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Old 20-05-2014, 14:32   #1
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RF Interference with Computer?

I have just had my computer Mac and a PC set up for airmail. When I connect to the station the mouse locks up. The Tech at WHite Squall on Van Island says could be the rf overwhelming the com.

I have a Kiss as a ground

More ferites or another solutions. We are heading out to French Poly in a couple of days and so will be out of touch for a month, Since the bloody Sailmail does not workLOL.

Cheers again Steve

PS that is unless something else breaks.
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Old 20-05-2014, 14:41   #2
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Re: RF interference with computer?

G'Day Steve,

I've had the touchpads on all my laptops lock up whilst transmitting, ever since the first time I used digital coms, way back with Amtor. Ferrites on all the leads to and from the laptop help, but have not cured the problem for me. Running lower power does help, and I've found that it only takes 10-20 watts output to make good contacts, so try that.

But in general, I just don't use the touchpad while transmitting. Don't really need to for that matter. If you read through the instructions, you will find several "Alt/xx" key combos that perform all the required actions without use of the touchpad. Another approach would be to try using a mouse rather than the touchpad, or a wired mouse rather than a wireless one.

Good luck with it, we use Airmail (Winlink, since I am a ham) a lot.

Cheers,

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Old 20-05-2014, 14:42   #3
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Steve,

Before you go, get lots of ferrites, and use them. Put them on both ends of the wires going into your computer: power, mouse, USB, serial, etc.

Don't forget, those wires are antennas; they will soak up stray RF like a sponge.

While you're at it, ferrites on the cables attached to your SSB and Pactor modem are also important.

Bill
WA6CCA



Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
I have just had my computer Mac and a PC set up for airmail. When I connect to the station the mouse locks up. The Tech at WHite Squall on Van Island says could be the rf overwhelming the com.

I have a Kiss as a ground

More ferites or another solutions. We are heading out to French Poly in a couple of days and so will be out of touch for a month, Since the bloody Sailmail does not workLOL.

Cheers again Steve

PS that is unless something else breaks.
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Old 20-05-2014, 20:59   #4
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
I have just had my computer Mac and a PC set up for airmail. When I connect to the station the mouse locks up. The Tech at WHite Squall on Van Island says could be the rf overwhelming the com.
hi mate,

you may want to check the connectors at each end for a dry solder ... that can cause the entire length of coax to emulate an antenna during transmission ...
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Old 21-05-2014, 01:12   #5
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Thanks guys, we have sunk our last contingency funds( $200 in programs and $460 on tech support) and got no place with this. The tree rolling exercise v our transducer took care of the rest. LOL

I was advised that our small PC was inadequate so we went and bought windows 8 and parallels for the mac. Now unfortunately we only have 2 usb ports with the mac! both are used to run the ICOM and pastor IIe.SO maybe I have to figure out if I can make it do the operations.

I have ferrites on but will saturate every bloddy wire that shows its face. LOL

BJ what is a dry solder and which ends please?

Maybe I should use the little accer as it has 3 usb ports? As well as put more ferrets on the cables. Not a good day as my heat exchanger is still trying to melt my Volvo MD 17. Any of you guys good with them beasties. Anyway thanks for the advice. again. It really is helpful. I really mean that!

Thank you.

Our endeavours are on the blog. The trip down the North Coast was "interesting". We will try again to head south. Big city ahead so a chance to right the wrongs before heading out.

Bill I set up my antenna on your design for your boat, the Techy had concerns that it was almost parallel with the backstay. Is this a concern also?

Trouble is I am within 40 miles of Friday Harbour and the radio will not raise them!

Anyway I will try again. thanks. Steve
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Old 21-05-2014, 05:54   #6
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Dumb idea - borrow and try a wireless mouse? They work at BlueTooth frequencies and might be deaf at SSB frequencies.
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Old 21-05-2014, 20:42   #7
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
BJ what is a dry solder and which ends please?
hi mate,

a dry solder results when there's inadequate solder (metal filler) used ... and the connection / joint becomes unreliable ...

i've seen it happen mostly when soldering a connector at the end of a coax cable (between the transmitter and the antenna), either end ...

it's less likely, but does happen, even on circuit boards ... used and new ...

i'm enclosing a couple of links which you may find useful ...

Dry Solder Joint | Electronics Repair And Technology News

Dry solder joints | Blog.hovertop

hope this helps ...
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Old 21-05-2014, 21:53   #8
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Do you guys wear earthed ESD wrist straps while you're using capacitive touchpads and operating RF transmitters at the same time?

Intuitively it just seems that it would be an issue. If it turns out to be so it'll be the only thing I do know about marine radio.

