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Mixed Conclusions About Powerline Networking vs. Ham Radio

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the absolutely-nzzzzbzzzzbzzzzz- dept.

Wireless Networking 343

Barence writes "Since writing about the success he's had with powerline networking, a number of readers emailed PC Pro's Paul Ockendon to castigate him for recommending these products, such as HomePlug. They were all amateur radio enthusiasts, claiming the products affect their hobby in much the same way that urban lighting affects amateur astronomers, but rather than causing light pollution they claim powerline networking causes radio pollution in the HF band (otherwise known as shortwave). Paul's follow-up feature, 'Does powerline networking nuke radio hams?' documents his investigation into these claims, which found evidence to support both sides of an intriguing debate."

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It isn't just a hobby (5, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059305)

It's a volunteer emergency communications organisation.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059365)

This is just about the most ignorant, one-sided article I've ever read. It amounts to "Maybe it causes, problems, but HAM guys can cause problems, and oh yeah, they're dinosaurs, so fuck 'em."

I wonder what this worthless piece of shit will be saying when some natural disaster hits, all the lines are out, but because he and other shitheads basically wiped out the HAM community to get their pr0n, instead of dedicated volunteers firing up their diesel generators to help co-ordinate rescue and relief efforts, there ain't nobody.

Big Props (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059599)

Props to the egghead who called me after Katrina with a message from my sister saying she was okay.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059743)

If the power's out, isn't interference from power lines moot?

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059805)

At the moment, sure; but if interference has been the rule for long enough, most hams will presumably have given up, mothballed their stuff, died off, not taken up the hobby because "what's the point?", and so forth...

The number of people willing to maintain ham gear and skills waiting for the day it'll be useful is, presumably, a fair bit smaller than the number willing to pursue ham day to day as a hobby.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059889)

Enjoy your 9/11 ass.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (2, Insightful)

yabos (719499) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060337)

Do you really think they'll throw away all their equipment? If you had a ham radio lying around you haven't used for 10 years and the machines take over, I'm sure you'll dust it off.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060577)

I don't suspect that the most serious hams who have already taken up the hobby will(unless they move, and don't have the space, or the SO starts leaning on them), even if only for nostalgia's sake; but I strongly suspect that, if all you can do is listen to static and wait for emergencies, you aren't going to see much in the way of new blood, and the blood you have isn't going to last forever. And, yeah, I suspect that some of the more casual players are going to say "fuck it" and ebay their gear. Not all, certainly; but numbers count if you want a communications network to work under adverse conditions.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (2, Insightful)

Zondar (32904) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060085)

When you're in a disaster, you're not really interested in getting help from other people who are also in the affected area, who are also without power.

You want help from people *outside* the affected area. And if this goes forward, they won't be able to hear you. Which means there's no reason to keep the radios in the first place.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

BigForbis (757364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060213)

The frequencies that BPL affects are frequencies that allow people to talk all around the world, so the problem extends farther than just where the power is out.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060287)

Yes, because interference in China is going to cause us to not be able to use HAM here.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060435)

Seeing as worldwide contacts can be made on a few milliwatts of RF power under favorable conditions, a BPL system in one country wiping out communications on the other side of the world is not at all farfetched....

Re:It isn't just a hobby (3, Insightful)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060673)

Say you are in New Orleans, and a big storm knocks out your power. You want to get a message to your mom in Chicago that you are OK (so she doesn't worry and have a stroke or something). So your friendly neighborhood Ham will fire up his rig on battery or generator, relay a message to another Ham in Huntsville, who picks up a phone and calls your mom in Chicago. Only problem is if BPL is deployed in Huntsville, that message ain't getting through to the Ham operator there. Or to any other Ham who's area has deployed spectrum polluting technologies.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Informative)

kc8apf (89233) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060715)

Actually, it's fairly common to have international interference that prevents communication on the lower bands (160m/80m). So, yes, interference generated in China _can_ cause hams in the US to not be able to use that frequency range.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

shacky003 (1595307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060407)

re-read what the post said again - If Ham operators can't use their equipment in the SW band, the numbers of active operators will drop, and so will the amount of people with the equipment... When the power goes out due to some disaster, there will then be less people that are able to get out with Ham.. The comment had absolutely nothing to do with interference during a disaster - it was referring to less people being able to get out due to many of them giving up due to massive interference during non-disaster times..

Re:It isn't just a hobby (4, Informative)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059813)

Did you read the part of the article where the author advocates checking with neighbors before using the Powerline stuff to make sure there are no interference problems? That doesn't strike me as particularly one-sided.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (4, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059959)

yes it is, because the author knows damned well that nobody will actually do this.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060455)

Just like how no HAM will check to see if his TOYS interfere with OUR EQUIPMENT. We outnumber them, THEY should have to seek approval from US before they can clutter up OUR airwaves!

