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Author Topic: Deliberate interference on repeater  (Read 2820 times)
KD2CTJ
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« on: December 12, 2012, 02:19:13 PM »

Hello all,
I would love to hear the opinions of some seasoned operators here.
For the better part of the day, there's been some moron keying the mic repeatedly. Either continuous "kerchunking" or re-broadcasting of commercial radio programs. He may let up for a minute or two, but once someone tries to transmit, he's at it again. I'm talking hours and hours here.
His signal is strong enough to be causing a headache. I realize rule number one is to not address it on the air. Is it worth reporting to the FCC? If they are not witness to it, what can be done? I doubt they would spend the time to hunt down this lonely loser. Your thoughts on this are appreciated.

73
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AC5UP
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2012, 03:01:19 PM »

Is it worth reporting to the FCC? If they are not witness to it, what can be done? I doubt they would spend the time to hunt down this lonely loser. Your thoughts on this are appreciated.

Part 97.101.D says: " No amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal."

Which brings up something of a judgement call. In strictest terms the kerchunker is not causing interference. They would have to transmit on the output frequency of the repeater when it was in use to do that. If, as you described, this person is mindlessly keying the repeater for no good purpose, preventing others from using it, broadcasting, and failing to ID, then you should consider 97.113 (prohibited transmissions):

Quote
(4) Music using a phone emission except as specifically provided elsewhere in this section; communications intended to facilitate a criminal act; messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning, except as otherwise provided herein; obscene or indecent words or language; or false or deceptive messages, signals or identification.

(5) Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services.

(b) An amateur station shall not engage in any form of broadcasting, nor may an amateur station transmit one-way communications except as specifically provided in these rules; nor shall an amateur station engage in any activity related to program production or news gathering for broadcasting purposes, except that communications directly related to the immediate safety of human life or the protection of property may be provided by amateur stations to broadcasters for dissemination to the public where no other means of communication is reasonably available before or at the time of the event.

(c) No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station, except propagation and weather forecast information intended for use by the general public and originated from United States Government stations, and communications, including incidental music, originating on United States Government frequencies between a manned spacecraft and its associated Earth stations. Prior approval for manned spacecraft communications retransmissions must be obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Such retransmissions must be for the exclusive use of amateur radio operators. Propagation, weather forecasts, and manned spacecraft communications retransmissions may not be conducted on a regular basis, but only occasionally, as an incident of normal amateur radio communications.

And 97.119:
Quote
(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station.

There are probably other applicable paragraphs to consider. My best advice would be to start documenting when and how the repeater is being abused. Build a history good enough to reveal time patterns that might come in useful. Organize an observer group to monitor the input frequency of the repeater during these events. If you're lucky, signal levels could give a general location for the kerchunkster while the log tells you which times could be most productive for a little foxhunting.

Put the two together and you might discover who, where, and possibly when this will occur.

Then it's time for a judgement call by the club or repeater trustee. Word to the wise to the moron, fully documented letter of complaint to the FCC via registered mail, or some other plan of action that includes the phrase " with extreme prejudice ".

If you have no idea what that means, ask N4NYY how these things are handled in New Jersey................  Angry
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2012, 03:10:32 PM »

No, the FCC is not interested so I wouldn't bother with that.

Usually it only takes 3-4 guys who are interested in finding the jerk to listen on the repeater input frequency, triangulate the signal source, and pull up in front of his house or car or wherever he's operating from.  Around here, we have "DF teams" who not only routinely do this, they enjoy doing it -- it's kind of a sport.
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W5FYI
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2012, 04:37:16 PM »

There are plenty of 2-meter foxhunting devices around, from portable Yagis, and coffee can antennas to doppler and phased antenna circuits. Three or four club members could triangulate on the offender's location and confront him/her/it about it.

While the FCC might not do anything, some municipal ordinances might make the activity illegal. It might not stand up in court, but a complaint to the police department might scare the culprit enough to restore peace and harmony. GL
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AC5UP
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2012, 05:09:04 PM »

One other thing I should have mentioned:

Do not assume it's a ham doing this. Kerchunking a repeater ad nauseum does not require a license, just a device capable of radiating a signal. Which could be as modest as an HT that does not require an obvious antenna.
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KD2CTJ
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2012, 08:49:59 PM »

One other thing I should have mentioned:

Do not assume it's a ham doing this. Kerchunking a repeater ad nauseum does not require a license, just a device capable of radiating a signal. Which could be as modest as an HT that does not require an obvious antenna.

I tend to think the same thing. I would hate to think a fellow ham would act like this.
Whoever it is has LOTS of time on there hands!
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 04:59:43 AM »

1.  Report it to the control operator of the repeater. 
If they cannot resolve it locally, they can report the interference to the FCC.
Meanwhile, if practical, move your traffic over to another repeater in the area.
73s.

-Mike.
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AD4U
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2012, 06:04:10 AM »

I own 4 repeaters and I am the technical person for 2 more.  If this happens the VERY LAST thing you should do is confront him on the repeater.  That is what he wants.  If the "repeater police" bamblast him every time he transmits, he will probably feed on that and continue.

On the other hand if nobody responds to his antics, he will get tired of cutting up on a seemingly "dead repeater", and sooner or later he will stop or move his antics to another repeater, where he can stir up a hornet's nest of complanits.

From personal experience if everybody just ignores him sooner or later he will stop.  At least he will stop his antics on THAT repeater.

