The Accidental Engineer

sometimes informative, sometimes funny, always interesting

Thoughts on the Virtual IMS (vIMS)

As most of you know by now, IMS2020 that was to be held in Los Angeles last month was cancelled as an in-person event and rescheduled as a virtual event for August 4-6.  Exhibitors who were involved with the in-person exhibition were offered the opportunity to participate in the vIMS.  As of this writing, it looks like approximately 200 companies took IEEE up on this offer, and Reactel is one of them.


I have been in RF & Microwave for about 35 years and while a vIMS is certainly something never tried before, I do not recall any Exhibition of this magnitude in our industry as a virtual-only event.  To pull it off seemingly on the fly, with an extremely short time-line will be nothing short of miraculous.  No matter how it turns out, General Chair Tim Lee, the folks at MP Associates and GTR deserve many thanks for making this possible.


Despite the monumental planning and forethought given, nothing can be a “drop-in” replacement for an in-person IMS.  It is just an impossible task.  I have high hopes for a successful show – but I am a little skeptical because that is my nature.  Having gone partially through the process of setting up our virtual booth, I am left feeling a bit underwhelmed.  I envisioned a more “virtual” experience with perhaps a floor plan and the ability to mouse over different booths for a preview of what might be inside and clicking to enter if it interested me.  What it looks like is more of an alphabetical directory of companies with keywords.  The list is searchable, which is nice, but again, I am underwhelmed.


I have been told many times that “you get out what you put in” and that is 100% true.  However, we do not have glitzy multimedia videos to upload in order to jazz up our virtual booth.  The hours of the exhibition look to be a challenge as well.  Reactel and many smaller companies may struggle to “staff” the booth for 36 hours across 3 days so that we can be there when an interested attendee clicks through.  At the moment, we seem better suited for an in-person show but are excited to see what the vIMS has in store for us in a couple of weeks.


I’ll have another post after the event to compare the reality with the expectations.

Connectors & Power

A recent customer asked about connector options for a filter we were building.  Reactel can use most any connector a customer needs on the filters and multiplexers we build.  Generally speaking, however, the choices become a little more limited when operating at high power levels.  This brief discussion will assume a quality built connector from a reputable manufacturer.  Using extremely low cost connectors of questionable quality will lead to inconsistent results.

A general rule of thumb would be as follows:

  • Up to 100 W: K, SMA, TNC, Type N, HN, 7-16 DIN
  • Up to 500 W: TNC, Type N, HN, 7-16 DIN
  • Up to 1 kW: Type N, HN, 7-16 DIN
  • In excess of 1 kW: HN, 7-16 DIN

A simple explanation of what would cause a connector failure at power involves the inability to handle elevated current levels and dissipation of the heat generated by that current.  There are other factors including frequency, altitude, heat-sinking and materials used that are a little too involved for this post.  Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

Why are there so many filter companies in Maryland?

This is a question I hear often on my travels.  What is it about Maryland that attracts the greatest concentration of filter knowledge?  Blue Crabs, the fabulous Eastern Shore, Fishers popcorn, Dolle’s Salt Water Taffy?  A 2011 article in Microwave Journal investigated this subject, and the answer is not as complex as you might think.  Give it a read; Made in Maryland: Filter Lore from Gaithersburg to the Eastern Shore.  Reactel is proud to be a part of Maryland’s filter legacy for the past 41 years.  Please contact us with your questions or requirements.