Saturday, February 24, 2024

Repairing a dead Kenwood TS-850S

Recently, a Kenwood TS-850S - a radio from the mid-early 1990s - crossed my workbench.  While I'm not in the "repair business", I do fix my own radios, those of close friends, and occasionally those of acquaintances:  I've known this person for many years and we have many mutual friends.

If you are familiar with the Kenwood TS-850S to any degree, you'll also know that they suffer from an ailment that has struck down many pieces of electronic gear from that same era:  Capacitor Plague.

Figure 1:
The ailing TS-850S.  The display is normal - except
for the frequency display showing only dots.  This error is
accompanied by "UL" in Morse.
Click on the image for a larger version.
This isn't the same "Capacitor Plague" of which you might be aware where - particularly in the early 2000s - many computer motherboards failed due to incorrectly formulated electrolytic capacitors, but rather early-era (late 80s to mid 90s) surface-mount electrolytic capacitors that began to leak soon after they were installed.

The underlying cause?

While "failure by leaking" is a common occurrence in electronics, this failure is somewhat different in many aspects.  At about this time, electronic manufacturers were switching over to surface-mount devices - but one of the later components to be surface-mounted were the electrolytic capacitors themselves:  Up to this point it was quite common to see a circuit board where most of the components were surface-mount except for larger devices such as diodes, transistors, large coils and transformers - and electrolytic capacitors - all of which would be mounted through-hole, requiring an extra manufacturing step.

Early surface-mount electrolytic capacitors, as it turned out, had serious flaws.  In looking at the history, it's difficult to tell what aspect of their use caused the problem - the design and materials of the capacitor itself or the method by which they were installed - but it seems that whatever the cause, subjecting the capacitors themselves to enough heat to solder their terminals to the circuit board - via hot air or infrared radiation - was enough to compromise their structural integrity.

Whatever the cause - and at this point it does not matter who is to blame - the result is that over time, these capacitors have leaked electrolyte onto their host circuit boards.  Since this boron-based liquid is somewhat conductive and mildly corrosive in its own right, it is not surprising that as surface tension wicks this material across the board, it causes devastation wherever it goes, particularly when voltages are involved.

The CAR board - the cause of "display dots"

In the TS-850S, the module most susceptible to leaking capacitors is the CAR board - a circuit that produces multiple, variable frequency signals that feeds the PLL synthesizer and several IF (Intermediate Frequency) mixers.  Needless to say, when this board fails, so does the radio.

They most obvious symptom of this failure is when damage to the board is so extensive that it can no longer produce the needed signals - and if one particularly synthesizer (out of four on the board) fails, you will see that the frequency display disappears - to be replaced with just dots - and the letters "UL" are sent in Morse Code to indicate the "Unlock" condition by the PLL.

Figure 2:
The damaged CAR board.  All but one of the surface-mount
electrolytic capacitors has leaked corrosive fluid and damaged
the board.  (It looked worse before being cleaned!)
Click on the image for a larger version.
Prior to this, the radio may have started going deaf and/or transmitter output was dropping as the other three synthesizers - while still working - are losing output, but this may be indicative of another problem as well - more on this later.

Figure 2 shows what the damaged board looks like.  Actually, it looked a bit worse than that when I first removed it from the radio - several pins of the large integrated circuits being stained black.  As you can see, there are black smudges around all (but one) of the electrolytic capacitors where the corrosive liquid leaked out, getting under the green solder mask and even making its way between power supply traces where the copper was literally being eaten away.

The first order of business was to remove this board and throw it in the ultrasonic cleaner.  Using a solution of hot water and dish soap, the board was first cleaned for six minutes - flipping the board over during the process - and then very carefully, paper towels and then compressed air was used to remove the water.

Figure 3:
The CAR board taking a hot bath in soapy water in an
ultrasonic cleaner.  This removes not only debris, but spilled
electrolyte - even that which has flowed under components.
Click on the image for a larger version.
At this point I needed to remove all of the electrolytic capacitors:  Based on online research, it was common for all of them to leak, but I was lucky that the one unit that had not failed (a 47uF, 16 volt unit) "seemed" OK while all of the others (10uF, 16 volt) had disgorged their contents.

