12.29.20

Nashville

I’m going to start by saying I don’t give a fuck about who the guy was, or why he chose to park his VBIED in front of an AT&T Switching Center. I am glad he at least had the decency to warn people that he was about to blow himself up, and while I have no love for the phone company, there are, if the reviews have any credence, a lot of decent restaurants that were caught in the blast zone who now have yet more bullshit to deal with besides COVID-19. So, in my opinion “Anthony Quinn Warner” was an asshole just for the fact that he fucked with the livelihoods of a bunch of people who provide folks with good food and good times when they take their family or significant other out for a nice evening. He might have been an asshole with some morals, but he was still an asshole.

The one piece of truth that did come out of this incident is the necessity for having some back-up communications capability on hand for when your phones and Internet stop working. We recently had some typical winter weather in New England, and Nashville just had someone set off a bomb in front of the phone company. Both incidents had the same effect.

Have your family members get their Technician class ham license. Put a 2 meter (or 2 meter/440) base in your house with a decent antenna. Install a mobile rig in your cars. Toss an HT in your day bag with extra batteries. Figure out what repeaters you can hit from both home and work, and if you can communicate along your commute on simplex. Now when your phone stops working you have a way to let your spouse know that 1. You’re OK, and 2. You’re on your way home and should be expected within NN minutes.

The next thing your should do is get a police scanner and program in whatever local public safety communications systems are monitorable in your locale. Now you are set to know what’s going on whether it’s a blizzard or a bombing without having to deal with the establishment mass media talking heads.

You don’t have to believe in Civil War 2, TEOTWAWKI, QAnon conspiracies, or any other nonsense like that, because anyone with a whit of common sense is able to easily observe first hand that things break, and that it’s a good idea to have a few things in place for when they do. As far as the nonsense goes, if you’ve read, practiced, and applied the material in those intelligence manuals I shared earlier, you should be on your way to building up a rather nice bullshit filter.

In the meantime, here are some sites to help you out:

http://www.arrl.org/exam-practice

http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session

12.27.20

Saturday Night’s All Right For Scanning

I reported two weeks ago about the loss of my primary VHF/UHF communications monitoring antenna after almost 20 years of yeoman service. Despite being a unity-gain, albeit wide-spectrum, antenna, the Diamond discone performed well, and monitoring distances out to 60 miles in certain directions were possible, allowing us to hear as far as Long Island and the Catskills.

Last night I decided to make two determinations. The first was to see how far one might possibly listen with an inside antenna, and the second was to see what one could listen to in this locale that was not P25 Phase II or encrypted. I listened for one hour (2100-2200 EST) yesterday evening monitoring the VHF & UHF public safety, and VHF aircraft bands. Listening location was Plymouth, CT ( Maidenhead Grid FN31lq). Elevation was ~800′ ASL which is maybe a little higher than average terrain in the area. Equipment was a whistler WS1040 handheld scanner with a 22″ telescoping whip antenna (approx resonant frequency 130 MHz.).

In the course of one hour I logged 28 frequencies. Six of those frequencies were VHF aircraft band. One was VHF-low band. Four were P25. None were encrypted. Overall it was a quiet evening. Longest distance received on public safety bands was 35 miles. Not surprisingly this distance was achieved with the aid of terrain as Stratford, CT is right down the Naugatuck River valley on the Long Island Sound shore, and Clove Mountain, NY is at 1400′ ASL giving it a decided height advantage being 600 feet above us, and 200 feet above the next highest elevation on the RF path. Being that the frequency was on VHF-low band didn’t hurt either. VHF Aeronautical band reception was typical, and >100 Mile reception range of in-flight aircraft is to be expected when the transmitter is up at >30,000′ ASL. Being snuggled up against TRACON N90 ensures that there is always plenty of radio traffic to be heard from 118-137 MHz., and plenty of it can be heard with just a rubber duck antenna indoors.

The following frequencies were logged during this exercise:

  • 46.360 – FM – CSQ – Dutchess County, NY FD
  • 118.475 – AM – Waterbury/Oxford TWR
  • 132.175 – AM – ZNY Elk Mountain
  • 132.825 – AM – Albany (NY) APP/DEP
  • 133.425 – AM – ZBW Woodstock
  • 134.3000 – AM – ZBW Kingston
  • 135.800 – AM – ZBW Islip
  • 151.0325 – NFM – PL 67.0 – Beacon Falls, CT FD
  • 151.3700 – NFM – PL 82.5 – Seymour, CT FD
  • 152.3225 – P25 – NAC 033 – Torrington, CT PD
  • 153.1250 – NFM – PL 179.9 – Tolland County, CT Dispatch “TN”, West/Vernon (FD/EMS)
  • 154.1300 – NFM – PL 74.4 – Meriden, CT FD
  • 154.1900 – NFM – DPL 205 – Farmington, CT FD
  • 154.3100 – NFM – PL 167.9 – Hartford, CT FD
  • 154.3100 – P25 – NAC FD2 – Stratford, CT FD
  • 155.1075 – PL 82.5 – Litchfield County, CT Dispatch “LCD” (FD/EMS)
  • 155.2275 – NFM – PL 179.9 – Vernon, CT FD
  • 155.2350 – NFM – PL 97.4 – American Medical Response (AMR), Bridgeport, CT
  • 155.4900 – NFM – PL 162.2 – East Hampton, CT PD
  • 158.7750 – NFM – DPL 343 – Washington, CT “town channel”
  • 158.7825 – NFM – PL 186.2 – Oxford, CT FD
  • 158.9775 – NFM – PL 162.2 – Oxford, CT EMS
  • 159.0300 – P25 – NAC 110 – Plainville, CT PD
  • 453.1875 – NFM – DPL 743 – Tolland County, CT Dispatch “TN”, West/Vernon (FD/EMS)
  • 460.3250 – NFM – PL 203.5 – Watertown, CT PD
  • 460.6000 – P25 – NAC 293 – Thomaston, CT PD
  • 462.9500 – NFM – PL 192.8 – Northwest CT C-MED
  • 462.9750 – NFM – PL 118.8 – North Central CT C-MED

Connecticut has a bit of a reputation in the scanning community with the recent upgrade of the state’s trunked system to P25 Phase II and the widespread use of encryption on public safety radio systems. It has led many to claim that communications monitoring with low to mid-tier equipment is difficult to impossible in this state. Yet, at present there is still plenty of COMINT potential with a simple P25 Phase I capable unit monitoring conventional (non-trunked) radio systems in the state.

Like many other matters dystonautic, when it comes to local COMINT it is important for you to do your own independent research and not reply on the often incorrect information found online.

12.20.20

Hal Turner – China, Fact & Fantasy

A receiver at Cyber-Tek/Dystonaut Labs Radio Monitoring Post & SIGINT Facility

Unlike many writers affiliated with the self-reliance and preparedness scene, Cyber-Tek/Dystonaut Labs and most of our affiliates maintain communications listening posts to collect and process Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), and specifically COMINT (Communications Intelligence). Since for the majority of our 30 year existence we and most of our people have been located in the Northeast, it’s safe to say that we have this region covered pretty well. Well enough that we can hear the proverbial flea fart in a windstorm, especially if the flea is in New England.

Considering this capability, it came as a surprise to discover we might have missed hearing and noticing two Chinese Divisions coming into Maine, particularly the 200-plus transport flights that would have been required just for the personnel, not to mention all their gear and provisions. Having had a front row seat for the Desert Shield deployment at Ft. Sill, and then later having to get a reserve component Field Artillery unit ready for activation, I can tell you from personal experience that the preparations for invading a country are very noticeable even to someone who is not paying attention.

Upon hearing that this bit of fake news came from Hal Turner, we considered his past as an FBI informant, and figured it was just a bit of creative fiction to make a little money and get a few of his more stupid, gullible, or unstable listeners to go do something that will get them arrested.

We’ve talked about Honey Pots and Wire-Jiggling in a previous blog entry. That’s when a someone tries to get their opposition to do something stupid, in the hopes they get busted or are otherwise neutralized. A lot of Maine is rural with small towns where everybody knows one another. Some batshit crazy conspiracy theorist from New Jersey going up there to do something about a fake Chinese invasion would stand out as much as a division of PLA, and would be easy to identify, isolate, and incarcerate.

With that said, pundits such as Hal Turner serve a useful purpose for several private groups that are loosely affiliated with Dystonaut Labs. They are used as a filter in part of the process to disqualify prospects who might cause the group problems later. If your group is smart it will do the same.

And now it’s the time for facts instead of fantasy.

Those of you looking for accurate information of Chinese military capability can consult the following links:

https://media.defense.gov/2020/Sep/01/2002488689/-1/-1/1/2020-DOD-CHINA-MILITARY-POWER-REPORT-FINAL.PDF

https://www.dia.mil/FOIA/FOIA-Electronic-Reading-Room/FOIA-Reading-Room-China/

https://news.usni.org/2019/01/15/dia-chinese-military-power-report

Readers on the West Coast who are into hobbyist SIGINT and COMINT would find China to be a worthy target, and have a better chance of successful collection efforts. For starters, refer to the following links:

http://chinesemilitaryradio.blogspot.com/

http://www.numbersoddities.nl/Chinese-military-nets.pdf

Unlike conspiracy theory informant assholes such as Hal Turner, we would rather not feed bullshit to, nor see our readers go to jail for doing stupid shit, and instead would rather provide factual information to help our readers conduct proper OSINT and SIGINT operations so they can know what’s really going on in the world around them. Hopefully the background information we’ve provided to you gets your off to a good start.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a donation to help offset our costs for research and development.

