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As a member of a pulsar search team that works through the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, I've noticed that many data plots (except the tests) are radio frequency interference (RFI) or noise. As a result, I have gained an appreciation for what kinds of issues antennas can cause.

What techniques can satellite ground-station operators, programmers, and installers use to recognize RFI or noise before we have to manually review the plots? How can this problem be reduced or removed?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not by any means an expert, but would it be possible to train a neural network to filter out the most obvious cases of noise? $\endgroup$ – Robert Mason Jul 18 '13 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ I edited this to be more on topic, namely how to get rid of RFI on a ground station, which is on topic, than a RF telescope, which would not be on topic. The answers should be close. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jul 18 '13 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertMason: It might help to an extent, but it's far better to get rid of the source, if you can. It's always better to have no noise in the data than to have the noise removed after the fact. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Jul 18 '13 at 18:04
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Removing Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) can be quite a challenging issue, but it can be solved. There's a number of things that should be done to minimize the effect of this noise. A basis for this can be found from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), but some of it is just from experience.

  1. All of your sensitive equipment should be in a Faraday cage, or at least a metal box.
  2. Try to use a simple radio scanner to find the source of your frequency. Those items should also be in a metal box or Faraday cage.
  3. Isolate power lines using high end filtering devices.
  4. Use proper grounding and keep wire lengths short.
  5. Keep anything in the radio pathway clean, with solid connections.
  6. Pay attention to where your antennas are pointed when you see the RFI issues, what time of day, etc. This can be useful information in pinpointing the exact location, which makes the problem easier to solve.

Bottom line is that you have to find out where the RFI is coming from, and fix it. In most cases, it is technically illegal to produce RF without a license, so vendors, neighbors, and power companies should be willing to help you remove it if you can track down what device is causing the issues. Good luck!

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