Jam a Ham

*update 1/1/2012* Comments are closed for this article.

It’s always fun to take a look at search engine terms. How did visitors end up here? In 99.9% of the cases, search engine terms are predictable: a certain Yaesu model, a specific antenna or something similar.

A few days ago, I found this one: “Jamming a Ham Radio transmitter”.

This puzzled me. What was this person looking for? Why was he searching for ways to jam a Ham? Immediately, fantasy kicks in. For a start, he (let’s assume it’s a male) must be desperate. Maybe he has a crappy TV, the worst coax lines in the world, no decent grounding, or still uses HiFi equipment dating back to the eighties. As a result, he hears and sees things that shouldn’t be there.

When generic HiFi or TV equipment starts acting as receivers for, lets say, shortwave signals, something is wrong, really wrong. Assuming that a Ham has everything working as it should, interference should be absent or minimal. Consumer electronics just aren’t supposed to pick up our signals.

Unfortunately, consumers can’t be expected to understand this. They will rather think “This amplifier was the most expensive one could buy at the time. Expensive = good”. For us, it’s a time to talk to, and educate the consumer. It’s also a time to do everything we possibly can to solve the problem.

Ferrite ringsIn most cases, replacing old coax lines by properly shielded ones, making sure the equipment is grounded and installing ferrite clamps, rods or ‘pig noses’, will do the trick. Wire around ferrite acts as a choke for RF currents and time base noise.

Not only will our neighbors be free of interference, we will be too. While we’re at it anyway, why not kill the interference generated by badly designed switching power supplies, as found in modern LCD and plasma TV’s, plaguing us on our HF bands?


44 comments on “Jam a Ham

  1. it’s the year 2007 and people are still using ham radio, there’s something called the internet now were you can do everything a ham radio can and more, even a telephone, never mind a cell phone is more practical. ham radio is from the dinosaur age and its the only for of communication that has never been used by a female or anyone under 60.

    • The guy who wrote this is the dinosaur. The radio ham with the battery operated man-pack Clansman or equivalent ex-US Mil radio and a morse key will get his message out when the phones are out and the gizmo gadgets for small girls, (cell-phones etc ) are just useless ornaments, as after Hurricane Sandy. GreenRadioOperator [That is green as in Cam69!)

  2. You’re confusing Ham radio with plain communication. Ham radio is about experimenting with various electronic designs and new antenna models.

    Many of the communication devices you are using now, such as GSM, would not exist at this time if it were not for Hams. They pioneered much of the technology.

  3. I agree with number 1…. there is no need for ham radio since the internet…. it is beyond dinosaur time we don’t need to go back to marconi… if there is ever a disaster that requires ham radio, you better buy ham steaks, cause ham radio will be the least of our concerns…. or the least of our communication problems and the emissions cause cancer…. so there are no benefits, all risk and stupid to boot… IMHO

    in the dark ages when ham radio came….the pony express was no longer needed… likewise now for ham operators…. and btw… operators are very weird people…. so please…. society will welcome you back into the mainstream…

  4. No need for amateur radio? – Lets see – when there is a major diaster lets see you take your laptops to the hills and ask for help – how long do your batteries last?( when the wireless links are down also..)
    Amateurs are often the first to be able to get information to and from striken areas in the event of an emergency..Internet users are not, Further more any idiot can sit behind a key board – being a licensed radio operator requires skill and knowledge… you might want to investigat what you coment on before yo demsonstrate here on the internet – to the world if you will – your ignorance and stupidity.

    • Ham radio is useless these days…thanks to egotistic ham radio operators who hog frequencies as if they own it.

      I am sorry but these below are myths…in the Philippines alone the last strong typhoon in 2009, videos, situationers, pictures were fast relayed using GSM networks and 2 meter bootleggers…

      “Many of the communication devices you are using now, such as GSM, would not exist at this time if it were not for Hams. They pioneered much of the technology.

      Amateurs are often the first to be able to get information to and from striken areas in the event of an emergency..Internet users are not, Further more any idiot can sit behind a key board – being a licensed radio operator requires skill and knowledge… you might want to investigat what you coment on before yo demsonstrate here on the internet – to the world if you will – your ignorance and stupidity.”

