back to article Hams try to re-carve the amateur radio spectrum in fight over open or encoded transmissions

Some people have been using ham radio frequencies for communication that's encrypted or difficult to decipher and others argue that's a threat to national security and a violation of the spirit and rules of amateur radio. Really, it's a fight over whether the amateur radio spectrum remains a hobbyist space or develops as a …

  1. Martijn Otto

    Can we please stop

    with this ridiculous "national security" bullshit? The main threat to our national security are the so-called "security agencies". If you mandate backdoors in software the real terrorists will simply use software developed in a country without such laws, so the only communications that are actually intercepted are those of the law-abiding citizens.

    We gain nothing but lose privacy.

    1. DaLo

      Re: Can we please stop

      I think you've misunderstood the article. Might be an idea to reread it?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Can we please stop

        >Might be an idea to reread it?

        One thought that struck me was that this was a deliberate move to try and keep the amateur radio spectrum for, amateurs.

        If you are not allowed to use encryption, the amateur bands become less attractive to commercial creep and exploitation. I mean try and use the unlicenced 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz frequencies for anything other than 802 WiFi these days.

        1. creedski

          Re: Can we please stop

          I'm happy to report that digital flight control for UAV on 2.4 and analog video back to my goggles on 5 for first-person-video work quite well. Get too many people flying FPV at once and the analog gets filled up pretty fast, but it's, like, analog.

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Can we please stop

          R6 noted, "I mean, try and use the unlicenced... ... 2.4GHz frequencies for anything other than 802 WiFi these days."

          I use it for Bluetooth. :-)

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

      Amateur radio has NEVER offered privacy. Indeed that is a key aspect of it in that you can get a license to transmit after passing the technical & regulatory exams, or simply act as a receiver listening in to those with a similar interest talking to each other anywhere in the world.

      If you want secrecy there are MANY internet based services that do it properly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

        OK, but I can sort of see the point here from the perspective of fallback comms if the Net goes down, or if {fill in restrictive regime} shuts down the Net - this is a long range way to get past that, but with crypto you can condense the transmission and so make it shorter, thus harder to locate.

        It is a well known fact that in case of a total infrastructure failure, ham radio tends to come to the rescue, but by barring coded transmission you will never develop the infrastructure for secured emergency services.

        Note: this is not to say I agree or disagree, the topic is too new for me to have an opinion, I just try to see what other arguments exist (and yes, I accept I may have this totally wrong so happy to be educated, that's the whole idea).

        In general, people that want to outright ban things make me nervous because they tend to have an agenda - reasonable people look for debate and compromise.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

          There are two separate points here:

          1) The use of encryption for emergencies in support of disaster mitigation - fair enough (and allowed in the UK).

          2) The use of obscure/propitiatory systems as a DRM-like system that looks out any user who is not willing to pay the company behind it. It is this point that I object to.

          The issue of error correction coding for performance is not a problem, that is well known and perfectly fine if it is an open system (like those covered by the CCSDS standards) and some well known amateurs have freely contributed to this (just search for Phil Karn as an example).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

            The use of obscure/propitiatory systems as a DRM-like system that looks out any user who is not willing to pay the company behind it. It is this point that I object to.

            OK, now I see where you're heading and for what it's worth, I fully agree. Thanks for the clarification.

          2. Mage Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

            Yes, D-Star is just a scam to sell Icom radios. It doesn't even use a particularly good codec. But it's all patented, copyrighted and controlled by Icom.

            Amateur radio historically wasn't private and in most countries it was a licence violation to use encrypted Morse or RTTY. Both possible in 1930s.

            So two issues are PROPRIETARY modes, codecs, protocols and also ENCRYPTION. There should not be either. Especially in an Emergency situation as that limits those able to help to a rich elite.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

              I operate a dstar repeater locally and aside from a little id31 handheld use no icom equipment.

              I will agree that it's not a brilliant codec.

