Back to My Roots

My interest in radios and listening to AM “medium wave” (MW) and shortwave (SW) broadcast stations started at an early age. My dad was an electronics engineer and when I was about 10 years old, he made me an excellent performing crystal radio with components built onto a piece of plywood. Connecting a “long wire” antenna to this would bring in local AM broadcast stations, such as KFI (640) and other strong stations in the Los Angeles area. I’d lay in bed listening to stations before dropping off to sleep.

Later, I was given an old GE tube-type AM radio receiver, which could pick up stations across the U.S. during nighttime propagation. I’d log these “DX” (long distance) stations while carefully tuning the bands (530 to 1605 kHz at the time).

In the late 1960s, both my dad and I got hooked on Heathkit products and one Christmas, he bought me a GR-64 AM/SW receiver, which I carefully assembled. This started me on the path of receiving and logging various shortwave stations around the world. He had hooked up a long wire antenna from the house about 100 feet long to one of the farthest power utility poles. Now 1968 was at the peak of solar cycle 20 (NOAA), so reception was extremely good with the highly ionized atmospheric layers, allowing signals to bounce a long way.

The solar cycle from 1956 to 1978. Peaks represent the best SW propagation due to strongly ionized atmospheric conditions.

Later, both my dad and I purchased the latest portable shortwave radios at the time (1980), the Sony ICF-2001, which was an early synthesizer-tuned AM/FM/SW receiver. I still have this and it still works well and has connections for an external antenna (important for best SW reception). Who can remember the powerhouse shortwave station, HCJB, broadcasting with 500kW from Quito, Ecuador? Unfortunately, the internet and satellite technology has spelled doom for many broadcasters, such as the BBC, Deutsche Wella, and VOA, who have greatly reduced their shortwave broadcasting. But there are still many more countries who continue the tradition. Gayle Van Horn’s Global Radio Guide (Kindle only, now) include up to date listings of MW and SW stations with time and frequency information.

The Sony ICF-2001 digitally-synthesized AM/FM/SW radio (circa 1980).

My interest in radios ultimately led me to amateur radio, where I was now able to communicate with other hams throughout the world using these same shortwave bands. This, in turn led me to a career in electronic engineering where I spent most of it in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineering.

So, circling back to late-2020, in reorganizing my storage closet, I ran into a boxed Radio Shack AM/FM/SW portable receiver (20-125) I’d purchased years ago and had never even opened. It receives AM (530 to 1710 kHz), FM (88 to 108 MHz) and SW (2.3 to 26.1 MHz). It uses 3 AA cells.

This radio (YouTube review) was unique in that it included 10 memory buttons for each band selected. So now I have ready access to the best received stations on MW, SW and FM broadcast. I can also directly enter frequencies, which is helpful. The scanning function seems to work well in locking onto active frequencies. It also includes a dual-time clock that I set for local and UTC time. The timer will automatically turn on the radio when you want and the sleep timer will let it play for a set amount of time before turning off. While it lacks an external antenna connection for my long wire antenna, merely connecting the end of it to the built-in antenna boosts the signals a great deal. A sensitivity switch reduces sensitivity for local stations.

The Radio Shack 20-125 AM/FM/SW radio.

So tonight, located in Colorado and reliving my childhood, I’m laying in bed listening to AM stations 50kW KFI (Los Angeles), KCBS (Los Angeles), KRVN (Nebraska) and others around the country – and this with nothing more than a built-in “loopstick” ferrite core antenna! Despite the poor propagation conditions (we’re in the bottom of the sunspot cycle) I can also hear several shortwave stations – mainly religious broadcasters from the U.S.

Radio Shack no longer sells much in the way of shortwave radios, although you can still find the excellent-quality DX-150 and DX-160 tabletop AM/FM/SW receivers in the used market. If its a portable radio you want, then the best brands are Eton (who purchased the Grundig line of products a few years ago), Sangeon, Tecsun, C. Crane and Retekess. Some of the more avid AM and SW listeners have turned to software-defined radios (SDR), such as SDRplay, RTL-SDR, and Airspy HF+ Discovery. As the current sunspot cycle continues building, expect to hear a lot more worldwide shortwave stations!


  1. Monitoring Times (archived/out of publication),
  2. Global Radio Guide, Gayle Van Horn,
  3. The Spectrum Monitor (a current monthly radio monitoring guide),

New Book Published!

Hi Everyone,

I recently published the first book in a three-volume series on EMC troubleshooting and pre-compliance testing techniques that may be performed right on the workbench at your own facility.

