High-power microwave signals can wreak havoc in the wrong hands. While many microwave applications operate at relatively low power levels, often in the milliwatt range, some systems, such as radar and communications transmitters, must channel robust amounts of high-frequency energy. And knowing how to design components to handle hundreds or even thousands of watts of RF/microwave power requires skill and imagination above and beyond the models in a computer-aided-engineering (CAE) simulator.
During a recent visit to Micronetics, a company with no small knowledge of building components and assemblies that can channel high-power signals, Mechanical Designer Mike Hebert was good enough to share a look at a high-power test rig, complete with heavily amplified test source. The foresight needed to operate with high-power levels, to understand potential hotspots, and even to anticipate the limitations of coaxial connectors and waveguide flanges, was obvious in his setup and test planning. The high-power arena is not for everyone, but it is an intriguing part of RF/microwave design that will receive more attention within the pages of Microwaves & RF (as well as in three supplements dedicated to military electronics technology) in the coming year.