              One thing I did design in to the repeater when building it was an emergency bypass switch which could be switched manually or via a command over dstar, once switched the repeater goes over to analogue operation but will still handle dstar if it comes in so that in an emergency the repeater is available for all operators to use regardless of equipment type (even ctcss is disabled so as long as you can break the squelch you will go through the repeater)

              Posted anon as this capability of the repeater is not licensed (NOV for the repeater only covers digital operation)

              1. Mage Silver badge

                Re: I operate a dstar repeater

                How many USERS can use the Repeater with:

                A) A commercial Rig not Icom.

                B) A legal homebrew rig

                Such a repeater is only really of value to Icom unless it ALWAYS supports any mode of transmission (technically possible on Duplex frequency pairs using linear amplifiers)

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I operate a dstar repeater

                  The only digital voice mode on VHF / UHF should be DMR. If you didn't already know it's an open standard (ETSI). Furthermore, Amateur Radio has a long history of ex-military and ex-PMR radios being adapted for use on the ham bands. DMR is merely a continuation of this well established trend. Such is its popularity there is even a market for ham-oriented DMR radios now too! Thanks but no thanks D-Star™ and System Fusion™

            2. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

              Re: "nothing but lose privacy"

              Sorry but that's bollocks.

              The JARL "own" DStar, Kenwood make radios to support it,

              There are bits that are Icom developed in relation to linking, but DPlus, irdddb, etc makes that all irrelevant.

              There are more open source DStar nodes and repeaters out there than there are Icom by a very long way.

              There have been radio adapters designed and published as open source designs.

              Yaesu is with System Fusion is the walled garden.

    3. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Can we please stop

      History, largely. Remember that amateur radio is *old*. Pre-WW1 old. Back before international phone calls became affordable, it was quite difficult to communicate covertly across borders, and that posed a serious problem for spies - how could you safely get orders to your agents and they send reports back when mail may be monitored, and long-distance calls were rare enough to easily monitor? The spies of WW2 and the Cold War had all sorts of ingenious miniaturized radios for such a purpose. One potential avenue for covert communications was affordable, perfectly legal and explainable ham radio equipment - so governments decided that, in the interests of national security, all ham comms must be open and unobscured. So that they could listen in easily.

      That particular reason isn't really valid any more, thanks to the internet making safe communication almost trivial. But hams still like it because it keeps their spectrum free for their use. They fear an invasion of the commercial users without some sort of 'keep off our turf' regulation - everything from taxi companies trying to save on phone bills to churches looking to cheaply broadcast a sermon to their town would love to get their hands on some empty spectrum they could utilize with nothing but a free license and some off-the-shelf equipment. If there were a legal way to obscure transmissions, it'd be impossible to prevent these blatant violations of the no-broadcasts, no-commercial-use rules.

      Legally, though, there's not that much difference between intentional encryption and using an obscure new mode that hardly anyone is even aware of. Either one obscures communication

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Forcing the opening up of all systems used for amateur radio use is perfectly right and proper, after all the whole ethos is about understanding and furthering radio use for the benefit of all.

    Encryption (or "propitiatory" obfuscation) should never be an option - even for spacecraft command it should be authentication-only to prevent others monkeying with anything important. If that is incompatible with your business then move to a commercially licensed spectrum and compete with the big boys/girls.

  3. silks

    Licence Conditions

    In the UK, amateur radio operators licenced by Ofcom are forbidden from encrypting transmissions.

    The spirit of Amateur (Ham) Radio is very much that it's open.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Licence Conditions

      But when is something encrypted? That is the whole gist of the discussion here. Is data compressed by some obscure algorithm encrypted or just compressed? The compression is there to reduce transmission time and improve reliability over difficult radio links, but if an outside observer cannot decompress the data stream, is it then the same as encryption?

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: @imanidiot

        That is exactly my point - this is not about forbidding advanced coding/modulation techniques for performance or reliability, but about stopping obscure/closed systems that you can only interact with if paying the company behind it. Just like DRM, and the opposite of the amateur radio ethos.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licence Conditions

      Actually RAYNET are allowed to use encryption if they see fit, this was incorporated into licence changes in 2015.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/15/radio_hams_can_encrypt_in_emergencies_says_ofcom/

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: licenced by Ofcom are forbidden

      D-Star isn't encryption, but it's a closed, proprietary system used to sell Icom rigs. I can't understand why (a) It has support and (b) Why Comreg and Ofcom allow it and repeaters designed for it. It's inferior to FM and especially SSB for coverage and basically needs an Icom rig or an Icom licensed massively overpriced USB stick.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: licenced by Ofcom are forbidden

        Don't worry we can understand why you think that.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Licence Conditions

      It also meant that people behind the Iron Curtain were allowed to use amateur radio.

