BPL Here and Now

By Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP


JUNE  2007                                             VOL.  80 , NO. 6                                        CIR 120      

Broadband over Power Lines, or BPL as we have learned to call it, is a system for connecting computers to the Internet, or for networking computers.  Because the signals are carried by power lines that already exist, this system is supposed to be cheaper to implement than other systems that use new telephone lines, coax cables or fiber optic cable connections.  The BPL systems are said to provide bandwidths that exceed those used by  telephone “dial-up” modems. When any new system is to be installed, right of way must be approved by all town boards when cables need to be installed..  Not so for BPL, because there are no new cables involved and only State and FCC approval is required.  The big  trouble with BPL is, that since it runs in unshielded power lines, it may cause interference to MF, HF and VHF frerquencies, including the frequencies used by radio amateurs.  Ed Hare, W1RFI, the ARRL lab manager, has used mobile HF SSB receivers to confirm the intensity of RFI at locations where BPL has been tested or is being  used.  The range of interference differs depending greatly on the type of installation,  BPL used only for networking computers in a small area may not cause RFI to as large an area as BPL used for long range access.  

The ARRL has taken a strong stand against BPL and has petitioned the FCC to prevent present operators and users of BPL from continuing.  To my knowledge, this is the first time that the ARRL has so strongly critisized a decision of the FCC, and has gone as far as to critisize the former FCC Commisioner and others for approving BPL..  The FCC bases its policy on the need to provide choices of ISPs and networking systems to as many users as possible.   This competition may be required to reduce costs of connecting for a majority of users.   BPL can only become a contender if it is widely used, but it is presently only being tested and demonstrated here on Long Island, and is in use at only a few locations nationally.  All of Long Island’s ISP needs can now be served by Cablevision’s coax, Verizon’s fiber optics, or by satallite systems.  LIPA may use BPL for remote meter reading or remote power sensing, but this might require only intermittent use.

Many Hams have written e-mails to Mr Richard Kessel, the CEO of LIPA, requesting that LIPA not use BPL.  In a letter that, I included in the May 2006 newsletter, Mr. Kessel said that LIPA and the BPL contractor would do all posible and stick to FCC rulres to minimize interference and that BPL could serve all on Long Island by helping to reduce the rates that we pay for electricity.


BPL is now in use at Briarcliff Manor, NY, which is not on Long Island.  Note also that Briarcliff Manor spells Briarcliff without an “e” on the end, the way that Briarcliffe College (where we give VE exams) does.  Our local possible BPL problems are alledged to be LIPA’s demonstrtion of BPL at two sites in Hauppauge. Long Island, which is near to my QTH in Commack.  The addresses in Commack are not the same as their official township districts.  Commack is a postal district (11725) and a school district, but it is not a township. Thus parts of Commack lie in Smithtown, Huntington or Hauppague townships. My Commack QTH is in the township of Smithtown, while the BPL site locations are mainly in the township of Hauppague. Both the sites and my QTH share the same postal district of Commack. The tests were supposed to begin last summer but have been postponed and LIPA says thaty they have now begun..  LIPA is in the process of a possible sell off to National Grid, a British Corporation, and it is unknown what National Grid’s policy may be with regard to BPL, if it does take control of the power distribution system that covers most of Long Island.   I have learned that the present Long Island BPL system is to be run with frequency notching that is supposed to eliminate much of the interference to HF ham bands.  The BPL enginerrs say that this notching will reduce the bandwidth of their system by 15 % and they are making this concession in order to be compatable.  It remains to be seen how effective this step may be in eliminating interference.   In my own opinion it will not be possible to entirely reduce interference to AM or SSB receivers from power line pulse radiation.  

Now let me talk about the present realities.   According to reports from LIPA itself the initial BPL tests are to be run from specific sites.  A map showing the site locations and the BPL paths may be found at: http://all4ham.com   and clicking on BPL Test Area.  The area involved, acording to LIPA, includes two circuits:- 6H-533 originating at the Hauppague substation and 6DL-841 originates at the Pilgram substation.

ASU number 1180, located at the corner of Vanderbuilt Motor Parkway in Commack will be utilized for demonstration.  Transformer number 118241, located at 75 Austin Blvd in Hauppague will also be used for the demonstration.  A 900 KVAR Capacitor located on  Vanderbuilt Motor Parkway behind 34 Pinewood Drive in Commack will also be part of the demonstration. An FT100T Fuse, located at 313 Harned Road in Hauppague is another part of this demonstration..  Current sensors are placed on each of the three primary power line phases at the intersection of New Highway and Wicks Path.  Voltage sensors are also placed on each phase of the primary at the same intersection..

