RF design can either be understood from first principles through Maxwell's equations (wave theory) or from circuit analysis through the basic passive and active electronic components. This book takes the latter approach because it is much easier and far more practical for building actual circuits. Also the mathematics can be held to a minimum with this approach. One of the main reasons the first edition of this book was so popular was the emphasis on reading and understanding Smith charts. This provides a very quick visual entry into RF design without the heavy emphasis on differential equations and boundary conditions.
The book under review is the second edition, which updates the (now more than 25 years old) first edition with two new chapters on RF Front-End Design (chapter 8) and RF Design Tools (chapter 9). Chapter 8 covers modern radio front-end design including sections on intermodulation, receiver architecture and software defined radios. Chapter 9 gives an overview of design tools before going into a detailed case study of IEEE 802.11a in CMOS using Analog Office software.
It is instructive to see both how many things have changed and yet how the basic principles have remained the same. Even though the individual NPN transistors mentioned in the original chapters are long gone (replaced by highly integrated op-amps and LNAs), the passive components are still used in designs every day. And the transistor design issues (S parameters, transistor biasing) still apply today in the multi-GHz range just as they did in the MHz range a quarter of a century ago. Today's integrated designs might include an on-chip inductor created with rectangular traces wrapped into a "coil" instead of an actual physical coil and on-chip capacitors and resistors, but the principles remain the same. In fact, the performance of passive on-chip capacitors and inductors is normally orders of magnitude worse than is required for high performance designs. Thus the physical components are still widely used today.
There are a number of RF circuit design topics missing from this book, including oscillators, distributed elements, microstrip and slot line designs for GHz ranges and advanced integrated circuit topics for CMOS and GaAs radio design, but these would not fit into an introductory text such as this one. Another item the book doesn't emphasize is the wide variety of online tools available now for RF designers. The website [...] has consolidated a number of links to free tools covering many aspects of RF design mentioned in this book, including a Pi Network calculator, S parameter utility and Smith chart Java tool.
In conclusion, this book is ideal for either the RF design hobbyist or professional digital designer who needs to design front end circuits without going back to school. The book has a companion website with high resolution versions of many of the Smith charts in the book, [...]
No need for the 2nd ed if you have the original2012/4/17
I had the Bowick's RF Circuit Design for 15 years. It has been useful through the years. Now do I need to get this new edition? Interestingly, Chris Bowick himself does not seem involved in the update of the 2nd edition. I compared the two editions and concluded that the new edition does not add anything substantial and there is no need to get this if you already have the 1st edition. Personally, I object to this type of superficial update of the classics. My rating only reflects the updates in the 2nd edition not the overall content of the book.
Solid Foundational RF Expertise from a proven RF engineer2007/12/26
We have used Chris's book for training and refreshing engineers for years. We have literally worn the cover off and I can't begin to tell you how many pages have been dog eared for future reference. The previous comments regarding "outdated" are, in my opinion, misguided since the focus of this book is more on the fundamentals and foundation of RF circuit design which HAS NOT changed since the first edition of the book was written. The information in this book is diverse and condensed very well. We haven't purchased the 2nd edition yet, but likely will in the new year to replace our reference copy.
If Chris's book sounds too technical, you may want to start with Jon Hagen's "Radio Frequency Electronics" or if you are more into the magnetics side of it try Jerry Sevick's "Transmission Line Transformers". Lastly, if you need some general testing guidance, Joseph Carr's book "Practical Radio Frequency Test & Measurement" will likely be of some benefit.
Having worked with the industry leaders in this field, I can honestly say that Chris and his colleagues are among the best in the industry and Chris's experience shows in the content of this very fine work.
I thought that this was a very useful book. The chapter on antennas and RF front ends seemed to be of a different style than the rest of the book. This book included more information about electronic design than any other book that I have ever read. This book included information about the design of integrated circuits and I have never found a book that talks about IC design. Most books talk about using ICs in circuits but nothing about how to design an IC for manufacture. Unfortunately, there are a number of words that are not used correctly in the book. It appears that they had a good spell checker but apparently did not have a good proof reader to review for grammar and meaning. There is at least one diagram that is in the wrong chapter and mislabelled. Overall I was pleased with the information provided.
Concise and understandable2011/9/2
If you need to understand the Smith Chart this book explains it very well. It is the reason I purchased it.