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Author Topic: Grow Lamp RFI  (Read 7447 times)
K7KB
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Posts: 605




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« on: March 12, 2012, 02:40:37 PM »

Hi all. I'm asking for a bit of advice concerning a neighbor who has a indoor growing operation next door in his garage. The reason I know this is because he ran a business selling Grow Lamps and other Hydroponic supplies until recently. I was able to trace the interference by walking around with a portable SW receiver. When I got close to his garage, there was no doubt where it was coming from. When I went to ask my neighbor about it, he admitted that he was using the lamps, and had no intention on shutting them down or working out some kind of schedule where I could do my DX'ing a couple of hours in the evenings after work, and certain times during the weekends.

Basically the interference is almost a constant S8 to S9+10db on all bands that I operate from 3.5 to 29 mhz. It's the worse I've ever seen from an external noise source. I renders my station completely unusable while the lamps are in operation. Larry Benko (W0QE) wrote up an article about Grow Lamps, and you can read it here at:

http://www.w0qe.com/RF_Interference/grow_light_electronic_ballasts.html

Although Larry had some limited success with filtering, considering the amount of noise coming from the ballasts and lamps, I'm not so sure it's really going to do much good. And considering I have the feeling he is growing 'herbs', not of the eating variety, I really don't want to get involved with installing the filters myself. So about the only filters that might be involved would be those I could hand to him and say "Try these". Installing filters on the lamp side would probably not be something he would be able to do himself, and I wouldn't do for him.

The FCC has guidelines on Grow Lamps and similar circumstances has come before the commission:

http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/Grow_11_09_30_5275.pdf

So what do you think I should do? Work with my neighbor and try to see if any kind of filtering would help, or go directly to the FCC and file a formal complaint?

John K7KB


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WB4BYQ
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 06:06:58 PM »

Time to document all communications with neighbor and call the ARRL, RFI group
Mike Grubber the engineer at the ARRL and ask for his assistance in filing a complaint
about the RFI.  The ARRL has a MIO with the FCC to assist in these matters before the
FCC is offically written.

richard
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WX7G
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Posts: 5920




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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 06:09:29 PM »

Informing the FCC is the first step.

Some folks will suggest informing the police that he is growing "something" in his garage. However, that is not evidence that can be used to obtain a search warrant.
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WB4BYQ
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 06:44:42 PM »

Writing the ARRL is the first step.  Mike will send a copy of the letter to the fcc about the RFI issue.  the listing of  the copies are at the bottom of the letter from the arrl.                 these glow lamps are most likely not type fcc accepted to part 15 rules.  call
mike in the morning and give him a chance to help you.  the arrl wrote two letters for me
and they worked, without the fcc getting involved.  you would think that this person would
get the message when the first letter arrived that someone was on to this operation.  i am not sure but maybe the timewave anc-4 might work or the mfj 1025 noise unit might work.
i have used both of these with good success, but not on all rfi.  the arrl qex last month featured a circuit that would cancel lots of rfi, but not all.

richard
 
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AJ8MH
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 07:31:53 PM »

The lamps used to grown “medicinal” marijuana generate a tremendous amount of RFI.  So much so, that I called the power company three times over a six month period on a problem I thought was being caused by their equipment.  They assured me the problem was not theirs.

After some investigating, I called the landlord (a ham) of the house next door.  To make a long story short, the renter was given notice to vacate the property.

I did buy an MFJ-1026, which allowed me to operate.  Although expensive, the box did get me back on the air.  You need to play with the sense antenna, and I found that an outdoor antenna was needed to maximize the noise to a level comparable to my main antenna.

I occasionally use the noise canceller today when man-made noise pollution gets to be a problem.

I did not notify the ARRL or the FCC, but probably should have.
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KB4MB
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Posts: 295




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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2012, 07:51:16 AM »

I agree with the 1026 suggestion - The neighbor isn't going to cooperate, and even if you did buy an expensive line filter for him to put everything through to basically isolate that noise from the powerline, he may or may not use it.

Put up a small receiving loop with a variable cap, aim for loudest noise, tune for loudest noise, and then use the 1026 to cancel it out and be done with it.  You can use catv coax for the run to help save some money.  If the loop doesn't work for you, then a low dipole as best as you can make it practically (ideal if you have a fence, just staple it to it) so you pick up more noise from him then the signal you do want.  Ideally, only him on the antenna.