I have long complained of what I believe is some type of data pulse transmission, possibly BPL, at the corner of New Highway and Commack Road.  This inteference drowns out reception on my automobile radio when in the AM mode. The interference does not bother FM reception or 2-Meter VHF reception.  Signals received from AM broadcasting stations may average at over 100 uV, so I believe that this interference would certainly prevent reception of any fractional uV  SSB HF signal..   I had reported this problem to Rich Rosner, N2STU, who has volunteered to tackel the job of evaluating BPL interference on Long Island.   Rich says that he has the mobile equipment to look into the problem.  Rich had initially said that the interference that I reported might have been coming from the BPL that is located nearby, although he found no interference at the primary specified sites that are located by the above reports from LIPA and the BPL contractor, maine.net.  He claimed that the interference was possibly BPL, as it could have traveled up Commack Road.  I claim otherwise from my own simple observations and the fact that the interference at New Highway and Commack Road has been there for well over a year and attenuates rapidly as you drive north or south on Commack Road.




BPL Here and Now (continued)


I have been visited at my QTH  by Michael Malinowski, N2QOY.  Mike’s title, on his LIPA buisness card, is Investigator, Special Services.  It is good to see that LIPA has employed a friendly ham to look into our problems.  Mike does not want to be directly quoted, as he can not officially represent his employer, as far as official information releases go.                                                                  

What is more important to us, Mike has helped Zack, WB2PUE and Dave, AB2EF with some of their local interference problems.   Mike has benn a licensed Technician Class Ham for 16 years and has recently upgraded to General Class.   Mike, at first look, believed the problem I had recognized to be the fault of arcing power distribution transformers, and he had recommended that LIPA maintenance people investigate and repair any offending transformer(s) or insulators..  I remained skeptical, as the pulse type interference had a definite blanking period, indicating to me that it was some form of data packet transmission.

 I could be wrong, but my old ECM experience (recognizing stretched radar pulses) told me that this was not just random arcing.   On his most recent  report to me, by e-mail, Mike concludeed that the interference I had reported was probably coming from the Commack Library (which is a branch of the Huntington Library), and that he would investigate the library in order to find its source.  The library is on the north west corner of Commack Road and New Highway.  Another source possibility could be the gasoline station which is on the south east corner.of that intersection.   That is where the matter sits as of this writing.  Other hams, besides W2ILP, who are on Rich Rosner’s mailing list, include: K2CX (who is a volunteer ARRL Technical Coordinator) , AE2Z (Kate Saul, a GARC member), W2KXB, N2NDR, and KA2D.  You can be sure that there will be follow up reported to the ARRL (and in this newsletter as well)  as additional facts become known.

In all fairness, it is not the purpose of W2ILP, nor should it be of other hams, to go on frivilous witchhunts.  The compatibility of amateur radio with modern wireless or digital communication techniques  (such as BPL) must be investigated using common sense.  It is also important that investigations point out interference to other users, and that is because excessibe interference may affect others besides hams (and also result in objectional BCI and/or TVI).  

 In addition to his critisism of the FCC, Dave Summner, K1ZZ, had said in an “Its Seems to Us” QST editorial that hams have never before been asked to share frequencies with other serevices.  If my memory serves me, this is not entirely true.  Hams (particularly in the U.S. northwest) had ben asked to share 160 Meters with LORAN and there are many microwzve frequencies, that are rarely used by hams, where hams have been expected to share the frequencyies with non ham professional experimenters and other services.   The latter is a result of pioneering efforts of the ongoing state of the art, where hams want to be on the same cutting edges.as the pros. 

On the other hand common frequencies, may not be the problem.  If one gets very close to the source of any broadcasting station or any radiating digital pulse modulating system, interference by shock excitation can be troubling.  This can also be true for interference from hams as well as interference to hams .   .


CQ Field Day 2007 de WA2LQO


Field Day (FD) has been a tradition of Amateur Radio, shared by most ham clubs and individuals in the U.S. and Canada.   What is more revelent to us, FD has been a lasting tradition of the GARC.  FD is not meant to be only an outdoor picnic.  It is meant to be a practice drill for emergency operation using power sources, other than power line mains, wherever possible.   I need not describe FD to most of the GARC members.  FD falls on June 23 to 24  this year.   The official FD rules can be found at: http://www.arrl.org  

Location this year will be McKay Field.  See the president’s page for more details….and 

COME ON OUT FOR FIELD DAY.                                                                                  







      As W2ILP notes in the newsletter above, we are going into our 2007 Field Day exercise. As usual, I sent a note to the Company people asking for space for the Club to operate during the June 23/24 activity. It turns out that there is no runway left for us anymore. The section we were on the last 2 years east of the water tower was sold. It now has heavy construction equipment and dumpsters on it. The new owner is ripping up the old tarmac, and carting it way. The piece of land west of the water tower has a building going up on it. Our Company doesn’t own anymore land in that area south of the tracks. They offered me the softball field near plant 30. This is the tract right next to the McKay Field picnic area where we operated in the 80s. There will be enough room there for a small radio operation, and there is a gate that’s wide enough for us to get our trailers into on the south side.   I’ll be looking that over this week, and laying out the area. The grass was just cut, but it will need another cutting just before we arrive. We’ll talk about our operating schedule at the June Club meeting. I have already been told that one of our overnight CW  guys can’t make it this year.  Looks like we may be closing down Saturday night, and maybe not even operating Sunday. We’ll have to see what our volunteer list looks like. If we don’t get enough ops, we’ll be forced to cancel the activity. I have already asked N2SFT to acquire tents, and we have the generator in hand. We should be all set to go. We just have to sort out poles and cables, as usual.

 The status on me these days, is that I did sign a contract t sell my house a few weeks ago. We have to be out of the place mid-July. I have about 4 weeks to empty the house, so I expect to make another trip to Florida with the rest of my stuff during the July 4th weekend. I also have to get 3 cars there, including my classic 1969 Camaro, which needs to be trucked or trailered to Florida. Lots to do. My retirement date will be September 1st, but I’m not yet sure whether I’ll work up to that date, or take all my vacation time in August. I don’t see any reason to rush off to Florida in August. It’s hot enough in NY that time of year. I’ll need a place to stay in NY after I move out of my house in July. Fortunately, my Mother’s house is not occupied, so I will probably stay there through the end of the Summer.

 We are still making progress with getting the Bethpage repeater back on the air. The antenna is up, and the coax has been run. All it needs is connectors on both ends. We were going to the connectors ourselves, but I have been banned from going on the roof. They  told me very explicitly I can’t go up there anymore due to new safety regulations. The Company electrician has to do the connector on the roof, so we gave them a couple to use. Hopefully, the guy has some training on coax, and knows how to do it. Hmmm… I wonder if I can solder in the dark.. We also seem to have a “rogue” repeater operating on 146.745. It IDs with a call sign from way upstate, so we can’t figure out where it is. It’s quite powerful into Suffolk where I live, and I thought it might be in eastern Jersey. But, some of the other folks here think it might actually be on L.I. Looks like we may have to do some RDFing to find it. I looked at MetroCor’s 2 meter listings for NY, and this call is not there. As soon as we get our repeater back online, we’ll file a formal complaint. 

 That’s it for now. I hope to see you all at the next meeting, and at what might be our last Field Day.

-Pat KE2LJ








Secretary, Karen KC2OPX


The meeting was called to order by Pat at 5:36 PM.



(Not present)                                                            The Bethpage repeater antenna cable needs a                         

Finances continue to be in good shape                     PL259.  There is a conflict that has not been solved                                                                                                               by Motrocore.                    


VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP  (Not present)          NET REPORT- Zack, WB2PUE

One Applicant passed a Technician test.,                 Thursday night net, 745 still on simplex.

Another upgraded to General.  A commercial          The usual people checked in.  330 was good.

GROL license was earned by a third applicant.        Sunday morning 40 Meters was open to Florida.

5 VEs were AB2EF, AB2NT, KB2QFT,




Andy, W2RNC has obtained an extra key for the TV cabinet.



We have a new dues paying member, John Jeavons, KA2YIY.



We watched a video from the Northern California DX Foundation.  It covered education and    sponsorship of DXpeditions and support for the World RadioSport Team Championship (WRTC)


The meeting was adjoined at 6:05 PM.



