Fundamentals of RF Hack Chat

How do bits get turned into radio waves and back to bits?
We'll be discussing RF modulation, theory, and other basics in this chat!

Friday, November 3, 2017 12:00 pm PDT - Friday, November 3, 2017 12:30 pm PDT Local time zone:
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Join this Hack Chat by clicking on the JOIN HACK CHAT button. 


Nick Kartsioukas will be hosting the Hack Chat this week.

This Hack Chat is at noon PDT, Friday, November 3rd. 

Time Zones got you down? Here's a handy count down timer! 

Designing for communication over radio frequencies (RF) is often called a black magic art. Wireless communication is generally referred to as RF communications. RF is the range from ~3kHz to a few hundred GHz. In this chat, we'll be talking about concepts related to RF like frequency, bandwidth, modulation, deviation, I/Q, and more.

Nick has been a licensed amateur radio operator since 1999, and currently holds an extra-class license.  He has a background in Linux system administration, network engineering (including wireless networking), and information security.  At home he plays around with RC aircraft, radio and antenna projects, SDR, embedded Linux systems, anmicrocontrollers.

Ever wonder how bits get turned into radio waves (and back again?) Or if you've ever wondered how many bits can be stuffed into a radio wave (and how to figure that out), join to learn some of the basics of RF, digital modulation, and information theory.


Nick will be discussing RF basics.

  • What is RF?
  • RF frequencies
  • How bandwidth is incorporated into designs
  • Frequency modulation and what that means
  • Plus some other RF concepts like deviation and I/Q

Please add your questions to the discussion sheet!

  • Fundamentals of RF HackChat Transcript

    Shayna11/03/2017 at 19:05 1 comment

    Sophi Kravitz : HI everyone, we're going to get started

    Sophi Kravitz : @Nick, welcome to the chat!

    Nick : Hello everyone!

    Sophi Kravitz : Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kinds of things you like to work on?

    Sophi Kravitz : @Nick will be discussing the Fundamentals of RF.

    Sophi Kravitz : If you're new to the chat, welcome!

    Sophi Kravitz : We add questions and discussion topics to this sheet:

    Nick : Sure! I'm Nick, information security engineer by day, with a background in network engineering and Linux systems administration. I've also been an amateur radio operator since 1999 (recently upgraded to an extra-class license) and have been playing with electronics as a kid. I like to sit back and watch the waves resonate in my antennas. At home I fiddle with radios, SDR, electronics, RC aircraft, and whatever other projects I can find to start but not finish ;)

    Sophi Kravitz : Does anyone have a really basic question?

    Sophi Kravitz : (because nothing on that sheet looks basic)

    Chris : What is RF?

    davedarko : my book question is basic

    Robert Marosi : Do you use Smith charts in your work, at all?

    Michael Harpe : Can you describe how the signal flow in a DSP receiver is implemented? I understand that there's an A/D converter and then we do an FFT but how do I actually do anything useful with that raw data

    Nick : RF is Radio Frequency. It's an electromagnetic wave you get when you wiggle electrons back and forth. That wave will propagate, and stimulate electrons in resonant conductors. The rate at which you wiggle the electrons is the frequency.

    Nick : @davedarko I started out with ham radio, there are study guides for the technician-class license. I highly recommend starting out with that, it gives you a good opportunity to learn more about RF and electronics basics. Beyond that, check out Crystal Set to Sideband, a course that takes you through constructing the most basic radio receiver to a single-sideband transceiver:

    Nick : basic project for kids, check out Crystal Set to Sideband as well, the earlier projects there will be a good place to start. Building a crystal receiver is easy, and kinda neat to pull radio signals out of the air and hear them (especially cool as it doesn't need any sort of power supply!)

    Nick : I'm going to pop some notes in the question spreadsheet so I remember what I answered :)

    davedarko : cool :)

    snp.ididnotsignupforthis : Are there any brands of Crystal Receiver sets you recommend? I'm homeschooling an freshman who is very into electronics and tech. : Thanks @Nick

    Soul_Est : @snp.ididnotsignupforthis Please post your question in the document here:

    Nick : @snp.ididnotsignupforthis No specific sets/kits that I know of. There are a few on Amazon though they don't seem...

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