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Have you tried properly grounding the cable line?
No - I didn't realize that was something I even could do. I thought the cable company or something grounds it to earth at some point outside.

Are you saying that it is not properly grounded for sure if I am getting this hum?

How could I go about checking to see if the cable line is properly grounded and correcting it if not? Thanks.
 

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Look around the back of your house for the point where the cable service enters the house. It should be where your electric meter is. You should see a so-called “grounding block” that looks like this:


The coaxial cable connects to both sides of it. Where the screw terminal is, there should be a wire that goes to the copper ground stake for your electrical service. Make sure the wire is tight and secure on both ends. Maybe even replace it to make sure the connections aren’t oxidized and corroded.

Since we’re dealing with cable TV service, a trick that often works is to use a pair of 75-300 ohm transformers, like this:


Connect the screw terminals together, and your coaxial cables on the other ends. A barrier strip is a good way to tie them together and keep the connections seperated:


You can do this inside the house, between the wall and the cable box. Check your channels after you’re done, though – sometimes it can affect the picture on the high-numbered channels, if I recall.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Thanks Wayne. I don't recall seeing any such grounding block, but I will check this out.

A few quick questions please:

1) If the grounding block is there and installed properly, and the AC outlet I'm using for the BFD is grounded properly, would that mean for certain that I would not have any hum in that situation? Or is it possible for both the cable feed and the AC outlet to be grounded properly yet still get a hum?

2) Assuming the cable tv and AC outlet is grounded properly yet I still have a hum, I'm thinking it would be best to just treat this at the BFD where the connectors are. This way I do not have to worry about any interference with my cable receiption which can have its moments as it is...

3) What are the costs of the parts involved to make the custom connectors for the BFD you mentioned? I can likely create these myself if I know exactly what parts to get and have good instructions.

Thanks!!
 

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1) If the grounding block is there and installed properly, and the AC outlet I'm using for the BFD is grounded properly, would that mean for certain that I would not have any hum in that situation? Or is it possible for both the cable feed and the AC outlet to be grounded properly yet still get a hum?
It’s still possible to get the hum. The feed could already be “infected” before it gets to your house. (Again, brucek knows more about the technicalities of ground loops that I do - I'll defer to his thoughts on this.)

2) Assuming the cable tv and AC outlet is grounded properly yet I still have a hum, I'm thinking it would be best to just treat this at the BFD where the connectors are. This way I do not have to worry about any interference with my cable receiption which can have its moments as it is...
It’ll only cost a few bucks to try out the dual transformer trick. You can take the parts back to Radio Shack and get a refund if it doesn’t work for you. Give it a try.

3) What are the costs of the parts involved to make the custom connectors for the BFD you mentioned? I can likely create these myself if I know exactly what parts to get and have good instructions.
From Parts Express, $1.70 for a Neutrik RCA, $2.45 for a 1/4” TRS plug (or $2.33 for an XLR), $0.60/ft. for the cable. Plus shipping. Do you have a soldering iron?

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Since we’re dealing with cable TV service, a trick that often works is to use a pair of 75-300 ohm transformers
Yeah, the problem there is two-fold. Many of these baluns pass the ground through on one side. You have to get the kind that uses no ground pass-thru. It needs to be checked with a meter. The other problem is the bandwidth. Many of these baluns only pass TV signals and don't pass the CATV full bandwidth.

The best solution would be to use a in-line transformer on the CATV cable that passed at least 1GHz and those are expensive, so the capacitive solution is the next best so as to block the DC current, yet pass the bandwidth for CATV AC signals.

Here's a ISO-MAX VRD-1FF Cable TV Ground Isolator ground break solution that you would put at the STB as the cable enters. It should do the trick I would think. A bit expensive, but that's what it takes...

1) If the grounding block is there and installed properly, and the AC outlet I'm using for the BFD is grounded properly, would that mean for certain that I would not have any hum in that situation? Or is it possible for both the cable feed and the AC outlet to be grounded properly yet still get a hum?
Correct. The further you are away from the point of grounding, the more difference potential can build across the long distance (distance adds impedance).

2) Assuming the cable tv and AC outlet is grounded properly yet I still have a hum, I'm thinking it would be best to just treat this at the BFD where the connectors are. This way I do not have to worry about any interference with my cable receiption which can have its moments as it is...
Or treat the cable as I mention above.....

3) What are the costs of the parts involved to make the custom connectors for the BFD you mentioned? I can likely create these myself if I know exactly what parts to get and have good instructions.
At the CATV frequencies, it's best to buy off the shelf.
Even if you attack it at the audio level (i.e. transformers after or before the BFD), it has to be done to pass the low frequency signal of a sub without attenuation. A transformer that can pass 10Hz would be the Jensen variety you mentioned earlier. Pricy though..

brucek
 

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From Parts Express, $1.70 for a Neutrik RCA, $2.45 for a 1/4” TRS plug (or $2.33 for an XLR), $0.60/ft. for the cable. Plus shipping. Do you have a soldering iron?
Yes, I have a soldering iron and most of the basics (electrical tape etc).

brucek said:
At the CATV frequencies, it's best to buy off the shelf.
Even if you attack it at the audio level (i.e. transformers after or before the BFD), it has to be done to pass the low frequency signal of a sub without attenuation. A transformer that can pass 10Hz would be the Jensen variety you mentioned earlier. Pricy though..
Would this apply to the approach Wayne is talking about with the custom cable, and I'd have to worry about whether the sub frequencies were getting mucked with? Or is the custom cable/connector approach just a matter of isolating the ground that doesn't really make any changes to the frequencies itself (my understanding)?

Thanks!
 

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Would this apply to the approach Wayne is talking about with the custom cable, and I'd have to worry about whether the sub frequencies were getting mucked with? Or is the custom cable/connector approach just a matter of isolating the ground that doesn't really make any changes to the frequencies itself (my understanding)?
The latter statement is correct, but realize the cable approach isn't guaranteed to work in all cases. Most people would rough that sort of idea up first and if it worked in their case, then they'd spend some money and make it nice....

brucek
 

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The latter statement is correct, but realize the cable approach isn't guaranteed to work in all cases. Most people would rough that sort of idea up first and if it worked in their case, then they'd spend some money and make it nice....

brucek
Here's a quick update... I check outside and there is a grounding block that is grounded into a cooper pipe. Looks like the telephone is also tied into this pipe. The cooper pipe runs inside the house and into the electrical panel. So it sounds like the cable is grounded properly.

As far as solutions go - I did find a cable isolator similar to the Jensen except it is only $10 and rated up to 1000Mhz instead of 1300Mhz like the Jensen.

However I'd much prefer to try with the custom cable / adapter approach as I don't like the idea of inserting anything before the STB. The only issue the ground loop is causing is with the BFD.

So Wayne if you'd be so kind as perhaps to provide some detailed instructions I'd like to give this a try first. If that doesn't work then I'll go to the Jensen or similar isolation transformer for insertion at the STB. Thanks!
 

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However I'd much prefer to try with the custom cable / adapter approach as I don't like the idea of inserting anything before the STB. The only issue the ground loop is causing is with the BFD.
If you still use any analog cable channels, I suspect there's a few hum bars in the video. The digital channels wouldn't give a hoot..... :)

brucek
 

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If you still use any analog cable channels, I suspect there's a few hum bars in the video. The digital channels wouldn't give a hoot..... :)

brucek
Nope, no analog whatsoever. :)

Wayne - as a side note it sounds like your plan is to create a cable that goes directly from the BFD to the sub input. However if possible I'd prefer to make just an adapter piece that I can plug my existing cable into. This would provide more flexibility in the future if I move components around (not locked into a specific cable length).
 

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as a side note it sounds like your plan is to create a cable that goes directly from the BFD to the sub input
Is the ground loop not between the BFD and the source equipment? Why are you not trying this cable mod between the receiver and the BFD? This a unbalanced to balanced modification....

brucek
 

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Is the ground loop not between the BFD and the source equipment? Why are you not trying this cable mod between the receiver and the BFD? This a unbalanced to balanced modification....

brucek
Good point I was thinking about this the wrong way because I was picturing modding the connecting between the BFD and the sub. When it really needs to be between the BFD and the receiver...

Which brings up a very important point. My RCA cable run from the receiver to the BFD is 25 feet and under permanently installed carpet. No way for me to switch that out. So I'll definitely need some sort of coupler/adapter that I can plug into the end of this cable (currently at the BFD) and then plug that into the BFD (replacing the connection between the receiver and BFD is not an option).
 

