RCA names Louis J. Meyer, P.E., for Alfred H. Grebe Memorial Award

Andrew executive receives manufacturing excellence award

Alfred H. Grebe Memorial Award

Louis J. Meyer, P.E. Louis J. Meyer, P.E.

The recipient of RCA’s Alfred H. Grebe Memorial Award is Louis J. Meyer, P.E., of Shady Shores, Texas. The award is given for achievements in outstanding quality in the design and manufacture of electronic components and equipment. Born in Sterling, Illinois, Lou is a graduate of Marquette University with a BSEE. He worked for several companies in the Midwest and Northeast before settling in Texas for a long career with Decibel Products and its successor company, Andrew Corporation. Lou joined RCA in 1992 and became a Fellow in 1994.

How did Lou’s interest in radio begin? “Myself and my buddies, probably ranging from 12 to 14 years old, became interested in crystal sets,” he said. “My home town is about 100 miles from Chicago. The challenge was to receive stations from Chicago so you could listen on headphones at night when you went to sleep. I took apart some coils of some sort, got some nice wire, and strung a long wire from the house to a tree in the back yard and hooked it to the crystal set. We got good reception 100 miles from Chicago.”

Lou recalled Allied Radio in Chicago, a company that sold electronic parts and relays. “They sold some of the first transistors in those early days. I still remember the transistor number: CK722. I remember we built a box that held the crystal set and the transistor to amplify the audio and get a strong signal,” he said.

While studying electrical engineering at Marquette, Lou participated in the university’s cooperative education program whereby he worked at GTE Automatic Electric in Northlake, Illinois. “They designed central office systems for telephone switching. As a co-op, you move around to all the divisions. I saw manufacturing and central office design and research and development while I was there,” he said. As a co-op, Lou invented a device called a ring trip relay, for which he received a patent. Click the link for details. He has a second patent involving maintaining an antenna’s pattern integrity as it is electrically down-tilted, from his latter days at Decibel Products when he was in charge of the engineering design group.

“I decided that I didn’t know the future of telephone switching with GTE. They weren’t the big player like Western Electric. When I graduated, I decided to go into the more exciting missile defense systems. That’s when I went with Bendix in Mishawaka, Indiana,” Lou said. At the Missile Systems Division there, Lou was involved in the design of subsystems for the Talos missile’s terminal guidance system.

“I didn’t like the uncertainty of the military infrastructure,” Lou said. “I went into commercial work at Harris RF Communications, in Rochester, New York. It was HF SSB design, all synthesized products, single-sideband, AM and FM. I designed several different radios up there, transmitters and receivers. And Rochester was a nice city, but the winters were long and gloomy and dreary.”

A sales manager who left Harris went to work at Decibel Products, and he invited Lou to interview for a job as a technical marketing person. “When you leave Rochester and it’s 20 degrees below zero and in Dallas in February it’s 70 degrees, it makes the decision easy. I came down to Decibel in 1976, and I’ve been with Decibel and its seven or eight successors up to the present time,” Lou said.

“I started as an applications engineer. I worked into marketing engineer and held various positions around Decibel as required. I was in charge of the design engineers for a year-and-a-half, and OEM interfacing for a year-and-a-half. All the time I was in those positions, I ran a Specials Group where we took standard Decibel products and made them into subsystems,” he said.

A biography provided by Andrew added, “Projects of note include an early UHF bidirectional amplifier system, which provided security and maintenance for the Washington, D.C. subway system, along with numerous combining and interference mitigation systems used at consolidated VHF and UHF sites. Site designs included public safety, land mobile radio, and even some FAA ground communication locations. During this time, he also authored several white papers, trade journal by-liners, and IEEE Proceedings papers about issues pertinent to the wireless communications community. In the early years of cellular, he helped lead continuing education seminars at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.” I recall Lou providing me with an article or two to publish in a magazine in the 1980s. I always needed articles to publish then, and I still do.

Lou said his work with combiners and interference mitigation systems came to mind when he read about Grebe Radio. “I designed and oversaw the manufacture of many of the interference elimination or mitigation systems where you use cavity filters to get rid of interference at a multi-user site. Along those lines, I feel I have something in common with Mr. Grebe, since he designed special front-end filters for his radios that would block out high-powered, nearby stations and receive weaker, distant stations.”

Here’s what an October 1925 advertisement placed in The Elks Magazine by Grebe Radio said: “You’ll want this set with its extreme ‘selected sensitivity’; sensitive to even the feeblest signals from distant stations, and selective to shut out strong local broadcasting which would otherwise drown them out. The Binocular Coils — exclusively Grebe — will give you just that.”

Grebe Binocular Coils

Decibel tapped Lou’s executive ability with a number of posts as division vice president, including antenna design, technology, and international OEM relations and sales. Today, Lou is director of technical marketing, RF Path, for Andrew Corporation, where he supports the company’s worldwide sales staff with extensive knowledge of the company’s broad RF product portfolio, which includes antennas, remote antenna control systems, coaxial transmission lines, tower mounted amplifiers, and diplexers. A team of engineers reports to him.

The biography from Andrew explained that Lou has acted as a technical customer interface, overseen the design and development of new sectorized antennas, worked with cutting edge technology firms on developing new customer solutions, and maintained relationships with most major radio infrastructure suppliers. His expertise covers most segments of land mobile radio in frequency bands from 30 MHz to over 3 GHz.

Lou is the chairman of the Telecommunications Industry Association sub-committee TR-8.11, Antenna Systems.

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Congratulations, Lou, on your being selected to receive this major award from RCA.

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The award that will be given to Lou is named for Alfred H. Grebe (1895-1935), who joined RCA in 1915 and served as a director in 1929. Grebe was known for the manufacture of high-quality early broadcast receivers under the Grebe Synchrophase name. Grebe also founded one of the first broadcast stations in New York, WABC, licensed to his Atlantic Broadcasting Company. Later purchased by the Columbia Broadcasting System, the original WABC later changed call letters and frequency. It continues today as WCBS on 880 kHz. Source: www.greberadio.com. The manufacturer’s son, Alfred H. “Al” Grebe Jr., is a member of RCA, and he usually presents the award during the banquet. The manufacturer’s grandson, Alfred H. “Hank” Grebe III, at times has been a member, and he maintains the greberadio.com website.

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Tidbit: Al Grebe looked up the year in which his father joined RCA. In the copy of the RCA treasurer’s journal that Jerry Minter sent to Al some years ago, it shows his father as having paid dues for the year 1915 in the amount of $1.The original dues for RCA were 25 cents per year. There was a dues increase in 1911, to 50 cents. And by 1915, the dues had doubled again, to $1.

According to an inflation calculator on the web — http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ — 25 cents in 1909 would be the equivalent of $5.41 today. RCA dues currently are $50 for regular membership. The Club offers different services in 2007 compared to 1909, so maybe that partly accounts for the order of magnitude of difference between the current dues and the inflation-adjusted value of the 1909 dues.

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