IN MY OPINION

Evaluating Our Industry’s Health Requires a Broad Perspective
By John Farley, Director of Marketing, Pasternack Enterprises

As most RF and microwave companies are privately held and industry analysts rarely track sales of microwave components other than semiconductors and interconnects, determining the health of an industry as diverse as ours is extremely difficult.
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MILITARY MICROWAVE DIGEST


MMD March 2014
New Military Microwave Digest

ON THE MARKET


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.
Mini-Circuits

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


 

July 2013

Toward Mapping RF Activity on Earth

By Jim Taber, Director of Marketing & Sales
X-COM Systems

Fred Ortiz, President, dB Control

I f the electromagnetic spectrum was traded as a commodity, its spot price would make gold prices look cheap in comparison. Like gold and other natural resources, some spectrum is of a “higher grade“ in terms of its usefulness but unlike other resources, it is found everywhere, we know where it is – and that when it’s fully utilized in a given area, there’s no more to be found. With this in mind, you’d think accurate knowledge of spectrum utilization in key (that is, the most financially lucrative) geographical areas would be well known. In reality it’s not, thanks to the sheer enormity of the task of acquiring it.

Even armed with the best mapping, drive-by testing, modeling, and other tools, the broadcasting and wireless industries as well as government, aviation, defense, and other entities know surprisingly little about what activity is actually taking place at key frequencies over time. Propagation models that are routinely employed when deploying or upgrading a communication site are very accurate but cannot account for seasonal and other changes in foliage, new construction, and a host of other variables. Drive-by systems and their accompanying software provide accurate coverage maps but only where the measurements are taken, which omits some areas of the coverage footprint that invariably contain low signal strength.

Achieving situational awareness applies not only to the battlefield but to any location where knowing “what’s out there” is important. With the aforementioned finite spectrum and its extremely high value as a backdrop, making the best use of it can translate into increased revenue for a surprisingly diverse group of parties. The federal government would be far better equipped to make decisions about spectrum usage, allocations, and auctions if it knew more about actual activity. Municipalities could more accurately determine places where revenue-generating wireless base stations could be placed. Wireless carriers, which spend huge sums every year claiming they have the best and most broad-based, hole-free “4G” coverage, would be better able substantiate their claims, while reducing churn as well. And these are just a few.

This situation has not been lost on DARPA, and about a year ago the agency issued a broad agency announcement for its Advanced RF Mapping (RadioMaps) program that in partnership with industry will create real-time awareness of spectrum usage over frequency, geography, and time. The program’s goal is to provide a dynamic map that accurately portrays spectrum use so spectrum managers can be more effective in reducing spectrum congestion and reducing interference. DARPA likens it to cameras that show vehicle traffic flow at various times of day. Think of it as a Google Earth for RF (Google isn’t listed as an interested participant – yet).

RadioMaps and other similar industry efforts are clearly not trivial (thus DARPA’s interest) but are potentially achievable. One of the most daunting challenges will be ingesting large swaths of spectrum in a single gulp not once but repeatedly, which will require the talents of increasingly-proficient ADCs and DACs. The result will be massive amounts of data, as even narrowband spectrum capture files can be many terabytes deep. The next step will be to process all of this information to provide meaningful results.

Fortunately, thanks to broadband high-resolution converters, digital signal processing, FPGAs, high-speed mass storage and communications buses, spectrum recording systems and analysis software (all of which are available), accurate information about spectrum utilization may become available that is currently well beyond what commercial and government interests have today.

X-COM Systems
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FROM WHERE WE SIT

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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