Sunday, November 10, 2019

Software error messages.....gotta love them!!!

A drive through the town
Good evening from Atlantic Canada, just yesterday we had our first Maritime snowfall is around 10cm or so. That's more or less a dusting when it comes to snowstorms I am told down this way. The temperature was in around 0C during the storm but it cooled off after the snowfall down to -5C. Hmmmm so way the weather report......I had a chance to see how the Endfed antenna held up in the snow. When I got up in the morning I noticed the snow accumulation on the wire and caused a major sag. It's funny how a small wire can get such a large (compared to the wire size) amount of snow it. Just a fast "flick" of the Endfed wire fixed the snow issue and the antenna was back to its normal height.
While on FT8 Saturday morning on 30m which is my normal watering hole these days with a cup of Java as I greet the morning I noticed a message appear on my PC screen. It was a message from my Win4icom software suite. Usually, these messages are not a good sign and rarely contain info you really want to see while having fun on the radio. This message was not good news... and my FT8 stopped working, my rig was stuck in transmit and CAT communication was lost.
Just love seeing these messages
To be fair I did have this message in the, not too distant past. The messages informs you regarding a possible RFI issue, it turned out it was, in fact, an RFI issue. After doing some reading on the internet I found others had issues with the USB cable from the Icom 7610 to the PC. The solution was ferrite chokes on the USB cable which I did and the issue was gone. For some reason, it was back and I wasn't sure why? I did a very fast check of the chokes as they are snap-on ones and sometimes they unsnap but all seemed to be good that way. I had things to do and had to investigate the cause later in the day or evening. My antenna is an Endfed from KX3helper.com and as I have read many times on the internet and user groups that these antennas are prone to RFI issues. Up to this point, I have placed a high quality 1:1 balun from balun designs on the coax feed close to the radio.  I have also grounded all my equipment to a single point then to an 8-foot ground round. I have tried adding a separate counterpoise to the Endfed antenna and that did nothing to improve things. It would seem that I now have some type of an RFI issue or according to the message a software issue but I am inclined to think it is RFI popping up its ugly head again.
Make shift connection 
My first question to myself is "what has changed with the radio, antenna and computer software"..... nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed was the weather it has gotten very very cold outside. Would the cold affect my ground system....? I have no idea if the cold weather can affect this or not? I went to the internet to seek out ideas from others who have an Endfed antenna. One thing that kept coming up was to ground the shield of the coax feeding the radio from the antenna. It was worth a try so I made a makeshift ground on the outside of the PL-259 to ground. I started the PC and radio, I tried transmitting in segments as I increased the power output and low and behold the issue was gone and has been ever since. I did remove the ground and the issue returned right away so this seemed to be the solution that worked. I am now back on the air!

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you slved the RFI problem....again. I've seen you been active on 30m last weekend but was several hours too late. I think I'll program your call in HamAlert to have a proper QSO with you. RFI problems on the USB cable are also common with the IC-7300. It is important to use a good quality USB cable with ferrite just after both connectors. Ground conections are always a issue. I've been playing with grounding in the past. Most of the time less is better. Important is a good connection of your coax, especially the outer screen. I always solder the screen to the PL connector these days. 73, Bas

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    1. Good morning Bas, I have been on both mornings and evenings and I find 30m to be about the best for me with the solar cycle at the low end. It would be a nice surprise to see your call come up on the waterfall for a QSO. Regarding PL-259's I have always soldered the braid when assembling a PL-259. This is the first time I have had to add a connection to the outside of the PL-259 to ground. But then again I have never used an Endfed antenna before and this RFI thing seems to be common with other op's using this antenna.
      73 and have good week Bas
      Mike
      VE9KK

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  2. Hey Mike, this is good to know, because I just purchased a multiband EFHW, so I'll be sure to follow your lead. Luckily, my outdoor ground-rod is probably 4ft away from my radio, so that's about as good as it could be.

    73, Tom, M7MCQ.

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    1. Good morning Tom, the endfed is an interesting antenna and has given me lots of opportunities to investigate antenna theory which is a good thing! I have been very pleased with the Endfed but I did have to get an external tuner (LDG 200pro) as the Icom 7610 will not tune anything above 3:1.
      73,
      Mike
      VE9KK

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