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'[EE] Detecting EMF?'
2007\08\29@054643 by Peter Todd

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I'm looking for a simple circuit that can detect the presence of
operating cell phone/pager/wifi devices, ideally for a distance of
around 10-30ft.

It doesn't have to be able to tell what exactly it is detecting, or
where from, or even to be really calibrated in any usefull way. It's
art... :) I'll have it hooked up to a program of some sort that will be
looking for rapid changes in the recieved signal level, with the idea
that someone walking past the device will get a response from their EMF
emissions. It's quite ok, and expected, if the response soon diminishes
due to the inability pick up a steady state. It's also ok if it can't
distinguish between one or multiple devices. The type of device doesn't
matter, so long as the circuit is responding to emitted EMF from some
sort of communication device.

One of my friends has a older, calibrated, microwave detector which
looks like nothing more than a wand with a radial array of diodes and
some sort of simple op-amp based circuit going to a milliamp meter. It
detected a cell phone during a call just fine at a distance of about 6
inches, with a stronger signal during call initiation. So I'm assuming
this shouldn't be too hard with low enough expectations...

Ideas?

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\08\29@064404 by Tony Smith

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> I'm looking for a simple circuit that can detect the presence
> of operating cell phone/pager/wifi devices, ideally for a
> distance of around 10-30ft.
>
>
> One of my friends has a older, calibrated, microwave detector
> which looks like nothing more than a wand with a radial array
> of diodes and some sort of simple op-amp based circuit going
> to a milliamp meter. It detected a cell phone during a call
> just fine at a distance of about 6 inches, with a stronger
> signal during call initiation. So I'm assuming this shouldn't
> be too hard with low enough expectations...
>
> Ideas?


Wire attached to the gate of a FET, something like a MPF102?

Rather sensistive to static (without the antenna), I've seen people make
displays where a LED is attached, and lights up when you go near it.  Or
reverse it, make something interesting that vanishes when people take a
closer look.

Tony

2007\08\29@161159 by Richard Prosser

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I have seen a circuit for this, published in one of the electronic
magazines at some stage I think. (Although I saw it on the internet.
IIRC it was a simple oscillator, the bias point shifting slightly when
RF was present causing either a change in oscillation frequency or
starting/stopping oscillation. It was used as a cellphone ring
detector I think. (e.g. lights a led when your cellphone rings -
without any wired connection).

Hope this helps. I'll have a bit more of a think about it as I may
have tucked the circuit or bookmark away somewhere.

I did a search on "cell phone ring detector schematic" and there
seemed a few possibilities but I didn't find the one I was thinking
of. But then I didn't check out all 504,000 web pages.

RP

On 29/08/2007, Tony Smith <spam_OUTajsmithTakeThisOuTspamrivernet.com.au> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\08\29@170625 by Robert Rolf

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Peter Todd wrote:

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>
> I'm looking for a simple circuit that can detect the presence of
> operating cell phone/pager/wifi devices, ideally for a distance of
> around 10-30ft.

>... matter, so long as the circuit is responding to emitted EMF from some
> sort of communication device.

Cell phones transmit only periodically when then are not 'operating'.
Pagers are receive only devices. If you could detect them then they
would be in violation of FCC regulations.
I doubt that someone visiting an 'art' display would be using Wi-Fi.
If I recall correctly, a linked bluetooth device does handshake regularly.

If you just want the 'art' to respond to presence, then look at passive IR sensors,
active IR sensing (emit and detect reflection)
or just passive changes in ambient lighting caused my shadows.

If you are REALLY looking to see a person's EMF, then get a satellite
dish LNB plus feed horn and amplify the crap out of it. You will see the
rise in noise that results from our thermal emissions. Some satellite
meters are sensitive enough to detect this change.

Robert

2007\08\29@175517 by Peter Todd

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On Wed, Aug 29, 2007 at 03:06:17PM -0600, Robert Rolf wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Actually some pagers are two-way devices, but point still taken. We will
be in a park, where people fairly frequently use laptops, so who knows.
Though my understanding is that Wi-Fi signals are particularly low
power.

If all I can detect is someone actively talking on a phone, that's fine.
Periodic transmissions are also fine, they'd "average out" from groups
of people near the sensors. Although, if anyone off-hand knows the
frequency of such transmissions for the GSM standard I'd be interested.
Google searches didn't turn that spec up.

> If you just want the 'art' to respond to presence, then look at passive IR sensors,
> active IR sensing (emit and detect reflection)
> or just passive changes in ambient lighting caused my shadows.

That's our backup plan. :)

> If you are REALLY looking to see a person's EMF, then get a satellite
> dish LNB plus feed horn and amplify the crap out of it. You will see the
> rise in noise that results from our thermal emissions. Some satellite
> meters are sensitive enough to detect this change.

Now that's impressive! Reminds me of the poor guys scraping bird poop
off of their feedhorn trying to figure out why the universe was so
damned noisy.

How much money might that solution involve anyway? I don't think it'll
fit for this project... but...

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\08\29@182918 by Sean Breheny

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Hi Peter,

Once while working on a microwave receiver I managed to detect the
difference between the night sky and the ground. I'd say it is doable
for about USD $200, perhaps less. I was using a nice $100 0.1dB noise
figure preamp (from Downeast Microwave) with some additional gain
stages after that. My antenna was just two Campbels soup cans put
together, with both ends of one of them cut off, and a small piece of
wire as a source inside of one. Since I was only looking at the ground
vs. the sky, I didn't need a very directive antenna. For people
detection you might need something more directive, but then it would
only detect people in one narrow range of angles.

On my setup, the thermal noise of the ground was about twice my
receiver's internal noise. I had a rather poor receiver design,
though, which, despite the 0.1dB preamp, brought the noise figure up
to something like 1dB.

Sean

On 8/29/07, Peter Todd <.....peteKILLspamspam@spam@petertodd.ca> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

2007\08\29@201713 by Howard Winter

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Peter,

On Wed, 29 Aug 2007 17:44:31 -0400, Peter Todd wrote:

>...
> Although, if anyone off-hand knows the
> frequency of such transmissions for the GSM standard I'd be interested.
> Google searches didn't turn that spec up.

There are 4, depending on where you are - 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz.

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\08\29@204847 by Zik Saleeba

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Another possibility for cell phone detection is to do it the same way
the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers. They
detect re-radiated RF from the TVs on the IF frequency. Using the same
trick you could presumably tune in to the IF frequency of the cell
phone with a sensitive radio receiver. It'll be re-radiating some RF
on the IF frequency no matter whether it's currently transmitting or
not. That way you should be able to detect all cell phones
immediately, without waiting for a transmission (as long as they're
turned on and receiving).