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Informative)

spickus (513249) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060643)

I did, and you me gave a license saying that I may operate my toys. Furthermore my transmitters, if operated correctly, may cause your unlicensed devices interference which you must accept. You however may not interfere with my toys.
73
DE K2TY SK

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060647)

Well - they have. It's called "Federal Regulations" and the "FCC". If you look at your gear, you'll notice it's certified as a "Part 15" device. Part of that certification says: "may not cause interference and must accept interference, including interference that causes undesirable operation". Hams are licensed - part 15 are not. In the official 'pecking order' - you loose.

So long as the ham is following the rules, regulations and operating to good engineering practices, any help you get from him in minimizing interference issues is out of the goodness of his own heart. Not because of the law. The law says it's your problem and the ham has no obligation to fix it. It's all on you.

But, this is off topic here and I'll leave it to you to educate yourself on how things really work.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060699)

From what I have seen, Ham's are pretty much self policing. The people that you get the most problem from are CB operators who have poorly tuned boosters.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059877)

You're too busy fucking niggers in the ass to know better.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (0, Flamebait)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059883)

instead of dedicated volunteers firing up their diesel generators to help co-ordinate rescue and relief efforts, there ain't nobody.

search & rescue should be coordinated on the dedicated bands for it -- like, oh, the TV bands that we just vacated.

And I would MUCH rather trust the organization of a relief effort to trained professionals -- like state, federal, and military emergency staff -- to a bunch of "volunteers."

Re:It isn't just a hobby (3, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060041)

Fuck you dipshit.
Hammies saved the day in many cases, both helping out with relaying official emergency communications and by relaying non emergence communications ("tell my wife I'm here and I'm safe with the kids").

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Insightful)

TerribleNews (1195393) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060047)

And I would MUCH rather trust the organization of a relief effort to trained professionals -- like state, federal, and military emergency staff -- to a bunch of "volunteers."

You are obviously not from New Orleans.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060063)

Yeah, FEMA has SUCH a stellar track record lately.

"Atta-boy Brownie!"

Re:It isn't just a hobby (4, Informative)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060107)

And I would MUCH rather trust the organization of a relief effort to trained professionals -- like state, federal, and military emergency staff -- to a bunch of "volunteers."

Wow. I mean wow what a very ignorant statement.

Obviously you don't know that most first responders during a disaster are volunteers. I will just briefly mention how ineffective FEMA, the state of Louisiana, the Orleans parish, and the city of New Orleans were during the recovery efforts of Katrina. Thank God there were church groups, American Red Cross, Amateur Radio operators, and other voluntary relief agencies or the disaster could have been much worse.

Usually there are more falaties after the disaster strikes than during. Thankfully we have a community of volunteers willing to help mitigate the danger. May I add at their own expense and peril.

Bill

Sorry, that doesn't make sense. (4, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060113)

Search and rescue have sufficient VHF and UHF bands. We're talking about HF, which is for long range, which is a very different sort of disaster communication from search and rescue. One band won't do for this, because ionospheric weather varies throughout the day and over longer cycles, and thus the frequency that worked for long-range communication an hour ago might not work now. Thus, there are several ham bands. They are well-used and all of them in total are much narrower than a single TV channel!

Frequency planning is an area you would need to study further before you could make sensible statements about it. Sorry, and good luck if you do decide to look into it.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

stuckinphp (1598797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060169)

You don't get the point. Many regions don't have developed infrastructure for this. But there are many out there doing this anyway. Don't ham radio operators need a license or has that since changed? I'm pretty sure obtaining that would count as 'training'. Also these people are trained in Short wave, users in relief effort organisations are not trained to use these systems.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (3, Insightful)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060227)

I grew up in a town called Boulder Creek. Our fire department was staffed entirely by volunteers, and I would trust them with my life.

I generally prefer that the people providing my health and emergency services do it because they are genuinely passionate about it. I believe passion produces better results than a sense of obligation.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Insightful)

UnrealisticWhample (972663) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060565)

1. Guy writes an article about a product.
2. Guy gets feedback, some of it far less than civil, stating that he was being irresponsible in his product recommendations.
3. Guy, rather than dismissing the issue as no doubt many would, actually does some research and writes a follow up.

I hardly think that this qualifies as "just about the most ignorant, one-sided article" on this topic, at least among those that you've read. This guy isn't a government agency or an academic group tasked with doing research into public safety concerns so it isn't his job to launch a comprehensive study into the issue.

I get that there seem to be some credible concerns, but you aren't going to win anyone over by making hyperbolic claims about anyone that fails to agree with you. Posting "ignorant, one-sided" insult laden posts on Slashdot isn't exactly helping your cause.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059951)

No, it's an outdated communications method of wanna-be law-enforcement "EMCOMM" types who cause nothing but problems for REAL law enforcement officers and nothing but liability for everyone they "work" with. It's outdated, outmoded, and should be discarded. Everything HAMs can do can be done better and cheaper by professionals with professional digital equipment.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (2, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060211)

As someone who is an EMT - agreed. "Real" HAMs, fine. But if I had a device that could be triggered to zap any "whacker" over his radio, the airwaves would be a much quieter, better, place.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (0, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060467)

"But if I had a device that could be triggered to zap any "whacker" over his radio, the airwaves would be a much quieter, better, place."