If you look at advice online, you'll see that some people recommend simply twisting the capacitor off the board as the most expedient removal procedure, but I've found that doing so with electrolyte-damaged traces often results in ripping those same traces right off the board - possibly due to thinning of the copper itself and/or some sort of weakening of the adhesive.

My preferred method of already-leaking capacitors is to use a pair of desoldering tweezers - which are more or less a soldering iron with two prongs that will simultaneously heat both pins of the part simultaneously, theoretically allowing its quick removal.  While many capacitors are easily removed with this tool, some are more stubborn:  During manufacture, drops of glue were used under the part to hold it in place prior to soldering and this sometimes does its job too well, making it difficult to remove it.  Other times, the capacitor will explode (usually just a "pop") as it is being heated, oozing out more corrosive electrolyte.

With the capacitors removed, I tossed it in the ultrasonic cleaner for other cycle in the same warm water/soap solution to remove any additional electrolyte that had come off - along with debris from the removal process.  It is imperative when repairing boards with leaking capacitors that all traces of electrolyte be completely removed or damage will continue even after the repair.

At this point one generally needs to don magnification and carefully inspect the board.  Using a dental pick and small-blade screwdriver, I scraped away loose board masking (the green overcoating on the traces) as well as bits of copper that had detached from the board:  Having taken photos of the board prior to capacitor removal - and with the use of the Service Manual for this radio, found online - I was confident that I could determine where, exactly, each capacitor was connected.

When I was done - and the extent of the damage was better-revealed - the board looked to be a bit of a mess, but that was the fault of the leaking capacitors.  Several traces and pads in the vicinity of the defunct capacitors had been eaten away or fallen off - but since these capacitors are pretty much placed across power supply rails, it was pretty easy to figure out where they were supposed to connect.

Figure 4:
The CAR board, reinstalled for testing.
Click on the image for a larger version.
As the mounting pads for most of these capacitors were damaged or missing, I saw no point in replacing them with more surface-mount capacitors - but rather I could install through-hole capacitors on the surface, laying them down as needed for clearance - and since these new capacitors included long leads, those leads could be used to "rebuild" the traces that had been damaged.

The photo shows the final result.  Different-sized capacitors were used as necessary to accommodate the available space, but the result is electrically identical to the original.  It's worth noting that these electrolytic capacitors are in parallel with surface-mount ceramic capacitors (which seem to have survived the ordeal) so the extra lead length on these electrolytics is of no consequence - the ceramic capacitors doing their job at RF as before.  After successful testing of the board, dabs of adhesive were used to hold the larger, through-hole capacitors to the board to reduce stress on the solder connections under mechanical vibration.

Following the installation of the new capacitors, the board was again given two baths in the ultrasonic cleaner - one using the soap and water solution, and the other just using plain tap water and again, the board was patted dry and then carefully blown dry with compressed air to remove all traces of water from the board and from under components and then allowed to air dry for several hours.

Testing the board

After using an ohmmeter to make sure that the capacitors all made their proper connections, I installed the board in the TS-850S and... it didn't work as I was again greeted with a "dot" display and a Morse "UL".

I suspected that one of the "vias" - a point where a circuit traces passes from one side to another through a plated hole - had been "eaten" by the errant electrolyte.  Wielding an oscilloscope, I quickly noted that only one of the synthesizers was working - the one closest to connector CN1 - and this told me that at least one control signal was missing from the rest of the chips.  Probing with the scope I soon found that a serial data signal ("PDA") used to program the synthesizers "stopped" beyond the first chip and a bit of testing with an ohmmeter showed that from one end to the other, the signal had been interrupted - no doubt in a via that had been eaten away by electrolytic action.

Figure 5:
Having done some snooping with an oscilloscope, I noted
that the "PDA" signal did not make it past the first of the
(large) synthesizer chips.  The white piece of #30 Kynar
wire-wrap wire was used to jump over the bad board "via"
Click on the image for a larger  version.

