Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Future of NAFTA -- Is There One?

NAFTA is now 20 years old. Has it been good for the three countries involved: the U.S., Canada, and Mexico? Has it led to an improvement in the living conditions of the majority of persons living in each of the countries? Can any productivity improvement in the three countries be credited to the effects of NAFTA? These were proponent claims and promises at the time. Are these still the hoped-for benefits 20 years later?

One opinion: "NAFTA brought neither the huge gains its proponents promised nor the dramatic losses its adversaries warned of." (see reference 1)

Another: "Growing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada after NAFTA took effect reduced (U.S.) employment in high-wage, traded goods industries, resulting in a substantial loss of wage income for such workers. This contributed to growing inequality in wages and falling demand for workers without a post-secondary education, males in trade-related production, and minorities.....NAFTA has also hurt workers in Mexico and Canada in many different ways, as documented elsewhere in this report. Without major changes in NAFTA to address unequal levels of development and enforcement of labor rights and environmental standards, continued integration of North American markets will threaten the prosperity of a growing share of workers in the United States and throughout the hemisphere." (see reference 2, dated Sept. 2006 ).

So, if NAFTA was bad for the majority of people in each of the countries, then who was it good for? And, was it truly bad, or would continued protectionist and (here-and-there) isolationist economic policies in each of the countries have made matters even worse? 

Proponents argue that because NAFTA created rules for safer, border-crossing capital investment, so dollars and pesos could follow opportunity and spread wealth. Critics counter that the improved investment freedom increased instability for currently-employed workers, and shifted economic power and quality-of-life influences away from governments, and square into the hands of multinational corporations. They further counter that most of the wealth did not make its way to "the people," but only to the upper-most wealthy.

And so, the arguments continue.

But to simply matters a bit, NAFTA is a trade agreement in a corner of the world where political boundaries have become secondary to the hopeful benefits of economic cooperation between three adjacent and friendly countries. On the surface, the notion sounds like a fine one. 

However, today, multinational corporations are much more adept than 20 years ago at ferreting out opportunity and jumping continents to develop workforces, industries, and markets. Does that make NAFTA less relevant now than in 1993 as far as multinational corporations are concerned? Maybe so.

But NAFTA also helps define North America as a place where the rules are clear: Your money is safe; we're not a manufacturing dumping ground for the world; there are definite limits to the exploitation of labor and clear requirements for workplace safety; our countries respect each other and won't be unfairly played against each other.

NAFTA has its troubles. The EU even more and bigger troubles. But both are basically sound and good examples of multinational cooperation and of what someday "could be." Both are works in progress in hopes of very long-term benefits.

Some say NAFTA hasn't proven itself worthwhile.  Maybe 20 years isn't quite enough time.

reference 1:

reference 2: (page 24)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Next Recession

When will we have the next recession?  Nobody really knows for certain.  The better question may be how will be combat the next recession?  The Federal Reserve cannot reduce interest rates to a below zero percentage rate.

Some presidential candidates have suggested lowering corporate taxes.  That would definitely help by ensuring companies had more cash for expansion, but many politicians will not touch this for political reasons.  Also, it still may not result in enough job creation to offset the economic downturn of a major recession.

Does this mean that the next recession will be longer and more extensive than normal?  If any recession does have a normal time period, the answer may be yes.  The tools we use to bring an economy out of the economic downturn are already the being employed to prop up or subsidize the current economy.  So, what happens when this economy takes a turn for the worse and where would it be it we were not already “stimulating“ it?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Defense Spending Increase

Whoever the next president is going to be, this person is going to have to make a decision about defense spending and whether to increase it, decrease it, or maintain the current rate.

Donald Trump, a Republican candidate, has made increasing defense spending one of the pillars to his campaign’s platform.  In doing so, he was brought the defense spending debate to the forefront of the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

From 2010 to 2015 the total defense budget has deceased over 25% based on numbers from the U.S. Department of Defense (National Defense Budget Estimates).  If what is budgeted for FY2016 is included, it would be a 31% decrease over those 6 years.

The year 2010, was extraordinary, in that we were in the middle of 2 conflicts.  So, perhaps that 2010 number is an anomaly.  The question then becomes, have we cut back too far?  Have we gone from one extreme (spending too much) to another (spending too little) or have we just “righted the ship”?  Only time will tell.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tag! Soon Artificial Intelligence Will Find You.

In May, 1997 the world's chess champion, Gary Kasparov, lost a 6-game challenge to Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer. An advantage to the computer's programmers was the full history of Kasparov's previous public matches -- his style -- as well as that of dozens of other grand masters and their moves in various opening-, middle-, and end-game scenarios.

To give Deep Blue credit, its moves were the result of algorithm-driven analyses (e.g. how important is a safe king position compared to a space advantage in the center, etc.), according to the results of 700,000 or more grandmaster games. The machine could explore up to 200 million possible chess positions per second in this way. This wasn't just a memory exercise.
The rest is history.