If I had a device to keep you off your fucking cell phone while driving, the roads would be a safer place, fuck you very much.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (0, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060453)

Yea, so tell me, Mr. anonymous dumbass, what're you going to do when EMPs wipe out all 'digital' capability, hmmm?

You're a fucking moron.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (5, Informative)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060497)

As someone who served on the disaster committee of a regional American Red Cross chapter and worked along side two county EMA directors as well as the state EMA, I would politely disagree with you.

You will find a VHF and HF amateur radio station at most county EMA offices and the state EMA office. You will also find them at all three weather service offices that serves my state. Why? Because most amateur radio operators that volunteer to help us out are willing to attend a class on how we expected them to help us. They are courteous and professional, and most importantly they are already "out in the field" and FREE labor. The fact that they have the equipment capable of providing reliable long distance communications is a bonus.

I don't know how wealthy your local government is, but ours prefer to use the professional emergency responders to handle law enforcement, curfews, medical emergencies, and leave the "health and welfare" communications (which include status updates from shelters and staging areas) to the amateur radio operators. During a large scale disaster, the professional labor pool quickly becomes inadequate and we are always looking for trained volunteers in addition to the radio operators.

Amateur radio operators also help the national weather service by participating in SKYWARN. During the 90's they helped confirm weather warnings issued while nexrad (next generation radar) was being deploy. Today, they still serve a purpose by being the eyes and ears of the national weather service.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060593)

Ever hear of RACES (Radio Amateur Communication Emergency Service) Just about every community and fire department in So. California has a RACES group. The professionals know that when the big one strikes, their multi million dollar EMCOMM systems will be useless. In fact, most emergency command centers have ham radio communications capabilities included.
I have a friend who's wife is alive because the Coast Guard monitors amateur radio.
The Red Cross, and the Salvation Army have amateur radio affiliates. They can not afford to rely on the phone system, or the goverment to provide communications.
If ham radio is so outdated, why does the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center use amateur radio operators as storm spotters to provide ground truth verification of weather conditions.
With regard to professionals with professional digital equipment, ask the fire department in NY about communications on 9-12-01 or the local public safety agencies in Lousiana and Missisippi after Katrina came ashore. A large volume of the critical communications were carried by amateur radio.
Also ask the survivors of the tsunami on Christmas day a few years back. First notice of the disaster was provided by ham radio. In fact ham radio was the official means of communications for many islands for weeks.
As far as outdated, Ham radio has e-mail systems that utilize HF radio to transmit e-mail. Amateur radio has a fleet of satelites including the international Space Station, Amateur radio utilizes TV technology, VOIP to radio comunications capability, digital and packet radio capability and microwave linkage capability. Ham radio operators can set up and configure these systems in the field on a moments notice. This is why the Goverment and the EMCOMM community is pushing to integrate ham radio into their systems.
Ham radio provides large pool of trained radio communications technicians that can restore communications just about anywhere at any time.

I agree there are some ham operators who show up on the day of a disaster who shouldn't be there, but there are many other hams who have gone to the trouble to train themselves in incident command systems, who have submitted to the mandatory background checks required for volunteers and who have taken the time to practice the emergency communications skills needed for disaster communications.

If anyone is a Wanna-be, it is the EMCOMM community that is trying to develop the capability and skill of the ham radio community.

I sincerely hope your community never needs to find out how effective amateur radio is in a disaster situation. I also hope your local EMCOMM systems and professionals never need to rely on the amateur radio community for help. I do hope your local EMCOMM community does a risk analysis and a what if analysis to identify their vulnerabilities and I hope they have planned for the worst case scenario.

Oh and one last word... ham radio is fun.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1)

spickus (513249) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060741)

Wow, you're a trolling idiot. I'm responding to this as I watch watch two amateurs converse using Olivia on 30 meters and a few KC away is some MFSK. Later this evening, I'll drop down on 75 meters and check into the RTTY net. Earlier this afternoon, I spent an hour on 20 working PSK 31. Last night I did a little meteor scatter using JT6M. Who do you think develops digital modes? Who do you think actually has the equipment and know how to use them and understands propagation? The radio spectrum is a natural resource to be managed for the benefit of everyone.

Re:It isn't just a hobby (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060043)

It's a volunteer emergency communications organisation.

However, the FCC rules are pretty weird. Like all Part 15 devices, your radio may not cause interference and must accept all interference. However, its status as a licensed service gives it greater protection. Specifically, if the equipment is operating properly in regard to FCC emissions specs, the responsibility for mitigation resides with the owner of the TV or other electronic device being interfered with.

But then, the FCC policy reverses itself by stating that, even with properly operating amateur equipment, the operator may have hours of operation restricted, so as not to interfere with the neighbor's right to watch his nightly dose of porn.

Finally, an emergency trumps all other considerations, even the frequencies on which amateurs are normally allowed to operate.

Try to navigate through that swamp if you will.

