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Old 14-12-2015, 17:39   #16
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Ann,
Here are some pertinent quotes from autumnbreeze here in this thread...
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
If I turn everything off... and I mean everything but the radio and the notebook (not charging), I still get a lot of interference/noise/static. Even out in the boondocks with no cell coverage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I definitely need to read up on what freq/what time of day.

As for figuring out voice comms first, that's what lead me to a big leap in data comms. I was listening to sonrisa net out on the anchor at Espiritu Santo and plugged my notebook in, and noticed the static that came on the radio. After adding 3 additional ferrites to the USB cable the static was greatly reduced.


So maybe it's atmospheric?
When I was out on the hook in Espiritu Santo I was able to talk to a guy in Texas just fine. Not sure if that was 14300 or not. I haven't done any long range talking yet, I guess the next step is to point me in that direction?

I just checked my winlink to find out my buddy in San Carlos I was trying to talk to doesn't have a decent ground for his long wire. D'oh! Going to see if he can make a dipole or something.
And, just a tiny amount of what I wrote...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
autumnbreeze,
Some here seemed to be missing that you report still having "noise" when your notebook is off and disconnected, as well as when "everything else" is off as well....
And, in remote anchorage, too...
SO...
So, no amount of ferrites will help you!

It's either:
a) natural, atmospheric noise....
b) poor channel choice, lack of understanding of radiowave propagation...
c) radio misadjusted...
So, he has certainly been trying out 'n away from marinas / populated areas...
Just throwing the it out there...fyi...


We will see what's what, when he comes back...


Fair winds...

John


P.S. While I never recommend marinas / boat yards / etc. as places to learn to use HF radio.....it IS eminently possible...as I was able to communicate with Herb Helgenberg on 12.359nhz, from Marina Bay marina, in Gibraltar (and from Lazeronte, Canary as well), as well as make 100's of contacts daily from the dock here in S. Florida....so, it is doable...just takes some skill...
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Old 14-12-2015, 18:14   #17
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

I tried to get on the manana net today at noon on 14340, I could hear voices but too much static, tried various filters, NR NB but no bueno, so hoping it's just the marina environment.

I try to learn as much as I can in the marina and then experiment with it out on the hook, but it's tough without internet. I gotta rely on all the pdfs and youtube videos I'm saving to take with me.

I think I learned something from the freq/time of day video, so the only thing missing from the equation now is the t4 isolator, which I won't get until the wife gets back from a christmas/resupply trip to her mom's.
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Old 14-12-2015, 19:12   #18
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Autumnbreeze,
Two things....

1) Now, you are writing that you are trying this from the marina, where as 3 days ago you wrote you were trying this out when "out in the boonies" and "in remote anchorages"...
So, I am really confused....and I cannot actually point you to any solutions, as I have no clue what you are hearing nor where you are hearing it....

I'm truly sorry....but, unless you can relate what you are hearing, and where you are at, what freqs, what times, what the noises are like, wideband, narrowband, buzz, screech, whine, hum, rattle, quiver, whistle, etc. etc. etc. etc., I'm not sure what else to write...(except for #2..)




2) There is something that I've been wanting to write here, but I haven't wanted to seem at all rude....nor, do I wish to dissuade you in any way!!!
So, I haven't said anything....but, as I see you trying so hard and not having much luck, I'm thinking I should just be blunt, and risk coming off like a jerk....so...

So, here goes...

I'm confused as to how it's possible that you can talk on the ham bands and use winlink, but not understand radiowave propagation, nor what natural atmospheric noise is???

Please stop reading "on-line tips", and buying stuff....and simply go back to the books...
READ....

Please read those books again....every one....every page....do not stop to talk on the radio....no, just read!
Then read some more...

Any US licensed, general class or higher, ham operator must know these things to pass the tests....and, while I will continue to help you in anyway I can, the fact is that you are struggling mainly because you do not seem to know any of the basics....

PLEASE do not take offense....as someone that is new to radio, nobody assumes that you're going to know everything!!
But, in our "instant gratification" society, I see this all the time....most assume all they need to do is read something on the internet, buy the stuff that some yahoo recommended, plug it in, and talk away....
BUT...
But, that is actually not the case....as you are finding out the hard way....

Again, I'm very sorry to be so blunt (and hopefully nobody here thinks I'm being insensitive), but quite honestly in my ~ 45 years of communications experience, I've seen this a lot....and it is:
Nobody bothered to teach you the basics....
And, since you're now "out in the boonies", it is up to you to teach yourself....
The good news is that all the info you need is available to you, in the books!!!
"The ARRL Handbook" (you DO have one, don't you?), is the bible....and is THE book to start with....NO ham should be without one...and most hams have a few....I have about a dozen...

Spend your money on the books, not on more ferrites, and not moving the AH-4 tuner....