  5. Yeah in a major disaster let’s see you flee your house with a 20 foot radio tower on your back carrying a ham radio in a shopping cart. how far are you going to get? If there is a disaster the first thing you do is pick up the most important things essential for your survival and you RUN. Your kids, some water and food and a cell phone if you have one and run out the door. I agree that ham radio is helpful but when there is a emergency it isn’t residencial ham operators that do anything, it’s emergency workers. The people who have ham radio’s in their homes would be busy running for their lives unless there is a way to operate a ham radio underwater. Furthermore it is more dangerous than helpful to have an antenna on top of a house because it attracts lightning and can instantly kill someone in the same room as the radio. Also, every single conversation i’ve ever heard on ham radio has be ridiculous petty talk about nothing. Spending all that money and time rigging up a tower and getting a license and pulling wires this way and that and generally making your home look like a junkyard just to get on the radio and talk about how cool your canoe is. Come on, there’s a new invention called the telephone. Why not use that?

    • Take your cell phone into your cellar next time a tornado rips thru your area.”What no signal” And the computer,…ever heard of the isp being down?…or Oooops no power electricity went out? How long can you talk when the bars run low on your phone and the power won,t be on fore days? Can you hear me now? Who do you think found the technology that gave birth to your wireless or wired anything. It sure wasn,t AT&T nor Verizon nor Apple or Gateway or HP. It was men experimenting with radio waves,their hobby.

  6. Well, I am commenting on the actual article. In my neighborhood is a ham operator that is causing a huge problem. His signals are bleeding over onto a lot of consumer electronic equipment. We just had a baby and his signals are so strong that we can clearly hear him over the baby monitor. We’ve also had issues when using a white noise maker (I snore). If it is plugged into the wall, we hear him loud and clear. If we run it on batteries, then we don’t hear him.

    I am trying to figure out if having so much RF bleed over is allowed for ham operations. I wouldn’t think that we should be receiving signals on consumer equipment. I looked for jamming because my wife is at her wits end. Every time this guy decides to chat with his friends, we get blasted and woken up. The other option is to turn off the baby monitor and noise maker, which means we can’t know when the baby is crying. Further, one of my neighbors also has a baby and they get the same signal too. So we have one person, who likes to talk during the night, who is causing lots of problems with basic consumer electronics equipment.

    I’d buy a better baby monitor if I though it’d work; however, I have heard him on my iPod when it has been plugged into to the wall power and over our voice of IP phone.

    Anyway, I am about ready to buy a low power ham radio, dig out the frequency he is working on and key the mic. I know I don’t need much power to keep him from receiving signals from his distant friends. I think I could get in trouble, but you try dealing with an exhausted wife day after day.

  7. To the people saying HAM radio is useless in todays time: Use your internet to look up all the HAM radio operators who have helped coordinate disaster relief all over the world. You will find many articles, go look.

    To the last guy with a HAM operator causing problems: You can report the guy to the FCC(assuming you are in the USA).

    As for the original Article: I was just reading all I could find about jamming, trying to figure out why people do it.

  8. Hans, I am sure it is very frustrating for American consumers when they experience ham radio interference on their electronic equipment. The U.S. Communications Amendments Act of 1982 (Public Law 97-259; Sen. Barry Goldwater’s dream law) was basically intended to shield both ham radio operators and electronic equipment manufacturers from liability from such interference, and gives the consumer absolutely no recourse. I’ a ham, too, but I know something unfair when I see it.

  9. I sometimes wonder about why some people go hunting or go fishing, or just about any other hobbies and interests. All of those (except the ones I like of course) are useless in my book too. But do I go out and bash them telling them that it is out of date, useless, and call these people socially inept etc? Why do people go camping if they can stay at a motel / hotel?

    All the criticisms are unnecessary as nobody is trying to provoke them. May be they feel better after belittling others. Now that “hobby” I would also called useless.

  10. I’m all for hobbies as long as I don’t have to be a part of each and every one of them. I have a ham user somewhere in my neighborhood that I’ve bee trying to track down but cannot locate an antenna. The issue I am having is just like the rest of you, I’m getting static when I’m trying to enjoy my TV shows. I usually watch them through the surround sound and when he/she keeps up it not only messes up the picture but I’ve got static coming at me from every direction. I even pick it up through the subwoofer when everything else is shut off. To top it all off I have “touch” lighting in my house and he/she is causing my lights to flicker on and off the entire time they are keyed up. I need to know if there is a way to locate ham operators in my neighborhood without having to knock on each door. Any suggestions.

