Click here to skip the so-called humor and read how our comparison microwave trade journals
Click here to read our reviews of the semiconductor trade journals
Update January 2009! Read the Unknown Editor's interview with Microwaves and RF Magazine!
Update October 2008! Been wondering when your next issue of RF Design issue will be delivered? The answer we can now confirm is never again!
The trade journal story
Millions of years ago in the Mesozoic era, dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Some were small, some were quite large, some ate plants and some ate meat. There was plenty of food around, and although no one can say for sure, they were probably quite happy creatures, at least according to Disney. One of the messages in the 2000 Disney movie "Dinosaurs" is that "sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest changes of all." How do you know this? The narrator states it! Hey, this is a kid's movie, not Federico Fellini's Satyricon (a "spectacular, neo-modernist construction that combines both the pictographic art of the past with the angular sensibility of the present" according to one reviewer). But as usual, we digress...
Then something big happened 65 million years ago, and all of the "classic" dinosaurs are gone. Some of the smaller dinosaurs that grew feathers changed themselves into birds, and they are still here, crapping on your car windows. The seminal event that killed off the dinos was probably a meteorite that kicked up enough dirt to drive the planet into a long winter.
Fast forward to the twentieth century. Trade journals are all over the planet... The trade journal model is to reveal some knowledge to the reader each month in exchange for bombarding them with advertisements, because no one is going to pay money for something that you can get for free. On the plus side is that the format is handy for long bathroom trips. You have trade journals for managers, for marketeers, for human resources, for manufacturing, even for CFOs (perhaps information on how not to get caught). There's a trade journal for people who plan trade shows! Here's one just for pig farmers and another for people that are in the business of landfilling trash (such as thrown away trade journals). Did you know that if you subscribe to enough trade journals, you could heat your house by burning them?
If you're interested in the subject, tradepub.com/ lists many of the trade journals out there. Warning: don't subscribe to any trade rags through this site, unless you want over 200 other trade journals to get your personal information!
For trade journals, the "meteor event" happened in the 1990s: the internet became the most powerful knowledge tool on the planet. Suddenly, being in the paper trade journal business just got a lot less profitable. So paper trade journals grew "feathers" and have morphed into web sites as well. The problem is, they still want to maximize advertising profits so they can keep as many people on the payroll as possible, and that means they are taking it out on you, the readers. They need to collect personal information such as your phone number, fax number and email addresses, and they milk these for all that they're worth by renting their lists to each other. You get hosed with spam and even worse, free subscription phone calls.
During the stock bubble of the 1990's there were new "web portals" and "zines" that promised to change the way that the industry does business. In reality, all they accomplished was burning up a cash pile of investor money, while making knowledge accessibility even more annoying. RFGlobalnet is one example that you might be familiar with if you work in the microwave industry.
Some trade journal web sites still don't even know what time it is. They think that you enjoy registering to get tidbits of information, signing in each time you use the site, and having to remember a password. Is using a crummy search tool really the best way to manage the information that was lost in previous "issues"?
At Microwaves101.com we have a different goal for the Internet. We want to put all of the collective knowledge of the microwave industry, for your use, just three clicks away. We are doing this by creating a free encyclopedia that is fully indexed and cross-referenced. We don't go out of our way to collect personal information, and whatever we know, we wouldn't share. Read our mission statement for more information. Again, to quote the Disney company, sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest changes of all." Over time, many of the microwave trade journals are starting to look more and more like Microwaves101. Most of them have dropped the requirement for users to register in order to access the material. Ever wonder where they got that idea?
If you want to feel important, when you sign up for a trade journal, list your job as "Vise Presadent Of Procurment", or "Cheef Financail Offiser" when you fill out the subscription form, tell them you influence $10,000,000 worth of purchases each year. No one has ever served time for inflating their ego when subscribing to a trade journal! Always overcapitalize your title, and misspell a few words to make your position more credible. An empty-suit title will help out later when you are talking to one of the call center girls that is gonna bug you each month, once they track down your real phone number...
We also recommend that you don't give them a real phone number or email address on the subscription form, unless you like annoying phone calls from call centers in India from people that want to approve you for a free subscription to junk mags like "Connector Specifier".
Before we introduce you to the microwave trade journals, here's an important rule of thumb:
When subscribing to trade journals, always give them a fake email address and phone number. Otherwise they will be bugging constantly!
Here's the Golden Rule of trade journal subscriptions: never, ever give them the names of any coworkers no matter how they try to pry this info from you. You wouldn't want your buddies to do that to you, would you?
