Monday, December 1, 2014

Droid Turbo Review: Disappointing

This is how Droid Turbo is marketed
This is what Droid Turbo is
I recently upgraded my Droid Ultra to a Droid Turbo.  There really wasn't a reason aside from Verizon's offer of a minimum $100 trade-in on any older phone - and I happened to have a Droid 2 which I kept purely as a backup phone.  My grand plan was to trade-in the Droid 2, and make the Ultra my backup.

Turns out after a few days getting acquainted I find that the Droid Turbo isn't a great phone, they made a bunch of tweaks and compromises which make little sense, and the mess Verizon made of my account during the transition is astounding.

Let's talk about the positives.  Droid Turbo has a great screen - high pixel density, great color, and a deeper black than the Droid Ultra.  It's only slightly larger than the Ultra, but the display makes it feel more like a tablet than a phone.  Battery life has been great - normally I'm hunting for a refresh charge right before dinner, but the Turbo is still above 50% and I've been on it for almost 12 hours.  It feels good in my hand, and I like the forward-facing speaker.  I also like their tweak of "Active Notifications" called "Moto" which shows multiple icons for notifications, where Active Notifications only showed the most recent.

My biggest complaint is with the Turbo's radios.  First and foremost, Turbo does not support simultaneous Voice + Data!  This is a huge problem in my eyes - apparently the phone does not have a dedicated CDMA radio for voice.  According to various peer/consumer forums Verizon will issue an update in a month or so that enables Advanced Calling 1.0 aka Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) and supposedly this will bring this so-called flagship phone into 2014.  It remains to be seen if the simultaneous Voice + Data will work when the phone doesn't have 4G LTE coverage, or for that matter if AC1.0 can seamlessly hand-off a call to a 3G or 2G site.

I've seen other radio oddities in the Turbo.  I wear a Pebble smartwatch and the Bluetooth connection was so unstable I had to turn off "loss of connection" alerts because I was getting them constantly - even when the phone was in my pocket.  GPS accuracy is notably degraded; in a side-by-side with my Ultra it's clearly off and tends to drift around.
More APs seen by another device
Droid Turbo sees these APs

Wi-Fi is also problematic.  I did a side-by-side comparison in the 2.4 GHz band and the Droid Turbo clearly sees fewer access points.  From what I can tell the Wi-Fi radio is almost 10 dB weaker on receive than other devices I tested.  I did not have an opportunity to test the 5 GHz band.  I will say on a positive note that Speedtest.net measurements were faster on the Droid Turbo versus the Ultra.

Looking at the GUI (aside from the aforementioned pixel density and clarity - which are great) I've found that some apps (notably Ingress) are having trouble registering screen taps.  It's not that the screen or the OS is lagged - it's just that certain actions such as tapping on a portal in Ingress just don't register.  I'm guessing that this may be fixable on the app development side, not the phone, but for now it's really annoying.

Turbo has a proximity/environment sensor feature which supposedly allows me to dismiss alerts/rings with a wave of my hand, however I find that it only works in ideal situations like when the display is facing up, and I'm in a well-lit room.  It doesn't dismiss if the phone is mounted in my dashboard holder, or in a dark room.  This wouldn't normally be a problem except that the default alert and ring are an amazingly loud and annoying musical tones - the first time I got a call was during dinner with my wife and I'd forgot to silence the ringer.  I sat there waving at the Turbo like an idiot while people at other tables (and my wife) glared at me.  For some reason the nearly universal trick of "tap the volume control to silence the phone" doesn't silence the alerts or the ringer.

Droid Turbo's "Command Center" widget is another disappointment.  It's a neat idea: weather, time, date, and battery level all in one, with pop-out drawers for weather forecast and upcoming calendar events.  Problem is that the widget is a 4x2 size so it consumes half the screen, and when the screen is off the drawers automatically retract.  Given that the widget takes up 4x2 regardless of whether the drawers are extended or not, this quickly went from "neat" to "annoying" - why not just leave the drawers extended?

