FCC Technological Advisory Council Initiates Noise Floor Inquiry

FCC SealFrom the ARRL, original post here.  17/6/2016

Radio amateurs frequently complain about increasing noise from a variety of sources, so it should be welcome news that the FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC) — an advisory group to the FCC — is investigating changes and trends to the radio spectrum noise floor to determine if there is an increasing noise problem, and, if so, its extent.  The FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) announced the TAC study this week in a Public Notice and invited comments and answers to questions that the TAC has posed in the notice.  The comment deadline is August 11.  The TAC said it is trying to determine the scope of any noise issues and has invited “quantitative evidence” of noise problems, as well as recommendations on how to perform a noise study.

“The TAC is requesting input to help answer questions about the study of changes to the spectrum noise floor over the past 20 years,” the announcement said.  “Noise in this context denotes unwanted radio frequency (RF) energy from manmade sources.  Like many spectrum users, TAC members expect that the noise floor in the radio spectrum is rising as the number of devices in use that emit radio energy grows.”

The ARRL representative on the TAC, Greg Lapin, N9GL, co-chairs the TAC Spectrum and Receiver Performance Working Group with Lynn Claudy of the National Association of Broadcasters.  Lapin also serves as chairman of the ARRL RF Safety Committee.

The TAC said that its search for “concrete evidence of increased noise floors” has turned up only “limited available quantitative data” to support its presumption of a rising noise floor.  The TAC said it wants to find ways to add to the available data so it can “answer important questions” on the topic for the FCC.

The TAC noted that many types of devices generate radio spectrum noise.  In the case of incidental radiators — devices not designed to emit RF but do so anyway — there is little regulation governing such noise. “Most electric motors, light dimmers, switching power supplies, utility transformers, and power lines are included in this category,” the TAC announcement explained.

Devices designed to generate RF for internal use, or send RF signals to associated equipment via connected wiring, but which are not intended to emit RF energy, are called unintentional radiators.  This category includes computers and many portable electronic devices, as well as many new high-efficiency lamps.  FCC regulations limit the levels of emitted RF energy from these devices.

A third group of devices categorized as intentional radiators (unlicensed and licensed) and industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radiators — are designed to generate and emit RF energy by radiation or induction.  Intentional radiators include cellular phones and base stations, unlicensed wireless routers, Bluetooth devices, broadcast TV and radio stations, and radar systems.  Amateur Radio transmitters also fall into this category.  Microwave ovens, arc welders, and fluorescent lighting are examples of ISM equipment.

“Such emitters contribute to the noise floor with emissions outside of their assigned frequencies,” the TAC said.  “These are sometimes generated as spurious emissions, including, but not limited to, harmonics of desired frequencies and intermodulation products.”  FCC regulations permitting the operation of these devices specify emission limits outside of the device’s licensed or permitted operating frequencies.

The TAC said that responses to the questions it has posed in the Public Notice will help it to “identify aspects of a study to determine trends in the radio spectrum noise floor.”  The Public Notice includes information on all methods of responding to the inquiry.  The ARRL is planning to comment.

For more information, contact Greg Lapin, N9GL.

More YouTube!

VK0EK Heard Island Expedition

Vadym UT6UD was one of the ‘dynamic duo’ on Top Band (along with Dave, K3EL), and a major reason why VK0EK broke Top Band records from Heard Island.  Here’s a 13 minute video on the Heard Island Expedition he’s posted:

Yaesu System Fusion Introduction

It’s very Marketing-ey (I made up a word!), but here’s an introduction from Yaesu to their System Fusion (C4FM) digital mode and some of the equipment that supports it:

The Transistor, a new member of the Electronics family!

From the days of ‘Duck and Cover’ (1953) comes this documentary designed to give the public of that era their first understanding of what a transistor was and why it mattered so much:

The last 2 may be familiar to members of the Facebook group.  Thanks to Craig VK2FBNG and Bill VK2ZCV for the last 2 videos respectively.

Leixen Note – “The Eyeball Fryer”

Is your HT lacking POWER!?  Is 5, or even 8 Watts not enough for you in a handheld?  Well, China’s Leixen have you covered with their ‘Note’ UHF Handheld – how does 25 Watts sound!?