What do you do when you get calls from Electronic Design News asking for a free subscription which you don't want? First, if the caller is not of the opposite sex, just hang up. But if you are a lonely engineer and the caller is female, you should say stuff like "you sound hot, what are you wearing?" Remind her that you are the Chief Financial Officer if she is taken aback. Then tell her you have a call coming through from Beijing, and couldn't she call back later on your cell, perhaps to discuss her personal situation, and employment opportunities as your administrative assistant. Last, give her a phone number of one of your least favorite competitors. Don't worry, she can take a joke, this stuff happens every day!
For a great account of how to get rid of pesky telephone salespeople, check out this web site! OK, you have to click the flag to translate it to English... just keep repeating, 'we do not use... (insert product name)".
Below we list all of the microwave trade journals, rated from top to bottom according to our opinion of them. We provide links to their web sites, in some cases you can subscribe to paper magazines if you want. We'd probably save a forest full of trees if everyone just read them on line. It's going to be a long time before paper trade journals are entirely replaced with web sites, at least until we have high-speed Internet access in every bathroom stall at work...
MicroWaves & RF
We recently moved this trade journal to the top of our list, because of an experience where editor Nancy Friedrich exceeded our expectations!
A recent M&RF article titled Evaluate Test System Impedance Matching And Switch Quality written by two authors from National Instruments, it seems just possible they made good use of a spreadsheet they downloaded from Microwaves101 in Figure 5. Below is the image from the MW and RF article:
Looks a lot like this graph from Microwaves101's VSWR page, doesn't it?
Update February 19, 2008: National Instruments contacted this web site and stated that the two look-alike graphs are a mere coincidence. All a big misunderstanding! OK, here's the Perry Mason moment. Our graph had two major mistakes in it, and so did the National Instruments graph. The transmitted wave voltage amplitude is wrong for a couple of reasons which we'll explain shortly, it should NOT be 0.7 volts like it is in both graphs. Is it all a coincidence that a NI author used the same wavenumber, the same incident voltage amplitude, didn't use vertical grid lines, used the same reflection coefficient (pick a random number between 0 and 1 and both authors came up with exactly 0.3) and made the same stupid mistakes? What's the chances of that?
Below is a corrected graph. You'll probably see a similar correction to the MW&RF article in the near future, we reckon.
Anyhoo, when we pointed out the similarities (and lack of attribution to Microwaves101) to Nancy she was very apologetic, even though there's no way she could have known that one of her contributors might have used our material. She published our "complaint" two months later, and added an attribution to the article on the Microwaves and RF web site. Kudos to Nancy, you're so nice it makes us feel rotten for even pointing out this little problem! The National Instruments rebuttal will appear in an upcoming MW&RF issue, but we don't plan to respond to their response of our response to their article. Nuff said!
Update March 2008! We reworked the spreadsheet that created this graph into something we're proud of, the math is now correct, and we added a slider bar so you can animate time. Check it out on our new page on visualizing VSWR. We're more than happy to help out with free tools like this, we offer the spreadsheet that created this graph as a free download. Just give us a little credit when you take a shortcut.
Now back to our description of MW&RF... this is one of two trade journals (Microwave Journal is the other) that has survived since the beginnings of Microwave History (in their 46th? year). As a microwave engineer, you need to subscribe to the paper version of both of these, and at least flip through them once a month during lunch. MW&RF does NOT require you to register personal information in order to peruse the material on their web site, the way all trade web journal web sites should be. Technical Director Jack Browne knows as much about the black art of microwave engineering as anyone on the planet, plus he's a great writer.
MW&RF is published by Penton which owns many other trade rags. Which is a problem for you because once they capture your phone number and email address, someone from India will be calling to offer you a free subscription to other "Planet EE" crapola such as Electronic Design, EE Product News and other crummy Penton mags once a month, plus your email will get spammed almost every day. See "countermeasures" above.
Update April 2010: MW Journal is pretty loose when it comes to respecting copyrighted materials. A July 2009 article titled How Design Software Changed the Worldby editor David Vye borrowed information from our page on the History of Microwave CAD. Here's how they footnoted the article:
2. T. Hyltin, IMS 2008 Session, TH1E â€œHistory of MIC/MMIC Inventions,â€ http://www.mtt-tpms.org/cgi-bin/symposia_v4/sessiondisplay.cgi?Symposium_Name=IMS2008&sessiontodisplayid=TH1E&pointofcontact3; http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclopedia/historyCAD.cfm.