On the business side Verizon managed to really screw up my account while processing this upgrade.  I was on a 2 GB plan with a 2 GB complimentary bump-up, and a 10% reduction on the monthly line charge.  The plan I had came with a Hotspot subscription.  I was assured by the corporate store rep that the upgrade would have no effect on my plan.  After the upgrade I got bumped down to 2 GB, my complimentary 2 GB bump-up disappeared, my 10% reduction disappeared, and I haven't been able to get my Hotspot reactivated despite calls to both Customer and Tech Support.  I've been so disappointed with the Droid Turbo that I tried to switch my service back to my Ultra - but Verizon's website states that I have a "pending order" which prevents changes to my account so I'm stuck with the Turbo for now.

I really wanted the Droid Turbo to be a great phone.  I suffered through the early Motorola models like the Droid and the slightly-better Droid 2, was mostly pleased with the RAZR Maxx, and was very happy with the Droid Ultra.  Droid Turbo is several steps backwards for the Motorola product line, and I think indicates that the transition to Lenovo leadership is having negative short-term effects.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Remembering Ramon Abelleyro

I received an email this evening from someone on the Private Wireless Forum mailing list that a colleague had passed away back in June 2014.  +Ramon Abelleyro was the owner of Radio Systems Engineering, a consulting firm that operated out of British Columbia.

I don't yet know the circumstances of Ramon's passing.  I plan to do some phone calls tomorrow and try to understand what happened.

Ramon consulted for me in 2013 while I was at Anritsu.  He wrote a White Paper on application of the LMR Master to ITC-R Positive Train Control.  He knew the guys at Meteorcomm very well, and in general was viewed as an expert in the often fluid and nuanced world of PTC technology.

I'll always remember Ramon as a guy who loved to build things.  His website and marketing materials often included photos of him standing next to densely-pack rack (or racks) of equipment.  He integrated one of my products into one of these, adding an expensive high-power amplifier and filters which he paid for himself, just so he could do some testing and write an article.  He was a prolific publisher in Mission Critical Magazine on a wide variety of land mobile radio subjects.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AT&T - The Adventure Continues

Last weekend we had two visits from two AT&T techs, and another today.  The first visit was from a premises tech who concluded that our internal wiring was sub-standard, so he and I climbed around and drilled holes to run a length of CAT5e cable from the DMARC (aka MPOE) box to a new isolated jack.  He put a line filter into the DMARC itself, which makes the install very clean.  Afterwards he found that our feed line had a couple of bridge taps which would need to be removed, so he submitted a service request ticket for that.

Observation: The premises tech was a younger guy, and in the usual banter of running wire he told me he'd been in the US Marines where he did communications and technology work.  During the clean-up phase of the wire install the tech managed to staple into the CAT5e itself.  It happens, and it's not usually a big deal since you have four pairs to work with - you just pick another pair.  I suggested that we "ohm out" the wires since we still had easy access to the ends, and that way we could avoid a debug session later.  He didn't have an ohmmeter with him, which I thought was odd.  Checking the wire pairs is fairly easy - you strip the insulation from the ends, twist one end of each pair together, and then measure resistance of each pair.  If any are obviously higher than the others, that's your problem pair and you avoid it.  Turns out he had no experience with things like this!  His military technology education had been along the lines of "If this box goes bad, remove it and install a new box."  When I went through US Coast Guard electronics school in the early 80's we were taught basic electronics, Ohm's Law, circuit-level troubleshooting, and even vacuum tube circuits before moving on to systems-level work.  Clearly a major shift in military training has occurred since then, and not for the better.

On Sunday the line tech showed up.  He removed two bridge taps from our line, and also cleared out a rodent nest from the pole-top splice boot.  He declared the line clean, although the signal level seemed a bit marginal (about 10 - 11 dBm).  As the day went on I monitored the modem's diagnostic page and noted that we were getting a LOT of forward error correction (FEC) errors.  FEC errors are considered correctable errors (unlike CRC errors which are uncorrectable) but they still cause lower performance and indicate something is wrong.  Tuesday night the network went offline - the logged FEC count in 48 hours had reached almost 100,000 and the connection speed was below 1 Mbps.  I tested using the modem's diagnostics and saw IP errors, IPv6 errors, and a lot of DNS failures.  Back on the phone with AT&T...

