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Everything posted by Ticom

  1. Next time you might! That's the fun part about all this. I've been into hobbyist SIGINT and communications monitoring for 28 years. Most of stuff I've heard was mundane. A lot informative on some level, either subtle or practical. A little bit was downright interesting. Definitely a hobby for the patient-type, or as background filler for when you're doing something else. Over this weekend, I replaced the Diamond Discone antenna on the roof with a commercial VHF-high band antenna. I'm now scanning that frequency range to see what I gained in reception range.
  2. One of two possibilities: 1. It's an image/spurious signal. 2. Your local PD is running an analog point-to-point link on 3 GHz. I'd suspect #1 is more likely, especially if you're within a mile or two of the transmitter.
  3. I have in the past, but not recently. I really, really want to again, though. I've got some complications to sort out this summer (one amount many being Confcon), and that'll be the absolute determiner in whether or not I'll be able to do a phone trip. If you're thinking of going on a phone trip, listen to Strom's old recordings for some pointers, and never, ever assume anything will be a certain way. I usually used to hit small places run by independent telcos, and the amount of strange behavior I heard even during normal calls was piling up faster than you'd expect. Anywho, someone directed me to this earlier; http://twitter.com/#!/evandoorbell I'm assuming it just means Evan has some things he doesn't want to talk about. I did one a few years back. There are a few places in SE NY that are not serviced by Verizon/NYTel. Maybe later this summer or fall I'll have to take a daytrip out that way again...
  4. Has anyone on the forum gone on a phone trip of their own recently?
  5. Here's a useful chart: http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/spectrum/table/fcctable.pdf Looking at the chart, we see that 3151 is allocated for Radio Location & Space Research on the Federal side, and Private Land Mobile for Non-Federal. Assuming you are actually picking up a narrowband signal on 3151 MHz. and not a harmonic, image, or other spurious signal then I'd say you are likely picking up a non-communications emitter related to radiolocation, especially since you didn't find an LMR license for the frequency. WA5VJB sells some nice PCB log periodic antennas that work well for getting a directional fix on a signal, and also has some information if you want to roll your own antenna for that frequency range. Non-communications emitters, while uninteresting to listen to, are often an indicator of something interesting happening nearby when they are turned on (or off as the case may be).
  6. That R10 is overpriced in my opinion. Halve that price and it starts becoming reasonable. R20 is a good handheld receiver, although I've heard complaints about the "buttonology" - takes a lot of button presses to perform simple receiver functions. That's really a user-headspace/learning curve issue, but I like receivers that are not overly complicated to play with, especially for simple monitoring. In a similar vein, I think it would be good idea if those of us who have been RF hacking for a while do a short write-up of equipment we use/used in our shacks, and for what purpose. It might help out the less experienced.
  7. If you were looking for something that just covered shortwave (HF), I'd recommend an R75 over the VR-5000. If you want something that's wideband and are willing to work within the design limitations of wideband receivers of that grade, then the VR5000 may be a more appropriate choice. I own a VR5000, and when I'm at my bench 9 times out of 10 when I need a quick RF signal check for something or want to keep a constant eye on a frequency, I'm using the VR5000. If I'm monitoring a shortwave frequency on anything more than a casual level, I use something designed specifically for HF. If I'm keeping an ear on the locals, I use a police scanner. I've been into communications monitoring since the early 1980s. I started with one of those cheap multiband portable radios picked up at a tag sale that had AM/FM, shortwave, and VHF aircraft/public safety bands, and then upgraded to a Radio Shack shortwave receiver and police scanner shortly afterwards. About the only make/model I have radio-wise from back then is a Stoddart "Radio Research" receiver that was my upgrade from that first Radio Shack shortwave receiver. I sold my first Stoddart receiver at an MIT flea back in 1997 and regretted it shortly afterwards. Took me 12 years to find another one to replace it! There are a lot of good receivers out there. Read the reviews, go play with a few at the local ham shop, and find a few that resonate with you. Then see what type of deals you can find and go buy one. Read the eham reviews of the older radios and see what you can find at a hamfest or used at a ham store. For example: Right now here in Connecticut I know of three receivers for sale in the used market. The first is an Icom R10 wideband handheld receiver for $125. That's actually a pretty good receiver, given the limitations of early wideband handhelds. I used to receive GHFS on 11175 Khz. from my driveway on one with nothing more than a telescoping whip. The second one is a 1950s vintage Hallicrafters SX-71 that does HF and VHF-low bands. That's also $125. That was one of the first triple-conversion designs and is fairly well-liked by boatanchor enthusiasts. Finally I know of a military R-390A from an estate of a recently deceased ham in a lot of various pieces of equipment (including one other milsurp receiver). You could probably walk away with the entire lot for under $1000 and have a complete boatanchor-type station including spares. The R-390A is considered by many to be the quintessential HF receiver although I found it to be a pain in the ass for just spinning the dial and cruising the bands. Anyway, any one of those three receivers would be perfectly fine.
  8. From the above and also of interest: if anyone has a line on those too? 1. I believe Steve was mentioning the BC8500XLT. It's just that he abbreviated the model number. 2. The mod switches in the 800 MHz. amplifier/mixer circutry while you are tuning 371.19-396.80 MHz so instead you receive 869.04-894.97 MHz. 3. It's done by adding a switch on the appropriate filter/mixer control lines so you activate one and deactivate the other. You should have a copy of the service manual for the scanner before you try doing this mod, or be very comfortable with working on electronics. 4. The other mods are performance-enhancers to improve audio, and heat dissipation on the voltage regulator ICs. If you can find a copy of the late Bill Cheeks Scanner Mofification Guides, there is a lot of detailed generic info on how to do these with pretty much any scanner. There are a lot of older receivers out there with unbroken 800 MHz. coverage and they are pretty cheap these days. You can find a PRO-2006 at a hamfest for $100-$150 that probably already has the diode clipped and there is a lot more info out there for tweaking/modding than there is for the Bearcat Scanners.
  9. Run the 1 GHz. IF output of that tuner into any decent communications receiver and you'll have a nice microwave intercept setup. Frequency converters (transverters) are how VHF/UHF/microwave "weak signal" hams get on the air above 1 GHz. They typically down-convert the ham microwave band of interest down to 144 or 28 MHz. Order the 2010 back issues of CQ VHF Magazine. There is a four-part article series by Rick Campbell KK7B that is very informative and beginner-oriented.
  10. The VR-5000 is computer controlled. It has a RS-232 interface and runs the Yaesu CAT command set. The Icom R-75 is a good general-purpose HF receiver. I've found good used receivers occasionally at local hamfests (YMMV) and at the two local ham dealers that are within driving distance of me. There's also Ebay. Local classifieds usually bring used police scanners, but you seem to have enough of those already.
  11. Anything from Icom, AOR, or Winradio is good. Prices on used gear is pretty high, but you get what you pay for. I presently use a late 1960s/early 1970s vintage CEI/WJ VHF (30-300 MHZ.) receiver for a lot of search work in that frequency range. If you find a working older CEI/WJ at a reasonable (under $350) price, I'd suggest getting it. There are other high end surveillance/SIGINT receiver brands such as Racal, Rhodes & Schwartz, Reggco (R.H. Grimm), et. al. that are worth looking at. On the more modern side, I run a Yaesu VR-5000. They work well, but have some selectivity issues with strong signals and are helped significantly with external filters. Info on filter building should be in the ARRL Handbook. As far as SDRs are concerned, many experimenters have picked up a Funcube Dongle and have had good experiences with them. I've found the Funcube to be very sensitive, but in need of external filtering in order to bring out its full performance. With that said, I've found that most wide-band receivers with the exception of the really high-end models could use a little extra filtering on their front-ends. This isn't really an issue however. The price is right and it lends itself to experimentation really well. For HF and VHF-low band (to 54 MHz.), I've been having a lot of fun with a Flexradio Flex-1500. It's an HF-6m transceiver, but has a really good receiver in it.
  12. If the apartment building doesn't have a basement, then the junction box will likely be in a first floor utility room or closet.
  13. In it's defense, the Nextel i500 may have been ugly, but it was mil-spec rugged.
  14. Assuming (and we're talking big assumptions) that your "specific camera" is indeed a webcam, and that it's publicly accessible enough for you to dodge an indictment (a very important consideration), I'd say you need to change tracks. Speaking from a totally theoretical standpoint, identifying the make and model of camera might be the first step. After that, acquiring documentation for the specific make and model might be a good second step.
  15. I always thought it more like catching an incurable case of syphilis. Since you just got into the apartment, you might want to look up the previous occupant and address with the usual phonebook sources. You might find some "outdated" information that gives you a phone number. Whenever I moved into a new place, I always ran the address through the usual searches to see what I could learn.
  16. Funny how some things haven't changed in 30 years. Sometimes I miss living down in 914, as NYNEX and Citizens seemed to be much more interesting Telcos then SNET.
