[AMRadio] GREAT stories on pole interference

W7CE w7ce at curtiss.net
Sat Jan 26 13:25:20 EST 2008

> I would like to hear any other GREAT stories on resolving electric pole 
> interference....:-)
> thanks
> Joe N3IQA

2-1/2 years ago I decided to work on eliminating power line noise at my QTH 
(Lacey, Wa).  At times, I had line noise on 6M at S9+20 peaking at 130 
degrees, which means that I couldn't hear anything coming in from most of 
the country.  Using GoogleEarth, I determined possible locations of the 
noise and drove to those areas with the mobile rig to narrow down the 
location.  Once I had a pretty good idea of the location, I contacted Puget 
Sound Energy.  About a week later they sent their RFI tech to the house and 
we drove around with his equipment.  Within an hour we had tracked down two 
sources and he turned in service orders.  First problem fixed.  Over the 
next year this happened two more times, although the response time got worse 
each time.  Turns out that he is the only RFI tech for two counties and only 
because he volunteered to do it in addition to his normal lineman 
responsibilities.  So I got lucky the first time and he was available.

Anyway, I kept calling him until finally he turned it over to their RFI 
consultant, Jack Talmadge of RFI Tech Solutions in Vancouver, WA.  From now 
on, I could contact Jack directly whenever I had a power line noise problem. 
It didn't know it yet, but I had hit the jackpot.   Jack showed up a few 
days later and we drove to the area I had identified and found the noise in 
a few minutes.  Jack recorded the noise waveform on his equipment, took 
photos of the bad insulator and turned in the service order (this was just 
before the June 2007 VHF contest).  The power company took their sweet time 
and fixed it about 2 months later.  Fortunately, I only had 2-3 hours of S7+ 
noise during the June contest.  Power line noise was intermittent for the 
next few months and then started picking up again in December.  I had a 
noise from the SW that was S9+20 on 75M and about S8 on 6M.  I figured out 
the possible location and called Jack.  This one took about an hour to 
locate and was a high voltage line that had come off the insulator in a city 
park.  You could hear the buzzing and I even saw a few flashes.  Apparently, 
the power company takes those seriously and had it fixed the next morning. 
Noise gone.  Two weeks later, the same kind of noise appeared to the NW.  I 
called Jack and we located it in a few minutes.  Another high voltage line 
was off the insulator.  Again it was fixed the next morning.

I just checked my 6M noise level and I can hear no detectable line noise 
even though it is a cold, dry (i.e., low humidity) morning.  I still have a 
few computer monitor/TV birdies, but nothing over S2 now.  I fully expect 
this to be an on-going, continuous battle, but at the moment I appear to be 
winning.  My trips out with Jack have been educational and I'm getting 
better at identifying the problem poles/insulators.  So far, seven different 
line noise sources have been identified and fixed.  The closest one was 1/2 
mile away and the furthest was about 1.2 miles.  The problems have all been 
insulator related.  Two were internal to an old style insulator that could 
be adjusted, three were air gaps between a high voltage line and the 
insulator, and two were high voltage lines that had come off the insulator 
and were arcing to the metal support bracket.  Both of the latter two made 
an audible buzz and sparks could be seen at night.  These kind can be 
dangerous, so if you spot one don't touch the power pole or any guy wires.

My advice is to be persistant (and courteous).  Don't stop calling until the 
power company responds.  Also, do as much up front location work as you can 
and be sure it really is power line noise, not your neighbor's electric 
fence or other equipment.  Too many false calls or wild goose chases won't 
help your cause.  Puget Sound Energy has been good about responding to the 
line noise reports.  I know the same can't be said about all power 
companies, especially the smaller ones.  In those cases, you may need to get 
the ARRL involved.  Don't give up though.  Most line noise problems can be 

Clay  W7CE 

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