  11. Hi Doug,

    you could try using a portable frequency counter. I use one to track down jammers and illegal radio stations. Example of my model:


    The device is cheap, you should be able to get one for about $100 – $150. It measures the frequency someone is using, and if you get close enough to the source, the ‘field strenght’ meter at the bottom will start to work. You can pinpoint the exact house the signal is coming from.

    BTW, “touch’ lighting is known to be a disaster. They’re produced as cheap as possible, with no filters installed whatsoever.

  12. i would like to know what you plan to do when you find the ham radio operator??? he/she has the fcc on his or her side..they will come out and investagate the ham station and if it is runnig properly they will tell you to install filters and upgrade to better phones and electronics devices…plus there is just about nothing you can do to the station .case in point i am a ham and the cable company tears me a new one all th etime i have filled 6 complaints with the fcc so far and nothing has been done about it …
    i have had several hams complain to the fcc and still nothing.. if you own cheap electronics the you must accept all harmful interference just he way i have to put up with it …its a drag i know me being a ham and even i have to pt up with bleed over it is the nature of th ebeast

  13. Scott has a point, although I would rather say “cheaply designed” instead of cheap. Even expensive electronics can be designed poorly. The price tag doesn’t mean a thing.

  14. Thank you Hans, I’ll check out your link and see if it helps with my issue, and as for the touch lighting, it’s just one piece of furniture so it’s now unplugged.

    Scott, I have nothing against Ham operators so cool your transistors, I’m looking for a way to prevent the interference on my side, not have a cross burning on his lawn. I used to experience the same interference from a neighbor in the house I grew up in, but that was several years ago however and I would have suspected there’d be better equipment he/she could use that would prevent that static. I’m guessing I’m wrong. If you have a suggestion as to what type of filters I could use for my TV and stereo system your input would be appreciated. It’s my understanding from other forums that improper grounding or lack there of could play a major part in the interference. Would you agree with this? I realize if you’ve got the necessary permits or license to operate the radio there isn’t much I could do but if bad grounding is the cause, assuming bad grounding could be the problem, then the FCC needs to be informed and check it out.

    Thank you both for your input.

  15. Grounding is very inportant. If your audio equipment isn’t grounded, the electronics become suspectible to interference. The same applies to the radio operator, btw.

    The radio operator might use an attic antenna. Not a good choice really, an antenna should be hanging free, as high as possible. This will not only ensure a better reception and a better range, but – last but not least – will cause less interference. In some areas outside antennas are banned though.

    Loudspeaker wires often act as antennas, because they’re not shielded. A simple experiment: unplug all speaker wires at the amplifier side and plug in a headphone. If the interference disappears, the speaker wires should be replaced by shielded ones, or made ‘deaf’ to radio signals by placing ferrite clamps or similar filters.

  16. To the poster who mentioned carrying the 20 foot tower: HAm radio can be done with a tiny transmitter and a string of wire up in a tree. And that cellphone of yours might not work in the situation you describe, but i can still talk to china with 2 watts.

  17. I have not read this whole thread, but I do have modern, ferris protected sound hardware and my neighbor STILL bleeds his damn signal into every speaker in my house.

    What can a citizen do against someone who is abusing the airwaves with sloppy over powered signals?

  18. I can assure the fellow with the new baby that If, yo do something stupid like try to jam the frequency that he’s on you yourself will be in Violation of Federal law and could be arrested and could go to Federal prison so, you’d better think long and hard about the Consequences of your actions. Baby Monitors i pods and such all come under Federal part 15 and MUST accept all interference.

  19. Ok, so let me understand. It is up to the neighbors of the ham radio operator to go out and buy equipment to shield from their hobby? It is caused by my bad wiring? Let’s give an isolated example. My wife is working on her laptop, that the mouse is just going haywire, then we hear the neigbors voice over his 20+ foot giant antenna (not wire, full on column) that he has in his back yard. I think, “Hey maybe it is the power lines/AC lines” So I unplug her computer from the AC line and the mouse still doesn’t get under control. When he stops talking, we have control when he is talking… dancing. My daughter has nightmares because of the “voice coming over the speakers” when we let her listen to music to calm her down at night. So… let’s put this in perspective. This is like smoking. It is a hobby/habit that someone does that poisons everyone around them. That is why they make it illegal in public areas where you have no alternative. I am not going to move for this monstrosity. I talked to him about it, and he says “I HAVE MY RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW”!!! If you dont’ count the x2 lightning strikes that blew out all the equipment in his house, there is little karma in this issue. It isn’t a hobby, it is an assualt.

