From the 15 papers presented over the two days of the November ARMMS Conference, held in Corby, UK, one that focused on an innovative frequency synthesizer design caught the imagination of the delegates to win the popular vote and take the Best Paper Prize.

The paper’s author, Alexander Chenakin of Phase Matrix Inc., explained how rather than dividing the output of the VCO, frequency multiplication is applied, resulting in very low output phase noise of –122 dBc/Hz at 10 GHz measured at +/-10 kHz offset. This figure is comparable with a YIG oscillator while maintaining fast tuning speeds.

Another paper of note was presented by Damien Camut of Europa Electronics who demonstrated a 10 MHz crystal oscillator having frequency accuracy approaching 10-9. This was achieved by microprocessor applied compensation, utilizing an innovative method of establishing the crystal temperature. The frequency of a secondary oscillation at the third overtone response of the crystal was shown to be a reliable method of establishing the compensation required. The technique eliminates an oven and so gives rapid start up.

Other areas explored included CAD software tools, where the phrase “Throw-The-Die-Over-The-Wall” was introduced to delegates. Advances in device nonlinear modeling were addressed by Malcolm Edwards of AWR who described the Cardiff model, S-functions and X-parameters. Millimetric wave systems up to 400 GHz were discussed by several presenters. Byron Alderman of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory reported sub-harmonic mixers and multipliers at 300 GHz, and explained how to solder the diodes with solder 5 μm in diameter. A focal plane imaging antenna array at 220 GHz was discussed by Greg Ball of QinetiQ, who explained that the technology has the potential to produce images without mechanical scanning.

Alongside the conference a table-top exhibition provided a practical perspective to complement the academic. It featured equipment from a wide range of radio frequency and microwave companies and included live demonstrations.

As well as a vehicle for finding out about the latest technology and techniques the ARMMS Conference is also a social event, with a dinner on the first night offering delegates, presenters and exhibitors the opportunity to network, meet old friends and make new ones. Wide ranging discussions continued until late in the evening and were not strictly limited to technical topics.

Guy Purchon of Anritsu, Treasurer of ARMMS, closed the conference by thanking the speakers and reminded the delegates that the next meeting is in Oxford, UK, on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 of April 2010. The programme co-ordinator will be Steve Nightingale, Chief Consultant in Electronic Systems at ERA Technology. Those interested should visit to offer a paper and book a place.