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RF Shorts for Sept. 20, 2013

Spectrum Warfare

Battles over spectrum don't only happen in Washington D.C. On the battlefield filed with UAVs and high tech weaponry, maintaining radio communications and denying your enemy access to spectrum will be essential. Russell Brandom posted an interesting article about the role of spectrum in battle in his article Enter the Octagon: imagining a world of spectrum warfare Your radio is a weapon. The spectrum is a battlefield.

Brandom begins, “The rules are simple: your goal is to transmit a single message from one radio to another, while preventing your opponent from doing the same. The message has to be broadcast through electromagnetic waves, but otherwise, it's open season. You can broadcast anywhere on the spectrum, from the low ham radio frequencies to the high-end bands usually reserved for satellites. You can also hop between frequencies, outrunning the enemy jammers. You can stake out a mountain radio outpost to relay your message out of range of the jamming signal, or you can spoof messages on the same frequency to dupe your opponent. You can focus on speed or you can go on the offensive, locking down the spectrum so your opponent's signal is doomed from the start. You can use powerful short-range bands to reach a relay box on a hillside, which bounces the signal to the next radio via satellite. You can try anything, just to see what works.”

Read his article for the full story and comments from experts.

Those Pesky L.A. Helicopters

While only indirectly RF related, anyone who's spent some time in L.A. has seen the helicopters – traffic helicopters, news helicopters and police helicopters. On D. J. Waldie writes about The Helicopter Pests of LA's Skies.

Waldie has this to say about the introduction of TV news helicopters:

“If the complainers want to pinpoint the moment when the misery began, the early afternoon of July 4, 1958 is the day and time. That’s when the Telecopter—a Bell Model 47 rented by KTLA and fitted with a stripped-down version of the era’s enormous TV camera—made the world’s first broadcast flight. John D. Silva, chief engineer for KTLA, was the inventor. He even risked his life for his invention.

During a test flight the day before the first broadcast, station engineers on Mount Wilson reported that no TV transmissions were coming through from Silva’s helicopter. Silva paused, told the pilot that he wasn’t going to look down, and stepped out onto the helicopter’s skid 1,500 feet over Hollywood. When he had jimmied open the transmitter box, Silva found that one of its vacuum tubes had failed from the day’s heat and the helicopter’s vibration. Back on the ground, he spent the night insulating and cushioning the transmitter; 55 years of car chases, celebrity weddings, disasters, riots, and freeway tie-ups followed. “

Waldie also lists the helicopters used by government agencies and the rich who can afford them as a way to avoid L.A. traffic. An interesting story even non-Angeleno's should enjoy!