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AiryBri
01-16-2011, 04:27 AM
I want to make it so a small group of people are doing a basically illegal radio show and on the run from the government. It's in the middle east (Egypt, specifically) what kind of equipment would they use if they were moving location all the time? Would it be possible? Could the government shut them down electronically without knowing their location?

And help me fill in any other plot holes you could think of....

Williebee
01-16-2011, 04:32 AM
Welcome to the 'Cooler!

Questions: What's the range and the audience?
Are they actually broadcasting "over the air" locally/regionally, or are we looking at international/national reach -- say over the internet?

Re: Audience -- "Who" they are trying to reach is as important as "where". What kind of equipment/devices the audience is going to have access to in order to receive the broadcasts is what decides the broadcast equipment.

Also, "when" are they broadcasting? A small wattage broadcast base can be hauled around on a scooter or a couple of backpacks. But there are batteries to consider.

Solar power changes the configuration but may limit the broadcasts to daylight hours, or reduced length night time broadcasts.

Oh yeah, the "when is this taking place" matters a great deal, too. Technologically possible now was not technologically feasible ten years ago.

alleycat
01-16-2011, 04:33 AM
How far do you want this station to broadcast? And how well?

The Russians used to be very good at jamming radio signals, although not completely. The Egyptians probably still have contacts in the Russian government who could assist them. I'm no expert, but I think it would still be possible, especially if they were willing to change their frequency each time they moved. People would have to search for the station.

Would you consider using shortwave?

alleycat
01-16-2011, 04:34 AM
say over the internet?

That might be your best solution.

alleycat
01-16-2011, 04:36 AM
Also, "when" are they broadcasting? A small wattage broadcast base can be hauled around on a scooter or a couple of backpacks. But there are batteries to consider.
Or a generator.

Williebee
01-16-2011, 05:59 AM
Re: the generator. Yeah, I was thinking about that. It would be interesting to, if it was an actual backpack transmitter, to have a scene where it is jacked in to the enemy's generator in order to transmit. :)

Drachen Jager
01-16-2011, 08:59 AM
They might not own the technology to find an underground station quickly but if they were bothered by it it's not that expensive to buy the equipment. I'd say if the radio station was a real pain in the government's ass the government would shut them down pretty quickly. They'd either have to be in international waters or another country.

Williebee
01-16-2011, 09:22 AM
Not exactly right, but this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sm0_4s7ab.jpg)would give you a down and dirty version (for size purposes). Lash it to an ipod touch or iphone, or a laptop and you've got a fully functioning station.
Notice the wire running from the base station to the metal road guard.

Williebee
01-16-2011, 09:24 AM
Internet wise, you could run a functional pirate radio station off an iPhone or Android phone, including music or pre-recorded soundbytes/interviews.

Drachen Jager
01-16-2011, 10:23 AM
Internet wise, you could run a functional pirate radio station off an iPhone or Android phone, including music or pre-recorded soundbytes/interviews.

That's a good point actually. Why broadcast on radio at all in this era? Just run a website that migrates so the government can't easily block access.

AiryBri
01-16-2011, 10:54 AM
Welcome to the 'Cooler!

Questions: What's the range and the audience?
Are they actually broadcasting "over the air" locally/regionally, or are we looking at international/national reach -- say over the internet?

Re: Audience -- "Who" they are trying to reach is as important as "where". What kind of equipment/devices the audience is going to have access to in order to receive the broadcasts is what decides the broadcast equipment.

Also, "when" are they broadcasting? A small wattage broadcast base can be hauled around on a scooter or a couple of backpacks. But there are batteries to consider.

Solar power changes the configuration but may limit the broadcasts to daylight hours, or reduced length night time broadcasts.

Oh yeah, the "when is this taking place" matters a great deal, too. Technologically possible now was not technologically feasible ten years ago.

They would definitely only be trying to broadcast locally in a small area. Dreaming of a day when they could share their message with more, but for now it's definitely small-scale. (Has to be for the plot). The way people get it will be whatever the most logically way for most lower-class Egyptions would be.

The time is going to be about 5-10 years ago. I would definitely prefer to switch it to present time (or within the last two years) if I found a reasonable way to explain why they couldn't broadcast over the internet (having it world-wide goes against the plot)

They will be broadcasting for short bursts of time to make sure they aren't going to be ambushed and can get away if found out, the date/time of the next show only told during the current show.

It's not going to be over the internet because first, this could be upto ten years ago when even less people had access, and second their main audience is too poor to have it (and having it world-wide goes against the plot...)