A quick web search indicates that 183.6MHz is a common-used IF
frequency for cell phones. I'm not sure how well shielded cell phones
are - ie. how much of their IF RF they re-radiate. But it'd certainly
be fun trying!

Cheers,
Zik

2007\08\29@214326 by Peter Todd

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On Thu, Aug 30, 2007 at 01:17:09AM +0100, Howard Winter wrote:
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Lol, see this is why google searched didn't turn it up.

I'm looking for the time between "heartbeat" signals, not the fequency
of the RF transmissions themselves.

Maybe period would be a better word.

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\08\29@224338 by Carey Fisher

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Zik Saleeba wrote:
> Another possibility for cell phone detection is to do it the same way
> the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers.
Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?  License
*receivers* ??? and then go around snooping for "unlicensed" ones?
Carey

2007\08\29@230514 by Zik Saleeba

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Sounds crazy doesn't it? I'll let someone from the UK tell the story
of how this insanity came into being.

www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2003/06_june/24/licensing_detector_vans.shtml
http://tvlicensing.biz/detection/index.htm

Cheers,
Zik

On 8/30/07, Carey Fisher <careyfisherspamKILLspamncsradio.com> wrote:
> Zik Saleeba wrote:
> > Another possibility for cell phone detection is to do it the same way
> > the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers.
> Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?  License
> *receivers* ??? and then go around snooping for "unlicensed" ones?
> Carey
> -

2007\08\29@230703 by Robert Rolf

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Carey Fisher wrote:
> Zik Saleeba wrote:
>
>>Another possibility for cell phone detection is to do it the same way
>>the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers.
>
> Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?  License
> *receivers* ??? and then go around snooping for "unlicensed" ones?
> Carey

Yes.
At least back in the 60's and 70's they did, when receivers leaked more.
I rather doubt that they could do it today. The regulations on RF (LO)leakage
are much tighter now.

My uncle build a 'cop detector' back in the mid sixties that used that
exact technique. Very high gain tuned RF amplifier set to the LO for the
local police (FM 70MHz band). Using doppler antenna switching he had a
display of cardinal points made with neon bulbs showing bearing to
the emission in his van. Cool but not terribly useful.

Robert

2007\08\29@231055 by Robert Rolf

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Peter Todd wrote:

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> On Thu, Aug 30, 2007 at 01:17:09AM +0100, Howard Winter wrote:
>>>...
>>>Although, if anyone off-hand knows the
>>>frequency of such transmissions for the GSM standard I'd be interested.
>>>Google searches didn't turn that spec up.
>>
>>There are 4, depending on where you are - 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz.
> Lol, see this is why google searched didn't turn it up.
>
> I'm looking for the time between "heartbeat" signals, not the fequency
> of the RF transmissions themselves.
>
> Maybe period would be a better word.

The "tower polling interval" varies by technology. 5 minutes to 60 minutes if
my memory is correct (read a book about cell tower technologies about a decade ago).
The newer phones poll less often to prolong battery life.
The do wake up many times a second to see if there is a page call for them.

The quick way to find out for yourself is to monitor your phone's battery
current using a scope and small series resistance. You'll see huge spikes for
a poll response, and a regular train for the 'listen to polling channel'.

Your bigger issue with using RF detection will be false triggers by much
stronger, but far away transmissions (police radios (5-15W),
nearby paging transmitters (500W), passing cabs (5W), etc.

Wi-Fi in a park is highly unlikely. That is way beyond the range limit of most cheap
systems. And is very hard to detect because of it's short transmission time (milliseconds)
and low density, not to mention the frequency hopping.

Two way paging? WHY? Then it's a cell phone or blackberry.

I would just go with KISS and use passive IR. Or possibly microwave door openers
to sense motion without being easily recognized. If you look at the beat frequency
by tapping the motion detector internals, you can also get velocity and coming/going.

You can get both sensing methods in some PIR security sensors.
They use PIR to confirm the size of a moving object they detect with
microwave doppler to prevent false alarms. About $40 US. "Pet resistant".

Robert



2007\08\29@231950 by Robert Rolf

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Zik Saleeba wrote:

> Sounds crazy doesn't it? I'll let someone from the UK tell the story
> of how this insanity came into being.
>
> www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2003/06_june/24/licensing_detector_vans.shtml
> http://tvlicensing.biz/detection/index.htm
>
> Cheers,
> Zik

So what if the TV is on and people only watch DVDs?
The tuner may be set to BBC1, but input selector set to 'line'.
The tuner will still be operating.
PROVE that I was watching your "programme"...

"It is illegal to use or install television receiving equipment
to receive television programme services if you are not properly licensed."

But if this really IS the law, you cannot use television to watch JUST DVDs.
What a crock...

R




2007\08\29@232142 by Jinx

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> > the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers

> Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?  License
> *receivers* ??? and then go around snooping for "unlicensed" ones?
> Carey

They don't detect 'licences". What they do detect is a running TV
(ISTR they look for the local oscillator or other stray EMF) and then
check whether the location has a licence

"What we'll do if we catch you" scare-you-s***less tone here

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/detectionandpenalties.jsp

I think the 'fleet of detector vans' is something of a myth though

2007\08\29@232539 by Jinx

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> in the UK?  License *receivers* ???

>From the tvlicensing site -

Do I need a licence?  
 
You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such
as a TV set, set-top boxes, video or DVD recorders, computers or
mobile phones to watch or record TV programmes as they are being
shown on TV.

[ how about that then - a TV licence for a phone !! ]

If you use a set-top box with a hi-fi system or another device that can
only be used to produce sounds and can't display TV programmes, and
you don't install or use any other TV receiving equipment, you don't
need a TV Licence.

2007\08\29@234415 by Russell McMahon

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>> Another possibility for cell phone detection is to do it the same
>> way
>> the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers.

> Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?
> License
> *receivers* ??? and then go around snooping for "unlicensed" ones?

>From NZ - where we had but no longer have TV licences, and never had
detector vans (although that didn't stop them featuring in an ad that
trued to get people to play ball - it was severely laughed at).

It's arguably "licence recipients".
It's user pays at work.
Where some of TV is state funded (eg BBC) then being able to receive
is deemed to mean that you have agreed to pay for the service.

In NZ when we had licences and ONLY state provided TV, ownership of a
working TV was deemed to impart necessity to hold a licence. Having
one that was turned off or stored in a cupboard was not enough. It had
to be disabled to not count. As I recall, something like shorting the
aerial terminals was found to satisfy this requirement :-). I knew
people who used to store their TV in a cupboard with the aerial
shorted when they were not watching it :-).

