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[liberationtech] Creating a Pirate FM Radio

Walid Al-Saqaf admin at alkasir.com
Mon Mar 7 03:46:36 PST 2011


Thanks John and Moxie for this tip about Prometheus Radio Project. I have
already contacted them yesterday but used their online web-form. I'll also
contact Pete Tridish to see how he could help.

It is amazing that although using radios to send out dissident information
is quite an old practice, I believe it is still quite effective in today's
Internet era.

Sincerely,

Walid

-----------------

Walid Al-Saqaf
Founder & Administrator
alkasir for mapping and circumventing cyber censorship
https://alkasir.com <walid.al-saqaf at oru.se>


On Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 5:46 AM, Moxie Marlinspike <moxie at thoughtcrime.org>wrote:

>
> I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but I'd recommend that
> anyone looking into low-power radio check out the Prometheus Radio Project:
>
> http://www.prometheusradio.org/
>
> They're some great folks who've been helping to set up radio stations in
> marginalized communities within the US and around the world for a while
> now.  They've got some great resources, and can probably mobilize a
> group of people with radio equipment pretty quickly.
>
> - moxie
>
> --
> http://www.thoughtcrime.org
>
> On 03/06/2011 06:06 PM, Pranesh Prakash wrote:
> > First off, a BIG disclaimer that I know nothing about radio
> > transmission, costs, etc.
> >
> > Given that, the thread reminded me of this:
> > BBC News, South Asia: The amazing DIY village FM radio station
> > http://goo.gl/xRvRY
> >
> > One might be able to get more technical details about 'Raghav FM
> > Mansoorpur 1' on Indian community radio mailing lists (such as Sarai's
> > cr-india list), though I haven't checked.
> >
> > Some quotes from the Beeb:
> >> It may well be the only village FM radio station on the Asian
> >> sub-continent. It is certainly illegal.
> >>
> >> The transmission equipment, costing just over $1, may be the cheapest
> >> in the world.
> >
> >> Raghav and his friend run the indigenous radio station out of Raghav's
> >> thatched-roof Priya Electronics Shop.
> >>
> >> The place is a cramped $4-a-month rented shack stacked with music
> >> tapes and rusty electrical appliances which doubles up as Raghav's
> >> radio station and repair shop.
> >
> >> It was a perfect idea. In impoverished Bihar state, where many areas
> >> lack power supplies, the cheap battery-powered transistor remains the
> >> most popular source of entertainment.
> >>
> >> "It took a long time to come up with the idea and make the kit which
> >> could transmit my programmes at a fixed radio frequency. The kit cost
> >> me 50 rupees (just over $1)," says Raghav.
> >>
> >> The transmission kit is fitted on to an antenna attached to a bamboo
> >> pole on a neighbouring three-storey hospital.
> >>
> >> A long wire connects the contraption to a creaky, old homemade stereo
> >> cassette player in Raghav's radio shack. Three other rusty, locally
> >> made battery-powered tape recorders are connected to it with colourful
> >> wires and a cordless microphone.
> >
> > - Pranesh
> >
> > On Monday 07 March 2011 04:21 AM, Steven Clift wrote:
> >> On the cheap, perhaps you could add some sort of amplified antenna to
> >> this:
> >>
> >> http://www.wholehousefmtransmitter.com
> >>
> >> More:
> >> http://www.google.com/search?q=home+fm+transmitter
> >>
> >> The use of FM boom boxes to play audio from speakers at a rally might
> >> be the most viable application.
> >>
> >> Steven Clift - http://stevenclift.com
> >>    Executive Director - http://E-Democracy.Org
> >>    Follow me - http://twitter.com/democracy
> >>    New Tel: +1.612.234.7072
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> On Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 3:25 PM, Walid Al-Saqaf<admin at alkasir.com>
>  wrote:
> >>> Thanks Mick for such an insightful and detailed reply.
> >>>
> >>> Based on preliminary research done by colleagues on the ground in
> >>> Sanaa and
> >>> Taiz, I can say that you are absolutely right in the assumption that
> >>> authorities refrain from storming groups of tens and sometimes
> >>> hundreds of
> >>> thousands of protestors to locate a particular low power
> >>> transmitters. It is
> >>> wise perhaps to start small and then go from there. I do like the
> >>> idea of
> >>> purchasing low-cost low-power FM transmitters linked somehow to a
> >>> central
> >>> audio source. I am already moving to the logistics part and thinking
> >>> of how
> >>> to get those devices into the country. I believe it would be wise to
