RF Pollution From Powerline Networking Devices


Big Island ARRL News, 22 January 2017, 00:45 hrs, UTC, Post #101.


Accessed on 22 January 2017, 00:45 hrs, UTC.

Please click the above links to read the full article and to see the rf interference video.


As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  And this video clearly shows what happens to the hf portion of the radio spectrum when “home plug” devices are used to replace ethernet cables to PCs, Macs, and laptops.

RTL-SDR released its latest video to underline the growing interference problem generated by ethernet over powerline devices.  These images are similar to patterns detected in the now largely defunct BPL technology that raised concerns among radio amateurs a few years ago.

When I was active in the broadcasting business a few years ago, I noticed the ground floor of noise masking our station’s AM signal (KHLO-AM in Hilo) more and more as Hilo extended its boundaries and brought in more homes and businesses.  Although some of the noise was created by salt water corrosion on utility power line insulators and transformers, much of it came from cheap power supplies and digital tools imported from China, Taiwan, and Indonesia.  The problem of rf noise to both broadcasters and radio amateurs turned up a notch when the state of Hawaii legalized medical marijuana and many patients sought to grow their own marijuana supplies on their property.  So-called “Grow Lights” and their poorly shielded power supplies just added more noise to the mix.  By the time I retired from Pacific Radio Group on Hawaii Island, our AM signal was just a hallow image of its once strong presence. Add to this rising noise floor the radiation from routers, CPUs, and other household devices and you get a very unfriendly radio neighborhood for both radio amateurs, SWLers, and casual radio listeners.

Apparently, the use of ethernet powerline networking devices is creating even more noise and interference to local communities.

What’s fascinating in this video is the appearance of amateur radio frequencies being “carefully notched out  and their frequencies relatively clear.”  RTL-SDR says “most manufacturers of these devices appear to have worked with the ARRL to please ham radio enthusiasts, but SWLers will likely be in trouble if any of these devices are used in your home or neighbor(s) house.”

The rising noise floor is a deep concern for all of us involved in communications, be it commercial, public safety, or amatuer.

Opinions expressed in this blog are mine unless otherwise stated.

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Thanks for joining us today!

Aloha es 73 de

Russell Roberts

Public Information Coordinator

Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section



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