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Wayne - as a side note it sounds like your plan is to create a cable that goes directly from the BFD to the sub input.
What brucek said – you want this between the receiver and BFD. No point doing it from the BFd’s output – that won’t help.

My RCA cable run from the receiver to the BFD is 25 feet and under permanently installed carpet. No way for me to switch that out. So I'll definitely need some sort of coupler/adapter that I can plug into the end of this cable
I don’t know of any decent female RCA connectors, so I’d just make a short cable with a male RCA and an XLR (or 1/ 4” TRS), and use a coupler to connect that to the cable you’re using now.

So Wayne if you'd be so kind as perhaps to provide some detailed instructions
Basically, all you need to do is connect the RCA’s center conductor (signal +) to the XLR’s Pin 2 terminal, and the RCA’s shield (-) to the XLR’s Pin 3. Using a TRS, it would be (+) to tip, and (-) to ring. See the bottom diagram here, only the black wire would go to Pin 3. Do not add the jumper between Pins 1 and 3

If you need more detailed instructions, let me know.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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OK - I'm confused already! :D

I'm not sure what the difference is between XLR vs. TRS and how/if it matters which to use.

Currently my RCA line from the receiver goes into a Radio Shack plug that has the 1/4" pin on one end and the RCA female on the other. Is this a XLR, TRS, or neither?

Also in my custom cable thingie what is going to serve as the female end that my existing RCA feed from the receiver will now go into?

I'm also confused about that bottom diagram you reference in that link. That link shows a XLR but when talking about using a TRS you refer to it even though it is a XLR.

I'm also confused about this custom piece of cable. It sounds like a need to by a RCA cable with a female end on one end that my existing RCA would feed into, then cut off the other end and solder that into the XLR / TRS?

If its not too much trouble can you provide the short list of Radio Shack part #s I'll need, and exactly what wires I'll be connecting to what terminal # in each part #? Think of it as a "anti-hum custom cable creation for dummies guide" :D

Once I know what to get I'll pick up the parts on my way home today and give it a shot, and let you know how it works out! Thanks again!!
 

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I'm not sure what the difference is between XLR vs. TRS and how/if it matters which to use.
It doesn’t matter which you use:

TRS (tip/ring/sleeve, aka “stereo plug”)



XLR male (input)



XLR female (output)


Currently my RCA line from the receiver goes into a Radio Shack plug that has the 1/4" pin on one end and the RCA female on the other. Is this a XLR, TRS, or neither?
That would be a TS (tip/sleeve, aka “mono plug”).

I'm also confused about that bottom diagram you reference in that link. That link shows a XLR but when talking about using a TRS you refer to it even though it is a XLR.
When I said “or TRS” that meant a different connector, not a different name for an XLR. Either connector can be used for a balanced input. See Pg. 19 of the BFD manual for some details.

I'm also confused about this custom piece of cable. It sounds like a need to by a RCA cable with a female end on one end that my existing RCA would feed into, then cut off the other end and solder that into the XLR / TRS?
You could certainly do that.

If its not too much trouble can you provide the short list of Radio Shack part #s I'll need,
Are you going to make it from scratch, or chop one end off a re-made cable and solder on an XLR? Different parts list for each...

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Hi Wayne - thanks for all the great feedback.

Probably the most straight forward thing to do would be to cut off the end of the 25 foot RCA at the BFD of that comes from the receiver and change that into the gizmo stero plug.

HOWEVER - I'm not comfortable doing that for a couple reasons. Mainly because that is an impossible cable to rerun and if I mess it up I'm stuck. In addition, if I should change my set up later and no longer use the BFD then I have a stereo plug on one end of a cable that I likely need to be RCA (aka the way it was).

So.... here's what I'd like to do that is the safest approach I think and one that I'd be most comfortable with. I'd like to construct a new cable that is hard wired on one end into a 1/4" TRS that will go into the BFD input, and on the other end has a female RCA plug. This way I can put this gizmo inline without any disruption to my existing 25 foot cable.

Just doing a quick search at Radio Shack it looks like there is no RCA female cable that's just a cable, but plenty of ones that are part of a Y adapter. I assume I can just buy one of those and cut off one of the female ends with some cord to spare. Then tie that somehow into the TRS with a basic wiring configuration? Also please clarify if the 1/4" plug is supposed to be mono or stereo (TRS vs. a TS). I mention this because you say I use a TS now but it sounds like part of this plan involves going to a TRS.

