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Realtime Sat Tracking

Community Networks
Community Wi-Fi network even uses satellite dishes
“Among the most popular attractions of this year’s CAFECONF 07 Linux conference down in Argentina, the “Buenos Aires Libre” group, is promoting its hobbyist, city-wide “community network”. B.A. Libre aims to run a network with its own backbone, capable of routing traffic between nodes even if the Internet goes down, it doesn’t rely on the public internet for transportation. The project was kick-started by a handful users a long six years ago and after several iterations and change of structure and leadership, now seems to show steady progress. The BAL network spine uses point-to-point links and directional antennas along with inexpensive consumer Wi-Fi APs or in some instances full PCs in waterproof enclosures- loaded with their own customized Linux software, dubbed Obelisco – Spanish for ‘obelisk’ the city’s landmark. I asked them if they had any run-ins with the airwaves watchdog and their response was an emphatic no. There’s a regulation making selling VOIP or telephony services using Wi-Fi equipment strictly and specifically forbidden by the airwaves watchdog, but it’s aimed at ISPs. First BAL is a non-profit endeavour, a community network, and it doesn’t aim to provide any specific services, just inter-connect computers. Thus the local regulating authority gives them no hassle at all because such non-profit usage falls within the ‘private use’ considerations of the local regulations. On the software/organisation aspect, they have done a quite impressive job. The Wiki shows a lot of work, and there’s even an on-line map built using Google Maps satellite images and showcasing all nodes and clients, and which are currently active. The registration /membership system is also well done. Dubbed the “BA Libre Location System” or BALLS for short, the project’s web map lists 259 “points of interest”, that is, either nodes or users who have decided to take part in this project in the whole capital city and its metro area of influence, with 13 on-line nodes and APs in BA city at the time of this writing. There is also a Wiki, an IRC channel and mailing lists.”

TV On The Radio
“Slow scan television is a way of sending video over a voice bandwidth channel–this can make it practical to send video over thousands of miles via ionospheric propagation. Modern computers have this once rare and expensive mode readily available to the average ham.”

“The best way to understand slow scan TV is to imagine it as colour fax pictures but sent over the radio rather than the phone. The pictures are transmitted via tones (1200-2300 HRZ) over the air. There are several simple ways to get setup for slow scan TV, the simplest of which use your computer and software with a hardware interface. There are interface circuits which work excellent and cost less than $20 to build or nil if from your junk box. The quality of the pictures is somewhat dependent upon the computer, (monitor & graphics card), and somewhat on the software, hardware. The better systems support Hicolour which gives typical picture resolutions of 320 x 240 in 32 thousand colours. These pictures are almost photographic quality and are very impressive to say the least. Once you’ve tried it your hooked. Imagine being able to swap mug shots with other Amateurs. See who you’re talking to. Send diagrams and schematics over the air. It’s great. Listen to HF on 14.230 and 14.233 almost anytime to hear the action.”

Guerrilla Television
Experience Behind the Iron Curtan
“Before the downfall of the Soviet Union, there were a number of pirate TV operations scattered around Eastern Europe. Many were guerrilla style hit-and-run operations that would rig up a low-tech transmitter with a junked VCR, set to go on the air during the official government newscast, overriding the signal for several blocks. When the authorities found the transmitter, often on the roof of an apartment house or in an vacant building, they would find home-built equipment that had been abandoned, rigged to a timer switch. Much of the programming was very short (since the authorities would be searching for the source within minutes) and usually consisted of recordings from foreign broadcasters like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, with still photos for visuals. One brave pirate in Moscow would show a tape of the official government news broadcast, with someone else’s voice dubbed onto the soundtrack, reading uncensored news peppered with dirty jokes. In 1985, some very brave astronomers from Poland’s University of Torun used home-made equipment to superimpose pro-Solidarity slogans over the images of the state-run TV network. [1] You can imagine how the viewing public (as well as the authorities) must have felt when, during the official government news broadcast, the words “SOLIDARITY TORUN: ENOUGH OF PRICE HIKES, LIES AND REPRESSION” flashed on the screen. In 1977, back when the UK used analogue television, someone identified as “Vrillion” of the “Ashtar Galactic Command” over-rode the audio channel of England’s Southern Television for 6 minutes.”

