May 16th, 2019 marked the kick off for the NXP RF power amplifier contest,
which encouraged ambitious RF enthusiasts to record a video or create an
article of their own power amplifier/ demo using NXP’s new 50 V, 100 W
or 300 W
RF power LDMOS transistor.
With many participants the game around the Homebrew RF Design Challenge 2019
was strong! Numerous creative submissions proved the enthusiasm from the
community that has made this contest a big success. We at NXP are proud to see
the dedication with which every project has been pursued.
We have spoken to the first and second winner of the Homebrew RF Design
Challenge to find out just how exactly they came to participate and what their
motivation was to do so. Stay tuned!
Introducing Jim Veatch, first place winner of the challenge who created a
MRF101AN broadband HF amplifier design and Razvan Fatu, second place winner
who used an MRF300AN RF transistor to build a linear amplifier. Among many
other impressive applications, they have made the first and second place in
the 2019 Homebrew RF Design Challenge. Check out Jim’s and
Razvan’s projects here.
First Of All, We Were Interested In What Their Background Is And Why They Are
Interested In Radio Frequency Technology
Jim: “I am actually the 4th generation of an engineering family, which
is why I was always involved with radio frequency technology since I was 12
years old. Later on I have also worked for a company that did air ground
Razvan: “Electronics has been a hobby for me since I was very young. I
have a background in power engineering however I currently work in the
marketing department of a company and not as an engineer. This balance brings
a lot of joy for me. My interest in radio frequency started a long time ago
and I enjoy bringing modern contribution to amateur radio. I find it very
rewarding to share my results and work on something completely different than
during my working day.”
How Did You Find Out About The NXP Homebrew RF Design Challenge?
Jim: “Last May I went to the HAM radio convention and I came across an
NXP promotor, who told me and got me really excited about the NXP Homebrew RF
Design Challenge. Before I had already participated in other challenges, and
even won some of them with different projects. So of course I had to
Razvan: “I found out pretty late once I saw Jim’s video posted.
It was basically a coincidence and already a month before the competition
ended. So I had a lot of pressure to get everything working the way I wanted
it to. It was a busy month – usually I allow more time for those kinds
of projects. It was actually my first competition in this area and I had a lot
of fun participating.”
Did You Come Up With Your Ideas Specifically For The Challenge Or Have They
Been Around For A Longer Time? What Was The Process Of Developing Your Idea?
Jim: ”Well the idea had been around for longer, my first thought was
that I’d use a HAM radio, however it is difficult to get the high power
amplifier working. New devices make it easier. For this design, I could find
all parts from a vendor, but since it is very different from my previous
designs, it took me a bit longer to do it all together. First I built a
prototype and after I got it to work I had a board made, which took me about a
week or two.”
Razvan: “I wanted to design something like this for about a year and
played with it in previous project ideas. However when I found out about the
contest it became very clear to me that I wanted to pursue and perfect my idea
What Was The Hardest Part?
Jim: “Quite interestingly it was creating the video, because it is
actually very hard to portray an RF design in an interesting way. I wanted to
present the technology while keeping it short, easy and entertaining in a way.
Usually videos about amplifiers that you can find on the Internet are longer
and boring, if you are not specifically interested in those kinds of
Razvan: “So my circuit is meant to take a small RF signal and amplify
it to a high level. I really like that it uses more affordable NXP parts that
work over a broad range. This is probably a very unique part about it. I tried
to get it to as close to a finalized product as possible, which is not that
simple to do. However, what I am happy about is that I am now able to share
all parts and choices that I have used and documented with the amateur RF
community and someone might be able to benefit from this.”
How Long Did The Project Take All Together?
Jim: “It took me about a month to do it all. That was because I
designed after my actual work day. But honestly, I was so passionate about
this, that I did not mind. I would say that engineers who have interesting
ideas would work even if you didn’t pay them. They love it.”
Razvan: “I also worked on it for a month in total, besides my normal
work day. My girlfriend was not too happy about it (laughs).”
Any Ideas On What To Do With Your Competition Prize – Certificates For
NXP RF Samples?
Jim: “I want to play around with more ideas for which I will get the
MRF300 and a few others. These are more complicated amplifiers. What I love
about the NXP ones is that they are of a high quality, however inexpensive
compared to competing devices on the market.”
Razvan: “I definitely want to get more interesting parts to experiment
with and create more designs in different frequency ranges. With one of the
highest power rated transistors I will be able to test more which I am pretty
excited about. The parts are usually pretty expensive and I would have not
bought them otherwise.”
Any Final Remarks About The Contest Or Your Experiences?
Jim: “I am really happy to have participated in the challenge. Of
course, if a new challenge comes up and I have something to contribute, I will
work on a new design. I am really impressed with how creative everyone has
been in this contest.”
Razvan: “I think every project had something valuable in it for me to
learn and use in similar projects. NXP did a very valuable thing for the
amateur RF community as now we have many ideas and designs to work with. Not
only us winners were successful, but everyone. This competition has enabled me
to spend more time on my hobby and helped out on a personal level to learn and
develop other circuits. Since the challenge was so well received in the
community, I will definitely stay active, learn from others and help out where
I can. Grateful for NXP’s support in this.”