> >>> have
> >>> them shipped as multipurpose devices that could not be as suspicious.
> >>> The
> >>> low cost of such transmitters also makes it possible to not worry if
> >>> one or
> >>> two are confiscated or get damaged or lost.
> >>>
> >>> I'll keep you updated about how it goes. I plan to have those radios
> >>> up and
> >>> running within a month. The revolution's pace is quite fast and I
> >>> wouldn't
> >>> rule out the possibility of the fall of the regime rather soon. But
> >>> such an
> >>> initiative could also help in the post-liberation phase as well.
> >>>
> >>> Sincerely,
> >>>
> >>> Walid
> >>>
> >>> -----------------
> >>>
> >>> Walid Al-Saqaf
> >>> Founder&  Administrator
> >>> alkasir for mapping and circumventing cyber censorship
> >>> https://alkasir.com
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> On Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 10:16 PM, Mick McQuaid<mcq at umich.edu>  wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>> Oh, yes, I admit I was speaking speculatively and that  I
> >>>> did not take your 5000USD budget into account in thinking
> >>>> about that.  Differences in the availability and market
> >>>> prices of used transmitters between nations / continents may
> >>>> vary, and a quick check of ebay showed me that Greece is
> >>>> vastly cheaper than the US for transmitters.
> >>>> I also have no idea whether it is realistic to draw 500kW
> >>>> power without the authorities noticing or whether the local
> >>>> infrastructure would even support it.
> >>>>
> >>>> Likewise, it never would have occurred to me that you might
> >>>> place a high-power transmitter within a rural area inside
> >>>> the nation.  Isolation would seem to make it easier for
> >>>> hostile forces to locate a transmitter.  Instead, it
> >>>> seems like a better strategy might be to put extremely low
> >>>> power transmitters directly in the middle of protests, since
> >>>> their locations are already known and since the use of force
> >>>> might carry a higher cost in front of witnesses.  Also, an
> >>>> extremely low power transmitter may be carried in a backpack
> >>>> along with its power source.  A high-power transmitter
> >>>> would require a conspicuous vehicle or stationary location.
> >>>>
> >>>> On reflection, it seems that there would many reasons to
> >>>> prefer a very distributed, very low power arrangement,
> >>>> probably peer-to-peer, to communicate in defiance of hostile
> >>>> authority.  The giant border blasters of eighty years ago
> >>>> seem to have died from regulatory causes.  Bringing them
> >>>> back today might not make sense for many other reasons.
> >>>>
> >>>> Inexpensive, hard-to-disrupt p2p communication might be the
> >>>> right tool for this time, just as Khomeini found the
> >>>> technology of audio cassettes ideally suited to his time and
> >>>> situation. In every such case there is probably a
> >>>> confluence of political, social, and technological reasons,
> >>>> including many that do not apply to today.  For instance,
> >>>> Khomeini later said that many of his cassette-epidemic
> >>>> messages were intentionally deceitful as a way of enlisting
> >>>> the aid of disparate enemies of the Shah.  By choosing a
> >>>> technology where his voice ensured the authenticity of each
> >>>> message, he could maintain "message discipline," a concept
> >>>> that may be abhorrent in the revolutions and protests of
> >>>> 2011.
> >>>>
> >>>> I still believe it useful to revisit past technologies
> >>>> since, in a changing world, circumstances might sometimes
> >>>> favor their revival.  In particular, the Egyptian revolution
> >>>> changes the circumstances for all their neighbors.  That's
> >>>> really what sparked my speculation about putting up a
> >>>> high-power transmitter.
> >>>>
> >>>> - Mick
> >>>>
> >>>> ... regarding a message from Walid Al-Saqaf on Mar 06:
> >>>>> Hi Mike,
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Interesting. But an AM radio would probably cost much more, right?
> >>>>> I can
> >>>>> set
> >>>>> up one in a rural area in Yemen. But if it is an FM radio, it would
> be
> >>>>> easier to access and possibly cheaper. I was thinking more along the
> >>>>> lines
> >>>>> of purchasing some 5 or so small FM radios and distribute them all
> >>>>> over
> >>>>> the
> >>>>> place and have them connected through an audio stream from the
> >>>>> Internet.
> >>>>> I
> >>>>> find that feasible and less risky. But I'll study my options.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Thanks indeed for this valuable information.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Sincerely,