Creating Your Own EMC Troubleshooting Kit – Essential Tools for EMC Troubleshooting

Why Read This Book? – With all the many pressures you have as a product designer, does electromagnetic compliance (EMC) always seems like a stumbling block to delaying product sales? Is your product exhibiting one of the top three failures; radiated emissions, electrostatic discharge or radiated immunity? Are you continually cycling between design/fixing – running to the compliance test lab – failing again – and back to applying more fixes? Wondering how to attack these issues earlier in the design cycle? Would you like to learn how to characterize and troubleshoot simple design issues right on your workbench? Then this is the book for you! 

The purpose of this guide is to help you to duplicate and customize your own EMC troubleshooting kit. This should prove useful whether you are an “internal EMC consultant” in a larger corporation, an engineer who “wears many hats” and occasionally is forced to deal with EMC compliance or if you’re consulting in the field of EMC for other companies. Most of the content is a collection of past blog articles from and Interference Technology Magazine. My hope is that the information within this guide will help you become more efficient and offer a more professional appearance to your managers or clients, as the case may be. Future volumes in the series will include simple ways of using these tools to perform your own in-house emissions and immunity troubleshooting and pre-compliance testing.



180 pages


Quick update…

Hi All, just a quick update on my activities. After serving for three years as senior technical editor for Interference Technology Magazine, I decided to leave in order to better serve my existing clients. This will also give me a chance to do a little more writing.

I’m also back blogging for for “The EMC Blog”, which I started writing six years ago. See I’ll continue writing and blogging for Interference Technology, however.

I’m continuing to develop my seminar schedule for 2019 with plans for Santa Clara, Colorado, and Chicago areas. If you happen to reside outside the U.S., I’m also working on possible plans to hold a series of seminars in Europe.

EMC Mini Guides!

Hi everyone,

We at Interference Technology Magazine managed to produce 10 new EMC Mini Guides during 2017! Feel free to download one, or more, of our FREE EMC Guides! Choose from Mil/Aero, EMC Fundamentals, Filters, Shielding, Pre-compliance Testing, and more!

Scroll down near the bottom of our home page to see them all:

NEW! EMC Desk Reference Available!

I just recently authored the new EMC Desk Reference through Interference Technology Magazine. For the time being, take $10 off the cover price of $39.95!

Keep the basics of EMC on hand with the new EMC Desk Reference presented by Interference Technology®, the engineer’s handbook for everything EMC. Written and compiled by Kenneth Wyatt, this quick-reference guide is a must-have, with sections including:

  • Articles on EMI pre-compliance testing
  • The Top 5 Reasons Products Fail EMC
  • 3 Steps to Troubleshooting Radiated Emissions
  • A Manufacturer’s Product chart
  • & much more!

Price is just $29.95 for a limited time. Details and ordering here:

Update on Activities

Hi All,

Free EMC Guides – This last year, Interference Technology (IT) has posted several free downloadable guides to EMC. Some of the more recent ones include EMC Fundamentals, EMC Test, Medical EMC, and Military & Aerospace EMC. We’ll have a new 2017 Automotive EMC Guide coming out this week, as well. Please review all these at the bottom of our web page:

Looking for Authors – We’re looking for authors! IT has a long history in publishing the very best technical articles and reference material in the field of electromagnetic compatibility. It was first published starting in 1971 and I actually started subscribing to it in the mid-1970s – well before I knew I would end up in a career as an EMC engineer and consultant. Now I find myself as editor of that same publication – a humbling responsibility. You’ll find our Author’s Guide under the link, “Contribute”, at the bottom of the home page.

May Seminars – In other news, May was a busy month for seminars, with presentations in Chicago, Detroit and Israel. I was honored to be the featured speaker for the IEEE EMC Society in both Chicago and Detroit, and then was off to Israel to present a tutorial on Radiated Emissions Troubleshooting at DGCON (similar to DesignCON).

Upcoming Seminar – I’ll also be scheduling my regular two-day intensive EMC design, theory, troubleshooting, and pre-compliance testing seminar in Longmont, Colorado this coming September 19-20, 2017. This time, I’ll have guest speaker, Eric Bogatin, who will present a segment on “Power Distribution Network (PDN) Design for Low EMI”, based on his recent book on the topic. Should be a great program! Info and registration here:

Webinars – Finally, for all of you who live outside the U.S., or who are unable to travel to one of my EMC seminars, this is for you! Washington Labs is hosting webinar presentations by myself, Robert Hanson, and Steven Ferguson on EMC Design & Troubleshooting. More info and registration here:

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!

Some of my most popular articles

Hi All,

I thought you all might be interested in some of my most popular articles written for Interference Technology. Here are the top five:

The HF current probe: theory and application –

Inexpensive radiated immunity pre-compliance testing –

Spread spectrum clock generation – theory and debate –

Troubleshooting radiated emissions using low-cost bench-top methods –

Harmonic comb generators are useful tools –

Hope you enjoy them!

