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Old 20-05-2018, 08:34   #1
jhe
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SSB noise from solar panels

Hi, I have 400W of solar installed at the stern of my boat which is connected with a Victron MPPT 150/30 controller. I get a lot of noise from this when using my SSB. Is there a way to eliminate this or do people just turn off the solar when using the SSB?
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Old 20-05-2018, 08:55   #2
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Hi,

To suppress the RFI being generated, try installing ferrite chokes on the cabling coming to and from your Victron controller. The chokes usually work well to suppress RFI and keep your SSB single clear.

Hope this helps!

-Don
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Old 20-05-2018, 11:59   #3
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Had a similar problem with my BlueSky 3000i, but only on one frequency...the one I use the most of course! BlueSky was even nice enough to send me ferrites, but that did not solve the problem.

I have a breaker at my panels that is easy to access, so I just open the breaker when necessary.
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Old 21-05-2018, 08:19   #4
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

The solar panels themselves shouldn't generate any RF noise. Adding ferrites, maybe shielding around the controller and cabling coming off of it should be where to concentrate your efforts.
Quickie experiment for shielding the controller to see if this helps - use some aluminum (tin) foil around the controller, grounded to the boat ground. Be careful not to short any positive terminal to ground. Also use the ferrites - the cabling coming out of the controller might be radiating RF noise.
If the foil shield helps suppress noise - you have a solution.
Shutting off the controller while using your SSB might be the easiest solution.
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Old 21-05-2018, 08:51   #5
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

The issue is that the majority of the switch mode controllers generate substantial noise in the RF spectrum. I recently started to listen to distant AM stations on my vehicle radio. Every traffic signal I come to (all LED now) is a noise generator at 1.5 MHZ frequency. Set up our ICOM R75 HF receiver recently to discover that every led house light I have installed is also an RF noise generator at around 6-8 MHZ. Appears the FCC in the USA fell asleep at the wheel and allowed the RF spectrum degradation in the past 10 years in the US by their approval of poorly designed switch-mode controllers.
I would be really concerned on marine HF freqs with all the noise generating equipment onboard a vessel where long distance HF communications are important.

Basically we have allowed the HF spectrum to become the trash can for the RF communications spectrum. Under the guise of power saving circuit design techniques.
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Old 21-05-2018, 09:09   #6
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Thanks much for the responses. I will give these suggestions a try. Best. Jhe
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Old 21-05-2018, 13:49   #7
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhe View Post
Hi, I have 400W of solar installed at the stern of my boat which is connected with a Victron MPPT 150/30 controller. I get a lot of noise from this when using my SSB. Is there a way to eliminate this or do people just turn off the solar when using the SSB?
Wrap the controller in tin foil and ground the foil?
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Old 21-05-2018, 15:10   #8
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Roger that. I have the exact same problem with my solar installation on my house. The inverter and or the charge controller wipe out the AM radio (FM is fine). The solar installer, after messing around with several different ferrite fixes, gave up and said nobody listens to am radio anyway.

It seems that the FCC exempted residential solar from the RFI restrictions on other applications. Wonder which congresspersons were in on that one.
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Old 21-05-2018, 15:55   #9
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

The problem is NOT RFI interference, so ferrites and shielding will not solve the problem. Your solar controller is a PWM type, even if is is MTTP. What you are hearing are the pulses of the controller as it sent high current pulses to the battery, and then showing up on the DC input to the receiver. The easiest way to stop this noise is to put a switch on the solar panels and kill input power to the controller. Alternately you can put a Pi filter on the inlet power to the SSB. However this will require a very large choke capable of handling 25 amps or more (for a 100w SSB) and two large caps as the fc of the PWM is very low. And even if you manage to build such a choke it will be marginal at best. Another annoying source of PWM intererence is an Adler Barber DanFos compressor controller. I find that when operating my SSB I just turn off the solar panels and refrigerator and have a perfectly quiet DC power source to the radio. I have a little card that says "Turn on Refrigerator and panels" that I stick over the mic hanger so that when I'm finished I don't forget to turn things back on. Try this before anything else. It should solve your noise problem.
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Old 21-05-2018, 20:41   #10
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhe View Post
Hi, I have 400W of solar installed at the stern of my boat which is connected with a Victron MPPT 150/30 controller. I get a lot of noise from this when using my SSB. Is there a way to eliminate this or do people just turn off the solar when using the SSB?


If you have one of the VictronConnect capable MPPT controllers, try using the interface to turn it off. I can do this to mine using Bluetooth and the VictronConnect app.
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Old 22-05-2018, 18:33   #11
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Adding ferrite donuts (there are many types, they must be selected for the application) on the power input should help. Add them within a few inches of the power input. If it gets better, but not great, add one turn of the wire through the donut, but not more.
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Old 22-05-2018, 18:50   #12
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SSB noise from solar panels

Here is one idea.

The wires from the solar panel(s) to the controller are a pair (+ and -) and another pair from the controller to the battery bank. They act as an antenna and can radiate a lot of RF. Try making each pair of wires into a twisted pair. This greatly reduces the ability to radiate. You can do this yourself by taking the two wires in parallel and twisting them using a drill. The resulting cable will get shorter as you put the twists in so it has to be a little longer than normal. Do this to both the solar panel wires and the battery charge wires. You may be surprised how much this reduces radiated RFI from a switch mode controller.

Hint: when you have the wires twisted to about 4-5 twists per foot give the wires a really good pull to "stretch" them a bit. This will make the twists permanent and they will be less likely to unwrap. Then wrapping them with electrical tape every few inches will help preserve the twist. Heat shrink looks better then tape and works as well.
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Old 23-05-2018, 02:10   #13
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

Really useful cheap gadget is a RTL tv dongle plugged into a laptop - see exactly whats going on - https://www.rtl-sdr.com/buy-rtl-sdr-dvb-t-dongles/
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Old 26-05-2018, 06:22   #14
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

In QST-The Radio Amateur's Journal for April 2016 on page 33 to 37 there is an excellent article that describes in detail the steps and methods used to suppress generation of radio-frequency interference (RFI) from a photo-voltaic array and its associated charge controller that was installed in the homw of a radio amateur with keen interest in weak signal HF reception.

The article makes very clear that photo-voltaic arrays DO generate RFI, and quite a bit of it. It offers good advice and demonstrates how a particular installation was made to have much reduced RFI output by use of filtering, chokes, grounding, and shielding.

To suggest that RFI is not created by photo-voltaic panels and their charge controllers seems a bit outlandish.
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Old 26-05-2018, 09:59   #15
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Re: SSB noise from solar panels

The solar panel does not make RFI. The charge controller makes all the noise.
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