The easiest fix for this was to use a piece of small wire - I used #30 Kynar-insulated wire-wrap wire - to jumper from where this control signal was known to be good to a point where it was not good (a length of about an inch/two cm) and was immediately rewarded with all four synthesizer outputs being on the correct frequencies, tuning as expected with the front-panel controls.

Low output

While all four signals were present and on their proper frequencies - indicating that the synthesizers were working correctly - I soon noticed, using a scope, that the second synthesizer output on about 8.3 MHz was outputting a signal that was about 10% of its expected value in amplitude.  A quick test of the transmitter indicated that the RF output was only about 15 watts - far below that of the 100 watts expected.

Again using the 'scope, I probed the circuit - and comparing the results with the nearly identical third synthesizer (which was working correctly) and soon discovered that the amplitude dropped significantly through a pair of 8.3 MHz ceramic filters.

The way that synthesizers 2 and 3 work is that the large ICs synthesize outputs in the 1.2-1.7 MHz area and mix this with a 10 MHz source derived from the radio's reference to yield signals around 8.375 and 8.83 MHz, respectively - but this mix results in a very ugly signal spectrally - full of harmonics and undesired products.  With the use of these ceramic bandpass filters - which are similar to 10.7 MHz filters those found in analog AM and FM radios - these signals are "cleaned up" to yield the desired output over a range of the several kiloHertz that they vary depending on the bandpass filter and the settings of the front panel "slope tune" control.

Figure 6:
The trace going between C75 and CF1 was cut and a bifilar-
wound transformer was installed to step up the impedance
from Q7 to that of the filter:  R24 was also changed to 22
ohms - providing the needed "IF-7-LO3" output level at J4.
Click on the image for a larger version.

The problem here seemed to be that the two ceramic 8.3 MHz filters  (CF1, CF2) were far more lossy than they should have been.  Suspecting a bad filter, I removed them both from the circuit board and tested them using a temporary fixture on a NanoVNA:  While their "shape" seemed OK, their losses were each around 10dB more than is typical of these devices indicating that they are slowly degrading.  A quick check online revealed that these particular frequency filters were not available anywhere (they were probably custom devices, anyway) so I had to figure out what to do.

Since the "shape" of the individual filter's passbands were still OK - a few hundred kHz wide - all I needed was to get more signal:  While I could have kludged another amplifier into the circuit to make up for the loss, I decided, instead, to reconfigure the filter matching.  Driving the pair of ceramic filters is an emitter-follower buffer amplifier (Q7) - the output of which is rather low impedance - well under 100 ohms - but these types of filters typically "want" around 300-400 ohms and in this circuit, this was done using series resistors - specifically R24.  This method of "matching" the impedance is effective, but very lossy, so changing this to a more efficient matching scheme would allow me to recover some of the signal.

Replacing the 330 ohm series resistor (R24) with a 22 ohm unit and installing a bifilar-wound transformer (5 turns on a BN43-2402 binocular core) wired as a 1:4 step-up transformer (the board trace between C75 and CF1 was cut and the transformer connected across it) brought the output well into the proper amplitude range and with this success, I used a few drops of "super glue" to hold it to the bottom of the board.  It is important to note that I "boosted" the amplitude of the signal prior to the filtering because to do so after the filtering - with its very low signal level - may have also amplified spurious signals as well - a problem avoided in this method.

Rather than using a transformer I could have also used a simple L/C impedance transformer (a series 2.2uH inductor with a 130pF capacitor to ground on the "filter side" would have probably done the trick) but the 1:4 transformer was very quick and easy to do.

With the output level of synthesizer #2 (as seen on pin CN4) now up to spec (actually 25% higher than indicated on the diagram in the service manual) the radio was now easily capable of full transmit output power, and the receiver's sensitivity was also improved - not surprising considering that the low output would have starved mixers in the radios IF.