  4. _LC_ Silver badge
    Holmes

    This is silly, of course.

    This is silly, of course, as those who are forbidding it are the ones abusing it. Small ads: "Pedro from Yakasshaw wants to meet Amalia from Lake Pinnehaw in Westburry at 13th corner, 12:43 sharp."

  5. phuzz Silver badge
    Meh

    I'm surprised the Americans aren't shouting their usual "freedom of speech!" spiels about this. Surely the big-bad government can't dictate how red-blooded Americans use their god-given bandwidth?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't about privacy, it's about how bandwidth is allocated and used.

    This isn't really about encryption.

    This is about bandwidth allocations, who uses the air space for what purpose, a love affair for 100+ year old technology and protocols (morse code aka CW), fear of change, and the inability of both sides to make reasonable compromises.

    The encryption issue is just another way to take out newer more efficient ways of transferring information digitally, leaving more room for historical ways converse with each other.

    This pissing contest has been going on for at least 15 years or more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This isn't about privacy, it's about how bandwidth is allocated and used.

      Yup, the septic's who we're talking about here have been stuck in this rut for years, much the same with not adopting sensible metric thread standards even with their internationally sold products, at least the RSCB realised digital modes were killing voice and CW use and tried to move forward, the ARRL however is seen as dragging it's feet by many younger hams who want to experiment. Commercial interests involved however have been a factor in band space pressue, and if it wasn't for the ARRL especially amateurs would have lost bands world-wide, Motorola IIRC wanted the 2m (144-146 or 148Mhz in the USA) band for LEO satellites, as most VHF active UK amateurs know EPOS systems emit huge sproggies in the 2m band, a certain companies processors are used in EPOS systems...

  7. Mr Dogshit
    WTF?

    10-4 Rubber Duck!

    Breaker, breaker... I got my ears on.

    Who gives a crap apart from the three dozen virgins in RAYNET?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 10-4 Rubber Duck!

      If I could upvote you 144 million times I would have done.

  8. PTW
    Boffin

    Err, why does it all need to be encrypted when dealing with disasters?

    "'cos terrists"?

    Jeez the Old Bill used to use the spectrum around 104-108MHz FM that you could pick up with any old radio by tuning to the end of the dial.

    I think in a real emergency, "some comms" would be good enough!

    Go Radio Hams keep this crap out of your spectrum.

    EDIT

    In fact make it all Morse only :D

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 'no encryption' rule is very long standing, at least in the UK, and is really there so that TPTB can, in principle, follow what you are doing. They don't really care whether other people can decode it or not. However the use of well-known coding and modulation schemes does make it easier for Radio Amateurs to communicate with each other. So if you use some new, clever coding system for compression and/or improving channel capacity, then the spec, sufficient to allow a receiver/decoder to be built, has to be published somewhere. Mostly people interested in new coding and modulation methods do publish in relatively well-known amateur fora as they want other people to play as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The "no encryption rule" may very well be a long standing rule (in the UK) in the past but if, for example, you were to have a simplex DMR QSO using enhanced privacy but published the key on your QRZ page would that be illegal? Bear in mind anyone monitoring would see your callsign in plain text. Where's the first place you go to find out more about a callsign? And even if it were even illegal would anyone care enough to land you in court?

  10. Dave Bell

    Some of this argument seems to be skirting around the differences between encoding a message and encrypting it, and that's not quite as simple as it sounds, because the jargon can be confusing. "Codes and ciphers" covers two different sorts of cryptography, which is the area that provokes the complaints, but "code" doesn't have to be cryptography, and that has a distinct definition.

