How to Build a Quiet Station

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Here’s a link to PowerPoint “How to Build a Quiet Station V2.pptx” in my Dropbox for a talk I gave at the San Diego DX ca club in July. I included a lot of material I got directly from talks by Steve and Greg of Flex.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d2yturid60n...

Here’s a link to PDF “How to Build a Quiet Station V2.PDF” in my Dropbox:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kffp92esffo...

Here is an interesting video on the presentation at Friedrichshafen about
Adaptive Predistortion

http://video.openhpsdr.org/HRF2014/Pu...
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Posted 4 years ago

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DK1EY

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Thank you, Howard!

VY73
Tom
DK1EY
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Tom Clark

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Good Job Howard - Thanks
VY73   de Tom K3IO
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Sergey, R5AU

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Thank you for nice job Howard !
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KM4CQG

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Howard

Thank you for sharing the Power point excellent presentation.

Ian
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DrTeeth

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+1 here too Howard.

Cheers

Guy G4DWV/4X1LT
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np2g

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Great info. Great job Yes grounding proper;y works , Yes Big antennas work, Yes pre distortion Works !!!!!

Flex Radio has the right stuff .
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k0eoo

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Thanks Howard for the very informative presentation...
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KD8TVB

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Thanks Howard, ground systems pics - awesome
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Ernest - W4EG

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Thanks Howard,

Working on it as I write.

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Carl/K5HK

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Nicely done!
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Howard, good stuff. Thanks.
On a different topic. Your call has always seemed familiar to me, and when I was looking at your presentation it finally came to me... Aren't you the ham/engineer who fought a MAJOR zoning battle over a tower a few years back and put the zoning board all in their places? I would love to hear more about that battle....
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Ken

Yes that's me. Very long story.

Took 9 years and lots of $$$ to wind it's way thru the courts but my tower and SteppIR MonstIR which was legally permitted and correctly engineered from the beginning still stands.

The City was forced to pay me and my lawyers so I came out way ahead financially. We defeated a subsequent attempt to rewrite antenna zoning laws so now any Ham in San Diego can easily get a permit.

I recently even won monetary judgments against 3 neighbors who initiated the ruckus.

Proved that you can fight city hall and NIMBY neighbors, if you are willing to be ultra aggressive, spend the $, not play nice, when you know they are wrong.

If you want more detail write me at ky6la at ky6la dot com
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DrTeeth

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I thought the USA was much more ham-friendly than that! Sounds like the rubbish one has to go through in the UK to get planning permission.

Howard, your fighting style is very similar to mine when I come across a retailer who tries to stiff me. Never failed. Even 'good' companies like Amazon sometimes need to be put-right.

Cheers

Guy G4DWV/4X1LT
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Actually USA Ham Antennas are a Protected Class under FCC ruling PRB-1 which states that Amateur Antennas MUST be reasonably accommodated. With the minimum practicable regulation (typically vague bureaucratic wording)

Unfortunately many local municipalities who issue the actual tower building permits willfully ignore the Federal Law. So it sometimes becomes necessary to take them to court and have a judge explain the law to them.

In the long run, if the ham does not give up in frustration he will win.

While I have little patience with governments and bureaucrats, having run businesses I tend to cut businesses a lot of slack.
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DrTeeth

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Ah, that word 'reasonable/reasonably' that all lawyers love as one has to go to court to find out what it means in nearly every case.

I was reading something on a ham usenet group recently about areas of the US that do not permit visible antennas at all.

Cheers

Guy G4DWV/4X1LT
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Not exactly true .,,if you live in an area where there is a Home Owners Association and you agreed to a private contract called "covenants conditions and regulations" called CC&R's that included a ban on antennas then the Federal Exemption currently does not apply to your private party exemption. There is currently an ARRL sponsored bill in Congress to void these private deals because many people do not have a choice as to where they live.
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Alan - KA4B

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Howard, that video only plays for about 20% of the way through, then it is blank.  I remember running into that when it was posted before.  I would really l like to learn more about adaptive pre distortion if it is available somewhere else.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Google adaptive Predistortion. Hundreds of articles.
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Alan W4FBI

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Very informative!!!