A weird problem

After all of this, the only thing that is not working properly is "half" of the "Slope Tune" control:  In USB the "Low Cut" works - as does the "High Cut" on LSB, but the "High Cut" does not work as expected on USB and the "Low Cut" does not work as expected on LSB.  What happens with the settings that do NOT work properly, I hear the effect of the filter being adjusted (e.g. the bandwidth narrows) but the radio's tuning does not track the adjustment as it should.  What's common to both of these "failures" is that they both relate to high frequency side of the filter IF filters in the radio - the effect being "inverted" on LSB.

I know that the problem is NOT the CAR board or the PLL/synthesizer itself as these are being properly set to frequency.  What seems to NOT be happening is that for the non-working adjustments, the radio's CPU is not adjusting the tuning of the radio to track the shift of the IF frequency to keep the received signal in the same place - which seems like more of a software problem than a hardware problem:  Using the main tuning knob or the RIT one can manually offset this problem and permit tuning of both the upper and lower slopes of of the filters, but that is obviously not how it's expected to work!

In searching the Internet, I see scattered mentions of this sort of behavior on the TS-850 and 950, but no suggestions as to what causes it or what to do about it:  I have done a CPU reset of the radio and disconnected the battery back-up to wipe the RAM contents, but to no avail.  Until/unless this can be figured out, I advised the owner to set the affected control to its "Normal" position.  If you have experienced this problem - and especially if you know of a solution - please let me know.

Figure 7:
The frequency display shows that the synthesizer is now
working properly - as did the fact that it outputs full power
and gets good on-the-air signal reports.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Final comments

Following the repair, I went through the alignment steps in the service manual and found that the radio was slightly out alignment - particularly with respect to settings in the transmit output signal path - possibly during previous servicing to accommodate the low output due to the dropping level from the CAR board.  Additionally, the ALC didn't seem to work properly - being out of adjustment - resulting in distortion on voice peaks with excessive output power.

With the alignment sorted, I made a few QSOs on the air getting good reports - and using a WebSDR to record my transmissions, it sounded fine as well.

Aside from the odd behavior of the "Slope Tune" control, it seems to work perfectly.  I'm presently convinced that this must be a software - not a hardware - problem as all of the related circuits function as they should, but don't seem to be being "told" what to do.

* * * * *

This page stolen from ka7oei.blogspot.com


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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Reducing RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) for a POE (Power Over Ethernet) camera or wireless access point

One of the (many) banes of the amateur radio operator's existence is often found at the end of an Ethernet cable - specifically a device that is being powered via "Ethernet":  It is often the case that interference - from HF through UHF - emanates from such devices.

Figure 1:
POE camera with both snap-on ferrites installed -
including one as close to the camera as possible -
and other snap-on/toroids to suppress HF through VHF.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Why this happens

Ethernet by itself is usually relatively quiet from an (HF) RF standpoint:  The base frequency of modern 100 Megabit and gigabit Ethernet is typically above much of HF and owing to the fact that the data lines are coupled via transformers making them inherently balanced and less prone to radiate.  Were this not the case, the integrity of the data itself would be strongly affected by the adjacent wires within the cable or even if the cable was routed near metallic objects as it would radiate a strong electromagnetic field - and any such coupling would surely affect the signal by causing reflections, attenuation, etc.

This is NOT the case with power that is run via the same (Ethernet) cable.  Typically, this power is sourced by a switching power supply - too often one that is not filtered well - and worse, the device at the far end of the cable (e.g. a camera or WiFi access point - to name two examples) is often built "down to a cost" and itself contains a switching voltage converter with rather poor filtering that is prone to radiation of RF energy over a wide spectrum.  Typically lacking effective common-mode filtering - particularly at HF frequencies (it would add expense and increase bulk) - the effect of RF radiating from the power-conducting wires in an Ethernet cable can be severe.

Even worse than this, Ethernet cables are typically long - often running in walls or ceilings - effectively making them long, wire antennas, capable of radiating (and intercepting) signals even at HF.  The "noisy" power supply at one or both ends of this cable can act as transmitters.