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11.26.20

Part 95 (and bootleg VHF/UHF) Surveys (aka Point Search) with Whistler WS1040

The WS1040 and scanners with similar architecture are easy and ideal for this as frequency and service searches can be chained together as objects all in a single bank. In this case you would start by programming the following objects into their own bank:

  • MURS/FRS/GMRS Service search
  • CB service search
  • Sweeper search for VHF-High and UHF bands (2, 5, 6)

The biggest performance obstacle with this arrangement is the difference in antenna size (and resonance) between VHF-high and UHF bands used by the more common Part 95 services, and CB which is technically down in the HF band. If you want to have peak performance on one, there will be degraded reception on the other. Still, however, using a common 2m/70cm ham antenna will still let you hear CB units within a mile or so. Using a resonant antenna (or even one that is close to resonant such as a 10 meter ham antenna) will extend that CB monitoring range out quite a bit. Similarly, the more gain your antenna has on VHF and UHF will equal better detection range on those bands. With that said, on Thanksgiving, 2020 I heard “Radio Roadkill 252” from Amarillo, Texas on CB Channel 3, AM mode, with nothing more than a 22” whip antenna at a distance of 1600 miles. Admittedly though, he’s probably running a lot more than 3 watts.

MURS and FRS are the VHF and UHF free parking spaces on the RF Monopoly board and even if the users of those frequencies aren’t quite operating within FCC Regs, the chances of legal hassles are minimal so it gives all the Baofeng buyers a “safe” place to go play. CB has a bit of a reputation that keeps a lot of people away, despite the fact that you almost never hear anything on the 40 channels except for Channels 6, 19 near highways, and 38 during a band opening. Sad, because a properly installed CB station will always out perform MURS and FRS. You just need to use a proper antenna. However, those Baofeng (and other model) radios can run from 136-174 and 400-520 MHz. Some semi-clever types might consider just playing dial roulette with their transceivers. A normal sector search for those two frequencies would take a while, but using Spectrum Sweeper will decrease that time significantly, along with a decrease in receive sensitivity. Still, the Spectrum Sweeper function will in a matter of seconds detect an HT signal within a quarter-mile.

So what this setup gets you is a means to detect nearby portable and mobile radio activity on the most common frequencies used by non-government actors. Whether are they are good actors or bad actors is either irrelevant, or depends on who and what you are. Either way, a bunch of rando people playing with radios in your neighborhood is something you want to know about.

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10.17.20

The Harry Caul Files

Harry Caul was the name of Gene Hackman’s character in The Conversation. It was later adopted as a pen name by the founder and first editor of Popular Communications, the late Tom Kneitel. He wrote a few articles under the name, but the first three were considered by many in the know to be among the best, and remained relevant over the years. In fact, perhaps even more relevant with the availability of $23 handheld radios on Amazon with frequency coverage of 136-174 & 400-479.995 MHz.

So without further ado, here is a PDF for you to download:

10.4.20

Radio Research

Pictures from today’s radio research activity:

09.27.20

Just do it.

Get a receiver. Spin the dial. Tune in. Find alternate sources of news and information. Or just listen to some tunes and relax a bit.

Just do it.

09.16.20

Build It

From a fellow hobbyist we are reminded that BIY (Build It Yourself) is not dead.

https://swling.com/blog/2020/09/ron-reminds-us-that-mfj-still-offers-a-shortwave-radio-kit/

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0289/7782/3843/files/MFJ-8100K_Manual.pdf

MFJ has been around forever, and has helped get many a ham radio operator get on the air.

09.14.20

Eton Grundig FR200 Emergency Radio (Shortwave Receiver)

This radio came out in 2002, and was marketed for use in blackouts and other disasters. It covers AM, FM, and shortwave broadcast bands. They were about $40 back in the day. It’s been discontinued, but you can find one on Ebay for $25-$30.

The main useful feature of this radio is a hand-crank battery charger for the radio’s replaceable NiMh battery pack. Turn the crank for a couple minutes, and you’ll get about an hour’s worth of listening. You can also run it off regular AA batteries or an AC adapter. This is a cheap portable with very good sensitivity that is simple to use, and has longer battery life than many other portables.