Those days have gone.

In the UK "detector vans" featured not only in real life but also in
all good UK sitcoms and the like.

As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a gun
and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in that
respect. The same applied here to TVs, so it would not be "unlicensed"
but unlicensed. ie the quotes (IMHO appear to) seek to negate the
reality of an entirely real legal requirement. And "snooping" is
something that people who are working do when it is their job, by
whatever means,  to inquire and people disapprove of the inquiries
:-).

In many countries there are still very restrictive laws re the
possession of various forms of radio transmitter and/or receivers. I
imagine that in the US if you set up without FCC etc approval an eg
100 kW MF station and started broadcasting then you'd promptly have
people "snooping" re your "unlicensed" equipment. Use of Walkie
talkies ' CB sets in some countries will rapidly get you free
accommodation. AFAIK in the UK the maximum permitted "CB" TX power is
still such that you may almost get further by shouting (really really)
loudly.

Use of "computers",  WiFi cards and a suitable aerial MAY provide a
more internationally universally permitted walkie-talkie facility than
any other means.


               Russell


2007\08\30@050146 by Jinx

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> If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a
> gun and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in
> that respect

And don't you worry. If someone detects a gun going off, the
authorities will probably pay you a visit to check you have a
licence. At the very least

2007\08\30@091215 by Dr Skip

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Just focus on Motorola phones. The EMI from them is so bad that it will
sound off in speakers (PC, radios, etc) many feet away, as well as do
other neat tricks with devices never intended to notice a phone. It's
check-ins cause it, as well as the negotiation before the ring. It's not
just the latest flip ones either. I had an older flip and it would bring
my monitor out of sleep a few seconds before every call.

-Skip

2007\08\30@091510 by Dr Skip

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I've heard about their receiver licensing on PBS fundraisers, touting
how we (USA) don't have that, but if you want to keep it that way......

I've also heard reference to it on several British comedy series we
watch, and on Doctor Who.

-Skip

2007\08\30@095639 by Peter Bindels

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On 30/08/2007, Russell McMahon <.....apptechKILLspamspam.....paradise.net.nz> wrote:
> As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
> If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a gun
> and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in that
> respect. The same applied here to TVs, so it would not be "unlicensed"
> but unlicensed. ie the quotes (IMHO appear to) seek to negate the
> reality of an entirely real legal requirement. And "snooping" is
> something that people who are working do when it is their job, by
> whatever means,  to inquire and people disapprove of the inquiries
> :-).

If you require a license to fire a gun, and you have a gun, you're not
necessarily breaking the rules. If a gun is fired in your neighborhood
you'd better show it wasn't you but if you don't use the gun to shoot
(say, hanging laundry from it) you'd be fine.

Same with TV's used to watch DVD movies. If you don't watch cable TV
you don't pay for cable TV, not even if they really want you to.

Regards,
Peter

2007\08\30@103855 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Same with TV's used to watch DVD movies.

Not in the UK - if it is capable of receiving TV broadcasts (even if you
don't have an aerial, or any local service) then you need a license. If you
want to do away with the license you need to remove the tuner  - in a
permanent manner.

2007\08\30@120407 by Peter Todd

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On Wed, Aug 29, 2007 at 09:10:51PM -0600, Robert Rolf wrote:
> The "tower polling interval" varies by technology. 5 minutes to 60 minutes if
> my memory is correct (read a book about cell tower technologies about a decade ago).
> The newer phones poll less often to prolong battery life.
> The do wake up many times a second to see if there is a page call for them.
>
> The quick way to find out for yourself is to monitor your phone's battery
> current using a scope and small series resistance. You'll see huge spikes for
> a poll response, and a regular train for the 'listen to polling channel'.

Thanks, I'll try that out.

> Your bigger issue with using RF detection will be false triggers by much
> stronger, but far away transmissions (police radios (5-15W),
> nearby paging transmitters (500W), passing cabs (5W), etc.
>
> Wi-Fi in a park is highly unlikely. That is way beyond the range limit of most cheap
> systems. And is very hard to detect because of it's short transmission time (milliseconds)
> and low density, not to mention the frequency hopping.

This is an urban park, and next to some apartment towers, so wi-fi is
actually pretty likely. Point taken though on the difficulties of
detecting it though.

> Two way paging? WHY? Then it's a cell phone or blackberry.
>
> I would just go with KISS and use passive IR. Or possibly microwave door openers
> to sense motion without being easily recognized. If you look at the beat frequency
> by tapping the motion detector internals, you can also get velocity and coming/going.

Oh cool! Didn't think of that possibility.

> You can get both sensing methods in some PIR security sensors.
> They use PIR to confirm the size of a moving object they detect with
> microwave doppler to prevent false alarms. About $40 US. "Pet resistant".

Sounds usefull as well, and the microwave dopplar can probably be tapped
in some way as well.


That said, the project, and it's grant, is more angled to detecting EMF
from portable communications, not people per say. Detecting far away
transmissions is probably going to be ok as well, I'll have to see what
sort of behavior that creates.

I did manage to find a $90 EMF detector claiming to detect microwaves
reliably with adjustable sensitivity:

http://www.detectortechnologies.com/store/detail.aspx?ID=25

I'm going to get one maybe pull it apart to reverse engineer it so I can
make a couple more. They claim it can detect a cell phone tower from
300ft away, and a digital cell phone 20ft, 1uW/cm2.

Hopefully problem solved. :)

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\08\30@123242 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Peter Bindels wrote:

> If you require a license to fire a gun, and you have a gun, you're not
> necessarily breaking the rules.

You may need a license to own a gun, and then the situation is different.

> but if you don't use the gun to shoot (say, hanging laundry from it)
> you'd be fine.

That's why often the law requires a license to own a gun (rather than to
fire it): it's basically assumed that you don't buy a gun to hang your
laundry :)  And the burden is on you to show otherwise. Which is not
completely irrational.

Similarly with the TV licensing. You may take into account that probably
most of these laws were made at a time where watching public TV was the
only probable use for a TV set (long before DVDs or VCRs or cable or
satellite TV or using a TV set for hanging laundry from it became
widespread or even available -- yes, there was such a time, and some still
live to testify it). At least that's the case for Germany.

Gerhard

2007\08\30@134739 by Herbert Graf

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face
On Wed, 2007-08-29 at 22:43 -0400, Carey Fisher wrote:
> Zik Saleeba wrote:
> > Another possibility for cell phone detection is to do it the same way
> > the "TV detector vans" in the UK detect unlicensed TV receivers.
> Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?  License
> *receivers* ??? and then go around snooping for "unlicensed" ones?

