Why Record RF? A Permanent Record of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Why Record RF? A Permanent Record of the Electromagnetic Spectrum As engineers, we’ve become accustomed to continuous improvements in cost, speed, and performance. Our customers demand it and we expect it from our vendors. After being in the industry for a while, it’s hard to get excited about routine upgrades. Why record RF? Every once in a while, a whole... Read More

Reduce Uncertainty with an RF Recorder

Reduce Uncertainty with an RF Recorder In engineering, uncertainty has always been a terrible monster. In fact, the entire field of test and measurement exists to eliminate it wherever possible. Despite this never-ending quest, some portions of RF system design remain plagued by guesswork and rules of thumb. We’re not here to postulate but to reduce uncertainty. Predicting real world... Read More

The Evolution of RF Signal-Observation Tools

The Evolution of RF Signal-Observation Tools This article appeared in Microwaves and RF and Electronic Design and has been published here with permission. Tools used to visualize RF signals have evolved over time from the spectrum analyzer to today’s RF recorders. However, each era’s tools have had limitations. This article shows how the modern approach builds on the best aspects... Read More

Three Key Technologies That Power the RF Recorder

Three Key Technologies That Power the RF Recorder RF recorders are still the new kid on the block compared to the ubiquitous spectrum analyzer. The foundational technologies behind the spectrum analyzer have existed for over 50 years. That’s not the case for RF recording instrumentation. So why did it take us so long to get here? Three key technologies have... Read More

That Time When RF Recording Saved HDTV in the United States

December 1999. I’m sitting in Alexandria, VA in the world’s premiere laboratory for High Definition TV (HDTV) testing. The team of Japanese engineers has just left. The Korean engineering team is scheduled to arrive the next day. And this stupid little set-top-box can’t receive any HDTV signals. The TV screen is full of errors. The box works perfectly when it’s... Read More

RF Field Tests and the Silver Screen (Episode 4): Share and Collaborate

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo dedicated years of their lives crafting the film that became the top box office movie of all time. Avengers: Endgame is more than a typical sequel. It ties 21 films together, including The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and Thor. No one believes that the Russo brothers spent those years creating... Read More

RF Field Tests and the Silver Screen (Episode 3): OPTEMPO on the Range

When the camera stops rolling, the critical moments have been captured, and the stars are tucked into their trailers, a new team emerges on the scene. Their names may be embedded deep in the credits, but they play a key role in making the blockbuster film come to life. Every night, with a handful of memory cards, the data management... Read More

RF Field Tests and the Silver Screen (Episode 2): Capture Critical Moments

When Marvel Studios decided to create the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, they took on Anthony and Joe Russo as returning directors and assembled a long line of A-list actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, and Gwyneth Paltrow, aka the Avengers’ surviving members and their allies. Much of the filming was done at... Read More

RF Field Tests and the Silver Screen (Episode One)

It’s Iron Man vs. Thanos, the final battle scene of Avengers: Endgame. 93 million ticket holders sit on the edge of their seats. Thousands of warriors span the screen as the two armies collide—explosions and carnage on all sides. With a snap of his fingers, Thanos declares: “I am inevitable”. But there’s one more plot twist that renders Thanos powerless... Read More

Technical Leadership Lessons from Edison

If Thomas Edison was working at a defense contractor today, he would probably be the world’s most effective principal engineer, teaching us valuable technical leadership lessons. Although he’s most widely known for the invention of the light bulb, Edison holds a total of 1,093 patents in the United States. To date, he is acclaimed as America’s most prolific inventor. That... Read More

Dinosaur Bones and Wireless Signals

The American Museum of Natural History is known for its iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex, the centerpiece of the museum’s Hall of Dinosaurs. As visitors stare up at this magnificent skeleton, they see this 4-foot-long jaw studded with its 6-inch teeth and could imagine this creature chasing its prey across the plains of Texas millions of years ago.  (Don’t worry, we’ll get... Read More

RF Recorders are the Ultimate Scout

In designing a wireless system, certain assumptions about the propagation path are generally made. Idealized models are often used as a baseline to model the path even if they don’t necessarily represent the real world. Seasoned engineers understand that the real world is more complex than that. When the ideal world meets the real world in the field, the sleepless... Read More

RF Recorders Turn an Expense into an Investment

Field tests are expensive—and not just in a monetary sense. Sure, you’ll rack up thousands of dollars a day in equipment rental expenses, vehicle rentals, airfare, hotel costs, meals, etc…that’s obvious. But field tests also drain your company’s most valuable assets: the engineers. Here’s how RF recorders can be your best ally in RF record and playback: Field Tests Limitations... Read More

Repeatability and Reproducibility: Whose Problem is it Anyway?

Perhaps it’s a cliché, but today’s systems are becoming more and more complex, and intermittent problems more and more frequent. Repeatability and reproducibility have become major issues. The good news is, repeatability and sanity can be restored. RF Recorders Bring Repeatability and Sanity Back to the Table Have you found yourself asking how your team can fix an issue that... Read More

About those Specs…

It’s easy to write specs on a datasheet. Product engineers might feel a little queasy about some of the specs claimed on their own product’s datasheet, but marketing and sales folks almost never do.  Unfortunately, when it comes to real-world RF performance, there often are no real specs or benchmarks in the datasheets–just unsubstantiated claims. Whose device or product can... Read More

Avoid an Avalanche of Regression Test Costs

Sometimes the tiniest tweak can trigger an avalanche of regression test costs. It may be very tempting to upgrade to the latest technology from a vendor or the latest algorithm from the PhD’s in the signal processing group. But what’s the risk of that upgrade vs. the actual benefit? Do you dare push forward with that upgrade without commissioning a... Read More

Capture the Moment of Truth with an RF Recorder

Field tests are the moment of truth. Testing can reveal answers to crucial questions. Did we successfully transport the bits from the input of the transmitter to the output of the receiver? What is the probability that the bits are error-free? What happens when it rains? What if a plane flies through the propagation path? What about atmospheric ducting? What... Read More
Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace

Principal Engineer