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Walid
> >>>>>
> >>>>> -----------------
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Walid Al-Saqaf
> >>>>> Founder&  Administrator
> >>>>> alkasir for mapping and circumventing cyber censorship
> >>>>> https://alkasir.com<walid.al-saqaf@oru.se>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> On Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 7:24 PM, Mick McQuaid<mcq at umich.edu>  wrote:
> >>>>>
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> This message and the earlier one about AM radio reminded me
> >>>>>> of border blasters, high-powered stations operating legally
> >>>>>> from countries other than those being served:
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>   http://www.onthemedia.org/episodes/2007/11/16/segments/89005
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_blaster
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Currently it looks like the nearest reasonable place to put
> >>>>>> one would be over 500 miles from Yemen (southern Egypt).
> >>>>>> In the nineteen thirties, some border blasters could
> >>>>>> broadcast over a thousand miles but today there may be
> >>>>>> insurmountable technical obstacles, not to mention social
> >>>>>> / legal / political  challenges.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> Nevertheless, the nearest reasonable place would have
> >>>>>> probably been much farther away just before the Egyptian
> >>>>>> Revolution.  It might be interesting to hear about
> >>>>>> sociotechnical challenges for high-power radio today.
> >>>>>> (Unfortunately, I know nothing about this beyond hearing the
> >>>>>> above-cited documentary).
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> - Mick
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> ... regarding a message from Walid Al-Saqaf on Mar 06:
> >>>>>>> Thanks Alec&  Michael for your useful tips.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> I'll go ahead and use them. I have just investigated the issue and
> >>>>>>> it
> >>>>>>> appears the most critical task is to actual get it into the country
> >>>>>> without
> >>>>>>> being confiscated. Will check our options...
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Wish us luck.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Sincerely,
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Walid
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> -----------------
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> Walid Al-Saqaf
> >>>>>>> Founder&  Administrator
> >>>>>>> alkasir for mapping and circumventing cyber censorship
> >>>>>>> https://alkasir.com<walid.al-saqaf@oru.se>
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> On Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 2:02 PM, Alec Muffett
> >>>>>>> <alec.muffett at gmail.com>
> >>>>>> wrote:
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> On 6 Mar 2011, at 12:35, Walid Al-Saqaf wrote:
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>>   A suggestion was to use a low-budget pirate FM radio solution.
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> You may find parts of this documentary to be useful for getting a
> >>>>>>>> feel
> >>>>>> for
> >>>>>>>> the technology, albeit some of this will be more advanced than
> >>>>>>>> your
> >>>>>>>> requirements:
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> http://boingboing.net/2010/03/26/pirate-radio-documen.html
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> I suspect you'll get more mileage from an AM rig, but it depends
> >>>>>>>> what
> >>>>>> your
> >>>>>>>> audience wants to listen to.
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>         -a
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>
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> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> --
> >>>>>> Michael McQuaid, Assistant Professor
> >>>>>> School of Information, School of Art&  Design
> >>>>>> University of Michigan
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> >>>>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> --
> >>>> Michael McQuaid, Assistant Professor
> >>>> School of Information, School of Art&  Design
> >>>> University of Michigan
> >>>> 4364 North Quad
> >>>> 105 S. State St.
> >>>> Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2112
> >>>> 734-647-9550 voice  734-647-8045 fax
> >>>> mcq at umich.edu       http://mickmcquaid.com
> >>>
> >>>
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