Band Conditions

20 March 2019

More Spread Spectrum Info

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

https://www.qsl.net/n9zia/fhss/index.html

http://sss-mag.com/hamss.html


 

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:
53a-110a SIMPLE TRESPASS
51-164r(a) FLR TO RESPOND TO INFRACTION
53a-173 FAILURE TO APPEAR 2ND DEG
22-358(c) FLR COMPLY ANIMAL QUARANTINE
22-363 POSSESS VICIOUS/BARKING DOG
22-339b NO DOG/CAT RABIES VACCINATION
22-349 FLR COMPLY DOG OWNERSHIP REQS
53a-173 FAILURE TO APPEAR 2ND DEG

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

https://gab.ai/Ticom

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.

RECEIVER HUNTING USING THE 'I.F.' PRINCIPLE
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.

I'M RECEIVING, BUT I'M ALSO TRANSMITTING....SAY WHAT!
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!

OKAY DISBELIEVERS
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.

THE MILITARY
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.

EXAMPLE TIME
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.

STILL UNCONVINCED?
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!

BACK TO THE MILITARY
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
signaturing.

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.

ANTENNA GAIN
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!

BACK TO THE BASICS
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!

THE DOWN SIDE
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.

HAPPY SCANNING

BEST REGARDS Nigel.

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.

Day Job Work

I don't usually talk about what I do during the day, because compartmentalization is a good thing. With that said, I've worked or contracted in the past for Motorola, Raytheon, MCI, United Technologies, and General Dynamics to name a few. Most of the time it had to do with electronic communications, a few times doing working on some minor defense projects.  All those gigs BTW were decades ago, and of minor consequence in the grand scheme of things now. I was also offered, but did not accept, a job working for Kurt Saxon. 

So here is what I'm currently working with:

https://www.karo-electronics.de/tx-standard.html

Tiny Linux computers for embedded applications.

The development kit is a little spendy, and this isn't a recommendation.  However you are now aware of something maybe new to you. This is something you might find on some retired engineer's estate table at a hamfest. They are also in a common electronic device used by many corporations, so you will find them in the wild.

I'll leave potential applications of a really tiny Linux computer up to your imagination.

12 March 2019

It was all really about the tech.

I started this thing, originally, in 1990.  It has only been for about the past 4-5 years that I worked on the experiment that has been known as "Sparks31."

Sparks31 originally started because I wrote a couple small articles for the SFU, having met one of the editors of The Resistor through a third party, whose ODA I taught how to phone phreak back in 2001 or so during one very cool drill weekend.

"Sparks" is the nickname of a radio operator. "31" was the Army Signal Corps MOS identifier, although the people who fix the radios are actually in the Ordinance Corps. Since "Sparks" is too common a moniker, it became "Sparks31."

In the past 4-5 years I met a lot of cool people. I also met a lot of asshats. I was thrown into a bitchfest between certain bloggers back in 2014-15 who all wanted me to pick a side. My advice at the time to all of them at the time was to ignore the others and concentrate on their own stuff, which they promptly disregarded.  I had the Oathkeepers come to my classes so they could reuse my material without so much as a thank you or giving me credit. I've had people attempt to discuss illegal matters in my class, resulting in me having to say at the beginning of each class, "Don't say anything in this class you wouldn't repeat under oath on a witness stand."

I'm glad I'm almost done with throwing 30 years worth of pearls at swine. All that's left are two more classes, a book, and Signal-3, which will resume under a different name. To those of you who were cool enough to support me and patiently wait for the next release, thank you! If your email has changed over the years please let me know. If you think the new format is going to offend your sensibilities, email me and I'll send you a refund for the remaining subscription. Likewise, if you signed up for a class and now want a refund, let me know and I'll make it happen.

If you want basic comms stuff, go find an elmer at a local ham club. If you live within driving distance of Waterbury, CT you can come to my free basic classes at the local hackerspace and I'll be your elmer. If you want more experimental R&D type learning, come to my class. If you're really smart, but poor, get in touch with me and I'll help you out.

