort into the China markets. While other companies have invested in this market I feel the amount of defense work we do and the technology of assembly we provide is not something I particularly want to share in this market space. While I agree that China has huge potential I am more focused on manufacturing in the United States and creating American jobs. Our emerging market is right here at home. I feel that the severe cuts in employment have cost large companies needed talent that in some cases has been lost. Our design services sector is booming with activity from customers that are suffering due to the loss of engineering or the retirement of engineers that have not been replaced. I expect that as more and more graduates move into computer science, social media and gaming fields, the microwave engineer positions are left void. SemiGen is poised to make up that void and provide microwave companies needed services and products that may otherwise be delayed or unavailable due to the loss of assembly and engineering talent.

Q: What do you believe will be the greatest challenge for the RF and microwave industry?

A: Our greatest challenges ahead for our industry is the ability to find new engineers and designers that have a talent for RF and microwave. I consistently hear from my customers problems in hiring new talent, and more importantly, keeping new talent that is pulled away to flashier higher paying jobs elsewhere. From design engineering to process engineering, our market space of qualified talent is diminishing each year. The hands-on engineering talent that is leaving our industry is replaced with computer models and simulations. Unfortunately in the microwave community much of what we design and build is not as simple as plugging things into a model and seeing a result. Seasoned engineering professionals understand that a model opens the door but the tweaks at the bench with live devices are the key to the final design. If we as an industry do not start to recognize the losses we are having as our senior engineers leave we will have issues across the board and this is where I see an opportunity for SemiGen. Companies are starting to realize as they rehire retired engineers as consultants that they better start doing a better job mentoring the technicians and hands-on artisans that make the products before the engineer retires. Prior planning for this will prevent companies from losing processing talent as well as design talent. In my opinion bringing back someone that has retired to help your processes along shows your management lacked the foresight of the problem far enough in advance to mitigate a potential problem and that could have series impacts on that company’s continued success.


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Uncertain Times for DefenseIn Defense of DARPA; Lamenting Bell Labs
By Barry Manz

A federal agency like DARPA is a sitting duck for politicians and assorted other critics. It has come up with some truly bizarre programs over years that ultimately either delivered no tangible results, were canceled before they could cause any damage, or attempted to answer questions that nobody was asking or needed answers to. Read More...

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