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Author Topic: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?  (Read 13204 times)

Offline Swede P

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Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« on: October 27, 2011, 1920 UTC »
Given the way FM in the 88-108 Mhz band propagates, wouldn't it be very easy for the radio authorities to zero in on an FM pirate?
At least a SW pirate's signal has bounced off the ionosphere in a number of directions and takes time to find.

If I were to go FM, I would pre-record my programme and save it on a sort of mp3 player connected to a tiny FM transmitter. Given that line of sight is a vital part of FM broadcasting, I would then attach the transmitter-mp3 player set up onto a weather balloon.

Of course, I can defer to those of you more expert in the field to comment on how practical that would be.

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2011, 2130 UTC »
Yep, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau's site is full of FM busts: http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/

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Offline Dxer92

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 0101 UTC »
I was thinking about making my own FM pirate radio station. But it is probably not such a good idea since the FCC will probably be at my location in 10 minutes lol.

cmradio

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2011, 0243 UTC »
If you're in a good spot, a Part-15 can get you several miles.

Peace!

Offline diymedia

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011, 0152 UTC »
It's actually pretty easy to get away with FM microcasting.

First, the FCC has to find out about you, and they only investigate complaints.

Then, they have to come to your area and find you, when you are on the air. If the nearest field office is hours away, that can take awhile.

Then, they have to go after you - it can take years before the escalation protocol results in something "dangerous" (like a fine).

Then, they have to make you pay the fine - the FCC does not have the power to collect on the air own.

If they want to take your gear, they have to bring in the cops (field agents are not cops, cannot do "probable cause" searches, etc.)

The FCC runs an automated DF network that can "localize" an HF pirate (to within 30 sq miles) within seconds of the tx going on. That's a logging.

The reasons why there's so much enforcement activity on the FM side isn't because it's an FCC priority - it's because there's a *ton* of FM pirates!

Offline John Poet

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 0231 UTC »
And, of course, there's a bunch of licensed FM stations who are anxious to turn in any pirates who might compete with them, and they aren't above lying about 'interference'.  (On shortwave, on the other hand, you pretty much have to piss off the wrong guy, right "Commander Bunny"?)

Hell, licensed stations routinely file objections with the FCC, to any new station attempting to become licensed in their market area.  It's their "standard operating procedure".  Some of those even have the balls to tell the truth about their motivation:  "If you license this new station, it will hurt our revenues."  I guess 'socialism' is fine as long as it's the established capitalists who are benefiting from it; competition is something with which they should not have to be bothered.

Yes, it's easy for the FCC to track you down on FM (or any other frequency range) if they actually bring a vehicle to your town, or just happen to be there doing routine monitoring of licensed stations when you go on the air.  But if you're not within line-of-sight range of any of their monitoring facilities, they aren't going to know about you until someone complains.  If you don't go 24/7 or many days in a row, but instead do a more "hit and run" operation which does not repeat for, say, a month or two, you could get away with it for years, or even forever..



« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 0240 UTC by John Poet »

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Offline Dxer92

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2011, 1740 UTC »
Yeah i was going to buy a FM transmitter that ranges from 1 WATT to 6 WATTS which might only get 5 miles max lol. But I was not going to do a 24/7 broadcast that would be pointless in my opinion. But yet i am 12 miles away from Philadelphia, PA. Who knows if it will even reach that far haha. I was going to broadcast say from 1 AM to 2 AM on a Saturday night well technically Sunday morning. Which who would i interfere at 1 AM in the morning i mean common.

Offline Dxer92

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2011, 1743 UTC »
    Wait, how far could I go with a power of 500MW. Which is not even 1 Watt. With a FM transmitting antenna 1/2 wave and is up 20 ft in the air. How far do you think i could go?

cmradio

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 0856 UTC »
Well, I had solid stereo for 2.5mi with 100mW and a 1/4 wave up 15'. I had the high ground.

A buddy who had low ground needed 20W and a 5/8 wave to cover much the same area.

