Category Archives: Interference

What’s the buzz? Pot-growing lights vex ham radio operators


Retired Coast Guard officer Roger Johnson sometimes notices a harsh buzz when he turns on his amateur radio, and he blames high-powered lighting used to grow pot.

Amateur radio operators say the legalization of marijuana is creating a chronic nuisance thanks to interference caused by electrical ballasts that regulate indoor lamps used to grow pot. The American Radio Relay League wants the Federal Communications Commission to take a stand against devices that give off much more interference than federal law allows in homes.

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Alaska’s HAARP Facility Once Again Open for Business

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Gakona, Alaska, will soon undertake its first scientific research campaigns since the facility was taken over by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Geophysical Institute 18 months ago. Among the investigators is UAF Researcher Chris Fallen, KL3WX, who will be working under a National Science Foundation grant, “RAPID: Spatiotemporal Evolution of Radio-Induced Aurora.” Fallen says the HAARP transmissions will take place within the facility’s transmitter tuning range of 2.7 to 10 MHz and should be audible outside of Alaska and may even produce visible effects within the state.

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“Mysterious Foghorn” is Chinese Over-the-Horizon Burst Radar

A waveform of the Chinese OTH radar “foghorn.” [Courtesy of Wolf Hadel, DK2OM]
The International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Monitoring System (IARUMS) newsletter reports a mysterious “foghorn” — a Chinese over-the-horizon (OTH) burst radar — is operating in Amateur Radio bands.

“We observed the mysterious foghorn on 7, 10, and 14 MHz,” the newsletter recounted. “This is a Chinese OTH radar, which is often jumping, and sounding like a foghorn.” The signal is frequency modulation on pulse (FMOP) with 66.66 sweeps-per-second bursts.

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Alleged Long-Time Pirate Liable for $23,000 Fine

by Susan Ashworth

A long-standing investigation into the goings-on of an alleged pirate radio officer has come to an expensive conclusion.

On Dec. 5, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a $23,000 fine on Daniel Delise from Astoria, N.Y. for allegedly operating an unlicensed amateur radio station at unauthorized power levels as well as for falsely transmitting an officer-in-distress call.

Regional groups like the Broadcast Employees Amateur Radio Society (BEARS) in New York City have closely watched the case. When the first Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) was first issued against Delise by the FCC in September of this year, BEARS President Howard Price said in an article on the group’s website that “our long regional nightmare is over.”

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New Russian Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radars Set for 2017 Startup

According to media accounts, more long-range, new over-the-horizon (OTH) radars that can identify aerial and sea targets hundreds of miles away are scheduled to begin operation next year in the Russian Arctic. It’s doubtful, however, that the news heralds the return of interference on the level of that generated by the so-called “Russian Woodpecker” OTH radar, which plagued Amateur Radio HF bands in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Broadcasters, Jammers Wreak Havoc on Amateur Radio Frequencies

The battle continues between Radio Eritrea (Voice of the Broad Masses) and Radio Ethiopia, which is said to be jamming the Eritrean broadcaster with broadband white noise. The problem for radio amateurs is that the battle is taking place in the 40 meter phone band — 7.145 and 7.175 MHz — with the jamming signal reported by the IARU Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS) to be 20 kHz wide on each channel. The on-air conflict has been going on for years; Ethiopia constructed new transmitting sites in 2008 and is said to use two or three of them for jamming purposes. The interfering signals can be heard in North America after dark. According to IARUMS Region 1 Coordinator Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, Radio Eritrea is airing separate programs on each frequency. He said in the IARUMS September newsletter that telecommunications regulators in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have been informed, so they could file official complaints. Continue reading Broadcasters, Jammers Wreak Havoc on Amateur Radio Frequencies

AT&T’s New “AirGig” Not Your Father’s BPL

bpl-imageRecalling the earlier efforts of the FCC and telecommunications and utility interests to roll out “Broadband over Powerline” (BPL), the Amateur Radio community has been buzzing with questions about AT&T’s just-announced “AirGig” BPL plan to make broadband available via apparently similar technology. ARRL’s earlier anti-BPL campaign, and market forces, eventually led to the demise of the prior BPL initiative. ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, who spearheaded the earlier effort to quantify BPL’s threat to Amateur Radio’s HF spectrum and remains the resident expert on the subject, said this newest BPL incarnation should not pose an interference issue for radio amateurs.

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NFL Frequency Coordination Is All Grown Up

by Judith Zissman

As the new NFL season opens, Radio World takes a special in-depth look at the program where football and RF engineering meet.

It was Jan. 29, 1995 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Fla., the site of Super Bowl XXIX. The game was a triumph for the San Francisco 49ers but a confusing mess behind the scenes as the teams, support services and worldwide media attempted to use their wireless communications devices.

The elaborate halftime show, an ambitious “Indiana Jones”-themed extravaganza featuring Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett, required precise communication as well. Radio frequencies designed to support a few hundred devices at any given moment were crowded with thousands of official and unofficial devices, each vying for a tiny slice of the spectrum.

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ARRL Again Complains to FCC about Illegal Marketing of Electronic Lighting Ballasts

The ARRL has again complained to the FCC to allege illegal marketing of electronic RF lighting ballasts, operating under Part 18 of the Commission’s rules, on the part of two major retailers. Letters went out this week to the FCC Enforcement Bureau and its Office of Engineering and Technology claiming Part 18 marketing regulations violations by Lowe’s and by Walmart stores. At issue is the sale of non-consumer RF lighting ballasts to consumers who, in several instances, were told by store personnel that it was okay to install these in a residential setting. In addition, non-consumer and residential-class ballasts are intermixed in store displays with inadequate signage to direct consumers to the correct choice. Both letters asked the FCC to investigate and commence enforcement proceedings with respect to the two stores’ marketing and retail sale of RF lighting devices in the US.

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