You know, in retrospect, the pirate radio operators I knew who were affiliated with the anarchist scene in NYC in the late 1980s/early 1990s were a hell of a lot cooler, less uptight, and had their act together better than most of the threepers, oathkeepers, and other similar types I've come across as of late. They were at least willing to look outside their paradigm. Hell, my fellow EHS classmates to a person were cooler and had their act together better. I could at least have a beer and intelligent conversation with them.

Anyway, I don't want to end this post on a sour note, so here is some SDR info.

From what I have seen, the top two contenders for wideband SDR transceivers are the HackRFOne and the LimeSDR. So, for those of you considering one those are the two you'll probably want to look at.

https://greatscottgadgets.com/hackrf/

https://limemicro.com/products/boards/limesdr/

There might be others that are just as good. Look around.

Most of my "weak signal" ham buddies have picked the LimeSDR. FWIW, I have a HackRFOne because one of my cooler students swapped it for a class slot. I think either one would be a good choice for you, the reader, because they both have a lot of hobbyist support.

If you have one of these, you should at least have a Tech class ham license so you have some spectrum to legally play in with it.

Finally, please note new blog address.

-T

11 March 2019

zn414



A simple chip to work with, although only good up to 3 MHz or so. Hobbyist reports indicate the sensitivity may still be adequate enough above 3 MHz. to hear some of the higher-powered shortwave broadcasters.

Google it.

This would be a good place for a beginner to start.


Or someone ready to do real radio and roll their own gear.


Finding Learning Tools at Target

I visited a Target store a couple days ago, and found these while wandering through the electronics section:





Three different RaspberryPi kits. Walk in, pay with anonymous cash, and it's yours.

When I started learning about computers, it was with a 2K Timex Sinclair 1000 that cost $100 in 1983 money. Now you can get something orders of (the) magnitude better for a third of the cost, in 2019 money.


Why is this important?

If you are serious about state-of-the-art electronic communications systems for ultimate future use, and want to start with self-study, this is one of the platforms I recommend. Several hobbyists have mated this with various SDRs, and you can find their work via a Google search.

This is an example of the stuff I'll be teaching at upcoming classes. When the instructor has over 30 years of professional and hobbyist experience, you can expect significantly more than a weekend of basic stuff that you can learn by joining your local ham club, participating in Field Day, and keeping your mouth shut. If you do need help with that stuff because you can't find a good elmer,, come to one of my free basic classes in Connecticut and I'll be your Elmer.

Or you can be like this guy.

Don't be that guy. Be this guy instead.
Because applied knowledge is power.
https://amzn.to/2Vm01zt
I know. Dressing like a real-world human being and learning about specialized electronics isn't as sexy as strapping on an M4orgey with all the assorted tactical fooferaw and getting in some camerman's face, armed with something that it easily outclassed in the high desert by a common varmint rifle, let alone an M24 in capable hands.



09 March 2019

Lynchburg, VA Sparks31 Class - June 1-2, 2019

Sparks31 Technology, Communications, and Intelligence (TICOM) Class

Lynchburg, VA
June 1-2, 2019



This intensive two-day class covers instruction on Technology, Intelligence, and Communications. Subject matter includes intelligence preparation to support SIGINT, signals & communications intelligence (SIGINT & COMINT), open source intelligence (OSINT), communications systems available for groups and individuals, communications interoperability, electronic surveillance systems/countermeasures, and related support technology.

Learn how to identify your intelligence requirements, how to really identify and then bypass "fake news" as it applies to your intelligence requirements, collect intelligence information via SIGINT, COMINT, & OSINT, what communications services/systems are available to you & the advantages/disadvantages of each, and how to interoperate with ad hoc assemblies of groups and individuals in a "come as you are" scenario.


This is a class suitable for both renaissance individuals looking to expand their skill base, or a group's "go-to" person for tech-type stuff. No equipment is required to attend, but attendees are encouraged to "come as you are" with whatever gear you have. You will have an opportunity to play with it Saturday night and Sunday, iron out bugs, and see how well you can interoperate with others. Otherwise, this class is best for people who have some electronic communications and tech experience as we get into some advanced material.

The early bird rate (expires April 1st, 2019) for this class is $300 for individuals, $500 for two people. I encourage you to bring your spouse, significant other, war buddy, or whomever to come learn with you. Enroll via https://squareup.com/store/sparks31/.


07 March 2019

Learning Stuff

What is it?

What can it do?

Google it.

This is stuff you need to know.

If you want to learn more, come to class.

04 March 2019

A Question via WRSA

An anonymous commenter on WRSA asked:

"Which band do you recommend learning about for ultimate future use? 3 MHz and vehicle-sized magloops for NVIS? CB band because gray man? 900 Mhz or 2 Ghz or 5 GHz because small antennas and directional?"
I don't recommend any particular band. For ultimate future use, I suggest having your group/tribe pool funds to send their smartest member to school for an electrical engineering degree. That member will hopefully then be able to design a custom system for your group/tribe based on your specific needs, as well as other useful things. The system at the very least should be spread spectrum, encrypted, highly directional, and using the minimum amount of RF output power needed to establish reliable communications over the distance needed.

If the environment is really non-permissive, then stay off RF.

Scenarios


Over the years, I've taught students who've had different reasons for coming to class, based on what scenarios they believed would unfold in the future. With that said, my earliest prediction put a total collapse of the United States at six years with the shit hitting the fan in 1996. At the time, I wasn't alone in that prediction either. Several of us in the movement agreed with that assessment. That was over twenty years ago, and we are amazed the powers that be are able to keep kicking the can down the road this long. Funny, however that the early global warming predictions were similarly pessimistic and also wrong. That's not to say that everything has been great, but it has been more like what Ayn Rand wrote about in Atlas Shrugged than in any recent prepper fiction.  That's why I say that if you were looking for a piece of fiction to base your preps on, your best bet would be When Autumn Leaves Fall. Beyond that, your next two reads should be One Acre and Security, and Live Off the Land in the City and Country.


These three reads are just an example of the type of material that's applicable to you no matter what scenario you envision now or in the future, because general self-reliance and preparedness is always a good first step.

When it comes to radio stuff, the same concept applies. There are things that you can (and should) do no matter what scenario you envision or what your situation is. The big one is communications monitoring.

Where I live, and in many other places (especially rural), an inexpensive 1970s-1980s vintage multiband radio is still perfectly adequate for listening to the local fire dispatch channel. I find these for under $20 at hamfests. As a bonus, they'll also tune international shortwave broadcasts so you can get a different perspective on news and current events than what the domestic establishment mass media machine puts out. Just by having the capability to receive those two sources, you've greatly increased your ability to know what's going on around you no matter what you think might happen in the future.



As I'm writing this, a winter storm had just passed thorough the region, and I'm listening to recovery efforts within a 20 mile or so radius on a common police scanner. Lots of public works/highway department traffic involving snow removal, and police/EMS responses to weather-related traffic accidents. In most areas of the US, you are be able to monitor local public safety and business land mobile radio traffic which will give you a very detailed picture of what's happening right now in your area.

Also programmed into this scanner is a bank of channels known as indicators. They are generally quiet unless something big is happening. Last night, I picked up a multi-agency response a few towns over. Further monitoring told me it was a large structure fire at a supermarket and nothing of concern for my area of interest. If the incident was something closer, industrial, and upwind from me then the matter would have been more concerning.

So regardless of what you think the future may hold, doing a little communications monitoring to know what's going on around you is always a good idea. Sparks31 Technology, Intelligence, and Communications Classes are being held across the country this year, and will help you get up to speed.

02 March 2019

Basic Training, or How Not To Be A Black Pill Ballchinian

I visited a bookstore today. This is part of an important bi-weekly routine I have been doing for the past 36 years. I don't always buy something, but I peruse the periodicals and non-fiction selections, and observe. If the store has a cafe, I'm the guy there people watching while nursing a cappuccino. If you found a microSD card in a book you bought, you're welcome. It was probably me or one of my operatives that put it there. Polemic and the means to keep one's thoughts private, electronically. 

Today was a good day, and I came home with two items. Here they are:

The magazine is a regular read. Probably the best survivalist magazine out there in that it's full of practical information instead of advertising.