They set-up locations to have the radio set up. So like, inside an apartment building or a house. In a stretch they might want to broadcast in a car or something.

So with that information how could they get away with it, so the government couldn't shut them down (technologically at least) ?

AiryBri
01-16-2011, 10:57 AM
How far do you want this station to broadcast? And how well?

The Russians used to be very good at jamming radio signals, although not completely. The Egyptians probably still have contacts in the Russian government who could assist them. I'm no expert, but I think it would still be possible, especially if they were willing to change their frequency each time they moved. People would have to search for the station.

Would you consider using shortwave?

The Egyption government doesn't want other governments to know it's oppressing it's people. I don't know much about the Egypt/Russia relationship, but that might stop them from taking that action.

AiryBri
01-16-2011, 11:16 AM
So the main question would be: Is there away to create a mobile radio transmission that is basically untraceable (I'm willing to send a character or two to college), and if so, what time in recent history would it have to be done in?

Dang, that's a tough question to ask :D

Found this: http://boingboing.net/2010/03/26/pirate-radio-documen.html

...and this: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/egypts-public-radio-anyone-listening

Just trying to piece together the possibilities...

Buffysquirrel
01-16-2011, 04:05 PM
Untraceable? No. Basic triangulation will get you every time if you're on the air long enough :).

Williebee
01-16-2011, 07:23 PM
Basic triangulation will get you every time if you're on the air long enough

And there, in bold, is the central key. Short broadcasts, think minutes, not hours. Really low on the FM or AM dial. The unit I linked to upthread gives you an idea of size.

They would need a way to recharge batteries or get new ones between broadcasts. The unit, by the way, could well be cobbled from scrap military parts and a few black market or off the shelf parts. It would regularly be very hard to "tune" the broadcast to hold a specific frequency and would "splash" around that frequency on the dial.

AiryBri
01-16-2011, 10:01 PM
And there, in bold, is the central key. Short broadcasts, think minutes, not hours. Really low on the FM or AM dial. The unit I linked to upthread gives you an idea of size.

They would need a way to recharge batteries or get new ones between broadcasts. The unit, by the way, could well be cobbled from scrap military parts and a few black market or off the shelf parts. It would regularly be very hard to "tune" the broadcast to hold a specific frequency and would "splash" around that frequency on the dial.

Thanks for the help. This info really helps. Plus, if they go on air for too long, there could be a raid... :D about how many minutes would you estimate it would take to track? And in what period of time should I put it in? (The closer to present the better)

Hallen
01-17-2011, 05:39 AM
Here's the deal from my perspective:
They want people to listen.
The only way to accomplish that is to use a frequency that everybody knows you're going to use. If the people know, the government will too and they'll just jam it. It wouldn't take much to block a signal coming from a low power station like that.

You might be able to have a secure enough "underground" where you would publish your timetable and frequencies, but that's pretty hard to coordinate. Plus, if they're moving around all the time, how are the people who they want to listen to know? You couldn't possibly have a big enough underground network to deal with that. Plus, the bigger the network, the more likely it is the government will have moles in place.

Your best bet, in my opinion, is to make it small beans enough were the government doesn't bother to put much effort into catching them. Then they could get away with it for a while.

Skyler
01-17-2011, 07:01 AM
Here's an expensive but workable solution.

Use "disposable" high-power transmitters that replay a recorded message. Leave them plugged into a random electrical outlet, drive away, and then let it run until it's captured. Build it cheap (maybe out of scavenged parts) so you can afford that. If you're really hard-core, wire it to explode when the government unplugs power (or the antenna). That should keep it going for a while longer until the bomb squad can defuse it. (Unless they just tie a string to the cord, run it out 100', and yank on it... but that's too simple for the government to figure out. Plus it would be dangerous if it was plugged into a government building or something.)

Major problems? Drawing enough power from the line in a country like Egypt would probably cause blackouts in the vicinity. You'd also have the cost of building the transmitters. If you used scavenged parts, you could probably do it relatively cheaply, but I don't know how easy it would be to come up with a bunch of old tape players in the Middle East.

An electrical engineering degree should be enough to design and build a workable high-power transmitter from salvaged components. (I've done it on a smaller scale--I have an associates degree.) Really, though, you wouldn't even need that, if you can pick up enough from doing it as a hobby/learning from the Internet/etc.

Once in a while they could break into "real" radio stations, tie up the staff, and launch a pirate broadcast while they make their getaway. The government would crack down on that pretty fast though and beef up security around radio stations.

Those are some of my initial thoughts. I'm sure I could come up with more with some more thought.