A recent experience with interference on 80 meters

Today, the South Carolina QSO Party was one of the main ham radio events. I have worked SC on phone once, but never received confirmation. So I open a cluster, look around, and quickly find a spot of a SC station on 80 meters. I tune to 3.825 and there it is, a weak but audible station calling CQ. However, the sound is really strange, like lots of statics overloading my receiver, as if it were summer. I wait a couple of minutes, then realize that those are not statics, but some nearby station. I go up and find the usual ragchew at 30dB over S9, splattering all over. Part 97 comes back to my mind:

An amateur station must use the minimum transmitter power necessary to carry out the desired communications.

However, this is 80 meters, and hams tend to feel proud of driving their amplifier to full legal limit. The difference between 400W and 1.5KW is 5.7 dB, less than one S unit, total game changer! I listen to the conversation: three locals complaining on something they don’t approve. No call signs or any form of identification, typical 80 meters. I go back to the SC station, and try to filter out the splatter. It works somehow, and now I can hear most of the call. I prepare to call back and sure enough, an even stronger splatter gets in. It’s so strong that I can almost make out some of the words. This time it comes from a lower frequency, again no ID, this time talking about how native Texan they are. Here is how the band looks like from the Waller County Radio Club WebSDR Server:

80 meters interference
Splatter and interference from two stations

Now keep in mind one thing: this is a web SDR, so its reception is not as good as most radios. The red arrows point at all their out-of-3KHz signals and splatter. The SC station is right in the middle, too weak for the the SDR to pick it up. It’s completely obliterated by the splatter anyway, and I can’t hear anything anymore. The stronger splatter went away after 15-20 minutes, but the SC station was gone too.

80 meters has such a large bandwidth and is relatively immune to sunspot cycle. It would be one of the best bands if operators were nicer to each other. End of my rant.

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