back to article Ofcom slaps down ham botherer

A 63-year-old man from Hull has pleaded guilty to driving by the homes of radio hams purely for the joy of interfering with their hobby. In a case brought by Ofcom, Clive McMurray appeared in Hull Crown Court and admitted operating a radio transmitter without a licence. He was given a four-month sentence suspended for 18 months …

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Why didn't he just buy the house next door and install Homeplugs?

Then he could have wreaked havoc on the radio amateurs legitimately. Or so they say...

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Grenade

HPA/UPA devices are susceptible to interference.

Bad idea installing devices which fail all EMC tests next to an operating Radio Amateur/CB radio user. For starters, we will report you to Ofcom. Granted, they'll do very little, but pressure on them is mounting. Secondly, if we transmit perfectly legally and your HPA/UPA adapters fail, that's tough shit for you! They fail EN55022:1998 by 30dB and can never pass EN55022:2006, so you may as well stop being lazy bastards and install Cat6 into your property.

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Re: HPA/UPA devices are susceptible to interference.

I guess it's fair to assume you're a radio ham then. What's the fascination? Surely if it was about communicating with people the Internet offers better means to do so?

(Genuinely interested, not implying there's anything inherently wrong with being a radio ham).

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Anonymous Coward

Nope, CB user.

Being wiped out by BT Vision and the Comtrend crap they supply, and pissed at Ofcom for failing to take action against manufacturers of PLT who are clearly breaking the law!

We've had this type of discussion on Digital Spy. The Internet, mobile phones, etc., cannot replace communications run over radio. Radio "nets" can have several people all on one frequency taking their turn to add to the discussion. Mobile/home phones would require expensive conference calling and Internet chat cannot convey emotion very well. You also cannot operate those whilst driving; CB and Radio Amateurs can.

There are numerous fascinating things to study with radio that encompass electronics, physics, astronomy, astro-physics, particle physics and IT and the Internet. There are many high-end radios with PC control which can use the Internet to share contact information.

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Amateur radio is not a hobby....

....it's a way of life. And in this over-regulated world, it's actually very lightly regulated; you can dream up, design, build and operate just about any radio-based communications system you want to and no one will come and tell you that you're not allowed to do it.

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Joke

Doesn't sound

kosher to me.

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Megaphone

A good start OfCom

Now grow some balls and deal with organisations distributing interfering equipment (homeplug) as well as the single points of interference.

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Joke

Confusion

Maybe he's been plagued by spam and got the wrong end of the stick when someone explained what spam was :)

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Anonymous Coward

Miserable old git

I wonder what other spiteful things he gets up to?

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FAIL

pre-internet troll

Thats all the guy is, a pre-internet troll interfering with others enjoyment just for the hell of it.

He needs to move into the 21st century and take his trolling online.

Berk.

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FAIL

"Operating a radio transmitter without a licence is illegal"

This is not true. Engage brain before typing words.

Are all people who use a mobile phone, Wi-Fi or a walkie-talkie criminals?

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I see what you're saying

but I always though (and IANAL) it was a case of wifi etc being essentially "licenced when bought" as they operate in a free for civillian use spectrum and anything outside of that or above a certain power range needs a proper licence. I believe that some walkie talkies DO need licencing as well.

CB operators used to piss me off as they interrupted my R/C cars signal.

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Pint

License

People using a mobile phone are using the license of the company that their phone is connected to.

Wi-Fi is "license exepmt" which means that there is a general license to use the 2.4GHz band, as long as certain conditions are met (Max ERP, bandwidth used, out of band levels, etc.)

Walkie-talkies are either "license exempt" as Wi-Fi above, or use the license of the company that provides infristructure (as mobiles above), or the operator has their own license, or they are dodgy nasty ones that mean that you are breaking the law.

Now take your foot out of your mouth, and put in your hands to prevent typing any more nonsense.

¡Camarero! ¿Donde esta mi cerbeza?

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FAIL

Engage your own brain first

Wi-Fi operates in unlicensed radio bands and it's the network operators of mobile phones not the end-users who require licenses.

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Transmitter

Poor quality of trolling these days

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Anonymous Coward

Cb

is virtually licence free.

WiFi is licence exempt because it is low power.

The mobile phone operates on specific frequencies at pre-determined power and with specific protocols not under the control of the operator.

Walkie-talkies are low power and licence exempt, on specific frequencies/ranges pre-determined by the manufacturer and the law in the country sold.

Amateur radio is licence only and a test of knowledge has to be passed before operation can be legal.

Amateur radio can use multiple frequencies from as low as a few tens of kilohertz to the high microwave frequencies and power from a few watts to the odd kilowatt (ish)

We also have our own satellites in orbit and our own data network (worldwide)

We get quite a few instances of deliberate interference from failed would-be amateurs, which provides some with endless fun tracking them down and having words with OfCom.

We also get loads of interference from poorly constructed (so poorly as to be illegal) equipment.

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Grenade

Homeplugs

maybe he owned some homeplugs and was sick of getting sneered at by the HAMafia. I've been tempted myself.