If you look closely, Microwaves101 is reference 3, but the "3" is missing. This is how it appeared in the printed magazine, which is merely a printer's mistake. We pointed it out nine months ago, yet the MW Journal web article was never fixed. This should take less than five minutes to correct, guys.
While we're on the subject of this article, MW Journal offers "recommended reading" on the topic. Here you will find the IEEE articles that Vye references. Very handy, except this is in violation of IEEE's copyright policy. Look at the corner of the articles and you will see the price that IEEE would charge you for them... if MW Journal hadn't put free bootleg copies on the web, free for all!
In March 2010, a Microwave Journal article about Setting Strategies for Planar Divider/Combiner by Leo G. Maloratsky used an image of a monopulse comparator network that looks very familiar. Here is the image in the MW Journal article:
Here's the Microwaves101 version from our monopulse comparator page:
Funny how the exact nomenclature is used, and the rat-races are all oriented the same way in both figures. What's the chances of that? Simply shameless.
If you want to access their web site you have to set up a user email address with a password. Maybe it's worth it, but we think all microwave web sites should be free of this nonsense. So we'll pass on the offer, which is good for a lifetime of spam!
Click here to learn what the Unknown Editor thinks of the Microwave Journal credit card offer!
High Frequency Electronics
This magazine puts forth a good effort. Editorial director Gary Breed is a one-man encyclopedia of microwave knowledge, we'd like to offer him a job at Microwaves101, but he's gotta be able to feed his family, so we won't. HFE recently finished an awesome feature on power amplifier technology, co-authored by a whole congress of microwave gurus, and you can download it on their web site last we checked. Gary printed some kind words about Microwaves101 in a recent HFE web site review, for which we say "thanks!", even though Microwaves101.com was spelled wrong.
HFE puts their paper journal on line in a pdf file that is an exact replica, ads and all. No account setup or password is required to access articles last time we checked.
Update October 2008. Because of the recent (2006) merger of Penton and Prism publishing houses, a group of investors found themselves with two microwave/RF trade journals. RF Design and Microwaves and RF became step brothers.
Hey, I never asked you, do you like guacamole?
After the usual round of merger-induced layoffs, one of the titles had to go. Congratulations on keeping the better of the two.
In case you were wondering, the printed supplement to RF Design, Military Electronics also bit the dust, so you will no longer have to tear open a plastic bag each month in order to place ME in a suitable recycle bin. But wait! Defense Electronics (the print version) may be dead but it will be re-launched as a digital publication in January 2009. Essentially, Penton is taking the current Military Electronics digital publication and revamping it with a new (or old depending on your point of view) title (Defense Electronics). Jack Browne will be the technical director. If you're confused by the history behind Defense Electronics and Military Electronics, you are probably not alone. Send us a note if you can clue us all in! How about straightening us out, Jack?
RFTechnology is a new effort, brought out be the same company that publishes High Frequency Electronics.
Wireless Systems Design
This journal started December 2002, and was dead and buried sometime in 2004. It was a cousin to Electronic Design, perhaps the most annoying trade rag of all time. How many call centers in Hyderabad India are solely employed by ED to pester engineers about subscribing to this dull magazine? We don't know, however, the acronym "ED" has such a negative connotation that we'd probably change the name if we were in charge.
Microwave Product Digest
This journal is 99% ads, with a "product features" sometimes disguised as technical articles, plus an editorial page. Keep in mind you can learn a lot about the industry by reading advertisements, especially if your job involves buying stuff rather than designing stuff. These fools keep changing the URL for their web site, so we apologize in advance if their link is broken.
If you are involved in MMICs or RFICs, consider expanding your knowledge of the subject by subscribing to a semiconductor magazine.
Semiconductor Today is a British effort, at this point they are the best semiconductor trade magazine of all, with no competition now that Compound Semi is asking for users to register. We've met editors Mark Telford and Darren Cummings, they are both great guys and they totally "get it" about providing easy access to their articles on line. The web site is well organized and the use of big fonts makes it easy to read. They offer a paper subscription as well.
These people don't get it. This used to be a good site, but recently they have required users to register. That's a dealbreaker for us, and it should be for you too. Once they see how much readership drops they'll drop this requirement!
Sorry, no can do...
III-Vs Review ceased publication in 2006.
Electronics Cooling is an independent trade journal (as opposed to most of the above being part of Horizon House or Penton Publications). If your career is in electronics, at some point you'll have to learn about cooling, so why not subscribe to this free journal? Tell "Doctor Jim" that the Unknown Editor sent you his way!
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