What to do

While some POE configurations convey the DC power on the "spare" conductors in an eight conductor cable (e.g. the blue and brown pairs), some versions use the data pairs themselves (often using center-tapped transformers in the Ethernet PHY) meaning that it may not be easy to filter just the DC power.

While it is theoretically possible to extract the power from the Ethernet cable, filter it and and reinsert it on the cable, the various (different) methods of doing this complicate the matters and doing so - particularly if the DC is carried on the data pairs - can degrade the data integrity by requiring the data to transit two transforms incurring potential signal attenuation, additional reflection and affecting frequency response - to name just a few.  Doing this is complicated by the fact that the method of power conveyance varies as you may not know which method is used by your device(s).

It is possible to subject the entire cable and its conductors to a common-mode inductance to help quash RFI - but this must be done carefully to maintain signal integrity.

Comment: 

Some POE cameras also have a coaxial power jack that permits it to be powered locally rather than needing to use POE.  I've observed that it is often the case that using this local power - which is often 12-24 volts DC (depending on the device) - will greatly reduce the noise/interference generated by the camera and conducted on the cable - provided, of course, that the power supply itself is not a noise source.  Even if a power supply is used near the camera, I would still suggest putting its DC power cable through ferrite devices as described below to further-reduce possible emissions.
There are some devices (such as those sold by DX Engineering) that are essentially back-to-back signal transformers that can reduce radiation of signals from Ethernet cable, but these typically do not permit the passage of power and are not candidates for use with POE devices.

Ferrite can be your friend

For VHF and UHF, simple snap-on ferrites can significantly attenuate the conduction of RF along, but these devices are unlikely to be effective at HF - particularly on the lower bands - as they simply cannot add enough impedance at lower frequencies.

To effectively reduce the conduction of RF energy at HF, one could wrap the Ethernet cable around a ferrite toroidal core, but this is often fraught with peril, particularly with cable carrying Gigabit Ethernet - as tight radius turns can distort the geometry of typical CAT-5/6 cable, affect the impedance and cause cross-coupling into other wire pairs.  If this happens, one often finds that the Ethernet cable doesn't work reliably at Gigabit speeds anymore (being stuck at 100 or even 10 Megabits/second) or starts to "flap" - switching between different speeds and/or slowing down due to retransmissions on the LAN.

One type of Ethernet cable that is quite resistant to geometric distortion caused by wrapping around a toroidal core is the flat Ethernet cable (sometimes erroneously referred to as "CAT6" or "CAT7").  This cable is available as short jumpers around 6 feet (2 meters) long and, with the aid of a female-female 8P8C (often called "RJ-45") coupler can be inserted into an existing Ethernet cable run - just be sure that it is from a reputable source and rated for "Gig-E" service.  As it is quite forgiving to being wrapped around ferrites, this flat cable can be pre-wound with such devices and inserted at the Ethernet switch end and/or the device end at a later time.  I have found that with reasonable quality cable and couplers that this does not seem to degrade the integrity of the data on the LAN cable - at least for moderate lengths (e.g. 50 feet/15 meters or less) - your mileage may vary with very long cable runs.

As the flat cable and female-female Ethernet coupler are to be inserted into the cable run, they must be of known, good quality so it is best to test the couplers and cable that you obtain prior to installation to be sure that their use doesn't cause a reduction in signal quality/speed.

Practical examples

Best attenuation across HF

Figure 2:
Three toroids wound on "flat" Ethernet cable.  An FT114-43
is used on each end with an FT114-31 in the middle.
Click on the image for a larger version.
Using a test fixture with a VNA, I determined that for best overall attenuation across the entire HF spectrum I needed three ferrite toroids on the 2 meter long flat Ethernet jumper.  All three of these were FT-114 size (1.14", 29mm O.D.) with the first and last being of material type 43 and the center being type 31:  Both types 31 and 43 offer good impedance to low HF but 43 is more effective on the higher bands - namely 10 and 6 meters - and types 52 and 61 may be useful at even higher bands:  The three toroids, separated by a few inches/cm, offer better all-around rejection from 160 meters through 10/6 meters than just one.  Having said this, it is unrealistic to expect more than 20dB or so of attenuation to be afforded by ferrite devices at high HF/low VHF - "because physics".