    • I am also an amateur radio operator and I can tell you that you neighbor is mistaken he can not cause interference when he uses his radio equipment. You should contact the FCC. If I was causing interference to my neighbors I would do everything possible to fix the problem even if that means I do not use my HF radio equipment when they are home. I have never had any issue like you are describing but there are many things that any good amateur radio operator would be able to do to help.

      He is wrong using these radio frequencies is a privilege granted to us by the FCC and passing several tests and not a right under the law.

      Please email me for more advice spoon696@hotmail.com

      • These comment it’s for spoon696. I would like you to give me an advice.I have a neighbor who have a CB radio and,I can hear him through my TV. He wake me up all the time at 8:30 am every morning. I already talked to him, and he said that it’s not his fault. Last Sunday he used the radio the whole day and, he was even calling me names. I’m so tired of this that, I call the cops on him but, they told me, they can’t do anything about it and, I think that’s so wrong. I called my cable company and they told me that I have to buy an RIT filter. Please, can you tell me what can I do or, who can I call to make him stop. It’s so annoying. I really appreciate if you can respond to this message. Thank you

      • I’m not sure if spoon969 is following this blog and this rather old post. CB radio in the USA uses Amplitude Modulation, which is the worst of all options when it comes to causing interference. However, that’s the way it is, it’s the law.

        Assuming everything is OK at the CB radio end (which is impossible to determine from half a globe away), there are some things you could look at. First of all, does your TV has a mains connector at the back with a ground pin? If so, the manufacturer expects you to use it. When in the USA, I noticed that ground is often not used, and a 2-pin plug is used, bypassing the ground pin. This will effectively disable all shielding properties.

        Low quality coax can cause a lot of problems, too. Check weather the coax you use is properly shielded. Cheap coax can be recognised by the poor, loosely braided shielding. Good coax is double shielded. Check with a professional to figure out whether it’s necessary to replace it.

        Last but not least: normally the police isn’t interested, nor knowledgeable, contact the FCC instead. They can check if the CB operator is working according to the FCC rules and regulations. Many CB operators transmit with more power than is allowed, or use illegal equipment. If that is the case, all you efforts might be in vain.


  20. I have a new neighbor who is a ham and I get tons of bleed in addition to his use of the F-bomb every other word which comes over my phone lines and TV’s when he’s using it.
    I’ve read the thread thus far and correct me if I’m wrong but I have no recourse due to FCC regulations and so we just have to live with this. Somethings wrong with that. I shouldn’t have to spend my $$$ to accommodate his hobby. He’s disturbing the peace not me and he should be held responsible for the harm he is causing the people around here. Anybody got a reasonable suggestion?

  21. I am a ham and im young, There is a place for ham radio. the internet ISNT a hobby. As for communications use, its fun because you DONT HAVE TO PAY A SERVICE to talk to people across the globe or your friends locally. You maintain your own equipment, you know what your service coverage is like. SO when your voip phone is down, your cell service is out. or the power goes down at your cell site. Im still chatting over the air on batteries, plugged into the wall or a generator. To the guy that has the baby monitor problem. your picking it up every time you plug some crap in the wall. Check your grounding on everything. Apparrently your electrical system is resonant on whatever band he is using. OOPS.

  22. Your ham set is a hobby-pure and simple. How do you compare it with other hobbies which do not interfer with neighbors? Plenty of fishing and hunting hobbiest have helped people in need also, but they do not interrupt the surround sound, telephone, and computer speakers of everyone in the neighborhood.
    You take the position that it is the fault of the offended. If there was not interference before the idiot ham operator put three antannae next door, how is the interference my fault? And how do companies sell filters if ham does not, in itself, corrupt signals?
    You hobby is the most offensive of modern times. Not only does it cross privacy lines, it also destroys neighborhood property values. It will be a grand day when it is outlawed.
    In the meantime, if this is such a good service, why don’t your members contact neighbors, understand the problem, and try to help repair it?

  23. Here are the FCC rules regarding antenna structures.
    The FCC does not require a permit for the antennas being used.

