idiots guide to learning RF?
September 8, 2007 9:06 PM   Subscribe

SignalFilter: Help a struggling network engineer understand the basics of RF transmission.

I've been working with networking for several years now. I have my Network+ and CCNA certifications. I am now trying to conquer the world of wireless, and going for my CWNA cert.

I've made it to chapter 2 in the course guide and I'm already finding myself lost in the woods so to speak. I don't know anything about RF and oscillation and measuring phase and decibels and frequency variance, and it's making it very difficult to follow along with what they are trying to explain, because they figure I should know what the hell they're talking about. And I don't.

So, hivemind - I come to you. Refer me to any good books or websites or anything that you know of that will be able to teach me the basics of RF technology and all the math and calculation that appears to go with it.

I know computers and networking fairly well, but the content of this subject is a lot different than I was expecting, and any help would be tremendously appreciated.
posted by Industrial PhD to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pick up an ARRL guide, the ones they publish for amateurs to get a ham license. They are technically complete on the subject yet written for self study. You can probably find one in your local library.
posted by caddis at 9:19 PM on September 8, 2007

Feynman's "Lectures on Physics" covers the underlying science of RF along with just about everything else known to physics in 1960. Volume II is the one that covers it, as I recall.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:50 PM on September 8, 2007

Most of what you've mentioned is pretty closely related to basic physics - I certainly picked it up from reading hobbyist mags as a kid, covered it in high school physics, again in my trade apprenticeship, and yet again in Physics 101 at uni.

But yeah, 2nding the ARRL Handbook as caddis says. Though, looking over my 15 year old copy, it really skims over basic electrical theory before getting deeper into more radio-related concepts like reactance & impedance.

The real beauty of that book is you can buy a 20 year old copy for peanuts and it'll still be 98% relevant - though if you buy a 50 year old copy, some of the terminology will have changed!
posted by Pinback at 9:59 PM on September 8, 2007

Thirding - definitely pick up The Arrl Handbook for Radio Communications. Most recent versions also have the entire book as PDF on a CD-ROM as well.
posted by mrbill at 10:52 PM on September 8, 2007

David Pozar's Microwave Engineering is a good text, but I'm not sure if its the "idiot's guide" you're looking for.

I don't think you'll get much mileage out of the basic physics/Feynmann route. As much as I love Feynmann, he's not going to help you decipher a smith chart.

I'm an RF antenna engineer, and would be happy to answer a few questions or talk you through places your struggling with. my email is in my profile
posted by jpdoane at 10:20 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

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