Cutting-Edge Developments Shine At EuMW And AOC

Sept. 21, 2009
Every year, a large number of microwave innovators and companies share their product news and technical developments at European Microwave Week and the Association of Old Crows.

Product and technology innovations are released at a constant pace in the microwave market. In the fall, many of these announcements are heralded at two significant industry events: European Microwave Week (EuMW) and the Association of Old Crows (AOC). The site for this year's EuMW is Rome, Italy from September 28 to October 2 while the AOC International Symposium and Convention will be held October 18 to 22 in Washington, DC. The AOC event serves electronic-warfare (EW) and information-operations professionals. In contrast, EuMW strives to cover the broad swath of microwave, RF, wireless, and radar. Despite a sagging global economy, the exhibition floors of both shows will prove that innovation is still strong while the conference tracks grapple with technical challenges and the needs of future applications.

Whether during war or peace, the function of the AOC is to advocate a strong defense capability. It particularly emphasizes (EW) and information operations (IO) to government, industry, academia, and the public. This year's Annual AOC International Symposium and Convention will be the stage for more than 40 EW and IO briefings from military and industry experts, who will explain how EW is changing and where it is headed in terms of concepts, planning, training, programs, and new technologies. Also addressed will be the topic of how the US can afford to get new capabilities into the warfighter's handsboth economically and politicallykeeping in mind the fact that the country cannot afford to not undertake this effort.

To meet the needs of its varied audience, EuMW is hosting four separate conferences: European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference (EuMIC; September 28 and 29), European Microwave Conference (EuMC; September 29 to October 1), European Wireless Technology Conference (EuWiT; September 28 and 29), and European Radar Conference (EuRAD, September 30 to October 2). Workshops and short courses will be ongoing as well. To give an example of the breadth of topics covered by each conference, the EuMC addresses materials and technologies, integrated circuits, and systems and applications by breaking them down by theory, simulation, design, and measurement. It also will focus on timely topics like microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), metamaterials, reconfigurable RF components and systems, and system-inpackage and system-on-a-chip (SoC) approaches.

Proof of these cutting-edge technologies will be rampant on the exhibit floors at both shows. Among the announcements garnering attention this year at EuMW will be Rohde & Schwarz's BBA100, which marks its entry into the broadband-amplifier market. The R&S BBA100 boasts a modular design that allows users to select frequency range and output power to suit their requirements (Fig. 1). The amplifier offers three frequency bands covering 9 kHz to 1 GHz. It provides power to 500 W. The base unit includes comprehensive control functions. The integrated system controller, for example, controls the frequency bands, switches the system components, and monitors the R&S BBA100. The basic version of the R&S BBA100 features up to three individually configurable interlock circuits that are each assigned to an RF path. If higher output power and additional frequency ranges are needed later, the amplifier can be upgraded without having to replace existing modules. Rohde & Schwarz will also be displaying some of its test and measurement products and capabilities. Similarly, Agilent Technologies will be on hand with a major measurement product announcement. Anritsu will be showcasing products like its handheld analyzer family. The latest Site Master, Spectrum Master, and Cell Master models, which have been enhanced by the firm's "E" platform, perform field testing for 2G, 3G, and WiMAX networks.

Tektronix will introduce the RSA6120 real-time spectrum analyzer at EuMW, which extends the range of the RSA6000 series to 20 GHz (Fig. 2). The analyzer offers spuriousfree dynamic range of 75 dB and a third-order intercept point of +19 dB over 6 GHz. Thanks to a switched-filter preselector, it also boasts impressive channelflatness operation for all measurements. Flatness across 100 MHz, for example, is specified at 0.7 dB RMS and 1.5 RMS. The preselection filters allow the spectrum analyzers to handle wideband signals without significant distortion. The RSA6120A also offers a capability called transformational swept DPX, which performs a wideband signal search with a very high probability of detection. In fact, the DPX Density trigger can trigger on signals within signals.

Over the last few years, an increasing amount of design work has been done via software. As a result, software companies will be out in force at EuMW. Sonnet Software, Ansoft, and AWR are just three of the firms that will be highlighting their most recent computer-aided-design (CAD) advances. Of course, components also will be previewed in large numbers on the show floor. A.T. Wall Co., for example, will debut its new waveguide tubing. This range of precisiondrawn waveguide tubing will include Invar waveguide, thin-wall aluminum waveguide, and seamless flexible waveguide. Invar waveguide features low expansion characteristics that permit minimal expansion in extreme cold and heat. It claims to have the lowest coefficient of thermal expansion of all metals in the 273to +177C range. Microwave filters made from Invar can therefore withstand extreme temperature shifts while maintaining the physical characteristics that control the RF signal. The new thin-wall aluminum and seamless flexible waveguide target airborne systems and space in all satellite applications.

Behind most component announcements lie material innovations. At EuMW, Rogers Corp. will show the RT/duroid 5880LZ materials, which have a low dielectric constant of 1.96 at 10 GHz. This lightweight, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based composite is optimized with a filler that provides low density (1.37 g/cm3) and a low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) in the Z-axis. In addition, the material's dielectric constant is uniform from panel to panel and constant over a wide frequency range with a low Z-axis temperature coefficient of dielectric constant (TCDk) of +22 ppm/C.

Among the impressive list of exhibitors at this year's AOC are the expected names like BAE Systems, Boeing, M/ACOM, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin. Yet the list also includes microwave firms like Anaren, dB Control, Elcom Technologies, Micro Lambda Wireless, Times Microwave, Werlatone, and Wideband Systems. No matter their heritage, all of the exhibitors will be showing defensefocused wares. An example is the portable antenna system from TECOM Industries, Inc., which is part of Smiths Interconnect . The GDT-2100 Ku-band Ground Data Terminal Antenna (GDT) System is a military-grade, lightweight portable tracking antenna system (Fig. 3). It targets the ground-based data-link transmit and receive communication that is currently in active service by US forces in overseas operations.

This standard commercial-off-theshelf (COTS) system comprises a 4-ft. antenna, Ku-band feed, two-axis positioner, integrated control system, tripod mounting base, and transit cases. The positioner features continuous azimuth travel and highly effective tracking using pointing commands derived from Global Positioning System (GPS) information. RF-beam autotrack configurations are available for applications for which GPS position information is not available. Used by mobile ground forces to exchange imagery and data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) utilizing Common Data Link (CDL) or other Ku-band data links, the GDT-2100 also supports data-link relay and UAV command and control missions.