Feb. 28, 2012

Had you begun to wonder if I would ever pen another newsletter? Truly, I have been remiss in keeping this newsletter, and my website in general, up-to-date with my activities, but YES, emphatically, I do intend to write again.

Unfortunately, the circumstances of life sometimes complicate matters much more than one might suppose. Those of you who have lost a parent to dementia will know, particularly, what I am talking about. My father died on January 9th.

Your presence here is particularly appreciated because, merely by being here, reading this letter, you remind me that the almost daily flow of births, deaths, teenagers sprinting off to college, and other factors, things that affect literally everyone on this planet constantly, need not dissuade me from engaging in some satisfying intellectual pursuit, a diversion that I could sorely use after more than a year of dealing with all that "other stuff."

Despite the difficulties this year has brought, I have not been entirely idle, so it's time for my web site to catch up. Below are links to articles, interviews, white papers and webinars that I've done recently. Before I get to that, I should tell you that June will be "International Month" for me, as I take my seminars to Canada and England. I'll be in Ottawa and Toronto June 4-12, teaching all three classes.

June is also the month for my annual visit to Oxford University in the U.K., leading the program of High-Speed Engineering short-courses. This year marks my 19th consecutive year of teaching High-Speed Digital Design courses, which continue to be the most popular summer engineering short-courses ever offered by the University. At that site I've taught well over 2,000 engineers since 1994. Bruce Archambeault, Doug Smith, Lee Hill, and Istvan Novak continue to make important contributions to that program. Nowhere else can you find so many well-qualified instructors ready to help you learn, and help you apply your knowledge to real-world digital problems.

Teaching others and writing are the best ways I know to remember my father and the gift of knowledge he passed along to me.

Jim Johnson


On Jan 9, 2012, Dr. Jim Howard Johnson passed away at the age of 79, after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

Jim was married to Patricia Leath of Kilgore, TX in 1952. He earned his PhD in Nuclear Physics from Rice University in 1959 and immediately began working in the aerospace industry in Dallas, later founding his own company, Omega Microwave, in Santa Clara, CA.

Jim moved to Twisp in 1999, to be near his son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Jim attended the Methow Valley Methodist Church and sang in the church choir as well as the Cascadia community chorus.

Jim spent his early days in Twisp as a high-tech consultant, traveling to California to work with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories on the specification and procurement of parts for a nuclear fusion research project called the "National Ignition Facility". He also completed work on, and was granted several patents for, the direct electron-beam irradiation of cancerous tumors. After his retirement, he enjoyed golfing at the Bear Creek Golf Course and skeet-shooting with his family.

Jim is survived by his three children, Howard (and Liz) Johnson of Twisp, Gale (and John) Odom of Shreveport, LA, and Ryan (and Amy) Johnson of Dallas, TX, and three grandchildren. His ashes will be laid to rest alongside the remains of his parents and brother in his hometown of Kilgore, Texas, in March of this year.

My father, Jim Johnson, at home in the out of doors.

List of Articles Posted Recently

EE Times Webinar

Fundamentals of PCB Design, August, 16 2010.
This introductory overview of printed-circuit design treats the main difficulties you will likely meet when planning, designing, and manufacturing printed circuit boards for digital applications. From this lecture you will take away many nuggets of wisdom concerning manufacturing technology, signal integrity, EMI, power quality, thermal analysis, and project management. The lecture concludes with a live demonstration of high-level board planning using the Intel(R) Embedded Design Center "Board Planner". Free with EE Times registration. Approx. 40 minutes. Fundamentals of PCB Design

IEEE Microwave Magazine

High-Speed Digital Design: Overview, August 17, 2011.
A major 10-page survey article that highlights key similarities and important differences between high-speed digital and microwave hardware, addressing factors related to transmitters, transmission pathways, receivers, and the people who design them. High-Speed Digital Design: Overview

Proc. IEEE EMC Symposium, Long Beach, CA

High-Speed Backplane Connectors, August , 2011.
Overview of the stunning lack of progress over the last 30 years in the field of high-speed backplane connectors. The author indicts the entire pcb board fabrication industry for lagging far behind the pace of IC miniaturization and admonishes connector vendors to design smaller connectors with dramatically less crosstalk. High-Speed Backplane Connectors

EE Web

Featured Engineer, Spotlight Interview, re-published with new pictures on Feb 21, 2012
Dr. Johnson responds to questions from the EE Web staff about technology, its direction, the importance of early education, and the influence of parents and mentors. This article is reprinted in honor of my father, Dr. Jim Johnson, 1932-2012. Spotlight Interview

Amp Hour

Winsome Waveform Wizardry, January 9, 2012
In this fast-paced podcast appearance with Chris Gammel on the "Amp Hour," Dr. Johnson touches on many of the finer points of life, including how to hide technical details from your boss, how to get a standard through the IEEE, and dealing with unwelcome co-workers. Chris asks about right-angle bends, connectors, the limits of channel capacity, the Voyager spacecraft, Gigabit Ethernet, and why EMC engineers are usually bald. MP3 format. Runtime: 90 minutes. Winsome Waveform Wizardry

EDN Signal Integrity Editorial

Wafer-Probe Launch, 10/6/2011
At 28-Gb/s the SMA runs out of gas, so connect your VNA to the layout test card using a high-performance microwave wafer probe. Wafer-Probe Launch

EDN Signal Integrity Editorial

Quality, November 3, 2011
Quality is not the result of comprehensive computer simulations. Quality is the result of knowing, through experience, how a product will actually be used in the field and anticipating those needs. Quality

EDN Signal Integrity Editorial

Quadrature Via Layout, December 1, 2011
No matter where you place a differential via pair, you can always rotate its alignment to mitigate crosstalk from a troublesome differential source. Quadrature Via Layout

EDN Signal Integrity Editorial

Quadrature Connector Layout, January 5, 2012
Figure 1 illustrates the blueprint for a differential connector that radically reduces crosstalk between nearest-neighbor pairs. Quadrature Connector Layout

EDN Signal Integrity Editorial

Parallel Resonance, February 2, 2012
You can determine the peak of a parallel-resonant circuit step response from a graph of its inductive and capacitive asymptotes. Parallel Resonance

EDN Signal Integrity Editorial

Series Resonance, (coming soon in March)
A digital power system needs lots of large, simple, non-resonant, bypass capacitors, not fancy resonant circuit tricks.

I'll be at home in Twisp, WA, July 27-Aug 4, enjoying the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival. If you want to talk about signal integrity, and hear music by world-class artists, drop by for a visit. The weather should be gorgeous.

Best Regards,
Dr. Howard Johnson