All the while discretely try to locate the source of his transmissions via triangulation and / or fox hunting techniques.  This works quite well if he is transmitting from a fixed location.  If he is mobile, it is almost impossible to find him.

Finally save your time and $.  The FCC will not get involved.

Dick  AD4U
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K5LXP
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2012, 06:16:08 AM »

Years ago in a town where I lived a local repeater was getting a lot deliberate interference.  A bunch of guys in the foxhunt club were able to track down the offender's location but of course there is little you can do - the FCC isn't going to respond even if you give them the guy's name and address.  However, a contact in the city PD ran an NCIC check on the guy and it turns out he had an outstanding warrant, and the guy was picked up.  Nothing like a trip to jail to distract someone from interfering.  That is probably the happiest ending I've ever heard for an intentional jammer.

I think that shows it might be worth it to track the jammer down even though there may be no direct remedy.  You might find something out about the person which could solve the problem indirectly.  Especially if the interference goes on for "hours and hours", it should be no problem to trace it directly to the source.  If they're interfering with ham communications, often those types interfere with public safety or air traffic comm's as well which *will* get attention from the authorities.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K1CJS
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2012, 06:43:54 AM »

If you can pinpoint his location and you can be sure of it, one way to possibly end the interference is this:  Get on that repeater and tell the users the address where the idiot is broadcasting from.  A lot of these people will do what you're describing for kicks--but will stop if they think that someone is going to come and confront them.

Of course, there is a possibility that that will make things worse, but you'll have a location of the culprit--and a starting point to get action taken against them.

BTW, if you can prove interference and can pinpoint the source and are willing to take the time and the effort to document the whole thing according to FCC guidelines, the FCC will take action if there enough complainants.  It may take a while--or it may not.  Sometimes just a letter to the perpetrator from Laura Smith at the FCC threatening action will do the trick.
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K1DA
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2012, 09:20:37 AM »

COuld be intermod from a never mantained, on the cheap, "commercial" installation.  We oncce had an oil company transmitter hereabouts which blanketed the band for several weeks.  The users of the system never noticed. 
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KJ4I
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2012, 08:30:36 AM »

Sometimes just figuring out the general location of the culprit will be enough to scare them off. We had a situation years ago where a non-licensed individual was making up call signs or better yet, bootlegging callsigns on the local repeater as well as kerchunking the thing all day. He really gave himself away when he began changing his call about three different times within a week. Well, once he was found out we narrowed down his location to within a small housing area and we made sure he was well aware of it. Needless to say the individual knew that we knew his whereabouts and he was never heard from again. He disappeared just as mysteriously as he had appeared.
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2012, 11:58:01 AM »

We have an edge in Berkeley County, SC.  The 147.150+ 91.5/91.5 repeater is designated as the County's emergency service repeater.  If someone chooses to interfere, we can identify the culprit and that individual refuses to cooperate, the Sheriff will take over from there.
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WB6DGN
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2012, 02:06:37 PM »

I don't understand why people get all excited about this issue of "kerchunking" a repeater.  Same thing happens around here.  Two or three squelch breaks and the "repeater police" are on the horn wanting to know "who's keying up the repeater?" as if the culprit is really going to answer!
Now, my above comment is not to be taken to mean that I think its OK for someone to do this over and over again as the OP described.  Instead, my comment is alluding to the fact of how simple it is to virtually ELIMINATE the problem without having to organize a posse to scour the countryside.
NO!  It's all done from the comfort of the trustee's own living room or, at worst, a quick visit to the repeater site with a computer.  SIMPLY SET THE DROP-OUT-DELAY (or hang-time, whatever you want to call it) to 0 (zero, zilch, NO delay)  When the fool keying the repeater can't hear anything after repeated tries, even when he knows that the repeater is working, he'll quickly give up.  Just not any fun anymore!
A bit of history on WHY there's a drop out delay in the first place.  In the early days of repeaters, about the only ones using them were Public Safety and Government LMR systems.  These repeaters almost always served multiple agencies and covered a rather wide area; thus they were almost always high power (250 to 330 watts on VHF-HI and 300 to 350 watts on VHF-LO)  At the time, business and individual users weren't even approved for repeaters on the VHF bands.  Along with this high power, came a rather hefty high voltage power supply (in the neighborhood of 3000 to 3500 volts and about a half amp) which was NOT left on, but, rather, keyed on with the transmitter.  No solid state switching here, only mechanical relays.  With the common public safety communications being quick, brief exchanges these mechanical relays got a pretty good workout and were a frequent source of failure.  So, some smart fellow (who obviously didn't run a service business...but may have had to get up in the middle of the night to change one of those relays fairly frequently) came up with the idea to keep the transmitter keyed between these quick exchanges, thus keeping the relays keyed for the duration of the conversation rather than "chattering" on and off.  The idea obviously caught on and was the beginning of the "drop-out delay" now common.  Only problem is...with today's solid state stations, and solid state switching, and comparatively low power at that, the drop-out delay is no longer needed but custom dies hard, whether ham or commercial.
So, we're stuck with this dead air that these "kerchunkers" just can't stand to leave alone.  GET RID OF THE OBSOLETE DROP-OUT DELAY AND GET RID OF THE KERCHUNKERS.
Well, that's my solution to the "kerchunking" "problem" and the reason why.  Take it for what its worth.
Tom
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