Apologies if I'm stating the blindingly bleedin' obvious...

ps. dry solder joints are nearly always due to lack of flux, lack of heat or contaminants.
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Old 22-05-2014, 07:01   #9
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Your Kiss is a counterpoise for the antenna, not "ground". Have you verified your system ( transceiver,etc)is actually grounded to earth-ground? If you're not already, use large ferrites that multiple turns of wire can be wound through. Try to isolate where the problem comes from. Does it only happen when the SCS is connected? Have you tried disconnecting the laptop power source and running on internal battery? Someone also mentioned reducing power out. If your rig has an ALC meter, you want no deflection on that meter when in any digital mode like pactor. This will ensure a clean signal output. Your TNC will have level adjustments as well your transceiver may also. Finally, reposition the Kiss cointerpoise. Try to not run parallel to any other wiring and if it crosses other ship wiring, do so at right angles if possible. Good Luck.
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Old 22-05-2014, 07:16   #10
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Re: RF interference with computer?

I've come across the same problem on my boat but, does not happen only when transmitting. When I hook my laptop and power it off my AIMS 48volt/120v inverter the laptop touch pad locks up. When I use the 12 volt power supply off of the 12 volt house batteries for the computer there is no problem. I have not looked into it more yet. But, looks like an inverter power line issue.
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Old 26-05-2014, 09:28   #11
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Steve,
I assume you've departed for your Pacific passage by now...
But just in case anyone else is reading this....
PLEASE read Bill's posting and the Sailmail Primer....follow and heed their advice and recommendations!!! (including using a "line isolator" on your HF Radio coax line, right at the remote autotuner...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
I have just had my computer Mac and a PC set up for airmail. When I connect to the station the mouse locks up. The Tech at WHite Squall on Van Island says could be the rf overwhelming the com.

I have a Kiss as a ground

More ferites or another solutions. We are heading out to French Poly in a couple of days and so will be out of touch for a month, Since the bloody Sailmail does not workLOL..

1) Again here is Bill's posting.....
Quote:
Steve,

Before you go, get lots of ferrites, and use them. Put them on both ends of the wires going into your computer: power, mouse, USB, serial, etc.

Don't forget, those wires are antennas; they will soak up stray RF like a sponge.

While you're at it, ferrites on the cables attached to your SSB and Pactor modem are also important.

Bill
WA6CCA

2) And, here is the Sailmail Primer....
SailMail Primer



3) Using a "line isolator" on the coax line is like using a couple dozen (or more) ferrites clamped-on it....
(Place the line isolator at the remote auto-tuner end of the coax)

DX Engineering Maxi-Core® Feedline Current Chokes DXE-FCC050-H05-A - Free Shipping on Orders Over $99 at DX Engineering

T-4
Line Isolator System

Common-mode chokes


4) Get that damn KISS thing away from all your other wiring....or even better attach a low inductance ground from the sea water to your remote auto-tuner....


5) Make sure that your radio is wired directly to your main house batteries, and NOT thru your DC panel / breakers...



Again, since it's been 6 days and you said that you were leaving in a few days, I assume you're already at sea...so, what I write here is for others...

fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 26-05-2014, 09:35   #12
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Re: RF interference with computer?

One more thing in re serial ports

I use an adapter that uses one USB2 port and supports 4 RS-232 ports

http://www.tripplite.com/rs232-seria...-port~USA49WG/

Great for Pactor modems, CAT radios, and other legacy devices. Mac, Linux, & Wintel drivers avail

S
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Old 26-05-2014, 09:44   #13
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Re: RF interference with computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
I have just had my computer Mac and a PC set up for airmail. When I connect to the station the mouse locks up. The Tech at WHite Squall on Van Island says could be the rf overwhelming the com.
I suggest that you try a Bluetooth connection between the laptop and the Pactor modem. That has worked great in several boats that I have sailed on. This will solve the RF issue that affects the laptop and also frees the USB port in the laptop.

The question is if your Pactor modem has the Bluetooth capability. Note that at least in some models the Bluetooth capability requires a little part that may or may no have been included in your modem. Also note that the Bluetooth password is a function of the serial number of the modem..

C
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Old 31-05-2014, 14:24   #14
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Re: RF Interference with Computer?

Back in the land of the wifi. Running out of canada. No help available. I have followed as much advice as I can. LOL. Had it connect once last night so I am wondering if my SP to usb connector is buggered. Have ferites on everything. Unfortunately not sure if I can find the isolator.

Looks like I have wasted a bunch of money and will have to go blind. Still we can only try. Thanks for all the advice and help it is truly appreciated.

Steve
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Old 31-05-2014, 16:29   #15
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Re: RF Interference with Computer?

Steve,
While it's good that you're still around, sorry you haven't gotten things fixed yet...

--- You made no mention earlier of using a USB to serial adapter....so we didn't mention the importance of using one that works well with Sailmail / Airmail, etc...
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
I have followed as much advice as I can. LOL. Had it connect once last night so I am wondering if my SP to usb connector is buggered.
If you read the Sailmail Primer you'll see that the Tripplite Keyspan products are recommended.

