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Thread: Noisy RX - Ford install - help?

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    Default Noisy RX - Ford install - help?

    Hi guys

    2018 Ford Escape SEL. I have RF noise on analog RX (contributes to packet loss on weak digital signals) on all bands, that oscillates with acceleration. It's ticking noise (kind of like arcing) which increases in frequency when I rev the engine or speed up, while driving. I tried isolating it by removing fuses, but nothing. It only occurs when vehicle is running (fuel pump, alternator or spark plugs are my guesses).

    Radios are:

    XPR5550e VHF HHCH
    XPR5550 UHF RCH
    XTL5000 O3

    Ignition sense connected to each radio. External speakers.

    Here's what I've done to troubleshoot:

    - Ran radios on 12V 33aH booster pack. Noise still present. (ignition sense lines were disconnected during this test to isolate from vehicle)
    - Replaced spark plugs with resistor spark plugs (high quality NGK stuff). Noise still present.
    - Put snap-on ferrite chokes on the spark plug/coil leads. Noise still present.
    - Put snap-on ferrite chokes on radio power leads -- obviously didn't do anything as it's RF based interference.
    - Confirmed extremely low impedance between radio/antenna/chassis. No ground loops.
    - Used PORTABLE radio with rubber duck antenna inside vehicle: CAN HEAR SAME NOISE. It's RF based, not on the DC lines.
    - Used AM radio under hood to track very localized noise to spark plug/coils. Extremely minimal (have to be 6" or less away to hear it). Not same pattern.

    Radios installed under driver/passenger seats. Grounds going to frame of seat/chassis; power leads (fused) going directly to positive post on battery. Antennas are permanent NMO on roof. Connectors are good, and I've gone so far as to put new ends on, just in case the grounds were intermittent.

    Local Ford shop foreman tells me I've got a "ground plane problem" and this is my fault. "Install a grounded plate around your radios". OK bud. He's a ****.

    Anyone run into this problem before on an Escape or Explorer/Edge install? I verified it's not the Sync or cellular LTE modules, as I have disconnected them completely during the isolation process. I'm about ready to drive this noise problem up the foreman's *** for being so useless. I highly suspect it's the fuel pump, but I have no idea how to resolve that, besides cutting the power supply to it and engineering a choke/suppressor for it. I feel this is Ford's issue to resolve, but good luck on getting anyone to listen.

    P.S. Number 6: We need a vehicle install sub-forum. I didn't see one, so I'm posting to the service forum.


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    Does it wipe out the FM broadcast band receive equally badly? (If you have SYNC, go into engineering test mode to see a relative RSSI value.)
    That's probably the only thing that can be diagnosable or supportable by a stealership because they'll always disclaim any responsibility for aftermarket electronics.

    For me the LED lights are my nemesis, which the split ferrites and low pass LC inline filters help - but don't eliminate. With my XPR mobile in field test mode (<<< >>>) it brings up the noise floor from -122 to about -100dBm on an otherwise idle receive frequency, between off and on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TRENT310 View Post
    Does it wipe out the FM broadcast band receive equally badly? (If you have SYNC, go into engineering test mode to see a relative RSSI value.)
    That's probably the only thing that can be diagnosable or supportable by a stealership because they'll always disclaim any responsibility for aftermarket electronics.

    For me the LED lights are my nemesis, which the split ferrites and low pass LC inline filters help - but don't eliminate. With my XPR mobile in field test mode (<<< >>>) it brings up the noise floor from -122 to about -100dBm on an otherwise idle receive frequency, between off and on.
    AM/FM reception NOT wiped out. Which is WEIRD. There's no indication of any noise on those bands whatsoever -- even weak signals. I do a lot of DXing.

    No aftermarket LEDs. But I've seen the interference in other installs. A local showed me the LEDs on his jeep and they completely ruin VHF. My interference changes with acceleration and can be received on portable/duck within the vehicle.

    If Ford will not help me (I'm going to contact them this week), then I highly recommend anyone who is installing two-way equipment into their vehicles and has a choice over what vehicle to choose, avoid Ford. They obviously didn't test for RFI in this particular model/year. It's not aftermarket crap that's causing the interference. I've disconnected everything. I've pulled all fuses. I've never seen interference like this before. I absolutely hate the vehicle, but it's too late because I've put two NMOs through the roof. Sure wish I knew of someone else who has the same issue so we can compare notes.

