Band Conditions

14 December 2018

Communications Networks and a Roaming Beagle

Our beagle got lose yesterday.  I had just finished working on something for the upcoming classes, and looked out the window to see her cross the front yard and start walking up the road. I grab two HTs, run outside, hand one to my wife with an explanation, and start after the dog. After about 20 minutes of no success, we post up an escaped dog message on one of the "[our_town] talks" FB message boards.  One of our fellow residents points us to a recent (about 10 minutes old) post on another town talk FB group from a good Samaritan who found our dog. A few text messages later, and we're driving down the road to get our roaming mutt back.

Communications networks need participants to work.  While FRS was good for two people coordinating a search for a wandering dog, I could call out a request on any channel until I was blue in the face, and the chances (at present) of getting a reply would be minimal at best. A post to the right FB group however, and we had our dog back in an hour, thanks to two people we didn't know, but were community-minded nevertheless. FB is far from perfect, however.  While it has extensive community participation, and is easy to join, it runs on privately-owned third-party equipment, and on an infrastructure that is known to suffer localized failures during a disaster. The solution is to generate increased local participation on a resilient peer-to-peer infrastructure. Fortunately, someone has already started such a thing.
AmRRON/TAPRN has established a system for establishing local communications networks called the CH3 Project. It uses five readily-available radio services. Three require no license (MURS, CB, FRS), one requires a license obtainable by only paying a nominal fee (GMRS), and the other rerquires the entry-level Technician class Amateur Radio License (146.420 MHz. in the 2 meter ham band). Certain locations have already established nets, and there is nothing stopping you and your group from establishing on in your area.

12 December 2018

Watching The Skies

 
I was outside earlier, and heard an aircraft fly overhead. This is a normal occurrence around here because we live right on top of and next to a few air traffic lanes. How about you? Do you know where your local air traffic lanes are located, and what frequencies they use for communications? This information is important as a change in air traffic, determined by the change in communications level and tempo, may be an indicator, depending on what you're looking for.

Skyvector has online aeronautical sectional and enroute charts that will show you your local air traffic lanes and the communications frequencies used with them.  When used with ADS-B ELINT, you get a pretty interesting picture of what's going on above you.

09 December 2018

Brevity Codes

http://www.angelfire.com/va3/navy_mars/ACP131.pdf

Useful reference.

LLVI - Low Level Voice Intercept

That intercept operator from the 513th MI Brigade is using an AOR AR8200. A good choice for a wideband portable if you can afford it. Considering what some of you spend on an M4orgery that won't see half the action a communications receiver in the hands of a competent operative will see, the AOR is a bargain. However, now that events have gone to a slow boil in the US, and that this is a come-as-you-are party, you just have to run what you brung.

Low-Level Voice Intercept (LLVI) is exactly what what the name implies. It's performing point and sector searches for voice communications, and something scanner hobbyists have been doing for decades. Even if all you have is a cheap Chinese HT, you can still run LLVI as it receives the VHF-high and UHF land mobile bands just fine. I've actually had students in previous classes do that, and they managed just fine.

Here are some examples of less-expensive gear you'd use for LLVI. The receiver on the left is a Whistler WS1040. No surprises there. It covers all the necessary bands, does P25 Phase I, trunking, and has Spectrum Sweeper. To the right is an Alinco dual-band (2m/440) HT that has some extended receive coverage up to ~900 MHz. They both have 1/8" audio jacks for plugging in headphones. I run them right into my amplified shooting earmuffs that conveniently have a 1/8" audio jack input. It serves both to keep the noise level down at a field LP, and let you hear what's going on around you. A notebook for logging and keeping useful reference material handy. Spare batteries, writing instrument, and something to hold it all that I found at a local army/navy store.

Go visit Radioreference.com to get frequency data for your point and sector searches, use online mapping will show you places that are located above your average terrain for listening. Gear up, take a quick hike, do some listening, and enjoy the view.

That's all there is to it.

08 December 2018

Connecticut Commo Class


Just a reminder that we are one month out from the Basic Grid-Down/Down-Grid Communications, Communications Monitoring, and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Class on January 6th. in Watertown, CT.


Sparks31 returns to New England.
Basic Grid-Down/Down-Grid Communications, Communications Monitoring, and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Class
January 6th, 2019, 0800-1800 EST
Watertown, CT
Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether communications between people (communications intelligence—abbreviated to COMINT) or from electronic signals not directly used in communication (electronic intelligence—abbreviated to ELINT). Signals intelligence is a subset of intelligence collection management.

This is a one-day class that covers all the basics you need to set up your monitoring post, collect signals intelligence (SIGINT), get on the air with amateur radio and personal communications services (FRS, GMRS, MURS, CB, Part 15), and establish communications networks and interoperability with other like-minded individuals.

Topics of instruction include the following:
  • Learning about Electronic Communications - A Primer
  • Communications Monitoring HF-to-UHF
  • Intelligence versus Information
    • Intelligence Requirements
  • SIGINT - Signals Intelligence
  • Listening Posts and SIGINT Operations
  • Communications Services
    • Amateur Radio
    • Part 95 & 15 (license-free or "license by rule" services)
  • Communications Networks
    • Interoperability - What it is, and how to make it work.
  •  Increasing System Performance
    • Antennas
  • Grid-Down versus Down-Grid Realities
  • Basic Crypto Systems and When It Is Legal to Use Them
  • Alternatives to Radio Communications
Cost for this class is $100. Please enroll via our storefront at https://squareup.com/store/sparks31/.
See you in class!

MONEX AAR

I would like to thank everyone who has submitted their reports so far.  There is
still plenty of time for the rest of you to submit yours. Bonus points to those of you who used the contact form on the right with a Mailinator return address. That shows you've been paying attention.

In the meantime, we have this wonderful article from the Atlantic:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/presidential-emergency-powers/576418/

It sure sucks when someone you don't like is in charge, doesn't it?

07 December 2018

MONEX End

The MONEX has ended. Please submit your logs at your earliest convenience. Logs must be submitted NLT than 15DEC2018 - 0000 UTC to qualify for class drawing.

MONEX Start

The MONEX has now begun.

05 December 2018

Stuff

Was at the local Walmart this evening. Found the following items of interest.

12V 7.5AH SLABS for $23.83 each in sporting goods next to the trail cams. I still use SLABs when on a budget, weight is not an issue, and charging arrangements are odd. Unlike more modern battery chemistries, SLABs are very tolerant when it comes to charging them in a field expedient manner.

My standard go-to these days for offline writing and diagramming. 97 cents each in the office/school supplies. USA made. Get one for the MONEX this week, and make it your first LP/lab notebook. Bring one to class.