    Sec. 97.15 Station antenna structures.

    (a) Owners of certain antenna structures more than 60.96 meters (200
    feet) above ground level at the site or located near or at a public use
    airport must notify the Federal Aviation Administration and register
    with the Commission as required by part 17 of this chapter.
    (b) Except as otherwise provided herein, a station antenna structure
    may be erected at heights and dimensions sufficient to accommodate
    amateur service communications. (State and local regulation of a station
    antenna structure must not preclude amateur service communications.
    Rather, it must reasonably accommodate such communications and must
    constitute the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the state or
    local authority’s legitimate purpose. See PRB-1, 101 FCC 2d 952 (1985)
    for details.)

  24. The best resource is to contact the manufacturer of the various devices that are receiving the unwanted interfering signals. The manufacturer may be able to provide an appropriate shield and/or filtering device. If the manufacturer cannot provide assistance, other sources of filters and shielding are available. Ferrite beads can be installed on the line to help resolve the interference. Any electronic store should sell this type of filter.

    Also, amateur operators are very knowledgeable on this subject. If you live in PA as I do) you may want to contact the ARRL for assistance. The section manager for Eastern Pennsylvania is Eric D. Olena, WB3FPL, 284 Blimline Rd , Mohnton , PA 19540-7810 (610-775-0526); email: wb3fpl@arrl.org

    ARRL Website: http://www.arrl.org/sections/?sect=EPA

  25. Ham radio, for me, is jsut a fun passtime, BUT…

    In Egpyt, with all the recent turmoil in the country, the first thing authorities did was pull the plug on cell phones, text messaging, and the internet.

    Can’t happen here? Last summer, the VP was trying to push a bill that would give the prez the power to throw an “internet kill switch”.

    Too much power at the top as far as I’m concerned.

    FWIW, I wouldn’t need to haul a 20 foot tower “into the hills”. A quick, easy and effective antenna, small enough to be hung from a tree branch, can be made from a short length of twin-lead tv antenna cable (remember the flat cable you used to hook up to your tv?). For higher frequencies the antenna only needs trees about 50 feet apart.

    For power supplies, there are a few radios that have internal rechargable batterie and yet they can still reach out and talk coast to coast-and the ability to get the word out-a simple “I’m okay” or “Your family is okay” to people outside of the affected area is worth as much as whatever you’d pay for peace of mind.

    In a dyed in the wool SHTF situation a primative system like Ham Radio may be the only method of communication left, God forbid.

  26. Can Amatuer Radio users have access to cell phone signals? I have a friend who I believe was able to track me via my cell phone. Is that possible?

  27. The solution is simple. You jam me, I will get a team of “fox-hunters” together, wee will track you, find you and arrest you. Any unlicensed jammer is a potential threat to safety of life, at sea, in the air, and on land. My view is you get a very long sentence, as there is no mitigation for such action period. and my guess is that those proposing “jamming” do not have the intellect or application to do something useful like get the knowledge to solve their interference problem or even get a license. It is always easy to blame the ham (dja.)

  28. It is not the Licenced radio operators fault.
    When you have “ANY” consumer electronics in your home the FCC mandates that all consumer electronics such as Phones,Televisions, Speakers,Computers,etc.etc. must have a notice to the user that interference from RF may be posable and such interference must be accepted. It is the consumer and or manafacture,s responsabuilty to provide preventive filtering “NOT” the possable Licensed amaruer radio operator. Also other way arround if any device causes interference to a Licensed Amatuer radio operator the device causeing the interference can not be used.The FCC can impose a harsh fine for any devise that continues to interfere with a Lic Amatuer station. The Amatuer station must also be operated under the guide lines stipulated in the regulations. It is not an open shut case of just complaining. The complaint could back fire.

  29. Well said Radioman, the whole concept of “Jan-a-Ham”is wrong, apart from being illegal.

    It can only originate with the “Techno-nerd” mindset prevalent today among many both young and old who fail to realize how fragile the electronic cocoon they live in is. And how much that environment has been created and is progressed thanks to the same “Hams” and other amateur experimenters they would suppress.

    The “Techno-nerd” are the same sort of folks who demand electric cars but scream loudest when their neighborhood is repeatedly blacked out since three “Techno-nerd” guys buy them and plug them in at the same time. They are the same people who like to order everyone else around in the name of the “environment”. Who complain that cellphone towers are a hazard, but are never off their cellphone. Who bitch about the towers but do not look to the microwave source in their pockets constantly dosing them with microwaves.