Before you buy that Baofeng that everyone except the guy who’s been writing about radio and self-reliance for 30+ years (me) says you should get, you should buy an FR200 or something similar. Scratch that. Go on Ebay and buy an FR200. When you as a beginner buy a Baofeng, or any other ham rig for that matter, unless you have a ham license and a local segment of the community to talk with, the thing will get placed on a shelf and never used. Unless there’s some ARES, RACES, or Skywarn activity going on, Amateur Radio conversations on FM VHF and UHF are pretty boring, and nothing most people will want to hear. You might have a local police or fire department that still uses an analog VHF-high band or UHF communications system, and can use that Baofeng as a scanner, but otherwise it’ll just sit there unused. The FR200 is something that you will be able to use every day to get broadcasts from around the globe, and expand the variety of your information collection (intelligence) activities to get a more accurate picture of what’s going on out there.

I recommend the FR200 over other receivers in its class for a couple reasons. It’s simple to operate. Turn it on, adjust the volume, select the band, and start spinning the dial until you hear something. Anyone, not just a radio communications hobbyist, can use the thing. Other radios are more complicated. It also can be just left on a shelf until needed, and still be operational. If the AA batteries in the unit are dead, turn the hand crank for a couple minutes and you’ll be up and running. Not that you should just leave it on a shelf in the first place. You should spend a little time each evening cruising the bands and getting information regardless of what’s going on outside.

09.10.20

Dispatch of September 10th, 2020 – 0xC76A4C4

Good evening. On this day in 1897 A sheriff’s posse killed 19 striking immigrant miners in the Lattimer massacre at Lattimer, Pennsylvania. In 1932, The New York City Subway’s third competing subway system, the IND, was opened. In 2008, The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was powered up.

As a reminder to all readers, Cyber-Tek Zine also maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter. You may also want to visit Agent T.W. Lee’s blog at An Agent Afield.

MEETING NOTICE: The Cybertek Group will be having its first meeting Saturday evening, October 24th, 2020, 8PM local time at CT Hackerspace in Watertown, CT. For more info visit https://www.facebook.com/events/313928296376251.

In our last post, we noted that despite a minimal amount of activity on this blog, it still somehow managed to acquire 32 subscribers. We wondered out loud how many might be bots, and eleven readers responded. Only a few were subscribers. So, we either have a good number of lurkers, or a bunch of bots surfing this blog.

Was out and about today. Stopping for lunch, we saw these interesting items in the lot next door:

I have no idea what these are specifically, other than they are part of a construction project for the LIRR. I just find it interesting that they had to go all the way into the middle of Connecticut to have these pieces built, and somewhat disheartened that there wasn’t a manufacturer closer to Long Island capable of making the pieces. I also wonder how they’re going to ship them, and suspect that they will put them on 18 wheelers instead of sending them by rail. It’s just another example of our slow Amerikan decline, much like the fact that the majority of this blog’s subscribers are not human.
SELECT * FROM users WHERE login= ” AND pass=’ ‘;exec(char(Ox73687574646j776e)) ‘
(Not that I expect that to work these days, but you never know.)

We don’t follow the news much up here, because what happens in Kenosha, or even Kalamazoo for that matter, is of no consequence unless there are intelligence indicators that say otherwise, and while pundits such as Jones, Breitbart et al are sometimes entertaining, they are nothing compared to what you could get of you applied the knowledge in the books I talked about in this previous blog post: https://cybertekzine.com/2020/07/19/gettysburg-flag-burning-online-trolls-and-deception-operations/.

With that said, the folks responsible for such neat spoof ads such as the one above have planned a long-term demonstration in Washington, DC starting in 7 days at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. I suppose if their readers can afford $55 a year for a magazine, they can also afford to attend a month and a half long street festival in one of the nation’s most expensive cities, and the cost of the lawyer to get them sprung from jail if they try to camp out on the North Lawn.

Anyway the Holiday Inn Georgetown was the traditional stay over location for doing some DC SIGINT work, but they are closed now and are 2 miles away from the area of interest. The Duke St. LP has long since been decommissioned, but would be too distant anyway. Even with the stack of gear <REDACTED> had up and running. The Holiday Inn Washington Central is a scant 1000 meters away from the action and only $92 a night. Don’t expect to hear much. Most of the interesting stuff is encrypted. Not like the back in the day when we’d hang out at <REDACTED> with some Icom and Optoelectronics gear, and a couple yagis pointed out the window.

My advice is simple. Don’t waste your time with DC unless you live there, or are bored and within an hour drive. And if you are bored in these interesting times, you’re doing something wrong. All the time you waste chasing bullshit events can be better spent keeping an eyes and ears on your town/city and county, or learning something useful. If your town/city and county are quiet, then consider yourself fortunate.

And now for something educational and useful. The ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications Conference is tomorrow and Saturday. It’s free to watch, and more than a few of the talks look interesting. The GNU Radio Conference starts on the 14th, and is also free and interesting.

For those of you who might not be at a sufficient level to understand those talks, start here.