One might be tempted to use the more-available FT-240 size of toroids (2.4", 60mm O.D.) but this is unnecessarily large, comparatively fragile and expensive:  While you can fit more turns on the larger toroid, one hits the "point of diminishing returns" (e.g. little improvement with additional turns) very quickly owing to the nature of the ferrite and coupling between turns.  Using the FT114 or FT140 sizes is the best balance as it may be much less expensive than a larger device, it can accept 6-8 turns with the cable's connector installed, and more than 6-8 turns is rapidly approaching the point of diminishing returns for a single ferrite device, anyway.

In bench testing with a fixture, it was found that three toroids on a piece of flat Ethernet cable provided the best, overall attenuation across HF and to 6 meters - significantly better than any combination of FT114, FT140 or FT240 toroids of either 43 or 31 mix alone:  Figure 2, above, shows what this looks like.  Two FT114-43 and one FT114-31 toroid were used - the #31 toroid being placed in the center, providing the majority of series impedance at low HF and a #43 at each end being more effective at higher HF through 6 meters.

To construct this, the flat Ethernet cable was then marked with a silver marker in the center and four turns were wound from each end, in turn, for a total of eight turns on the FT114-31.  Placing an FT114-43 at 12 inches (25cm) and winding seven turns puts the FT114-43 fairly close to each connector, allowing the installation of one or two snap-on ferrites very close  to the connector if it is determined that more suppression is required to suppress radiation at VHF frequencies.  Small zip-ties (not shown in Figure 2) are used to help keep the turns from bunching up too much and also to prevent the start and stop turns from getting too close to each other:  Do not cinch these ties up enough to distort the geometry of the Ethernet cable as that could impact speed - particularly when using Gig Ethernet.

It is important that, as much as possible, one NOT place a "noisy" cable in a bundle with other cables or to loop it back onto itself - both of which could cause inadvertent coupling of the RFI that you are trying to suppress into the other conductors - or to the far side of the cable you are installing.

Best attenuation at VHF and HF

If you are experiencing interference from HF through VHF, you will need to take a hybrid approach:  The use of appropriate snap-on and toroidal ferrite devices.  While snap-on ferrite devices are not particularly useful for HF - especially below about 20 MHz - they can be quite effective at VHF, which is to be expected as that is the purpose for which they are typically designed.  Similarly, a ferrite toroid such as that described above - particularly with type 43 or 31 material - will likely have little effect on VHF radiation - particularly in the near field.

Figure 3:
A combination of a snap-on device with an extra turn looped
through it and two ferrites to offer wide-band suppression
from HF through VHF.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Figure 3 shows such a hybrid approach with a snap-on device on the left and two toroids on the right to better-suppress a wider range of frequencies.  In this case it is important that the snap-on device be placed as close to the interference source as possible (typically the camera) as even short lead lengths can function as effective antennas at VHF/UHF.  You may also notice that the snap-on has two turns through its center as this greatly improves efficacy at medium/low VHF frequencies but may be counter-productive at high VHF/UHF frequencies owing to coupling between turns.

Doing this by itself is not likely to be as effective in reducing radiation at VHF/UHF from the cable itself, often requiring the placement of additional ferrite devices.  Figure 1 shows the installation of several snap-on devices placed as close to the POE camera as physically possible - mainly to reduce radiation at VHF and UHF as at those frequencies where even a few inches or centimeters of cable emerging from the noise-generating device can act as an effective antenna.

Determining efficacy

During the installation of these devices on my POE cameras I was interested in how much attenuation would be afforded at VHF:  Since I'd already used the "chokes on a flat cable" approach like that in Figures 2 and 3 I knew that this would likely be as effective as was practical at HF - but because the VHF/UHF noise could be radiated by comparatively short lengths of "noisy" cable - and that the 43 and 31 mix ferrites were probably not as effective at those frequencies - I needed to be able to quantify that what I did made a difference - or not.

