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Reviews Categories | Ham Work Bench Tools & Test Equipment | MFJ-856 Line Noise Meter w/ 3 Element Beam Help

Reviews Summary for MFJ-856 Line Noise Meter w/ 3 Element Beam
MFJ-856 Line Noise Meter w/ 3 Element Beam Reviews: 5 Average rating: 3.8/5 MSRP: $150
Description: Walk or drive around with this handheld, directional noise finder with 3 element beam and meter to search out foxes, leaky insulators, loose hardware and corroded ground lines quickly. Track the noise source right down to the pole, transformer, or insulator, or other source. Operates in the 135MHz region where activity is a minimum and radiation from corona and arcing is far mroe localized. 0.3 uV sensitivity and wide-range AGC for noise level meter.
Product is in production.
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KB3BTO Rating: 5/5 Jan 3, 2011 16:41 Send this review to a friend
Works quite well.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My MFJ-856 arrived today. I assembled the beam antenna, attached the MFJ-852 meter and used it to isolate the source of RFI that's been ruining my 10 meter operating - as if the lack of sunspots weren't enough - for the past 3 winters.
It was easy to assemble, operate, and enabled me to pinpoint the exact utility pole that's been causing my difficulties.
I purchased this as a last resort because I couldn't get the RFI to co-operate with visits from the utility company representative and was sick and tired of losing air time.
I do not regret my purchase and only wish that I had done it sooner. MFJ has saved the day. (Hey, that rhymes.)
K3PA Rating: 0/5 Jul 8, 2010 14:08 Send this review to a friend
Perhaps the lowest quality product every made?  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
1) 4 different parts missing; markings on boom and elements to identify them missing.
2) Unreadable nth generation photocopied manual.
3) Took 4 phone calls to get missing parts; I was never in the support log any of those times. Wrong parts sent repeatedly.
4) Brackets to fit the Yagi to the receiver don't fit. Used symmetric brackets to fit an offset feed connection to save 2 cents on the right bracket.
5) Managers hearing the story actually thought it was funny. Eventual answer to bracket problem was to "just bend them around with pliers until they fit. It will look cockeyed, but thats just the way it is meant to be.".
6) $14M company wth no quality manager.

These people should be embarassed and ashamed. Martin clearly cares nothing for quality. Regardless of the low prices, there is no excuse for any of this, and we should NOT be supporting MFJ's shlocky methods in 2010.
ZENKI Rating: 4/5 Mar 26, 2010 16:56 Send this review to a friend
Great, needs amplifier  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I found this unit very useful.

It can be made better by using some kind of external audio amplifier. It makes peaking the noise much easier while mobile without having to concentrate on the S-meter. The professional RADAR Engineers unit has a speaker and it works well.

I fixed my MFJ by buying a small IPOD speaker set that is mounted on a 3.5mm plug. It simply plugs into the headphone jack. The audio from these 2 tiny speakers are good enough. It runs on 2 AA batteries. These speakers make finding noise very easy because its very easy to hear the noise peak. Far easier than looking at the meter.

What I have found incredible is how I can hear noise from one polarization and not on the other. Bottom line, when looking for noise rotate the yagi to both horizontal and vertical polarization.

Computers in my house even though they dont cause problems are very noisy, so are my cordless drill charges etc etc. Its amazing what you hear on this MFJ unit when you start sniffing around in your house. I found wideband hash from my central heating controller which sounded like band noise. Putting a ferrite on the controller cable reduced my band noise by 1 S unit.

Only criticism is that the Manual is not very clear about attaching the receiver to the Yagi. There is not a clear picture of how the receiver should mount to the boom. But hey, I mounted it and it seems OK. I am planning to add a BNC connector to the element so that I can belt mount the receiver or use a separate HT on my belt. I also want to attach a simple vertical whip on a MAG mount for quickly searching a area while mobile.

The quality is reasonable and no hint of poor components or the usual quality control complaints issues with MFJ products.

This would be a good tool for your radio clubs test arsenal.

WX3B Rating: 5/5 Jan 9, 2008 07:24 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding - a Must have  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I had been using MFJ's dipole noise meter with good results, and this takes it to a new level.

The yagi has excellent F/R and side directivity making it easier to locate (and eliminate) potential noise sources.

For anyone working with utility companies or neighbors, etc. this device is a great addition to your radio shack.


Jim WX3B
NO9E Rating: 5/5 Apr 23, 2007 18:44 Send this review to a friend
A must if one has serious powerline noise  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My neighborhood has a serious powerline noise. It is at S9 level when it is dry and warm. Sometimes the noise blanker helps, but it does not help with multiple noise sources. The MFJ-1026 is a big but incomplete help; it reduces the noise by 20 but not 40db.

I tried to find the sparcing poles with my HT and a beam. Made many miles with little effect as many noises were erratic. A sweep with my stationary 20m to 70cm quads identified several direction of noises but no poles. I called the power company twice, and just before they came, the noise magically disappeared. Out of embarrassment, I did not want to call them again without a strong culprit.

Enter MFJ-856. Very smart and light construction. Good sensitivity and a useful meter. I could point to many sparcing locations although the noise was not always localized and sometimes in the wrong direction. Not the fault of the device, as it had good directivity as measured with a signal generator. Just an indication of a complex problem.

After locating some sparcing poles, the crew from the power company came again. They had a 350 MHz sniffer that was better than mine, but it cost over $2000. They fixed 2 poles that I identified; the other few were quiet at that time. They were quite excited by my device.

It was interesting how they located sparcing poles. Whenever a pole had a guy, they rocked it. A change in noise indicated a problem in this but sometimes adjacent poles.

After a few weeks when it warmed up, noises came back again. The MFJ-856 found a nearly continuous noise along many poles, with the strongest coming from a pole next to me. The crew came, this time without their sniffer because it broke. They used mine instead. They found seven poles in a row sparcing. A fix was usually just tightening the screws although in one case a new grounding was need. After that, the bands became quiet again.

In a few days, new noise appeared but only at about S3 level and only in the afternoon. As measured by MFJ-856, they came from poles 300 ft or more away. It seems that nearly all 30-year old poles need to have their screws tightened. I hate to call the power company every few days, but they will be called again in a few months. And before they are called, I will do my homework.

A serious power line noise makes an expensive radio/amplifier useless. I consider the $150 investment in MFJ-856 an excellent one.

Just to snipe at MFJ, after a few weeks the device stopped working. I contemplated sending it back, but after opening and tapping on contacts it came back to life. Well, resoldering all joints should be a small problem as opposed to having bands useless.

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