[RFI] Using an SDR to locate RFI

Frank N. Haas KB4T utility.rfi.pro at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 11:19:46 EST 2016

For the last several months, I've been trying to use an SDRPlay SDR
Receiver with 3 different software packages as a tool for locating arcing
and other forms of interference to the HF and VHF spectrum. I have
virtually nothing to show for the effort.

For over a decade, I've been using an ICOM IC-7000 mounted in my work
vehicle with a Hi-Q 4/80 HF screwdriver antenna, a VHF 3 dB base loaded
mobile antenna, a 5 dB center loaded UHF mobile antenna and an antenna
switch to effectively drive to within 1 pole or 1 structure of the source.
The system has served me well and made my (nearly daily) interference
location work efficient and easy.

The IC-7000 is long in the tooth. While I enjoy cashing the Social Security
checks for the rig, I admit I'm spoiled by the enormously informative
spectral displays provided by SDRs. It's time to retire the 7000 and
install something new. The SDRs seem like the perfect, reasonably priced
solution. Yet the SDRs are so efficient at masking noise that it's nearly
impossible to use one as a locating tool.

But my experience is limited to the SDRPlay. I chose the SDRPlay because of
its frequency coverage. I've tried SDRUno, SDR Sharp and HDSDR software
packages. I've spent hours experimenting with the configuration of each of
these software options and have not been able to find a setup that
effectively, consistently and clearly displays arcing interference. What
I'm looking for is the type of display one sees on an ICOM IC-756-II or
-III spectrum display. Look me up on QRZ (KB4T) to see a picture of what I

I've tried an Anritsu and an HP Spectrum Analyzer and they lack the
sensitivity or the mounting practicality to do what I want.

There are many other SDRs out there. WinRadio, AirSpy and a boat load of
other makes and models. HAS ANYONE ACHIEVED ANY MEASURE OF SUCCESS getting
one of these smart boxes to provide a useful spectral display of arcing
interference? If so, please share with this group!!!

Thank you!

Frank N. Haas KB4T
Utility Interference Investigator

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