- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur Radio Gear:

from The ARRL Letter, Vol 20, No 49 on December 16, 2001
View comments about this article!

EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur Radio Gear:

A petition recently put on public notice by the FCC would require that all electronic equipment subject to the Commission's jurisdiction be shielded against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) damage. The proposal, as drafted, would apply to both new and existing equipment that falls within its scope. If the petitioners have their way, that would include Amateur Radio equipment.

EMP--a high-voltage wave of electromagnetic energy--already is known to be a side effect of a thermonuclear explosion. But petitioners Don Schellhardt and Nick Leggett, N3NL, claim that terrorists could initiate an EMP using other technology--so-called "E bombs"--developed by the US military but, as yet, untested on a major scale.

The petitioners propose phasing in rules to require shielding--or "hardening"--to a basic performance standard that would permit "effective, uninterrupted functioning" of covered equipment following an EMP of 100,000 V per meter. They say that's twice the estimated EMP from a single high-altitude nuclear explosion. Schellhardt and Leggett say the best defense against EMP is copper shielding.

Amateur Radio is mentioned only once in the Schellhardt-Leggett petition, and Leggett told the ARRL that they kept their proposed rules for Amateur Radio equipment "rather vague" for now. He said their primary intention is to promote serious discussion on the EMP issue--especially in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We do lean towards mandatory requirements for some type of EMP protection for commercially produced amateur radio equipment," Leggett said. "We would both very much like to see constructive progress in the protection of amateur radio equipment from EMP events and attacks."

Schellhardt and Leggett addressed the Amateur Radio issue more directly in reply to comments filed on their petition by REC Networks. "How much emergency communication is amateur radio going to provide if the radio sets are disabled by intense EMP pulses?" they asked rhetorically. "Our opinion is that amateur radio earns its frequencies by its significant emergency communications and technical self-training activities. EMP shielding fits naturally into this public service orientation."

The FCC has designated the petition as RM-10330. Although the comment deadline officially ends December 14, late comments might be accepted in light of the FCC's mail system delays. Interested parties may comment using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)

The ARRL has not commented on the Schellhardt-Leggett proposal.


The ARRL Letter Vol. 20, No. 49 December 14, 2001

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur Radio  
by WA1ZRU on December 16, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
100 KV per meter???? I would be more concerned about the operator exposure at this field strength potential.
Certainly equipment exposure to this lethal field potential would do significant damage to sensitive gain devices such as MOS Fet and Cmos devices, however I'm not convienced that simple copper shielding would do the job.
Assuming the operator is protected and the equipment is in the same location as the operator, then it would seem prudent to look at the antenna system, since that would be the only "external" link to the radio system.

At a field potential of 100 KV per meter, it can equate to standing about 10 meters from a direct lightning strike. I for one would not want to at that distance and if I was using a handheld radio at that distance, I don't think there would be an operator, nor radio surviving such potential.

EMP shielding is effective and is presently used in most good equipment today. However to sheild against an EMP field of 100 KV per meter is going to cost more than most radios cost themseleves.

If such an occurance happens from terrorist or similar sources, the antenna system should be protected first and that should in tern, protect the equipment.
EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur Radio  
by KV4BL on December 16, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
WA1ZRU makes some interesting points and I do agree with him that the antenna needs to be looked at as part of the equation. I do like the idea of setting some type of industry standard for EMP shielding in radios. If implemented, this should lead to a standard for devices or means of protecting antenna systems (for the radio's sake), hopefully. While the noted levels could very well pose a threat to persons, if the radios could function afterward, it would allow many operators who may have been in a safe area (EMP "dead spot" caused by buildings, terrain, or whatever) who survived to begin using the communications at their disposal. I think a mandatory standard should be studied and would like to see one in place but I feel that to make it mandatory for existing equipment would be impractical and a little too ambitious. 73, Ray KV4BL
RE: EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur R  
by AA4PB on December 16, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Gee, I wonder if their copper shielding includes putting it around the antenna as well :-) We could solve EMP, TVI, and the health hazards issue all in one great regulation.

It seems to me that the first thing you would have to do is to make some way to protect the leads going into and out of the equipment; antenna, power, and accessories. What good does copper shielding do if you connect the internal circuit to a long wire antenna and the power distribution system?

Perhaps we should just store one rig in a sealed copper box and take it out only after the EMP event or for occassional testing. That's probably the least expensive option.

RE: EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur R  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on December 16, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
But, to go along with this, every rig should be designed to have its own contained power source since there won't be AC.

All antennas must be built to survive this blast also.

And, all buildings, that ham radios are used in, must be built to survive and protect the radio operators in them.

Then we need to have hardened water systems, food supplies and distribution systems, heat and cooling systems.

Since individuals, local and state governments can't afford to do all of that, we'll just have the US government design and pay for all of that. That way it will be free -- it won't cost us anything to do all of that.
RE: EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur R  
by AA4PB on December 16, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
The scarry part is that if such a law were to get passed I'm afraid we might be paying twice the amount (or more) for commercially mfg equipment. And how does a mfg demonstrate that his new rig is EMP hardened? Will it mean expensive testing in order to get FCC certification? The proposal says that even existing equipment must meet the EMP standards. Does that mean that you have to send your 10 year old rig back to the Mfg along with a check for $2000 in order to get it "hardened" before you can continue using it? How is the FCC going to enforce this for existing equipment? This thing has a lot of "holes" in it and is not very well thought out in my opinion.
RE: EMP Shielding Proposal Could Include Amateur R  
by WA8TZG on December 18, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
AE7G is on the right track but forgot a couple of

Since terrorists might use chemical/biological
weapons, all citizins must be made to wear gas masks
and HazMat suits at all times. Sex would also have to be
outlawed since STD's like AIDS could be introduced
through that vector.

Sounds like the petitioners are either excessively
paranoid or have a large, unstated financial interest
in providing hardening materials.

Prudence is one thing. Paranoia is another.

Gimme a break!
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other News Articles
Amateur Radio Operators Converge for Hamfest:
Ham Operators Often Offer the Life-Lnk During Natural Disasters:
Boy Scouts to Hold Event in Copperas Cove:
Radio Club Reflects on Past Accomplishments, Looks to Future:
Kansas City Firefighter Uses Ham Radio Skills to Help Puerto Rico: