LA Confidential – X-Band & Artichokes

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel

I’m the sort of person who likes to plan, but despite my best intentions life always seems to be event-driven. Such is the case today, which is why I’m writing this. Let me explain:

I’m on Linkedin and am a member of some 30+ Groups relating to satellite communications. Being a helpful sort of guy I try to answer questions posed by Group members if they relate to a topic that I know something about. Such was the case today when I saw that someone had posed the question along the lines “What is the difference between the use of a Klystron and a TWTA in an earth station transmitter”?
Well, that’s right up my street. I remembered writing a paper related to this way back in 1981. Even though that was 30 years ago and technology evolves, the underlying physics remains the same.

The paper was entitled “Design of a High Power Earth Station Transmitter for the Band 7.9 to 8.4 GHz”. As you’ll all know that is one of the main uplink bands (X-Band) used for military satellite communications and the paper arose out of some work I did on a contract for a particular Government [Read more…]

Oh Deer – The MX Missile, a Flying Coffin and the Twin Towers

Manhattan Skyline With World Trade Centre

Manhattan Skyline With World Trade Centre

The anniversary of the atrocity committed against the USA has triggered memories of a day some 30 years ago which culminated in a picture-perfect flight into NYC’s La Guardia airport, the approach being down the Hudson River with a sharp turn to port across Manhattan onto the final approach. A stunning afternoon view of Manhattan and the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

However, the story starts the day before. I was marketing & sales director of a company that I’ll call F-Corp (if there’s a real company called F-Corp, I apologise.It’s not you!). I’d been in the States visiting customers and I flew into the town of Binghamton in upstate New York at about 9:00pm one evening. It was early spring, very cold and with recent snow on the ground.

Why Binghamton? Well, F-Corp had developed a completely new technology for very high-performance, small, light weight microwave filters. These devices had major advantages in airborne and space applications where light weight and stability in extremes of temperature and pressure were essential. They met the US military’s MIL STD 5400E environmental specifications. [Read more…]