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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Argh! My local power company has a main supply line running about 1/2 mile from my house and they're leaking RF all over the spectrum. It takes a very strong signal (or a fortituous direction with lots of shielding) to get through. VHF analog channels are so full of noise that I'm convinced no VHF digital channel has a prayer, either.


And of course, this is all amplified at night, the prime viewing time in America.


According to the FCC, most power companies are "responsive" but I've been told by antenna installation people here that the local power company has not been in the past. Can anyone recommend specific titles of people in the power company to contact, things I ought to say, etc.? If they refuse to address the problem, what recourse, if any, do I, the lowly consumer have?


Thanks in advance for your advice!
 

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My first question is, "Where do you live?". Who is your power company? Are you waaayy out in the boonies, or in the suburbs? etc. etc.


The first thing the (responsible) power companies will want you to do is check your own ("your side of the meter") stuff. If all is well there, then they should take over the investigation.


If they are not responsive, you can file a complaint with the FCC.


Here are some of my links to TV and Radio interference info:


The FCC:
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/interference.html


The "Canadian FCC":
http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/pics/sf/tv.pdf


The old FCC manual, which is available in print, but no longer on the FCC site:
http://www.enter.net/~reahrens/tvibook.html


Some British info:
http://www.radio.gov.uk/publication/...a323/ra323.htm


Some good antenna and TVI info:
http://www.tvantenna.com/support/tutorials.html


Some more Canadian stuff:
http://home.istar.ca/~newburyd/recept.html


If you have looked over this info and "jumped through a few hoops" to show you have done your part, you have a good case with the FCC. Give them a call on their 800 number.
 

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door bell transformers are notorious for generating impulse noise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by kenglish
My first question is, "Where do you live?". Who is your power company? Are you waaayy out in the boonies, or in the suburbs? etc. etc.
Well, I don't really want to blabber all of that on the Internet. :) Basically, I live within the city limits of a city with between 50,000 and 100,000 residents. The power company is actually run by the city.

Quote:


The first thing the (responsible) power companies will want you to do is check your own ("your side of the meter") stuff. If all is well there, then they should take over the investigation.
Since I can prove with portable (battery operated, as well as car radios) receivers that the interference is not inside my house, I can pretty much assume the "my side of the meter" stuff isn't the problem. The interference is *so* bad, though, that localizing it is going to be very hard. We're talking loud, obnoxious noise for a very large area.

Quote:


Some good antenna and TVI info:
http://www.tvantenna.com/support/tutorials.html
This site actually had some interesting info for me. Last night, it was raining like crazy and I noticed that the interference was *way* down. (This is not to be confused with the lightning static, but I already know what causes that and complaints to the FCC about that are likely to go unresolved.) This morning, after almost 3" of rain had fallen, things were really good. But less than 12 hours after the rain stopped, the static/EMI is back. The site says that could be a utility pole grounding problem, but I find it amazing that this utility pole grounding problem has a 2 mile radius...
 

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sregener,


If you were to give the name of the power company and some general information regarding the vicinity of the offending power line perhaps someone could provide some assistance. I've worked with a couple local utilities in the past to cure RFI problems and there are likely others out there that could supply contact info if you were a bit more forthcoming.


I've done reception studies for folks based on nearby major intersections and then let them estimate the reception situation at their exact location on a generated coverage map showing a square mile or more area. I don't want to know exactly where you live - you are correct that posting a list of expensive gear and a location to pick it up is a bad policy.


Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Akenyon
If you were to give the name of the power company and some general information regarding the vicinity of the offending power line perhaps someone could provide some assistance. I've worked with a couple local utilities in the past to cure RFI problems and there are likely others out there that could supply contact info if you were a bit more forthcoming.
Okay, you've talked me into it. The power line in question supposedly runs underground on 18th Ave NW in Rochester, Minnesota, between 19th and 41st Street. The utility company is "Rochester Public Utilities." This power line is supposed to be a major high-voltage one, not a normal, everyday, here's your power Mr. Consumer one.
 

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I have personally encountered interference to TV and AM radio from

the following : Automatic garage door opener, faulty heating element

in neighbor's fish tank, neighbor's fan in fireplace heatolator arching, and of course

ignition noise (spark plugs) of autos.

The power company has always responded positively to my requests.

Of course I always walk the neighborhood with my portable radio tuned

to a weak AM station first.

Regards

Tim
 

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You said an UNDERGROUND line? That probably is not the problem then.

If rain nearly cured the problem, it is more likely an overhead line problem. Airborne pollution gets on the "wrong" side of insulators on the power lines, then, with just a touch of moisture mixed in, becomes slightly conductive. The high voltage starts to arc across, carbonizing the dirt and pollution into a path much like a carbon resistor. It will continue to buzz until it gets really wet, or it gets manually cleaned off.

Complain to the power company, and be sure to let them know of these circumstances.

Be aware that a problem on a line can radiate for several blocks line-of-sight, but can transmit along the power line for many miles, with peaks and nulls of interference at various points along the line. It can also branch-off into other lines as well. Keep after them, giving them good feedback about whether it is getting better or worse.
 

