Category Archives: External News

FCC Proposes Levying Huge Fine on New York Police Radio Jammer

From the ARRL, original post here.  Published 17/4/2017.

Police found scanners and radios in the home of one of the suspects (NYPD) – Picture courtesy of pix11.com, New York News.  Related article here.

The FCC has proposed a fine of more than $400,000 on a Queens, New York, man who has admitted making unauthorized transmissions on New York City Police Department (NYPD) radio frequencies, maliciously interfering with NYPD officers’ communications.  Jay Peralta, 20, is alleged to have transmitted false bomb threats, false claims of criminal activities involving firearms, false distress calls from purported NYPD officers, and threats against individual NYPD officers.  The unauthorized transmissions began a year ago, according to the FCC.

“Through his actions, as he described them to the NYPD, Mr. Peralta has demonstrated not only a deliberate disregard of the Commission’s authority and rules, but of the safety of NYPD officers and the public that they are called to serve and protect,” the FCC said in a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), issued on April 14.  “Commission action in this context is therefore essential to safeguard authorized operations on spectrum licensed for public safety uses, and, accordingly, a substantial penalty appears warranted.”

The FCC said the NAL addresses nine unauthorized and interfering transmissions that Peralta has admitted to the NYPD that he made on its radio system.  The FCC said Peralta’s unauthorized transmissions included false bomb threats, false claims of criminal activities involving firearms, false distress calls from purported NYPD officers, and threats against individual NYPD officers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, said that with the NAL, the FCC is making it “abundantly clear that it will not tolerate unauthorized and illegal use of the radio spectrum.”  The entire Commission now must sign off on such proposed fines, and Pai said he was grateful to his fellow FCC members for “agreeing to act swiftly and strongly” in the matter.  “This may not be a typical pirate radio case in which an unauthorized operator inflicts damage on a radio broadcaster that is operating with a valid FCC license,” Pai said, “but it does involve unauthorized interference to critical public safety communications systems.”

Peralta was arrested last fall along with two other men suspected of committing several robberies. According to news accounts, police found a cache of scanners and radios in one of the suspects’ homes.

The FCC said it was alerted by a Twitter post about an unlawful intrusion on the NYPD radio system and dispatched an Enforcement Bureau agent to check it out.  On September 30, the NYPD contacted the FCC’s New York Office and advised that it had arrested Peralta and another individual in connection with unauthorized transmissions on NYPD’s radio system.  According to police reports, the other individual arrested — Ricardo Torres, 29, described as “a ham radio enthusiast” in some news accounts — allegedly provided the radios used.

Torres, is said to hold an FCC General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) license but his name does not appear in the Amateur Radio licensee database.  Police said they found 15 portable radios, 9 scanners, roof-top antennas, an amplifier, and assorted other electronics in Torres’s apartment.

Peralta has 30 days to pay or contest the proposed $404,166 FCC forfeiture.

See the related news story from Pix11 News by clicking here.

Origin of Wireless Security: the Marconi Radio Hack of 1903

Paul VK2ICQ adds:

Thanks to Stuart VK2FSTU for the link.  Note that we’ve previously posted a video on this exact event by Tom Scott, if you missed it first time around and you’d prefer to watch rather than read, here it is again!

From Hackaday, written by , original post here.

The place is the historic lecture theater of the Royal Institution in London.  The date is the 4th of June 1903, and the inventor, Guglielmo Marconi, is about to demonstrate his new wireless system, which he claims can securely send messages over a long distance, without interference by tuning the signal.

The inventor himself was over 300 miles away in Cornwall, preparing to send the messages to his colleague Professor Fleming in the theater.  Towards the end of Professor Flemings lecture, the receiver sparks into life, and the morse code printer started printing out one word repeatedly: “Rats”. It then spelled out an insulting limerick: “There was a young man from Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily”.  Marconi’s supposedly secure system had been hacked.

Nevil Maskelyne, circa 1903. From the Royal Institution.

The person behind this hack was Nevil Maskelyne, an inventor, magician, and general troublemaker who was a long-time rival of Marconi.  He was the manager of a rival wireless company and had been involved in a number of disputes with Marconi over the patents that covered wireless telegraphy systems.  He decided that the most effective way to show that Marconi’s claims were hollow was a practical demonstration.

In the trade journal The Electrician (the Hackaday of its time) he detailed how he hacked the system. One of the fundamental claims of Marconi was that because his system used a tuned signal, other signals would not interfere unless they were tuned to the same frequency.  This, however, had not been proven to the satisfaction of Maskelyne, and he didn’t accept that the system was really secure.  So, he set out to demonstrate this.  But how could you prove this?  In his account in The Electrican, he wrote that:

“When, however, it was pointed out to me that the practical demonstrations accompanying the lecture rendered independent tests possible, I at once grasped the fact that the opportunity was too good to be missed…  The only hope, then, was to interpolate messages calculated to anger and “draw” somebody at the receiving end.  If that could be done, there would be proof positive.”

Continue reading →

The ACMA’s approach to spectrum reform

From the WIA, original post here.

