Strange transmission from city water telemetry transmitter?

Joined
Apr 22, 2020
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14
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PortlandMetro-area
I was scanning for frequencies a neighborhood and I heard some random transmissions that could just be noise. Then I got another transmission that sounded like Morse code. I looked up the frequency and I got a license from the city water service(WQAQ299). I walked to the coordinates of one of the antenna locations and I didn't see a antenna poking out. One of my theories is that it could be a device that measures how much water people are using and it reports it back to the city, but there is a person who physically checks each meter once in a while so I discount the first theory. My second theory is that it is a device that measures water quality and sends that data to the city via radio.

Video recording:
 

mmckenna

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Jul 27, 2005
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SNCZCA01DS0
Looking at the FCC license, I was able to locate a few of the sites using Google Maps. A few of them had boxes nearby with a pole and a UHF Yagi antenna. Looks like they used the street address of a nearby house...

Likely it's a control system. Might be switching pumps on/off. Could be periodically sending flow values.

Residential water meters are usually a 900MHz system, use cellular, or someone wanders around and checks meters (meter reader).

If you look at the FCC license application, it shows:
90.35A1 - APPLICANT IS ENGAGED IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF WATER TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC​
 

Golay

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Apr 28, 2016
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Nankin Township, Michigan
.... One of my theories is that it could be a device that measures how much water people are using and it reports it back to the city, but there is a person who physically checks each meter once in a while so I discount the first theory. My second theory is that it is a device that measures water quality and sends that data to the city via radio ....

It's very possible it's both remotely sent, and physcially read. With my water meter, the billings toggle back and forth between actually being looked at, and the water department drives down the street with a mag mount on the truck.
 

bharvey2

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Mar 12, 2014
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That's a cable TV distribution tap.

I looked at a few of the location and found UHF Yagi's on poles.

Yep, I see those a lot in my area too. They're usually nice yagis. I'm surprise that more of them aren't "repurposed". I obtained an unneeded one (yes, legitimately) for the 800mhz band that works great for monitoring the EBRCS public safety system in my area.
 

majoco

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Dec 25, 2008
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New Zealand
Quite a few in my local area - they have notices on them explaining that they are measuring the water table and send data back to the local council offices.
 

kb7gjy

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Feb 13, 2011
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255
Location
Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Some also send alerts to the water department during high flow (IE open fire hydrant, broken main, etc).

We have tripped alarms before when pulling water from a rural hydrant and had the water department come and check in with us. They said it trips alarms in the control room and they are required to make sure they don't have a main break.
 
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