In the LinkedIn RF & Microwave Community, one member announced that he was looking for an RF PCB Test Fixture (like Anritsu 3680-20) that enables substrates thicknesses up to 5 mm. In the second week of July, responses to this inquiry made him one of the group’s leading influencers.
On July 11, another group member announced that he was looking for high power SSPA vendors – “can anyone help me?” He too got plenty of responses and appeared as a top community influencer the following week as well.
This engineer was trying to find alternative or equivalent parts for one company's mixers, switches, amplifies etc. After one day, he had 3 comments…. from several of that company's competitors no less.
A quick scan of inquiries shows members looking for a source of 112 GHz coaxial cable without connectors required for direct entry into waveguide adaptors as well as European and Worldwide manufacturers of RF cavities in Oxygen Free High Conductivity Copper. (Two separate posts.)
While these examples seem above board, it is easy to envision an overly zealous marketer posting an inquiry for a component that is no more than a thinly veiled attempt to 1. Introduce a specific solution either in the inquiry itself or through an alter-ego commentator, 2. Test market interest or 3. Generate leads. As an example, would the following make you suspicious?
RF_Engineering_Dude writes - I need a SP6T switch with a VSWR of less than 1.4:1, isolation up to 75 dB, insertion loss of less than 0.45 dB, operating from +28 VDC at 180 mA, and uses SMA female connectors manufactured by a reliable US-based company with over 60 years of experience serving the military market with leading technology and high performance.
Helpful_Engineering__Guy responds – Hey RF_Dude, I always use components from RF_ACME company on my defense related projects. They are great, always deliver on time and the performance is the best. Contact them at sales@RFACME.com or visit their web site at www.RFACME.com.
Anyone smell something fishy? It would be unfortunate to lose the trust of group members due to such abuses. Having said that, I am really impressed by how group members are going directly to the industry to get information and how well the general community is responding with useful information. When an engineer is in distress, the group really comes out to help. It’s a great thing, even if it might be self serving.
As Linked-in replaces the community message board (remember the one in your college dorm laundry room), it proves to be a great medium for sharing information and reaching out for advice. I occasionally will forward a request for information about a component to someone who is in that line of work and who can provide help/benefit from making contact with the author of the inquiry. As a public forum, I also try to alert companies when they need to defend their reputation or set the record straight. Social media is great for making these direct connections between parties that might not know each other. It is also a much more public and uncontrolled marketing arena, so companies need to be on the look out for damaging and inaccurate messages. If the message is damaging and accurate, well that’s a different matter.
The LinkedIn platform itself is very good at keeping new discussions and the most active ones to the forefront and so fortunately we have not had to do too much policing on our side. Respect the medium and it will continue to serve us well.