I don't know about the "snooping for unlicensed ones", but the UK DOES
require a yearly license fee for every TV receiver. I don't think the UK
is the only place that does this either. TTYL

2007\08\30@135445 by Herbert Graf

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On Wed, 2007-08-29 at 21:27 -0400, Peter Todd wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Get a GSM phone, sit it right beside some amplified computer speakers
and time it. TTYL

2007\08\30@135528 by Brooke Clarke

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face
Hi Peter:

If you want to pick up microwave radiation based on temperature, like from a
warm body against a cold background, Google on Dickie Radiometer.  The idea is
to switch the gain polarity at the same time as the input is switched from the
antenna to a load at a known temperature.  Adding a PR coded modulation will
greatly increase the sensitivity.

A easy way to detect an RF signal is to use a simple crystal radio where the
input tuned circuit selects what frequencies it receives.  If the signal has
on/off keying either in the modulation or just in that it starts and stops,
then you can A.C. couple the crystal output and use high amplification.

So the circuit looks like an antenna, a tank circuit followed by a diode
detector and an AC coupled audio (video?) amplifier, a rectifier driving a switch.

I recently saw somewhere on the web a key chain device that did this for cell
phone, blue tooth, and some other signals.

I have a WiFi detector that uses SMT microwave filters and amplifiers ahead of
the crystal radio.  The output consists of a number of LEDs that light to show
signal strength.

Here's an example of a microwave crystal video receiver where I designed the
limiter-detectors:  http://www.prc68.com/I/ALR54.shtml

--
Have Fun,

Brooke Clarke
http://www.PRC68.com
http://www.precisionclock.com

2007\08\30@140012 by Carey Fisher

face picon face
Russell McMahon wrote:
> As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
> If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a gun
> and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in that
> respect. The same applied here to TVs, ...
Russell,
Surely you recognize the distinction between and gun and a TV receiver!!!???
Carey

2007\08\30@140221 by Carey Fisher

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Further to previous message...

Guns are recognized and ownership explicitly allowed by our (U.S.)
Constitution.  TV Receivers are not!

(T.I.C.)

Carey

2007\08\30@140730 by Dario Greggio

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Herbert Graf wrote:

> I don't know about the "snooping for unlicensed ones", but the UK DOES
> require a yearly license fee for every TV receiver. I don't think the UK
> is the only place that does this either. TTYL

Could Italy be missing in the list of "idiot taxes" ?
of course no, here we are...


--
Ciao, Dario
--
ADPM Synthesis sas - Torino
--
http://www.adpm.tk

2007\08\30@142402 by Peter Todd

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On Thu, Aug 30, 2007 at 02:00:03PM -0400, Carey Fisher wrote:
> Russell McMahon wrote:
> > As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
> > If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a gun
> > and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in that
> > respect. The same applied here to TVs, ...
> Russell,
> Surely you recognize the distinction between and gun and a TV receiver!!!???

Perhaps he comes from politically repressive dictatorship?

- --
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2007\08\31@052815 by Howard Winter

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Herbert,

On Thu, 30 Aug 2007 13:47:37 -0400, Herbert Graf wrote:

>...
> I don't know about the "snooping for unlicensed ones", but the UK DOES
> require a yearly license fee for every TV receiver.

Actually that's not quite true - every property, not every receiver - once your house has a licence, you can use as many televisions as you like there,
and take portable ones out with you.

At one time there were licences for car radios (possibly house radios too, but that would have been before my time) but they were abolished some
time ago.  There used to be dog licences, but they've gone as well.

TV licences started in 1946 (or thereabouts) when there was only 1 channel, BBC, on VHF with 405 lines, and that carried on for about 10 years when
Independant Television (ITV) came along, with adverts.  It used a higher frequency (but still VHF) so needed a different aerial and mods to some
televisions, and I remember some friends at school who could only watch BBC.  Later came UHF/625 lines, BBC2, colour, Channel 4, Five (desperate
lack of imagination in naming! :-) and then Digital Terestrial (DVB-T).  The VHF transmitters were turned off many years ago, and the analog VHF
transmitters are going the same way, starting in a couple of years time, so analog-only televisions and recorders are going to become obsolete fairly
soon, although they are still selling them!

Oh, and there are two TV licences, one for black-and-white, and a more expensive one for colour - leading to the joke many years ago that
so-and-so got a black and white dog because he thought the licence was cheaper...

Although the licence is only for TV reception, it funds the whole of the BBC, not just TV (2 analog channels, 4? digital) but also national and local
radio stations, the BBC World Service, and so on.  BBC America has adverts, so I suppose that contributes to the running of that, although I have no
idea how well it matches its running costs.

Personally I love not having adverts on BBC TV channels, and compared with what I'd have to pay for Sky or cable, it's a bargain!  (Incidentally, Sky
has adverts even on channels that you have to pay for, one of the - many - reasons I'd never have it).

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\08\31@053630 by Howard Winter

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Peter,

On Thu, 30 Aug 2007 15:56:38 +0200, Peter Bindels wrote:

>...
> If you require a license to fire a gun, and you have a gun, you're not
> necessarily breaking the rules.

Back when you could own a gun here, you had to have a licence to own it - firing it didn't come into the equation.  It's the same with a car - if you
park it on a public road, it has to have a licence.  They don't have to prove that you've driven it!

> Same with TV's used to watch DVD movies. If you don't watch cable TV
> you don't pay for cable TV, not even if they really want you to.

You're confusing commercial business with government licensing - they are completely unrelated.  You have to have a licence to have a TV receiver
(including VCRs and DVD players that can receive TV signals) installed, they don't have to prove you've watched it.

If you really want to watch DVDs but not receive broadcasts, then you could use a player that doesn't have a tuner, or a PC, feeding a monitor (but
not a television).

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\08\31@054917 by Howard Winter

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Robert,

On Wed, 29 Aug 2007 21:19:48 -0600, Robert Rolf wrote:

> So what if the TV is on and people only watch DVDs?
> The tuner may be set to BBC1, but input selector set to 'line'.
> The tuner will still be operating.
> PROVE that I was watching your "programme"...

They don't have to... even if you never watch BBC - you have to have a licence to receive TV signals.

> "It is illegal to use or install television receiving equipment
> to receive television programme services if you are not properly licensed."
>
> But if this really IS the law, you cannot use television to watch JUST DVDs.

