Tag Archives: QRM

Arcing can produce nasty broadband radio interference

On this trip to Québec, indoor listening has been more productive than listening from our balcony.

I mentioned in a previous post that, this year, QRM levels here at the condo in Québec are higher on our balcony than they are inside the building.

I think I found the source.

A couple weeks ago, on my morning walk, I passed underneath some high voltage power lines about 1 km from the condo. I noticed the sound of arcing coming from a pole nearby. No doubt, something metal–a staple, a cable, a pin, etc.–is the culprit.

I pulled out my smart phone and made this short video. If you turn up the volume, you might hear the noise especially at the end of the clip.:

I took a portable radio back to the site later and heard the same broadband noise I heard from the condo.

Although we only rent this condo a couple months a year, I’ll try to report the noise to the Hydro Québec. I know that our utility company in the States must follow up with requests like this and do their best to eliminate unintentional sources of RFI. These issues can also be an indication of something in the system failing, so power companies can actually be quite grateful for the feedback.

If you have persistent broadband noise at home, check out some of the trouble shooting tutorials at K3RFI’s website for a little guidance.

Despite all of this noise, I’m pleased I can still receive a few of my favorite shortwave stations. And, of course, escape to the KiwiSDR network and hit the field from time to time!

No worries, though, I’ll be back at my home station soon and can once again enjoy a relatively RFI-free radio space!

Post readers: Have you ever been plagued with power line noise? What did you do about it? Any tips? Please comment!

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Can’t escape the noise? Take an impromptu DXpedition via the KiwiSDR network!

While I love the Panasonic RF-B65, the Voice of Greece and a St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout: this combo can’t fight the persistent radio interference here at the condo.

Some of you might recall that I’m spending the months of August and September in a condo near Québec City, Canada. We love it here, though it does present some radio challenges. Unlike our rural/remote mountain home in the States, I’ve always had to cope with QRM (manmade radio interference) here at the condo. Not surprising.

I typically bring my PK Loop antenna–it helps lower the noise a tad and is easy to take out on our balcony for optimal reception. Lately, though, the QRM has been even worse on the balcony than inside the condo (more on that in a future post).

Some North American and European stations punch through the noise when propagation is favorable (especially the Voice of Greece and Radio Romania International) but there have been evenings where nothing could penetrate the wall of noise.

One way I escape the noise, of course, is to take my radio to a picturesque remote location for the afternoon or evening. It’s amazing the number of signals you can pull out of the ether when the noise floor is so low.

Back at the condo, though, there’s no easy way to escape the noise.

Or is there?

Impromptu DXpeditions

Perhaps 21st century problems require 21st century solutions.

This year–especially here at the condo–I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring the KiwiSDR network.

For those of you not familiar, the KiwiSDR is a self-hosted WebSDR which operates much like a mini U Twente WebSDR. KiwiSDR owners install their SDRs at home–or in other favorable locations–then share control of their SDR with the world via the the Internet.

Like the U Twente WebSDR, KiwiSDRs allow multiple simultaneous users to control the SDR independently of each other. Each KiwiSDR can allow up to four simultaneous guests (the U Twente WebSDR can allow hundreds of simultaneous users, but it’s also a university-supported bespoke SDR with fantastic bandwidth!).

Over the past few years, the KiwiSDR network has grown almost exponentially. There are Kiwi SDRs on every continent save Antarctica (someone remedy that, please!).

Each red pin represents a KiwiSDR installation.

Other than the fact that the SDR audio is piped through the Internet–and you can’t walk outside and adjust the antenna–there is no difference between using a KiwiSDR remotely or locally.

In fact, the KiwiSDR only has a web browser-based application, there is no downloadable application for local use. So quite literally, the experience of controlling and using a KiwiSDR locally or globally is identical.

And it’s so much fun! I browse the KiwiSDR network via the map above, select an interesting location, and virtually travel there for an impromptu DXpedition. I can travel to India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, or Hawaii via the network and be back in time for dinner here in Canada without breaking a sweat or even using frequent flyer miles!

I’ve found that the combo above makes for an immersive experience. I use Bose Quiet Comfort noise-cancelling headphones paired with my iPad Air (which I have enclosed in a Zagg Rugged Book). With a reasonable Internet connection, it truly feels like I’m there.

Of course, you don’t need an iPad, or any special equipment. The KiwiSDR application works with pretty much any computer, tablet or smart phone that has a web browser. For the best experience, however, I would suggest connecting a good external speaker, bluetooth speaker or headphones.

I know many of you are thinking, “But Thomas! This isn’t real radio!”

But I would argue that it is real radio! It’s a real radio, connected to a real antenna that you’re simply controlling via the Internet with a web-based SDR application. Instead of the audio going through a sound card into your headphones, it’s going into a soundcard, piped through the Internet, then into your headphones.

Give it a try! You might find an impromptu DXpedition is the perfect remedy to your QRM and RFI blues!

Post readers: Any heavy KiwiSDR users out there?  Or do you oppose using WebSDRs? What are your thoughts? Please comment!