In a way, it's like he nautical rules of the road. Right of way is defined with extreme precision, but there's a kicker, for which I have never heard a correspondence in land rules -- right of way notwithstanding, you are absolutely required to do whatever is needed to avoid a collision. In effect, if, despite your best efforts, there is a collision, you get to sue the offender from the bottom of the ocean.

Sheesh (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059311)

It's not a debate. Doing this turns those power lines into big antennas. You can't debate the laws of physics.

Re:Sheesh (4, Funny)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059885)

Samir, this is America. You can debate anything.

Point out that electromagnetism is "only a theory", get Rush and Bill O'RLY to talk up ionospheric HF propagation being "a bunch of liberal mumbo-jumbo", and sprinkle the internet with scary chain emails about how radio was "cooked up by some European egghead". In a year or two, congress will be terrified to legislate against broadband over power lines because their constituents are gibbering incomprehensibly at them about illegal Mexican radio immigration, how we need to teach the controversy about "Intelligent Electrons" and the creeping socialist death panels that are coming to euthanize their satellite dish!

Re:Sheesh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060081)

Samir, this is America. You can debate anything.

Point out that electromagnetism is "only a theory", get Rush and Bill O'RLY to talk up ionospheric HF propagation being "a bunch of liberal mumbo-jumbo", and sprinkle the internet with scary chain emails about how radio was "cooked up by some European egghead". In a year or two, congress will be terrified to legislate against broadband over power lines because their constituents are gibbering incomprehensibly at them about illegal Mexican radio immigration, how we need to teach the controversy about "Intelligent Electrons" and the creeping socialist death panels that are coming to euthanize their satellite dish!

Wow, graybeard came out. And had nothing of any importance to say. Not funny, not satirical, just socially-awkward geek stream-of-consciousness. The grandparent post should have ended the conversation. Why am I responding? Because I think it merits letting people with no sense of humor, like yourself, know that your thoughts are not appreciated.

Re:Sheesh (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060669)

Isn't that more a result of poor wiring, and less about the technology itself ? Seems to me, if we stopped hiring grade-9 dropouts to build our houses, maybe the wiring wouldn't suck so bad and powerline networking wouldn't be such a big deal.

In my apartment, I have four separate circuits, but they all bleed into each other at the fusebox, so when the freezer's compressor kicks in, I get pops in my speakers, and the bedroom TV spazzes for a moment as the flyback settles back to resonance. If I installed powerline networking here, I'd likely wake up the next day with a bunch of metal stuck to my patio windows from the massive electromagnetic field. That, and dead hookers.

HAM radio pussies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059321)

The prison niggers appreciate those crackers running the internets on the power. Now we know we have whitey looking after our AOL and we look to take white HAM radio nerds up the ass. It be the best thing to run a train on a chubby low self esteem white chick, fucking her pussy and asshole all night long. It is almost as good as tapping some puerto rican ass, but that shit is tighter and when that bitch get violent (PR chicks always do) we just duct tape that mouth shut while we take turns cumming in that ass over and over. Mexican bitches be the best cause you can run up on a bitch with a fat ass in broad daylight and run a pimp train on that bitch in her anus and that immigrant husband won't do shit. When we got some gay ass niggers who want to fuck some male asshole, we just run up on a mexican man, who they gonna report. Sometimes we just abduct the bitch to our projects apartment for the week and fuck the shit out of her, until we get tired of that bitch. White bitches are more fun though, sometimes when the bitch is chubby and horny enough we just fuck her through for 2 weeks and come back in another week cause her fat ass is ready for more. Smack bitches with a 10 inch cock. I once raped this indian chick, she was mad weak, so i got my boys to run a train on her that lasted 3 days. She looked like frosty the snowman after we all got done with cumming on her. She got that shit so hard she must of spit cum for a month. I recently visted her and punched her in the face before I got inside that ass again. We be abnormal.

Re:HAM radio pussies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059509)

you need to catch a a few bullets

Re:HAM radio pussies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059789)

Parent is troll. Posting as AC to prevent karma effects of offtopic mod.

Re:HAM radio pussies (0, Offtopic)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060061)

You can't hide your identity from me, Captain Obvious!

Re:HAM radio pussies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060163)

Nope, sorry not Captain Obvious, I am jrmcferren. I won't tell you what I am also known as.

Who cares about HAM radio (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059391)

This is like the folks who wanted to ban automobiles because they scared the horses. In the long run, who cares about HAM radio. It's an obsolete elitist hobby for techno-geeks. Let it die.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (3, Funny)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059513)

It's an elitist hobby for techno-geeks

Funny, I feel the same way about World of Warcraft.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (3, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059629)

Yeah, there's no better alternatives to using powerline networking. It's not like you can buy CAT6 at Home Depot, or anything.