Leixen Note


Chinese/English Voice prompts
PC Programming/Wireless Cloning Function
Alarm Function between the Units
16 channels
Output power:5W / 10W / 25W
Frequency: UHF 400-480MHz
Max Output power: 25W
Military and civilian walkie talkie suitable for Hotels Construction
Urban district talk range: 10KM
4000mAh Li-ion Battery
Comes with cooling fan
Antenna length 37CM flexible high-gain antenna!
Maximum deviation: <+ 5KHz
Clutter Radiation: 60dB
Emission current: 3.5A
Frequency stability: +2.5PPM
Receiver sensitivity: <0.18
Modulation: F3E
Audio Power:> 400mW
Power supply voltage: 12.6V

At the time of writing, you can grab one from here for a reasonable $138.96AU.  Miklor, always a good source of information on Chinese radios, has a thorough review of the unit here.  Of particular note is this:

RF energy at any power level should not be taken for granted.  RFSafetySolutions.com explains the effects of RF on the human body.  An excellent tutorial for beginners and old timers alike.

A note of caution regarding the radios power.  25W is a lot of RF power.  It makes for an incredible radio, but that type of power must be used responsibly.  This radio is five times that of a standard handheld. 

Being rated at 25W, a cooling fan is included on the back of the radio:

Leixen Note FanAnd yes, it’s as big as you’re expecting it to be:

Leixen Note Size

The antenna is also rated for the transceiver’s high output (as most HT antennas top out at 10W).

Thanks to Henry VK2ZHE for spotting this strange beast!

One reply

  1. Gordon Cooper says:

    It is a worry to see these hi power HTs generally available. That level of RF around the head area is a great concern. I would consider that 5W output would constitute a real hazard to the user. Using FM will mean 100% carrier all the time during transmission.
    10W or 25W I would consider a frightening level to use on an HT.
    Fry your eyeballs indeed and the person standing next to.
    Even when using a small HT, 1 to 3W, I would recommend using a Mic/ Speaker so that you can put a reasonable space between you and the radio.
    Is the RF warning written in small text and in Chinese?

    Gordon VK2GFC

WIA AGM video online

Date : 16 / 06 / 2016 
Author : Phil Wait – VK2ASD


The recording of the Wireless Institute of Australia annual general meeting held at the Paradise Hotel, Norfolk Island, is available for WIA members.  Access is available to WIA members who are registered with the Memnet membership service, and the video had almost 300 views in the first 24 hours after it went up on Sunday June 19.  View the video here.

A LiveStream server and dedicated Internet service were used to stream it in real time from the AGM, and 150 members from all parts of Australia were watching.

Some people have commented that they could not view the original LiveStream at the time, but have viewed the video later from the WIA website.  One member said: “well done, this is exactly what the WIA needs”.  Another described it as being a great idea, which showed the WIA as being professional and transparent.

The WIA Board has received favourable comments about this use of the technology and has resolved, where possible, to stream future Annual General Meetings.

However there is really no substitute for actually attending an AGM weekend.  The AGM is much more than just a corporate meeting.  Those attending get to be part of the Open Forum where ideas are raised, and during the Saturday afternoon there are speaker sessions on various topics.

This year speakers covered portable Amateur Radio, the future opportunities with STEM, chasing storms, history and DXpeditions.

The traditional WIA annual dinner on Saturday night is a must and there is also a lot of Amateur Radio, general tourism and social activity.

The WIA Board has decided that the 2017 AGM will be held in Adelaide. Don’t miss it. More details on it later this year.

Learn new things with YouTube!

YouTube isn’t just for cat videos you know?  Watch a tutorial or two and get involved in (yet another) facet of our hobby!

Here’s all the major concepts and some demonstrations of PSK31 in 30 minutes:

Find more videos from QRPSchool here.  QRP, for people with no need to compensate! 🙂

Courtesy of Bill VK2ZCV, here’s a 9 minutes video on Amateur Radio Satellite Tracking:

When you’ve heard the satellites, watch this to get started talking through them with your HT:

Fancy building a go-box?  There’s loads of people showing off their various designs on YouTube.  Check out Rob KC6TYD’s go-box build, along with deliberations about what form factor his go-box should take: