Band Conditions

20 March 2019

More Spread Spectrum Info

A few more links for those of you who want to experiment with Spread Spectrum.


Book and Newsletter Update

  • Advance sales for the new book are now closed.  Thank you to everyone who ordered. Delivery will be in May, and then regular sales will go up on Lulu after all the early-birds get their copies.  If you ordered and your address might have changed since ordering, please let me know.
  • For those of you asking about the newsletter, subscriptions are limited to previous Cybertek and Signal-3 subscribers, former students, and friends of mine. If you are in one of those catagories, and your email has changed since you last heard from me, please send me an email.

When people ask, it's only a hobby.

Back around this time of the year in 2014, a few friends and I went to Amherst, MA to go play radio.

I recall some of the ass-clowns on WRSA going off about the Betsy Ross flag and its gold border, ignoring the fact that we did VHF comms out to 90 miles with QRP power levels and modest portable beams (tech is not as important as conspiracy theories to ass-clowns). The flag belonged to a friend who has an interest in American Revolution history, and was simply a decoration. In retrospect I should have taken it as a warning and walked away from that trainwreck of a scene, but then I wouldn't have met all the normal, sane, and truly concerned people whom I helped over the next 5 years.

Now I'm going to point something out that should be pretty obvious. When you are in a state park or other outdoor recreation area with a handheld radio, no one will even look twice at you. Anyone can buy a decent pair of FRS radios at WalMart for $40, and many people believe having them when playing outside is a good idea. Ob the other hand, if you set up a Yagi on a tripod like I did that day, you can expect questions. Sure enough someone inquired about us to a park ranger, who came over and asked us what we were doing.

My answer was that I was working on my portable ham radio setup for an upcoming contest. As it turned out he was not only familiar with ham radio, but also the fact that a few times a year local hams flock to elevated locations a few times a year to participate in various contests and events. He asked why we weren't at one of the usual (higher elevation) spots. I simply replied that we were too lazy to drive all the way up there, and that our current location was OK for a quick test/dry run. We then chatted a bit about the merits of various state parks before he wished us well and went on his way.

This could be an example of what is known in intelligence tradecraft as cover for action/cover for status. It's your stated reason for being where you are and doing what you're doing, regardless of what your actually doing.  I'm sure that if I told him I was "working on down-grid communications for when the UN peacekeepers invade after a false-flag attack", the conversation would have gone south very quickly. Likewise, if I got defensive and used the approach someone in the "sovereign citizen" movement might have used, it would have also ended on a negative note.

Remember, when people ask, it's only a hobby. This is not new advice. One of the elder preparedness authors, Dean Ing, aka the guy who Mel Tappan went to for advice, had this to say:

The best way to approach self-reliance in everyday life seems to be slightly less serious, more easygoing: the hobbyist's approach. You can indulge it longer without tiring of it, so you tend to learn more. You
also don't worry your friends so much; I mean, of course, those improvident right-hearted, wrong-headed friends who think your personal pilot-light has gone out because you intend to affect your own
destiny. When you approach self-reliance as a hobby, somehow it worries the dimwits less while teaching you more.

- Dean Ing, The Chernobyl Syndrome
I've mentioned Dean Ing and used his quote before in a previous post. It bears repeating.

Your TEOTWAWKI Zombie UN Peacekeeper Apocalypse is almost 30 years late. Her ride suffered a blown transmission on the corner of Status Quo Boulevard and Dystopia Drive, and isn't going to make it to the party. You're going to have to dance with Slow Gradual Decline who may not be as good looking, but is still easy on the eyes, a hell of a lot smarter and will make a nice companion if you don't act like a jackass. Those of you who prefer ditzes are probably going to be intimidated by her.

19 March 2019

On Vetting and Interactions With Local Pusedomilitas

Talk about a dichotomy. On one end, a significant purpose of Cybertek, Pine Tree Journal, The Dystonaut, and Ticom Zine was to provide technological survival information that may help people both now and in an uncertain future. And by uncertain, I mean that the great TEOTWAWKI collapse is actually looking more like something out of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged than anything Rawles or any of a dozen writers in the survival genre have come up with. However, there's enough shit hitting the fan to keep anyone busy. Try driving down I-80 west of the Mississippi River on a random winter day if you don't believe me. Or go check out the latest news stories about the heavy weather in the midwest. Who needs zombies or UN invaders when you have blizzards and a three-hour wait at the DMV because all the state workers are demoralized over the fact that their gravy train is about to get derailed due to their employer being bankrupt. One the other end, a number of those I meet who call themselves "preppers", "threepers", and "militia members" are a bunch of fucked-up nutcases and trainwrecks whom I would rather not associate with, because 4-S rule.  However, for every ass-clown I meet, there are also at least one good person who show up that are intelligent, rational, concerned, willing to learn, and could use a little help navigating our current dystopia. So with that said, I find myself surfing various sites and FB groups tossing out bits and pieces here and there, and those good folks wind up finding me. The assclowns, on the other hand, find this material so frightening far outside their paradigm that they'd rather ignore it. That's fine by me, because they often in their willful ignorance become coal mine canaries. For the unaware, a coal mine canary is someone you watch for when they invariably screw up, so you can learn from their mistakes or maybe even get some advance warning. The group that decided to go squat at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge were coal mine canaries of a sort, as were the military service members who were outed on Discord.

So as you know, I'm on FB, and even maintain a group there.  It's friends and former students from the "Sparks31" project/experiment, and we share articles and pictures of radio porn. So far, FB has been more of a help than a hindrance, and as of late the FB market feature lets me know when anyone within driving distance has a radio, military vehicle, or piece of military memorabilia for sale, which is kinda neat even if my want list for those items has become very selective as of late. Regardless, it's a public forum and can safely be used by regular people and semi-public figures such as myself who might maintain a certain level of controversy, but otherwise aren't encouraging people to commit illegal acts or mentioning their desire and/or plans to do the same. With that said, I have always maintained that a certain sociopolitical scene has continually fucked up the implementation of the ballot and soap boxes, and with a shit-poor track record like that, persuing the third option would be more than a little ill-advised.

Anyway, I went to go join a local FB group that had the word "militia" in it, figuring that it was just a public page, and that a few members might be interested in technological survival. Ignorance is a real problem in the walled garden social media has become, and a good solution is to simply throw a couple URLs out there so people become less ignorant. Especially when you're offering free local classes and electronics clinics. I was messaged by an individual who asked me:
"Why are you interested in joining the r@??64E:4FE |:=:E:2? Do you have a specific skill or talent that you offer to provide our group? We have monthly training sessions. Three times a year we have a weekend bivouac with training topics as well. Do you intend to be an active member? Do you have a CT Carry Permit? Do you belong to a Gun club or shooting range? Thank you"
That seems an awful lot to ask for someone wanting to join a message group on public social media forum. It almost makes me wonder if they are using the FB group for communications that are best left off a public forum, and no matter what your group settings, it's still a public forum. That, or maybe the guy running the show is a member of the 4S club.

After a brief communication with the individual who was tasked with "vetting" prospects, I discovered the last name of the "Commandant" was "q6CF36." From there you might guess what I did. A quick search of "q6CF36" with "Connecticut" and "militia" netted me a first name of "#@?" and some articles about disaster relief work the group did. OK, kudos for them right off the bat. I also determined the general area where the head of the organization lived. So far nothing particularly interesting. I then went one level deeper.

A google search of "#@?2=5 q6CF36" with the discovered city name netted:

  • A January, 2013 police blotter report of a person with that name being arrested for failure to comply with quarantine, obstructing animal control officer, nuisance dog, failure to vaccinate, unlicensed dog.
  •  A November, 2014 police blotter report of a person with that name being arrested for interfering with an officer, sale of a hallucinogen or narcotic, dispensing a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a school, public housing project or daycare center.
  • A May, 2018 police blotter report of a person with that name being arrested for sixth-degree larceny, simple trespass.
As you may know, criminal conviction and case information is public knowledge in most instances. Checking the CT Judicial Branch website, I found the following convictions for an individual named #@?2=5 q6CF36:
21a-279(c) Pos Cntrd Sbst/1/2To<4Oz Marij
21a-279(c) Pos Cntrd Sbst/1/2To<4Oz Marij
14-215a Il Opn Mv Under 14-140 Suspnsn

I also found the following pending cases, all awaiting a plea:

Now barring further investigation, one does not know for certain that #@?2=5 q6CF36 affiliated with the organization in question is the same #@?2=5 q6CF36 whose information I discovered in the Judical Branch website. However, the fact that the name is identical should definitely raise a flag and warrant a little more in depth look before deciding to affiliate with said organization and individual.