  17. I can remember when 212 split-off the 718 area code. That made for some interesting discoveries on the network. EXC-99xx is the usual test number range for (what was once) New York Telephone. IIRC, EXC-9901 will often play a recording of the exchange name.
  18. I suggest you tell the owner his box is unsecure, and maybe offer him some form of assistance in securing it. I would then suggest you find another aspect of the hobby for "learning purposes", or at the very least refrain from making what my lawyer would refer to as "admissions against interest" on a public online forum. If you are looking for a learning experience, you should consider setting up your own *nix box, installing all the known security patches, and then attempting to find holes or bugs in the system. I would think that to be more challenging then simply finding a box on the net that some ignorant admin failed to properly secure.
  19. 152.165 is allocated for common carrier (paging), although a lot of the VHF paging has been going away. That didn't sound like paging. Sounds more like an MDT (data) channel similar to what a lot of the Taxi services around here use. A PRO-2042 for $30 would have been a steal, but $30 for any decent working police scanner is still a good price. You can buy a brand-new basic 200 channel scanner for around $100 these days. Keep that price in mind when looking at used scanners. I'd probably pay up to $150, maybe $200 for a good working PRO-2004, 2005, 2006, 2035, or 2042, but I saw a PRO-2006 for $150 at Timonium (MD) hamfest a few years ago, and it stayed on the seller's table all weekend. If you want to find all the FCC licensed frequencies in your area, you should go over to: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/General_Menu_Reports/
  20. If you have a police scanner that covers the civilian aircraft band (108-137 MHz.), go to http://www.airnav.com/ and look for the ATIS or AWOS frequency for your local airport. That'll tell you the current weather conditions at that airport. If you're receiving one from 108-118 Mhz, you might also hear a 3-letter CW ID in the background. Sometimes the ATIS or AWOS shares the local VOR frequency. Some airports also have a phone number that simulcasts their AWOS and ATIS broadcasts. 617-567-0160 is the ATIS for Boston Logan (KBOS).
  21. Depending on the frequency, modulation, TX power output, and purpose of the systems those antennas are attached to, you might not get any frequency indication on a counter. Similarly, unless you are dealing with standard VHF/UHF land mobile radio systems, a Signal Stalker/Close Call scanner will also be of little help. I would suggest you purchase a decent wideband communications receiver, such as an Icom, Yaesu, or AOR brand, and spend some time tuning around the spectrum with it. This is going to cost some $$$, but it's a one-time purchase and is going to give you years of service if you stick with the hobby. Later on, you can start looking at test equipment such as service monitors, frequency counters, and spectrum analyzers when you get a little more experience behind you. I would also suggest getting a recent (within the past 10 years) copy of the ARRL Handbook, and downloading copies of the US Navy's NEETS course, which you can find at http://www.tscm.com/reference.html - You might also want to read the late Steve Uhrig's "Beginner's Advice" from my old zine Cybertech - http://blockyourid.com/~gbpprorg/2600/TAP/cybertek/Cybertek_V3N3.pdf Finally unless you were planning on getting into servicing radios, you would be better off purchasing a nice portable spectrum analyzer such as an Avcom before investing in a service monitor, for the type of sleuthing you appear to be interested in, when you decide to invest the $$$ into test equipment.
  22. As mentioned previously, back issues of YIPL/TAP are available online from a number of sources. I have a complete photocopy set of TAP/YIPL that some hacker friends and I had made in the late 1980s from a set of originals. It took us a few hours to photocopy the originals (300+ pages) and have them comb-bound. It would have also cost an arm and a leg if we didn't have access to a hacker-friendly print shop. The YIPL issues are interesting from a historical standpoint, but any practical information you're going to find in back issue collection will be in the later TAP issues. If the bound book contained the later issues, say 20-something to 92, then it might be worth the $16 just to be able to put it on the shelf. Speaking as a magazine editor and writer, I think that while it's nice to see the old-school stuff "come back into print" for the younger generation (and you kids can learn a lot from the material), even though TAP/YIPL is public domain it's still a dick move to charge above cost for material that you didn't personally author or compile as an editor. I use Lulu for my publishing, and my cost for 364 pages of 8.5x11 black and white is $14.60. That means anyone could upload the entire TAP/YIPL PDF collection and roll their own complete back issue collection for that amount.
  23. Just messing around while I wait for Telco to fix a customer's line.

  24. Just messing around while I wait for Telco to fix a customer's line.