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Picking up an FM signal


daredel
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When I first got my Helix, I tried hooking the spdif out from an HD500X (and an HD500) to Helix's spdif in. It was unusable because of a terrible hissing noise. If I unplugged the guitar cable from Helix partway, a radio signal was being picked up. Don't know if it was FM, but I never really investigated further as to the cause and basically just abandoned this connection idea. The cable had to be removed slightly though, otherwise I could not hear the radio signal.

 

I instead just hooked it in through one of Helix's effect loops, which works fine. No noise and no radio station being picked up.

 

I've never had any ground loop issues where I live with any of my electronic devices until I experienced the above. It's easy to blame things like this on ground loops, but I don't know...

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I had the Helix at home and I was listening to it only thru ear buds when I was receiving the Radio signal.

However, after posting this original question... it quit.

I'm not sure what became different, but I was hoping to have info to combat this IF it happens while using for performance.

That would not be good.

My pick-ups.... I don't think so, if it happens again, I'll try a different guitar.

Poor Ground.... I have more confidence in my homes electrical system than in most places I play, however, I was not using a power cleaner & I do when I play, so I'll check that to.

No other pedals were plugged in.

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My Helix is definitely more sensitive to how clean the power coming in is, especially compared to the HD500X. I can't even use it in the front room of my house because it puts out so much static from the crappy wiring in the building,

 

I assume you've tried lifting the ground? I've had Helix plugged into my house and my work (2 different parts of the building) so I don't have tons of experiences with this, but have had no issues, whether hooked up to my Mac or not.

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I assume you've tried lifting the ground? I've had Helix plugged into my house and my work (2 different parts of the building) so I don't have tons of experiences with this, but have had no issues, whether hooked up to my Mac or not.

The ground lift on the Helix only effects the XLR outputs as far as I know, and I'm not in the practice of "lifting" the ground at the plug on musical gear, especially expensive musical gear that is often plugged into a PC or other expensive musical gear. I don't have the problem in the "studio" office with a real power conditioner, and there are no problems in our rehearsal space where the wiring is less than 12 years old. 

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The ground lift on the Helix only effects the XLR outputs as far as I know, and I'm not in the practice of "lifting" the ground at the plug on musical gear, especially expensive musical gear that is often plugged into a PC or other expensive musical gear. I don't have the problem in the "studio" office with a real power conditioner, and there are no problems in our rehearsal space where the wiring is less than 12 years old. 

 

Just and fyi, a ground lift doesn't disconnect the ground altogether. It inserts a small resistor into the circuit that increases the resistance enough to prevent small nuisance currents from flowing (stuff that causes hums), but if there was an actual fault, the current would be large enough that it would overcome the ground lift resistor. There is nothing unsafe about using a ground lift switch. What is unsafe is using the little adapters that turn a three prong plug into a two prong. This completely removes the ground. So, again, using a ground lift switch does not equal removing the ground.

 

There shouldn't be any resistance (no pun intended :) ) to using the ground lift switch when necessary.

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Just and fyi, a ground lift doesn't disconnect the ground altogether. It inserts a small resistor into the circuit that increases the resistance enough to prevent small nuisance currents from flowing (stuff that causes hums), but if there was an actual fault, the current would be large enough that it would overcome the ground lift resistor. There is nothing unsafe about using a ground lift switch. What is unsafe is using the little adapters that turn a three prong plug into a two prong. This completely removes the ground. So, again, using a ground lift switch does not equal removing the ground.

 

There shouldn't be any resistance (no pun intended :) ) to using the ground lift switch when necessary.

Yeah, that I understand. My electrical noise problems are with ALL of the outputs (headphones, USB, 1/4", XLR) when I'm on crappy power, even with active pickups, so I know its the Helix being sensitive to it.

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I actually had this problem living in an apartment. Supposedly modern wiring, etc... but I think there were grounding issues and got alot of noise and an occasional radio signal using my HD500 both direct to a QSC K12 and in four cable with a Hughes and Kettner Tubemeister and speaker cabinet.  Ground lift switch on.  It doesn't happen where I live now.  So it could definitely be a power issue where you live. The HD500 no longer does this, nor does the Helix which I just got.  

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Another piece of the puzzle is where you may be in respect to broadcast towers. I used to locate & remedy RFI (radio frequency interference) for my utility, and have run into some pretty heavy signal strengths in near proximity to AM, FM, and TV transmitters. I had FM radio coming out on a (in my opinion) cheap phone in my house (my wife likes how it looks retro.... ). I solved that one by installing a DSL phone filter (for digital DSL lines the phone co's provide). Anyway if you're close to a tower, the high RF energy can beat in on quite a few electronics... With digital TV now, the typical RFI issues have diminished. some of the biggest RFI hash producers are light dimmers and PC's, routers, etc., but your problem is radio coming out of electronics (that aren't radios).

 

The 3 to 2 prong adapters are NOT a good idea. You may want to get one of those plug in socket checkers with the LED lights that tell you if your socket (or wiring) is right. It will show if the hot and neutral are reversed, or if your ground (the 3rd wire) is connected properly. If is messed up, get an electrician to trace it out and correct it. They're available at most hardware stores. Problematic grounding is the source of a lot of troubles.

 

Another 2 cents thrown into the pot....

 

Dave

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problem appears to be solved...

The feedback here has been very helpful.

I believe it was a combination of several issues... some of which I can address.

First, I was using an old guitar cord, it was not shielded & way too long for what I needed.

second... My strat pick-ups are unshielded

third... I live very close to several broadcast towers.

 

I will not be moving, or replacing my Strat... but I did replace my old long cord with a new shorter, shielded cord and have not had the problem again...

so far

( & Queuing up Steely Dan must have had influence too....)

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