Yes, that really is the law if you use a TV receiver.  You can use a DVD player that has no tuner, but not otherwise.

> What a crock...

That's the law!  Same as having to pay the Government some of the money you earn, just for earning it.  They don't have to prove that you are using
any services that they are providing for the money (I don't have kids, I still have to contribute to the running of schools), it's the way taxation works.

Some licences have (almost) had their fees removed - driving licences here run until your 70th birthday, so you don't have to renew them until then,
whereas at one time you had to pay every two years.  Amateur Radio licences (my callsign is G1BYY) used to cost UK£15 a year, but they've recently
become free.  You still have to have the licence, of course.

Passports, on the other hand, have got more expensive to cover the cost of adding an RF-readable chip which has the information on the
identification page stored electronically (including the photo, I believe).  All part of modern life!  :-)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\08\31@055030 by Howard Winter

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Carey,

On Thu, 30 Aug 2007 14:00:03 -0400, Carey Fisher wrote:

> Russell McMahon wrote:
> > As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
> > If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a gun
> > and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in that
> > respect. The same applied here to TVs, ...
> Russell,
> Surely you recognize the distinction between and gun and a TV receiver!!!???

Yes, you can have a TV receiver in the UK, you can't have a gun!  :-)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\08\31@061921 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Later came UHF/625 lines, BBC2, colour, Channel 4, Five
>(desperate lack of imagination in naming! :-)

Lack of imagination yah reckon ?? Try looking at the names of the digital
terrestrial ones ...

...

>The VHF transmitters were turned off many years ago, and
>the analog VHF transmitters
           ^^^
I think you mean UHF here ... ;)

2007\08\31@073807 by Russell McMahon

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> Back when you could own a gun here, you had to have a licence to own
> it - firing it didn't come into the equation.  It's the same with a
> car - if you
> park it on a public road, it has to have a licence.  They don't have
> to prove that you've driven it!

In certain cases here enforcement agents can 'ticket' cars that are
not on a public road for offences which did not demionstrably occue on
a public road and which properly (IMHO) relate only to their being on
a public road. For example, if a car did not have a "warrant of
fitness" and was parked in a supermarket carpark some enforcers would
feel justified in issuing a 'ticket' for that 'offense'.

It is probable that a vehicle in the above example arrived where it
was via a public road and that it did so while in an illegal state.
BUT neither of these conditions is necessary and it seems to me (FWIW)
that such an action violates clear legal rights and principles. The
WOF could have expired after the vehicle arrived where it was,. It
could have been transported there in a legal manner for some reason.
The first of these has low probability on average and the second has
extremely low probability ever. But, that's not the point.

A while ago I rang our government land transport authority and they
confirmed that they consider they have the right to act as above. I
was NOT inquiring due to any personal involvement in such matters. I
did know of someone who had had an extremely unjust and morally
destitute example of the public/private distinction enacted against
them. Apparently it MAY not have been leaglly destitute, but I suspect
even that.




       Russell




2007\08\31@073807 by Russell McMahon

face
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face
>> As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
>> If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a gun
>> and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in that
>> respect. The same applied here to TVs, ...

> Russell,
> Surely you recognize the distinction between and gun and a TV
> receiver!!!???

Surely you recognise the distinction between an analogy and an exact
model ;-)


       Russell "all models are wrong, some models are useful" McMahon



2007\08\31@073807 by Russell McMahon

face
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face
>> Russell McMahon wrote:
>> > As for "snooping"  and ""unlicensed"".
>> > If you require a gun licence to possess a gun and you possess a
>> > gun
>> > and not a licence then you and/or the gun are not licensed in
>> > that
>> > respect. The same applied here to TVs, ...

>> Russell,
>> Surely you recognize the distinction between and gun and a TV
>> receiver!!!???

> Perhaps he comes from politically repressive dictatorship?

I have no problem at all with the above being said *BUT* I find it
hard to understand what point is being made by the 1st response and
even harder to understand the second.

I'd be genuinely interested in knowing how my expressing the concept
that 'not having a licence for something leads to it (or you depending
on the particular arrangement) being unlicensed leads anyone to the
conclusion that I "come from" a politically repressive dictatorship.

If I understand the US system, and I think I understand it well enough
for application to the present discussion, US citizens sought and
obtained the right to bear arms because they thought that their
government might on some occasions turn out to be a repressive
dictatorship (which they may need their furry arms to combat).

In free and democratic countries like the one I "come from" the vast
majority of citizens are happy to forgo the right to furry arms
without a licence as we are not overly fearful that our government may
morph into a repressive dictatorship.




       Russell



2007\08\31@073810 by Russell McMahon

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> If you require a license to fire a gun, and you have a gun, you're
> not
> necessarily breaking the rules.

1.    Not *necessarily*.

2.    That's a straw man. It MAY be that where you are the licence the
firing rather than the possessing but it certainly isn't so here, and
I imagine that in almost any jurisdiction the possession is what's key
with a firearm.



       Russell

2007\08\31@084603 by Russell McMahon

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Passports, on the other hand, have got more expensive to cover the
cost of adding an RF-readable chip which has the information on the
identification page stored electronically (including the photo, I
believe).  All part of modern life!  :-)

In order to make them more insecure when attacked by those who know
what they are doing :-(.

Also, to make the users subject to automatic remote identification by
suitably equipped 3rd parties, who may use the information for
whatever means they see fit. 'People' have already trigger a
demonstration explosive device when an appropriate RFID'd passport
came within range. Obviously this was possible and the actual
demonstration is just a stunt to emphasise the point for those who may
be less impressed by non-physical proofs of concept. The risk of this
sort of use could, of course, be reduced by coding the system
appropriately. But, it could never be eliminated. When you broadcast
or potentially broadcast information it becomes available for exploit.




       Russell


2007\08\31@085340 by Carl Denk

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face
Many years ago, circa 1958, 2 brothers had identical looking white
Porsche 356A speedsters, one was a "normal" (60 hp.), and the other was
a "Carrera" (probably twice the hp.) a real racing machine. They took
the "normal" and with engine removed (a 20 minute at most project) and
parked it on a back road, took the "Carrera" and found the local police
car, baited, and stayed just out of range. The police came upon the
"normal", ticketed the driver, and impounded the "normal". In the city
mayor's court, they plead not guilty, pointing to the lack of engine, or
would the city like to replace the engine that was stolen while in the
cities care. I don't remember the outcome. The city was Bentleyville,
Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.