Thanks again!!
 

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To clarify my comments on the cable grounding...and this applies to everyone and any system...

You should verify that there is a GOOD ground on the incoming lines such as cable, sat, antenna, etc. This means measure the resistance (with the equipment disconnected) between the cable ground and the a.c. ground. If it is more than a few ohms, it may be the source of the problem and it definitely needs to be addressed from a protection point of view. I do not recommend using isolation transformers as they may introduce problems with low frequency communication needed for digital and broadband cable. They should ALWAYS be after ground points and surge suppression in the line and just before the receiving equipment if they are used.

The BFD hum problem usually comes down to one of two problems, poor or different ground paths such as on a poorly grounded cable line or simply improper matching of the balanced/unbalanced equipment. Ultimately a decent matching transformer may be needed.

I have tested the radio shack transformer, btw, and find no problem with its low frequency performance. The problem is that the combination of connectors requires a clumsy 6 inch kludge.
 

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My current plan...

OK, so after reading through this a few more times it started to sink in and actually now seems pretty simple.

Here is my current plan:

- I've decided to use a TRS instead of a XLR. The XLR actually looks a bit easier to work with. However, Radio Shack apparently does not sell a MALE XLR plug, which is need to feed the input of the BFD. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

- First I'll need a female RCA plug to accept the sub out line coming from my receiver. Radio Shack apparently doesn't sell the adapter alone. So I'm going to purchase a cable like this one http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103367&cp (catalog # 42-2542) and cut off one of the ends leaving about 6" of cord on it to work with.

- Next I'm going to purchase this TRS 1/4" plug http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103445&cp (catalog #274-139)

- Next per Wayne's earlier instructions I'm going to connect the RCA’s center conductor (signal +) to the tip of the TRS, and the RCA’s shield (-) to the ring of the TRS.

- Plug her in, and hope for the best!

My only remaining questions are:

1) Does the above look like a good plan (make sense)?

2) Once I cut off the RCA female part from the Radio Shack plug, will it be obvious which lead is the signal + and which is the shield - ? If not, I guess I can easily confirm this with an ohm meter.

3) Regarding the TRS plug - I've never worked with one of these. What do you do - unscrew the pin from the case to get at the solder joints? And the biggest question of them all, within the TRS solder joints are they labeled so I know which are the ring, tip and shield? If not what is the procedure with an ohm meter to determine this (I don't know when looking at the plug which is shield and which is ring - tip is fairly obvious! :D )

Thanks all!
 

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Just doing a quick search at Radio Shack it looks like there is no RCA female cable that's just a cable, but plenty of ones that are part of a Y adapter. I assume I can just buy one of those and cut off one of the female ends with some cord to spare. Then tie that somehow into the TRS with a basic wiring configuration?
That’ll work. Only we’re hopefully going to solder and not “tie?” :D

Also please clarify if the 1/4" plug is supposed to be mono or stereo (TRS vs. a TS). I mention this because you say I use a TS now but it sounds like part of this plan involves going to a TRS.
Yes, we’re going to use the stereo plug instead of the mono plug you’re using now.

However, Radio Shack apparently does not sell a MALE XLR plug, which is need to feed the input of the BFD. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
It’s doubtful that Radio Shack sells any loose XLRs. However, if you have a guitar shop somewhere in town, they probably do.

- Next I'm going to purchase this TRS 1/4" plug http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103445&cp (catalog #274-139)
That’ll work, although I’d prefer to see one with a metal barrel. Just don’t step on the thing!

2) Once I cut off the RCA female part from the Radio Shack plug, will it be obvious which lead is the signal + and which is the shield - ? If not, I guess I can easily confirm this with an ohm meter.
The shield is signal (-), the center conductor is signal (+). The shield is what’s wrapped around the center conductor. It’ll look something like this (the braided part is the shield):





And the biggest question of them all, within the TRS solder joints are they labeled so I know which are the ring, tip and shield?
The shield is easy. The tip and ring you’ll have to check with an ohm meter.

Again, look at the picture on Pg. 19 in the BFD manual (Fig. 10).

Regards,
Wayne
 
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