Date : 22 / 04 / 2017 
Author : Jim Linton – VK3PC

The Radiocommunications Act that has served Australia for 25 years is to be replaced by a modern approach to spectrum control and licensing.  Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Acting Chairman Richard Bean has given a little insight on what is ahead, during a CommsDay Summit 2017 speech in Sydney.  Mr Bean said the radiofrequency spectrum can only increase in importance for economic and social activity, and a source of competitive commercial advantage.

His speech on April 11 told of the ACMA’s approach to the important reforms to better respond to pressures already building and developing approaches robust enough to support future innovation and growth.  Mr Bean confirmed that a new legislative and policy framework is being developed by the government to open up significant reform opportunities, and the ACMA has been preparing for the journey ahead.  Already known is that the Radiocommunications Act will be replaced to make Australia’s spectrum framework simpler, more efficient and flexible to use.

While the new Act will be the work of the Department of Communications and the government, implementation of it will fall to the ACMA.  First to come will be an Exposure Draft by the Department with the ACMA asked to contribute material to reflect some preliminary observations about how key aspects of the Bill may operate.  Mr Bean assured that a staged transition will ensure the rights of existing licence-holders are not diminished.  The ACMA will consult with spectrum user groups on the proposed changes and their timing.  More information on this is expected at the RadComms conference on November 1-2 this year.  It will also announce consultation with interested parties in coming months.  The ACMA’s next Five-year spectrum outlook later this year will be an early opportunity to consult with industry on how best to build spectrum review implementation into its work program.

While a lot of his speech was of particular interest to other spectrum users, the new Act will have an impact of the Amateur Service and is being watched by the Wireless Institute of Australia who looks after our interests.

The speech is available here.

International Marconi Day 2017 is on this weekend!

Thanks to Henry VK2ZHE for the head-up!  Fire up your HF rigs this weekend!

The Cornish Radio Amateur Club (GX4CRC), organisers of International Marconi Day (IMD), states:

International Marconi Day celebrates the huge part Guglielmo Marconi played in the invention of radio.

International Marconi Day is a 24 hour amateur radio event that is held annually to celebrate the birth of Marconi on 25 April 1874.  The event is usually held on the Saturday closest to Marconi’s birthday and in 2017 it will be held on 22nd April.

Period of Operation on 22nd April 2017 – 0000 UTC  to 2359 UTC

The purpose of the day is for amateur radio enthusiasts around the world to make contact with historic Marconi sites using communication techniques similar to those used by Marconi himself.

The Hornsby And Districts Amateur Radio Club will be operating VK2IMD for the event.  The HADARC page for the event states (paraphrased):

VK2IMD is the only IMD station in Australia.  It gains this privilege because of the wireless communication experiments conducted personally between Ernest Fisk and Marconi in 1918.  Fisk established the Australian end of the experiment at his home in Wahroonga, giving the historical significance to our local area.

Operators can be part of IMD by going on air, contacting VK2IMD and other IMD stations and, if you meet the criteria, you can apply for an IMD Award (details of the awards are on the IMD website).

Operation starts at 00.00 UTC and finishes 23.59 UTC Saturday 22 April.  This is from 10.00 local time Saturday morning to 09.59 local time Sunday morning.

Operation is on all HF bands and 160m, permitted modes are CW, SSB, AM, and available digital modes only.

Links:

AX prefix for ANZAC Day

From the WIA, original post here.

Date : 15 / 04 / 2017
Author : Jim Linton – VK3PC

The ACMA automatically allows all radio amateurs to substitute their normal VK callsign prefix with the letters AX, on ANZAC Day, April 25.  The AX prefix is popular among prefix hunters and others, with the use of a special QSL card encouraged by the Wireless Institute of Australia.

Among the commemorative events on ANZAC Day will be the former Army Apprentices School ‘Balcombe’ at Mt Martha on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne.  The trades school began in 1948 graduating more than 5,000 Army Apprentices before being re-located to Bonegilla, near Wodonga in December 1982.  Former bandsman Johnno Karr AX3FMPB will revisit the site of his former school and be heard on air for ANZAC Day this Tuesday.

The traditional AM & CW event organized by Mike ‘Banjo’ Patterson VK4MIK will again take to the air for the 7th year.  It honours those modes used by service personnel in earlier wars – AM and CW.  The Tableland Radio Group of Far North Queensland will be operating from Rocky Creek War Memorial site next to the WWII Igloo, which has been rebuilt by Atherton Rotary Club, under the callsign of AX4GHL.

The Ex-HMAS Diamantina will be operating as AX4RAN from 0300 to 0700UTC on CW on 7020/7025 and 14038/14052 plus or minus.  The frigate was operational during World War II.

A number of radio amateurs from Ingham, in North Queensland, hope to be operating from the Herbert River RSL and will be operating on a range of frequencies with the callsign AX4MS.

The Townsville Amateur Radio Club will be AX4WIT from the Club Rooms in Green Street, which were part of the camouflage used to protect the RAAF WWII Pacific Theatre Communications Centre rom enemy bombing.  AX4WIT will be operational from 0001Z AM and CW on 7115.  Ex-Serviceman Eldon ‘Don’ Bryant will be active during the evening using HF/AM from his home QTH as AX4FNQA.

Nick Watling VK4YT of Cairns will have his military radio set up on air. The US Army radio of Korean War vintage was in use for the early part of the Vietnam War.

Hopefully more stations will be also operating and switching to the old modes during the day.