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During a recent weekend, I found myself with some parts laying around which I hadn't used in quite a while. First in the bin was an old Orange Pi One1 (an underpowered SBC similar to the Raspberry Pi) which I was going to use to run a video conferencing screen but which proved to be unable to run the graphical Linux installation well enough to be usable. My RTL-SDR2 stick also happened to be out (I can't actually remember why I grabbed it a few weeks ago for the first time in years). As I cleaned everything up and got ready to put it away, I realized that I was probably never going to use this stuff again, so instead of trashing it I decided to put it to good use!

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The Question A recent homework problem had us derive the parallel plate capacitor1 equation for electrostatics. This gives the capacitance of a parallel plate structure in terms of the plate area, distance between the plates and relative permittivity. The equation for this situation is:
$ C = \epsilon_{R}\epsilon_{0}\frac{A}{d} $
After solving this problem for the analytical solution, I was curious to see how closely the result matched a 3D field solver. Using the Capacitance Extraction mode in Cadence 3D Workbench, I designed a parametric model of the parallel plate capacitor with variable edge length, distance and dielectric constant (See image above for the model).

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Has anyone else ever thought about why so many engineers are also active amateur radio operators? My theory is that there's just so much passion for the science and practical use of these complex electronic systems! We enjoy the problems, challenges and solutions so much that we want to find other ways outside of work to find those same experiences. In this case, I've got a story that starts with some amateur radio equipment but comes full-circle to address an extremely common design issue.
The Attempted QSO This all begins with a new radio. I recently installed the FTM-3200DR1, a 2m-band, 65W transceiver with Yaesu's digital C4FM modulation.

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