29 Jul Local Radio Interference
Last Updated on July 29, 2021
Local Radio Interference – know where to look in your own home
Interference. It’s the bane of the Radio Amateur’s life.
There are two types – one you can’t do much about such as power line interference and the neighbour’s solar installation, and one you can do something about – local interference, such as dodgy battery chargers and cheap and nasty LED lighting.
LEDs are really good for the environment. They can last for years which means their carbon footprint is minimal compared to other forms of lighting. They’re also low voltage which is a big advantage for consumers.
One of the most overlooked sources of interference to the radio spectrum is right under our noses. It’s rather obvious, but the LED lighting in the shack, or on the table next to your favourite transceiver is quite often the source of your noise.
There are many retailers who unknowingly or maybe knowingly sell lighting solutions that cause EMI.
With radios such as the IC-7300 and the IC-9700 that features a spectrum waterfall display, noise from any source is easily spotted.
I have a few LED lights in the shack that create havoc on 6m but are seemingly quiet on other bands. These lamps are Harte Work Lamps from Ikea.
The LED lights in the ceiling can also be a big noise emitter. I recently had all the LED lights in the house replaced with quality LED downlights that comply with our local standards. These old downlights lifted the noise floor on 2m to a point that hearing some weak signals and beacons impossible.
LED lights aren’t the only culprits though. Switching power supplies such as plug packs and eBay buck converters can cause grief. Poorly terminated LAN cables, cheap network routers, computers, as well as automotive battery and power tool chargers also generate unwanted signals on many the bands. Even cheap set-top boxes and mast head tv amplifiers are notorious sources of interference.
There are enough sources of EMI beyond our control so when it comes to locally generated in your home, buy the best quality products you can afford from a reputable seller. That way you can return them if they generate signals where they shouldn’t.