By now I've been on the phone with AT&T enough (almost every day) that they've given me a special Tier 2 support number and a passcode for it.  This gets me straight into their domestic tech support line, which is nice.  Another call to Tier 2, more tests from their end, another tech visit scheduled.  Today's tech agreed that the FEC errors indicated a problem, and was about to call in an order to have my DSL line card swapped at the central office.  I asked him if he had seen a lot of problems with the NVG510 modem.  (He thought I'd already had a modem swap, but I hadn't.)  I asked him if he considered the NVG589 more stable.  The NVG589 is only for VDSL installs, but he said "Hold on." and came back with a new 5168NV modem.  From what I've read, these are the "go forward" modems which AT&T will standardize on since they support everything from ADSL up through VDSL2.  The 5168NV (datasheet) also offers 802.11n 2x2 MIMO, 400 mW Wi-Fi power, and has a dual-core processor which speeds up recovery from retrains and allows faster adaptation to spectral interference.  One side benefit of the 5168NV is that the downlink receiver has much better performance than the NVG510 - I'm seeing +18 dBm on the downlink versus the previous 10 - 11 dBm.  So far the performance has been very good, Netflix picture quality is a lot better, websites are more responsive, etc.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thoughts on GoTenna

[Update Nov 30th 2016: The ARRL has asked Bay-Net to attempt a modification of the GoTenna for use in the amateur radio bands.  Also I should note that since I wrote this article, GoTenna has backed off on their performance claims to levels which are more in line with reality.  I'm looking forward to seeing the inside of these units and doing some real world testing.]

[Original Article posted July 20th 2014] GoTenna seems to be doing a good job of generating "buzz" for this proposed product - a cursory search of Google+ and Facebook turned up a HUGE number of posts.  Many people have forwarded this to me via email or social tagging.  The proles are calling it "Text messaging for CB radio".  facepalm

GoTenna's radio works in the MURS band - three channels at 151 MHz and two channels at 154 MHz.  Given what I know about their product, MURS rules will require them to operate on the two 154 MHz channels.  They say the product emits 2 watts, which with a 3 dB antenna would be 4 watts effective radiated power (ERP).  At that level they're going to have to undergo safety exposure testing, which is expensive - I guess this is why they're crowd-funding the project.

To be fair - GoTenna has an engineering advantage in that they're not dealing with large data streams - they send GPS coordinates, text messages (< 200 characters), and it's not real-time.  They claim 20 - 30 mile range in a "typical" urban environment - I'm struggling with the idea that something which emits 4 watts ERP can give you 20 - 30 mile urban range.

Coding gain from a forward error correction engine could help, but I can't imagine an effective coding gain of more than 10 dB.  (The device is battery-powered, and claims a 30 hours continuous on time - processors which could give them > 10 dB coding gain are going to wipe out a battery fairly fast.)  Let's be generous and say their coding gain 10 dB - this gives effectively 40 watts.  I suppose depending on your definition of "urban" this might be enough to cover 20 - 30 miles.  A more reasonable coding gain will be in the 6 dB range, which means effectively 16 watts - and I don't see 16 watts covering urban areas very well.

Here's a post on Make.com from Raphael Abrams, the GoTenna RF designer: http://goo.gl/L5rZ2e

GoTenna claims that the device can be used in-flight on commercial airliners.  This is a Bad Idea™, and I don't see the FAA signing off on this any time soon.

Lots of speculation on GoTenna right now in the radio community, but not many answers to the head-scratcher questions.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sigh...

Recently I switched our DSL from Earthlink to AT&T U-Verse, and bundled the plan with a U-Verse Voice line.  I was somewhat reluctant to do so, given how for years I've believed that in a major emergency a copper POTS line with 48 VDC sourced from the central office is a better idea than a VOIP line with a four-hour battery backup.  However the cost savings were too good to pass up, E-911 is finally deploying, and 75% of the family have their amateur radio licenses.  If the poo-poo hits the rotating blade, I think we'll be OK - So bye-bye POTS line.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the service I've received.  The install went very well, and when the tech realized I used to work in telecom he even offered to double-bond my pairs so I now have a nice low-resistance line.  45 Mbps possible to a local fiber loop, I'm seeing about 30 Mbps effective with higher rates during the night.  Every customer service agent I've spoken to has been polite and knowledgable, and they seemed genuinely interested in making sure I'm happy with U-Verse.

Of course, I don't believe for a second that the Death Star has been magically transformed into a chirpy little startup full of love, compassion, and (with apologies to +Sandra Meow and +Paul Lannuier) cute cat GIFs.  The tiger can't change its stripes.  They're just hiding their megacorporate stupidity under a veneer of "We Wuv U" until I'm past my 30 day no-risk trial.  Which is why I'm not very surprised by today's incident.