Terrain is a VHF broadcasters best friend or worst enemy.

Peace!

Offline John Poet

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2011, 1432 UTC »
Well, I had solid stereo for 2.5mi with 100mW and a 1/4 wave up 15'. I had the high ground.

A buddy who had low ground needed 20W and a 5/8 wave to cover much the same area.

Terrain is a VHF broadcasters best friend or worst enemy.

Peace!

Yeah, anything like the first result is exceptional.  Most tend more towards the second result if you're in a city, with the usual obstructions and hills, and not some wide-open flatland...


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Offline Swede P

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2011, 1654 UTC »
Just listened to an old William Cooper episode this weekend. He said something interesting that is relevant to this discussion. Apparently, as well as hiring airtime on WBCQ and other shortwave outlets, he had a small FM microtransmitter as well. According to him, as long as his signal did not cross state lines (or international borders into Canada or Mexico), that the FCC, being a federal body, had no jurisdiction - and as such since his home state (Arizona) did not regulate broadcasting at all, he was free to transmit all he liked completely unregulated and it would be completely legal.

Do you think he understood that right?

Of course, for me, it is just a curiosity. In Sweden, you almost need a permit to take a pee. I doubt I could even get away with microbroadcasting for very long. On the other hand, given my remote location, unless I was interfering with another FM signal (all of which come from stations in other larger towns), perhaps the authorities would place me low on the list of priorities.

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2011, 1707 UTC »
Just listened to an old William Cooper episode this weekend. He said something interesting that is relevant to this discussion. Apparently, as well as hiring airtime on WBCQ and other shortwave outlets, he had a small FM microtransmitter as well. According to him, as long as his signal did not cross state lines (or international borders into Canada or Mexico), that the FCC, being a federal body, had no jurisdiction - and as such since his home state (Arizona) did not regulate broadcasting at all, he was free to transmit all he liked completely unregulated and it would be completely legal.

Many pirates have tried to use that same claim - that the FCC has no right to regulate intrastate radio. They get about as far as the people who claim the Federal income tax is unconstitutional.
Chris Smolinski
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Offline Swede P

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2011, 1719 UTC »

Many pirates have tried to use that same claim - that the FCC has no right to regulate intrastate radio. They get about as far as the people who claim the Federal income tax is unconstitutional.

I was afraid of that. It is not enough to be right, technically. If the feds want you, they'll get you.

Offline Lex

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2011, 1738 UTC »
I was, and still am, a big fan of William Cooper.  That influenced me to try low power FM during the 1990s, but the few kits I managed to get working I soon burned up.  I remember those shows where he asserted his FM micropower station wasn't under federal jurisdiction.

He tried similar arguments about income taxes and other issues.  Google his "Harvest Trust" entity and related topics that were popular during the 1990s when some patriot movement folks believed they could set up trusts to protect their assets like the big boys.  Didn't work very well in most cases.

John at DIYmedia could speak more authoritatively on how the FCC interprets the Commerce Clause.  I can say that in my experience as a regulatory enforcement agent for the US Department of Labor during the 1980s-'90s, we were trained to interpret the Commerce Clause very broadly in our favor.  We were told to look for evidence that a business affects interstate commerce.  There's an important distinction between "affecting" and "engaging in" interstate commerce.  We'd establish that a business affected interstate commerce by documenting that they had a telephone or used the US mail service.

If the FCC field operations guides are worded similarly, the agent is just going to look for the most tenuous connection to interstate commerce to satisfy their assertion of federal jurisdiction over LPFM.
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Offline Swede P

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Re: Isn't it rather easy to get caught?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2011, 1821 UTC »
Isn't it a rather obvious conflict of interests for an agency to be given the power to interpret the law that pertains to their operations?

Anyway, back the question of being caught. I would still be interested in your (or someone else's opinion) on the practicality of having a weather-balloon-mounted platform. Of course, each broadcast, the balloon, recording device and transmitter would be lost - but beyond that, I think it would be a fairly fool-proof way of getting away with it.