    FYI to anyone with a SYNC module: The built-in LTE modem is sending your GPS and other vehicle info (driving habbits) back to Ford without your consent. You can safely unplug all harnesses going to the LTE module and everything will continue to work just fine. In the 2018 Escape, it's located in the trunk, under the platform where you would access the spare tire. It's mounted in styrofoam, on the top-right side. Unplug that damn thing. You will lose remote start, but gain your privacy back. Do you really want a mobile tracking device connected to your vehicle at all times? If you're paranoid about that, also disable your cell phone while in motion

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    I'd try sniffing around the fuel injectors. Injectors would change with engine speed and throttle (PWM), but be "different" than the spark plugs. If it's direct injected, I'd be curious to if they need more energy to pulse the injectors since those systems deal with much higher fuel pressures.

    Good luck w/ Ford. Hard enough to get their engineers involved to actually fix broken warranty-obligated stuff. They all gave me the runaround for a month over a miss-installed/pinched wire harness before they decided to figure it out. Perhaps you could luck out and pique someone's interest.

    -M

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    Is this noise you hear on the speakers of all three radios?
    Could it be coming in on the mains and brackets rather than the antennas?
    Substitute the antennas with mag mounts.
    Listen to the mains with a buttset (or similar).
    Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay

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    Default Noisy RX - Ford install - help?

    As I said in my first post, the interference is RF-based. The issue can be replicated by using a portable, with a rubber duck inside of the vehicle.

    And there will be no magnetic mounts placed on my vehicle, ever, for any reason, during my lifetime. [emoji3]

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    When I owned a Jetta there was a device interface cable in the center console. It would create this real nasty noise almost blanking my receivers. The thing was so useless because my vehicle had Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio port. Needless to say I ripped the sucker out.

    I utilized a little SDR dongle hooked up to a Microsoft surface and was able to locate the noise. Now I bet you have a little better equipment than I do, but I think that this will help a little. I would suggest a heavy attenuation when sniffing just because when I did it I really had to stare at the levels to get the slightest change in signal strength.
    I'm here to learn!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    As I said in my first post, the interference is RF-based. The issue can be replicated by using a portable, with a rubber duck inside of the vehicle.

    And there will be no magnetic mounts placed on my vehicle, ever, for any reason, during my lifetime. [emoji3]
    A wideband noise source that produces the same audio signature across multiple LMR bands, and can be heard in a portable radio within the near field, but not heard on the OEM AM/FM radio is pretty rare. This suggests there is something common only to the LMR radios.

    I would try to duplicate that broadcast band exception with a battery powered radio in the cab to see if it truely is a band exception, or a matter of OEM noise suppression techniques.

    Using mag mounts isolates the LMR antennas by breaking their ground return. Extending them away from the vehicle will let you determine the size of the near field noise "cloud".

    Pulling the radios out of their brackets will isolate those ground returns further.

    Though I have never chased this problem in a new Escape, I've chased similar in firetrucks, ambulances, cop cars, and heavy equipment a number of times - sometimes successfully, and sometimes not so much. It's a real stump-the-chump challenge. Sometimes it was direct emission by a specific device aboard the vehicle (wiper motor, wig-wag and strobe modules), and sometimes it was hash radiated by the wiring harness from multiple sources (J1939 communications between modules). I even found a single rear facing camera with a bad CCD one time.

    Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapshot0017 View Post
    When I owned a Jetta there was a device interface cable in the center console. It would create this real nasty noise almost blanking my receivers. The thing was so useless because my vehicle had Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio port. Needless to say I ripped the sucker out.

