coiled coaxial cable choke cuts RF noise

Does Coaxial Cable Choke at Antenna cut RF Noise?

Coaxial cable choke and RF common-mode noise Is it really true that a section of coiled coaxial cable choke at antenna feedpoint would effectively cut down the radio RF noise substantially? Will the perceived reduction be enough to make operating especially on the lower frequency HF bands a pleasure? These are some of the questions that come to mind. Well, there are a multitude of opinions with many people suggesting that it is indeed worthwhile. Let us impassionately and realistically examine the effects of such coiled coaxial cable chokes that are often used near the antenna feepoint and figure out with rational scientific logic if they are truly as effective as one might be made to believe… At this point, some readers may feel impatient and say, stop beating about the bush, give us the bottom line… OK, the bottom line is NO! they don’t work well enough to feel jubilant or elated. Especially, on the lower HF bands like the 80m, or 40m. Even on the other higher frequency HF bands, they don’t perform as well as one might... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
Urban antenna on roof of tall building

Urban Antenna Height above ground – Facts & Myths

Urban antenna height above ground – The truth The antenna height above ground, especially in urban areas on the HF bands, poses a set of unforeseen issues that an average radio amateur is often blissfully ignorant about. An experienced operator knows all this too well but a large section of our community is often unaware of several kinds of radiation lobe pattern distortions and reduction in overall antenna efficiency that occur due to the presence of various natural geographical artifacts and man-made entities like buildings, sheds, bridges, overhead cables, water-pipes, etc that cause havoc. Despite a seemingly good antenna height, the most common problems that usually plague a typical urban antenna installation are considerable distortion in the radiation pattern. The textbook lobe patterns and gain figures of antennas may not hold true anymore. The second casualty is the overall efficiency of the antenna as a radiator. The nearby building structures and objects within the near-field zone of the antenna often absorb a certain amount of transmitter energy and may also alter the resonance and spoil the attainable SWR. I have... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
Transceiver with better antenna

To invest in better Radio Rig or better Antenna

Choice between a better Radio or a better Antenna What should I focus on? Should I invest more in a better Radio Rig or a better Antenna? What is it that will provide me better communication prospects and more Dx? These are some of the most common questions that have plagued the minds of new entrants to the hobby of Amateur Radio. Unfortunately, it is equally true that having been swayed by the glamour of well-advertised jazzy-looking modern radio rigs, many of these people have made wrong choices. Only to have learned about their mistake the hard way after having spent a lot of hard-earned money that never really paid dividends as per their expectations. Ironically, even many of the extra-class licensees, in haste to conquer the world, had skipped doing due diligence or ignored sane advice from others who knew. They often ended up making reckless decisions and wrong choices. The answers to the questions that we raised at the beginning are unambiguously clear and straightforward. Yet, at times, amongst a section of radio amateurs, there seems to be... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
HF preamplifier weak signal DX noise

Will High Gain HF Preamplifier help work Weak Signal DX?

High Gain HF Preamplifier for Weak Signal DX? Is it true that a high gain HF preamplifier will enhance the ability to work weak signal DX stations? Broadly speaking, the answer is NO! it won’t. However, for operation on VHF, UHF, and microwave bands, a good low noise preamplifier surely becomes important under most circumstances, for HF bands it is a different story. Though an experienced HF radio operator knows this too well, there are quite a few people who have a false notion regarding this. On various amateur radio forums, Facebook groups, as well as during personal interactions I have come across people who believe that adding a preamplifier to their HF radio rigs might improve their weak-signal DX prospects. Let us try to examine why such a notion is unsustainable and incorrect. We will also briefly examine why a preamplifier makes sense for VHF/UHF or microwave. What is it that sets HF apart from the higher frequency bands? Recap of Noise levels in Radio Communication Environment The prevalent noise levels in a communication system environment determine the limit... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
HF DX near Antipodes

Challenges of working HF DX near Antipodes

Working HF DX stations located near Antipodes Working HF DX at the longest possible physical distance on earth is often referred to as working stations near Antipodes. These situations present several unique challenges that may never be observed while working regular DX at shorter distances that are not as far as the Antipode. These challenges manifest themselves while using directional beam antennas and may not be observed or appreciated by those of us who have omnidirectional antennas. The challenges of working stations at or near the antipodes are not only experienced by the station holding the frequency and calling CQ but also by those who are trying to work him. We cover the concept of Antipodes in an article under the section Geodesic for Terrestrial HF Radio. However, to recap for those who might be new to the term, an Antipode is a location that is at the opposite side of the globe from where a station might be located. Hence, every operator has a unique antipode based on his location. For the sake of simplicity, if we assume the... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
Digital mode FT8 noise levels

Do Digital Modes like FT8 work Below Noise?

