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Know Your Audience: Part Four of IT Manager Rick’s Dive into the RF World

Know Your Audience

Have you ever sat in a conference or keynote and the presenter just talks at such a “high level that you are lost?  I just happened to attend a seminar at a local ISA tech conference that was on Cyber Security and operational technology (OT) systems.  Now there were 15 people in this seminar (it was a small conference, like half a day type thing) and everyone in attendance at the semin

ar were all operations managers, engineers, supervisors etc. I was the only IT guy. The guys who ran this seminar were very knowledgeable and did a great job of making shameless plugs, albeit almost subliminal, about their company’s services. But what they failed to do was look at their audience, these people within a short period of time, I think it was after the third example of a man-in-the-middle attack, I started to see the eyes glaze over.  Much like what I experienced there, I am trying not to mimic here when talking about RF technologies and how TX RX is the industry standard for RF filtering components (See how I did that? Subliminal!)   Speaking of RF technology (see what I did there? Go ahead say it, “good segue”), This would be a good time to talk a little about RF.  I know most of you know about it after all, most of us have implemented Wi-Fi (Yes this is just complex RF technology) in one form or another in our career so learning about this should be easy, especially for my fellow CCNA’s.

Now, unlike those guys who taught that seminar, I am not going to type out a lecture on RF, or talk at a high level (let’s face it, in the RF world, I am a noob!) there are a lot more knowledgeable people who have made great videos on the basics of RF. Even if you are not planning the implementation or repair and you have a contractor handling all the system implementation, it is good to understand their lingo (yes, RF has a type of networking, and they use terms we use but they mean different things). The key here is why is this important?  Well just like Wi-Fi planning or other wireless technologies, RF has limitations such as walls and metal structures can cause signal interruption.  If you oversee the implementation of an LMR in a building, there are physical impediments that can get in the way of clear signals between floors.  Having multi-couplers, duplexers, and antennas at key areas in your building is essential.  Something to also keep in mind, RF signals like those from handheld radios, can travel over cables so yes, you can run cables between floors as well (after all you can have a great Wi-Fi mesh but ultimately that all goes back to the physical network).  You may be dealing with a campus or city-wide communication deployment. Again, the RF signal frequency that you are using can traverse over the air as well as through cabling once the signal enters a building. Interesting to note in this case, TX RX makes devices that will allow you to filter out all the other RF signals in your area, leaving only yours while allowing other groups to keep using theirs, on the same network!  (I mean do you really want to listen to ambulance dispatches or DPW workers on your radios?  Yeah, didn’t think so).


So, in summary, while most IT people have a good understanding of Wi-Fi technology (if not lets chat because, you should know this), RF technology is just a little different (I heard it referred to often as “Black Magic”, except you don’t have to sacrifice a goat or block of tofu for my vegan friends) and you really do need to have a grasp on the subject.  So, my advice is watch the video above, maybe watch a couple others (try not to go down the rabbit hole too much) and you will have a basic foundation of RF technology with which to build. This has really helped me as I have read more into this technology. I will continue to report on what I am learning and if you want to chat about what you are learning, please, drop me an email (  or message me on LinkedIn.  After all, we IT people must stick together!


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