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Open Communication

Bi-monthly column dealing with networking and wireless technologies. Topics might include cellular, bluetooth, bandwidth issues, broadband technologies, etc. Started in April 2002.


Articles from this Column

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How Far Can You Go?
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2007, Page 14
With the number of wireless standards, products, and applications increasing almost hourly, it is a rare day in which any of us will go without some wireless usage.

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HD Radio In Your Future?
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2007, Page 79
I just finished testing Radiosophy’s new HD100 digital radio and was impressed enough to want to tell you about it. In case you are still in the dark about this radio technology, HD radio is the digital radio service that...

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Cell Phones — 10 Pounds of Technology in a 5 oz Package
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2007, Page 88
No other electronic product incorporates as much of the latest technology as a cell phone, and especially in such a small package...

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Fiber Optics — The Invisible Communications Network You Use Every Day
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2007, Page 0
The world has been rewired many times over the decades. Telegraph and telephone wiring came first. Then electrical power. (Yes, electrical power wiring actually came after the telegraph and telephone wiring. Doesn’t seem right does it?) ...

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MIMO 101: Next Generation Wireless Technology is Finding Its Way Into Most New Systems
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2007, Page 89
In case you haven’t heard, MIMO means Multiple Input Multiple Output which — by itself — still does not explain very much. It is a relatively new wireless technique that makes use of two or more transmitters, receivers, and antennas to greatly improve...

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Tesla Inventerd Radio, Not Marconi!
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2007, Page 0
Okay, I am probably as guilty as you in believing that Marconi actually invented radio. But he did not and it has taken decades — actually, over a century — for the truth to come out. In fact, I am convinced that the truth is still not well known. Not to burst your bubble or anything, but here is the real story.

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OFDM - Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2006, Page 84
Have you heard of orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) yet? If not, your knowledge of communications techniques is definitely lagging behind the real world. Here is a quick look to bring you up-to-date on thiswireless technology that is being adopted across the board in most new communications and networking systems...

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The Ultimate Wireless Hobbyist
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2006, Page 100
Wireless has been a hobby for well over 100 years. And looking back, I have actually been a wireless hobbyist for most of my natural life. I have tried almost all aspects of this hobby and have witnessed an amazing evolution along the way...

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Testing HD Radio
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2006, Page 12
Back in the April ‘04 issue of NUTS & VOLTS, I introduced some of you to digital radio broadcasting. It was mostly a theoretical discussion because there were few stations on the air and even fewer radios available. But today, digital radio — now called HD Radio — is actually here.

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TV On A Cell Phone
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2006, Page 79
I suppose it had to happen. You can do almost everything else with a cell phone these days like play music, take digital photos, send and receive text messages and emails, play games, and even surf the Internet. Why not TV?

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Short-Range Networking
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2006, Page 12
Most of us think of long-range communications when we think of communications applications. Long-range is subject to interpretation, but is usually many meters to many miles. Short-range communications is typically 10 meters or less. We use short-range wireless devices virtually every day; some examples being our infrared remote controls, remote keyless auto entry, garage door openers, Bluetooth headsets on cell phones, and wireless thermometers. But short-range wired communications are...

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Short-Range Wireless Explosion
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2006, Page 20
Wireless everything. If it seems like you are hearing and seeing more about wireless devices every day, it’s not just your imagination. Over the past few years, there has been a virtual explosion of new wireless devices and services.

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Internet Telephones
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2005, Page 94
By now, you have all probably heard of Internet telephones, or IP phones as they are sometimes called. They are also known as voice over Internet protocol or VoIP phones. In fact, you may already have one if you are one of those early adopters of high tech stuff. If you don’t have one, you can almost be sure that a VoIP phone is in your future. Let’s take a look at how these phones work.

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Wireless Mesh Networks
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2005, Page 26
Today, what computer is not networked? If it is not connected to the Internet via a dial-up, broadband cable, or DSL modem, it is connected to a local area network (LAN), which, in turn, is connected to one or more other networks. And, LANs are not restricted to offices — they are also in many homes.