Signal Hacks Of Live Satellites
Intelsat to turn off LTTE beam – Tigers’ satellite piracy bared
“The Washington-based Intelsat gave a firm assurance yesterday that it would take all possible steps to stop the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from illegally broadcasting its propaganda over their satellites. In a telephone interview, Intelsat’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Phillip Spector told this correspondent that his corporation would do “every possible thing to turn off the LTTE (sponsored national Television of Tamil Eelam and Voice of the Tigers radio programme) as soon as possible” from their satellite. Spector maintained the position of the corporation that the LTTE was pirating an empty transponder frequency of their Satellite 12 for the broadcasts. He said it was actually stealing the space of the satellite and called it piracy.”

Known Sat Hacks (cont.)
Behind Falun Gong’s satellite hack – cult hijacks satellite signal
“The Chinese government is furious over a rare but successful case of satellite signal hijacking in which TV signals from the Sinosat-1 satellite were temporarily overridden and replaced with programming promoting the outlawed Falun Gong cult. According to an official Sinosat statement released 8 July, a series of signal hijacks occurred between 23 June and 30 June 2002, attacking Sinosat’s 2A and 3A transponders, which provide TV signals to rural villages in China via an earth station in Yungang, which reported that all of state TV broadcaster CCTV’s nine channels, as well as 10 provincial channels, had been hijacked by “unidentified signals … of similar frequency spectrum with that of the CCTV programs”. Minutes after monitor screens went black, Sinosat says, “Falun Gong propaganda materials appeared on screen; and … the word `Falun Gong’ in Chinese flashed again on the screen”. The Chinese government–which outlawed the Falun Gong as an “evil cult” in 1999, and also puts a premium on strict media control–has predictably condemned the hijackings, and has vowed to hunt down and punish those responsible. One obstacle Chinese officials face in that regard is whether the hijackers are even within China’s legal jurisdiction. The Ministry of information Industry has accused–but not publicly identified–overseas parties of helping to plan the interruption.

Hijacking Sinosat signals from outside the country is possible since Sinosat’s footprint extends well outside China’s borders, to include the Indo-Chinese peninsula, Indonesia and the Philippines. Satellite experts say that overriding a satellite signal requires a satellite dish transceiver a minimum of three meters wide and with a transmission power well beyond the capabilities of off-the-shelf consumer gear. Hijackers would either have to commandeer an earth station facility or get hold of an industrial-grade dish that can be moved around and hidden. This is why jamming satellite signals is often the province of military organizations and disgruntled earth station employees rather than independent groups. However, it wouldn’t be the first time Falun Gong members have interrupted regular TV programming in China. In April, Chinese officials arrested nine Falun Gong members for hacking into a Chinese cable TV system on 5 March in the northeastern city of Changchun, where they allegedly cut off TV signals and used home-made broadcasting equipment to air their own programs. And that was one of seven reported cable-TV hacks during the first half of this year, according to the group’s Falun Dafa Information Center, which confirmed the activity in a 28 June editorial–five days after the first satellite signal hijacking was reported.”


Bonus : Pringles Cantenna
“I’d like to say a little bit about Electromagnetic Waves. Before you do anything else, it is important to think carefully about all the possible consequences of what you are doing. Simply put, you are going to be sending electromagnetic waves through the air. If you do not know what you are doing, study until you are confident that you will not break people, places or things when you start experimenting. As if this was not yet enough to keep you from messing around with fast flying electrons, I have received many emails from folks who are very involved with HAM radio and other professions and hobbies that involve work with high frequency microwave radiation. They warn that 2.4 GHz just happens to also be the resonant frequency of plain old water. This is why a microwave oven works. The energy of an 802.11b device is the same kind of energy that cooks your food, but on a much smaller scale. This is important considering that we as humans are 98% made of water. I have been warned that exposure to even as little as a 1/4 watt amplified with a 14db antenna, such as described here, could lead to severe vision problems and possibly other health issues.”

Categories: Spectre Group Reports | Tags: | 1 Comment

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith.

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