Rites of Spring #11 – eschewing crap made in capitalist China

Avoid Made in China goods - or pay the price with your lifeOn a sidewalk bordering Beacon Hill Park in Victoria B.C. Canada, Four men with radios and headphones circle the block in the vicinity of Quadra and Southgate. A gentle rain falls but some blue sky is poking through.

Photo at right – cheap CFL’s made in China can save you coins but cost you your life or your peace of mind. Two of mine melted down recently.

We are all walking in separate directions but occasionally meet up near a utility pole to compare notes and look over each others receiving equipment.

One of my mates is listening to CBC 690khz – one of the most reliable AM signals into the city. There are probably thousands of folks within a kilometer of where we are standing that regularly listen to this station – if they are not tuned in continuously that is.

We listen to the Saturday morning programming but note something somewhat unwelcome on the channel. It is the raw, buzz saw, humming and thrumming of some kind of unidentified digital appliance that is either malfunctioning or poorly designed.

In fact, the digital electronic buzz cuts a swath through the entire radio dial – and beyond. So for those folks, who live in Victoria, who enjoy listening to CKWX or CKNW in Vancouver or KARI in Blaine – if you lived within 100 yards of where we isolated, at least, the building in question – well, then you would be out of luck.

There was a time, in the old days (the 70’s and 80’s) when TV was largely analog that the reception was highly susceptible to interference like this. Now imagine your 72” Plasma TV getting reduced to a wall-hanging by some hard-to-find interference source.

It’s possible, plausible and highly likely I am afraid to say. This is the important part of this blog: The fact that your $3000 home entertainment system might be rendered useless by some mysterious appliance plugged in within 1/2 km of your swanky suburban home.

So. What’s the culprit in this case? Inconclusive at this point. We will probably bring in Industry Canada to sniff around. We tracked the source down to the utility poles serving an apartment building.

Suspects: Could be a broadband internet over powerline adapter (that we have seen being sold at CostCo). Maybe. Doesn’t sound right. Could be an alien craft buried, where it crash landed, under Beacon Hill Park – doubt that. Could also be a exercise treadmill made in mainland China. No, not the country of Taiwan. But Red China. As long as the device is plugged in, the computer processor on the poorly constructed and engineered appliance (made in China) and sold at Sears… as long as it’s on, it is transmitting a broad swatch of loud noise across an entire radio spectrum – rendering that entire neighborhood jammed.

Why is watching for this kind of radio interference important? When that expected Earthquake arrives, you are not going to be listening to emergency instructions on the internet radio. No, you will be on an AM – FM radio, provided that is, that your reception is not being jammed by some junk manufactured in China.

Check out the compact fluorescent lamp above – I used to buy these lamps without checking the country of origin – until 2 of them practically melted down and burst into flames in my bathroom. Nice. And made in China no less.

So. Do your family a favor and avoid manufactured goods from this country.
Because they simply do not care.

Colin Newell lives and writes in Victoria B.C. Canada – is an electronics technician and ham radio operator – if you see him in your neighborhood with a radio and headphones… just ignore him.

June 2011 Update – B.C. Hydro has since become involved in The search for mystery radio signal and has had no success pinning it down. To hear for yourself, drive within 1/2 km of Quadra and Soutgate (near Beacon Hill Park) any day of the week and tune your radio to 690Khz or anywhere on the AM dial for that matter – and listen to what sounds like a combination of alien technology and a Kraftwerk B-side. What do you think it is?