Antenna Guru

RF is not 'black magic' – It's Synthesis, Optimization, Analysis and Realization.

Category Archives: Art and Craft

EW!

Engineer’s Week, that is.

Look with me at ‘our’ celebratory poster for a moment… The e– earth’s blossoming western hemisphere beneath some random stars shuffled together with rising monarch-ish butterflies and framed by tropical flora… shadowy stylized translucent distant skyscrapers hovering beyond the blue horizon like an outsider’s fanciful view of a distant city…

(Would your manager have approved that drawing for release, I wonder?)

Uh, like… awesome, dude…

Celebrate!

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The Future…

…less traveled…

“The future” … an indefinite, murky idea. It is by turns immediate, temporary, indeterminate,  … possibly eternal. It seems to have a somewhat symmetrical relationship to the past, divided by the dynamic boundary of now.

We may extrapolate out a short way to a reckoned point, but only if we disregard the inevitability of surprise.

Sometimes in the dead of winter it seems spring will never come, but of course it will; it always does. When it comes, it comes as a mixture of expected and amazing, of dirty snow and shimmering sunshine, of muddy roads and glorious flowers.

Whatever future be, it will be the season to come. Why not extrapolate to an amazing, shimmering, glorious future?

Seasons’ Greetings!

(k)Now-how

Picture0006It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

–Sun Tzu

How does one know, exactly? There is knowledge that __, e.g. 1+1=2. There is knowledge of __, e.g. “I know I left my glasses somewhere.” Knowing that and knowing of are somewhat easily written out and studied.

Then there is knowledge how __. General Sun was referring to the peril of not knowing the how of his enemies/himself. He referred to what know-how is not in attempting to describe what it is.

Know-how can be difficult to pin down. It is implied or inferred in the result of doing.

Perhaps the best way to judge another’s know-how is to ask the question, “Can you show me?”

“Showing how” is “doing now.”

Past

The past is constantly in transition.

The past is the foundation of  the present and bridge to the future.

The past is in transition — the past is transition.

So long as we live, it will continue to grow.

Then’ is foundational to ‘now.’ 

It forms the superstructure as we pass now to the future.

At critical junctions in life or a project it may be profitable to examine the past before moving on.

Some say, “You cannot change the past,” but we believe you can — by putting your best ‘nows’  into it!

A Yen for Yin and Yang

C++This has been an interesting week and it’s only Tuesday…

Yesterday I found myself involved in computer code of all things. I was actually able to dig out some C++ code I wrote for a *.dll way back in the year of ’99. My direct involvement in computer programming was short-lived — there were other people who were pretty good at it already and the integrated development environment simply wasn’t ‘real’ enough for me. Still, and all, it was neat to find (and find useful) an archived project from days gone by.

After that walk down memory lane I worked on the finishing touches of an algorithm that uses Inverse Fast Fourier Transform analysis to automatically tune split ring resonator filters as they are being manufactured.IFFT

But then I had to put that project on hold because the fellow who is commissioning the tuning algorithm wanted new (22 GHz) test fixtures built to test the prototypes he has built so far.

But the test fixture project required me to grind some special holding fixtures so that I could machine the teensy weensy test fixtures in the first place. I don’t have a precision grinder, so I used my mill.

Parallel_grinding_01

I wouldn’t want to do this all the time, but this was for a prototype and it worked out. So now, I’m back to getting those fixtures done, so we can validate the algorithm.

I like going from math books to machine shop and back. It’s interesting and fun to keep up that balance. It’s invigorating, it’s yin and yang.

Parallel_grinding_02
I wonder how that C++ code is going to turn out?

 

What We Do (SOAR)

I am trying out some copy writing for our upcoming website. Here’s just a smidgen…

Synthesize

The most general meaning of the word is “combination of parts to form a whole”. In electrical engineering, the term strongly implies mapping from mathematical functions, e.g. Chebyshev polynomials, to some sort of network, e.g. a lumped element filter or an antenna array. We prefer the general meaning which includes the math-to-circuit idea but further conveys the thought that we bring our individual talents to bear on every problem (as necessary)– and our collective expertise spans a number of subject areas.