The book is part of what I will be calling my "basic training" selections. It is not political or paramilitary, but it doesn't need to be. It has a far more important purpose in teaching basic observation and documentation, among other things perhaps. 

I was reading another blog today, and came across the term "black pill." Since I have a life and spend most of my time in the real world, I actually had to look it up and there went 30 seconds that I'll never get back. 

My advice to anyone contemplating following that red/blue/black pill psychobabble is to visit a bookstore, wander around the asiles randomly until the voice in your head tells you to stop, and buy the first book that catches your eye for more than a few seconds. Then go have a coffee with the book and wait for some nerdy girl to chat you up. Congratulations, you now have a date. It might take a few tries, but the best girls are the ones that frequent bookstores.

Go out into the world. Observe and learn. Take on some self-reliance and preparedness hobbies that might get you laid by a cute nerdy girl. Get yourself a life you can enjoy, instead of being a black pill ballchinian. If the shit hits the fan you'll be ready. If it doesn't in your lifetime, that's a bonus.

26 February 2019

It's not as sexy as an M4orgery, but it's more important.

When the whole militia movement was getting started in the 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have met the late Roger Cravens, whom some of you might remember from the old Patriots Information Mailing List. While Roger never directly contributed any material to Cybertek, he definitely helped out behind the scenes with a lot of stuff.

Cybertek... In 1990, after seeing way too much that could not be unseen, I started this little technological survival publication with the following message:

Cybertek exists because its producer feels that we are sliding downward to become more and more of a totalitarian society, and that part of the solution to this problem is to impart knowledge and information which is essential for people to have if they desire to exist as free citizens in a free country.  An ignorant populace is very easy for a tyrant to keep down, but people who are knowledgeable in the ways and means to live independently and fight totalitarianism are impossible for despotic state to have control over.  As James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, once said, "A people to mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."
Roger worked in an S3 shop in Vietnam. He turned me on to this system called JOPES - Joint Operation Planning and Execution System. JOPES is important because in essence it's a planning checklist, and helps you discover things you might have missed. By now you might have guessed that beans and bullets alone won't cut it. He was going to make me a copy of his old JOPES manuals, but this was back in the early days of OSINT, and I managed to find PDFs of them online and instead sent him updated versions of this manuals to cross-reference with the old ones. Wasn't much difference in the basic material, by the way. A Google search of "JOPES PDF" will still find what I found 20 years ago.

Proper planning prevents piss poor performance. It keeps you from making obvious mistakes, and helps you gain a realistic view and outlook on matters of importance.  Those of you who have attended a recent class have seen this picture in the presentation:
I use this picture as an example as a gross OPSEC and COMSEC violation, because when you zoom in on it, you see this:

MURS Channel 3 is part of a nationwide interoperability frequency plan created by AmRRON. If you are familiar with the term, you know that interoperability frequencies are not supposed to be operational frequencies. You should also know that operational frequencies should not be on lists like those found at https://radiofreeq.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/patriot-radio-channels/ and https://radiofreeq.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/militia-radio-frequencies/.

Going beyond showing everyone with halfway decent IMGINT capability what's your frequency, further investigation via the worlds greatest OSINT aid brings up these gems.
Nothing says "gross security error" more than trying to stop a video camera only to only have someone else take nice stills of you that not only shows your face and profile, but also what your kit looks like. Speaking of gear, planning also includes long term logistics so you don't have to send out a request asking for supplies like this one: https://starvinlarry.com/2016/01/10/from-carol-bundy-how-you-can-help-the-patriots-in-oregon/.

Now take a look at this guy:
Just minding his own business, reading his paper in a coffee shop, right? Well, that might depend on who is sitting near him, and what they're talking about. That nice watch on his wrist might be one of these:


And the people the next table over might be a local totalitarian political action group having a nice discussion over lunch.

I know. Dressing like a real-world human being and doing the planning and intelligence thing isn't as sexy as strapping on an M4orgey with all the assorted tactical fooferaw and getting in some camerman's face, armed with something that it easily outclassed in the high desert by a common varmint rifle, let alone an M24 in capable hands.