    I utilized a little SDR dongle hooked up to a Microsoft surface and was able to locate the noise. Now I bet you have a little better equipment than I do, but I think that this will help a little. I would suggest a heavy attenuation when sniffing just because when I did it I really had to stare at the levels to get the slightest change in signal strength.
    When chasing problems like this, wideband devices with poor rejection, like a SDR, is a good choice. Spectrum analyzers tend to have high receive sensitivity in the -100dbm range or greater, which may be higher than the noise source until you land right on top of it. But scanners and SDR's are good canaries for the coal mine.
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    We had a similar case with a guy with a van provided by his employer.He used a Mag mount at the front above the driver and his Astro Spectra was deafened by the noise.
    As it was a company van that he could not modify other than a few snap on chokes we thought it might be hopeless . He chose to move his mag mount to the rear of the van and route the coax through the rear door. This has cured the problem completely . Nowadays the usual theories about where to mount a mobile antenna needs to be modified to allow for the vehicles ECM system.

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    I agree its probably going to be the ECM or the fuel pump. The SDR trick works. You can look at the waterfall and see the noise floor creep up while searching the areas.

    If you use a portable in the vehicle does it pick up the noise. This may also help track down sources and the distance the nose carries from the vehicle.

    Also get a hammer and install a ground plane on the stupid dealers head.

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    Something else to consider - what if the emission is on the IF landing on all your MOT product receivers based on the same engineering ala the high side injection versus low side injection problem on community repeaters colo'd at broadcast sites. It wasn't the direct LMR RX freq getting hammered. It was the rcvr IF injection freq mixing with the direct broadcast producing an image in the rcvr.
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    I'll do some more playing this weekend. Tried working on my vehicle the other day, only to have a nosy neighbor come out and ask "what are you doing" and asking other personal questions. I gave him the best answer ever: "I'm sorry, I don't know you, and I don't discuss my personal life with people I don't know." I'm so tired of apartment living. Zero privacy to work on anything outside, nevermind an amateur radio hobby.

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    Wait until you have to start installing crap in 100% electric vehicles.....
    Apparently NOT a radio professional.

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    Im sure the issue is not related to high low side injection. I have seen this type of thing before. Its a low level wideband rf noise. Chokes may not eliminate it. The solution may be to make a aluminum or similar shield to go around the source when discovered.

    I did fix one vehicle with a similar noise (Dodge Ram) it was the ECM module under the dash. The solution was to take aluminum foil wrap it around the module and loop bare copper braid in the wraps and then tie the braid to several ground points on the frame and under the dash. We had to use the foil because of the weird shape of the ECM. We did get some plastic loom and did the same thing for the harness between the cab and the engine compartment although this was probably over kill.

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    My 2012 Caprice PPV did this, and it ended up being the fuel pump. It only affected 6 meters (not 10, oddly,) and I never fixed it because dropping the tank to access the pump required removing the driveshaft and both exhaust pipes. With other vehicles in the past I've been able to resolve it by putting ferrites on the fuel pump wiring harness.
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    I think the key is this statement.
    "It's ticking noise (kind of like arcing) which increases in frequency when I rev the engine or speed up, while driving."

    I was going to vote for fuel pump, but not sure if that is PWM variable speed or not.
    So I vote for fuel injectors or ignition parts.

    Does the noise very exactly with RPM or foot pedal push?

    Also I have read that some manufactures are switching from diodes to active regulation similar to a VFD in there alternators. Not sure if the escape uses this, but food for thought!
    Radio Referenced...Those who think they know it all are very annoying to those of use who do.

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    What I experienced on my Excursion was very similar, the pulse rate increased with throttle, and also the pulse width varied as the throttle pressure increased, the width of the plus got wider. PCM got shielded, problem went away.

    Also, check the thru-firewall multi connectors from the engine compartment into the cab, those are known to become loose, there is a ground shield connection on them.
    Apparently NOT a radio professional.

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    com501: What you describe, sounds exactly like the fuel injection lines/circuit. The wider/longer pulse-width corresponds to longer injection time or more fuel. Other modifiers include how many injectors are present, injection type, and timing.


    One very important thing to note is that injector circuits are not just simple open-collector transistors switching a coil connected to B+ anymore. They are far more complicated. The high-side is usually stepped up to a higher voltage of some sort, and the injector is controlled with a "Spike" waveform to speed opening time, followed by a much lower "holding current" (which may not be straight DC) to keep them open. The concept is to get the injector solenoid into saturation asap for maximum magnetic flux, then drop current to a "holding" level to avoid resistive heating while the injector is held open.


