The thing is, everything I know about electricity says that you need
TWO wires to make a complete circuit. AC or DC, doesn't matter.
Most streets have two overhead wires, with two wires going to the
The norm is one to three phase conductors at the top of the pole or on
the cross arm at the top of the pole, with the neutral for those on the
pole a few feet down, and the low voltage secondaries if present a few
feet below that. The neutral is grounded at least every few poles with a
small uninsulated wire down the side of the pole that connects to a
plate at the bottom of the pole underground. The SWER or delta (two
phase conductors, no neutral) configurations are obsolete and only found
in areas with old infrastructure.
For purposes of this discussion, you are correct. These IS another
wire somewhere. It may be running down the pole to the ground (using
the earth as most of the "wire") and may look like a steel support
I was lying in bed one day watching guys adding a new transformer outside
the window. When trying to clip the wire onto the hv wire I saw a pretty
good arc. Probably at least 3 inches. A transformer feeding the house burnt
out, so they replaced that, and added another transformer in addition to
original. Result our house had less voltage fluctuations. When young, I
used to use the shortwave radio, and ever so often, maybe twice a ay, a
horrendous arching- buzzing sound would build up and quickly stop. Lasting
3-4 seconds. I never found the source of that. Didn't sound like anything
that would be consumer generated.
It could have been a static discharge from your antenna if you had an
external antenna. Or it could have been a static electricity discharge
from another source, even atmospheric. Another source may have been
power company or an industrial site switching high voltage power at
certain times every day. I can remember listening to distant stations
on an AM radio in different bands and hearing a "zip..zip..zip" sound
at regular intervals.
HID Street light ballast igniters are known to produce a lot of RFI when
they come on at night, and if they have a bad lamp attached they cycle
endlessly producing interference. With the switch to LED street lights
and even parking lot lights that problem should gradually become a thing
of the past.
A electrical engineer friend of mine was once the head of a power
company communications division and he told me that many complaints
of radio interference his department investigated turned out to be
caused by defective doorbell transformers.
Sounded pretty crazy the first time I saw you post it.
Jeff Wisnia came up with an FCC interference handbook
that gives details. Some doorbell transformers have a thermal protector
on the primary that opens (and closes) if the transformer overheats. (It
may be part of the limitation on current/power for a class 2
transformer.) It can wind up cycling maybe 7 times a second. My guess is
that doorbell transformers have not been made that way for quite a while.
I had two houses but never heard of that. Perhaps I did and forgot. Years
ago our ham club had an interference expert from PG&E, come in to our
meeting. The way he tracked down that type of interference was use am
radios. You start at the broadcast band then work your way up in frequency,
narrowing down the location. Like, am broadcast, cb, aircraft band, etc.
The transformers I see know have a thermal break, for good.
Back in the 1980's when I was installing a halon fire suppression system
in a mission control center, I used similar more expensive
gear to trace hundreds of wires. The goose neck on the probe is a
feature not seen on the domestically manufactured equipment. It looks
handy enough to justify adding it to my collection, especially if
someone wants to borrow my tone tracer set which costs around $80.00
and people are bad about breaking things they borrow. ^_^
I never used the transmitter yet. I always was thinking of buying the more
Most of these are billed as having induction. This does not mean magnetic
or emf. It's strictly electrostatic field. One day I'm going to modify it
to pick up either field, for the ghost hunters !!
(Amazon.com product link shortened)30386014&sr=1-1
Too hard for me to cut.
The trouble with most emf meters, they don't tell frequency. With a speaker
at least you hear harmonics. Even 60 hz is difficult or impossible to hear
For a strange hearing experience, I have an ultrasonic leak detector
that listens for the high frequency sound waves caused by escaping gas
from tiny pinholes. It has a bar graph display composed of LED's and an
earphone output for headphones. The circuitry picks up the ultrasound
and converts it to audio in the range of human hearing. A ring of keys
being slightly shaken sounds like wind chimes in the headphones and
rubbing your fingers together lets you hear the sound the ridges and
valleys that make up your fingerprints produce when scratching over each
other. If you ever wondered why shaking keys make dogs go nuts,
you'll know why when listening to the ultrasound through the detector. ^_^
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