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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:15 pm 
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Elite

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:12 pm
Posts: 1404
Location: Ypsilanti
I usually have the radio on in the shop when I am not using power tools. I have always used a "boom box" as my shop radio, and I have a few around to chose from. But my new 8', four-F32-T8 fluorescent lights cause a loud static in the FM that make it unusable. My old F40-T12 shoplights did not do this, and the new lights do not interfere with the cassette, or the CD, or the car radio when the car is parked in the garage. But the FM boombox is unusable. I tried other radios, same problem.

I got a big bunch of these lights new but closed-out, and this may be why. In any case, they are not returnable, and having spent the $ I cannot buy other lights to replace them. Any suggestions about what do do to allow me to listen to FM in the shop? Some kind of filter or something?

One solution might be to cobble together a car radio with some speakers and a 12V power supply. Car radios are usually more resistant to interference, and also better at receiving distant stations, than 120V household radios. Any other ideas?

"Dial-up" Dave


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:50 am 
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Elite
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Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:44 am
Posts: 1312
Location: Garden City
Try extending the antenna. Thats what we do at work when we get interference, it usually works.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:55 am 
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Obsessed
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Location: Livonia
No solutions for ya, Dave - but your idea of using a car radio is a good 'un.

They don't seem to sell stereos anymore, just home theater systems which are both pricey and overkill when all ya want to listen to is some music. I have a computer hooked up to my old Pioneer receiver with a pair of inexpensive ($100) bookshelf speakers from Best Buy. However, I'm looking at doing just what you suggest. Jensen has a really nice auto AM/FM/HD radio/DVD/CD player/USB device, for a $259, and you can obviously get something for much less. Add in some kind of power supply from Radio Shack, some speakers and a box to put it in and you've got some nice sounds.

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A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:27 am 
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Elite
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Location: Concord Ca.
You could get a WI-FI internet radio.

WC

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I don't seem to have any more wall space, bench space, floor space, rafter space....


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:28 am 
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Obsessed

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:53 pm
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Location: Monroe
That doesn't work on dialup. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:36 am 
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Elite

Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:14 am
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How about Sirius/XM radio?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:38 pm 
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Elite

Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:06 am
Posts: 636
Location: Trenton, Michigan
Couple years ago my electric bill seemed to be rising for no good reason. So my brother came over and put a meter on each circuit coming out of the fuse box. A big offender was one of the eight flouresent lights in the basement. I forget the draw, but it was "working" at something like 20 times the amount of current it should have.

I'd try another of the lights before thinking they would all create the static.

Steve.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:52 am 
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Obsessed
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Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:14 pm
Posts: 1550
Location: Canton, MI
Make sure the ballasts are grounded. Are they magnetic or electronic? Model/part no?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:49 am 
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Elite

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:12 pm
Posts: 1404
Location: Ypsilanti
OK, Let's see, from the top:

How should I extend the telescoping antennae? Six or ten feet of copper wire, attached with a clip? I could run it out the window, the place I usually set the radio is by a window....

Yes, internet radio probably does not work on dial-up at 21KB and the shop is 50 yards from the house anyway.

I do have a Sirius satellite radio in the car, and intend to eventually get one in the shop, too, but that does not solve the problem: I want to listen to local FM, with local news, weather etc, and also I prefer some of the local station programming (or their take on NPR) to the 130 channels that Sirius offers. I can pick up this station with a $5 clock radio, when the fluorescents are not on.

I am not basing this complaint on one light, I have approximately 6 or 8 of them in use, and while I have not tried each one individually, I have tried various subsets of them. And also the one, old, 4' shoplight which does not cause the problem. Right now they are wired "temporarily" with pigtails (grounded 3-wire cords plugged-in). Eventually there will be a lot more of them, maybe 20 or more (which I already have bought, and they are sitting NIB) and they will be wired in steel thinwall conduit, and maybe that conduit shielding will help. But I am not hopeful, when I run the lights in one room (separated by a 12" concrete wall) it still interferes with the radio in the other room. Also the problem occurs whether they are plugged-in to the same circuit as the radio or not. (And again, not in the cassette or CD, just the FM.)

Each four-tube unit has one "instant-start electronic ballast": Advance Optanium ROP-4P32-SC, high power factor, class P, sound rated A.

As a possibly related issue, of the 6 or 8 that I have in parttime use, I have already had two ballasts go bad, again another possible reason that buying these was such a "deal".

Thanks for your advice.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:16 am 
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Elite

Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:14 am
Posts: 1119
You could try one of these: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Terk+-+FM+I ... 1806283388

Or you could try making your own antenna:

http://www.kgnu.org/ht/helpfm.html (scroll down).