40 Meters: 7.289 MHz at 7:30 AM EST Sundays.

2 Meters (via repeaters): 146.745 MHz  (-.600)at 8:30 PM EST Thursdays.

                                           145.330 MHz (- .600) at 9:00 PM EST Thursdays.

[Tone for both repeaters is 136.5 Hz]         (ARES/RACES) Mondays




General Meetings of the GARC are held on the third Wednesday of each month, starting at 5:30 PM.   The meetings will be held at the Allen Ellsworth Park in Farmingdale.  Check the GARC web site to be certain of meeting location, which may change after this newsletter, is distributed. Board meetings are held seven days before the General Meeting.





 The web site of the GARC can be found at http://www.qsl.net/wa2lqo/     Webmaster is Pat Masterson KE2LJ.  Pictures of GARC activities, archives of newsletters, roster of members, and other information about the GARC may be found there including Field Day pictures.                                         




            Did you ever become frustrated by calling a toll free number (such as an 800) and being responded to by a machine?  You press “1” if you can speak English and then you are given a number of options which might not include the reason that you are calling about.  Dave Ledo, AB2EF gave us a web site where you can find out how to get to speak to a human rather than a dumb machine.  It is:   http://GetHuman.com

            Did you know that if you type any telephone number on the Google search box you will get the name and address of the user of that phone number, as well as a link to a map of that phone number’s location?  This is known as a reverse search.  It gets not only a name and QTH, but a number of messages that you might have sent if and when you used your phone number in the message.  A search for the name of the phone number user can then pick up many messages that the user of that phone has sent to websites. This is considered an invasion of privacy by many users, and that is why many have unlisted numbers that keep their names out of telephone books, and why many try to limit sending their phone numbers for open site chatting from their computers.  I always allow listing of my number in the phone books and give my number out when advertising for ham license applicants.  I don’t fear anyone…but that is me and I see that many hams don’t want their e-mail addresses made available on QRZ and other sites that can be searched for ham names, addresses as they would be listed in call books.  Many use Box Numbers rather than street addresses on anything that gets sent to the FCC.  I don’t expect all hams to agree with my open policies and I do agree that people are all entitled to keep their personal data private, if they so desire.  They may also consider the possibility of identity theft, which may be the result of TOO MUCH INFORMATION that is easily available to anyone!



Here is another cryptogram. It is a short one for the experts









FEEDBACK: Paul Chalson, WA2FOF, has brought an error to my attention.  The GARC’s box number was wrong in some newsletters.  This may have caused Paul’s dues letter to bounce.  Sorry Paul.  The address of the GARC (for sending in dues or correspondence) is, as always: Grumman Amateur Radio Club, P.O. BOX 644, Bethpage, NY 11714-0644




20 Years Ago- “CQ DE WA2LQO” – June 1987

Vol. 58 N0.6 CIRC 406


It was announced that the next meeting would be in Plant 14A, and that Hank W2ZZE would bring in the coffee, coke and buns.

Steve Mendleshon, WA2DHF  did not arrive at the May meeting because he was working for CBS at that time and had to go to a memorial for the men who were killed on the USS Stark. The meeting  where President Reagan was to preside was in Florida. 

GARC President Ken, KC2DH wrote a pep talk for the June Field Day.  The June general meeting was to be held on the fourth Wednesday rather than the third so as to be close to the Field Day date and get a crew to move equipment.   

Jack, WA2PYK was back in town and was to again run the FD commissary.  A successful VE session had been held at the Bethpage High School on June 3rd.

An article by Bob DeCesari, WA9GDZ/6 from WorldRadio March 1987 was about experimental helical antennas..  The article showed how to build a 40 meter vertical dipole on an 8 foot tapered wood shaft.  An impedance matching network was necessary because of the low impedance of this type of antenna and a circuit was shown that could match to 50 ohm coax.  Another article from WorldRadio of May 1987, showed how to build a regenerative receiver.  The article explained the theory of the quench oscillator.  It included a circuit diagram of a super-regenerative VHF receiver that used only two MPF-102 FETs and an LM386 amplifier chip.   A full page chart showed the GARC Net Schedules, detailing time, frequencies and regular participants.  Our present 40 meter Sunday net was shown as well as our Thursday 2 Meter nets, but at that time there were also nine different 20 Meter nets, including 2 CW nets.  There were also three 80 Meter nets. One of which was CW.  At the bottom of the chart Public Service Nets which used GARC repeaters but not operators were the Nassau County VHF Traffic Net on .745 every day at 1930-2000 and the Suffolk County ARES Net on .330 on Mondays at 2100.  The info for the schedule was provided by Hank, W2ZZE.