Russell McMahon wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\08\31@100658 by Tony Smith

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{Quote hidden}

Oh good lord, a Friday night gun nut thread.  :)  or perhap be  =:-O

I thought part of it was to stop the British getting ideas.  Unlike
Australia, where the British were only interested in it as a good dumping
ground for the riff-raff.  Later on the riff-raff PAID the British to come
over.  Ten-pound poms, as they were known.  I wonder if they got for 3 for a
twenty.

Tony

2007\08\31@143809 by Peter Todd

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On Fri, Aug 31, 2007 at 11:23:11PM +1200, Russell McMahon wrote:
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What I mean is, for many politically repressive dictatorships, and other
totalitarian governments, having a mean of communication is far more
dangerous than having weapons.

Look at how heavilly photocopiers were controlled in the former USSR.

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2007\08\31@182437 by peter green

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face

> Yes, that really is the law if you use a TV receiver.  You can use a DVD player that has no tuner, but not otherwise.
>
>
>  
IIRC you only actually need the license if the equipment is set up to be
capable of watching TV.  So if you just connect a DVD player to a TV and
don't connect an antenna or tune it in then you should be fine. Does
anyone have a link to the actual law?


2007\08\31@202035 by Jinx

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> IIRC you only actually need the license if the equipment is set up
> to be capable of watching TV

I think that's the key word - capable. You would have a tough job
convincing the authorities that a TV had only ever been used to
watch DVDs. Frankly, they wouldn't listen, because if there's a tuner
it needs a licence. A player + monitor (ie no reception capability at
all) would not need a licence

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/index.jsp

2007\08\31@221235 by Marcel Duchamp
picon face
Jinx wrote:
 > www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/index.jsp
>

After all this discussion about TV licensing in the UK, finally a page
with the cost.

(A colour TV Licence costs £135.50
and
a black and white licence costs £45.50 ANNUALLY)

>> IIRC you only actually need the license if the equipment is set up
>> to be capable of watching TV

Interesting to me at least, even if blind and thus you are not WATCHING
TV, you still must pay, albeit, 50%.

Do they also charge a license fee for radio?

Missing from the discussion is how do the UK citizens feel about the
license system?  I imagine some percentage are against it (some
percentage are always against "IT")...

2007\08\31@224543 by SM Ling

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>
> Do they also charge a license fee for radio?
>

We (Singapore) inherited the UK Radio and TV licensing system, when TV and
radio do not have the current American portion of the advertisements.

Yes, radio receiver inside the house or the car has a tax too if you not
already paid for the TV receiver tax.

This also provides a good answer to the original doubt on the license issue
on mobile phone TV.  Walkman radio and cellphone radio are exempted.

So a bonus question is how do you avoiding paying radio receiver tax
legally, yet you still want to listen to the radio.

Tip: wind down the window....

Cheers, Ling SM


'[EE] Detecting EMF?'
2007\09\01@053122 by Dario Greggio
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Marcel Duchamp wrote:

> (A colour TV Licence costs £135.50

100€ in here.
There should not be anymore a b/n license..

--
Ciao, Dario

2007\09\02@122102 by Howard Winter

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Alan,

On Fri, 31 Aug 2007 11:19:09 +0100, Alan B. Pearce wrote:

> >The VHF transmitters were turned off many years ago, and
> >the analog VHF transmitters
>                   ^^^
> I think you mean UHF here ... ;)

Oops!  Yes of course I did!  :-)

Cheers,



2007\09\02@230726 by Carey Fisher

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>
> In free and democratic countries like the one I "come from" the vast
> majority of citizens are happy to forgo the right to furry arms
> without a licence as we are not overly fearful that our government may
> morph into a repressive dictatorship.
>
>  
And what makes the people in your government so different than those in
other governments such as some of those in South America that turn into
repressive dictatorships?  Are your fellow countrymen genetically
"better" in some way that assures you that they won't develop the greed
and lust for power that afflicts most of mankind from time to time?

The Right to Bear Arms (or Right to Arm Bears) is just a part of a
multi-faceted defense the US has against the rise of a repressive
dictatorship.  The overall defense is not working real well right now
(the Patriot Act, etc) but if things were to ever get really repressive,
at least we have a fighting chance to avoid tyrannical repression.

2007\09\02@232817 by Charles Craft

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-----Original Message-----
{Quote hidden}

What's a cup of coffee cost at Starbucks in the UK?
135.50 / 52 = 2.61 / week
Skipping a cup of coffee or pack of cigarettes a week easily covers the cost.


2007\09\02@234616 by Bob Blick

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>>
>> (A colour TV Licence costs £135.50
>> and
>> a black and white licence costs £45.50 ANNUALLY)

Can you tune in to all of the 12 million surveillance cameras in the
U.K.? That would make it totally worth it!

Cheerful regards,

Bob

2007\09\03@041512 by Russell McMahon

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>> In free and democratic countries like the one I "come from" the
>> vast
>> majority of citizens are happy to forgo the right to [bare and]
>> furry arms
>> without a licence as we are not overly fearful that our government
>> may
>> morph into a repressive dictatorship.

> And what makes the people in your government so different than those
> in
> other governments such as some of those in South

[sic]

> America that turn into
> repressive dictatorships?

I'm not sure that anyone knows what it is that does it. It could be
that we are or purer and more direct British stock than the eg
USAites, who seemed to have a similar immunity for some while, but it
appears to be wearing off. Mind you, it may just be a matter of time
as we only got going about 1840 (although there's a longish early
innovator lead in before that), so maybe in 100+ years we'll be in the
same straits as others.

It may be the very high level of UV in our environment, and it may be
the excellent proximity to bracing salt sea air - nowhere in God's Own
Country [tm] is more than 60 miles from the sea.

It may be the challenge posed by our antipodean brothers just across
the pond who seem to suffer from an equal does of egalitarian
tolerance and bonhomie across the board.

> Are your fellow countrymen genetically
> "better" in some way that assures you that they won't develop the
> greed
> and lust for power that afflicts most of mankind from time to time?

That might be the reason, but it seems less likely. You could argue
that perhaps the higher initial representation of Irish bloodlines
(thanks to the putative potato famine) and hardy convict stock makes
genetic preponderance a factor.

We also however have the cunning plan of running our armed forces at
such a level that if we got ALL the nations boy together at once
they'd do a fair job of holding the army off while we got the farmers
mobilised. We've also scrapped our airforce strike arm entirely
(available to you in mothballed state real-cheap if you want it)
because it used to annoy our Prime Minister.

NZers, when they DO get into action make the best soldiers in the
world. According to Rommel anyway. If you'd ever been on the receiving
end of an All-Black scrum (indiscernible from a military engagement)
or had to face the Maori battalion with fixed bayonets, then you'd be
more aware of why his opinions are possibly factual.

