back to article US police radios killing trees

The relaxed attitude to spectrum use in the USA has come under pressure as a new police radio system in Dallas is interfering with an automated sprinkler system 30 miles away, resulting in brown lawns and dead trees in Plano. The sprinkler system was set up 15 years ago at a cost of $5 million, and covers 1,200 acres of …


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  1. Sam

    Misssing the obvious?

    No manual override they can use until it's sorted out?

    Or is that far too easy?

    Won't somebody think of the trees?

  2. Pete Silver badge

    needs a better protocol

    It sounds like the "relaxed attitude" is not limited to frequency use, but was also adopted by whoever designed such a brittle system.

    The obvious question is: why do trees need a radio link to turn the water on/off when everyone else manages with either a simple timer, or even simpler rainfall (maybe these places just aren't meant to have trees or lawns). You'd hope that someone, somewhere would have done even a little testing and thought about some "what if" situations - not necessarily involving police radios, but everyone who's listened to a car radio knows that the signal can fade, get interfered with or be distorted/garbled.

    From the article, it sounds like these guys still haven't learned the lesson, but merely want to avoid it by turning down the cops' wick (just wait until the "sorry we couldn't respond, our radios have been emasculated" stories appear).

    Maybe they should stick to gardening and leave RF communications to the specialists.

  3. Anon
    Paris Hilton

    Relaxed attitude

    What about the relaxed attitude to water use, resulting in trees and lawns being planted where they can't grow without artificial sustenance?

    Or a radio jammer.

    Paris, because she knows where bushes should grow.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The old parable

    How about just not building a community and planting trees where there isn't enough rain to support them? Talk about building your house on sand ...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Good ol' US of A

    Erm, isnt pretty much a good half of the USA built where it isn't sensible to build in the long term?

    Cities that burn vast quantities of irreplaceable hydrocarbons in winter to keep warm, burn almost as much in 130 degree summers to keep the aircon running....

    Surely manual override would involve a suitably qualified, MIT-tech graduate though??

    Coat.... is it me or is it warm in here?

  6. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    how about..

    they actually get off there fat asss and turn on the tap!

    there's a thought...

  7. Jason Harvey

    re:the old parable & re: how about..

    for the bible thumper... check your geography skills again. Plano is north of Dallas. This means that it is not in west Texas. This also means that they get on average about 30 inches of rain a year as opposed to the scant 10-15 inches that west Texas gets. It's still not as much as east Texas at about 40-50 inches. (these number I remember reading in a book in school about 15 years ago and may have varied some since then, but shouldn't be much) The silly part is not where the town is built, but the types of trees that are planted. Are they native trees? or are they trees from wetter climates that are planted just to make things look pretty. If you're gonna scoff, at least scoff on the right points.

    for the tap twister... you would have someone go turn the taps on 1200 acres of land every other day? so you would hire an extra 2000 people to turn the taps on 4000-8000 taps every day? (these numbers are sheer guesswork considering how much a regular sprinkler system can actually cover compared to the size of an acre and then multiplied out) talk about your generous waste of money. (not that the sprinkler system wasn't a waste in the first place, but still)

    seriously, people need to stop checking their brains at the door when they access the internet.

    so scoff at Plano for planting non-native plants that need to be watered instead of actually being intelligent and planting native plants that actually live with the rain that falls in the area. Would have saved them having to install the sprinkler system in the first place.

    *gets coat* mines the one with the green thumb and brain on the back (be smart about what you plant) and the scientific calculator in the pocket

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    re: how about..

    Well, if they got off their fat asss [sic], then everything wouldn't be bigger in Texas.

    Well, at least that's what they told me when I moved here... Can't say I've noticed any changes yet.

    Paris, because I hear when she's drunk, she makes a pretty good automatic sprinkler system herself.

  9. Mike


    isn't that why you're meant to either use licensed bands with a license (so it's yours, and nobody else can use it), or use unlicensed and expect interference?

    there are no details in the article about the license state of the spectrum, but one can assume if the police set up their system then it's a licensed band and they hold the license for it, so then why were the plant watering systems set up on a licensed band without getting a license? sounds like the last thing they should be doing is going to the regulator shouting about how they've been illegally using that frequency for years!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i am not a ham but...

    they could broad cast the sprinkler system louder to drown out the interference?

    (yes i understand that is a v simplistic analogy)

    they could of then claimed ignorance of the police radios when the coppers kit stopped working.

    of course, this assumes the sprinkler people had a right to be transmitting at that frequency in the first place...

  11. kain preacher Silver badge


    They said that the system was 15 years old. So the rules could of changed. There are some details I would liked answered. Like why is it affecting a system 30 miles away.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thinking about it

    In the US they is a set side for emergency frequencies. THis was done back in the 70's. I'm thinking that the sprinklers are on the edge of that set aside and they have the Tx power cranked up so high that its bleeding over to other frequencies. Thats why they are complaining to the FCC.

  13. Tim Bates


    FCC has been pretty dis-interested in the reality of radio for the last 5 years or so. All they care about is that someone paid the fee for the frequency. The higher the potential fee, the more likely they are to allocate it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What coverage are they using to blank out a system 30 miles away.

    When a US competitor unfairly challenged our signal strength, we were immediately banned from selling and importing until we managed to prove we were compliant all the time. No action was taken against the competitor for the knowingly false accusation by the FCC which was designed to knock the competition out of a big decision window. How could any US company consider a foreign article which the FCC has banned import of due to non compliance!

    So how come a system in use for 15 years is now being upset by a new one, nowadays the frequency usage should be well controlled so as not to interfere with other spectrum users and that should make up part of the FCC test certification process. Looks like the FCC doesn't know who to support when is it US against US, as opposed to US against them!

  15. Geoff Spick

    I like the idea of them...

    boosting power in Plano and an officer of the law getting a squirt of water in the face through his radio set. . . .

    just me then!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They are all going to low power digital next year anyway. The FCC is slowly doing away with all analog communications in the USA that isn't amateur.

    That's just like our local Police department, why they upgraded to a new system when they will be forced to go digital next year is beyond me. I know it's not digital because they freqs changed on my scanner but it's not a digital trunking scanner and I can still hear them. I guess some salesman talked them into buying it just to clear as much inventory as possible before the digital switch.

  17. pctechxp

    What about a cellular link

    As cant imagine it'll cost them much to send the commands on and off

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