Read the books, learn how radio communications works, learn about radiowave propagation, learn about atmospheric noise (what it is, how to know what you are listening to), learn about what the different parts/features of the radio do, learn how to properly adjust these parts/features (no the "manual" will NOT teach you this), learn how to use the radio....
Please understand that ALL of these things are learned from reading the books, not by spinning the knobs on the radio!!!
ONLY after you learn all of these things, should you turn on the radio....
Yes, I am fully aware that this advice I'm giving here is contrary to most of what you've already read, AND even contrary to some of my own advice....AND might seem "old fashioned"....and some might even consider it rude (although, that is NOT my intention)....
And, you can take it or leave it....

But, perhaps you will heed this advice and enjoy some success...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 14-12-2015, 20:15   #19
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Thanks for your help John. Sorry you got confused.

When I have internet, I'm in a marina.

When I'm out in the boondocks, I don't have internet. So if I'm posting here, there's a 99% chance I'm in a marina. When I talk about being in the boondocks, that's past tense, since I was out in the boondocks, but now I'm in the marina where there is internet. Next week, I'll be in the boondocks again.

It makes me nervous to be in the boondocks and not have weather. So when I get back in the slip, that's when I try and get as much information as I can so I can figure things out when I'm out there.

Your probably right at this point, I need to read a book about the basics and figure out where my gaps are. I got my ham license and bought all this crap because my friends told me I needed it for a safety factor, but at times I wonder WTF they were talking about. So let's see, if it's the right time of day, and the sun is doing this but not doing that, and the weather is this way, and you turn everything off on your boat, it will work if you turn the dials just right.

It seems to me it's a lot like being on the hook somewhere, and you know the wind is going to be at 90 degrees to the swell, so you'll be rolling. And you know the local guy who gives the weather on the morning net won't have internet access the morning you really need it, and you won't be able to get your radio working because the sun is excited or not excited enough.

Don't get me wrong, I like science, and I like the radio when it works... but it just doesn't seem reliable enough for my purposes. So I'm boning up on my barometer reading and cloud studying as well. and diesel engine maintenance... and the list goes on and on... and oh yeah ham radio for dummy's is not at the top of the list of books on my e-reader.

So thanks for the help, hopefully the rest will fall into place when I RTFM.
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Old 14-12-2015, 20:29   #20
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Hi, again, autumn breeze,

FYI, if you're using winlink, it has a propagation program in it. It isn't perfect, but it will give you a guess at choosing the right times & frequencies.

I think John has given you good advice. I am not a ham, just someone with a ham husband, to whom I've paid a little attention.

When you're getting ready to go cruising, there are a lot of irons in the fire, and you have to keep all of them hot. Maybe when you get back out at anchor, you'll have time to go through the books, and refresh your memory. I think it's worth the effort. Sometimes you make ham friends in places you're going to, and that's fun; also, using the ham radio can keep you in touch with far distant friends. It can be a lot more than just a safety deal.

One thing I'd like to add, Jim made up a dipole for use on 20 m. while in the marina, and it worked much better marina settings, for both transmitting and receiving. I'll leave it to John to explain parasitic absorption to you, 'cause HE understands it.

Enjoy,

Ann
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Old 14-12-2015, 20:51   #21
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Autumnbreeze,
You're cool....
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I got my ham license and bought all this crap because my friends told me I needed it for a safety factor, but at times I wonder WTF they were talking about. So let's see, if it's the right time of day, and the sun is doing this but not doing that, and the weather is this way, and you turn everything off on your boat, it will work if you turn the dials just right.
I'm laughing with 'ya here!!!

It REALLY is easy....and IS 100% reliable....IF you have the right radio and know how to use it....you do NOT need the sun to be doing something specific for you....you just need to learn what to do and how to do it....no worries about mother nature...
(I stake my life and those of my loved ones, on it...)

To give you something to look forward to, I can walk down the dock at some random time, step on-board, turn on the M-802, and within a few seconds be listening to weather forecast from as close as New Orleans, or as far away as Australia....and/or pick up the mic and find 100's to talk to in just about any place you could imagine....

It just takes the knowledge and practice....



BTW, you did choose one of the most complicated radios to use....and, this is another reason that I recommend marine radios (M-802) for mariners....
Water under the bridge...



Fair winds...

John
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Old 14-12-2015, 21:23   #22
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Well I just skimmed through HAM Radios For Dummies... and got such great tidbits like "If you go to a hamfest, bring your own food and water, they usually have a hamburger stand but never gourmet food"

So I went to the internet to look for people using the IC-7200, and I think my problem is I had higher expectations for the quality of signal. This guy cleans up the signal with his filters... but I've done that... I guess to me it still sounded pretty bad... but he was proud of it... so I guess I'm not as far off base as I thought.
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Old 14-12-2015, 21:34   #23
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Next time you are in the boondocks (and I mean the boondocks--no power lines within a mile), you need to figure out what is natural noise, and what is coming from your boat.

Disconnect the batteries from the boat, disconnect the solar panels, and run a power wire from the battery direct to the radio, and turn off the laptop computers. Now see what you can hear. Then start connecting things back one at a time, to see where the noise starts coming from. I've had it be MPPT controllers, led lights, fluorescent lights, digital voltmeters, computers, refrigerators, autopilots, alternators, VHF's --you name it, it can put out RFI.
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Old 15-12-2015, 21:28   #24
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

You'd be proud of me, tonight I tested the radio with my buddy in San Carlos.