Since then, developers have combined various forms of data (financial, scientific research, social, etc.) with application algorithms and massively parallel processing to aid human observation, pattern recognition, detection, forecasting, and decision making. Meanwhile, improved software and heuristic decision making have permitted much smaller dual I-Core microcomputers to perform as well as or better at chess than Deep Blue.
But, until recently, a computer's ability to truly "learn," that is, to write its own algorithms and rules according to data presented, has not been achieved -- and here comes the part you may not like....

You see, processing and working through mountains of data is no problem for computers these days. The problems arise when the rules (algorithms) become so complex for certain tasks that they just can't be written -- by a human. And, as it happens, identification of people and other objects by comparisons of characteristics or traits (for example, five pictures, same person, different pose) is an incredibly difficult set of algorithms to write.

Now, who might have access to those five mug shots of you, as well as your name "tagged" in each one? And who might have the same data on 50 million or more additional individuals? In a word -- Facebook. We and our Facebook friends have created a huge data garden from which to enable algorithm development via AI. 

Just wondering. How does that make you feel?

We at E.T.I. are looking forward to the day when AI in a supply chain gives us five more days notice on a rush order for a difficult part, or, when our AI can talk to your AI. Until then, from our point of view, caution is required on where AI is heading, who's taking it there, and whose rules they're following.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


On August 14th, Greece received its third bailout since May 2010. The troubled country will get up to €86 billion ($95 billion) in rescue funding over the next three years.

This is the conclusion of a very interesting drama through late July and early August, which even included (in effect) a popular referendum to "vote down" a deal with the major Euro contributors/creditors (France, Germany, Britain) that included continued harsh economic austerity measures.

You've got to love the Greeks for their spirit. But three weeks of bank closures, credit card restrictions, and little or no cash was apparently enough to soften popular resolve, as well as that of their recalcitrant leader, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister.

And so begins the third bailout, which brings us around to that "b" word. What is a bailout?

In the case of the U.S. and the auto industry, a "bailout" took place to prevent collapse of GM and Chrysler -- and to prevent the huge social costs of large-scale layoffs by the automakers and their support industries. The "bailout" took place in the hopes that -- with some painful but necessary restructuring and loss prevention and some bona-fide improvements -- along with some authoritative oversight -- the companies would turn themselves around and once again become profitable.

Important -- the hope of a turnaround (if not confidence) was real. And the likelihood of a second or third bailout would clearly have been quite small. For the automakers who took the help, it was clearly make-or-break. And the deal was very much grounded in arithmetic, dollars, and cents.
Most would say that, in hindsight, that the U.S. Government gamble on "Government Motors" and Chrysler was a good one. If the payback has fallen a little short -- a matter of contention -- the shortfall is debatably much less than the economic and social costs of the automakers' (and their support industries') collapse.

Does such hope for recovery exist in the case of this third "bailout" for Greece? Does anybody really think so? The IMF isn't buying in, thus far. Will the result of this third bailout be simply a homogenization of the eurodollar, and an absorption of the debt some time in the future? Stock markets around the world barely bounced with the new deal announcement -- apparently it was already anticipated.

The true elephant in the room is China -- as investors in multinational companies everywhere watch their nesteggs tank once again. Apparently, the great minds guiding publicly financed companies and currencies have continued to bet on China's remarkable economic growth and the increasing demand for goods and services accompanying it. This "bet" on an economy appears to have been a shaky one.

Somewhere along the way, the free-market world has become consumed with the hope that its approach to finance (invest, grow, create true wealth, reinvest) would become so inculcated in the Chinese economy that our financial rules would supercede theirs -- whatever they are. This long-term hope may have been fueled by short-term sentiment -- "if we don't jump on the train, others will."

Suddenly, just a few years later, we're reminded that China is a communist country. Public policy is dictated. Power comes first; yuan, dollars, euros, yen and the like come somewhere down the line. There's no "Fed" that is independent of political leadership -- no signals, no hard rules. "Value" as we agonize over it in U.S. and Europe is a different animal in China.

The Chinese government's ongoing infusion of yuan to support its companies' capital-equipment investments, its infrastructure development, and many other ventures has been huge and no secret. Who knew when it would slow down or end? Who really understood the limits of China's investment in itself, or when its leaders might say enough is enough? But now that the rein-in has started, the free-market world is experiencing China's new and considerable economic power and influence.

ElectroTechnik Industries is privately held. Nevertheless, our companies benefit from healthy and real economic growth around the world. Nobody anywhere benefits from uncertainty and surprise -- especially as dealt out by the second-largest economy in the world.

Our complaint isn't that China devalued the yuan, which simply amounts to a sugar boost for its economic troubles. Our fear is that their leadership, in fact, has so little to lose for doing whatever they choose -- and that the "global economy" is ignoring this.

Greece may be burden on the EU. That's understood. The question is, who's bailing out China; and are we starting to do so already?

If so, on who's terms?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Visit Res-net in Paris!

What's the occasion? It's European Microwave Week 2015 starting Sunday, September 6 at the Palais Des Congres, in Paris. The event is actually made up of three separate but closely related conferences: the European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference (EuMIC), the European Microwave Conference (EuMC), and the European Radar Conference (EuRAD). In addition, there will be a Defence, Security and Space Forum.

