Friday, May 15, 2020

HAM radio trips breakers

When my wife and I first combined households, she had no problem with me installing my HF radio in the house. We have a bedroom that I can use, but the HOA won't let me have a visible antenna, so I ran 2 pieces of coax up the wall and into the attic, where I mounted a dual band stick and a G5RV wire antenna. At 52 feet long, it stretches most of the way across the house, but this antenna allows me to transmit in all bands from 10 meters down to 40 meters.

Anyway, I transmitted on low power to check SWR, and once that was good, I began scanning the 20 meter band. I found a guy in Texas who wanted to talk, cranked it up to 50 watts, and hit the transmit key. Every light in the house went off.

My wife was cooking dinner at the time. She was not happy. I reset the breaker, and figured it was harmonics, so I moved to a different band and began to transmit. Lights out, again. Being a smart man, I decided to stop for the night and figure things out later.

It turns out that Eaton, the maker of the circuit breaker didn't know that they needed to make sure their product was tolerant of stray radio transmissions. They had to go to the Amateur Radio Relay League for assistance. The really bad part in all of this is that Amateur (HAM) radio operators took a lot of blame for this. If you do a Google search for "HAM radio fault arc circuit breaker" you find out that contractors in Florida were blaming HAM radio operators for the issue in at least one Florida community.


Clayton W. said...

What did you do to fix it?

My smoke detectors go off if I transmit UHF more than about 20 watts.

Divemedic said...

Replaced the breakers that were tripping with ones that were FCC compliant.