I didn’t grow up in the handiest of households. I think my dad had a 16 ounce hammer and a flat blade screwdriver – that’s about it. With these tools I could do a lot. In fact I could do most anything an 8 year old would want to do. But as I got older, I realized that sometimes those tools didn’t quite fit the application and I needed to force them to accomplish the job. A couple of years ago, I needed to replace my kitchen sink and realized I couldn’t get access to the bolts holding it to the counter top.  After trying to squeeze my arm and a pair of pliers between the cabinet base and the sink wall, I eventually gave up. It never occurred to me that I needed a basin wrench; but I did. I went out and bought one and in 2 minutes the job was done. 


In school I had a friend who professed her dad was a genius. She claimed he could design a radio “MacGyver” style with a light bulb, some wire and a speaker. I don’t know if he actually could, but I do know that if he did, it wasn’t the most eloquent design or the most efficient. Electronic design is no different than carpentry when it comes to strategy (or debug for that matter). The right components and tools can make all of the difference between a good design and a great design. A good design is one that gets the job done while a great design is one that meets or exceeds performance with simplicity and efficiency.


While there are many options when it comes to radio design, products like the AD9361 and AD9371 offer a great combination of flexibility, performance and efficiency. In my recent article “Where Zero IF Wins: 50% smaller PCB Footprint at 1/3 the Cost”, I share some of the benefits these integrated transceivers offer and how new wireless designs can benefit from these devices. The AD9361 and AD9371 meet the significant challenge of delivering high performance with optimized power and space requirements. Just like using a screwdriver as a chisel will get the job done, other options are available to design a radio but likely involve a compromise in either performance or efficiency. The elegance and efficiency of the AD9361 and AD9371 offer a unique value proposition when both performance and effectiveness are important to your application. 

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