EMI/RFI source finally found!

This one caused an intermittent blackout on all HF bands in my shack over the past half year or so. Due to the intermittent nature it was extremely difficult to track down. This morning, it was again destroying all the fun in my shack so I decided to go out with the Sangean radio in another attempt to find the source, and I was lucky today! The source turned out to be an ice-cube machine in the pub next door. A motor actuated microswitch was sparking at a certain point in the ice-making cycle, you can hear the effect of it in this video. You can see the switch and drive motor in this picture. This failing switch also poses a fire hazard so I advised to take the machine off the mains until it has been repaired. I made a dance of joy this morning having finally rooted out this long lasting annoyance!

LoTW, finally

Yes, as of today i’m also on ARRL’s Logbook of The World. I received my certificate a week after sending my license to ARRL HQ via regular mail, not bad. I uploaded my entire log and got something like 180 QSL’s in return. Ham Radio Deluxe hassle-free upload automation is already in place.

Sniffing out man-made HF noise (updated)

Since  this summer, my hobby is at times made impossible because of intermittent 9+30 dB interference on all HF bands. When present, those strong fields are making  contacts virtually impossible. Because of the intermittence, it is difficult to locate the source. This morning, I decided to go for a neighborhood walk with a borrowed Sangean portable shortwave AM/SSB receiver (thanks, Boudewijn PD5WO) with headphones. Two, possibly three high level noise sources were identified, a restaurant, 30 meters away using PLC (aka Homeplug) equipment and even further down the street I found fluorescent signage of a snack bar causing enormously strong and constant broadband HF noise. Switching off the FL tubes made background noise drop several S points on 40 meters in my shack. The PLC’s are a different story altogether, those devices are a true nightmare for radio hams. In my case, a 30 Mhz wide +30dB rattle is present when data is being transferred between those devices. But I’m glad the search with a simple portable radio was fruitful and hopefully the owners of these PLC flamethrowers will cooperate in finding a workable solution for all parties involved. To be continued.

UPDATE Nov 20: I made a video of the intermittent interference and further investigation has sourced this noise to the Cafe next door. Will update when we located the culprit inside, I need assistance from the owner which I hopefully will get over the next few days. Will update when we found it. The owner of the restaurant with PLC’s has agreed to my proposal to replace them with a cat5e cable which I will provide and install for free. 

UPDATE Nov 29: FOUND IT. See this followup post

The noise disappears at the 53 seconds mark and reappears 50 seconds later, lasting over 5 minutes.

DXCC #98: Gibraltar

Had a short QSO with John King  ZB2JK working mobile from his car, adding a new DXCC to my list. It was nice working on 10 this afternoon, 14 stations came back on my CQ, including  fellow Dutchman Pier Kaspersma TF3PKN from Iceland, also several stations from Brazil, USA, Ukraine, Russia, Aruba and Turkey reported in. Not bad at all for a rainy saturday afternoon.