Res-net Microwave will participate in the EuMW Trade and Technology Exhibition, to be held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, September 8th, 9th, and 10th. They'll be providing information on Res-net RF & microwave attenuators, RF & microwave terminations, RF & microwave resistors, and diode detectors for commercial, military, and space applications.

Also highlighted will be Res-net's CVD diamond products, which handle both high frequency and high power in miniature product packages. For example, a Res-net 40 by 20 mil CVD diamond resistor operates up to 35 GHz at 20 watts; a miniature Res-net termination is specified at 26.5 GHz, 50 watts.

ETI Microwave Group companies Star Microwave (ferrite isolators and circulators for telecommunications) and Nova Microwave (high quality passive RF and microwave circulators and isolators) will also be represented.

Come see us at Booth # 144.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Feeling "Corrected?"

Over Thursday and Friday of last week, major stock indexes fell more than 10% from their recent peak. Commentators (calmly) urged investors to remain calm, that "corrections" such as these occur periodically. While additional factors were at work -- including a prevailing concern of a worldwide economic slowdown, China's decision to devalue its currency in the hope of making its products more price competitive appears to have triggered the quick decline.

Over the next few days, it will be interesting to see whether Vietnam, Indonesia, and other Far East countries follow suit and devalue their currencies in order to preserve their competitive positions with China -- which could make this all an exercise in ring-around-the-rosie. An actual correction could be still in the making.

Thankfully, ETI investor relations people aren't burning the midnight oil over this -- because we don't have any investor relations people. We have no stock. We're privately held.

If we have any "safe haven," it's in the confidence of our people, the true value of our products, and the strength of our relationships with our customers.

We like it that way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bright Lights And A Low Profile Technology.

50 years ago this fall, GE physicist Nick Holonyak built the world's first LED. Holonyak's diode emitted only red light. (see note 1)

Besides off/on indicator lights in electronics front panels, we haven't seen that much of the LED, until recently. Then strange applications began to pop up, like tiny blinking lights in children's shoes, and blinkers and decorative lighting on high-end cars. Then a big one -- LED flashlights that stayed bright a long long time.

Today, multi-colored LEDs illuminate homes and cities, the latest iPad “retina” screens, and flat-screen TVs. You can even buy a 750+ lumen (very bright) LED bicycle headlight to train at night (during winter) for your next bike race. People are doing it!

Of course, advances in LED technology have made this all possible, such as much greater brightness per watt, multiple colors, dimming, and improved multi LED packaging. Benefits of energy savings (75-80% over incandescent), brightness without halogen heat, ruggedness, and a 10-year bulb life put LED way ahead of incandescent and (more recent) florescent.

We like to see improvements in a technology that enable it to leap to the forefront. Everybody benefits.

30 years ago, people predicted that magnetics for signal conditioning would become obsolete for applications above 35 Mhz, because of increasing parasitic capacitance with increasing frequency. We're going way past that these days, because of improvements in our own design and manufacturing techniques.

How far past? The answer keeps changing. Ask our people at Raycom Electronics (

Note 1:

Monday, August 10, 2015

What's That Up There?

Recently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained on CBS's 60 Minutes TV show that the company is considering the use of drones to deliver packages of 5 pounds or less at some point in the future. The planned program is called "Prime Air."

National Geographic recently listed 5 other (non-military) uses for drones currently or expected in the near future: hurricane hunting, 3D mapping, protecting wildlife (poachers in Africa), farming including precision applications of pesticides, water, or fertilizers (widely done in Japan already), and search and rescue for missing persons. Forest-fire fighters in California could probably provide an additional application or two.

Of course, we're in the electronics business and we're enthusiastic about new technologies that utilize the rf and microwave and other electronic components made by Electro Technik companies. But has technology managed to jump ahead of good sense when it comes to drones? Are drone-flying paparazzi just the beginning?

Just last week, two commercial passengers reported a drone flying within the protected airspace at JFK International Airport -- one sighting within 100 ft of the jet! And on August 7, CNN and several other news sources reported on an Ohio prison "free for all," after a drone dropped drugs into its prison yard.

"Free for all" is right!

The FAA currently does not issue Certificates Of Authorization to private citizens or civilian businesses. However, The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires that the FAA establish rules for drone operation by September 30, 2015.

Let's hope they make the deadline.

Monday, August 3, 2015

China, The TPP, And A Dash Of Irony.

This week we watched China's stock markets tumble over worry that the Chinese government is curbing its support, estimated in the hundreds of billions of yuan thus far, and that it may now be "testing whether the market can support itself" (

Meanwhile, after eight years of effort leading up to a hopeful conclusion, talks failed and no general agreement was reached in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the US (

China is not included among the would-be TPP partners.
Sticking points in the troubled TPP talks involved agricultural markets, auto manufacturing and trade, protection for drug-makers, copyright protection, workers rights and environmental protections.

