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Author Topic: Is my radio dead though?  (Read 3083 times)

Offline Kage

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Is my radio dead though?
« on: July 05, 2019, 0401 UTC »
I've never heard it this bad before. The last week has been a clustersuck of thunderstorms and local stations only. I'm not talking just SW either but even the MW band that I trust in has been getting weak in the X-band range.

I seriously thought for a bit that it was my radio or antenna or a lightning storm that deafened my radio because I have never heard it get this quiet. Doesn't help that this data station on LW around 300Kc I use as a test station to make sure everything is fine that usually gives me a full signal strength reading is now gone quiet but I think it finally went off air.
The only station that helped me confirm things are still working somewhat was the pirate X-FM with his booming signal and WBCQ, but even those were below the norm I am used to (outside of the superstation).

It's not my radio though, I tested a few radios, then really thought either I am losing my mind or my antenna broke connection somewhere. I have an inverted L up 35' with about 100' horizontal that I also use for AM pirating when the itch hits. Well just for shits I ran a low power TX test through my usual untouched tuning unit and sure enough my SWR was fine through the old wire, so it's not my antenna or ground system.
It is REALLY THIS QUIET! Time to toss the radios and go to stringed can communication? :'(
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 0409 UTC by Kage »
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Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2019, 1303 UTC »
I have a few reference stations I use to check antennas/etc to make sure nothing is wrong.  Local MW stations are best for that, even on HF antennas. You just need to know what the normal signal strength is, then check for any major deviation from that.

Propagation has been different lately, but I would not personally label it all bad. 11 and 22 meter have been open for periods each day, for example. And I had great signals on 48 meters from Europirates last night, but marred by the usual summertime static.
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Offline Pigmeat

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2019, 2244 UTC »
Sounds like it's dead, but check it out per Chris's instructions. The front end of my good ol' Sangean 404 went last weekend due to tornado spawning storms kicking out some serious lightning. The whip was retracted and it wasn't near wires leading outside. Now it growls on FM, is dead on SW, and eats batteries in minutes on AM.


Offline Josh

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2019, 1824 UTC »
Generally if the noise comes up when attaching an antenna, that's about all the sensitivity you need. If the noise doesn't come up when you attach the antenna, you have a problem.

In the last few weeks it's been fairly quiet on hf, meaning weak sigs all around save for the typical bcasters, these are the times when a rx with a good s/n front end would be useful, but hf is usually so noisy a low s/n amp is irrelevant.
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Offline Kage

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2019, 1344 UTC »
Last night things were mostly back to normal. Lots of strong SW stations and every MW channel packed pegging my S meter.
I think it's just these summer conditions and I should know that since it's nothing new to me during this time of year. I do think the solar cycle is playing a hand in it though because when things get quiet they get real quiet. Sure there's static when connecting the aerial but there are times when I wonder if my radio is dead but of course it isn't. I have other rigs and antennas to compare it to  8)

Even my friend who I helped convince to buy an ATS909 like mine asked me the other day if there are less stations to listen to or what the deal was. He's new to DXing so he was confused why he wasn't pulling in the stations he normally hears in winter. Had to explain to him that summer kind of sucks to begin with for MW and that we're at the lowest part of the 11 year cycle which effects SW. Glad I'm not the only one living here wondering.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2019, 1350 UTC by Kage »
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Offline i_hear_you

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2019, 1824 UTC »
The front end of my good ol' Sangean 404 went last weekend due to tornado spawning storms kicking out some serious lightning. The whip was retracted and it wasn't near wires leading outside.

This post just ruined my day. 

I was listening on an old Panasonic in my house last month and heard some lightning static crashes that peaked meter a couple times before I powered down and stowed the whip.  I figured if powered down and stowed I'd be fine.  Now I'm going to test my radios so I can stop freaking out about it.

Offline Josh

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2019, 1826 UTC »
Also unplug them from ac power if they use ac power supplies when not in use. The damage can travel via the ac line and zap various sensitive inners.
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Offline i_hear_you

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2019, 0048 UTC »
Kage, good to hear nothing fried.

Pigmeat, was your radio powered up during the storm, or can these things really take damage indoors, away from external conductors?

Josh, I keep everything unplugged when not in use. There's also a bunch of audio gear involved that I'm not interested in replacing.

But i have to know...should i start stowing my radios in literal faraday cages while not in use? I'm really paranoid now.

Offline Josh

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2019, 2114 UTC »
Lol there's two main trains of thought;

One is ground everything, bond everything, disconnect everything.

The other is the opposite, ground nothing, disconnect nothing.

I ground things as well as I can because I want a quieter rf environment. Someone I know who is a trusted ee grounds nothing, disconnects nothing, and has yet to lose anything and he has thousands of dollas of gear attached to full size hf wires and beams atop tall towers. That being said, he uses some large pointy ended shotgun bore cleaning brush thingys bonded to the towers at or near the top to bleed away any nearfield streamers in the air. No streamers = no lightning strike.

An uncle who was a HAM for decades and an ee who did quality control on nuclear submarine and icbm guidance systems was of the tall tower, full size hf wires, large v/uhf verticals, ground everything mindset. He lost thousands of dollas worth of HAM gear to lightning on several different occasions.

I'm leaning towards the large shotgun bore streamer thingy for tall towers and ground everything to eliminate ground loops and keep rf noise down
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 2116 UTC by Josh »
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Offline BoomboxDX

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2019, 1442 UTC »
Kage, good to hear nothing fried.

Pigmeat, was your radio powered up during the storm, or can these things really take damage indoors, away from external conductors?

Josh, I keep everything unplugged when not in use. There's also a bunch of audio gear involved that I'm not interested in replacing.

But i have to know...should i start stowing my radios in literal faraday cages while not in use? I'm really paranoid now.

As for portables, if they have internal diode protection, and you don't have it connected to an external wire antenna, chances are you have little to worry about.

I don't live in T-storm country -- we maybe get one a year, if that -- but none of my portables has fried, even when I had a 100 ft wire (which I grounded when it wasn't in use). Perhaps I've been lucky. Perhaps Pigmeat's 404 had a different fault -- microprocessors can wig sometimes, and some radios do not have internal diode protection, although Sangeans built since the early 1990's generally do (the 818 and 818CS being notable exceptions). I don't know about the 404 -- it's a recent design, I think (2000's era?), so it should have internal protection. I know my ATS505 (RS 200629) does.

EDIT TO ADD:
I just found a Service Manual of the ATS-404 online. It has no internal diode protection whatsoever, at least none that I can see from the schematic. No protection either for the FM Front End chip, or the RF amp for the SW/MW RF amp FET. That might be part of the problem with Pigmeat's 404, unfortunately.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 0603 UTC by BoomboxDX »
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Offline pinto vortando

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2019, 1809 UTC »
Hmmm, color me skeptical regarding those pointy devices that are said to be able to dissipate a charge.
If that were the case, then trees with all the pointy branches and leaves would never be hit.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2019, 1811 UTC by pinto vortando »
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Offline Josh

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2019, 1914 UTC »
Leaves and branches are a bit less conductive than stainless bristles bonded to a grounded metal tower.
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Offline pinto vortando

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Re: Is my radio dead though?
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2019, 2343 UTC »
Well, are those pointy thingys UL tested, labelled, and listed as well as permitted by NFPA 780 ?
What do insurance companies have to say about them ?
Dunno…  just asking,
have never seen them used on data centers, cell sites, substations, and the like.
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Offline Josh

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