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A Radio That Thinks
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2005, Page 26
An Introductory Look at Software-Defined/Cognitive Radio

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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2005, Page 77
Wireless technology comes in all shapes and sizes these days. Radio Frequency Identification or RFID is one of them. You have probably seen the initials RFID and didn’t really know what they meant. Yet, you may already be using it.

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The Magic of Antennas
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2005, Page 8
If you really want to know what makes any wireless application work, it's the antenna. Here, we'll summarize some of the most common types and make you aware of what an antenna really is and how it works.

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Back To The Bands - Part 2
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2005, Page 0
Refer back to the December issue for all of the details. In this article, I will describe my experience with the QRP30 transmitter and the QAMP30 optional power amplifier.

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Back to the Bands
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2004, Page 0
A weekend project to return to amateur radio with kits — it doesn’t get any better than this.

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OPEN COMMUNICATION
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2004, Page 0
In my August column, I wrote about the new ZigBee wireless system. In this issue, I want to complete the coverage of the various short range wireless options available today.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2004, Page 0
We seem to be on a path leading to a totally wireless electronic lifestyle. The progress has been continual over the years, thanks to semiconductor technology and other advancements. More recently, there has been a flurry of announcements that make wireless everything possible. ZigBee is an important aspect of this.

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OPEN COMMUNICATION
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2004, Page 0
Despite the fact that spread spectrum (SS) technology is very widely used in every day wireless applications, few people — including technical types — actually know how it or its CDMA derivative works. It is one of the more complex wireless methods, but it has some really great benefits. With over 70% of US cell phones using this method, chances are you use a CDMA cell phone. Here is an introduction to this killer wireless technology.

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Six Things You Should Know About Wireless
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2008, Page 82
Wireless started changing the world just after it was invented by guys like Marconi, Tesla, and others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And that change is still going on. Here are a few wireless developments maybe you didn’t know about.

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The Software-Defind Radio Is Real
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2008, Page 16
Reading Hardware for Software Makes for the Ultimate in Versatility

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Ten Things You May Not Know About Bluetooth
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2008, Page 76
Bluetooth is a very familiar name these days if you have a cell phone or laptop. It is a wireless technology that has been around a while and probably can be credited as the start of a whole boat load of short-range wireless technologies. But even if you have heard the name, you may not really know all about it. Here are 10 facts that will update your knowledge of this hot wireless method...

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The 700 MHz Spectrum
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2008, Page 88
If it weren’t for spectrum, there would be no wireless. The good news is that spectrum does exist. The bad news is that there is a finite amount of it. Spectrum is sort-of like real estate. There is only so much land on earth so it too is finite. When you use it all up, then what do you do?

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Wi-Fi Makes Internet Radio Wireless
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2008, Page 84
One more option for the radio enthusiast: You just don’t know how lucky you are. Just think of all the options you have in listening to radio. There are the old standbys like AM and FM stations that most of us still listen to mainly in the car. There are thousands of stations nationwide and dozens in your local area. Then there is the newer HD radio that puts digital broadcasts into the AM and FM bands for higher fidelity, better noise, and fading immunity, and more station choices...

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A Femto in your Future?
By Louis E. Frenzel
March 2008, Page 80
What the devil is a Femto? I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. With indoor cell phone usage as poor as it often is, it was inevitable that someone would come along to solve that problem. And here it is — the femto cell. It just could be one of the next big electronic purchases you make.

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Converting To Digital TV
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2009, Page 24
Fun with converter boxes and antennas.

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Wireless Made Easy with a New Kit
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2009, Page 67
Think of your TV remote control, garage door opener, remote keyless entry on your car, and other wireless devices you use daily. Now you can bring that convenience and functionality to other projects.

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Smart Phones Leading Cellular Growth
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2009, Page 22
The cell phone has become a must-have item in our modern life. You pick it up when you grab your car keys and wallet or purse every day.

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How To Achieve One Gigabit Per Second Data Rate Over Wireless
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2009, Page 85
Longer distances, interference, and other environmental issues usually prevent that, but what we get is typically enough. With the new 802.11n standard, Wi-Fi speeds will be going up as more of the access points adopt the multiple input multiple output (MIMO) technology that will make 100+ Mbps common.

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E-Books
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2009, Page 15
E-books offer one more way to communicate electronically.

