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Author Topic: Need software to resolve RFI issue  (Read 2730 times)

Stoic Joker

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Need software to resolve RFI issue
« on: November 08, 2016, 06:53 AM »
Greetings
   So it appears I have a bit of a weird issue going on in my neighborhood. Somebody is broadcasting some type of either very dirty or high output signal that is screwing with everything wireless in my world. My garage door opener, the wireless alarm fob for my bike, my wireless network, etc..

    Is there a best option (free...) application I can toss on a laptop (or Windows Phone) to try and track this signal menace down?

Thank you,

Stoic Joker

wraith808

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2016, 09:24 AM »
I don't know for windows phone- but for android, there's

http://www.howtogeek...nalyzer-for-android/

There's this one, with good ratings... but I've not used it.

https://www.microsof...nalyzer/9nblggh33n0n

A pretty good article on resolving interference:

http://www.networkwo...m--interference.html

Curt

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2016, 09:50 AM »
contact the proper authority and complain; Radio frequencies are potential dangerous and must be controlled accordingly.


 

Stoic Joker

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2016, 11:15 AM »
contact the proper authority and complain; Radio frequencies are potential dangerous and must be controlled accordingly.

I do hope you're joking - Because that's never gonna happen.

wraith808

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2016, 11:38 AM »
contact the proper authority and complain; Radio frequencies are potential dangerous and must be controlled accordingly.

I do hope you're joking - Because that's never gonna happen.


Yeah... that's why I didn't respond :)

4wd

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2016, 04:07 PM »
contact the proper authority and complain; Radio frequencies are potential dangerous and must be controlled accordingly.

It's most likely 2.4GHz which is an ISM, (Industrial, Scientific, Medical), band - ISM bands are, to put it simply, free-for-all, (unlicensed), areas of the spectrum in most countries generally only restricted by the maximum power you're allowed to transmit at, (for the USA this is about 1000mW for 2.4GHz).

There's also other things that can broadcast on there, eg. your microwave oven :)

@SJ: Is it screwing with the 802.11bgn (2.4GHz) or 802.11a/ac (5GHz) WiFi ?
Or both?

Might help narrow it down since 5GHz is of shorter range than 2.4GHz, (dependent on power output naturally).
« Last Edit: November 08, 2016, 04:13 PM by 4wd »

Curt

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2016, 05:40 PM »
What is being insinuated? The subject of this thread is RFI issues, right? RFI issues are potential dangerous! I quote: "output signal that is screwing with everything wireless in my world. My garage door opener, the wireless alarm fob for my bike, my wireless network, etc" (or hospital equipment or fly-by-wire missiles, etcetera) which is why we have regulations for controlling RF. We have it all over Europe, I know they have it in California. I am certain they have it in Florida as well. The rules have clearly not been followed, otherwise this thread would not have been started. Complain to the proper office!


Shades

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2016, 09:08 PM »
In the Netherlands the situation is very similar to what Curt said.

And you would get heavy fines for creating issues on any frequency band. And whatever device they think you used to cause this problem with is confiscated. With virtually no chance of getting that back. Doing anything with radio signals as a hobby? Better make sure your licenses and permits are in order. Getting those isn't a small feat, because a) not cheap, b) you actually need to show bonafide experts that you know your stuff and c) always be prepared for unannounced checks.

Radio cars are deployed if enough complaints come in and/or when you affect government functionality (in-)directly. Granted, because of mobile phones this isn't not nearly as much of an issue as it was in my youth, but to my knowledge the fines for messing with radio signals of any kind haven't been altered.

With that in mind, I too fail to see what is insinuated.

Also, in my youth, people would play "fox hunt". That would be a random member of the club taking on the role of the "fox" by setting up an antenna and transmitter somewhere within a 40 square kilometer area. The remainder of club members would start at midday at the clubhouse, each with a car and a meter to find the source of the signal bursts the "fox" would broadcast at random intervals. That was kinda fun at the time.