On Gab

14 March 2019

Receiver IF/LO Hunting

A discussion got started on another blog, and was cut short because the owner has a limit on how long comments stay open.

I first played around with this stuff back in the 1980s. One of the local hams sold me a Stoddart NM-20A for the then princely sum of $50. I later picked up an NM-30A.

First time I played with it, I thought "holy shit."  The thing would pick up colorburst and CPU signals at surprisingly and scary long distances. As a bonus, it also served as a pretty good shortwave receiver.

Many years later, I recall hearing on one of my receivers a local radio station on a frequency that it shouldn't have been heard on. I became really concerned when I heard the same music downstairs. A little sleuthing later and I discovered I was hearing the fifth harmonic of the cheap China-made boombox's LO. Not only was I hearing the LO, but the filtering was so poor that it was bleeding the received station's audio back into the LO.

I haven't screwed around with this sort of thing in many years, don't trust my recall, and only Odin himself knows where my original notes are. Time to fire up some test equipment in the lab and do proper research. I suspect with the continued cheapening of electronics, that the research might prove to be even more interesting.

For now, here is something written by a fellow hobbyist from England, back in 1990.

By Nigel Ballard
28 Maxwell Road, Winton, Bournemouth,
Dorset, BH9 1DL, England.
5 August 1990

Firstly, what is an 'I.F.'? Well, incoming signals to any modern radio
are mixed with a fixed internal signal , these are produced by a circuit
known as a local oscillator. Your incoming signal mixes with the fixed
internal signal and produces an Intermediate Frequency, or I.F.

The I.F. frequency always operates above or below the incoming
frequency. If the incoming occurred at the exact same frequency
as your receivers I.F., then your receiver would find this an impossible
signal to detect. As an example, many cheaper receivers have the all
important first I.F. at 10.7MHz, if you had a bug operating in your room on that exact frequency, then your average receiver would not aware of it's existence. This is not a BIRDIE in the classical sense, more a non-usable frequency. A normal Birdie is simply a dead channel caused by internally generated noise in the rf circuits. This 10.7MHz frequency is not blanked by internal noise, but simply dead because it falls on the same frequency that the I.F. operates on.

The I.F. frequency is thus generated, not by adding them together, but
by taking one from the other. The resultant freq is known as the first
I.F. frequency. Dependent on the radio type, and where in the spectrum
you are monitoring, the Local Oscillator may be operating above or below the received signal. Although we need to know the frequency of the radio's first I.F., it is the Local Oscillator's output we are interested in.

You don't have to have vast experience of TEMPEST and the like, to know that any piece of equipment that is turned on and uses crystal
controlled or ceramically resonated circuits, generates spurious output. Put an antenna on to this piece of supposedly dormant equipment, and you now have unwanted radiations, in effect when your radio or scanner is switched on and connected to an antenna, you are constantly transmitting a signal, small it may be, but it is there! And if an amateur like me can receive them at up to 50 feet, then how far can the pro's get! 'BULLSHIT' you say!

If I shoot the breeze in general terms for a while, just to convince you
that your Bearcat (example) scanner sat in your bedroom listening on one specific frequency, COULD be a dead giveaway to the authorities.

You don't need to convince the forces of both east and west that this
principle of detection works, they have been using it and trying to
defeat it in their own radio's for years and years.

In the UK, all handhelds used by the Police walking the beat are between 451.00 and 453.00MHz NFM, no ifs or buts, that's the band limits that they all operate in (London is excluded from this). Suppose you knew that the first I.F. of the latest Motorola radio's they used were 24MHz. Now suppose you came across an officer who just refused to key his radio up so that you could scan the 451 to 453 area with your scanner. Not daunted by this, you set your scanner to scan 24MHz below this band, i.e. 427.00 to 429.00MHz. Getting as close to your target as possible with a reasonable scanner using an external antenna tuned to this band, you proceed to tune over his L.O. output. If his radio is switched on, and he is NOT currently transmitting, as soon as you tune over his L.O. your scanner will stop on a weak but constant low tone. If your target then transmits the tone will disappear, as the L.O. can only be picked up in receive. Make a note of the L.O., say it was 428.500, add the original I.F. shift of 24MHz and hey presto you now have the EXACT frequency he is sat on. I make it 452.500. It is now a simple case of sitting on that spot until he decides to talk.

Well get a friend with a h/held to let you try it out. All you need is
the radio's first I.F.. Remember in a previous article I told you to
collect all the leaflets on PMR radio's you could, well most of the
catalogues will tell you the first I.F. of each and every radio they
sell. Pretty sneaky eh!