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/homemade ... tenna.html


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:25 am 
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Elite

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:12 pm
Posts: 1404
Location: Ypsilanti
Thanks for your replies. Bob, I checked those 3 links. The Buzzle was pretty useless. I don't have any pictures to go with his words (except the photo that came with it, which may or may not apply) and I can't figure out what he's talking about. The KGNU info was good, but its info how to make a folded dipole antenna seem to only work if you have the two-screw antenna connection on the back of the radio. And the Best Buy item, as a replacement for a folded dipole antenna, also seems to need the two-screw connection on the back of the radio. I have seen those connections on old component-audio tuners, but none of my cheap boom boxes or clock radios (which, you'll recall, all do the job when the fluorescent lights are off) have such terminals. So I might have to seek another radio to try either of those two antenna schemes. So, regettably, I'm still casting about for a solution. LHot, do you have a way to extend a telescoping antenna?

Biddle, did that ballast info mean anything to you?

"Dial-up" Dave


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:45 pm 
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Elite
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Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:44 am
Posts: 1312
Location: Garden City
All we do here at work is tie a welding rod to the end and prop the other end of the welding rod on something. Its crude but its worked for us.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:17 pm 
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Elite

Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:02 pm
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I have similar issues in my garage and in my basement. I was hoping to find a solution here, but based on my own hamhanded efforts to effect a fix I don't think anything I've seen so far will help much if at all.

But wait!

My problems all involve AM radio. In my experience, FM is impervious to the fluorescent light interference I get. The car radio idea may hold promise, so long as you run the antenna lead completely in coax and locate the antenna well away from the lights. If this sounds like a giant PITA, you are reading my mind.

It would be interesting to see if the problem can be isolated to one or only a few of the lights,or if they're all bad. Another interesting test would be to bring your car into the shop (assuming you can do so) and see if the lights affect its radio.

One pertinent factor I don't have a handle on is the kind of interference and how it's getting into the radio. I can think of at least four, and all have different implications. One, the lights are creating RF (radio frequency) static at a frequency that comes in through the antenna and overpowers the desired signals and maybe even the front-end of the radio. Two, the interference enters that radio through another RF path, maybe at the IF stage somehow. Third, the interference is in the audio range (60hz?) and enters the amplifier at some stage and is amplified along with the desired signal. The fourth is unlikely as can be, that the wires to the speakers act as antennas and pick up the static directly. It'd take a mighty strong signal to do this though. Does your coffee stay warm for extended periods on its own?

Each of these interference paths probably have solutions, but those solutions are only modestly more bothersome than learning to enjoy watching Oprah on afternoon TV instead of listening to the radio.

An easy test might be to move in or borrow a really good radio or sound system and see what happens. Better quality radios have more carefully designed circuits and are more capable.

Hate to say it, but the easiest fix may be to sell the fixtures and start over.

btw, if the static goes away on AM (way unlikely) that pretty much eliminates the audio entry paths.

Steve


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:36 pm 
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Obsessed
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Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:39 pm
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Location: Livonia
To continue with Steve's diagnostic approach - since you're working with a boombox, I'd try carrying it around the shop and see if the interference gets stronger when in close proximity to some light fixtures as compared to others. That would answer the question as to whether the interference is coming from all of them, or if there might be some issue with just some of them.

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:45 pm 
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Obsessed
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Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:14 pm
Posts: 1550
Location: Canton, MI
Dave,
I have the exact ballasts as you, other than mine are 2 lamp, rather than 4. My ballasts work fine and I have no interference in my shop. I bought the cheap Lowes fixtures and replaced them with these ballasts that I bought from a fellow member. I took extra care to insure the ballasts were grounded by scraping away the paint when I installed them.

The other possible source of RF interference is in the lamps themselves. Cheap lamps seem to be an RF magnet. I'd be happy to let you try some of my spares as an experiment.

Jim


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:31 pm 
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Elite

Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:06 am
Posts: 636
Location: Trenton, Michigan
Dave,

I asked my EE brother about your problem and he suggested a couple things. I told him they were new and the tubes came with them. Basic problems he thought were voltage and phases.

1) The 8' lights are more commercial use and can usually be wired for different voltages. Open up the panel on the lights and check the schematic they have to make sure the jumpers are right.

2) Even thought this is AC, on the commercial lights there is one line that is neutral with the other wire being internally grounded inside the light. Smaller residentials usually come with a cord and they take care of it at the factory. You may have the voltage lines reversed. Again, check the schematic in the light fixture.

I need to go out to Ypsi next week Wednesday and help him with something. If you are near Beck/Prospect and available he can bring some diagnostic stuff and take a quick look.

Steve.


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