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New Integrated Circuits Make Wireless Easier
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2009, Page 68
The one thing that has made wireless so easy to implement everywhere is the integrated circuit. The single chip radio transceiver is a common device and it is available in many forms to give us the huge number of communications options we have today.

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What’s New in Home Networking?
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2010, Page 13
Home networking with wireless and wired technologies.

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Shortwave Listening: What it is, how to do it, and what to buy.
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2010, Page 58
Once the vacuum tube came along, radio really took off and stations sprung up around the world. Even with a simple radio, you could hear local and far away stations.Today, there are still many of us who like to do this. The activity is shortwave listening (SWL) and it is both fun and a challenge.

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Experimenting with Commercial Wireless Modules
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2010, Page 14
Wireless everything. That is what I am seeing more and more. Practically every electronic product these days has some kind of wireless component or function to it. That’s why it makes sense to learn more about wireless.

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Crystal Clock Oscillators: The Heart of All Communications Products
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2010, Page 62
If you look inside any electronic product today, there are a few circuits and components that are common to all of them. For example, every product contains at least one microcontroller that runs it. Another circuit that you will see — especially in communications products — is a crystal oscillator or clock. This circuit generates precise timing signals that control everything else — including that microcontroller. In communications gear like radios, that crystal is the source of the exact opera

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Q & A about Digital Radio
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2010, Page 57
Crystal radios are just a simple diode demodulator for amplitude modulation (AM) signals. Typically, crystal radios are built to receive local AM broadcast stations. And while those stations still exist, that might not be the case in the future.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2010, Page 68
Update On the Mobile Wireless Products We All Crave.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2011, Page 64
New Versions of the 555 Timer IC.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2011, Page 67
The wireless frequency spectrum crisis.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2011, Page 67
New Communications Device: The Tablet Computer.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2011, Page 62
Bluetooth: Forgotten Wireless Technology or Just Taken for Granted?

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2011, Page 64
Whatever happened to CB radio?

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2011, Page 60
Building a crystal radio — is it a sane thing to do?

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2012, Page 68
Comm Kits — A radio kit is a great way to get familiar with electronics and communications.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2012, Page 68
How to get your ham license.

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Open Communication
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2012, Page 60
What is 4G Wireless? 3G/4G ... Does it really matter?

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M2M —Machine-to-Machine Communications
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2012, Page 60
M2M is essentially automatic communications between two “things.” An example is a vending machine sending data to a remote computer indicating that it needs refilling and the money box needs emptying.

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Near Field Communications
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2012, Page
What do we mean by "short?" For cellular, short may be a mile or so. For Wi- Fi, short means less than 300 feet. Bluetooth and ZigBee are even shorter with a maximum range of about 30 feet.

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White Space Spectrum Benefits All Wireless Applications
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2012, Page 62
Spectrum, of course, is the electromagnetic radio spectrum that all of our wireless devices occupy. This free space spectrum is allocated by governments to the various radio/TV broadcast and wireless services to avoid interference and conflicts between users. After years of wireless progress and growth, there is precious little spectrum left for further development.

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LTE — The Wireless Cell Phone Radio Technology
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2013, Page 68
The motivation to develop LTE comes from the explosion of data services now available on cell phones that are stressing current infrastructures.

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60 GHz Wireless Transports HDTV
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2013, Page 68
Transmitting uncompressed digital high definition television signals is no easy task. Learn about the technologies that are currently being used to accomplish these transmissions.

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How to Make a Modern Radio
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2013, Page 62
Take a look at how digital techniques have changed and improved analog radios.

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Connected Cars Communicate
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2013, Page 63
Telematics is the wireless technology that connects your car to the outside world ... and it is hot! Here’s a summary of this emerging technology.

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10 Things You Need to Know About Wi-Fi
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2013, Page 72
Discover facts about this familiar wireless technology that you may not already know.

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Wireless Watches Will Win the Wearable Wars
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2013, Page 68
Even though cell phones have encroached on the time-keeping arena, you may want to rethink the wristwatch concept.

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DSL and Cable TV Broadband Internet Access: How Do They Work?
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2014, Page 60
Chances are you’re already using at least one of these technologies, but recent upgrades have made them faster. Read about the technical details of each system and the most recent new features and specifications.

