• on Education & Information
  • Published in issue 7/2003 on page 0
About the article

Building RF circuits

Try the Manhattan method

Building RF circuits
It’s not essential to use a printed circuit board when building RF circuitry. There is an alternative method, in which a piece of unetched circuit board material is used as a foundation for constructing the circuit. In certain situations, this method is even preferable to using a regular PCB, particularly when high frequencies are involved.With what radio amateurs like to call the ‘Dead Bug’ construction method (which is also called ‘Ugly Construction’), the components making up the circuit are simply soldered to each other ‘suspended’ in the air, with the copper surface of a printed circuit board serving as a ground plane. Solder islands can be created at strategic locations by milling away the surrounding copper foil, or by cutting small pieces of PCB material and attaching them to the ground plane with crazy glue or double-sided adhesive tape. This avoids the need to design a printed circuit board, which means that you can work faster and still achieve amazingly good results. This type of construction is particularly handy for prototypes, since it’s easy to make changes to the circuit and components when the Dead-Bug method is used.
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