I have been reading with interest the ongoing discussion about AM radios in Electric Vehicles. Rather than rehash the what, I thought it would be nice to dig into why it is happening.
My first thought is that many of the electronics use PDM or PWM to control various stages of charging, converting, or discharging the storage system. I quick review of a typical EV basic diagram shows that there are several systems involved
Searching through various chip makers’ data sheets on Li-ion battery chargers, DC voltage to voltage converters, regenerative braking systems, traction motor inverters, and so on shows that all of those systems use PWM. Some of those PWM frequencies are right in the AM band, while others are not. That explains why different manufacturers have different takes on AM radios in EVs.
All of those electrical components are controlled by an electronic system that handles battery charging,
This basic diagram shows several sections that rely on PWM to function. The traction inverter is very complicated, with sensors running to each motor and each wheel for traction control, etc.
I imagine the average EV driving down the road in a cloud of PWM-based electrical noise. Whether or not that creates interference with AM reception depends solely on the PWM frequency the chip manufacturer chooses. That is not all, even when sitting in the garage charging, the Li-ion battery chargers use PWM.
It seems a monumental task to attempt to mitigate the noise issue. The real question is; does the general public and more specifically, those who want to own an EV care about AM broadcasting?
There are many alternative entertainment options these days. I would say the average Tesla driver listens to iTunes.
It would be interesting to test MA-3 reception in a Tesla. That would be a real-world test to see how the HD Radio codec stands up to electrical noise. I would say the same about DRM, but you would need to find a receiver first.
Occasionally, I get to go for a nice walk in a snowstorm. No, I am not being sarcastic. It is the middle of March and winter has decided to make an appearance. One of the FM stations we take care of went off the air and the remote control was not able to get the transmitter to come back on, so a stroll through the woods was necessary. This station is located at Sam’s Point Preserve, in Craigsmore NY.
The site is owned by Vertical Bridge. There are a few tenants on the tower and fortunately, somebody left the gate open before it snowed. I was somewhat dreading trying to wrestle with it when I got to the site.
The problem itself seems to be due to a power hit; the main transmitter was off and the remote control, a wheezing Genter VRC-2000, was not able to control either the main or the backup. Those should be replaced at some point.
There are several other towers up here for various cell carriers, 911 dispatch, etc.
My SO decided to come along.
My phone said we walked 2.7 miles round trip, which sounds about right. The station is back on the air. When I can get up there with a vehicle in a few weeks, I will look into the remote control problem.
Had to do some work at a transmitter site today and had to put the backup transmitter on the air for a few minutes.
These were good units in their day and many continue on. This transmitter was new in 1986 and served as the main transmitter until 2015 or so. This unit still has the tube driver (4CX250B) which tended to use a set of tubes every year or so. The PA tube normally lasted 4 years or so.
I miss the analog meters sometimes. There is something satisfying watching all the meters come up together when the plate on button is pushed.
UPDATE and bump: This post is from eleven years ago, but I have been working on an SDR project using one of the RTL- 2832 chips. I had to make two more of these units, so the prices and part numbers have been updated.
I have acquired one of those broad-banded software-defined radios, an Icom PCR-1000 to be precise, and all is well. I am enjoying listening to various MF, HF and VHF radio stations. However, there is a slight problem. Very slight, almost too small to even mention, more of an inconvenience than a problem. Still, if I am being inconvenienced, then others are too. This issue is with the antennas. My K9AY antenna works wonderfully from 500 KHz to 25 MHz or so. My discone antenna works wonderfully from about 30 MHz all the way up to about 1 GHz. In order to enjoy the full range of the receiver, I need to switch antennas. I have a small switch on my desktop, but it seems inconvenient to reach over and switch it when going from the AM band to the FM band or something similar. Therefore, I have decided that I need an HF/VHF receiver diplexer. One would think that such hardware is ready-made for such instances. However, nothing I could find commercially would do the trick.
Thus, since I could not buy one, I decided to build one to add to my collection of receiver doo-dads and nick knacks. The design is relatively easy, a back-to-back low pass/high pass filter system with a 50-ohm impedance throughout. Something with a sharp cut-off around 30 MHz or so:
Looks pretty good, 5th order Chebyshev filter, perhaps .1 dB ripple in the pass bands if well made. Schematically:
Then it comes down to the building. Since this is going to be used in the UHF range, care and attention needs to be paid to the layout of the components and the design of the circuit board. Some of those capacitance values are not standard, however, by using two capacitors in parallel, one can get pretty close. Since this is going to be used for receiving only, I may be splitting hairs, however, I have found that well-designed and built equipment is worth the extra effort.
The board layout looks like this:
I tried to keep the traces as close to 50 Ohm impedance as possible.
As one may be able to discern, C2 and C3 are in parallel to make 192 PF, C5 and C6 are in parallel to make 60 PF, and C7 and C8 are in parallel to make 163 PF.
The input and output RF connectors are whatever the builder wants to use, however, I would recommend at least BNC or type N for the VHF/UHF side. My unit has all type BNC female connectors. Parts list:
150 PF SMT
12 PF SMT
180 PF SMT
68 PF SMT
50 PF SMT
10 PF SMT
3 PF SMT
160 PF SMT
Diecast, 4.3 x 2.3”
I chose a smallish, diecast aluminum case, which matches my other receiver gear. The circuit board noted above is 2.9 x 1.7 inches, which is a little bit small. I used 18 gauge wire between the input/output connectors and the board.
The inductors were made by hand. I used a small screwdriver as a winding form, making the turns tightly and then spreading them out to the proper distance.
The most expensive part was the circuit board, which cost about $16.00. The rest parts were about $22.00 including shipping.
As built photos:
I have installed this already and it works great. I will need to get the spectrum analyzer out and run some signals through the various ports to see the attenuation and 3 dB roll-off points.