Grant: Locating Radiofrequency Interference (RFI) sources in Los Angeles County, CA

Grant Date: May 2021
Amount: $23,600

About ARESLAX, inc.
ARESLAX was formed in 2007 to serve as a vehicle for receiving donations in support of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) in Los Angeles County and for obtaining liability insurance coverage for its public-service activities. All funding comes from donations and grants. The Los Angeles ARES volunteer Amateur Radio licensees provide backup communication for a majority of the 70 receiving hospitals in the county and for the County Department of Health Services’ Medical Alert Center. ARESLAX also provides training to the Amateur Radio community at large as well as assistance in setting up and troubleshooting home, portable and mobile stations, all with the objective of increasing the pool of operators ready to respond when adverse events strike their communities.

RFI in Los Angeles County
Radiofrequency interference (RFI) is a widespread and growing problem for not only the Amateur Radio community in Southern California but also for businesses, governments and the military. Prominent among the many sources of RFI is faulty hardware on electrical distribution lines. The utilities that own and operate these distribution systems once had trained personnel to help find and resolve RFI complaints from customers. However, retirements and budget cuts have substantially reduced their RFI-resolution services. As a result, RFI complaints can go unresolved for years, reducing Amateur station effectiveness and discouraging licensees from on-air activities. Power line interference is particularly harmful on HF frequencies, the very bands used most often to move voice and digital messages into and out of affected areas during disasters.

ARESLAX has technical volunteers who help track down RFI issues, but the task is time-consuming and sometimes fruitless without the proper equipment. To that end, ARDC awarded ARESLAX with a grant to purchase a Fluke ii910 acoustic imager.

The Fluke ii910 acoustic imager, blends ultrasonic detection with a visual image to pinpoint the source of the interference and produce photographic evidence in sufficient detail to use as evidence when submitting a repair request to the responsible utility. The sophistication of the Fluke imager is particularly helpful in the RF-dense environment of Southern California with so many potential noise sources. The Fluke imager will be use in conjunction with a Radar Engineers model 243 RFI locator, will allow ARESLAX to identify unique noise signatures and track them to a location.