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back to article Competitors vie to provide earthquake-proof radios

The Wireless Innovation Forum has announced the winners of its competition to find a radio technology suitable for use following a 15 gigaton earthquake. Skipping over the huge loss of life and general destruction wreaked by a magnitude 10 earthquake - more than 10 times the size of the Indian Ocean quake of 2004 - the Forum …

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Silver badge

Richter 10?

Apart from choosing a particularly shite Arthur C Clarke book title, why did they choose that value? It's debatable whether Magnitude 10 'quakes are even possible because there don't seem to be any faults long enough to generate them.

The best chance of experiencing one will be the next time something the size of Snowdon drops out of the sky.

So they'd better make it asteroid-proof as well.

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Richter scale is so 20th century ...

... and is now out of date. Earthquakes are now measured on the "moment magnitude scale".

Cheers,

B.

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FAIL

Internet II?

> The six were then tasked with creating a dynamic database to coordinate the spectrum uses of at least 20 separate emergency service groups in an apocalyptic urban setting. The database was required to sense users, and deduce transmitter locations as well the as signalling systems used, identifying available frequencies for allocation to new arrivals and working out the potential for interference based on both the frequencies and the manner in which they are used.

Tell them that all they have is a hammer, and the problem has to look like a nail.

Wasn't the original design brief for the internet that it survive a nuclear war? Pretty much the same scenario.

I'd envisage a decentralized and self-organising cellular network. Plane-loads of solar-powered base stations, every one programmed to establish communications with its neighbours, create their own network maps, and to service any compatible handsets that arrive. You could have the network up and running within a few hours, parachuting the base stations from planes (or helicopters). Local hotspots without enough bandwidth? Same as mobiles - parachute in more base-stations, the cells automagically get smaller.

Hard to do if access permissions and communications privacy are issues, but in this disaster-response scenario they aren't. (And I thought that the military had already got something like this *with* security, for battlefield and/or post-EMP communications).

Of course, someone has to do the design work now, and stockpile the things in advance. Which they haven't done. Perhaps the problem will look like a nail after all.

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Or...

...just deploy 802.11n, preferably with Geo-Routing (tm)

My years of ranting about modern mesh forming networks is mostly based on their survivability and self healing nature.

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Alien

Or

Vsat terminals as long as there was no Solar Storm too!

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Gold badge
Troll

SDR

Isn't the problem with SDR (apart from lack of maturity) the power requirement?

So you drop all these people into what looks like a war-zone on steroids, each carrying a backpack containing 1000 9V batteries to keep their radio working for a day?

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Headmaster

Be that as it may..

"Skipping over the huge loss of life and general destruction wreaked by a magnitude 10 earthquake"

Please note that the past tense of 'to wreak' is 'wrought'.

That is all.

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Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Do these guys know something we don't?

"ACTIVATE BRUCE WILLIS!!"

"Yes sir, we do not currently have any launch capability left, as you may recall."

"Ah yes. Oh well. Set up a competition for Earthquake-Proof Radios then or something. Cheaper anyway and it looks like the recovery isn't coming in a hurry."

"As you wish."

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FAIL

It's been around for 50 years

It's called amateur radio.

http://www.raynet-uk.net/

http://www.ares.org/

After the Sumatra-Andaman quake and the resultant tsunami the only way to pass messages for days, if not a week or more to many islands (which had in some cases been submereged totally, albeit breifly) was amateur radio.

Digital modes such as PSK31 are incredibly robust, use almost no bandwitdh (about 60Hz) and need almost no power. 5 watts is sufficient with a simple wire aerial to get error free copy from the UK to Ukraine for example, as I was doing last night.

But hey, it's not something you can easily chuck money at is it a solved problem so let's ignore that part.

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Bronze badge

Morse code?

<<The Wireless Innovation Forum has announced the winners of its competition to find a radio technology suitable for use following a 15 gigaton earthquake>>

Yep, I learned that to get my Ham Radio licence (G4GKB) when I was about 20. Funny, haven't used it for years, but when I hear it, I can still translate it in my head.

Gets through practically anything. If it fails, there's always light, or a shiny bit o' mirror/metal.

Oh, and valves/tubes often survive pretty well anything. I guess the 'carbon footprint' in a nuke war using power-inefficient valves doesn't matter too much...

Never got proficient at semaphore, however. If one of you're arms gets blown off, might convey the wrong message.

I'll leave smoke signals to the natives of America...

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Bronze badge
Happy

Ah, duh!

It's called "Amateur Radio", also known as Ham Radio. The ham radio enthusiests will have radio gear tucked away in various locations, and the know-how to get it working again *no matter what*.

Tower knocked over? Use a tree.

Beam antenna bent? Use a wire dipole of length 468 feet / f (MHz).

Power off? Use a car battery.

Car battery dead? Dig out the solar panels.

Running low on power? Use "QRP" (5 watts and Morse code).

You *cannot* knock ham radio off the air for more than an hour or two. It's impossible. Not even roving bands of alien death squads could do it.

Such last-ditch emergency communications are the justification for the Amateur Radio service. Some of them even practice their "message traffic handling" skills.

They've even got packet radio for point-to-point data traffic. The data rate isn't the highest, but it can be forwarded anywhere.

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Bronze badge

So what?

I can see this little competition as having solved some interesting little problems, or at least having publicised some solutions which already exist. It's like the Internet, packet-switching, and the effects of a nuclear war. Not really a solution, but look what came out of the question.

It's possible that the useful part of these solutions will be in how SDR can be used at the base station level, so that a warship arriving on the coast can figure out how to talk to any operating radios there might be.

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