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ARRL Hosts RFI Workshop for Utility Companies

06/22/2011

On June 16-17, the ARRL hosted an RFI workshop for utility company employees. Led by Mike Martin, K3RFI, owner of RFI Services, the workshop was geared for those technicians, linemen and engineers who are responsible for solving RFI and TVI problems. Four participants from around the country made their way to Newington to take part in classroom and field instruction to learn how to best locate and solve these interference problems.

ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, said he appreciates the opportunity for the ARRL to work directly with companies like RFI Services and the electric utilities they serve. “A major key to resolving RFI problems is for utility staff to use the correct equipment and techniques to correctly identify power-line noise,” he explained. “The utilities that send staff to this training course are trying to do things right. Opening up the ARRL’s facility to the course and having utility staff attend sends a message that good communication is possible and is an important part of the efficient resolution of power line noise complaints.”

Beginning in 2002, Martin -- an ARRL Member -- has presented his RFI workshop at ARRL Headquarters every few years. Participants learn about the most common kinds of interference and how to locate them using equipment and techniques, how to identify noise from outside sources and how to track down difficult-to-find noises affecting BPL systems. In addition, the workshop covers finding noises emanating from the customer.

The first day’s class discussed the causes of power line noise, some of the lesser known things to watch for and noise-locating techniques. On the second day, the whole group took to the field for some practical experience.

“Mike Martin’s power line RFI workshop was a real eye-opener and time well spent,” said ARRL Lab Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM. “Learning the causes of RFI, including the equipment and the techniques used to locate problematic sources, will help me inform our members about this topic when they call the Lab for help. This training is a wise investment for all power companies, where their best interest would be served by eliminating harmful interference sources, as well as finding possible hardware failure before power is interrupted to customers.”

Martin’s RFI Services is dedicated exclusively to RFI locating and training. For more than 25 years, he has been locating interference sources and training utility companies, solving hundreds of complaints a year. Martin tests RFI locating equipment and makes recommendations to the manufacturers for on how to improve their equipment. Together with ARRL Lab Engineer and RFI guru Mike Gruber, W1MG, and Jody Boucher, WA1ZBL, Martin wrote the chapter of the latest edition of The ARRL RFI Book that deals with resolving power line noise complaints.

“Mike has more than 30 years of experience as an RFI investigator -- more than anyone I know,” Gruber said. “The techniques Mike teaches are often borne from that experience. The ability to identify noise sources quickly and accurately is essential for utilities to economically meet their obligations under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules. Mike’s RFI workshop is the gold standard for learning how to do it right with real hands-on experience.”



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