March 2018 Club Meeting - Noise Origins, Effects, and Mitigation Strategies

Friday, March 16, 2018

7:00pm MST

Ascension Lutheran Church 1220 West Magee Road, Tucson, AZ



Handyman Corner

By Tom, W8TK

Kit of the month: To be announced

Project: Cable Management




Origins, Effects, and Mitigation Strategies 


Presented by Jim Duffey KK6MC (Cedar Crest, NM)


Noise is the fundamental limitation for reception of signals. With the recent proliferation of wireless and RF based devices and switching mode power supplies/converters in modern electronic devices, the problem of noise to the radio amateur has increased over the past decades. I will discuss the origins of the noise we hear on the ham radio bands, the expected levels of noise as a function of frequency, time of year, and location. The noise we hear in our receivers has many origins; there is cosmic noise which is generated by galactic and intergalactic sources and has a well-defined noise power spectral density decreasing with frequency, there is man-made noise generated by a variety of appliances and transmission line sources, there is noise generated by atmospheric storms, noise generated by solar storms, and lastly, internal noise generated by our receiving devices themselves, which ultimately limit our receive capability. While industrial locations generally have the greatest noise, urban and suburban locations can have very high noise as well and sometimes the only low noise locations that can be found is in a very rural location, miles from civilization.

Strategies for mitigating noise at the receiving location will also be presented. These strategies involve using narrower bandwidth filters and modern digital modes that provide some immunity and robustness to noise, using the noise limiters and blankers built in to our rigs to reduce noise levels, elimination of common mode currents on antenna transmission lines, and substitution of linear power supplies (wall warts) for switching supplies.

Jim’s Background:

Jim was first licensed in 1965 as WN0MWN, upgrading a year later to WAØMWN. As a Novice he dabbled in VHF with a Heathkit Twoer and a three element beam from “Understanding Amateur Radio” whose feed system bore a striking resemblance to the present day WA5VJB easy Yagis. The Twoer, with that antenna, was capable of QSOs out to 60 miles! He held the call N7ATB in Utah and received the present KK6MC call in California. Jim’s primary amateur radio interests are VHF/UHF/microwave operating and experimenting, contesting, antennas, and QRP. He is an avid rover in both VHF/UHF contests and state QSO parties. He is one of the founders of the New Mexico VHF Society. He was honored with the 2015 W3IY Rover Recognition from the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club and in 2007 he was elected to the QRP-ARCI Hall of Fame.

KK6MC holds a PhD in solid state physics from the University of Nebraska. He earlier received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics from South Dakota State University. After a two year postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Utah Physics Department he went to work at the old Hughes Aircraft plant in Culver City, California, managing a thin film lab and working in the areas of infrared detectors, electro-optical systems, and radiation hardened electronics for space. In 1992 he moved to New Mexico working for Maxwell Laboratories, which was then acquired by SAIC which then split to form Leidos. While there, he continued his work on infrared components and radiation hardened electronics and worked on high power microwave systems and antenna design. Dr. Duffey lives in Cedar Crest NM.