Why do you think that our lot have a pre-occupation in getting hold of
the latest radio's from their lot. Well firstly there is the overall
capability of the radio. Then there is the RADIO SIGNATURE, each and every type of radio ever produced, gives a unique if not slight, radio signature, the right equipment can tell the exact model of radio
transmitting. Further analysis by computer can even tell a particular
radio from another radio of the exact same type and model. Very handy if the net is encrypted, thus no voice patterns can be analysed. Military producers go to great lengths to try and set all radio's up as close together as possible, thus reducing the possibility of radio

The radio analyst's Then connect a standard combat antenna to the radio and see how far away they can detect the L.O., the better the radio, the more it will have been suppressed. And of course, the first I.F. is recorded and passed around to the specialist units whose job it is to work out where the enemy is listening.

Just as an antenna increases it's TX output and RX input as you increase the gain. The same applies to the L.O. output. Take any Russian embassy, our boys will not be far away with the most sensitive receivers known to man. Not just hunting for their next transmission, that's child's play with spectrum analysers and panadaptors. The trick now is to find out WHAT they are listening to. Don't be fooled by all those antenna's on embassy roofs, it's 50% talking and 50% listening to domestic traffic. And I don't necessarily mean distant military exercises, they have their own FERRET SATS for that, I mean the Senator that's a bit too descriptive on his car phone etc etc. And please don't think the Russians are the bad boys, no sir, we do it just as much and just as well, if not a little better. Western monitoring technology being what it is!

The cheaper the radio, the greater the chances that the L.O. omissions
will be greater. Some domestic scanners put out a horrendous signal that can be detected streets away. So in future don't think that just because you're not transmitting, that no one can tell who, or on what frequency you are monitoring, because they CAN!

Ever read those dear BOB letters in the back of MT? "Dear Bob, why when cellular is on 800MHz does My ****** scanner also pick them up on 900Mhz?" The answer always comes back, "well fred, it's the old low I.F. giving false images" The rule of thumb is, the higher the first I.F., the greater the change of your receiver filtering out the false images, overloading and general crud found in cheapo scanners.

Once again that's about it. I could have gone much deeper into this subject, but I value my freedom too much. If you have an inquisitive nature, then try and think of some other ways this principle could be put to good use.



p.s. To those of you not in the know, TEMPEST is the military term used to describe case emissions from both civilian and military equipment used in the armed services. Take an ordinary computer, it's emissions can be picked up blocks away. In step's a tempest specialist. Case's are sprayed with nickel and coated in foil. All wires are screened. All cables are wrapped around ferrite rings. VDU screens have transluscent conductive film glued to them. Peripherals, especially printers get similar treatment, including soundproofing, this is because just like the unique signature made my a radio,
printers, especially dot matrix types are a real give-away. Finally,
the equipment is run through a series of stringent TEMPEST approval trials. If it passes then the military can buy it, and the specialist company has a  license to print money.

Remember, security Doesn't come cheap!

13 March 2019

Guns. Open thread.

I always like to bitch about M4 clones as it seems to be the default small arm of choice by certain types I often detest. Actually, I ran a CAR-15 clone as a homestead gun out west since most of the time I was dealing with feral dogs and coyotes at 200 yards max. Always had something .30 caliber nearby in case I needed to reach out further. Since they are illegal in my current state, I traded it before I moved back for a car, and a .410 shotgun for my wife. It was just a tool. In retrospect I should have bought one of those short Ruger bolt guns in .223 or that mag-fed Henry, but if you buy the Henry you might as well just get it in .243, no?

I've got a serious fetish for Enfields and especially lever guns. I suppose I was a Brooklyn Cowboy long before moving out west, but if all you're doing is going after is whitetail and black bear in the Northeast, what more do you need?

Not sure about the need, but I want something in .35 Remington.

Your turn. Keep it civil please.

Free Classes

This is for my New England readers.

I am a member of a hackerspace in Connecticut. You know the one.

I'm willing to do short free classes on various topics I'm semi-qualified to talk about. Like building simple antennas or basic RF test equipment.

The only cost would be a donation (as you see fit) to the space. A few bucks would do.

Unlike my out of state classes, which cost me some $$$ to set up, the overhead of doing a short class at the space is almost non-existent, and helping support them would be a good thing.

Let me know.