May I add one item - stay away from IPS Monitors (In Plane Switching). They produce plenty of interfering birdies....Regular LED monitors work fine...

My .02
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Steve B.

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Howard -

Again, thanks for the coaching.  In this day and age .. where we expect instant gratification .. I need to convince myself that hunting for RFI is a sport .. and fun!

Steve

VE7ORA
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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It is a sport like transmitter hunting only the target is hidden somewhere in your house

I was able to kill almost 65dB of noise in my house albeit 80% came from one major offender.
(Edited)
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Alan W4FBI

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What was your major offender?
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Old Plasma TV. Second evil source was a power tool battery charger.

Once those were corrected with a gazillion toroids, it became quite a fox hunting project to eliminate the last 15 DB.

Now if I could only get rid of the 10MW TV towers about 2,900' away which just happen to be in my path to Europe.
(Edited)
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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I just want to say THANKYOU! THANKYOU! THANKYOU! THANKYOU!

I disassembled my station about 3 weeks ago to re-wire, re-ground and re-think the layout.    I followed your document to the best of my ability with the resources available.   My shack is on the 1st floor, so I have had to utilize an artificial ground - which works great.

Yesterday I finally got everything back together and today I finally had a chance to test everything out.

I am absolutely amazed at how much the noise level is reduced.  I have been chatting with my friends in Texas this evening for the first time since I moved to NC in May 2013 - because I can now hear them!

And no more RF ingress into my speakers!  

Now I am working on getting the antenna higher and really playing with the 6500.

Again.   THANK YOU!

Richard W4/G7EIX

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Your Welcome.. .. Really happy I could help...
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Jon - KF2E

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Howard,

What do you use to power your SteppIR controller?

Jon...kf2e
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Still recovering from Jet Lag

But I will explain the SteppIR in Detail in a separate comment below
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Detailed answer on the next page
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Brent Parker

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Howard, I'm in a condo. Concrete and re-bar. Only electrical ground is the conduit in the wall. Will that do? I'm in process of snaking coax up to my roof, to move antenna's up there. There is a lighting rod, about 30' tall, with huge copper cables running 120' vertical to under the elevator pit with copper rods. Once there I'll ground the coax up there too.  Was also considering the MFJ 931 artificial ground, but I believe that only improves the RF ground??  Once I've got coax to the roof, I see a steppir beam on the roof deck, and I don't think the mfj does much??

Right now I'm on a homebrew trapped dipole, hanging on my balcony. The noise on 80 meters is S-8! The antenna is only about 10' away from the shack so getting it up away from me about 50' up should improve the situation.

So step 1 is to get the antenna up as high as possiable and away from all my noise (computers, switches, etc). 2 is to get the antenna grounded at the roof to those big copper cables (protection). 3 is to get some grounding of the radio, computers, switches, as best I can to the conduit. The conduit is grounded and there is a green ground wire inside the conduit too. I know it's not "big", but it's about 100' down to earth!

Thoughts.

Thanks,  Brent NB4AP

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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There are actually 3 different grounding systems to consider when setting up a station.

First is the Electrical Protection Ground (the 3rd or green wire in the AC Circuit).  it is there to protect you in case there is a short from the hot wire to any surface.... this is NOT RF Ground...So you do not want to run your RF Ground to it....

Second is the Tower Protection Ground... this is a ground system near the tower to protect the tower in case of a lightning strike...Many people make the mistake of tying their tower to the re-bar in the concrete thinking it may be ground.. This is very dangerous as I have seen lightning strikes shatter concrete bases when they vaporize the re-bar. -  The lightning protection ground needs to be mechanically connected to the tower to bleed off any lightning hits... it cannot be soldered as a lightning hit will melt the solder..... this is NOT RF Ground

The Third is the RF Ground which I detail in my "How to build a quiet station" presentation.  Interestingly enough Ward Silver has an excellent article on RF Ground on Page 63 Jan 2015 QST which says exact what i said in my presentation..right down to copying my idea of using inexpensive 1/2" copper pipe as your RF Ground Bus.