Our U-Verse service was installed on 7-July.  Our old POTS service billing date was the 13th of each month.  I should have received a pro-rated refund on the extra five days, but I wasn't going to sweat that.  Then the 13th rolls around and I get a bill for my old POTS line.  I call the 800 number, wait on hold for 15 minutes, they quack at me for 10 minutes, and then tell me I need to speak with the other people in the POTS line department.  Call is transferred, gets lost in transit, call drops.  I call back, get through to someone, but their system starts sending DTMF tone sequences over and over again, so I have to hang up.  Call back again.  This time I get a human, and I explain the situation.  The following conversation occurs after I ask why I'm being billed for a month of my old POTS line:
  • Agent: "That's just the way AT&T billing works."  
  • Me: "I'm sorry, but I'm confused.  I switched to U-Verse on July 7th.  This bill is for services from July 13th through August 12th.  I'm already paying for U-Verse as of July 7th.  Why would I also pay for my old line?"
  • Agent: "Let me see what I can do..."  [Much typing in background ensues]
  • Agent: "Since you're a valued customer, I can offer you a credit of 50% on your bill."
  • Me: "Well, I appreciate your offer, but you haven't really answered my question.  I'm paying for U-Verse now.  And I'm happy with it, by the way.  Why are you asking me to pay for my old service too?"
  • Agent: "That's just the way AT&T works."
  • Me: "You seem like a nice guy.  Let me ask you this...  Just between you and me.  Does this bill make sense?  I understand that you're just following company guidelines given to you by your boss.  If our roles were reversed, would this make sense to you?  Let's set aside the idea that this is quote-unquote "the way AT&T works."  Would you think this bill is fair?"
  • Agent: [Pause] "Since I see that you switched to U-Verse, I can credit you for the entire bill."
I realize this is a naive notion, but wouldn't it be better if I didn't have to spend 30 minutes on the phone arguing for fairness in billing?  Clearly it's within their power to NOT try to double bill me.  This wasn't a mistake; the agent said clearly it's "the way AT&T works".  Had he said "Sorry, this is a mistake, I'll credit you in full right now." I would have accepted it as a mistake.  Did they think I wouldn't notice?  Why try to double bill me in the first place?  Why risk making me angry?  Why offer me 50% credit, then cave to 100% credit when it's clear I'm not going to back down?  I've been happy with U-Verse so far, even telling friends that I'm pleased so far with the equipment performance and the customer service.  That's gone out the window now.  I'm not sure if the agent realized I was still within my 30 day no-risk trial, or if maybe I got through to him on a personal level.  (The negotiator in me would like to believe it was the latter, of course.)  Regardless of what happened with the agent, the fact remains - this was a deliberate attempt by AT&T to take my money under false pretenses, and I'm unlikely to trust them again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Workaround: Mac OSX Mavericks and Verizon UML290

I'm not a Mac guy (used to be, back in the 90's) but lately I've been using a MacBook Pro pending what I hope will be some interesting Chromebook releases after Google I/O.  Verizon's UML290VW 4G USB modem doesn't like to play well with the OSX VZAccess Manager.  If you're having trouble, here are some tricks to resolving this.

The problem shows up during the second connection, after being connected successfully once.  The VZAccess Manager app either doesn't recognize the modem, or it won't connect.  Unplugging and reinserting the modem doesn't help.  Nor does unplugging the modem, shutting down VZAccess Manager, and then launching VZAccess Manager and reinserting the modem.

The trick to resolving is in the process table, what OSX calls "Activity Monitor"  Steps to resolve:
  1. Unplug the modem
  2. Shut down VZAccess Manager
  3. Open the Activity Monitor
  4. Look for the process "vzwwirelessd"
  5. Double-click on the process, click "Quit", then click "Force Quit"
  6. Launch VZAccess Manager
  7. Insert the modem
Apparently the Verizon daemon is unstable and needs to be kill -9'd before it can work again.  It's a fiddly and annoying fix, but it works.

Update 1-Dec-2014: OSX Yosemite breaks VZAccess Manager so it doesn't work with the UML290 at all.  No word on when (or if) Verizon will release an update to VZAM that resolves this issue. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Net Neutrality?