Unlike the buggy whip people, Ham operators have constantly come up with new stuff, like figuring out how to make shortwaves go across an ocean. Powerline networking, OTOH, is a cheap stopgap solution that's better done by laying dedicated cable or setting aside radio frequencies for the task.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (2, Insightful)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059647)

As much as I hate responding to flame-bait, I just have to mention that HF is still used for many real-world purposes. Here in Australia, it is used to educate kids in the outback, as well as for public safety communications. There are many more reasons to keep using HF, I can't see it dying any time soon.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059711)

Ham operators have always been polite about interfering with TV transmissions, minus the minor few whom don't know what the hell they're doing. It's only fair to be polite back. Cars were a necessary technology. This crap these people are doing is just that -- crap. It's not going to take us anywhere. While on the other hand, when the shit hits the fan, it will be the amateur radio operators whom operate the emergency airwaves. Ham radio is not going anywhere because of this fact. FCC will likely ban this other useless crap, politely.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060237)

Bullshit, the asshole down the street with the big fugly antenna that screwed up my TV every Sunday didn't give me the time of day, just ordered me off his property when I went to tell him to knock it off. He claimed that since he had a license for his toys and I didn't have a license for my TV he got to screw me up all he wanted. I paid good money for that TV, I should be able to use it whenever I want, not when some ass with an overpowered bug zapper decides he's had enough fun for the weekend. Anyway we wrote letters to the government but they just ignored them. This went on for months. Finally my brother suggested we take a pair of bolt cutters to his antenna wire and that solved things nicely. We cut all the wires going up his antenna tower every time he reconnected them until a storm blew the damn ugly thing into his garage and he never bothered putting it up again. Peace and television for everyone. Everyone on the street knew we did it and NOT ONE person cared to tell the police, even when he offered a reward. Nobody liked him or his damn radio.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060321)

You have nothing to complain about. You allowed that to happen to you by not reporting it to the FCC. He could lose his license for whatever he was doing to cause that much interference. Your tactics were illegal. I would have installed surveillance and busted your ass for vandalism.

At any rate, I don't believe a word you're saying, because HAM operators value their licenses, and unless they're pretty dumb, they abide by the rules.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060707)

Read the damn post. We DID write letters to the FCC. They never did a damn thing. They don't care.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060777)

Then you're lying. See, the FCC doesn't really _want_ people using amateur radios. They love taking licenses and equipment away. It's like the DEA's obsession with marijuana.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (3, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060603)

Like it or not, the "asshole with the fugly antenna" had it right.

If you look in the manual that came with your TV, you will see a little bit of small print talking about "FCC part 15 regulations". These essentially say that your TV cannot unintentionally radiate a signal that will disrupt any licensed radio service, and, more importantly, that your TV viewing IS NOT PROTECTED against interference by licensed radio services, as long as said stations are operating within their legal requirements (power output, spectral purity, etc.).

In short, you don't have a license to watch TV, but the ham DOES have a license to transmit up to 1500W of RF on various frequencies, whether it screws up your TV or not. If you don't like this, you are free to buy a better quality TV receiver, that incorporates all those "frivolous" features like proper shielding and filtering, that usually get "value engineered" out in order to sell the set for fewer bucks at WalMart.

A good summary of FCC Part 15 available here:

http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/part15.html [arrl.org]

BTW, you could be subject to FEDERAL charges for damaging a federally licensed radio transmitting station, , if your "asshole" neighbor wanted to press things. Generally, hams are more than willing to work with their neighbors to resolve interference issues (even if not legally required to), but when said complaints become abusive or threatening, we are fully within our rights to tell you to take your cheap Chinese TV set and stick it where the sun don't shine. And the FCC will back us up, every time.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (4, Insightful)

davygrvy (868500) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059921)

Wake up. BPL is a crappy technology. It guarantees improper radiation because the power lines aren't shielded at the physical layer. Kill BPL now and demand what we all want: Fiber Optic.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (3, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060241)

You don't even know what is being talked about. "Homeplug" style LAN around your home via powerline. Unequivocally NOT Broadband over Power Line, internet access.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (3, Funny)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059971)

HAM radio. It's an obsolete elitist hobby for techno-geeks. Let it die.

You dare to say this on /. ? Lots of HAM radio operators are here, they tend to have an excellent karma and lots of mod bullets in their magazine.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (4, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060291)

Funny, for those of us who are old, ham radio was the entry point into technology. Are you aware that there was a world before computers ? Indeed, my first real job had a realtime voice recognition system which could convert to text with few errors. You went to lunch and an hour later, when you returned (no calls during lunch..no cell phones) your letter was typed and ready for signature. We called it a secretary who could take shorthand. In this era, technology was made up of discrete components, instead of "all in one chips". Some of us wondered what those components did. We learned that they all had a job and you could easily figure it out. Better yet, people often tossed items full of these components away. We called those "dead TV's" and they were full of FREE components, which re-jiggered, would allow you to talk to Europe with a wire in the backyard. Back when the per minute cost of an international phone call was more than the hourly wage, this was big stuff. OK, today hams use four or five digital modes on HF, using little power and less bandwidth. Ham radios are smaller than a deck of cards. A 12 volt power source and small HF rig will fit in a small tool box, and can work the world on a 135 foot bit of wire. As much as I love technology, I was there on 9-11 and the entire cell net in lower manhattan just crashed. Period. The internet is tissue paper-and the current web of communications is not very hard or resilient. The old guy cranking 1500 watts in the basement with tubes is an old stereotype, and except for a few guys "keeping the AM flame alive" on 3885 mhz, gone. The knowledge you obtain hamming does translate to computers-take it apart, try to make it work, modify it. I wonder if the TFA author can discuss frequency hopping spread spectrum digital communicators....er, cell phones.