Also written into the Trade Pact agreement is a mechanism to provide temporary credit for companies in member countries to make major purchases, such as capital equipment for manufacturing. The intent is to provide credit and funding for transactions more quickly than can often be accomplished in certain member countries, and then be reimbursed when normal credit is acquired.

Some opponents of the agreement explain that this can put a government entity into the position of picking winners and losers -- which should not be the case.
So there we have it. China picking stocks (winners and losers) in a large-scale effort to prop up its stock market while the U.S. and its TPP partners get bogged down in ideologies while seeking to expedite transactions for free trade.
What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Engineering Talent Supply and Demand -- What's your opinion?

Is there and engineering shortage -- or not? Should U.S. companies try to hire domestically, or just "go global?" Is there a moral stand to take, or should we allow the matter to become laissez faire?

So many complexities; so point-of-view dependent!

(I'm a U.S. parent) "Throughout their school years we've emphasized the importance of STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) courses to our children. We wanted them to have technical minds and aptitudes, and degrees that would prove a certain mental acuity that would improve their chances for a great career -- even better than their parents. We've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to this end!

(I'm a non-U.S. parent) "We've done the same, and spent even more -- much more -- sending our children to U.S. universities.
(I'm a corporate hiring officer) "We can't find good engineering talent, and have a hard time keeping it when we do. U.S. candidates have such high expectations: security, flexibility, and excellent wages, too."

(I'm a U.S. engineering graduate, recent) "I need to build my project portfolio (and not maroon myself into a long-term project or position early on) in order to increase my value in a volatile job market where I can either float to the top or sink as a replaceable commodity."


1) At the 2014 Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) 16th Annual Outlook Conference, Carl Camden, CEO of Kelly Services, pointed out that 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled last year because managers said they couldn’t find qualified talent (OESA’s own research shows that three out of four North American automotive suppliers are having trouble finding engineering candidates). He went on to recommend analysis techniques to forecast and manage a company's "talent supply chain" and to embrace the concept of just-in-time talent acquisition for skill-specific positions.
Of course, his point of view comes as CEO of Kelly Services...temporary employment services.

2) The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2009 only 54% of recently graduating engineers found employment in their field, and only 61.3% found employment in their field or a closely-related one. The rest? Among math and computer science recent grads, 61.9% found employment in their field or a closely related one.

3) For FY2015, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received about 172,500 H-1B petitions (for temporary visas to fill engineering and/or technical positions in for-profit non-university positions) during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On 2015 April 13, the USCIS reported receipt of almost 233,000 H1B petitions, well in excess of the limits of 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 advanced-degree exemption. (

QUESTION AND ONGOING DEBATE: Should the H1-B cap be raised in view of reported shortages? Is there a shortage at all? Should recent U.S. STEM-related college grads be "protected" in the U.S. job market? Should we just go to a "global" talent supply chain?

Like so many issues, it depends on your point of view. Let's hear yours.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wireless Charging -- Wave of the future?

In 1893 Nikola Tesla used wireless power to illuminate light bulbs at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. But compared to direct wiring through various connection types, relatively few applications have utilized electromagnetic or radio frequency energy for the purpose of power supply or transfer since that time.

As we all know, efficiency is the issue. Placed together closely and positioned correctly, two coils can transfer power via magnetic induction quite efficiently. Increase the distance or jiggle a coil and efficiency drops significantly. This was recognized early on (certainly by 1893), has not changed, and won't.

But what has changed is the decreased power levels that our everyday (electronic) devices operate at, and our ability to modulate with tuned resonant-frequency circuits that can optimize power-transfer efficiency with changes in distance and position. Also changing is our much improved battery technology and our increased dependence on battery-powered devices.
In effect, we need less power, can store more power better, and can inductively transfer it from source to battery better than ever.

Thinking big, one can envision electric trains without 12,000 volt overhead catenary wires, electric cars with drive-up non-contact charging stations, drones that can charge up during flight. Thinking small, any handheld power device becomes a candidate for wireless charging (LED lighting, phones, cameras, tablets, etc.), simply out of greater convenience. Thinking safety, anyplace an electrical device is used in a wet area (countertops), or where a cord gets in the way (power saws and other tools in a cluttered garage -- my favorite) comes to mind.

Of course, much of this is happening or in development right now. Three sets of standards, Qi, PMA, and A4wP, are competing to provide compatibility through uniformity of design and implementation.

Three ETI companies manufacture transformers, inductors and other magnetics-related products. They include Raycom Electronics, Hytronics, and Winatic. Naturally, we like to keep our eyes on "all things magnetic," and the future of our industry.
For years, the electronics industry has wrestled with connectivity issues as circuits have miniaturized. Wireless data transfer is solving much of the problem. But power charging through USB, mini USB, and micro USB has become bulky and even "iffy" as circuits and devices shrink. The connectors aren't made for hundreds and thousands of couplings and decouplings. They just break.

So bring on the type of charging that's kept our electric toothbrushes running for 15 years or more! Let's add some design preventions against vampire (always "on") power usage, and just go for it. To borrow (most of) Dupont's a old advertising slogan, it's time to leap ahead with "better living through magnetics."