He said "What freq?"

I said, "It's night, so a low one!"
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Old 16-12-2015, 07:19   #25
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Hi Autumnbreeze,

Which marina are you in? I'm also in LaPaz and might be able to walk down and have a listen and help you sort things out.

Eric, AD6MH
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:21   #26
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

Autumnbreeze,
Good for you!!

BTW, please don't forget the FIRST rule of choosing the proper freq/channel...
1) use the highest frequency that allows communications, for the distance and time of day....(this typically gives the highest signal strengths, lowest noise, least d-layer absorption, etc.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
You'd be proud of me, tonight I tested the radio with my buddy in San Carlos.

He said "What freq?"

I said, "It's night, so a low one!"
So, as example...if 4, 6, and 8mhz will all work for some distance and time of day/night, choose 8mhz first....and then move lower if needed....


Also, I'm not sure where "San Carlos" is in relation to La Paz, but assuming you're both in the Sea of Cortez, 8mhz would be good most of the day and into early evening, with 6mhz from sunset into mid-evening...and 4mhz later...(and if you're > 250 miles away, try 12mhz during the day as well, especially mid-morning thru mid-afternoon....might not work, but give it a try...)


I hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 16-12-2015, 12:08   #27
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

On my old boat I gave up trying to track down all sources of interference. I found several (LED's were one) but what worked in the end was to turn off the inverter and the refrigerator when I wanted to use the SSB. Way easier.
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Old 16-12-2015, 13:16   #28

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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

In order to have an RFI problem, you have to have something that generates RFI. Which is a "radio" of some sort.


The OP has said he has RFI when everything except the notebook computer and radio are turned off. OK, I'll take him at his word, that everything, including the bilge pump and any solar chargers, really are stone cold dead and disconnected from all power.


If that's correct, and ignoring the possibility that the CIA may have planted eavesdropping devices on the boat without his knowledge (hey, just being open minded)...then the only RFI creator on the boat would be the NOTEBOOK.


In the US, they are FCC certified as "Class A" or "Class B" and sellers don't bother to tell you, only the Class A devices are "clean" enough to be used in residences. Class B are expected to cause RFI problems, all by themselves, in normal operation.


So the next question would be, if you also kill the notebook, pull the USB stick, pull the power connection, and make Real Damn Sure that only the radio and auto-tuner are alive....is there still RFI? I've never heard someone accuse an auto-tuner of creating RFI, but that would be the last step. Kill it, connect an antenna directly to the radio and see if there's still "RFI".


If there is, you need to make sure you really are hearing RFI, not background noises, and consider sending the radio out to visit Camp Icom.


RFI can always be pinned down by "divide and conquer" but really, you can't make ANY assumptions about it, because nowadays? Even a "candle" can make RFI. (The LED ones can, they've got electronics in them.)


The MFJ SWR meter is a good idea, in that you should always be able to check and confirm SWR for a transmitter. But for solving an RFI problem? Useless, totally useless. The only thing it can do for you, is tell you if the antenna tuner is properly faking a correct SWR on the side connected to the radio. (And that's what they do, they fake it, to keep the radio happy. They don't actually "tune" the antenna at all.)


On the bright side: Lots of background noise sure as hell beats a dead silent radio!
S
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Old 16-12-2015, 13:24   #29
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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

I continue to beat my head against this problem.

Today I tried moving the HAM to a separate battery. I was unable to hear time on 2.5 or 5 even with the seperate battery at around 1130am.

I still had a lot of static though, I tried 14300 and could just barely make out voices.

I used my iphone voice recorder as a way to test, recording the static on 14300 with each battery... it seemed like I had more noise on the lifepo4, but it takes me some time to switch things around.

I've got to run and catch a shuttle in to town, I plan on buying a DTDP switch so I can wire it up to two different batteries for more testing.

Things I can't easily turn off: the galvonic isolator, the victron power meter, and the BMS that's all over my fancy lithium battery.

So I'm hoping I can do better testing with the switch in place. I did some testing at 9am with my buddy in san carlos, he could hear me really good on 75m, but had no luck at higher bands. I couldn't hear him at all.
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Old 16-12-2015, 13:42   #30

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Re: Too much RX noise on HAM setup

"Things I can't easily turn off: the galvonic isolator, the victron power meter, and the BMS that's all over my fancy lithium battery."


Forget "easily". Forget the switch. KILL those three. Some alligator clips and jumper wires would be a better investment than the switch.


The galvanic isolator can be unplugged, the Victron...surely must have terminals or a fuse or a wire that can be cut? (Yeah, that'll cost you a splice, cheap price for diagnostics.)


The BMS....ah, now THAT could be a rich source of active electronics and microprocessors. If they were too cheap to use connecting plugs, unbolt it!


"My name is Ming, but you may call me Mister The Merciless."
[Flash Gordon and the Diagnostic Session.]
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