(i realise that the previous sentence could be read as me implying that HAM radio enthusiasts were hermaphrodites, this was not my intention, i was trying to imply that they are an organised militia like the Mafia.)

there's a smokey up your backdoor.

10-4 good buddy etc. etc.

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It's not your fault.....

....that the PLT devices on sale cause so much trouble, it is the fault of the people who failed to insist that they met existing EMC standards. PLT doesn't do anything that Cat5 and WiFi can't do, the only difference is that the mains wiring is already installed.

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Grenade

take em back

you need to take your illegal devices back to the supplier and complain that they are

1) illegal

2) not fit for purpose

3) interfering with licensed radio services (illegal under UK; EU and international law)

not moan about those who are operating legally. After all if you had legally compliant equipment and a HAM interfered with it you WOULD be able to get him shut down - and no doubt you would; why should HAMs not have the same rights ?

of course that would imply you did some research and found out about the subject before commenting - american cb slang indeed

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Joke

But now-

who stands before us and the broadcasts of the lizard overlords?

What? You thought their transmissions came from above?

Ha!

Expect a rise in Alcan stock!

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Joke

"...hopefully he'll now find a more productive hobby...."

Purchasing a secondhand fire engine and going around hosing down groups of trainspotters springs immediately to mind.....

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Happy

"..hosing down groups of trainspotters.."

won't work - they will be wearing anoraks.

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Radio hams

Whats the point. Don't we have Skype and stuff now?

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The point is...

Radio will still work long after your internet connection and mobile phone network has gone down. Almost every country in the world which licenses amateur radio operation also has a dedicated network of operators who train and liaise with their local emergency services. In the event of some disaster (tsunami, earthquake etc) when power has been lost or the communications infrastructure damaged or overloaded radio amateurs can still deploy effective communication channels. These channels can be voice (analogue or digital) or digital (packet radio, amtor, psk etc) and can be local, national or international.

Do you realise how much of your "skype" connection uses some form of technology based on or derived from wireless? Maybe a satellite broadband connection or wifi link is used. Designers are needed to develop such technologies and amateur radio has been a good starting point for many such engineers and designers.

Transatlantic aircraft still use shortwave radio for communications and the frequencies they use are subject to varying propagation conditions. A world wide network of radio amateurs, who can devote far more time to propagation studies, still continues to provide valuable information to the professionals.

And, it is a fun hobby to boot.

73 de G4HDU

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My point was...

In terms of befriending remote, random strangers (which, to be fair, radio hams were doing years before everyone else) the internet is a better solution. Loads more attractive women for a start (Second Life for example).

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Bronze badge

Attractive women?

I think you risk being horribly surprised when you discover what's behind the avatar.

Morse code is nearly as bad.

Stick with voice and hope they don't use a software voice changer;

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Indeed

"Loads more attractive women for a start (Second Life for example)."

You only think they're women!

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Paris Hilton

@Just Thinking

That attractive woman on Second Life?

Yeah, she's a dude.

The practically non-existent identity verification and incredibly low barrier to adoption for the internet means that you can have a wonderful conversation for hours, and have absolutely no idea whether the person you're talking to actually is, does, or believes, any of the things they've represented to you.

As for Ham Radio, befriending remote, random strangers is not the core of the hobby, but one of the side benefits. As such, and given the barriers to adoption, it's less likely to be abused as it is on the internet (although it can still happen.)

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Happy

@ Just Thinking

Just because there are alternatives to earlier communications technology does not mean that amateur radio hobbyists don't utilize newer technologies and explore these also.

There are versions of VOIP programs that are available specifically for licensed hams: IRLP and Echolink are two examples. However radio communications can stand alone when the mains go down as has been mentioned previously.

73 de KB7TIB

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The point?

Why would anyone want to read? Don't we have video now? And those horse riding fools, don't they know about motorcycles? And amateur astronomers, you can get a much better view on the Hubble website. Heck, I can't see why anyone does anything these days.

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Grenade

Re: The point is...

"Do you realise how much of your "skype" connection uses some form of technology based on or derived from wireless?"

Yes, about the same amount as my car uses technology based on the Horse and Cart. Wheels, roads, suspension, steering, many of the rules of use, quite a bit actually. Trouble is that this does not mean that Carriage Driving enthusiasts these days contribute or have contributed to automotive design in any great way......

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Grenade

Radio Hams

For my pointless hobby I sometimes throw thin ethernet cable round the house despite having Ham destroying HomePlugs and two wireless networks AND cabled Cat5, funny what we sometimes do in the dubious name of fun.

Leave the Ham's alone it keeps em busy and is mostly harmless, unlike train spotting.

Anonymous cos i don't want the HAMafia after me either or the "Rail Enthusiasts"

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Megaphone

Re. RADIO HAMS

"Anonymous cos i don't want the HAMafia after me either or the "Rail Enthusiasts"

I can't understand your panic. Remember your training Luke, '.. your crochet hook is a deadly weapon.'

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@Your Retarded

they are license exempt - tard.