Re:Who cares about HAM radio (2, Informative)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060391)

If there's any question about HAM operators on the Internet, just check any of the wikipedia articles on radios. You'll easily find lots of (well cited from multiple sources per sentence) stories about how HAM operators invented modern electronics and have saved the world multiple times from disaster. In fact, you'll wonder how any country could get along without them!

It's easy to get confused on this topic (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059445)

There are two different things that can be considered power-line networking. One is the kind where the powerline is used to provide internet to many homes all the way from a central location through intermediate power transformers. This, fortunately, is already obsolete, because it could not provide good enough bandwidth to pay for itself. It did interfere with many radio users, not just hams.

The other is within-home networking like Homeplug. ARRL dealt with early interference issues and has not reported any recent ones as far as I'm aware. But the very earliest models allowed us to hear your phone call on shortwave! Fortunately, people who owned those were found and warned, for the most part.

Bruce

Re:It's easy to get confused on this topic (1)

charlesr44403 (1504587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059829)

This is an example of new is best, old is trash, no matter how good the old is and how utterly unsound the new is. Putting HF signals on open power lines is technical insanity and not just for hams. Fortunately it also doesn't work at all well and therefore will die. Ham radio's 100 year history is a GOOD thing. It is a mix of old and new technologies and that is also a good thing.

Re:It's easy to get confused on this topic (1)

charlesr44403 (1504587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059937)

it is truly frightening that the FCC has no one at a high level, or anyone listened to at high levels, who has ANY knowledge of how RF signals behave. Otherwise they would have rejected the BPL idea out of hand, it is that bad. The rawest of radio beginners know this.

Re:It's easy to get confused on this topic (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060069)

The problem was that the Bush administration was sold on BPL and put pressure on FCC. Dubwa made public statements in favor of it.

There are any number of FCC staffers who are well educated in RF. I've met some of them. The problem comes when the commissioners don't let them do their job.

Re:It's easy to get confused on this topic (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060501)

another point of confusion: HomePlug devices are regulated under "Part 15", which basically means it must suffer any and all interference and must not itself cause any interference to licensed stations.

Licensed stations include: Shortwave broadcasters, TV/AM/FM broadcasters, Private commercial stations (Taxis, Couriers, etc.), Government stations (Local and Federal), and Amateur Radio Operators ("Hams"). (previous list not exhaustive)

Keep the HAM (1)

kulawend (1614911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059615)

I totally support the HAM radio community, there must be some sort of work around so that both technologies can work without interfering with each other.

Re:Keep the HAM (1)

davygrvy (868500) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059817)

Sure, use either Coax or Fiber Optic lines for the data.. Wasn't that an easy fix?

Re:Keep the HAM (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060343)

Change the frequency of the powerline networking?

Or, it may be possible to install filters so that the HF signal does not get outside your house, because if it does - you have a few hundred meter long antenna (the wire between the house and the transformer of the neighborhood). People living in flats (as opposed to having their own house) would probably have more problems if a lt of their neighbors started to use powerline networking.

Re:Keep the HAM (2, Informative)

Zondar (32904) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060709)

For a wire to not be an efficient RF radiator, typically it has to be 1/4 wavelength or longer. For the freqencies we're talking about (up to 30MHz), 1/4 wavelength can be as short as 2.5 meters (since 28MHz is around 10 meters).

14 MHz is only 20 meters, so a piece of wire 5 meters long (or even a combination of wires that are segmented together through a panel) can become a radiator (aka transmitting antenna).

You can see where this is going. It's hard to get the frequency low enough where the typical wire layout in even a small home won't tend to transmit RF energy. The lower the frequency, the smaller the frequency spread. You can't transmit as much data in 2-10MHz (8 MHz of total RF spread) as you can in 2-30MHz (28 MHz of spread), and so the throughput rate of the device would be so small that it would no longer be a viable product.

They're caught between physics and the market.

Re:Keep the HAM (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060789)

The wires inside of the walls probably do not radiate as much as the ones strung out between poles, since (brick or concrete block) walls shield RF. A filter should be installed to prevent the RF signal from getting to the long wires outside.

Does powerline networking nuke radio hams (5, Funny)

randy of the redwood (1565519) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059645)

I prefer my hams honey glazed and baked rather than microwaved anyway.

Re:Does powerline networking nuke radio hams (1)

shacky003 (1595307) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060421)

But for some reason these hams taste like chicken...

Looking for butt sex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059695)

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Parent is a cuntdot FAG!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059961)

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It's me the Idle Troll

Home Plug Rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059709)

We had a situation where the house wasn't wired but and was built like a castle 18 inch thick walls, Those things worked out of the box.

I doubt any EM leaked out of that house.

