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A Discussion on dBs and RF Power Meters

This article discusses basic theory on the decibel unit and its role in electrical measurements of power, etc. It also describes the construction of an RF power meter which in the past has been difficult to use and expensive to own. With the breakthrough of new ICs in recent years, most of the former problems and expense have been eliminated. This is a simple and inexpensive unit to build, but has the accuracy, resolution, and dynamic range that was only obtainable in lab quality test equipment a decade or so ago. This kind of test equipment is almost mandatory for amateurs, radio frequency work, or test equipment calibration. Also, when built as described, it’s a very professional looking piece of gear that anyone would be proud to display on their test bench.

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The Story of the Transistor

Life would not be the same without the transistor, which was invented just over seven decades ago. It is considered by researchers and historians to be the most important invention of the 20th century, leading to groundbreaking advances in computing, communications, medicine, and practically every technically related field. In this article, we’ll examine the contributions of the personalities and organizations involved, as well as the impetus that led to this landmark invention.

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An Elegant Approach to Design a Variable Voltage Divider

A voltage divider is probably the most common electronic circuit. Despite its simplicity, it can be a design challenge for many folks, particularly beginners. This article presents a fast and accurate way to design a variable voltage divider with minimum math.

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MakerPlot – The DIY Software Kit

If you use microcontrollers in your projects, imagine how helpful it would be to see the data in a graphical format, rather than just a series of numbers -- especially when debugging! MakerPlot does all of this and connects directly to your microcontroller’s serial port to display analog and digital data in graphical form; it’s DIY software for your microcontroller projects.

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Waiting for 5G Wireless

By now, you’ve certainly heard of the forthcoming fifth generation (5G) wireless technology. There’s a tremendous amount of hype about 5G as the various cellular operators try to pre-sell you on the new benefits and services. Commercial 5G services won’t go online until later this year, but we should see plenty of 5G action in 2020. For that reason, you’ll need to know more about 5G to understand what impact it will make on you and the world in general. Here’s a status report to bring you up to speed.

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Circuit Simulation Made Easy

After reading the May-June 2018 NV article on Ohm’s law, I thought a follow-up article that goes a little deeper might be in order. Specifically, how Ohm’s Law together with a computer and a couple of tricks can be used to calculate the time dependence of much more complex circuits involving not just resistors but capacitors, inductors, op-amps ... you name it! In this article, I’ll describe a simple numerical method that is intuitive and solves many complex problems with just a few lines of code. No simulator needed!

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Libraries and Headers in C: A Tutorial

If you’ve written a program for a microcontroller board such as the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or Propeller QuickStart, you have relied on software libraries that provide constants and functions.  Often, we use software libraries without thinking much about them.

When you start to write libraries, it takes time to read documents, follow directions, and experiment with simple functions. Fortunately, after you understand how to create libraries and header files for the software tools you use, you'll have a useful skill that can simplify programming tasks.

Even if you never create a library, you probably want to know how they work and what they contain. This tutorial provides information that gives you a good start.

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