Now that I'm restarting Oku Solutions (my consulting business) one of the things which has become painfully obvious is that my current broadband isn't up to the task.  Four years ago it worked fairly well, save for the occasional need for a modem reboot.  Now it locks up and/or slows down a few times a day.  Not good given that a lot of what I'm doing now uses cloud-based apps which don't always offer offline mode.  God help me if the kids decide to start streaming something.  I've given Earthlink an ultimatum - fix the problem or be replaced.  They promised a new modem (for which I've yet to receive the UPS tracking number) but I'm not hopeful.

So today when an AT&T U-verse reseller showed up at my door I actually went outside to speak with them.  After a lot of discussion it seemed like a reasonable deal; free installation, $50 gift card, 30-day trial, etc.  I figured I'd order, test it out in parallel with the new Earthlink modem, make my decision in the next 30 days.  Since U-verse uses a wireless link from the fiber hub, I could have both at the same time, right?  No conflict, right?

Nope.

Turns out that AT&T and Earthlink have some kind of arrangement which dates back to the early days of DSL.  Since Earthlink uses AT&T's wire to my house, they've agreed to some kind of "no poaching" agreement.  I would have to cancel Earthlink, wait ten days, order U-verse and wait for that to install.  Time offline = about 14 days.

Nope.  Since when do I not have free market choice?  Because 40 years ago Ma Bell ran a chunk of copper wire to my house, I'm not able to buy what I want?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Silicon Valley says "Meh" to Google Fiber

My friend Stephen Blum at Tellus Venture Associates recently posted about Silicon Valley's response to Google Fiber's "Fiber Ready Checklist".  Only five cities in the region (San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and of course Google's home port Mountain View)  responded.  Of these, only Palo Alto seems to be serious about their response.  One city said it wants Google to fund hiring the staff needed to review the permits.  How about another idea: Streamline the permitting process.  Crazy talk, I know.

Silicon Valley generates so much technical greatness, yet for some reason it can't implement greatness for itself. I sat at a red light recently for almost three minutes, wasting gas, generating pollution, staring at an empty intersection. Meanwhile cities and towns outside Silicon Valley have interlinked traffic lights with adaptive prediction systems that allows timing to change as needed based on roadway, radar, optical, and other sensors. The Valley was one of the last places to get rid of A/B cable, and even in 2001 it lagged behind other metro areas in DSL deployment.  We know how to make great technology, but we don't know how (or don't have the political will) to tame runaway government bureaucracy which impedes deployment of that technology.   The fact that Google Fiber will provide residents of selected cities with free basic (5 Mbps) service - a huge economic opportunity for those cities - seems to not matter.  I suspect that we're once again rushing towards mediocrity, and that we're likely to get left behind while Google deploys fiber in cities like San Antonio.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flying Red Horse



+Darian Drake posted this funny commercial to G+ earlier today.  The name of the energy drink "Flying Horse" brought back memories of something that happened when I was working at Verifone in the late 90's.

Verifone does Point Of Sale (POS) terminals. One of their target markets is "Petro" meaning gas stations, pay at the pump, etc.  My project assignment was to prototype an RFID-enabled POS terminal for Mobil Oil, with one of the design elements being that the Mobil logo (a red Pegasus) would light up if the transaction was approved.  The branded name for this system was "SpeedPass".

The project's execution was problematic.  We struggled to design a loop antenna that wouldn't have to be made by hand.  The product used ultra-bright LEDs - fairly new at the time - and custom Lucite "light pipes" to illuminate the logos.  The technician assigned to construct the prototypes procrastinated and ended up completing the work after the last FedEx pickup of the week.  Strapped for time I was preparing to take the shipment box to a FedEx depot when the UPS guy showed up to make a delivery.  I quickly filled out a shipping form for overnight delivery and handed the box over.  Turns out the story was just beginning.

Monday morning I came in to find several urgent messages on my desk.  (1997 - I hadn't yet bought a cell phone.)  The shipment had not arrived, and the sales meeting had started.  People (including Verifone execs) had traveled to Mobil Oil offices for the meeting - this was supposed to be the deal closure.  I quickly called UPS and got no answers.  Unlike FedEx, UPS didn't track packages every time they're touched.  The box had been put into a shipping container, and after that nobody could tell me anything.