Figure 4:
The cable in Figure 3 installed, but not yet
tucked into place as depicted in Figure 1.
(This does not show the snap-on ferrites installed
where the wire exits the camera housing.
)
The female-female RJ45/8P8C "splice" can be
seen in the upper-left corner of the picture.
Click on the image for a larger version.

For HF this was quite simple:  I simply tuned my HF receiver - connected to my main antenna - to a frequency where I knew that I could hear the noise from the cameras and compared S-meter readings with the system powered up and powered down.  This approach is best done at a time during which the frequency in question is "dead" or at least weak (e.g. poor propagation) - 80/40 meters during the midday and 15/10 meters at night is typical.

For VHF this required a bit more specialized equipment.  My "Go-To" device for finding VHF signals - including noise - is my VK3YNG DF sniffer which has extremely good sensitivity - but it also has an audible "S-meter" in terms of a tone that rises with increasing signal level:  This allowed an "eyes and hands off" approach in determining efficacy of the installation of a ferrite device simply by hearing the pitch of the tone..  Switching it to this mode and placing it and its antenna at a constant distance fairly close to the device being investigated allowed me to "hear" - in the form of a lower-pitched tone - whether or not the application of a ferrite device made a difference.

Slightly less exotic would be an all-mode receiver capable of tuning 2 meters such as the Yaesu FT-817, Icom IC-706, 703 or 705.  In this case the AM mode would be selected and the RF gain control advanced such that the noise amplitude audibly decreased:  This step is important as not doing this could mean that if the noise decreased, the AGC in the receiver would simply compensate and hiding the fact that the signal level changed.  By listening for a decrease in the noise level one can "hear" when installing a snap-on ferrite made a difference - or not.

One cannot use a receiver in FM mode for this as an FM detector is designed to produce the same amount of audio (including noise) at any signal level:  A strong noise source and a weak one will sound exactly the same.  It's also worth noting that the S-meter on a receiver in FM mode - or an FM-only receiver - are typically terrible in the sense that their indications typically start with a very low signal and "peg" the meter at a signal that isn't very strong at all which means that if you try to use one, you'll have to situate the receiver/antenna such that you get a reading that is neither full-scale or at the bottom of the scale to leave room for the indication of change.

Of course, a device like a "Tiny SA" (Spectrum Analyzer) could be used to provide a visual indication, using the "Display Line", markers and stored traces to allow a quick "before and after" determination.  As mentioned above, one would want to place the antenna and the receiving device (an actual receiver or spectrum analyzer) at a fairly close distance to the device being investigated - but keep it and its antenna in precisely the same location (or connected to a fixed-location antenna) during the entire time so that one can get meaningful "before and after" readings.

Conclusion

With the use of ferrites alone, one should not expect to be able to completely suppress radiation of RF noise from an Ethernet cable - the typical maximum to be reasonably expected is on the order of about 20dB (a bit over 3 "S" units) and this can vary wildly with frequency.  In a situation where the POE device is very close to the antenna, it may not be possible to knock the interference down to the point of inaudibility in which case relocation to place the two farther apart - or trying similar devices of different models/brands to try to find a combination to reduce it..

The most effective use will be for noise sources will be at some distance from the receive antenna - particularly if a long cable is used that may act as an antenna.  Additionally, these measures can be effective in situations where your transmitter causes problems with the device itself due to ingress of RF energy along the Ethernet cable.

Be prepared to install appropriate ferrite devices at both ends of the cable as it's often the case that not only does the POE device itself (camera, wireless device) radiates noise but also the POE switch itself:  No-name brand POE power supplies and Ethernet switches are, themselves often very noisy and the proper course of action would be to first swap out the supply or POE switch with a known quiet device before attaching ferrite.

As every interference situation is unique, your mileage may vary, and the best road to success is being able to quantify that changes you have made made things better or worse.


This page stolen from ka7oei.blogspot.com

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