Re:Home Plug Rocks (2, Informative)

sfbiker (1118091) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059901)

I doubt any EM leaked out of that house.

Except out the power lines that are good at radiating RF outside the house just like they are good at carrying RF inside the house. At least until they reach a transformer.

HF is the only communications safety net (5, Insightful)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059715)

"keeping the HF bands clear for low signal communication is a bit like keeping the rail tracks clear of fast express trains so that nostalgists can run steam trains over them."

The author's analogy belies the fatal flaw in his though process: HF communications may be older and slower than the internet, but the internet is highly unreliable and fails when communications are most critical. HF always works. HF is the ONLY completely reliable means of long-distance communication that humans have. To destroy mankind's sole means of completely reliable communication in favor of a system which fails when needed most is simply foolish. This isn't about amateur radio. It's merely incidental that most HF communications these days are by hams, and that hams handle disaster comms when the networks go down. These communications could be handled by any group of people, and the result would be the same: without a reliable HF infrastructure, humans screw themselves doubly when nature screws us.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059839)

Also, HF is something individuals can do between each other, point to point, on their own resources and initiative. Internet, outside of a few specialty wifi kludges, pretty much makes you an appendage of $LOCAL_MONOPOLY_TELCO. This can be an issue if they go down, or start doing things you don't fancy...

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059925)

Internet relies on multiple other entities pretty much by definition - otherwise it would just be a LAN. The high reliability of radio is due mostly to the lack of reliance on any entity or infrastructure other than the parties at each end. There's no way around this. As you work to progressively increase the reliability of a communications system by changing its design, it starts to look more and more like... 2-way radio.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060661)

Also, HF is something individuals can do between each other, point to point, on their own resources and initiative. Internet, outside of a few specialty wifi kludges, pretty much makes you an appendage of $LOCAL_MONOPOLY_TELCO. This can be an issue if they go down, or start doing things you don't fancy...

Being a person who uses, appreciates but fundamentally doesn't trust the government - certainly not to choose how I ultimately wish to carry out my life, I find it useful to stash a few things that help me get in touch with people without the government or government-backed communications media. In my case this includes a few coils of wire, a few tools and an ARRL handbook.

And I keep a few good reference texts in hardbound, in case the Wikipedia volunteer editorial board decides all the articles should be thrown out for insufficient references.

My point is that no matter what happens to a country, the survivors should be able to fend for themselves in an emergency. That means grouping up, and that requires communications. Digital systems are far more powerful and more effective, but you can communicate with a spark gap if you have to if the civil infrastructure goes pfft. I find it's easier to trust people when you don't really have to.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29059993)

If as you say "HF always works" this isn't a problem. HF has many reliability issues. Maybe not as many as the internet. And I am sure that there are good uses for it. But couldn't those be placed in a section of the spectrum is not interfered with by the powerline networking adapters?

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060017)

If we get to the point where we NEED HF communications, the interfering devices wouldn't be working and wouldn't interfere. Of course, in that scenario, nuclear radiation might be interfering with HF communications but that's a separate issue.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060229)

Ummmm, nooo...

Suppose we had a hurricane hit South Florida. Everything goes down, and you're left with some ham radio operators
who can operate on HF. They try and contact someone in Charlotte, NC who wasn't affected by the hurricane, but can't
hear them because of all of the BPL noise being emitted all over the HF bands.

Remember, you need to keep out the interference at *BOTH* ends of the path!

And, OBTW, it's not just the hams who use HF - the US Government operates the SHARES network, as well as MARS, and the
American Red Cross has a surprising number of HF channels allocated to it, and I suspect the Salvation Army does, too. Oh, and
the US military, which includes the National Guard forces in each state and territory, uses a number of non-MARS channels, too.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (3, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060273)

Heres another scenario for you:

Massive Earthquake hits Southern California. All communication, power, water infrastructure destroyed or damaged.

As you point out all the interference caused by the power lines would be gone, in that area.

What about the areas outside the zone that are the ones the people in the zone will be trying to talk to?

Every year a bunch of Ham radio people set up in a park in Berkeley, CA, and for three days they are off the grid running their equipment on solar panels, batteries, gas generator, exercise bikes with generators, whatever. The point is for them to show that they can maintain contact with the rest of the world without the infrastructure that will be knocked out in a disaster. And teach people about Ham radio to drum up new recruits.

After the tsunami in Indian ocean one of the only sources of news and communication was Ham operators in the area.

We need to keep those frequencies clear.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060131)

People are morons.
They bitch about infrastructure yet they move to VoIP and rip out the copper land lines.

We push hybrid cars that cost more to produce (in terms of money and environmental impact) than old regular cars, and the difference will never be made up during the life of the car.

We want plugin electrics despite the fact that they'll put a huge strain on the already-fucked electrical grid, and will be ultimately be supplied by burning coal.

We have rebate programs to replace your fridge that's been working for 40 years with a new one that will be nicer to the environment but need to be replaced in 3 years.

We push shitty shitty light bulbs down your throat when there's not a damned thing wrong with the current ones.