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Declaration of Independence; And a Demonstration of Excellence. Big events on this July 4 weekend!

On Independence Day, with its parades, picnics, and fireworks, we celebrated one of the nation’s most important historic events 239 years ago. The Fourth of July has become such a relied-upon and regular event that most of us have our own ritual for celebrating it. 

In Canada, whose royalty calls our freedom day “Revolution Day,” the U.S. women’s soccer team had little time to reflect on the historical event. Three days earlier they had shut out the powerhouse Team Germany 2-0 in the World Cup semifinal. Still in Vancouver, British Columbia, the team would play Japan on Sunday, July 5 -- and this was no time for a letdown.
The Continental Army took a couple years to become effective, and a few more to turn a revolt into a national victory. It took the U.S. women just three minutes to score, and just 12 minutes more for Carli Lloyd to tally the first-ever hat trick in a World Cup women’s final. The game ended U.S. -- 5; Japan -- 2. 
And so, late on July 5, the U.S. Women’s soccer team gave us a second great reason to celebrate the weekend -- maybe not quite so consequential as the first reason -- but absolutely a very big win! 
By the way, the team members are also deeply involved in their own fundraising, so you might say they did it “on time and within budget.” 
Now that’s good business!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Combining High Power and High Frequency in rf and Microwave.

Combining high power and high frequency in rf and microwave.

The following paragraphs are excerpts of an interview with Alen Fejzuli, president of Res-Net Microwave, Inc. His plain-speak comments are intentionally "teched down" for the listener and writer, a non-engineer. 

On the design approach:

Designing for rf and microwave requires solid understanding of transmission line theory, and application of  "high frequency rules," if you will, to the design of our components. The Smith Chart, wavelength, VSWR -- these items are all foreign to the world of digital design. 

On the products and basic challenge:

Res-Net Microwave has been known for more than 25 years as a manufacturer of high power components -- resistors, attenuators, and terminations. Typically, when you're designing high power components there are physical limitations. The world of physics is against you. You're trying to make high frequency components that also need to dissipate a lot of power. In order for a resistor or terminator to dissipate a lot of power, it tends to require considerable size. However, as frequency increases, wavelength decreases, and once wavelength becomes smaller than the component, a number of effects take place that change the properties and performance of the component. For example, at low-frequency resistor looks like a resistor.  On the other hand, at high frequency a resistor will have parasitic capacitance and inductance, which limits the high frequency performance. 

On size and power:

How well a component dissipates power is driven by the type of material that is used, for example, we use Alumina, Aluminum Nitride (AlN), Beryllium Oxide (BeO), and, now, synthetic diamond (CVD diamond). Each of these materials dissipate power at a specific rate, AlN, BeO, and CVD in increasing order (lowest to highest, Figure 1).  With the introduction of CVD diamond material into our manufacturing processes, the differences have become dramatic. For example, we have little (CVD) resistors that are 40 by 20 mils that can dissipate 20 watts, even in that small size. A BeO component of the same size might dissipate 5 or 6 Watts, an ALN maybe 3 Watts.  

On size and LOTS of power:

If you look at a 1000-watt resistor on BeO material, it is 1 square inch in size, pretty big!  We can reduce the size of that component down to roughly __0.2 square inch___ by using a CVD diamond substrate to create a component of the same power rating. Furthermore, due to its size, the larger high power resistor also acts like a big parallel plate capacitor.  The combined effects of the resistor and capacitor create a low pass filter which limits the high frequency performance of these high power components.

More generally, capacitance is always present in our world, and that's why there's always a tradeoff between power and frequency.

On size and frequency:

This benefit of reducing component size without sacrificing power dissipation brings us back around to the wavelength factor -- once the wavelength becomes smaller than the component, reflected power and VSWR increase with power (presuming frequency remains the same), parasitic capacitance increases with frequency (presuming power remains the same), and general performance diminishes quickly with increases in both power and frequency.
And that's how Res-Net has made the world of physics work for us, instead of against us. By minimizing the size required to dissipate the power called for, we're not only maximizing power -- we're also maximizing the high frequency range of the component and circuit.


That 40 by 20 mil CVD diamond resistor I mentioned previously operates well up to 35 GHz at 20 watts. We have miniature terminations spec'd at 26.5 GHz, 50 watts. 

Wrap-up: Small is good. Very very good.

In the digital world, the push to smaller and smaller components is driven mostly by space and weight limitations and the general push for miniaturization. In the rf and microwave world, there's a 4-way relationship between size, power, frequency/wavelength, and performance. We like to think we're pushing the limits on all fronts.

Figure 1.   

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hats off to a winner, and remembering heroes.

This past Saturday, June 6, 2015, horse racing fans around the world (plus many million curious onlookers) watched American Pharoah win the Belmont Stakes and become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Some were saying that it couldn't be done, that breeding for sprinters and distance horses had become so specialized that there may not be another Triple Crown, ever. But the jockey, Victor Espinoza, explained that he knew he could win early on, coming out of the first turn, just by the way the horse was running. It really appeared that the horse was reaching out farther than all other contenders in the field. Hats off.