Digital modes like FT8 work below Noise? – A myth It is a common myth that narrowband digital modes like FT8, JT65, etc establish communication with signals that are below noise floor. This myth has by-and-large been perpetuated among the amateur radio community where many operators consider it to be a magical property of these digital modes. These narrowband digital mode signals may not be audible on a regular radio receiver or may not be visible on the band-scope spectrum or waterfall displays of our transceivers but there is nothing magical about it. They certainly do not work with signals being below the noise floor. Barring a few modulation modes like the Spread Spectrum, including both direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) and the Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS), typically most other commonly used digital modes need signals to be above the noise floor with a positive magnitude of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). Spread Spectrum due to its nature, has a very low signal density that typically lies below the noise floor. Hence, it is difficult to detect and equally difficult to... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
HF Long Path LP

HF Long Path (LP) – Quick tips and pointers

HF Long Path (LP) – Getting acquainted HF radio DXing may often be leveraged by the use of HF Long Path (LP) from time-to-time. By-and-large, on a routine basis we all tend to explore HF radio propagation openings that prevail along the better known Short-Path (SP). The earth is nearly a spherical object and the path taken by the radio signals to travel to the DX location is always via the shortest straight path along the spherical surface of the globe. However, this straight path if extended beyond the DX location eventually circles the globe and reaches back to the originating TX station’s location. This is the full Great Circle path. The Great Circle round-the-world path is always unique between any two radio stations on earth. In one direction along the circular path (Great Circle), the distance is shorter than the distance along the opposite direction. The direction along the shorter of the two distances is called the Short Path heading, while that in the opposite direction is the Long Path heading. There is only one exception. It is when... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
8-el yagi antenna bearing for HF DX

Need We Fuss About Exact Antenna Bearing for HF DX?

Do we need to set eaxct antenna bearing for HF DX? While working distant stations on HF bands do we need to be fussy about the exact beam headings and antenna bearing for HF DX? The short answer is NO… Yet, with the availability of various software utilities available to us both as standalone applications or online services, we often tend to get carried away. Several amateur radio operators, unfortunately, believe that unless their directional antennas like the Yagi are pointing precisely at the DX location they would not receive optimum signals. This is far from the truth. Let us quickly examine why. Of course, what we are discussing here is notwithstanding the fact that for VHF/UHF terrestrial radio contacts across several tens of kilometers one would need to beam quite accurately. Not only because the beam flare-out is narrow at short distances but also because much higher antenna gains on VHF and beyond produce far narrower beams… However, right now, we concern ourselves only with HF antennas for DX contacts. People at times ask me, What is your Grid-square?... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
HF band low SSN propagation

Are HF Bands Really Dead during Low SSN at Solar Cycle Minima?

Low SSN Solar Cycle minima – HF bands dead? Too often we hear amateur radio operators complain about HF bands being dead during the low ebb of a solar cycle that causes low SSN. Really? Who says the bands are dead? Think again… Let us do a reality check. At the time of writing this post, it is November 28th 2019. We are passing through the cusp between the solar cycle #24 and #25. The solar activity is at its rock bottom. The ionization density of the ionosphere is at a dismal low. Does it make HF radio propagation a challenge? Yes, it does… But it does not mean that the bands are dead?… Not Really. What really happens during the low SSN conditions is that HF band propagation openings that used to happen frequently are now less frequent. The duration of these openings to a particular DX destination becomes shorter. The strength of band openings become shallower. However, none of these means that the bands are dead or there is no propagation. All it means is that now HF... Click Here to Read Full Article […]
PSK31 Waveform

PSK31 – A Robust QSO

PSK31 – for exciting HF band QRP PSK31 like most of the other narrow-band digital text communication modes requires very little TX power into a very modest antenna. PSK31 is also quite immune to co-channel interference by voice modulated radio-telephony signals due to the nature of the spectral distribution of human voice. Although PSK31 is a popular mode, many operators have failed to appreciate the inherent merits of this modulation mode and often resorted to incorrect modulation settings, higher than necessary TX power, or the use of large antennas which effectively increase the ERP beyond what is required for effective and sustainable PSK31 communication. This is a demonstration of typical QRP QSO using 5W (perhaps it was 3-4 W) into 1/4λ vertical ground plane antennas used at both ends of the circuit. The distance was approximately 5800Km between a station with the QTH in Sweden and my QTH in New Delhi, India. The QSO was conducted on the 17m band at a little after 14:30 UTC. The PSK31 signal was not visible on the band-scope of my transceiver but was... Click Here to Read Full Article […]

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