    As for ham radio emergency communications, quite often the Hams are “on the job” long before professional emergency workers arrive on scene in major disaster areas. A basic QRP (low power) rig can fit in the palm of your hand, basic antenna consists of a wire dipole slung from trees or buildings, will run of dry cells, an auto battery or for a more powerful rig a gas or diesel generator. No 40 foot tower here, no heavy gear. But even my 1970s vintage gear is all rigged for emergency 12 DC operation. I personally favor trapped verticals for emergency operation. With that setup I have consistently maintained voice (SSB) contact from England and Ireland to New Zealand using less transmitter power than that required for a torch bulb (200 milliwatts).

    I also wonder what life-saving activity the guy’s wife was engaged in with the haywire electronic mouse? And how he “knows” it is caused by a ham and not a Microwave oven that happen operate on the same band ans mice? A band were the mice and Blue-tooth devices are the interlopers here, cannot claim protection from Microwave ovens (also known as Magnetron ovens) radiation!!! Perhaps she should revert to the “old technology” a wired mouse, That would also reduce her exposure to the “Blue-tooth” microwave radiation the wireless mouse is putting out.

    Give knowledge to a wise man he becomes wiser, but give .a little knowledge to a fool and he becomes a danger.to himself and all around him, And if let loose with a “jammer” is a danger to Safety of Life and Navigation on land, sea and in the air, and an International Criminal. Jamming is illegal under SOLAS and other international treaties. Perpetuates should be hung at dawn, same as pirates, no excuse!

  30. Some (hopefully) clear-headed advice for anyone experiencing RFI (radio-frequency interference) to their consumer electronics gear.

    If an amateur radio operator really is involved in the situtation with your equipment (there are other radio services and other sources of electrical noise), you may actually be somewhat in luck provided you handle the situation diplomatically. Amateurs are individually required to pass tests demonstrating a certain level of knowledge about radio technology, regulations, etc. This know-how obviously varies considerably depending on the individual amateur anywhere from practically nil to considerable expertise. The point being that the amateur next door whose voice you may be hearing on your stereo may also be the closest source of technical experience available to help work towards a resolution of the problem.

    At the very outset, it needs to be understood by all parties involved what their legal and fair responsibilities are. The amateur radio operator is responsible, legally, and financially for the proper operation of his station in accordance with FCC regulations, technical standards, good engineering and good amateur practice. If an interference situation exists because of some spurious emission from his station that should not be there according to regulation or appropriate technical standards, it is his responsibility to fix it or cease operating until he does fix it. The owner of the consumer equipment is responsible, legally and financially, for the operation of his equipment, if it is a FCC part 15 device that is causing interference to a licensed radio service (including amateur radio) then he must fix it or cease using it. Part 15 devices also have no protection from and must accept interference from licensed radio services. If the equipment is some device that should not even be receiving radio signals at all, such as a telephone, stereo, touch lamp, etc., the problem is always with the device itself and can only be solved by appropriate filtering or sometimes by getting a different device that is more immune to moderate RF fields.

    With that being said, the true source and extent of the problem can only be determined by thorough testing with the full cooperation and assistance of the ham next door. Every device experiencing issues should be tested and evaluated with the amateur operating on the air at all the different frequency bands and power levels that he normally uses with his antenna pointed in different directions (assuming he has a rotatable antenna). Since this level of cooperation is essential, it is imperative that the situation be handled with delicate diplomacy on the part of all parties involved. Finger pointing and blame is not useful and counterproductive. If the situation has deterioriated to the point that this is not possible, knowledgeable intermediaries may be helpful. In the larger cities, local ham clubs may have formed RFI committees to help with these situations, or the ARRL may be able to recommend someone.

    I will reiterate, the ham is responsible for his own equipment. The owner of the consumer equipment is responsible for his own equipment, including purchasing any filter devices, etc. that may be necessary. The amateur or RFI committee may have some filters for testing but are not responsible to buy permanent filters or solutions for the owner of the consumer gear. Do not expect the amateur or other volunteers to work on your equipment, given the potential liability issues, it would be extremely unwise for them to do so and possibly illegal in some states.

