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Comment: Re:Just do it (Score 1) 279

Need is relative. I need to have my network up and functional even when a crapping appliance elsewhere trips the circuit breaker, and I need to keep the inductive load noise of the appliance motors out of my data lines. It's also nice to be able to power any systems that I want to mount there that have more horsepower than a modem, router, switch, and VoiP box. Yes, need is relative, but I suppose you don't need a foundation if you're happy walking around on dirt floors.

Comment: Re:Just do it (Score 1) 279

I agree that installing a proper data infrastructure in a home is key for proper nerding out, and you have a lot of options to go over.

If you want to go for broke, put a 2" wall mount telecom rack somewhere near ground level (basements and storage closets are perfect for this) to keep noise in the system to a minimum. Go with cat5e or better for data, cat3 or better (cat5 or better works, but is usually more expensive per ft.) for telephone lines, and RG6 or RG59 (RG6 is lower loss, but more expensive and harder to work with, but you're laying down permanent lines) if you want a cable connection. Have a dedicated 20A breaker circuit run to power the installation and a rack level UPS and you're set to run in power outage and brownout situations.

There is a strong interest in 'cutting the cord' with cable, so you may be able to save on the coax and just not bother. The telephone lines can still be used with a voip box to give you access to the telcos with regular equipment, or you can use something more exotic like 802.11 or some enterprise level VoiP equipment. I'm sure you can keep going further and further along until you've punched all the tickets on your nerd card that you want to.

Comment: Re:Maybe affects Boeing, not SpaceX (Score 1) 139

by chuckinator (#48072713) Attached to: NASA Asks Boeing, SpaceX To Stop Work On Next-Gen Space Taxi

This is just typical politics in the aerospace industry. It's so critical to national defense infrastructures that it tends to develop more cruft on its surface than others despite dealing with such incredibly interesting high tech. Also, US congressional budgets have been starving the budgets for the projects dealing with basic scientific research and study, which is a shame.

I would prefer to see NASA bet on all three horses so you have better odds of one of winning the race!

The current generations of the politically active general public seems to distrust and hate scientists and engineers, and they'd rather all that wonderful "free" government money be spent on turkeys in every pot and cars in every garage or some pet social program instead of sending big tin cans to outer space to prance around and look for little green men. It's a shame to see the US fail to invest in its own technological success, but I have some faith that the readers of this site don't always share that particularly mundane outlook.

Comment: Re:Scrap all the rules (Score 1) 104

There's a lot about safety in the regulations, and you're misrepresenting what those regulations are by only highlighting a circumstance in which the operator hurts themselves. You are breaking the law if your station installation doesn't meet the necessary safety regulations, isn't grounded properly, isn't of a sufficient level of engineering quality, but particularly if you exceed maximum power output and RF exposure limits (especially to recipients unaware of the exposure). Enforcement of that is a different matter... Still, the safety and welfare of human beings trumps little things like interferences, and anyone in a life threatening situation (with or without a license) is allowed to use a radio on any frequency or any communication tool at their disposal to ask for help.

The human body is resonant from 30-300 mhz, and the human head is resonant on VHF freqs (2 meter VHF is the most common amateur band for local FM communication, by the way). Say I have a 100W 2 meter transceiver fed into a 20 db yagi-uda directional antenna which I point towards my local repeater, but it's not high up because I cheaped out on a decent mast installation, and that sucker isn't grounded worth a flip. I could potentially be transmitting 1000W (100W at 20 db is 1000W) into an unsuspecting neighbor's house, and the regulations for individuals aware of the exposure is much higher than those for individuals unaware of their exposure (since those unaware wouldn't recognize the signs of dangerous exposure). You're going to feel a little tingling heat sensation if you have that antenna pointed at you, it will definitely burn you good if you touch it (you'll get this funky ashy grey burn, too), and that is a reasonable setup to encounter for even the most cash strapped ham out there.

Ok, now lets move over to unlicensed services. AM and sideband mode citizens band, 5 watts. Tons of folks operating illegal linear amps on those, and there's regs on amp manufacturers to prevent their equipment from illegally boosting on 11 meters. Family radio service is limited to 1/2 W output, and the radios are required to have permanently mounted negative gain antennas that almost guarantee coming in under that limit every time. Wifi is limited to 1W peak output on the beefiest of access points, and is still only going to go up to 10W with a 20 db directional. Any ham transmitter that outputs below 200W peak envelope power doesn't require any sort of RF survey for installation, but that value takes into account the gain/loss of the feedline and antenna system in use, too. The mode of operation comes into play since it dictates duty cycle of transmission, and most digital systems are typically a fraction of the duty cycle of FM.

You might be interested to note that it's the Amateur Radio and Relay League, making it the ARRL. I'm not sure what the AARL is, but I think you mixed it up with the other old timers club, the AARP.

Comment: Re:Scrap all the rules (Score 1) 104

Well, I guess you got me. That exam the FCC made me take to get my license had a LOT of questions about safety around electricity and RF, maximum peak envelope powers, and the requirements for a formal site survey when installing transmitting equipment. Yep, nothing at all about safety there.

Comment: Re:Scrap all the rules (Score 2) 104

You can on the unlicensed ISM spectrum bands for wifi, CB radio, those FRS bubble pack radios, but you're legally limited to very low power operation. Radio licensing is largely about safety with regards to high power transmissions since RF can burn and kill you (it is a form of electricity), and slackjawed mouth breathing fools have a tendency for "hold my beer, watch this" moments.

Comment: Re:Scrap all the rules (Score 3) 104

The amateur license is primarily for self education.

As a US general class amateur radio licensee, I will gladly confirm that you called out one of the primary objectives of the international amateur radio service with the other being emergency communications. I got mine out of pure curiosity and it never ceases to provide something new on a regular basis to scratch my head over.

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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