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Author Topic: Drone Control Frequencies ..... HEY, Have Fun !  (Read 18028 times)

Posts: 5

« on: March 27, 2013, 06:33:17 PM »

You knew this topic would eventually come up amongst the public, Hams, SWLs and people with privacy concerns, etc.
How do you think Iran captured our drone?

Anyway, this discussion is for information only.....
Consider review of the following in your ARRL FM tech manuals or Handbooks:
"FM cancellation effect".

Seems the best "over the horizon" Drones control systems may avoid "line of sight" frequencies and opt for HF and especially frequencies dependable at night - below 3 Mhz.

And FM may often be avoided for "one" of the same reasons its often avoided in commercial and military aviation comms (AM) - the cancellation effect of weaker FM carriers just underneath it - posing safety risks. Dont believe it, try it on your FM repeater.

Anyway, as we know from our 27 Mhz days, one strong AM carrier signal doesnt necessarily totally (key word totally) block one AM data modulation burst just underneath it (unlike FM).

Anyway, "Smart Page" (not google) the following phrase and have fun!

"drone control frequencies"

How soon before Monitoring Times readers, Hackers, Hams and SWLs start monitoring (decoding) the control data ? 

Hey, its probably being done NOW !
Could Uncle Sam get involved in our listening rights ?

Have Fun !

Posts: 1279

« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 09:36:49 PM »

Would you believe spread spectrum technology on any band (the government can do this). Can't take control unless you have the encoding and decoding available, and it changes every few milliseconds from the transmitter. Look up modern RC control systems 2.4 GHZ. There is no interference due to coding. The drone captured in Iran had a malfunction rare,but it happens (they lucked out). Good luck to them on copying the technology. They don' even have toilet seats there.


Posts: 3289

« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 10:34:18 PM »

Jeeeez, guys.  They aren't using your grandpa's Kraft gold box!

$40 Million drones on missions don't get controlled with model RC protocols over unencrypted frequencies, and no they don't use HF.  It's done from satellites with SHF.

2.  I'm not convinced the Iranians "captured" our UAV.  It think it crashed after losing the command link.  Their claim to manipulate the GPS and 'spoof' the craft to land in the wrong place, while theoretically possible is a far stretch technically. Also unlikely because the military uses an encrypted GPS mode, which is what GPS was designed for.

Posts: 5

« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 11:38:00 PM »

It seems many drones are contolled via Sat. However.............

What we know so far:
 ■Rockwell/Collins is a major defense contractor that just happens to provide UAV controls and support.
 ■The site in Oxford Junction, Iowa is more than capable of using the on-site equipment to transmit/receive AM signals in the 3-30 mHz range over long distances.
 ■Drones are controlled by these same frequencies.
 ■The lower the frequency, the farther a UAV can be controlled.
 ■The site in Oxford Junction is part of an extensive network spanning the globe.
 ■The site in Oxford Junction specializes in HF ALE
 ■HF ALE is used by the military for a wide range of communication/surveillance operations

Which drones use Sat vs. HF ALE ?

Posts: 1029

« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 12:30:08 AM »

I don't think it crashed.   No one our side said they had a fake or a model.   They admitted it.   IRAN actually pulled a good one out of it's diaper and tricked it into landing in what it thought was it's home base.


Posts: 5

« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 01:26:37 AM »

"Dxxxxx Drones 101"

Using its knowledge of the frequency, the engineer claims, Iran intiated its "electronic ambush" by jamming the bird's communications frequencies, forcing it into auto-pilot.  States the source, "By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain."

The team then use a technique known as "spoofing" -- sending a false signal for the purposes of obfuscation or other gain.  In this case the signal in questions was the GPS feed, which the drone commonly acquires from several satellites.  By spoofing the GPS feed, Iranian officials were able to convince it that it was in Afghanistan, close to its home base.  At that point the drone's autopilot functionality kicked in and triggered the landing.  But rather than landing at a U.S. military base, the drone victim instead found itself captured at an Iranian military landing zone.

Spoofing the GPS is a clever method, as it allows hackers to "land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the [encrypted] remote-control signals and communications."

My guess is this is only the beginning - worldwide !

Refer to my first post for obvious methods. Watch for Drones mysteriously going to "auto pilot".  

« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 01:44:54 AM by WB9YCJ » Logged

Posts: 2100

« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 03:19:24 AM »

   Remember the Trojan Horse? Sacrificial first generation drone,outdated technology,loaded with over the counter basic spyware.Slick way for the government to get inside information.High value,high tech drones are programmed to self destruct when certain operating parameters are breached.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 03:56:48 AM by W1JKA » Logged

Posts: 6642

« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 04:43:06 AM »

Over-simplification of a complex issue... and none of the drones (remote control vehicles) use HF because of the need for bandwidth.  Maybe there is a RC toy that still uses class C CB frequencies, but just about everything is now UHF and above.
Still, I might be able to find some use for a HARM missle if my neighbor complains!


Posts: 1551


« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2013, 05:07:38 AM »

ARM's and HARM's can be spoofed, too.  I used to work on systems for that.


Don, K2DC

Posts: 2087

« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2013, 02:47:55 PM »

there are a number of bases that control drones in the US, including (classified) and (yo' momma) and possibly (and all yer relatives, too) back where I grew up years back.  they are also pushing data evaluation to some guard units like (geez, shut up and sit down, already.)  some of this has been in the newspapers, some hasn't.

if the pattern looks like "you can't take it down, guys," then thank the Internet.  after all, DARPA paid for it, they ought to get their money's worth.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 02:50:10 PM by KD0REQ » Logged

Posts: 157

« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2013, 03:40:49 PM »

Maybe I'm missing something, but where does the connection to drones from HF come from?  Is it simply because The Truth Hurts blog has noticed Rockwell/Collins has done work associated with drones, also happens to have a couple HF transmitter sites and jumped to a conclusion?

Rockwell/Collins I think is/was also the primary contractor for SCOPE Command--seems far more likely to me that the Oxford Junction site has some kind of peripheral association to that.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 04:39:45 PM by KL3HY » Logged

Posts: 4914

« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2013, 04:00:24 PM »

You cannot control a UAF on HF. Not only is there no bandwidth but most of the time even with kilowatts and beams there is no path. All control is via satellite.

I love hearing these Art Bell discussions.

Posts: 1042

« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 09:01:12 AM »

Anything that uses RF is going to be vulnerable to jamming in SOME way.

Drones must have an onboard backup plan which would be revert to Otto Pilot and then do [something - return to base, fly x direction, blow up, crash, whatever].

However, I'm pretty sure that the level of data encription used is something that would be very hard to crack which leaves simply blanketing the thing in RF noise and hope to force the S+N/N ratio to a point where the receiver no longer hears the commands over the shouting.

And, THAT being said, an anti-radiation missle would have one heck of a beacon upon which to home in on.

I would think that between frequency hopping, onboard computer systems and quality incription, actually taking control might not be quite as easy as people think.

Of course, I'm speaking here of the armed drones used by CIA/Military and their Ilk - I imagine the less expensive cop-type drones starting to gain favor amongs the police staters will be a bit easier to upend.
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