    So, first the cryptography, the secret writing: codes deal with words and phrases, units of language. There were codes for business use for sending telegrams, which could put a whole phrase into a short string of letters, but anybody could buy a copy of the codebook. But "goods not according to contract specification" counted as one telegraphic word. And nobody would be reading it casually. Ciphers deal with arbitrary units, such as letters of the alphabet, usually single letters, sometimes pairs. The idea of a code still has a place, you might have a codename for a particular person, because looking for the known real name might help break a cipher but most stuff now is ciphers.

    But Morse code (and a few others) isn't really anything to do with cryptography. And neither is ASCII or Unicode, they're all much the same thing, shifting a representation of words to another medium, taking alphabetical symbols and putting them in a mode machinery can handle. We talk about codecs with audio and video, and it's the part of the definitions that's the root. But DRM drags back in the secret writing part. And some things get messy.

    Those old telegraphic codes, allowing the efficient sending of messages that can't be read by all and sundry, that shouldn't be a problem. They were allowing them during the World War because the censors and other monitors had the codebooks (and there was an interesting series of orders for tobacco sent from various English ports to a company in the Netherlands, which got noticed).

    There's a history here, and there's nothing really new here. We use barcodes, but they're just another sort of partnumber, and for some things collectors will use the old telegraphic codewords, but what worries people is the secrecy aspect. What do they have to hide? And those video codecs, it's all too common that a software update with a new codec will break something else.

    If you want something that works, is secrecy that good an idea?

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Thank you

      dB explained "...differences between encoding a message and encrypting it..."

      Nicely done. Saved me from doing it less well.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a real emergency

    A report from the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering covers what happened in 2015 in a real emergency in the city of Lancaster which was without electricity for (only?) 24 hours or so, though after-effects carried on for days.

    The report has been mentioned a number of times already on comments here at el reg.

    https://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/reports/living-without-electricity

    I though Raynet got a mention but can't quickly find it; it is mentioned in more recent plans and documents:

    https://www.boltonmrt.org.uk/2017/03/15/team-sends-representative-to-the-lancashire-emergency-radio-network-meeting/

    "In December 2015, life for more than 100,000 people in Lancaster reverted to a pre-electronics era. A flood at an electricity substation resulted in a blackout over the entire city that lasted for more than 24 hours. Suddenly people realised that, without electricity, there is no internet, no mobile phones, no contactless payment, no lifts and no petrol pumps. Although these dependencies were not difficult to see, few had thought through the implications of losing so many aspects of modern life at once.Three months after the event, Lancaster University brought together representatives from local organisations with policy makers and power system specialists. The conclusions of the workshop are summarised in this report. The failure of the power supply in Lancaster was an important reminder that things will occasionally go wrong and we must learn the lessons from such events.

    Over the first weekend in December 2015, Storm Desmond brought unprecedented flooding to North Lancashire and Cumbria, including to parts of central Lancaster. At 10.45pm on Saturday, 5 December, electricity supplies to 61,000 properties in the city were cut. Electricity was progressively restored from 4.30am on Monday but was cut again to most areas at 4pm that evening. 75 large diesel generators were brought into the city and connected to local substations which allowed restoration of supplies over the next few days. By Friday, 11 December, the situation was back to normal.

    A workshop was held at Lancaster University on 9 March 2016 bringing together researchers, civil society, business and government. Representatives from 16 bodies affected by the loss of supply, 10 civil servants from different government departments, representatives of research organisations and professional engineering bodies, the police, and members of Lancaster University discussed the impact of the loss of supply on other systems and the community.

    The loss of power quickly affected many other services that people take for granted:

    * Most mobile phone coverage was lost within an hour.

    * Although most landline phone services were available, many people who had replaced their traditional handsets with cordless phones were unable to connect.

    * The internet was lost over most of Lancaster and, even where it was available in the street, electricity was not available to supply domestic routers and Wi-Fi hubs.

    * Electronic payment systems were unavailable and most ATM machines did not work.

    * The local TV booster station lost power, which also affected digital radio (DAB) services.

    Households, businesses and transport

    * The immediate effects on households were loss of lighting and electrical appliances.

    * Most homes in the affected area have gas-fired central heating with the control system and circulating pump reliant on electricity, so had no heating.

    * Many homes have all-electric cooking and thus were unable to heat food.

    * There are few high-rise buildings in the city but all lost power for their lifts and some upper floors lost water supplies.