I guess those kind of meters were readily available in the US too and you could adapt one if you cannot find one for the frequency band(s) of your "choice". Should help you a lot finding the source of your troubles.

4wd

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2016, 09:57 PM »
What is being insinuated?

Curt, I'm not insinuating anything, I said "most countries".

Equipment that operates in these ISM bands should be more tolerant of interference simply because they are a "noisy" band.

Doesn't mean there isn't someone broadcasting at a power output in excess of the regulations, just that it's going to be a little hard to do anything about it if they are within specs ... and that includes complaining to the FCC.

Curt

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2016, 03:59 AM »
oh, I'm sorry I wasn't clear. My reaction was to the first two answers; I felt they read something entirely different into my first post, than what I was trying to say. As if I was trying to ban radios or something. AND I don't understand why the OP automatically thought the problem was a radio amateur, the problem may easily have been caused by heavy machinery on a plant instead.


« Last Edit: November 09, 2016, 06:47 AM by Curt »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2016, 07:17 AM »
SJ: Is it screwing with the 802.11bgn (2.4GHz) or 802.11a/ac (5GHz) WiFi ?Or both?

I don't think my (antique) WRT54G has 5GHz so I'm guessing it's in the 2,4GHz range. However I've not a clue what range the garage door and ignition/alarm fob on the bike run at. Come to think of it the house alarm system is cellular and appears to be unaffected ... Or - since some of the sensors are reporting low battery - it may be causal if it (can...) turn itself up a bit in an attempt to reach them. Alarm control, garage door and spot where bike alarm flaked are all within 30' of each other. Wireless router is quite slow, but stable-ish, and at the other end of the house.

@Curt - I do not believe that the situation is intentional. I suspect that something in the (strictly residential) vicinity is either saturating a channel, gone a tad out of spec, or both. e.g. there's no need to get the - instant over complication - Fuzz involved ... Even if I could get them to stop laughing long enough (small southern town...) to take a report.

Radio/Ham armatures never really came to mind as that type of interference always manifests differently. You can/will hear them talking over various audio devices like clock radios or TVs. Case in point, where I work there is a tow yard next door, and any time one of the drivers transmits (high-end CBs) from the yard I can hear them over the computer speakers in my office. Kinda freaked me out at first because I didn't know where "The Voices" were coming from...but I hardly notice it anymore.

wraith808

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2016, 11:08 AM »

@Curt - I do not believe that the situation is intentional. I suspect that something in the (strictly residential) vicinity is either saturating a channel, gone a tad out of spec, or both. e.g. there's no need to get the - instant over complication - Fuzz involved ... Even if I could get them to stop laughing long enough (small southern town...) to take a report.

Also, what I was thinking about.  If they are broadcasting a station intentionally, then the FCC will eventually get involved.  Interference on an unlicensed band is very hard to get them to do anything about- ask me how I know.

4wd

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2016, 05:23 PM »
@SJ: What channel is your WiFi set at?  Default is usually channel 6.
You could try changing it to either end, 1 or 13 (I think it's 13 for USA), and see if it improves. Might be someone using a WiFi repeater link that happens to pass over your property.

If it's something that isn't specifically WiFi broadcast related then I'm not sure the apps Wraith mentioned will help, you really need a Field Strength Meter.
I don't suppose there's any HAM Radio people you know that can help?

Shades

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2016, 05:56 PM »
WiFi channel 11 is the highest channel you are allowed to select. Most devices don't even show that channel. As far as I know channel 13 is only available in Japan.