It also marked the 71st anniversary of American and other Allied soldiers struggling to achieve a foothold at the beaches of Normandy. For the fortunate ones, D-Day would become a very long day. Hats off and thank you -- all of you -- on that June 6, in 1944.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Space. What now?

Remember the race to put a man into space and, then, to put a man on the moon? OK, we lost the first heat, but ran away in the final.

Those were the incredible days early days of NASA, when U.S. citizens looked on with chest-pounding pride at rocket liftoffs and eventually, a televised moonwalk. So much seemed to be happening as U.S. scientists pieced together progressive missions and experiments that made sense to the public, who shared in success celebrations and major lessons learned. Later, SkyLab, Space Shuttle, Space Station, Explorer, Mariner, Hubble........all inspirational.

Meanwhile, the public also learned about "spinoff" commercial products and technologies that developed with the help of NASA's needs for new solutions -- and dollars spent to meet these needs. Spinoffs helped justify to some extent the huge spending that was taking place.

Beginning in 1976, NASA created a publication entitled "Spinoff" to document such products and technologies, and to maintain a database. As of 2015, there are over 1,800 spinoff products in the database dating back to 1976. Spinoff examples include:

Infrared ear thermometers; heart pump for patients awaiting heart transplants; development of artificial muscle systems with robotic sensing and actuation capabilities; temper foam technology (memory foam); scratch-resistant eyeglass lenses; lightweight super effective space blankets often used in first aid kits; small aircraft anti-icing systems; highway safety surface grooving; much improved radial tires; moisture and chemical detection sensors; video enhancing and analysis systems and image stabilization; intumescent epoxy material, which expands in volume when exposed to heat or flames, acting as an insulating barrier and dissipating heat through burn-off; baby food, commonly enriched with microalgae food supplement; freeze drying; water purification systems; solar cells; microencapsulating technology enabling the creation of a "Petroleum Remediation Product" for oil spills on water; structural analysis software; powdered lubricants; "OpenStack" cloud computing technology, and about 1,770 more....

At its peak in 1965, NASA employed 411,000 in-house and contractor-dedicated people. In 1966, NASA spending made up 4.41% of the federal budget! In 2012 NASA employed 79,000 in-house and contractor-dedicated people and made up roughly 
0.5% of the federal budget.

Relatively speaking, the aeronautical frontiers back then were much closer to home and easier to understand than the vast gallactic and astronomical frontiers we're exploring now. The spinoffs were more tangible in many instances -- memory foam mattresses vs. cloud software. And, frankly, it's tough to attach a direct personal benefit to a discovery such as this:

"MACS0647-JD is a candidate, based on a photometric redshift estimate,[1][2] for the farthest known galaxy from Earth at a redshift of about z = 10.7,[3] equivalent to a light travel distance of 13.3 billion light-years (4 billion parsecs). If the distance estimate is correct, it formed 420 million years after the Big Bang.[4] It is less than 600 light-years wide."

But there's no disputing the decline in NASA spending, and a disconnect with the American public that wonders "What now? What next?"

Lastly, for those of us involved in design and manufacturing who have benefitted from the many discoveries from NASA efforts over the years, the question arises -- how much of those millions and billions was spending, and how much was actually investment in the nation's future?

Note: Many thanks to Wikipedia and it's contributors and editors for much of the above-noted information.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Would You Be Interested In Divesting -- If We Were Interested In Acquiring?

Electro Technik Industries (ETI) has expanded via company acquisitions six times in the past five years. Those who have worked with us, we believe, would explain that our acquisition processes have been fair, professional, and even understanding.

The expertise of our 12 subsidiary companies is in the design and manufacture of passive electronic components: microwave and RF, magnetics (transformers, inductors, toroids, etc.) capacitors, filters, and resistors. Custom products requiring design and production engineering proficiency, including products for commercial/industrial as well as mil/aero and space applications are our specialty, generally speaking.

We have discovered several companies whose wherewithal for growth has peaked but whose potential for growth has not -- given the right combination of enabling factors. Conversely, certain companies like this have discovered us. In either case, we're happy to explore possibilities.

Companies with annual sales of $750,000 to $3.5 million or product lines with annual sales of $250,000 to $750,000 tend to be our best candidates for acquisition -- again, primarily passive electronic components.

All matters are treated with highest discretion; correspondences are strictly confidential; non-disclosure agreements willingly provided. goes directly to ETI's company president only.

We're interested.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Where’s Herbie? Who’s Herbie!

Our friend Herbie is like Waldo, except we find him in peeking out of ETI’s organizational chart rather than camouflaged in a complex collage. Although Herbie started out as a fictional Boy Scout in The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox, Herbie plays hide and seek with us here at ETI almost full time.

In the Boy Scout example, Herbie is the slowest boy on the hike, the one who’s is slowing the whole group down. Put him last, and everyone needs to pause periodically to wait for him while he brings up the rear in his own sweet time. Left unattended, Herbie can get distracted and go even slower. Put Herbie in the middle and he splits the group; those behind are sore at him, those ahead think half the pack is slow, not just Herbie. Cajoling, discord, complaining, bickering.