> The Right to Bear Arms (or Right to Arm Bears) is just a part of a
> multi-faceted defense the US has against the rise of a repressive
> dictatorship.

Fortunately we don't have a major problem in this area. The only bears
we have are all well enclosed on our zoological gardens and even if
they've did decide to swap such posh surrounds for a life on the road
they are largely so old and tired that I doubt that we'd need more
than a dozen grandmothers or our national netball team to deal with
them. (If you have never been on the receiving end of our national
netball team them be very careful about making snide remarks about
them - just ask the Ozzies).

>The overall defense is not working real well right now
> (the Patriot Act, etc) but if things were to ever get really
> repressive,
> at least we have a fighting chance to avoid tyrannical repression.

Whereas our approach seems to be working exceedingly well. So maybe
you need to learn a lesson from us, whatever it may be.

Mind you, we do seem to have a bit of a blip at present. The Prime
Minister, Ms Helen Clark, is entirely up to holding her whole cabinet
at bay with her left arm while she harangues the opposition into
cringing submission verbally, leaving her right arm free to strong arm
the country. The armed forces are no match for her. She has the army
eating out of her hand with the buying of far too many flaky fault
prone Canadian get-stuck-in-embarrassing-places AT(allegedly but not
actually)V's, which she gave them instead of tanks, she's taken the
AirForce's strike arm away as a lesson to them and they're scared she
may take their antisubmarine capability as well, and the Navy
understand the threat and are keeping quiet while they still have a
few frigates left. But we reckon that the Waikato farmers are an easy
match for her if it ever comes to that. (After all, where do you think
the All Blacks get their back line from?). .




       Russell


2007\09\03@063747 by Tony Smith

picon face
{Quote hidden}

Yeah, the US government is doing a pretty good job of soundly rogering its
citizens (or subject if you prefer) at the moment.  By a conservative
government, no less.  Bend over, there's more on its way.  (Go on, vote the
liberals in, how much worse could it be?)

I don't think the guns have made (or will make) much of a difference.

...and how come the blah blah blah right to bear arms blah blah blah rants
always seems to be missing the "in lieu of a standing army there will be a
well regulated militia" bit?  Is these still an army over there?

The gun nuts complain a lot, but they don't seem to actually do anything
about it.  Just like everyone else, I guess.  (Except in West Virginia.)

Ooops, too much political!  Sorry folks!

Tony

2007\09\03@064948 by Howard Winter

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Marcel.

On Fri, 31 Aug 2007 19:12:29 -0700, Marcel Duchamp wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Yes, I've always thought this was a mean-spirited thing - it's improved, at one time the discount for the blind was only about 5%!

> Do they also charge a license fee for radio?

Not any more - they used to a long time ago, and more recently for car radios, but not any more.

> Missing from the discussion is how do the UK citizens feel about the
> license system?  I imagine some percentage are against it (some
> percentage are always against "IT")...

Some people are against paying anything for anything, but by and large the TV licence is just accepted.  It started just after WWII, so it's not as if
anyone isn't used to it.

Personally I would fight tooth and nail to keep it against the alternative of having adverts.  When I'm in the USA I get utterly frustrated when I'm
trying to follow a programme and it gets interrupted by adverts to the point that you just lose track of the plot.  And it's such a waste of time!  At
times a programme that runs for an hour seems to have at least half of it taken up by adverts, and in the end I don't bother to watch at all, so
they've not only spoiled my enjoyment of the programme, but shot themselves in the foot because I won't be watching their adverts!

We do have commercial channels with adverts, of course, but they are much less intrusive than in the USA.  At their most dense they only have a
break every 15 minutes, none of the "initial teaser, then an ad-break, then the opening credits" thing, and there is a clear indication of the break into
and out of the programme, so mentally you detach from it.  The way they go straight into adverts over the pond, with no indication of the change so
it looks like a new scene in the programme is one of the things that gets to me - it causes a mental "jolt" when I'm trying to make sense of it in
relation to the plot, and then realise it's an advert.  At home I almost never see adverts, because I watch most things from a recorder (at one time
VHS, then DVD-RAM, now Hard Drive) and skip over the advert breaks.  It saves time and means I can put the kettle on when I feel like it!  :-)

And the BBC do *a lot* more than just transmit television channels.

Incidentally, the TV licence fee is rather less than the "Tax Disc" for a car - it was GB£175 for my car last year - it may have gone up since then!

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2007\09\03@065308 by Tony Smith

picon face
> >(A colour TV Licence costs £135.50
> >and
> >a black and white licence costs £45.50 ANNUALLY)
>
> What's a cup of coffee cost at Starbucks in the UK?
> 135.50 / 52 = 2.61 / week
> Skipping a cup of coffee or pack of cigarettes a week easily
> covers the cost.


How to spot a non-smoker (and perhap non-coffee drinker as well)  :)

I've seen people lose their house rather than give up smoking, even by a
little bit.  Ok, slight exaggeration, but not far from it.

Many years ago, I was woken up early in the morning (ie 4am) and asked if I
knew why packs of cigarettes came in sizes of 20 (or maybe 25).  Naturally,
'F* off, it's 4 in the morning' is not the correct answer, but many of you
knew that already.

Allegedly, the number of waking hours times the length of time it takes for
the nicotine hit to wear off means you can start a fresh pack first thing in
the morning, and have the last one in bed at night (just before burning to
death).

I suspect a coincidence, but knowing the research the cigarette companies
did, I'm not quite sure.

Anyway filthy habit blah blah blah.

Tony

2007\09\03@105724 by Marcel Duchamp

picon face
Thanks, Howard.  Your description of the situation is pretty much what I
imagined was going on.

As for how bad US tv is, no argument here.   Cut the plug off my tv some
18 years ago.  (the Mrs. put it back on!) I don't miss not watching it.

Confession: did just watch the 2nd season first episode of "The I.T.
Crowd"(BBC version).  Hilarious. Thanks to the power of bittorrent.

Howard Winter wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\09\04@153821 by Peter P.

picon face
Jinx <joecolquitt <at> clear.net.nz> writes:
> > Not to go too far OT, but, do they really do this in the UK?  License

They used to do it for sure (to be read in : R.V. Jones, Most Secret War - where
H.M. 'Services' applied communist spy radio transmitter hunting vans to the
location of local leftists who treated the BBC's TV transmissions as public
property).