The box didn't show up later that day as the UPS helpdesk suggested it might.  It didn't show up the following day, nor in the following week.  I called the UPS helpdesk every day, seeking news.  UPS wanted to compensate me for the loss, but how do you assign a value to hand-built prototypes?  How do you file a claim against the possible loss of a multi-million dollar deal?  I wasn't eager to repeat the painful prototype construction process.  Sales wanted the prototypes YESTERDAY - literally.

Ten days after my first call to UPS I was on the phone with the helpdesk.  I'd been speaking with the same person each day and while he was nice enough we'd made no progress.  Somehow I wound up telling him about the custom Lucite light pipes, and the Pegasus logo.  "What's a Pegasus?" he asked.  "You know, Pegasus.  The mythical flying horse?"  [typing sounds in background]  "I found it!  The box is in an overage center, listed under 'flying red horse' - we can have it delivered tomorrow."

That the shipment was listed under "flying red horse" is astounding.  The prototypes did indeed have a red Pegasus logo, but they also had the Verifone logo on the model/serial number plate.  They were inside individual boxes with the Verifone logo, and those boxes were inside a larger box again with the Verifone logo.  Someone had to have opened all the boxes, ignored multiple Verifone logos, and decided to list it by the 1 inch diameter Mobil Oil logo.

I sent an email to the team letting them know that (a) the prototypes would arrive the following day, and (b) the project name henceforth would be "Flying Red Horse".

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Persistence

A few years ago I started experimenting with microphone audio processing as a way to way to improve my HF signal.  I live in a fairly dense suburb and haven't been able to put up a tower, so running >100 watts isn't really an option.  Speech processing such as that described in this article seemed like a good idea.

I started out playing around with a PC app called Voice Shaper by Alex VE3NEA.  (YouTube demo of Voice Shaper.)  This worked fairly well, had all the features I needed such as RF envelope clipping/limiting, compression, and equalization.  The only downside to Alex's app is that there's a digital processing delay, and I like to monitor my transmitted audio with headphones so I can detect if there's any distortion or RFI on the signal.  Voice Shaper's delay was enough to send me looking for other solutions.

Reading around I found that a few hams are using equipment like Mackie tabletop mixers, parametric equalizers, etc.  The one that caught my attention was the dbx 286a, a rack-mount microphone processor for studio work.  I found one used for a decent price and figured I'd be on the air no problems.  As it turns out, I was starting a journey of discovery which would teach me a lot about RFI, filtering, ferrites, and ultimately signal impedance.

I made up an adapter cable from the mic processor to my Heil Pro-Set Plus and another to the mic input on my Kenwood TS-2000 and started testing on the air.  I quickly discovered that while some bands were OK, others were causing some RFI on the transmitted audio.  Depending on which antenna I used, the RFI ranged from barely noticeable to so bad that it blocked my audio completely.  A couple of cases were so bad that even keying the radio caused RFI feedback which continued until I unkeyed.

So I started experimenting with adjusting audio levels, adding ferrites, grounding and tuned grounding, etc.  I found that I could clear up some bands, but others got worse.  After a lot of work I was able to get most bands working, but it bothered me that I couldn't get all of them to work.  The question haunted me, and the dbx processor sat near my station unused, silently accusing me of being an idiot.  Why won't it work?  Other people had clearly made theirs work.  Was I just doomed to wander the earth for the rest of my life in search of a solution?

Every few months I would get an idea and try again.  Modern HF radios use BALANCED inputs, and so I went through and made sure that nothing was pulling the differential pair to ground.  I didn't find anything, but at least I had eliminated that as a possible cause.  Maybe I had faulty bought equipment?  I tested using some other audio gear and found that the problem shifted around; some bands got better, others got worse.  I gave up for about nine months after that.

My most recent attempt proved to be the solution.  I had been listening to Ham Nation while driving and Bob Heil was talking about ground loops.  Something he said made me realize my mistake.  He was talking about balanced microphone inputs (already knew that) but he also mentioned that most radio microphone jacks are expecting a LOW LEVEL audio signal, whereas the auxiliary in port usually wants to see line level signals .  Clearly the mic processor was emitting a line level signal.  What if I connected the mic processor to the AUX IN port on the radio?  This proved to be the solution!  Not a bit of RFI on any band, or on any antenna.

It's a little embarrassing to admit that it took me so long to figure this one out, but I'm really pleased to have finally resolved this one.  I'm looking forward to finally getting some use out of the mic processor I bought!