High Power, RFI and “Stress Free” DXing

The interesting thing about DXing is the back story we all seem to have, but you only find out others have the same problems when you bring it up in conversation. After all, it’s far more interesting to talk about our ATNOs, QSL cards or new gear than say, RFI.

When I was chasing DXCC on 160M when I transmitted – especially with 1500 watts – I would turn on the Trane HVAC’s fan – which sent a chilling blast of cold air through the house. I had to turn off the heater when a new one was on the air – it was a PITA.

On the other side of the coin – when a neighbor added “something” (I’m assuming a large wall mounted plasma TV on a wall near my K9AY loops), my first 160M RX antenna became useless and swamped with noise. That sent me into a year long search for a better solution – and the phased Wellbrook ALA1530LNP’s through the DX Engineering NCC-2 has been the best solution and I am still enjoying it even as an SWL. When someone turns on the dimmer switches in the house my receiver is wiped out – and when the Trane HVAC comes on – heat or cool – my receiver is also wiped out. I’ve lived with this since 2006.

Last weekend, a neighbor down the hill – who came up to my fence when I first moved into Orinda in 2006 – (to say they could hear my transmissions in their stereo speakers) stopped by to tell me about RFI all these years later. After that initial contact, they just went away – I heard nothing. I also did nothing explicitly, but I did stay off 80M, so coincidentally, they heard nothing except possibly me checking into the Mission Trail Net but they never complained – until 12 years later! So, I did a test with that neighbor over the phone last weekend, sure enough – I found that its only on 80M, which is great because that is the least important band – and one I can avoid.

I was able to find a new Bencher YA-1 Low Pass filter – (these are harder to get these days since Bencher was sold a few years ago). I haven’t put it in line since as much as I wanted to start using my new 80M 60′ vertical, I at least know that the neighbor mostly only uses their stereo around dinner time – so its easy to avoid causing RFI by just not being on 80M at that time. But I will try the filter anyway – but I’m a little skeptical since that antenna is about 50′ from their house. The DXE DV-40-P 40M phased array is even closer – and thank God I don’t cause RFI there – or with my UrbanBeam. I might go the full distance and put clamp on ferrite chokes on their speaker wires, but I actually don’t want to get that “close” to the neighbors – I’d rather just not cause RFI from my end – if that’s possible. . I gave them my email address and asked that they just let me know when its a problem. They seem pleased with that.

The one thing I am really amazed at is how from 2006 – 2018 I was able to earn my DXCC Honor Roll and 9BDXCC (with DXCC on 160M) and have much bigger antennas and 1500 watts and not have any neighbor complaints. I never liked 80M – so maybe I was just lucky in that regard. I’m also really surprised that when I was chasing 160M DXCC I didn’t cause the neighbor RFI.

All of this also adds a very big reason to avoid using an amplifier – I’d much rather use my 100 watt or even Ten Tec Argonaut 505 at 5 watts and be able to send CW than to be an SWL only. But since I mostly just listen anyway – I’m enjoying the ICOM IC-7610 immensely as the ultimate SWL machine – its general coverage plus ham band receiver plus my antennas – barring the RFI on 80M is perfect for where I am in the radio game.

This 7610 and SteppIR UrbanBeam plus DV-40-P have injected a new and fun excitement to my hobby – and just listening to 3B7A is big fun – because I already have transmitted enough to know what I need when to make a QSO – being 2 away from HR #1 gives me a feeling of being a Master DXer who has “been there, done that”. Now I get a kick out of listening to pileups and following along. I sit back with the phones on – and am actually happy that I don’t need to bother jumping in pileups much any more. That used to be stressful – but rewarding too.

I will try the Bencher YA-1 tonight and check with the neighbor. I’ll report back with my findings. I will also first try 5 watts to see if that solves the problem. Then add the filter and crank up to 100 watts.

Now I’m a “stress free DXer” . . .

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