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Author Topic: Powerline RFI  (Read 7311 times)
KD3LT
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Posts: 13




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« on: April 06, 2010, 01:52:05 PM »

One of our trees fell down a week and a half ago, taking down wires and a pole and a half with it. I've had terrible but intermittent RFI since the power was restored. It looks to me like the two replacement poles that were put in do not have ground wires on them, for starters. Shouldn't every pole have a ground? (Not to mention that we're still waiting for two streetlights to get fixed.)

Is there a key contact at a utility for this sort of thing? I ask because I suspect that if I try to report RFI on the normal channels, I'll get a "Huh?" at best.
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WB5JEO
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Posts: 805




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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2010, 07:09:29 PM »

This information appears to be old, but read on. I would assume his successor also reads the RFI@PEPCO.COM mail and is reachable by the phone number.

Mike Martin, K3RFI, Interference Investigator, Potomac Electric Power Company. Tel: 301-967-5230.
Nextel 21* 29180   (unknown if personal or company Nextel)   E mail RFI@PEPCO.com

I list the above to clarify the following current information:

He now has RFI Services, so is presumably not at PEPCO any longer but should know who handles things now.
Tel 240-508-3760   mike@rfiservices.com

If you can't get him and get no response from RFI@PEPCO.COM, ask correspondence@pepco.com to forward to the Interference Investigator.

Read: http://www.w5fc.org/files/Newsletter/2001/2001-05_InTheDARC.pdf
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N3OX
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2010, 08:24:44 PM »

He now has RFI Services, so is presumably not at PEPCO any longer but should know who handles things now.
Tel 240-508-3760   mike@rfiservices.com

No, he does both.    Phone is best but he'll eventually respond to mike@rfiservices.  I don't know if RFI@PEPCO will work too, probably.

Good guy, very helpful with my old Riverdale power lines here...


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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
KD3LT
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2010, 12:54:05 PM »

Many thanks. As of a few minutes ago, the landline was connected to a fax machine or a modem of some kind, so I've sent a note to the Pepco email address. Now we wait...
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AA4HA
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Posts: 2630




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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2010, 06:26:42 PM »

It could also be that the loading placed on the conductors has cracked some of the insulators and there is arcing that is generating the RFI.

Usually if an insulator is really abused it will snap off but sometimes they just crack and there is a microscopic gap where the arc can happen.

AA4HA
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
KH6AQ
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Posts: 7995




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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2010, 08:07:36 PM »

A power company RFI engineer gave a talk at a radio club I attended ages ago and said that to check a particular pole for lose insulators and such he wacks them with a sledge hammer. Of course the RFI receiver is going during this testing.
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N3OX
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2010, 08:43:45 PM »

A power company RFI engineer gave a talk at a radio club I attended ages ago and said that to check a particular pole for lose insulators and such he wacks them with a sledge hammer.

The other side of that coin is this, an excerpt from a post by KB4T on the rfi@contesting.com reflector:

Quote
I am an interference investigator for a large electric utility in
Florida. If I see someone hitting a power pole with a sledge hammer
(or anything else) I call the police and have that person arrested.
Tampering with utility equipment is foolhardy, unlawful and doesn't
solve the core problem.
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
KD3LT
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2010, 04:34:29 AM »

Not to worry: my official Sledge-Wielding Pole Whacker license (#4717) expired a couple of years ago and I never bothered to renew it. I'll wait for the licensed guy to come along.
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KH6AQ
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Posts: 7995




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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2010, 06:10:18 AM »

Always calling the police. Control freaks love to do that.

When we were 14 years old WB6HHQ, now W6AWG, and I were stretching a length of solid #12 antenna wire by pulling it around a sign post. Out of nowhere comes a lady yelling "I'm calling the police!" She thought we were trying to pull the sign over.

You haven't done ham radio right unless you've had the police question your activities (several times).
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KD3LT
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2010, 10:24:45 AM »

Good news: Mike from RFI/Pepco has been in touch. The RFI must have heard him coming as it absented itself from the scene almost precisely at the moment of his call. Mike suggested that the increase in breezes in anticipation of this afternoon's thunderstorms might have something to do with it.

In any event, many thanks to you all for your help. I'll keep you posted.
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N3OX
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2010, 10:36:41 AM »

Mike suggested that the increase in breezes in anticipation of this afternoon's thunderstorms might have something to do with it.