    [continues]"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In a real emergency

      i was in the area then and i powered my ADSL modem router off lead-acid batteries, the speedtest was outstanding as i was probably only one of a handful in the area who had working ADSL and wifi :)

      there's so little activity on Ham radio in that area you could just use no encryption,

      no-one would hear you so it would be just as private as using triple-DES or whatever

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: In a real emergency

      "...24 hours..."

      Puh... After a hurricane went through my backyard, much of the affected area was out for several days. My neighbourhood had no power for ten days.

      Endless clean-up, interspersed with BBQs.

  12. Demosthenes Locke

    There is a BIG difference between obscuring the meaning of content and encoding it to improve propagation and communication. FT8 and JS8Call are NOT "encryption". They are digital encoding schemes, the full specifications of which are freely and openly available. Anyone can download the programs needed to convert the transmissions to human-readable text. In fact, the source code of those programs is also freely and openly available.

    The regulations against encryption *specifically* state that the purpose of the encryption must be to OBSCURE meaning. If there is no obscuring of meaning, there is no illegal encryption. Morse code is just unintelligible beeps and boops to someone who hasn't taken the time and effort to learn it, and there are many programs and hardware devices that can easily decode Morse characters into normal text. There is no obscuring of meaning with the intent of preventing others from understanding it. It simply requires an application of freely-available information and skill.

    A single-sideband transmission is generally unintelligible to a standard amplitude-modulation receiver. It sounds vaguely like Donald Duck gargling Listerine. Is that "encrypted"? Radio itself is audio frequency heterodyned upon a radio frequency. It requires special equipment to deheterodyne the signal and make the audio portion understandable. Is that "encrypted"? Neither are encryption because the method for making sense of it is freely available, and it was not done for the purpose of obscuring communication, but for facilitating it. Sideband phone has effectively more power radiated, so it travels further. It's less susceptible to atmospheric interference than AM. There's also FM modulation -- is that encryption? No, because it's not different from AM in order to obscure the meaning, but to make it more intelligible, as an FM receiver is less prone to interference that would reduce intelligibility of an AM signal with the same imposed information.

    This is just another case of people who fetishize older systems of communication and are resistant to newer methods. AM made spark-gap radio obsolete, so spark-gap users complained about it. SSB reduced the importance of AM, so the users of AM complained. Users of morse code complained about phone. AM users also complained about FM. HF users complained about VHF and UHF. The list goes on and on. This is a complaint from analog users who don't want to learn the new digital techniques, which are freely open for anyone to learn and use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Best comment ever posted on el reg

    2. cdegroot

      Nail. Hammer.

      I mean, I do want to learn Morse. I wish spark-gap radios were still legal. It's sort of "romantic" if you can talk to someone else using not much more than a battery and some copper wire. Just for the sheer minimalism of it I really want to learn Morse one day.

      But it's 2019 now and software defined radio is dirt cheap and promises to make so many things better that we should embrace it. I'm sure there are a bazillion things you can do with digital that nobody has thought of, and a lot of tinkering by radio amateurs has made it into the mainstream. Progress needs to be fully embraced.

      Thanks for so eloquently explaining it -- VA3CGR

  13. LateAgain

    Radio amateurs start by listening

    So surely blocking people from being able to listen in to amateur radio (however easy or hard that is) will stop new recruits?

  14. George Costanza

    This has nothing to do with national security

    It's the argument that is being pursued here, but the underlying driver has nothing to do with it. The traffic they're talking about is associated with a controversial HF email system called Winlink.

    The reason Winlink is controversial is because it's popular with the sailing crowd as a cheap alternative to commercial email services, both over satellite phones and HF radio. Because of its popularity, it occupies a huge amount of HF spectrum.

    The "too cheap to pay for a commercial service" use case is seen as antithetical to the purpose of amateur radio, which is primarily about that of experimentation and self-training.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as someone with a ham licence

    I can send secure, private messages to another party without needing to use encryption. Even with the whole world listening in.

    Does it bend the rules? Only insofar as the rules say that you need to transmit something other than gibberish. Which they don't.