Optimize

Again, the general meaning of the word, “make something as functional and effective as possible,”  is what we intend to convey. We have a passion for making things and we are passionate about making them as functional and effective as possible.

Analyze

In synthesize the activity goes somewhat like this: If you give us a set of performance requirements we will try to come up with a combination of elements that performs as required. Analysis inverts that activity, like this: If you give us a combination of elements we will try to predict their performance. If synthesis involves “putting it all together”, analysis involves “breaking it down.” We often employ computational techniques to break a problem down, but we also apply philosophy and common sense.

Realize

“…bring into concrete existence …convert into actual money …be fully aware of …cause to happen …”  We have a machine shop so that we can build prototypes. We have a test lab so that we can measure them. We have project management experience because time is money. From beginning to end we like to “keep it real”.

The Internet of Things

Thingernet

The “internet of things” is already here — in the media, at least.

It is not hard to find these types of articles nowadays. Whether or not you think connecting your cow to the www is a great idea, it certainly is a popular topic of conversation. I’m all for it. Here is why, as Linus Pauling famously said

If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.

But there is a problem with the populist application of internet-to-things that goes unmentioned by the tech writers. The cacophony of “information” that results from Farmer Brown giving Bessie her own cell phone potentially threatens our shared bandwidth. This is the reason we have the FCC and the PTCRB. We need to comply with their rules so we all can remain in polite conversation.

Machine Wireless Interface

logo01

Machine

Wireless

Interface

LLC

I have been hard, hard at work these last weeks… working on the link between a really cool gizmo and the rest of the world.

After drilling down deep into the physics of microwave devices for a quarter century, it appears that I will be spreading out what I have learned.

Tonight my beloved Nurse Debi gave a name to this thing new born – Machine Wireless Interface©

Thank you, beloved…

Picking up, putting away

We spent much of the week at a family member’s old homestead cleaning out a couple of buildings. It was like an archaeological dig; layer on layer let you roughly date what happened when. The experience saddened me— The accumulated unfinished projects in the shop and the ravaged keepsakes someone had tried to save. I kept telling myself, “But life goes on, don’t you know? Not all projects are unfinished and not all keepsakes are ravaged…”

Debi kept me distracted on the way home by playing sing-along-oldies on the stereo. Meanwhile, I was deciding that I had to clean up, pick up and put away around my house if I didn’t  want somebody else to go through what we had been through for three days.

Yesterday I started reorganizing the shop, trying to keep it that way … this time … I had to come in to prepare dinner for my beloved, remembering that mistake, and decided to listen to the Gipsy Kings while I made fajitas de pollo. I don’t understand much of their lyrics, but their music seems right when I feel sadness, but with hope…

We have to change our lives … because we are family … I have a good woman from heaven, bless me! I have a good woman, so I bless the sky…

GIPSY KINGS – AVEN, AVEN LYRICS

Just Wail

You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.

Charlie Parker

I was called in to help on a design project to marry a cell phone with a portable medical device. As it usually happens, almost everything about the project is pretty well set in stone and the mortar is drying fast. Trouble is, the equipment failed the approval testing that it needs to be legal. (Sort of like when you car won’t pass inspection, except the inspection costs $20,000 …)

There is no time to design a new antenna for the device. I fired off an email to a buddy of mine who works at the company who made the antenna, and his antenna expert said, “Make the housing bigger.” (Sort of like when the Wizard of Oz told Dorothy, “Go see the Wicked Witch and ask her for her broomstick.”) This is one of those cases where the left brain just ain’t gonna cut it… So I took a stroll through the imaginary door into the world of ideas. What I came back with sort of resembles the ignominious “coat hanger antenna,” but actually has some theory behind it – it’s called a “coiled coax balun.” It’s almost free, and it worked for this project.

Stay ‘tuned’.

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