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Here are a couple of names and numbers to use as a starting place with RPU (from the RPU website):


Mark Kotschevar................

Manager of Maintenance and Construction (507) 280-1582


Greg Woodworth................

Manager of Engineering (507) 280-1586


I'd try calling one office or the other and asking whoever answers if they can refer you to the appropriate office for dealing with Radio Frequency Interference issues. Most likely RFI will fall under M&C.


Area Amateur Radio Relay League members (ham radio operators) may also be of some assistance in locating and diagnosing interference sources since any broadband noise will most likely also affect amateur radio frequencies as well.


Good luck!
 

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An underground line a 1/2 away? 'sounds unlikely to be a problem. What makes you think this is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by BarryO
An underground line a 1/2 away? 'sounds unlikely to be a problem. What makes you think this is it?
It was one of a long list of excuses I heard from local antenna installers about why they wouldn't come out and install an antenna for me. I suspect that the real - and unspoken - reason was that they didn't want to do any roof work in winter. On the other hand, the static *is* there - now I just have to find it. :)
 

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Cheap portable AM radios have an antenna in them which can be turned to a null, which would give you two possible directions for the noise. Travel about a mile on a 90 degree angle from that and take another reading. Now, the line should be in a slightly different direction. Draw the two lines on a city map, and where they cross will be the general area of the source. Go there, and walk around with the radio. If its REAL strong, you can try using FM with the antenna down and tuned to a station.


If your local ham radio club is active, they might have not only direction finding equipment, but might even assist you in the hunt. Several groups like this hold "hunts" for training and recreation on a regular basis. If you dont know any ham operators, your local Radio Shack manager should be able to point you in the right direction, since those guys are usually heavy radio shack customers.
 

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On April 15th, we had a major windstorm in SLC. After that, I had very bad TVI from the small restaurant next door (about 150 feet from my antenna). It was so strong that it wiped out his audio from a DBS receiver he had for background music.


They went up on the roof and found damage to their neon sign, so they disconnected the broken HV lead. I still had a minimal amount of noise, but not much more than "normal" from the shopping mall across the street.


Noticed last week that most of the front of their building is now gone. Fire started in the broken sign, and nearly burned the place down! (This also happened to the mall a few years ago....the Fire Marshall said that it started in "cut, but not shut-off" HV wiring.)


Remind those guys that maintenance is lots cheaper than replacement!
 

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Similar situation in Chicago area. Some fool at the FCC assigned our CBS station digital ch. 3. First of all they can't broadcast at full power on channel 3 or they wipe out hundreds of thousands of channel 3 output cable boxes so we are stuck with a 2/3 power CBS digital ch. 3 signal. It does not work well. Add to that the almost non stop electrical impulses on low band VHF (unwatchable analog 2 and 5 much of the time), of course it does stop when it rains. Oh yes if there is any lightning near the area that wipes out the signal too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, the guy was out on Friday and didn't find anything. He says he'll be back later to check again.


Just out of curiosity, there's a street light about 15' from my front door - any chance it could be causing the problem? (This would help to explain why it's worse when it's dark, wouldn't it? :)
 

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The FCC can get pretty serious about these interference problems as indicated by this excerpt from a recent FCC warning letter to a Houston electric utility:
Quote:
Federal Communications Commission has received complaints that equipment operated by your utility may be causing harmful radio interference to an operator in the Amateur Radio Service. The complainant is:


Edward J. ?????, W5???

2407 ?????? Drive

Houston, TX 77077


The FCC has the responsibility to require that utility companies rectify such problems within a reasonable time if the interference is caused by faulty power utility equipment. Under FCC rules, most power-line and related equipment is classified as an "incidental radiator." This term is used to describe equipment that does not intentionally generate any radio-frequency energy, but that may create such energy as an incidental part of its intended operation.


To help you better understand your responsibilities under FCC rules, here are the most important rules relating to radio and television interference from incidental radiators:


Title 47, CFR Section 15.5 General conditions of operation.


(b) Operation of an intentional, unintentional, or incidental radiator is subject to the conditions that no harmful interference is caused and that interference must be accepted that may be caused by the operation of an authorized radio station, by another intentional or unintentional radiator, by industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) equipment, or by an incidental radiator.


(c) The operator of the radio frequency device shall be required to cease operating the device upon notification by a Commission representative that the device is causing harmful interference. Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected.


Title 47, CFR Section 15.13 Incidental radiators.


Manufacturers of these devices shall employ good engineering practices to minimize the risk of harmful interference.


Title 47, CFR Section 15.15 General technical requirements.


(c) Parties responsible for equipment compliance should note that the limits specified in this part will not prevent harmful interference under all circumstances. Since the operators of Part 15 devices are required to cease operation should harmful interference occur to authorized users of the radio frequency spectrum, the parties responsible for equipment compliance are encouraged to employ the minimum field strength necessary for communications, to provide greater attenuation of unwanted emissions than required by these regulations, and to advise the user as to how to resolve harmful interference problems (for example, see Sec. 15.105(b)).
 
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