I don’t live in a city but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience radio interference from the neighbors or from other sources such as power lines or from shoddy wall-warts inside my house. The problem I’ve had at my current QTH is that I’ve generally always been heard, yet receiving a solid copy from the distant station was quite a challenge. The S-Meter routinely read between S3-S5 during the day and at night all bets were off. on 80 meters the S-Meter usually stayed steady at S7, and right around S5 on 40.
A malfunctioning street lamp was a problem a year ago but that problem was resolved. I suspect another street lamp is burned out around my neighborhood but I really don’t want to take the time to hunt it down. I’ve heard of artificial ground boxes that you can buy and I thought that might do the trick. I’m not sure, however, since I’ve never purchased one.
A quick search on ham radio noise cancellation generated some interesting results. I read about the antenna noise cancellation device that MFJ makes but opted not to explore that any further since it received mixed reviews … mostly revolving around the quality of construction. The other issue I had with the MFJ model is that it was my understanding that I couldn’t use it with an automatic antenna tuner. Bummer.
I somehow stumbled across the Timewave ANC-4 Antenna Noise Canceller. It was a little more than the MFJ model (within about $30 or so) but could be used with an automatic antenna tuner. Awesome! I decided to search out reviews for this product including Youtube videos, which allowed me to see the device in action. The videos (more than one) looked very promising, but my major hangup was that I wasn’t quite ready to commit to spending over $200 on a device that may or may not solve my problems.
I decided to go on eBay and do a search for the ANC-4. I figured there had to be several of these things used that someone was willing to part with. I didn’t find any Timewave devices, but I DID find the JPS device. As near as I can tell, they are the exact same design … just a different name on the front of the case. So, I decided to bid on one to see if I could get it for what I thought was a reasonable price. No, I didn’t win the first, second, or even the third auction! But I finally did win one and paid what I thought was a more than fair price for it. I figured if it didn’t work, I wasn’t out much and I could probably sell it for what I paid for it.
A few days later the unit arrived. I installed it later in the week and decided to play around with the device. How did it stack up? Well, after learning how to use it (not at all difficult but it does take some practice) I was pleasantly surprised! Now, some might say that I’m easy to please, but the JPS ANC-4 really did live up to my expectations. Is it a miracle worker? No. Will it drop your noise floor virtually disappear? Probably not. Will your S-Meter hover around S-1 or less? MAYBE. It really all depends. Don’t expect it to get rid of jammers, natural noise such as static crashes or an increase in atmospheric noise due to an unsettled geomagnetic field, but it WILL help with some manmade noise. Notice I said SOME and not ALL.
Here are my results:
On 80 meters (the most problematic for me) my S-Meter usually hovers around S5-S7 without the device. I can hear the stronger stations in my area but forget about pulling in the weak ones. When I use the device, the noise drops considerably. The S-Meter usually hovers between S1-S3. I can hear more of the weaker stations but not everyone. And yes, generally speaking I’m USUALLY heard. Again, if propagation is an issue, this device isn’t going to solve the problem.
On 40 meters, my S-Meter usually hovers around S3-S5 without the device. I can usually work this band without much of an issue, but I definitely can’t pull in the weak stations. With the device active, the S-Meter is right around S1-S3. Much improved! Again, this won’t solve propagation issues or intentional interference. I might also note that your results may vary from day to day depending on band conditions.
The ANC-4 does help on 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters but those bands aren’t nearly as problematic for me. Shortwave reception is also improved as well as the “broadcast band.” Now, reception for broadcast AM stations isn’t stellar on the ANC-4’s default settings, but there are some ways you can improve noise cancellation on this band by following the instructions that came with the unit. The instructions are also available online.
I’m pleased with the overall performance of the unit. It definitely is a nice accessory for my shack. I won’t go into the specifics of how this device works but If you’d like more information about the antenna noise canceller, you can visit Timewave or MFJ.
73 de Andre