Etc.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (3, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060159)

We push shitty shitty light bulbs down your throat when there's not a damned thing wrong with the current ones.

I think my power bill disagrees with you on that point.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060329)

Not to mention that the "old" lightbulbs generate at least twice as much waste heat as the new ones, which is great during summer when you've got no air conditioning.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060393)

Probably also your lightbulb bill.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

manekineko2 (1052430) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060353)

Your statement doesn't seem completely incompatible with his analogy.

Steam powered trains work even if society collapses, but are inefficient. Maglev trains are very efficient, but but would not work if society collapses.

In that sense, it is a little like if we kept rail tracks traditional so that we maintained backwards compatibility with steam trains.

In the end, it comes down to deciding the expectation value of the improvement of efficiency versus the loss of a last ditch safety net.

Re:HF is the only communications safety net (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060433)

"completely reliable" Gee man, I designed and built HF radios for about 10 years. Completely reliable HF sure isn't, but it is a nice toy to play with...

The issue is simple (5, Insightful)

davygrvy (868500) | more than 5 years ago | (#29059811)

Power lines were never meant to carry RF energy. When they are, they radiate. Cable TV doesn't radiate. It doesn't radiate because it uses a proper transmission medium (Coax). If the power line folks want to distribute DATA, they should string the poles with fiber optic. Better yet, we the people should string it, and sell access to the content providers.. ala municipal fiber networks. They can work folks!

Packet Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060011)

AMPRNet (44/8)
HSMM

Amateur radio and internet access are not mutually exclusive as those with investments in copper would have you think.

Mixed conclusions about power line networking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060143)

The HomePlug system is better than most power line networking systems because it trys to stay off of amateur radio frequencies. Instead, Home plug tends to use public safety, aviation, buisness, military and TV broadcast frequencies. It still has the potential to interfere, but most those users aren't trying to communicate halfway around the world with power levels that range from a pair of flashlight batteries to a 100W lightbulb. Whith home plug, there is still the possiblity that some public safety agency will be unable to communicate, some military project may land in your back yard, or you may not beable to watch some of your favorite TV shows. In general most users of the HomePlug frequencies won't notice or complain about the interferance like a Ham will.

Anytime you put RF signals on power lines, they radiate. In fact almost all wires and cables radiate. It is just a matter of magnitude and frequency.

Amature radio operators (and for that matter professional radio technicians) try to keep the RF currents in their coaxial cables flowing inside the cable where the potential of radiation is minimal and the shielding is highest. When properly installed, very little power leaks out of the cable before it arrives at the antenna.

Many amateur radio operators use twin lead or ladder line which is a transmission line with two conductors parallel to each other. When properly installed, the current on each wire has the same amplitude and is perfectly out of phase with the other wire(correctly phased). When equal amplitude and proper phaseing are present, the RF fields from each wire cancel and the cable produces no (or very little) radiation. When improperly installed, the unequal currents or improperly phased currents cause this type of transmission line to radiates really badly.

Home wiring and powerline wiring is very simular to twin lead transmission line. In a home or on a power pole, there are stubs, nails and other metal objects nearby that cause the RF currents to become unbalanced (either unequal amplitudes or imprope phasing). As a result, the power wiring radiates. Since most powerline networking systems need strong signals the radiation is likely to cause interferance to someone. In some cases, the victim of that interferance can be hundreds of meters away.

In summary, power line networking is a bad idea. HomePlug is a slightly less bad idea than most of the other powerline networking ideas. To HomePlug's credit, they have tried to play nice with the other users of the HF spectrum.

It is a real problem (3, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060177)

Here in Westchester, NY one of our local utilites tried a system in Briarcliff Manor, NY. It totally wiped out any HF reception within 3 tenths of a mile. Your normal background static was replaced by a 30/+9 digital hash. (For you non radio folks, and wi-fi does NOT count, that means the meter is pinned and you can't hear sh#&.) A broad rollout of BPL would mean that for the vast majority of radio amateurs, model railroading would be a better idea-sell you equipment to the illegal CB ops. The systems cannot coexist. I'd be very afraid of BPL when the sunspot numbers are high, as you'd then get interference from BPL somewhere in the world-making all of HF useless. While HF is not where your magik cell phone or Blackberry live, and it is not currently in style, does not mean that it is the toxic waste dump of the RF spectrum. Wi-Max, if the intere$ted partie$ involved could ever get their act together, would be a much better idea. BPL also wipes out CB, which is meaningless unless you are a trucker...or use anything trucks deliver.

Re:It is a real problem (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060719)

would it be economical to build special purpose devices that transmit bursts at power lines to crap all over BPL connections? if the lines are radiating interference they should be vulnerable to it as well.

not that i would advocate anything illegal.

It's also a hobby (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 5 years ago | (#29060533)

I would make the arguement that homeplug intereference is a bad thing, not becuse of EMCOM, but because people should be able to enjoy a hobby without intereference from their neighbor.

Angry radio hams ROCK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29060771)

Anyone else being amused by all of the indigant and incadescent radio hams in this forum and comment on TFA?

I shall have to remember to troll them more often...

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