18 February 2019

Learning Electronics and Fixing CBs

A member of our FB group had posted up a question about learning electronics with a first goal towards being able to fix CB gear. That's a good idea, as I predict that 27 MHz. CB will become the retro jungle telegraph for non-technical down-grid and other marginalized types looking to escape the Internet and concentrate their efforts locally.

CB requires no individual/family license in the US, and has 40 channels that'll give you a consistent 15-20 mile range depending on local terrain and the quality of your setup. The secret, like any other radio service, is putting up a decent antenna. Many CBers have had positive experiences with the Solarcon A-99 half-wave vertical antenna.




If you are just starting out in electronics, I have found the best book for a total beginner to be Getting Started In Electronics, by Forrest M Mims III.

It's the book that got me started 36 years ago.

CBs are a good start for learning how to fix radios. They are common and can be bought cheaply on the used market. Look for older models. The newer ones use surface mount devices and while you can work on them, the older stuff with discrete thru-hole components is easier for beginners. The tools needed to work on the older stuff is cheaper and more readily available.

The #1 book for learning how to work on CBs is The Screwdriver Experts Guide, by Lou Franklin.  The asshole used book vendors on Amazon think their copies are made of gold, but you can buy it new directly from the author at www.cbcintl.com/segbook.htm.

A lot of the older CB gear can be shifted in frequency to operate on the 12, 10, and even 6 Meter ham bands, so when you and your buddies get your ham tickets you can take some of that 11 meter gear and repurpose it.  There were a number of "CB to..." articles in the back issues of 73 Magazine.

If you are interested in more formal personalized instruction in this sort of thing, please consider attending one of my classes.

16 February 2019

Radios

Many beginners, when faced with purchasing their first communications gear, invariably wind up buying cheap Chicom handhelds because that's what the masses have been getting. They then put them on a shelf thinking they will become proficient with them when the great TEOTWAWKI Zombie Apocalypse (tm) occurs. They are what we would call in the Army a "NO-GO" when it comes to communications. Commo is one of those basic things that you should be using now and regularly so you can become proficient in its use for when you actually need it.
 
Personal intra-group radios need to be uncomplicated, rugged, and reliable. That eliminates the common Chicom ham radio handhelds. There is no one one-size-fits all solution when it comes to comms, and you have to figure out some specific requirements when it comes to your communications needs. I offer classes that teach this sort of thing, based on my 35 years of working with radio and electronic communications. Here are a few possible solutions.


Until recently, my wife and I used commonly available FRS handhelds for short-range communications around the homestead. Why would a commo expert use them? They were cheap, simple to use, and LPI when you're only running 500mW into a small antenna in an extreme rural environment. They were also disposable and therefore no big loss if they were dropped in a run and livestock stepped on them. Since moving to a more densely-populated area we've since upgraded to MURS.


MURS is a nice suburban/rural license-free service. It has five channels on the VHF-high band with two-watts output power and an option to encrypt.  Range is similar to what you would get with a typical 2-meter HT.


Here is the currently gold standard in MURS radios. The Motorola RMM2050 operates on the five VHF-high band license-free MURS channels. Unlike the Chicom HTs everyone claims to be using on MURS, these are pretty simple and straightforward in operation. So simple even your Aunt Marge, herbalist and seamstress extraordinaire whose VCR is still blinking "12:00", can use it. MURS Channel 3 (151.84 MHz.) is the nationwide interoperability channel for survivalist-types. See https://amrron.com/communications-resources/ch3-project/ for more info.


If you're looking for something a little more private than MURS, the Motorola DTR series is what I would buy if I didn't live in the hills and have a ham license with a shack full of commo gear. License-free, 900 MHz. digital frequency hopping spread spectrum. Honest 2 mile range in most terrain, which means you'll be able to stay in touch with your group if they're within an hour's walk.

What do I use at present?
Surplus Part 90 VHF-high band HTs programmed on 2 Meter ham band and wideband MURS channels. When running on MURS, digital modulation is used and encryption is implemented.  While not frequency-agile, they are simple to use, and are mil-spec rugged. The VHF-high band is better suited for hilly rural terrain as compared to UHF. An upgrade is planned to a VHF LMR license, and again surplus Part 90 equipment with encryption and the capability to operate on adjacent ham bands will be used.

