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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


Barry Manz is president of Manz Communications, Inc., a technical media relations agency he founded in 1987. He has since worked with more than 100 companies in the RF and microwave, defense, test and measurement, semiconductor, embedded systems, lightwave, and other markets. Barry writes articles for print and online trade publications, as well as white papers, application notes, symposium papers, technical references guides, and Web content. He is also a contributing editor for the Journal of Electronic Defense, editor of Military Microwave Digest, co-founder of MilCOTS Digest magazine, and was editor in chief of Microwaves & RF magazine.


Your Mileage (and Other Things) May Vary Barry Manz
The practice of taking liberties with performance specifications to show a product in its best light is obviously nothing new in the electronics industry, and many others as well. If you’re old enough to remember, the output of stereo amplifiers and receivers was rated as “peak power”, which is typically five or six times higher than RMS power, but for the anointed it certainly makes the amplifier appear to be a real powerhouse. The output power of RF power transistors is even today sometimes specified at a single frequency where it’s highest, even though it falls off below and above it. And so on.

Terrorists Take to the Skies Barry Manz
Like most people, I suspect, when quadcopters first appeared my first thoughts were about how totally cool they are followed by, “Gee, what could I do with one?” So it’s not surprising that terrorists have asked the same question and have come up with an obvious answer: Make flying Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices (RC-IEDs), which the U.S. Central Command believes they are already working on and have possibly developed.

Extreme Alternative Energy, Part II Barry Manz
In my last column I explored realistic and unusual ways to generate “green” electric power or biofuels. This time it’s no hold barred, featuring a collection of the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. So feast your eyes on this tempting assortment.

Extreme Alternative Energy, Part I Barry Manz
The search for alternative energy sources has the feel of the California Gold Rush, as scientists the world over rush to find new ways to replace Evil Fossil Fuels with something, anything, cleaner. So it shouldn’t be surprising that some of these schemes range from the fantastically ambitious to just plain bizarre. Here’s a few examples...

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.

Stunning Increases in Processing Explained for Normal Humans Barry Manz
Intel founder Gordon Moore’s “Law” has gained legendary status for its prescience and ability to stand the test of time. What’s not so apparent is what this has translated into from the perspective of the devices in which processors are used. Fortunately, the number-crunchers at Experts Exchange have taken the time to determine the 1-trillion-fold increase in processing power between 1956 and 2015 and present it in simple terms.

Tesla Fails to Power the World without Wires Barry Manz
All the hoopla about wireless charging doesn’t hold a candle to what Nikola Tesla had in mind: Providing alternating current through the ground and air and into the world’s products, eliminating transmission lines. If this sounds like fantasy, it indeed turned out to be, but the story of his scheme makes interesting reading.

Truly “Wireless” Wireless Charging Emerges Barry Manz
Wireless charging has been less than a spectacular success. Competing (that is, incompatible) standards, a slow reception by smartphone manufacturers, and RF-inhibiting aluminum phone housings and protective cases have resulted in a slow adoption rate by consumers. However, while the prime players have been battling each other, two companies have come up with solutions that eliminate the need for the inductive coils, magnetic resonance, charging pads, and mats that are required by other techniques. Intrigued?

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