Splatter Sucks

Almost no weekend passes or there is a contest. I’m not a contester, but to each his own. I can’t compete with big guns anyway; I simply switch off HF and limit activities to VHF/UHF.

It’s not the sheer amount of output power bothering me during contests — it’s the sometimes insane amount of splatter. If I take a look at the spectrum, some signals changed into plain double sideband, and are sprinkled with numerous spikes up and down the working frequency. The spectrum looks a bit like a lawn that hasn’t been mowed for months.

Under normal circumstances I can filter out neighboring stations stations quite well, even if they’re only 1 or 2 KHz up or down. Not the most comfortable working conditions, sure, but my brain somehow filters out the rest. Not during a contest though.

Splatter on SSB transmissions is in fact nothing else than high-order intermodulation distortion (IMD), caused by gross overdriving on speech peaks. Any so-called “linear” amplifier will generate IMD if it is driven too hard.

Speech processors are usually advertised as giving your signal more “punch” or “talk power”. That can be true – but a speech processor can also help to eliminate splatter. If you adjust your speech processor correctly you can have a more “punchy” signal that gets the DX, and also a cleaner signal that doesn’t offend local stations.

Also keep an eye on your ALC. Please!

There’s nothing on the receiver’s side you or me can do about splatter. The solutions, as simple as they are, can only be done at the transmitter side. Just turn some of those pots down, thanks!

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