I understand what you describe. The best tools in the world can be useless
in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to use them. Simple tools in
the hands of someone who understands what is happening can be very
effective. The RE equipment is expensive but it is definitely NOT
Many utilities own the tools but have no skilled users of those tools. A
lineman is not a trained RFI investigator. Experience and expertise are
essential to success. At some utilities, the RFI department is comprised of
a lineman who was bored with what he was doing and agreed to do interference
While doing a search recently in a neighborhood served by 2 different
utilities, I bumped into someone from the other utility carrying the RE
ultrasonic detector (but no RF sensing equipment). He was trying to chase
down an RFI problem along a street pointed out to his company by a
knowledgeable ham. The individual was a Design Engineer for his utility. He
knew nothing about RF. He knew nothing about the device he was carrying. He
was a college graduate and quite intelligent yet he knew nothing about what
he was doing. I found his source in 10 minutes. When working with utility
people, ask about experience and training and usually there is little of
The Radar Engineers devices are expensive. No argument. They are also unique
and the market is very small. They are top performers (in the hands of
someone who knows what they are doing!!!) Do an online search. You won't
find many other manufacturers in this product class. It's a niche. Niche =
expensive. Even at half the price, these excellent tools are far more
expensive than any amateur radio operator would want to spend especially for
something that would only be used from time to time.
I search for RFI for a living. I do it nearly every day. For me, time is
money. I'm expected to find the source as quickly as possible. I couldn't do
my job as well without the Radar Engineers equipment. They have long since
paid for themselves in my situation.
I won't debate the fact that there are cheaper solutions. Most are more
pieces, more complex, less efficient and often are cobbled but effective for
the short term. The vast majority of the cases I work are located in less
than 1 hour. This is possible because I have the right tools, the right
skills and the package is tuned for efficiency. The RE equipment makes this
possible. The results speak for themselves. It ain't over-rated, if it's
It would be nice if every utility had a skilled, experienced, caring
interference investigator. It would be nice if we didn't have to pay taxes.
Neither are true nor will they ever be. I've said it many times and I will
continue to beat this drum: Hams and anyone else affected by RFI will need
to develop the skills and gather the equipment to do their own searches and
work cooperatively, politely and patiently with their local utility. This is
the quickest path to RFI problem resolution. All other options are more
time-consuming and more costly especially if the utility lacks expertise or
the affected party hires a professional.
Hideous as it may be, good tools ain't cheap. When your livelihood depends
on getting the job done efficiently, the best tools are essential.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Stay well, comfy and safe!
Frank N. Haas KB4T
Utility Interference Investigator
From: KD7JYK DM09 [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:02 AM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: [RFI] FW: Topband: Exciting noise sources (Tim Duffy K3LR)
: The ideal collection of gear is that made by Radar Engineers. RE gear
: consists of all the tools needed to pinpoint a source at least to the pole
: if not down to the nut, bolt, bond wire or device that is the source.
I recently worked with the local power company's RFI department. They had
everything made by RE, I have a 45 year old radio direction finder and a
short-wave radio with attenuators. After two meetings with them they
readily admitted my equipment, techniques and knowledge of the problem was
superior to theirs. Best of all, it was about $5,000 less.
RE equipment is nice, but over-rated and hideously expensive.
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