Want to learn how to choose the right communications gear?

Come to one of my classes this year. The current schedule is at https://www.sparks31.com/p/2019-classes.htm. My next class is scheduled for June 1-2, 2019 in Lynchburg, VA. To enroll, please visit https://squareup.com/store/sparks31. I am also available on a limited basis to teach private and group-sponsored classes in the Northeastern and Mid-Atantic US regions. My flat rate for these classes is $2000 for one-day instruction, $3000 for two-days. Subject matter covered includes basic electronic communications, communications monitoring/COMINT/SIGINT, and intelligence preparation. A $1000 deposit is required to schedule, with the balance due no later than 30 days before the start day of class. Payment can be made at https://squareup.com/store/sparks31, and then email me at sparks31wyo@gmail.com to arrange the date.

11 February 2019

Watching the Skies



When we did the Buckholts Texas class in 2014, we detected one of these flying overhead:
It was an RC-12 SIGINT aircraft, likely one from one of the reserve MI units based out of Texas. Not an uncommon occurrence on a weekend, as that's when reservists drill.

How did we notice it, and everything else in the sky that weekend?

By doing ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) with a laptop, $20 RTL-SDR dongle receiver, and some software.


Here is a screenshot from a few minutes ago of most everything currently in the air above NY state. That crowded cluster in the bottom right is New York City. Complements of https://global.adsbexchange.com/.

While being able to collect ELINT via a website is nice, you're better off doing it yourself. Even a basic setup will still let you see out to 100 miles of so, depending on the terrain.

This is something we'll be talking about, and teaching at class this year. The next class is June 1-2, 2019 in Lynchburg, VA - https://www.sparks31.com/2019/02/lynchburg-va-sparks31-class-june-1-2.html.

Enroll via https://squareup.com/store/sparks31/.


26 January 2019

Lasers

https://futurism.com/laser-beam-speech-mit/

Take a minute to think about the implications and (ab)uses of this technology, and possible countermeasures.

20 January 2019

Winter Monitoring

We had a little snow last night. The establishment mass media machine called it a "winter storm". I don't think a few inches constitutes a storm. If you have your scanner going today, give yourself a gold star.

17 January 2019

EBGGU VEGRR AVFNF UVGGL PVCUR EOHGN YYZBA BNYCU NORGV PNYPV CUREF FHPX 
:TIAT 191718
YJODY TSMDZ ODDOP MODNI AADJO TRCVR QYGPT PMREP TFCUX

13 January 2019

Local Commo History






Easy Practice

If you've been reading this blog and paying attention, you by now should have figured out what radio systems are being used by whom in your area of interest, and what receiver is needed to monitor your local agencies.

Today, take your receiver, tune it to your local PD's frequency or talkgroup, and spend the day listening to it only. Keep a notebook next to your radio, and take notes about what you hear.

If your local PD is encrypted, then do it with the county sheriff, state police/highway patrol, or local FD.

12 January 2019

LOL

I was asked a question regarding a particular species of unicorn at my last class, specifically the solution for a secure, clandestine, proprietary communications for a private group. They never go into too many details, which is due to either ignorance or OPSEC, but this isn't the first time this has happened.

My answer was this: Take the smartest kid in your group and pool your money to send him/her to the best college you can afford for an MS degree in electrical engineering/computer science. Think MIT. Now you have someone, presumably trusted, who can design your super secret, secret squirrel system for you.

The kid will also have the means to get his/her own HPJIE, and be able to provide adequately for his/her family before the TEOTWAWKI Zombie Apocalypse and Cannibalistic San Franciscan Invasion.

Hate Speech

Getting ready for the 2020 figurehead elrection campaign.

The Next Generation

https://github.com/RedhawkSDR - Complements of "No Such Agency"

https://greatscottgadgets.com/hackrf/ - HackRF One

https://limemicro.com/products/boards/limesdr/ - Lime SDR

https://www.adafruit.com/category/112 - RF stuff from my friend Limor.