Mr. Goldratt’s solution is to put Herbie in front, where everyone else is affected equally. And, although everyone started out carrying their own equal loads, taking a few things out of Herbie’s backpack and redistributing among the faster walkers clearly sets up an improved situation that can benefit everyone. Herbie, carrying less and happy to be the center of attention as the leader walks faster, as does everyone.

In the linear example, Herbie’s an impediment, causing not quite an obstruction. In ETI’s case, Herbie is the bottleneck, causing not quite a pileup -- maybe even just a little backup -- but slowing everything behind him in an assembly process, receiving/shipping, purchasing, winding, potting/curing, QC testing -- it doesn’t matter where. The end result is delay -- and cost.

We can’t always reorder where Herbie works in our processes. A big step is to find him, focus on his issues, and see if the load might be redistributed or improved somehow. Piling things in front of Herbie makes matters worse (more materials and inventory clogged in the system). Clearing the way afterwards leaves a vacuum of underutilization and wasted cost.

So we find Herbie, improve as much as we can, and balance the process with Herbie’s limitations in mind. 

But Herbie keeps moving around. Sometimes he jumps over to sales and marketing; sometimes finance/accounting; sometimes we literally need to track him down by the traces, clues, or trail he leaves.

And, most important, we need to prevent causing changes that cause several little Herbies pop up elsewhere -- and here’s where overview, averages, and statical data helps. But data in light of what? 

Mr. Goldratt makes that point quite clear -- the goal -- which is “making money.”  Is the slower but balanced system costing us more than spending capital to improve a problem? Is saving money here or there acceptable in light of the costs caused elsewhere? 

Finding Herbie and determining what to do about him makes many an ETI meeting heated and fun.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Muscling Up In Costa Rica

As Electro Technik Industries grows, so, too, does its need for production engineering and administrative support.

Our near-offshore plant in Costa Rica has been manufacturing resistors and magnetics products (transformers, toroids, inductors) over 30 years.

With ETI’s purchase of Inductive Technologies, Inc. (I-Tech) in 2010, we acquired a neighboring facility in Costa Rica with manufacturing space, equipment, and skilled workers. Its hundreds of catalogued products provide an excellent selection tool for our customers, who may need exactly what’s depicted (an I-Tech standard product), or something quite similar but with certain custom modifications (a Hytronics custom engineered product).

For the custom products, most of the design engineering and prototyping has taken place in Clearwater, Florida, where top-level engineering could interact with purchasing and other administrative functions to basically “package” selected projects suitable for manufacture in Costa Rica.

With more and more work being produced in Costa Rica, it became more imperative to have the expertise down there to support it.  Ten years ago a key Tepro manufacturing manager moved down to help ensure a good production process.  After that our head of purchasing came down there to help streamline that function.  Now, the head of magnetics engineering for Hytronics, Winatic, and I-Tech has made the move as well.

To say Costa Rica has some talented individuals is an understatement.  They had an exceptionally superior team before these 3 individuals moved down, now they are really bulking up.

The Costa Rican facility is already one of ETI’s largest with 25,000 square feet and an ISO 9001 registration to boot.  Now, with all this talent located on site, we’re sure that problem-solving will simplify, operations will improve, economies will be discovered that we can act upon, and average turnaround times will be cut by 20% (that’s their marching orders).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Res-Net and Nova Microwave at IMS2015 in Phoenix, Booth 3341.

Be sure to visit ETI companies Res-Net Microwave and Nova Microwave at Booth 3341 at the International Microwave Symposium, May 17-22 , Phoenix, Arizona. Come and learn about our latest high power resistive and ferrite products. 

See you there!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Minimum Wage and Manufacturing

The owner of a Chicago based manufacturer recently said, "Before, I couldn't compete with Mexico and China. Soon I won't be able to compete with Ohio."  Then he sold his +50-year-old company.  Those manufacturing jobs moved out of the area with the new owner.

While (as of May, 2015) efforts to increase the minimum wage in Chicago have not been successful, the threat and worry of a minimum-wage increase was enough to send this particular proprietor into retirement and perhaps many others especially in the regions instituting their own minimum wages.

The theory sounds noble, at first.  Charge the employers more for their labor and they can pass those costs onto the consumer.  That might work in the retail and services industries where a given customer would not drive to another state to purchase a hamburger, but how about in a business to business environment where a purchasing manager has a choice between a potentiometer built in Chicago versus one made in Tennessee, or offshore. 

It also does not take into account that the consumer, in the services example, who has to pay more for his burger, might be a minimum-wage earner himself.  Now his costs have just increased negating some of the benefits he received in those mandated increased wages.

So what about the minimum wage in Chicago?  Should manufacturing be exempted from the city's minimum wage increase, so that manufacturers could not just compete regionally, but nationally and internationally as well?  Should the minimum wage be a province exclusive to the federal government?  Or is the minimum wage just a relic of our past that does not benefit those at the lower wage levels as many economists are now purporting?