    Words to the wise: secure message authentication codes based on shared knowledge of identity. Plus chaffing. (no encryption; yes collusion)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: as someone with a ham licence

      Use spread spectrum and your signal is more difficult to even detect.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: as someone with a ham licence

      The robin alights at midnight. The kettle will be full.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: as someone with a ham licence

        “Allo, Allo. This is Nighthawk! Are you receiving me? Over.”

        “Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once!”

        ---> Michelle gets her coat

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: as someone with a ham licence

          Oooh René!

          R.I.P

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: as someone with a ham licence

        To the executioner, all supplicants are the same height.

        The caged whale knows nothing of the mighty deeps.

  16. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Don't make laws that can't be enforced.

    Or laws that won't be enforced. I can understand two things on my radio, Morse and voice. Everything else is gibberish as far as I'm concerned and could be encrypted for all of me. If I were doing more packet stuff with high altitude balloons or putting location devices in my model rockets I'd have more stuff hooked up to send and receive digital signals.

    If I were a baddy, I would encrypt my comms and only communicate on a mobile rig from within areas that are moderately to densely populated. Good luck tracking me with any sort of speed or accuracy. This is what I mean by a law that can't be enforced. The means to do it is so complex that it will take a huge effort to do it and it won't be enforced. The times that it might be used will be when it's the only charge that can be made to stick. There was a notorious Mafia figure in the US that was put in prison for tax evasion. Everything else they knew he was involved with or suspected of doing couldn't be proved. What could reasonably be the penalty for transmitting encrypted messages on the amateur bands? A nominal fine? 90 days in jail? There's no way they could justify years in prison. It's like tacking on "Hate Crime" to a trial of somebody being charged with murder. If they are acquitted of the murder charge, the hate crime bill is void. If they are found guilty of murder, who cares about the hate crime conviction, it's just icing but might take another few days/weeks in court to prove or disprove.

    There could be some unique circumstances where broadcasting something in the clear wouldn't be all that great. If there is a disaster, Hams might be used to convey names of deceased and authorities may want to identify and contact family members before the names are made public. There could also be discussions about incoming supplies and other relief material that they don't want to announce to prevent people rushing to the location before there is a chance to set up an orderly dispensing station. The fact that we hams are a bunch of weirdos that can broadcast for days off the grid makes us valuable in the event of a disaster or emergency when other "more advanced" systems may be off-line.

    Got my Extra on the first go.

    1. sofaspud
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't make laws that can't be enforced.

      Thank you for offering a valid reason why emergency comms should be encrypted. I've been trying to puzzle out what possible use secrecy in an emergency could have and clearly I'm a bit on the dim side.

  17. ku4gw_cliff
    Facepalm

    ACDS and ALE Stations

    I tend to agree in part with Theodore Rappaport in his assertions about interference from these types of stations. I don't think an amateur operator in the U.S. exists that operates in the 20 or 40-meter band digital mode segments that haven't received interference from these types of stations. They will suddenly appear and transmit right on top of ongoing QSOs regardless of the frequency already being in use. I just experienced exactly that 2 nights ago when participating in the Feld Hell Club's 40-meter band net on 7084.50 kHz (7083 VFO frequency with a 1500 hertz audio frequency). That's happened to me numerous times regardless of the digital mode I'm using.

  18. Big_Boomer Bronze badge

    Common Sense?

    Encryption has a variety of purposes and shouldn't just be knee-jerk banned. However, AMATEUR radio is not to be used for commercial purposes under any circumstances, so something encrypted that is using that much bandwidth warrants investigation. If found to be commercial, then you prosecute the offenders.

    Here in the UK if there are suspicions of commercial activity on any Ham bands, then you report it and it gets investigated. I had an issue many moons ago with severe interference on 2m and reported it after some initial investigation and logging. 2 weeks later I was informed that the pirate FM station operating very close to my house with his cheap poorly made transmitter and homemade antenna had been shutdown, and whaddya know the interference was gone.

    As for the negative comments about Hams, if you are too stupid to understand a technical hobby, then why do you feel you have to insult and belittle those who do understand and enjoy it? Grow up moron!

    1. N9LYA

      Re: Common Sense?