You will have less headaches in the long run, and there are usually enough 1026's out there to pick one up used for a decent price.

Turning him in probably won't work, and who knows what complications that might cause.  FCC or Law Enforcement channels will take a long time, and personally, I would rather spend the roughly $200 and just work around it.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 07:52:50 AM by KB4MB » Logged
K7KB
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Posts: 605




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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2012, 10:51:49 AM »

Thanks everyone for the tips and advice. I did go buy a Timewave ANC-4 yesterday. I considered the 1026 but I've had some issues with MFJ/Ameritron equipment lately so prefer to steer away from them if there are other alternatives. I did call Mike at the ARRL and left a voicemail and hope to hear from him soon.

On the ANC-4, I do have a 43' Foot Vertical that also picks up the noise at almost the same level as my 3-element SteppIR so it should do well as a noise antenna.

I'm going to continue gathering information for my FCC complaint and see where that goes.

John K7KB
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 03:51:49 PM by K7KB » Logged
KB4MB
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Posts: 295




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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2012, 11:37:02 AM »

Quote
On the ANC-4, I do have a 43' Foot Vertical that also picks up the noise at almost the same level as my 3-element SteppIR so it should do well as a noise antenna.

Yes and no.  The vertical will pickup the noise, but also your intended signal, which is not what you want.  You actually want a lossy/crappy antenna that picks up the noise great, but everything else terribly.  That is why I suggested a very low dipole, and not even on the band you are using.  The closer you get to the noise and make it only pick that up, the better.  This way, when you make the null, only the noise disappears.
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WB4BYQ
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2012, 01:37:56 PM »

Mike at the ARRL told me that they process many many complaints, and have good success
with the letters that they write.  they written very close to the letter from the fcc.  i to did
indeed worry about what might happen when i filed two complaints on two neighbors,
but i found out that i did worry too much, one of the neighbors we became better friends, and the other moved away.  radio amateurs will have to get over the idea of approaching neighbors about rfi and even filling a complaint about rfi from some device in their home.  i had good success with about 10 neighbors and 2 i did not untill the letters were sent.  if the shoe had been on the other foot i would have help solve any rfi issue with their equipment with rf pickup from me.  some will hold a grudge and most will be glad that the issue is over and will most likley no remember much about it in time.  most people are will to help and the one's that
do not what to help are hiding something or they need a little push, like a letter from the ARRL or FCC and that does take time maybe 6 months or longer but i am will to wait it out because
i have as much right to operate my radio on license radio frequencies as they do there low cost equipment that generate rfi.

richard
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K7KB
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Posts: 605




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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2012, 02:18:37 PM »

Quote
On the ANC-4, I do have a 43' Foot Vertical that also picks up the noise at almost the same level as my 3-element SteppIR so it should do well as a noise antenna.

Yes and no.  The vertical will pickup the noise, but also your intended signal, which is not what you want.  You actually want a lossy/crappy antenna that picks up the noise great, but everything else terribly.  That is why I suggested a very low dipole, and not even on the band you are using.  The closer you get to the noise and make it only pick that up, the better.  This way, when you make the null, only the noise disappears.

Most of the time, the difference in signal between the vertical and 3-element SteppIR at 72 feet is considerable, so I don't think it would completely null out the intended signal. However, it might reduce it enough and you are probably right that I should just try to make a good noise only antenna. Maybe a parabolic dish pointed at his garage. That way it would give him something to be paranoid about as well Smiley

John K7KB
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HFCRUSR
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Posts: 139




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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2012, 02:38:48 PM »

Sorry to raise the dead here but I had the exact same problem (San Francisco-go figure)
I walked a pocket radio right to this fella's garage. Here's the interesting part-the very minute when I finally ran into hm and explained what my dilemma was and how bad whatever he was running in there was affecting my radios, it immediately ceased!! And never again did I hear noise from him. I was extremely lucky, that it apparently had something to do with something he didn't want getting the attention of the wrong agencies lol.
This was the noise here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqZO9HoJgTg
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