There is definitely not an easy solution for this heated debate and we are, admittedly, a little biased.  However, for us it is Economics 101, the manufacturing industry creates wealth and the service industry transfers it.

Comments welcome.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Is This The Party To Whom I Am Speaking?

Alright. A old favorite quote from the phone operator (Lily Tomlin) on the 60's TV show “Laugh-In” may be a bit odd here. But even her brash remarks and jokes might be more preferable to a caller than a one-way (no doubling back) 5- or 6-step decision tree menu -- with an electronic voice posing multiple-choice questions.

So many businesses have them. Electro Technik Industries 
had one.

Of course, when you become totally familiar with such a system, using it is a breeze -- you’ve learned the prompts and know most of the direct lines or extensions anyway. What’s the problem? But first-time callers had no such familiarity. And first-time callers are often potential new customers. Overseas or international callers with English-language limitations were even more likely to make an unintended choice. Oops. Hang up. Call back. Really?

When multiple calls came in, one would sometimes roll over to a different ETI company’s open line. “Thank you for calling Hytronics.” “I was trying to contact Winatic.” “It’s OK. You’ve reached Winatic. Your call just came in on a different line.”

No more! The new ETI phone system is one of the most up-to-date available. Unlimited rollovers eliminate the (example) Hytronics/Winatic confusion. There’s still a menu, but you can double back if you need to. Automatic forwards to cell phones enable callers to reach their parties even if they’re away from the office.

Web-generated RFQs are very important. E-mail inquiries equally so. But our potential customers always want to speak to an ETI 
person, to get into the nitty gritty of their custom-component needs.

We listened to our rep and customer comments and we heard you. Moving forward -- a totally pleasant and rewarding experience when calling an ETI company.

Monday, April 20, 2015

ETI's Microwave Group Headed for Phoenix and MTT-S 2015

Coming soon: IEEE MTT-S 2015, Phoenix, AZ, May 17-22. Major focus of the huge event will be ETI's Microwave Group Booth #3341 -- of course!  The Microwave Group consists of Res-net Microwave, Nova Microwave, and Star Microwave.  

It's hard to believe that almost a year has passed since Microwave Week last June! Held in Tampa, FL, it was the first opportunity for many in our newly formed Microwave Group to get together, compare notes and products, and meet face-to-face with our inside sales people and support staff. 

On the final evening of MTT-S 2014, domestic and international sales representatives from Res-net, Star, and Nova Microwave (the latter two companies acquired by ETI within the previous twelve months) gathered with ETI staff at the Tampa Bay Museum of Art for dinner and a powerful presentation by Alen Fezuli covering the strengths of each company, exciting new products, and cross-selling opportunities that now exist as a result of this company grouping.

Acquaintances became friends; "contacts" became associates.

A reunion will take place in May. ETI folks and many many more will make the pilgrimage to Phoenix for IEEE MTT-S 2015. The show organization describes the event (in part) as “the premier conference covering basic technologies, from passive and active components to systems over a wide range of frequencies including VHF, UHF, RF, microwave, millimeter-wave, terahertz, and optical....”

The ETI Microwave Group will be there in force, once again.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weed Out Counterfeits From Your Supply Chain.

We've heard so much about counterfeit components -- rejects, refurbs, and fake components sold as bona-fide first-quality parts --  it's almost as if the matter has become old news. It's difficult to believe that certain companies would go to such effort to do wrong, and continue to do wrong, as if there's no risk to getting caught.

Sprinkling, blacktopping, remarking. And what if a counterfeiters does get caught?  Names change to protect the guilty, and there's always a new customer looking for a bargain or an extra-fast delivery -- the gray market.

Years ago, it was intellectual property everyone was concerned about -- ramp up production (and reduce costs) by outsourcing offshore, enjoy the benefits for a brief time, and then marvel at the sudden appearance of look-alikes and copies -- IP down the river. These days, IP theft barely causes a stir compared to the huge problem of counterfeiting.

Perhaps you remember -- back  in 2011/2012 we learned about the U.S. Senate's finding that counterfeit electronic parts were installed or delivered to the U.S. military for several weapons systems, including the Army's Theatre High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, the Air Force's C-17 airplane and the Marine Corps' CH-46 helicopter.

Or, a bit further back, the FBI effort called "Operation Cisco Raider," which exposed the purchase of fake Cisco routers, switches, and cards by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps., the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and even the
FBI itself.

But counterfeiting has come long way since then. It's even bigger business now and growing, as indicated by the hi-tech lengths counterfeiters go to change and disguise their wares to sneak under X-ray inspection and other testing techniques.
And that's the true cost of counterfeiting -- the millions of dollars spent on policing and detection.

All of the companies in the ETI family are responsible manufacturers. We investigate the sources of our materials and QC the goods we receive from them. We manufacture in best faith -- to customer expectations -- without cutting corners or playing games. We're honest. IP is safe with us. We manufacture in the U.S. and also in Costa Rico to save costs near-offshore where we can. None of our scrap ends up in China to be recapped, blacktopped, remarked or resold.

We manage our supply chain very tightly, and make it easier for our customers to reliably manage theirs.