    In Mars' case, I believe he has an eco-boost engine. This means direct-injection---straight into each cylinder directly, at cylinder pressures, instead of over the intake valves. This is important because those injectors need even more energy to open, and hence more EMI potential. I read some specs on equivalent Bosch injectors and it looked like they support about 65V for peak injection voltage. Worse, direct-injection also supports weird profiles like multiple sets of injection pulses per each combustion cycle. (Not sure if eco-boost does that or not)


    There is a lot of conflicting info I've read on how much EMI people thing injectors really cause or not. A lot of it depends on manufacturer designs, and again injector design/type. It wouldn't surprise me at all to thing Ford designed their ECM/PCM to make sure noise is filtered out of the AM/FM broadcast bands, and screw everything else. Oddly enough, there are also piezo-electric injectors too! I did read that a bad injector, or bad "snubber circuit" can make noise significantly worse which should be obvious. (Snubber being the components, wherever they are, with the reverse diode/resistor/capacitor to nicely take the voltage spike you get from switching off an inductor.)


    Another generic hint is to EMI test with the engine in the "ON" but not running state. This will do things like turn on the fuel pump, maybe run the fans for awhile, energize the ABS modules etc., and will have the ECM/PCM send/receive most of the network traffic you'd typically get in "RUN" but without the moving parts like the spark plugs, injectors, alternator, etc. Testing in accessory power, on(not running) on(running), and during drive can help isolate what system is causing the problem.


    I've never done this myself (yet), but you could try making in improvised e-field probe/antenna using a 5mm or 1cm tip exposed on the end of some good shielded coax connected to an HT or a spectrum analyzer/SDR receiver. You can then wave that around various suspect areas to better idea get where the actual RF noise is coming from.

    The various sensors, and controls could be another plausible source too. Those are lower voltage/energy signals like 5V PWM, or slow changing analog voltages.

    Just some thoughts.....


    M

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0th View Post
    Another generic hint is to EMI test with the engine in the "ON" but not running state. This will do things like turn on the fuel pump, maybe run the fans for awhile, energize the ABS modules etc., and will have the ECM/PCM send/receive most of the network traffic you'd typically get in "RUN" but without the moving parts like the spark plugs, injectors, alternator, etc. Testing in accessory power, on(not running) on(running), and during drive can help isolate what system is causing the problem.
    In my case with the Caprice PPV this made it obvious that the source of interference was the fuel pump. Parked the radio on a quiet 52 MHz frequency and turned ignition on, heard the interference whine for about 1.5 seconds while the pump brought the fuel rail up to pressure, then silence. Started the motor and the whine became constant, varied with RPM.
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    Sell the car

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    I had a similar issue with my truck a few months back. Ticking that increased with engine speed. Probably a spark plug problem -- except it's a diesel truck. The noise wiped out HF altogether and I could hear the tick on VHF and UHF if I opened the squelch. It got louder over a short time.

    The problem turned out to be mechanical. One of the battery cables had worn through its insulation and was ever-so-lightly arcing against the frame in time with the rattle of the engine.

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    Sounds like a fuel injector to me. I had ALOT of problems with my 2003 6.0 Diesel. That vehicle had the injectors under the valve cover so you were SOL. Yours should have the pigtail accessible. You can disconnect each fuel injector to see if the noise disappears. It might run bad for a second but you can isolate the problem.

    Jon Gage

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    Quote Originally Posted by jongage View Post
    Sounds like a fuel injector to me. I had ALOT of problems with my 2003 6.0 Diesel. That vehicle had the injectors under the valve cover so you were SOL. Yours should have the pigtail accessible. You can disconnect each fuel injector to see if the noise disappears. It might run bad for a second but you can isolate the problem.

    Jon Gage
    I second this response. We have a lot of issues with coil on plug EMI on some brand new vehicles where I work just after fresh install. This is on everything from Ford Fusions on up to aerial trucks.

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    The fuel pump wiring harness usually has an inertia switch wired into it somewhere in the trunk in case of a crash. You could trip that while running or unplug it while running to see if the noise stops. The engine will stall pretty quickly though.

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