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Happy

Nothing new

People used to do this back in the early 80s with CB radio. It was considered amusing to park outside someone's house and play some music so the occupier couldn't hear anyone else.

If anyone was stupid enough to do it from a "home base" we'd track them down and cut the co-ax.

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CB idiots

Even better than snipping the coax was shorting the inner to the braid with a thumb tack or nail. It made little difference to the reception of local stations, so the idiots had no idea something was amiss. But when they keyed the mike their jamming range would be severly limited and, as a bonus, there was a good chance they'd eventually blow the output stages of whatever rig or burner they were using to pump out "Now That's What I Call Shite" on channel 19.

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Yay!

Having been personally affected by this idiot I have to say bravo Ofcom, finally.

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In Amateur Radio, we have the only hobby with its own International Treaty!

Let us also not forget that it was a radio amateur (Phil Karn, KA9Q) who made networking a practical proposition for the masses. He wrote only the second implementation of TCP/IP. His own web site tells the story at:

http://www.ka9q.net/code/ka9qnos/

and notes that it has now served its day.

But elsewhere radio amateurs are still making progress in many forms of electronic communication.

G1TRL

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ka9q

I remember that. A pig to set up, but a port of ka9q on RISC OS is how I first got online.

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Amateur Radio

There is still a lot of point being an amateur. There are currently some very interesting experiments going on.

And of course we used Amateur Radio in PARIS for the tracking

G6UIM

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@Fr Barry

"...a dedicated network of operators who train and liaise with their local emergency services. In the event of some disaster (tsunami, earthquake etc) when power has been lost"

Um, so how do you power your Yaesu or Kenwood when power has been lost... ;-)

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@ Alan Lewis 1

Those little cylindrical things they use to power bunnies with.

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Happy

@Alan Lewis 1

Ever hear of generators? I can operate for extended times on both battery backup and a generator in case the power goes out. Oh, I can also keep the food cool, place heated/cooled, and the well pump running.

You have (possibly inadvertently) brought up another point. Many disasters do affect our antenna farms, but we have the knowledge and usually the resources to put a serviceable antenna back in the air (to get back on the air) in short order. This cannot always be said about municipalities (not knocking them as many have their radio systems serviced by an outside service vendor and do not have a staff of knowledgeable technicians as a result. They also may not have the budget to keep spare antennas, etc.).

@ other posters:

As has been mentioned, ham radio will be able to communicate no matter what happens to the Internet or phone systems (landline and cellular).

Many large public evens would not be possible if not for the volunteer communications help from radio amateurs.

During and after major events/disasters, municipal radio systems will be overloaded at best and destroyed at worst. At best, ham operations will take a lot of the load off the municipal system with both low priority and life saving communications, and at worst, will be the sole communications resource.

73 de N3MTJ

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Amateur Radio

There are also alternative sources of leccy such as solar cells, wind, and water power. Radio amateurs as a group are very resourceful.

Contesting during Field Day activities doesn't mean that a portable generator must be used: generally there are points given for low power usage. Sometimes for alternate power generation also.

@ Just Thinking: Avatars in can be of any form in Second Life. Human, mechanical, beasties, or even puffs of smoke. But I have to admit there are some nice female bodies there. :)

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Grenade

err car battery

generator

nicads

car ( to charge car battery.....)

ask the Katrina people; Haiti; or the Indians; Sri Lankans etc following the tsunami - one group of Amateurs kept coms going for a couple of weeks(supplied by airdrop with food & gas by the Indian Air Force..)) - before returning home to the UK & US from a ham holiday that became a disaster rescue mission. Even the Chinese rely on Amateur radio response following earthquakes.

We have just had another GLOBSET exercise - that is a GLOBAL emergency communications exercise (emercoms) set up by amateurs under sponsorship of the ITU ( a UN body).

The communications equivalent of the ICRC or Medicine sans Frontiers (both of whom happily use amateurs to supply emercoms too)

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Better respect these guys (and gals) - they might save our hides someday

I'm not a ham operator[*], but I'm glad you guys exist - you will be our lifeline communications system when/if everything else fails. Sure beats the hell out of the prospect of not having any outside communication at all.

* would like to learn someday, just haven't got around to it yet - not sure where to start though; am on a budget and landlord says no outdoor antennas, etc... I'll get around to finding out more someday.

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Happy

find

your local radio club

UK - the RSGB www.rsgb.org

US the ARRL www.arrl.org

can always point you in the right direction

if you are UK then your local RAYNET group will know who you need to see (ww.raynet-uk.net).

RAYNET being the Radio Amateur Emergency Network - a bunch of (lunatic ?) hams who do emergency radio for fun

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Seconded...

Have you noticed how Survivors, The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later etc could all do with some radio hams? Survivors was particularly funny with people getting lost - I know GPS drifts but I'm sure it would be usable for a few years.

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.. / -- .. ... ... / -.-. .-- (sigh)

.. - / .-- .- ... / -- --- .-. . / -.-. .. ...- .. .-.. .. --.. . -.. /

---... -.--.-

(+ some random letters to get past the bot)

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Pirate

brapp

trolling it oldskool stylee

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