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Software-Defined Radios Everywhere.
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2014, Page 52
Virtually all radios today — cell phones and Wi-Fi WLAN, for example — are software-defined radios. Find out exactly what SDRs are and how they work.

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The Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Communications Emerge as Internet Drivers
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2014, Page 18
In case you haven’t heard, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) are the next big things in Internet growth and new communications applications. Both technologies are expected to enable billions of new devices in the coming years.

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White Space Wireless Ready for New Services
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2014, Page 68
It is no secret that we are running out of spectrum space for certain new and/or improved wireless services. One potential solution for this can be found in the white space spectrum.

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Video Monitoring Over the Internet
By Louis E. Frenzel
November 2014, Page 68
Video has gotten so good and cheap lately, everyone seems to be using it. One growing trend in this area has been video monitoring or surveillance, and with the Internet of Things movement, what used to be expensive and tricky is now common place and affordable.

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Serial I/O Data Interfaces: Part 1
By Louis E. Frenzel
January 2015, Page 62
Data is transferred serially in most applications. However, there is definitely more than one way to “send” that cat.

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New Short-Range Wireless Standards Target IoT Applications
By Louis E. Frenzel
March 2015, Page 64
Now, it is easier than ever to connect devices over the Internet with the features available in upgraded versions of Bluetooth and ZigBee.

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Serial I/O Data Interfaces: Part 2
By Louis E. Frenzel
May 2015, Page 62
Get familiar with the high speed gigabit serial interfaces that dominate I/O today since we all use at least one of these regularly.

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Smartwatches Need Communications Too
By Louis E. Frenzel
July 2015, Page 18
The new Apple Watch acts as a peripheral device to your smartphone by utilizing multiple wireless links between the two devices.

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Getting Back into Ham Radio — Trials and Tribulations
By Louis E. Frenzel
September 2015, Page 16
Equipment choice can be harder than you think — especially when you can’t install antennas.

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EMI/RFI: The Bane of Wireless
By Louis E. Frenzel
November 2015, Page 20
Practically every electronic device is both an interference generator and susceptible to interference. Here’s a brief introduction to this natural phenomenon and how to minimize it.

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The Internet of Things. Who Needs It?
By Louis E. Frenzel
February 2016, Page 58
Now that most of the affluent world is connected to the Internet, why not connect everything else?

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So, You Think You Know Wi-Fi
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2016, Page 56
Wi-Fi is just about the most widely used wireless technology in the world. However, there is a lot you may not know about Wi-Fi. Here is a primer to bring you up to date.

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How Wireless Signals Propagate
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2016, Page 56
Learn how different types of radio wave signals propagate. It may not be quite as simple as you think.

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Virtual Instruments Improve Electronic Experimentation
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2016, Page 54
Virtual Instruments: How to get a bench full of test equipment for only a few hundred dollars.

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What’s in the Works for Wireless?
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2016, Page 14
Wireless is so ubiquitous these days, we take it for granted. However, there are even more things to expect for/from it in the future.

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Spectrum Shortage Threatens the Future of Wireless
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2016, Page 12
With the grown of wireless technologies, spectrum usage demand is on the rise. The problem is, there’s only so much spectrum to be had.

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Personal Radio Technologies
By Louis E. Frenzel
April 2017, Page 51
Cell phones aren’t the only option for communication with your family and friends.

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Cheap and Dirty Wireless Remote Control
By Louis E. Frenzel
June 2017, Page 9
Dealing with RF circuits is daunting for most experimenters. It is tricky and a bit frustrating if you build your own RF circuits. Now you don’t have to — thanks to the many available wireless modules.

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Going the Distance with Wireless
By Louis E. Frenzel
August 2017, Page 51
Demands for longer range Wi-Fi capacity are growing, and so are the demands for new technology to support it.

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Going All The Way With QRP
By Louis E. Frenzel
October 2017, Page 51
Talking around the world on a kilowatt is easy. How far can you go on less than one watt?

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Personal Communications Services: The MURS Option
By Louis E. Frenzel
December 2017, Page 11
You know about CB, FRS, GMRS, and FRS radios, but have you heard about MURS?