      Encryption is already ILLEGAL on Ham Bands.. what WINLINK is doing is NOT ENCRYPTION.. It is called Data Compression is well known and publicly released. It has been used on FBB JNOS and BPQ ... I wish people would get up to speed on this topic.. Again nothing on WINLINK is encrypted.. Nothing..... 73 jerry

  19. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    Almost any decent programmer worth their salt can create custom Ham Radio software that opens up to the world FULLY ENCRYPTED communications using software that speaks NORMAL English Text (or other languages!) using common phrases and "faked/artificial" over-the-air conversation where the WORDS, PHRASES AND INTONATION THEMSELVES are the compressed and encrypted data.

    "We are meeting at 221b Baker Street London." Since the English Language has 26 characters I can create a modulation scheme that determines that certain words and phrases mean certain things that are NOT of the actually spoken words. Example: "Baker Street" is the compressed token for "I will be going home to you at 8:00pm tonight meet me right outside". Any type and length of phraseology can be used as the "tokens" for a digitally encrypted over-the-air communications schema.

    By using a PUBLISHED common database and/or your OWN private database, you can use voice synthesis to have two Ham radios speak normal English between said radios but the phrases, individual words and even intonation will be interpreted by the software-based voice-to-text converters as POINTERS to common (public) tokens or private tokens that represent compressed digital data. This means I could easily create enough variations from common voice exchanges that can be used to store compressed digital data of ANY length and type.

    For example: Engineering and math words could be set aside as containing video and audio packets while weather terms could be set aside as containing email data. The individual letters and combinations of vowels, constants, individual words, entire phrases AND EVEN THEIR INTONATION within the English, German, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Mandarin/Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindustani, Pashtun, etc. languages within a phrase could actually represent an entire coding and compression schema itself such as Hexadecimal or octal notation so that anyone listening would hear normal conversations over-the-air.

    But in reality, a HIGH QUALITY voice synthesizer and speech-to-text converter are acting as a "Conversational Modem" sending digital data back-and-forth between ham radios at what I would expect to be around 256 to 1024 Kilobits (64 kilobytes to 256 kilobytes per second) if they were speaking in a normal speed of typical voice conversation. That's EASILY ENOUGH BANDWIDTH for email and even digitally encoded real-time voice communications or very low quality video communications. The English or other language's phraseology and intonation themselves ARE the encrypted and compressed data tokens which represent MUCH LARGER digital data streams.

    This means government agencies listening in would hear normal voices of many synthesized types and intonations BUT the back and forth conversations are in reality encrypted and compressed communications that are in effect "Over-The-Air Voice Modems" !!!

    Since MANY modern portable and fixed station radios are now software enabled, I can EASILY add voice-to-text and text-to-voice capability from my smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC. And if the radios are NOT software enabled via bluetooth and/or USB or RS232 connectors, then just put a microphone and speaker nearby the handset and/or headset which will record and playback mobile device created and interpreted voice-synthesized text!

    THE KEY ISSUE is to make the voice synthesizer realistic enough and the phraseology common enough that detection by monitoring software becomes nearly impossible. I can do that by MODELLING the human vocal chord structure and ADD-IN artificial accents and realistic intonation of common public AND private phrases which will represent orally tokenized digital data.

    What do ya say? Am I the one that needs to DO THIS ALL FOR FREE ??? !!! I can do it! I have the ACTUAL PROGRAMMING EXPERTISE !!! If you want it I WILL DO IT !!! Comments are very welcome down below!

    ---

    NOTE: These ideas are NOW fully FREE and open source that are licenced under the terms of the GNU GPL3 licence for open source software and hardware design, development, coding, creation, engineering, modification, distribution and end-use by EVERYONE!

  20. N9LYA

    Remember there is nothing Encrypted on WINLINK. It is Compressed and it is not private.

    B2F Compression is and has been available for decades.. Via FBB JNOS and BPQ...

    This entire RM is totally an attack by RTTY ops to Destroy WINLINK...... its is against the Ham Brotherhood. By those that want the spectrum to themselves.,

  21. N9LYA

    Nothing is encrypted in HAM RADIO. That is already illegal! That is like wanting to pass a new law that says murder should be illegal?

    Grow a brain!

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