I still have one like that to the South.  When it kicks up the sonofabitch is like 59+20 on most of the HF bands and I can hear it S7 or S8 on 2m. 

But it's finicky and still mostly gone... always when Mike comes out.  The intermittent ones you really have to localize as much as possible yourself.  I'm going to build a 2m DF receiver and longer  hunting beam soon so I can find it myself without disconnecting the FT-857 and lugging it around :-)

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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
AA4HA
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Posts: 2630




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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 06:48:02 AM »

In my paying gig I spend a great deal of time riding along with the utility guys visiting substations. One day the discussion turned to how they would find RFI generating "leakers";

This was from a superintendent with a utility in Tennessee, he would drive around with his AM radio tuned to the low end of the band where there is no station. When the buzzing got the loudest he would try to get in the right general area. Then he would tune the radio to the top end of the AM dial and do the same thing. This would reduce the search area down to a block or so. Then he would listen in using the VHF-low-band radio in their truck (30-50 MHz) and he could get to within 2-3 poles. When he was right under the problem and it was a really good leaker the interference would spread up into the FM band (88-108 MHz).

There are better ways of doing this, using directional antennas and EMI receivers that someone who does nothing but that for a living would have (in a larger utility). It should be possible for us to isolate a problem down to a few poles and then get the utility guys involved.

Near where I live (northeast Alabama) I had found a real bad leaker when driving home one evening. It was such a problem that it blanketed the FM spectrum (102.7 MHz) for a few hundred feet along a road. I drove slowly around the area and was looking at the lines through my sunroof. Sure enough, I found an insulator that had light blue arc's dancing all around it's periphery. I did not call the problem in as it was NIMBY (not in my back yard) but I kept track of the problem until it was fixed. It took around 3 weeks before the utility company either found the problem on it's own or someone else called it in.

I can't help but think about how much electricity was wasted with this insulator doing a light-show for several weeks.

Dealing with electric utilities I find it difficult to convince many of them that many of their losses happen between the substation where the distribution folks look at amps, volts, VAR and power factor and the premise meter where customer billing measures KWH usage. For many utilities that chunk of their system is the oldest and has the poorest maintenance. It is not surprising that there are a large number of high-resistance connections that end up burning open during the hottest summertime months, bad insulators, missing ground wires, sagging conductors and spots where tree branches are in constant contact with live lines.

Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 06:50:02 AM by Tisha Hayes » Logged

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
KE2KB
Member

Posts: 1085




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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 04:04:40 PM »

It is not necessary to have an earth ground conductor on every pole. Normally, they are installed when the pole has a transformer on it.

During the Nor'easter of March 12-13 here in New Jersey, I observed an arcing connection on the secondary lines on a pole near my house. I called it in to the utility, and also noted it to the crew of same when they were in the neighborhood for another job. I still don't know if it was fixed.

During the time the conductor was arcing, I could see the lights in one house flashing on and off. It was just one side of the 115V line on a 220V service, so it wouldn't have affected all of their service.
It did not affect my service, since it was downstream of my connection.
I never thought of turning on my AM radio. It wasn't a strong enough arc to cause RFI on my 2m radio though.

That was some storm! Worst we had ever seen in my town.

KE2KB
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KF6A
Member

Posts: 225




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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2010, 11:53:37 PM »

A power company RFI engineer gave a talk at a radio club I attended ages ago and said that to check a particular pole for lose insulators and such he wacks them with a sledge hammer.

The other side of that coin is this, an excerpt from a post by KB4T on the rfi@contesting.com reflector:

Quote
I am an interference investigator for a large electric utility in
Florida. If I see someone hitting a power pole with a sledge hammer
(or anything else) I call the police and have that person arrested.
Tampering with utility equipment is foolhardy, unlawful and doesn't
solve the core problem.
That's actually quite hilarious and I would tell that guy to piss off along with the cops if they showed up. The poles are a shared utility and telco's are REQUIRED to smack the pole multiple times with a small sledge, poke at it forcefully with pointed objects and throw a rope over the support wires to make sure the pole isn't rotten and ready to fall over before climbing it. KB4T doesn't know what he is talking about unless out there the poles are not shared utilities.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 11:55:12 PM by Dan » Logged
KH6AQ
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Posts: 7995




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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2010, 07:37:26 AM »

But if one if not a utility employee or a Telco worker and you have no intention of climbing the pole, hitting the pole with a hammer will be frowned on. Please give it a try, get the police involved, and report your experiences to us.
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