Category Archives: Opinions

Why Apple’s iMac May be the Best PC for SDR Applications

Most radio hobbyist these days have a PC in the shack these days. Even though convenient and sometimes necessary these PCs can be the source of annoying RFI (Radio Frequency Interference). Of course with many SDR systems, PC’s are a necessary accessory. PC RFI is not limited to affecting SDR systems but also affect analog radios also. It’s just more obvious on SDR radio systems because the RFI can been seen on the spectrum / waterfall display. What causes this? Modern PCs can generate a great deal of local noise via it’s CPU and possibly it’s power supply. The other large RFI generator is the LCD display. Between the two, they can wreak havoc on radio reception. Modern PCs now usually contain multi-core processors that can generate a good deal of RFI. It really doesn’t help matters at all that most PC manufacturers use a large amount of plastic in the cases which allows RFI to leak out more easily. LCD monitors another large source of RFI are all over the place. Some LCD monitors only generate a small amount of RFI while others generate a good deal. All this interference can be seen and heard on your SDR …

On Air Etiquette

During the Ontario QSO Party this weekend I was working a friend, Mike, VA3MW, on 40 meter phone. (That’s Mike likely on one of the towers of the VA3SK contest station just outside of North Bay, Ontario.)

I was running my FlexRadio 1500 into the Explorer beam with the 40-meter extensions at 5 watts. Mike was running a 100 watts with his FlexRadio 3000 from a community north of Toronto which is about 15 miles north of me. We’d been talking for a minute or so when a third station broke in to say we were 6 kHz wide.

When we asked the guy where he was and what he was running, I think he thought we were challenging his report and he got a little huffy. It was at that moment we asked him to identify so we could continue the QSO in a legal manner and figure out what was happening. That was when he disappeared.

That’s a real shame on two counts. One is breaking into a QSO without identifying is both illegal and just not gentleman-like. Two, I’d really like to know if I talking with a guy who’s running a IC-706 with the noise …

Blackbox Station Operators the “Bad Boys” of Amateur Radio?

According to some Amateur Radio operators SDR station operators are the “Bad Boys” of Amateur Radio. We don’t use knobs to operate our radios and heaven forbid we use computers to control and operate our radios. Blasphemy!


This is my “Blackbox” Amateur Radio Station. I know, I know, this is apparently terrible and frightening sight to some Amateur Radio operators. If this image disturbs you avert your eyes. I know there aren’t very many knobs to play with and not many pretty flashing lights or buttons to push. Its not a pretty picture. However, I feel that the “Blackbox” station offers far more flexibility, features, challenge, and fun than conventional Amateur Radio stations. That’s just my opinion, and it is not one shared by some Amateur Radio operators and that’s ok with me. I will address this a little later in the article, but for now here is the equipment that I am using listed from left to right.…