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[liberationtech] Creating a Pirate FM Radio

Walid Al-Saqaf admin at alkasir.com
Mon Mar 7 04:04:41 PST 2011


Thanks Steven,

Looks like a very handy device. But it only covers 50 yards. Is it possible
to increase its coverage or or a similar solution that covers a mile or
more? It is really incredible what this small device could do though.
Boomboxes could be helpful for rallies. But I also wish to have people in
neighborhoods around the rally know and hear what is going on. So an FM
transmitter is best.

Sincerely,

Walid

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

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


On Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 11:51 PM, Steven Clift <clift at e-democracy.org> wrote:

> On the cheap, perhaps you could add some sort of amplified antenna to this:
>
> http://www.wholehousefmtraTnsmitter.com<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 at 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 at 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
> >> > > 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
> >> > >
> >>
> >> --
> >> 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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