Specifically the Trpplite Keyspan USA-19HS
High Speed USB to Serial Adapter Keyspan | USA-19HS | Tripp Lite

Or, if you are in need of further USB ports, you'll see that Sailmail recommends the Edgeport units...
Specifically these Edgeport - USB-to-serial converters - Digi International

These are in addition to the advice already given above by Bill, myself, and Scott...




--- If you've done everything already mention earlier, including but not limited to, using the USB-Serial adapters recommended, moving the KISS, installing a real RF ground, wiring your radio directly to the house battery bank (not thru a dist. panel / breaker panel), etc. (ALL recommended in the Sailmail Primer)....and have read thru the Sailmail Primer and Application Notes, etc.
Then, you have a fairly odd problem...and we'll need some more info before we can guide you further...




--- With the new info you provided about using a USB-to-Serial adapter....
That would be the FIRST thing I'd change!!!
Some of them are flakey and they're a cheap / simple / easy thing to change...
After that, then proceed with all the above...
And, BTW....the guys at DX Engineering are GREAT and are used to working with folks in odd locations, so they can easily ship a line isolator to you anywhere....
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
Have ferites on everything. Unfortunately not sure if I can find the isolator.
Looks like I have wasted a bunch of money and will have to go blind. Still we can only try.
But, we assured that whatever you spent on ferrites (< $50) is money well spent....as for the money spent on tech support, well yeah that's a waste....as for "programs"??? Airmail is FREE....not sure what other e-mail/comm programs you spent money on, but most are FREE...

Now, not sure who mentioned your "small PC" was "inadequate", nor what it would be "inadequate" for....but for e-mail, basic communications, and especially for Airmail, just about any PC made in the past 10 years is MORE than adequate!!!
(I'm starting to suspect that you haven't read the Sailmail site nor the Sailmail Primer....I know it's long and a bit "dry", but it WILL teach you a lot and SAVE you a lot of money and frustrations...)

Here again, are the direct links...
SailMail
SailMail Primer





--- Steve, I have no idea of what radio you're using, nor exactly what antenna you have (but assume it's an "alternative backstay antenna"), nor who your trying to raise on the radio (nor on what frequency or time-of-day)...
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthPacific View Post
Bill I set up my antenna on your design for your boat, the Techy had concerns that it was almost parallel with the backstay. Is this a concern also?

Trouble is I am within 40 miles of Friday Harbour and the radio will not raise them!
Shipcom Radio is in the process of updating the remote receivers for their station KLB (near Seattle), and as such they have NOT been able to hear from those receivers for the past week or so (although the transmitters do work and they have used them occasionally this past week, they haven't been using them regularly this past week or so until they've completed their upgrades)...
SO...
So, if KLB is the station you've been trying to raise, there is most probably NOTHING wrong with your radio / antenna....

Usually, Shipcom Radio's station KLB (near Seattle) does broadcast hourly id's / traffic lists / etc. on 2 of their 4 HF freqs (ITU freqs 805, and 1209), and you should hear them well on 805....and also have full use of 417 and 1624 (all four of these frequency's transmitters and receivers are near Seattle, but are controlled remotely from Mobile, AL)....
But, as I wrote above, they are in the process of updating/upgrading their remote control systems....so these 4 channels have been sporadic for the past week or so (and no receivers working at all, this past week)

BUT...
But, you should still be able to hear WLO (Shipcom's main station) on 1212 and 1641, as you move farther south!!! (and even 824 at night)...
Not sure how well you'd hear them in the Pac NW....but once near S. Cal or farther south and west, you can work WLO fairly well (even though their KLB station is designed for "Pacific" coverage, their 4mhz and 8mhz KLB channels are mainly for the N. Pac with 12mhz and 16mhz covering the N. Pac and Central Pac (as well as some S. Pac)...
Depending on the particular day and time-of-day, you should be able to work WLO or KLB most of the way across the Pacific...

ShipCom LLC :: Marine HF Radiotelephone and HF Single SideBand Email
HF SSB Radiotelephone Email, Fax, Satellite Marine Messages, Telex Sitor & Marine Weather Services
HF SSB Radiotelephone, Telex and Email Frequencies and Channels

BTW, Shipcom also has 24/7 HF-DSC capability (using separate receivers of course), and will respond to DSC calls promptly....and I've found if radio propagation is a bit iffy or signals are noisey, that a DSC call gets their attention quickly and they will be calling YOU....




--- If you are trying to raise another station, I'm not aware of any other HF maritime station out there....
But, perhaps you're looking to find some "Cruiser's Net"??
West Coast Nets



---- Steve, for further advice/guidance, please advise:
Your exact radio model???
What station in Friday Harbor you were trying to raise, and at what time-of-day, and MOST IMPORTANTLY on what channel/frequency???



--- If you haven't watched these videos....PLEASE do so, before you leave for offshore...
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call
Even if you don't have an Icom M-802, videos # 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10 WILL be very helpful to you!!!
(especially video #4, which SHOWS how to choose the proper channel/freq for your communications path, time-of-day, etc...)



More later, if you provide further info / questions...

Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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