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LED QRM jams maritime Automatic Identification System

(Source: Southgate ARC)

LED lights jam shipping Automatic Identification System

VERON report investigators from the Netherlands Radiocommunications Agency have discovered RF Pollution emitted by LED lights caused the loss of AIS shipping signals around 162 MHz

A Google English translation of the Radiocommunications Agency article reads:

In the mouth of the Waalhaven in the Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam, ships from the electronic map have been missing for some time. The Port of Rotterdam Authority and skippers were completely in the dark about the cause of this.

In the busy Rotterdam port area, of which the Waalhaven is a part, it is important that you know where everyone is. A ship that automatically sends its position and data via AIS – and is therefore visible on the electronic navigation chart – not only increases safety, but also shortens the waiting times for the berths and waiting areas. And what about ships loading and unloading dangerous goods or passenger ships? These are continuously monitored. If such a ship is dropped, dangerous situations can arise.

During an investigation the inspectors of the Radiocommunications Agency quickly discovered that the frequency band for AIS signals was disturbed. And after several polls in the surroundings of the Waalhaven they came to a work of art. In an atelier near the mouth of the Waalhaven, an artist had made a work of art with the help of LED lights. All these lights appeared to be the key to the solution together with the power supply.

Because LED lights are indeed economical, but if you do not buy the right one or install them incorrectly, they cause a lot of problems. In this case, the frequencies of the AIS band were therefore disturbed. After the power of the lighting was switched off, the disruption was resolved. In retrospect, it appeared that the lighting and the power supply exceeded the interference limits. To prevent new failures, a solution is sought for the artist together with the business community.

The agency also regularly receives reports of disruptions of AIS reception from the Amsterdam port area. Here, too, we conduct an investigation. If something interesting comes out of this, you may read more about this in the next newsletter. To prevent disruptions, we regularly monitor frequency use (preventively). Especially in areas with busy shipping traffic.

Source Netherlands Radiocommunications Agency
https://magazines.
agentschaptelecom.nl/
ontwikkelingenindeether/2018/03/
schepen-verdwenen-van-de-elektronische-kaart

VERON in Google English
http://tinyurl.com/NetherlandsVERON

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DARC’s initiative to track the state of radio interference

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alexender (DL4NO), who shares the following comment in response to our recent post about LED bulb QRM:

The DARC does even more: It is planning a long-term project with some 50 automatic monitoring stations with standardized, calibrated antennas and according to standardized methods to document the changes.

Every monitoring station will scan the bands for free frequencies and measure the background noise there. Every 15 min it will send its findings to a central database where the data will be collected and evaluated.

This way the DARC wants to document the ever increasing interferences in a way that is valid according to the relevant standards. Most monitoring stations are planned to be placed at fixed locations all over Germany. But a few are planned to be placed for a limited time in especially interesting locations.

Presently relevant findings are collected. If you live in Germany see https://www.darc.de/der-club/referate/emv/emv-abhilfemassnahmen/. Also see the DARC magazine cqDL 12-2017, p. 15.

To emphasize it again: Informal reports to your radio club are good. But if you wish to communicate with the legislative bodies you must do your measurements according to the standardized rules using calibrated equipment. Otherwise the authorities will not accept your findings.

See:
https://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/p/R-REC-P.372-13-201609-I!!PDF-E.pdf
https://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/bs/R-REC-BS.560-4-199710-I!!PDF-E.pdf

Most impressive, Alexander! I love the fact that DARC is using objective observations to support their initiative. The concept is a fascinating one that I should hope other national radio clubs could copy. I will certainly send this to the ARRL.

Thanks again, Alexander!

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DARC asks that you send RF polluting LED bulbs to Elektor Magazine

Photo By Trung Pham Quoc

(Source: Southgate ARC via Mike Hansgen)

LED Bulb RF Pollution – Elektor Magazine investigates

DARC, the German national amateur radio society, are requesting amateurs to send LED bulbs which pollute the RF spectrum to the magazine Elektor for investigation

A Google English translation reads:

Elektor-Verlag GmbH calls all readers and especially all radio amateurs to send non-compliant LED bulbs including power supplies. Elektor wants to investigate this EMC-technical and then forward it to the competent market surveillance of the BNetzA.

The reason for the action: As a result of a press release of the DARC in September 2017 on the significantly increasing interference of radio communications, other radio services and the DAB reception by non-EMC compliant LED bulbs Elektor had investigated such lamps (as well as LED strips). The result showed a progressive electromagnetic pollution.

The Federal Network Agency as competent authority for market surveillance in accordance with the EMVG has welcomed the call for the submission of suspicious copies. In addition, the Federal Agency would like to be informed if disturbing lamps attract attention. She then wants to investigate this situation and take the products out of the market, if they are still offered.

Please send suspicious copies

Elektor-Verlag GmbH
Kackertstr. 10
52072 Aachen

Please enclose a note with the words “EMC LED lamp” so that everything runs correctly in the inbox. You can also announce your submission via e-mail to redaktion@elektor.de with the subject “EMC-LED-Lamp”. Elektor Verlag GmbH then checks the lamp, publishes an update if necessary and informs the Federal Network Agency.

Here the link to the Elektor article from 23.04.2018
https://www.elektormagazine.de/news/bundesnetzagentur-zu-schicken-sie-uns-verdachtige-led-lampen

Source DARC http://darc.de/

2017 RF pollution from LED bulbs in Elektor Magazine
http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2017/september/rf-pollution-from-led-bulbs-in-elektor-magazine.htm

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