4wd

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2016, 06:34 PM »
Depends on the country and the modulation used: 802.11b you can go to Ch14; 802.11g can be Ch11 or Ch13 (country dependent); 802.11n is Ch11.

eg. In Australia it's Ch13 for 802.11b/g but channels 1, 6, and 11 are the ones that are most likely to avoid overlap so it's usual to find the default being Ch6.
Which, quite frankly, is nuts if they're trying to avoid overlap since most people wouldn't know how to change the channel in the first place  ;D

@SJ: I guess another simple thing to try that might give you a clue is directional shielding, eg. grab a sheet of steel/Al/etc, (maybe around 4' x 4'), and place it on one side of your bike centered near where the receiver for the alarm is.  Then see if you can activate the alarm from the opposite side from what would be a normal distance.

Move the sheet around the bike until you get a spot where it's intermittent and the theory goes the interference will be coming from the direction behind you, ie. in the line going from the sheet, to the bike, to you.

Haven't tried it but it's something simple, might work but depends on how bad the interference is.

EDIT: Whoops, being directionally challenged I actually meant the interference will be coming from behind you  :P
« Last Edit: November 09, 2016, 07:42 PM by 4wd, Reason: I am an idiot. »

wraith808

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2016, 07:29 PM »
@SJ: What channel is your WiFi set at?  Default is usually channel 6.
You could try changing it to either end, 1 or 13 (I think it's 13 for USA), and see if it improves. Might be someone using a WiFi repeater link that happens to pass over your property.

If it's something that isn't specifically WiFi broadcast related then I'm not sure the apps Wraith mentioned will help, you really need a Field Strength Meter.
I don't suppose there's any HAM Radio people you know that can help?

One of those articles I linked talks about the effects on the ecosystem of the area of switching channels.  And it made sense to me...

Stoic Joker

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2016, 03:57 PM »
If it's something that isn't specifically WiFi broadcast related then I'm not sure the apps Wraith mentioned will help, you really need a Field Strength Meter. I don't suppose there's any HAM Radio people you know that can help?

Yeah, that's the thing I was going to ask about if I'd have known what it was called... :D

@SJ: I guess another simple thing to try that might give you a clue is directional shielding, eg. grab a sheet of steel/Al/etc, (maybe around 4' x 4'), and place it on one side of your bike centered near where the receiver for the alarm is.  Then see if you can activate the alarm from the opposite side from what would be a normal distance.

I like it! It's a button-less proximity widget, so I generally have to be sitting on the bike (or very damn close) to test it. But I do believe I can come up with a stop sign or something to test with.

The whole RF thing is just not really in my skillset.

4wd

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2016, 06:02 PM »
I like it! It's a button-less proximity widget, so I generally have to be sitting on the bike (or very damn close) to test it. But I do believe I can come up with a stop sign or something to test with.

Ah, does the widget use a battery?

Otherwise it's probably RFID like most car keys these days so you may not have much luck with the bike alarm, you may have to try the garage remote instead.

You could also try shielding the transmitter instead of the receiver, may have more luck and may be a little easier ... kind of depends whether the transmit signal is being lost because of the other signal or the receiver's frontend is being overwhelmed.

EDIT: Actually, if your bike widget is RFID that could be a completely different set of frequencies, ie. RFID can be:
•LF : 125 kHz - 134,2 kHz : low frequencies,
•HF : 13.56 MHz : high frequencies,
•UHF : 860 MHz - 960 MHz : ultra high frequencies,
•SHF : 2.45 GHz : super high frequencies

And your garage remote might be 315MHz or 433MHz.

Sounds like something affecting a really wide range, your best bet might be finding a friendly radio amatuer to help.  Or possibly the local TV antenna/satellite installer, (with the right gear), might be willing to offer assistance for a beer or two.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 06:50 PM by 4wd »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Need software to resolve RFI issue
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2016, 07:14 AM »
Ah, does the widget use a battery? Otherwise it's probably RFID like most car keys these days so you may not have much luck with the bike alarm, you may have to try the garage remote instead.

Yes, it uses one of the 3.5v 2032 (BIOS) batteries ... Which was only putting out 2.98v when I checked it at the office after it decided to flake out at a gas station.

So... that part may not actually be related. Although I still have to figure out what's up the garage doors ass.

BBBender

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