Update on my activities

Hi All,

Sorry there’s been such a lapse since the last time I posted. Having accepted the position of senior technical editor for Interference Technology (IT) last December has kept me drinking from a firehose, as they say. Since the first of the year, IT has published my Real Time Spectrum Analyzer Guide, a free download on the web site: We also released the first of two print reference issues this year, the 2016 Directory and Design Guide.

IT has a long history in publishing the very best technical articles and reference material in the field of electromagnetic compatibility. It was first published starting in 1971 and I actually started subscribing to it in the mid-1970s – well before I knew I would end up in a career as an EMC engineer and consultant. Now I find myself as editor of that same publication – a humbling responsibility. Please register at the web site to start receiving our newsletters and notification of future guides on various fields of EMC. We’ll be releasing guides to Military EMC, EMC Shielding, EMC Filters, and Automotive EMC throughout the rest of this year.

In other news, I’ve had to halt my blogging for, as the columnist for “The EMC Blog”, since taking the reins of IT. Fortunately, my good friend and colleague, Arturo Mediano, a professor and consultant from Spain, has agreed to start up the blog again in my place. He’s a brilliant EMC engineer and instructor and will bring a whole new take on practical EMC design and troubleshooting. Check it out at, then click on Communities > Blogs, then scroll down until you find “The EMC Blog”.

I’m scheduled to help teach a one week course during the next “EMC Week in Boulder City”. My topic will be EMI Troubleshooting and Pre-Compliance Testing. Check out the details and register here:

I’ll also be scheduling my regular two-day intensive EMC design, theory, troubleshooting, and pre-compliance testing seminar in Longmont, Colorado this fall. Stay tuned for dates and pricing.

Finally, for all of you who live outside the U.S., or who are unable to travel to one of my EMC seminars, this is for you! I just completed the development of an intensive ON-LINE six-lesson course, EMI Troubleshooting and Pre-Compliance Testing”, which will be hosted by my friend Andy Eadie. The lessons are streamed as a video and may be viewed unlimited times. The cost is just $995 and full details and registration can be found at

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!

Really Small Drill Bit Set

For those of you who could use a set of really small drill bits, you might consider this set that ranges from 0.3 to 1.2mm in diameter. The cost is just $3.99 at Amazon. The company selling these is based in Asia, so the shipping time is about three weeks.



They come in a very nice plastic case and the bits themselves are cushioned.

They fit the 1/8-inch jaws of a standard Dremel tool.


The size markings are etched into the shank, so are difficult to read until just the right angle of light hits it – a magnifying loupe is a plus. They thinner bits break very easily, so it’s best to use a sturdy drill press for these, rather than a Dremel tool.

2014 Blog Highlights (Part 2)

Using current probes to estimate E-fields – Current probes are one of my most-used EMI troubleshooting tools. Frequently, a product’s I/O or power cables are often an appreciable fraction of a wavelength, so are a source of radiated emissions. This occurs if common-mode currents are allowed to travel along the cable or cable shield. Current probes may be used to measure these small (frequently in the uA) currents. Reducing such noise currents on those lines can often reduce the radiated emissions from the equipment under test.

Current probe Fig1-600

Gaps in return planes – yes or no? – As a participant during the panel discussion on EMC versus SI at the recent DesignCon 2014, I sensed (along with some in the audience) that there was disagreement as to whether it was OK to cross a gap in the return plane with a high speed, fast-edged, signal. Unfortunately, there was too little time in which to come to an agreement or to illustrate the conditions in which it was OK, or not OK. This article explains why this is NOT a good idea.

Gap in Plane-CM

Troubleshooting EMI on your bench top – If your product is failing radiated emissions at the test lab, it’s often more cost-effective to perform any detailed troubleshooting at your own facility where you can take time to methodically isolate the source and try out several potential fixes. Unfortunately, many companies don’t have the equipment or training to make these simple measurements. This article describes a easy method for measuring radiated emissions and providing a rough estimate of pass/fail.

Fig1-TS RE

Review: Signal Hound BB60C real time 6 GHz spectrum analyzer (Part 1) – The Signal Hound series of spectrum analyzers are about as small as three large-size Hershey chocolate bars stacked on top of each other. The unit offered for review is the recently released model BB60C real time analyzer, which can tune from 9 kHz to 6 GHz with a dynamic range of +10 to approximately -158 dBm (DANL, which is dependent on resolution BW). It can easily fit within a standard briefcase with room left over for a medium sized laptop.

Signal Hound BB60C 20140701-104

Review: Signal Hound BB60C real time 6 GHz spectrum analyzer (Part 2) – In Part 1 of this review, we discussed the basic architecture, specifications and controls of the Signal Hound BB60C real-time spectrum analyzer. In Part 2, we’ll show you some actual measurements and several screen captures.

STM32-F4 Controller 1 to 500MHz-600