Thursday, June 17, 2021

Further investigation of my ongoing RFI.

A nice RFI free evening 

 In a previous post regarding my RFI issues I kinda narrowed it down to my smart hydrometer. I am now starting to move away from that theory. The RFI is still there and I have been doing some reading regarding our smart meter and the frequency they use to transmit data does not jive with an HF harmonic and I have been logging the RFI and there are some on/off times for the RFI and when I visit the meter during off times the noise my AM radio picks up is still there and just as strong. I have therefore removed the smart meter as an issue. 

About a month ago I received an email from a fellow ham who was dealing with some RFI and it seemed to be on a 12 hour on/off cycle. This got me thinking of a timer operated device, the ham had contacted hydro and they came by but really found no issues well none that seemed to connect to a 12 hour on/off cycle. I got to thinking and asked him to check with neighbours if they recently purchased a grow lamp system.  A short time later he emailed me informing me that his neighbour in fact did purchase a grow lamp device. When the device was unplugged his RFI issue went away. He is now filtering up the grow system to remove his RFI issue. 

RFI filled day

Now back to my RFI issue, I have started to log the on/off times for my RFI and it for sure is not on a precise 12 hour on/off cycle BUT it seems to turn off at night. Many times between 23:00 to 23:30. Other times I have seen it off at 21:00 but I can say that it is off each night and the off time my vary. As for the on time it can vary from 07:30 to 10:00. I have also had occasion were it has been off most of the day as well. My understanding is that the device is being turned off/on by the owner and not a timer. Because most of the time the on time is about 12 hours I am thinking it too is a grown lamp. 

I have asked the folks on both sides of me and have been told that neither have a grow system. I do understand they may not be telling me the truth as it really is none of my business. One of my neighbours I have been in his home and I can say that I have not seen a grow system anywhere. I have even wondered close to their homes when I have the RFI and I pick up nothing. 

Sometimes the RFI is not to bad

I do have an MFJ 1026 noise cancelling unit and for this device to work you need to have a listening antenna that hears the same RFI as the main antenna. I have been playing around with noise antennas for a few weeks and my result will be in my next post.....I was very surprised and confused with the results. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Spotted down under on 40m

 I was on 40m using FT8 this evening and I checked PSKreporter after being on for only a short time and was pleasantly surprised with a spot in Australia. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Mac and cheese me off!

A failed attempt and the adventure begins! 

As the contest season approaches, I wanted to once again warm up my CW contesting abilities.  One of my go-to programs is Morse Runner   and now it's available for Mac as well as Windows. About 6 months ago my faithful Mac PC informed me there was an OS upgrade I could do call Big Sur. Soon after the upgrade I found out that some programs no longer worked under this OS. One program that failed to work was Morse Runner. I did some online reading about the steps to downgrade to a previous Mac OS X and at the time I just did not want to end up spending hours at the PC trying to get things working again as these adventures I have found never end up being fast and easy. 

Well this weekend I found myself looking at the non functioning Morse Runner desktop icon on my Mac and I decided to take the plunge and downgrade! I decided to try what seemed to me to be the easy way which was to restart the Mac while holding down Option + Command + R keys and wait for a "spinning world globe" on the screen. Well the globe showed up and it was spinning with the words "internet recovery" I sat back and thought I was on my way. After a long time of globe spinning I was given the message "internet recovery failed" I tried again and was given the same message and I thought "here we go....." 

It was time to take the full plunge into the dark waters of erasing the hard drive......what could go wrong??? So off, I went to restart the Mac and held down the Command + R keys and I was greeted with the Mac OS utilities screen. I mouse clicked all the way through the hard disk erase process and then restarted the PC. I was greeted with a black screen (a black screen is never a good thing) with a do not enter symbol under that was a link for Apple support.  I restarted again just hoping that would do the trick but the same screen greeted me. I was told this screen (via the internet) is informing me I either have a damaged hard drive or my Mac is unable to boot up. 

It was time to go on my Windows PC and search the internet for answers. I did locate many posts of people who encountered the same result as me.  Apparently I did not complete some important steps when I erased the drive. It was time to restart the PC and hold down Command + R keys again to get back to the Mac OS utilities.  I then had to choose the disk utilities tab I then had to choose file formate (APFS) and choose partition map (GUID) and then finally under partition I chose 1. I then clicked continue and everything was ok. 

It was time to move onto the next step and install the OS, to this it was time to restart AGAIN while holding Command + R keys and then when the Mac OS utilities popped up choose "Reinstall Mac OS" and see what happens. This time I was greeted with the Mavericks OS and it was in the process of installing. Finally all done.........well not really! 

Once I entered all my information when prompted the OS finally started and I began to load my programs. The first was the antivirus and I was told the Mac OS version was out of date and the antivirus would not be installed. Great, another road block......The scuttlebutt on the internet informed me to go to the Apple Apps store and look for the OS I wanted to install then click on it and it will install. Well the only OS I could find was Big Sur and for sure I did not want to go down that road again! 

I found a link to the OS Catalina and I tried that but it eventually failed to download. I then found the Mojave OS  and it too failed to load. After some internet searching I finally found a link to the Mojave OS that according to user feedback was working as of just a few days ago. I tried it and it worked so I have Mojave 10.14.6 on my PC.  I am happy to report that all my programs are happy now and my copy of Morse Runner for Mac OS now works just fine. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Comparing my Endfed receive against my active antenna.

The first test did not work out well did not connect ant

 When I was at my QTH in Cambridge Ontario (about 7 years ago) one of the antennas was the LF Engineering H-800 active receive antenna. At the time I was using a screwdriver antenna and to go from one band to another to see the condition of the band meant I had to re-tune the screwdriver antenna (the High Sierra sidekick )  I am not even sure if they are still in business.   This antenna was ground-mounted in my backyard and was removable. I was in a very antenna restrictive area so it was very portable and only out when I was using it. 

 The active antenna gave me a fast way to check on band conditions and it worked very well. It was mounted in the attic of my home. Over time I moved from the screwdriver antenna to an attic-mounted Alpha Delta DX-EE antenna. No longer did I have to retune when going from band to band. So I ended up selling the active antenna as I figured I would not need it anymore. Well fast forward to us selling our home in Cambridge and moving to downtown Toronto and having to use an MFJ mag loop to get on the air the good old active antenna was needed again! I purchased it and once again it worked very well for me. 

Endfed decodes

Then it was time to retire and get out of the city as the only reason we moved to Toronto was both Julie and I worked there and we were getting very tired of the 1.5 hours each way commute from Cambridge. We once again sold our place and now we live in Atlantic Canada in New Brunswick. It is amazing here very slow lifestyle, the people are very welcoming and the ocean is just minutes away. 

So here we are in New Brunswick and my antenna is a 56-foot Endfed antenna and I really don't have a need for the H-800 active antenna but it is set up at the back of our home just for poops and giggles.  Today I decided to compare how it receives compared to my Endfed antenna. I went onto FT-8 and did some decoding using the Endfed and some decodes using the H-800. It was early afternoon here and 20m seemed to be doing very well. I did some decoding with the Endfed and then the H-800. I found 2 things.....the Endfed seemed to receive more DX stations but the H-800 did receive some DX but totally different ones than the Endfed did. Now the Endfed is horizontal and the H-800 is vertical so is that the reason? 

H-800 decodes 

Here we go down that road again of whether or not I need the H-800?