Still Jet Lagged.. but I will answer your questions in detail shortly
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Brent

Finally Over the jet Lag


First the lightning protection is there for Lightning Protection.
Not a good idea to cut into it and may be illegal to do so under building codes  - please check with your local building codes.  If they allow you to ground your tower for lightning protection to the lightning rod system you will need to make MECHANICAL connections as soldered connections will melt in a lightning strike.

The lightning rod gives a cone of Protection for everything below it.  The cone is roughly a line 45 degrees from the top of the rod to the ground.  It also means that you should not put up anything higher than the Lightning Rod Cone of Protection.   If you do, then whatever is higher becomes the lightning rod.- Very Bad Idea - unless there is some way to bleed of the charge...

Second... as I said before your green wire is NOT RF Ground.. it's at least 100' above RF ground so it would only become another noise collecting antenna

Third... I have used that MFJ-931 with some success in Condo's as an Artificial RF Ground -- it does a decent job maximizing RF current to ground and can make a huge difference on received signals.  However tuning can be very sharp ....

FYI - in the past, I have lived in 20 story Condo's.....surprisingly my best antenna system was a 20' long fishing pole stepped out from the balcony with a wire hanging vertically down 200'.... worked DXCC many times with that antenna albeit tuning it was a nightmare and I Worked All Neighbors with it..if it was not tuned correctly..
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Brent Parker

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Howard, Thanks for the input.

Yes the lightning rod is up about 30' above the elevator tower, which is about 25'x25', and that is about 30' above the rest of the building. So that 60' stick is creating the cone of protection for the whole building, which as you say is about a 45 degree cone. All my antenna's will be below that protection. So I should never get the direct hit, but maybe some of the residual??

The huge copper cables, that this rod ties to, are exposed on the roof deck, and then go down the elevator shaft to a ground. It's been hit, with no issue several times.

My plan is to install my antenna (again below the protection), install a polyphaser lightening protection into my coax and ground to that same copper ground. I understand it would need to be mechanical.

So the question is should I also try and ground the radio and computers in the shack to the commercial ground (conduit and green wire) in the room?

With the lightning ground, and electrical ground, that leaves the RF ground. If I'm running dipoles or beams is that needed? Verticals certaintly need a RF ground, but I'm not sure I need it with dipoles/beams.

Glad your back among the "living" .  :)

73  Brent NB4AP
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Please check with your local building code if they will allow you to connect the tower to the Lightning Protection System.

In theory the Antennas inside the Zone of Protection should be protected.  In practice nothing is perfect, Lightning has a mind of its own and may just jump into that Zone

The Commercial Ground (Green Wire) is NOT RF Ground but only acts as AC protection in the event of a short to the AC system.  According to Code, all non isolated AC devices need to be connected to the Commercial Ground

When I lived in a Condo I bonded all the chassis together and connected them to the MFJ-931 so that I could have a RF Ground to minimize RFI  - PLUS lots and lots and lots of Ferrites...
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Walt

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I would be very very cautious about tapping into a commercial grounding system without a formal design / electrical inspection by the city/county of authority.

Good luck with your install.

W
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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This part of the thread is two years old, so the question of tapping into the Commercial Lightning Rod system has probably been answered for the original questioner.  But I would add for other's consideration that doing this without proper engineering support and legal authority could open someone up to serious legal liability.  In our current litigious society, if someone suffered lightning or electrical damage (even if it had absolutely nothing to do with your tapping into the ground system) you might become the patsy for the attorneys to blame in order to recover damages.  Juries are sometimes notorious for ignoring science and common sense and making massive financial judgments based upon pure emotion and courtroom theatrics.  (Remember the "$5 Million McDonalds hot-coffee case?")

I have heard of hams who attached a simple TVI filter in their neighbor's feedline between the antenna and TV being sued when the TV stopped working.  The "neighbor" claimed "It was working just fine until this CB-er put that thingy on my TV set...."
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WH6HI - Pat

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Great presentation,  Thanks!!!

Pat