    The baby monitors mentioned in a previous old post may actually be an example of a potential easy fix, if I understood the symptoms correctly. It sounded as if they were all right if they were running on their internal batteries and not plugged into the wall chargers. If this is so, it immediately tends to rule out spurious emissions from the radio transmitter and point to the most common cause of RFI- fundamental overload. This occurs when a strong radio frequency signal gets into a device and saturates it’s circuits, causing internally generated harmonics, mixing products, rectification, and what have you. The solution is to keep the RF out of the device, or at least attenuate it to a level where it is no longer a problem. In the case of the baby monitors, I would try common mode chokes formed by wrapping multiple turns of the charger cord around an appropriately chosen ferrite core to stop the RF from following the charger cord into the monitor. The house wiring makes a great wire antenna and conducts RF energy into any device plugged into it.

    A good reference book and source of decades of experience in RFI and solutions is the ARRL’s RFI Book, 3rd edition. RFI is not a new issue by any means, it is as old as radio, but today there are countless more gizmos, devices, and doodads available to consumers that could potentially be interfered with or be sources of interference themselves.

    To summarize a long and windy post, seek your ham neighbors cooperation and help. An adversarial relationship accomplishes nothing but gloom and despair. RFI is a thorny issue that doesn’t always have easy answers, so totally ignore anyone on this post or anywhere else who just tells you what you may want to hear about how it is all the amateur’s fault or it is always the consumer devices fault (though it usually is). This includes some manufacturers who may try to pass the buck. It can go both ways and only thorough testing can get to the bottom of it.

  31. I still have very vivid memories of 9/11 and the 2003 blackout in NYC;useless cell phone, working dual-band. Family and friends knew within 30 minutes I was ok and walking home…

  32. Need for ham radio? OF COURSE there is a need, the nice thing is that amateur operators maintain their own equipment for their own good. This means that during high traffic times when cell sites reach full capacity (see southern california traffic, accidents and cell coverage) communication is nearly garaunteed. Wouldnt you rather have a select group of geeks as a backup (sandy, katrina) for when the battery backups for the cell site drain and the generators run out of propane or diesel? We keep solar panels, deep cycle batteries and generators on hand JUST FOR FUN.

    I have had to deal with RFI on my neighbors cheap import goods, and its a pain in the butt dealing with stupid people (not unlike those that say cell phones and internet negate the amateur radio purpose). The rfi i was causing was from 2m ssb believe it or not.

    Just by chance i had notice of the 7.0+ earthquake that hit near the border of CA and mexi-can’t and new about it BEFORE i felt it. Cell service was nill after the quake due to everybody trying to communicate. 200w of vhf can reach a LONG way…..needless to say my communcations were made. 🙂 the internet works, but not as reliably as my “hobby” gear. VOIP sucks too, the latency and lack of proper audio setup by most people makes it a waste of time in my eyes.

    As for the RFI, people just need to learn some basics and put some ferrite chokes on things or a couple capacitors to knock the noise down. Typically the problem is high power 11m (CB) transmitters splattering over a wide bandwidth with 500 watts or more, hams are helpful usually…. and cb’rs usually arent.

    Ive operated for a few years now on the very infamous repeaters known nationally and even internationally in southern california, jammers and high power are nothing new for me. 200w amp and a 17b2 usually take care of any qrm from “jammers”. Ive got friends running 26b2s or stacked 2m12’s with kilowatts behind them on vhf and dont cause any interference other than nulling out other hams recievers in the giant swath they cover.


    • I am an old ham, a SWL and ham for the past almost 70 year. My experience is that the first thing that goes down in any king of emergency (think Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake etc) is all the modern wonder gizmo gadgetry, cellphone nets, tetra, digi-tv, the source of much of the QRM experienced by hams, go out and it is left to the hams of the world to get and keep the emergency communications, messages flowing. At which time the detractors of ham radio who shout the loudest under “normal” conditions find us might useful to bring in aid to them, not that they often say thanks. Unfortunately such is the lack of manners among most of the gizo classes.

      As for sorting out idiot domestic gear “cheap foreign imports” I would not touch it, it is not your problem. In such a case I would point the “idiot owner” at the importer. Here in Europe anything sold here needs a CE mark, I would alert the FCC if your in the US, as far as I am aware imports must conform to certain standard as far as RFI susceptible as well as safety requirements but you probably know that.

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