Thursday, August 15, 2019

Casing the Environment

We have completed our move to Evergreen Woods, at least to the point of unpacking many of our boxes of "stuff".  Time to check out the Electromagnetic Environment. 

It's not all good or all bad. The fact is that we're inside a fairly large complex of 249 apartments and commons buildings.  We are in a rural/suburban setting, but the buildings have complex systems for HVAC, data networks, and power distribution.  So we expect a somewhat challenging RFI situation for HF.  You see one example above.  All the peaks (separation ~106 kHz) seem to come from one source that probably gets here via the AC power line.

I am using a Flex 6500 SDR as an RFI receiver with an EMCO 6502 active loop antenna.  The antenna sits at my new second-floor operating position, not far from some metal objects that probably affect the measurements.  The proposed antenna site is on the roof above the third floor, which is probably (hopefully) a somewhat better location!

Zooming in to get some finer detail, we see three of these peaks in the 40 M band:

A working hypothesis is that these may come from the building elevator system, with the glitches occurring during elevator motion.

This 106 kHz frequency comb is not quite fatal for ham radio, because in most cases you can choose an operating frequency away from the RFI.

There seem to be several sorts of RFI that become visible at various operating frequencies and various times of day.  Some of them are quite broad (no narrow spectral peaks), and some are impulsive, like ignition interference or PLC-type digital signaling.  The Flex 6500 has several noise blanking options that are at least partially effective.

The antenna is probably going to be placed above the flat roof shown below:

A diagonal run of about 100 ft looks possible, using 20 ft masts.

Stay tuned for further developments!

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