Review: ARRL RFI Book (3rd Edition)
Kenneth Wyatt- September 25, 2012In my never-ending quest to search out useful reference books on EMC, I recently ran into the 3rd edition of "The ARRL EMC Book" (ISBN 9780872590915). First published in 1999, the new 3rd edition was released in 2010. For those unfamiliar with the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League), this is the national organization representing amateur radio operators ("hams") in the U.S. Most hams are members of the league, which also publishes a range of useful operating, design and general radio reference books. Because hams are allowed to operate their two-way radios at up to 1.5kW, on occasion, this may be the cause of local interference to poorly-designed or poorly-shielded consumer products. Thus, several years ago it was decided to publish a reference book on RFI (radio frequency interference).
Figure 1 - The ARRL RFI Book is available for $29.95 and is packed with practical EMC design and interference remediation techniques.
Now, like it or not, if you do manage to describe what you do as an EMC engineer to your friends or neighbors, you increase the chances of having to deal with their interference issues, and The ARRL RFI Book may be just what you need to troubleshoot and resolve their problem.
The book includes important info on interference to stereo, VCR/DVD, telephone and radio, due to power line, computer and RF interference. In addition, there are new sections on digital TV, cable TV, computer interference and hybrid-electric vehicles.
This low-cost ($29.95) 320 page book includes contributions by several IEEE EMC Society members. ARRL RFI engineer, Mike Gruber (W1MG) served as editor, with additional chapter contributions from ARRL lab manager, Ed Hare (W1RFI), Intel compliance manager, Ghery Petit (N6TPT) and GM Powertrain EMC engineer and adjunct professor at the University of Detroit and University of Michigan, Mark Steffka (WW8MS).
While a little light on classical (heavier) EMC theory and some of the more recent troubleshooting tools, the book is packed with practical ("lay") troubleshooting, measurement, analysis and fixes for many interference problems. For example, if a nearby paging transmitter was to interfere with someone's wireless phone or VCR/DVD player, would you know the quick solution? How about spark plug interference getting into your new aftermarket mobile stereo? These, and much more, are described clearly.
I'd like to step through a few of the key chapters to give you a better idea of the content.
Chapter 2 (EMC Fundamentals) includes a range of subjects, including harmonics, intermodulation, the source-path-receptor concept, common-mode and differential-mode currents, grounding, shielding, filtering and bypassing. For those who might be new to the field of EMC, this should prove to be a good review.
Chapter 3 (RFI Troubleshooting Techniques) includes a basic approach to determining the source, path and receptor. Examples are given for troubleshooting telephone systems and consumer equipment. A simple "sniffer"probe is also described.
Chapter 6 (Antenna-Connected Televisions) also includes troubleshooting and fixes for digital over-the-air and satellite systems.
Chapter 7 (Cable Television Interference) includes practical fixes for CATV and digital two-way services, such as cable internet.
Chapter 9 (Telephone RFI) covers both analog and digital wireless phone systems, as well as telephone answering systems, fax, home security and medic alert systems.
Chapter 11 (Electrical and Power Line Interference) goes into how to locate interfering power lines and poles where corona or arcing is the cause of the interference. Included are electric fence noise and interference from neon signs, fluorescent lamps and light dimmers. there's another whole section on how power line interference is located.
Chapter 15 (Computers) is a new section added by Ghery Petit and includes a description of how interference is generated by computers and their peripherals. He offers some troubleshooting hints on determining and fixing cable emissions.
Chapter 16 (Automobiles) is another new section by Terry Rybak and Mark Steffka. They describe typical interference issues in mobile installations and the various interference sources within automobiles. There is a large section on filtering and proper power wire routing. There is also a short section on the newer hybrid-electric vehicles and how the motor drive circuitry works and how to remediate issues.
Other chapters include information on radio direction finding, transmitters, interference to stereo and other audio equipment, external rectification (the "rusty bolt" effect), intermodulation, RFI regulations and standards and unlicensed RF sources.
The appendix sections include a list of EMC-related resources, the FCC Telephone Interference Bulletin (CIB-10) and the FCC Interference Handbook (CIB-2).
For the price of $29.95, The ARRL RFI Book is a remarkable deal and for those who might be just getting into the field of EMC or for those who have been asked to troubleshoot your friend's or neighbor's TV or stereo system, this might be just the ticket. Recommended.