Worse, I caught some strange happenings myself, while monitoring off air signal
quality a few years ago, when at the start of the evening news the sound
subcarrier shifted firmly about 50kHz over about 2 seconds (this is inaudible,
and excludes a hard switch to a different modulator). After the news the carrier
shifted back, equally slowly. Anybody monitoring field strength at 5.5MHz and
5.550 MHz (or 5.450) would have had an instant percentual reading of the
percentage of news program tuned sets. Similar games have been seen played with
the RF carrier proper, for similar purposes. This works both for radio and TV
(both off the air).

Now with cable the question is moot. The cable boxes call home and tell the
operators what people are watching, when, and when they are zapping. There is no
way around it since the local digital distribution box MUST receive a select
signal to send the relevant data down the subscriber lines. The subscriber lines
no longer have the bandwidth to carry all the selected programs on the 'last 100
feet'. Rough calculations show that a high quality provider would need at least
1.5GHz of bandwidth on the last 100 feet to put 200 programs through. That does
not happen, however the fiber or the backbone that feeds the local distribution
boxes does have that kind of bandwidth. Typically a local distribution box is
shared between 2-30 subscribers. The actual numbers vary with the provider and
the system.

Peter P.


2007\09\04@160605 by peter green

flavicon
face

>
> Now with cable the question is moot. The cable boxes call home and tell the
> operators what people are watching, when, and when they are zapping. There is no
> way around it since the local digital distribution box MUST receive a select
> signal to send the relevant data down the subscriber lines. The subscriber lines
> no longer have the bandwidth to carry all the selected programs on the 'last 100
> feet'. Rough calculations show that a high quality provider would need at least
> 1.5GHz of bandwidth on the last 100 feet to put 200 programs through. That does
> not happen, however the fiber or the backbone that feeds the local distribution
> boxes does have that kind of bandwidth. Typically a local distribution box is
> shared between 2-30 subscribers. The actual numbers vary with the provider and
> the system.
>
>  
At least in the UK i'm pretty sure it is not done this way because every
so often the return path (required for on demand TV and broadband) goes
down but the normal cable TV channels remain active. However the vast
majority of our channels are not HD.

2007\09\04@161852 by Peter P.

picon face
Tony Smith <ajsmith <at> rivernet.com.au> writes:
> Allegedly, the number of waking hours times the length of time it takes for
> the nicotine hit to wear off means you can start a fresh pack first thing in
> the morning, and have the last one in bed at night (just before burning to
> death).

Sinister coincidences do not stop with this. It just so happens that in the EC
the number of cigarettes per pack has been reduced from 20, presumably for tax
reasons. If you are right, then one of the consequences is that smokers will now
buy N+1 packs per day where they bought N before, to the immense joy of both the
tax authority and of the tobacco manufacturers.

There is a Murphy's law I don't remember that basically says that whenever the
government reduces a tax it is not losing tax income, but the opposite of that.

Peter P.

2007\09\04@182626 by Robert Rolf

picon face

peter green wrote:

>>Now with cable the question is moot. The cable boxes call home and tell the
>>operators what people are watching, when, and when they are zapping. There is no
>>way around it since the local digital distribution box MUST receive a select
>>signal to send the relevant data down the subscriber lines.

I guess you don't do a lot of reading about cable plant.
HFC (hybrid fibre/coax) CABLE plants have more than enough forward bandwidth to supply
multiple HD channels simultaneously.

>> The subscriber lines
>>no longer have the bandwidth to carry all the selected programs on the 'last 100
>>feet'. Rough calculations show that a high quality provider would need at least
>>1.5GHz of bandwidth on the last 100 feet to put 200 programs through.

Sounds like you're talking DSL where the line to the home is bandwidth limited.

Most USA/Canadian cable plants are now built out to 1 Ghz analog bandwidth.
With modern digital signaling schemes (Q256) they have lots of capacity.
And they compress the heck out of HD signals too.

>> That does
>>not happen, however the fiber or the backbone that feeds the local distribution
>>boxes does have that kind of bandwidth.

That's because your bandwidth calculation didn't account for signaling efficiency
and compression techniques.

>Typically a local distribution box is
>>shared between 2-30 subscribers. The actual numbers vary with the provider and
>>the system.
>
> At least in the UK i'm pretty sure it is not done this way because every
> so often the return path (required for on demand TV and broadband) goes
> down but the normal cable TV channels remain active. However the vast
> majority of our channels are not HD.

And the 'on demand' channels are SHARED with multiple subscribers.
That's why even 'on demand' has finite start times. Your box just gets told
which data stream to listen to, along the 100's of other subscribers.
It's rarely 'point to point' on demand. Same for DSL. It's done with multicast.

It is quite instructive to put a spectrum analyzer on your cable feed so you
can see the multiplicity of forward DSS channels they have available to use.
But the return path is a fixed and limited bandwidth (5Mhz-45Mhz), so the distribution
boxes intercept the signal and then ship it back to head end via fibre.

Robert

2007\09\04@192140 by Herbert Graf

flavicon
face
On Tue, 2007-09-04 at 16:26 -0600, Robert Rolf wrote:
> And they compress the heck out of HD signals too.

Yes, to the point where it's almost pointless to get HD on cable in my
area IMHO. Recently watched some HD on a friends cable setup, was not
that impressed. Yes, it looked better then SD, but certainly not nearly
as good as REAL HD sources (i.e. an Xbox360 or an HDDVD). Unbelievably I
even saw some MPEG like artifacts, completely unacceptable considering
they charge you more per month for it.

{Quote hidden}

I don't think so, not anymore. The on demand I've seen (at the same
friends house) must have been point to point since he can pause, rewind
and fast forward the stream. The odds that two people would watch
exactly the same thing and pause it exactly the same way are much to
high to be the case IMHO. As for me, while on demand is nice, it's far
to limiting for me, especially since the fast forward and reverse speeds
are ~4X max, useless for me.

Cable has come a long way, but it's still got a ways to go to beat
satellite IMHO. My satellite feeds LOOKS better (in SD, I have seen HD
over sat, and by my recollection was better then cable HD in my area,
but I can't be sure if that's still the case). Yes, it also has some
MPEG artifacts, but not nearly as bad as I've seen on cable.

TTYL

2007\09\04@200225 by Jinx

face picon face
> As for how bad US tv is, no argument here. Cut the plug off my tv
> some 18 years ago.  (the Mrs. put it back on!) I don't miss not
> watching it

"Real life boring for TV children"

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10461733

The teenagers I know that are starting to move into the workplace
are finding out that real life doesn't have ad breaks ;-)

2007\09\04@200855 by Jinx

face picon face
> > And they compress the heck out of HD signals too.
>
> Yes, to the point where it's almost pointless to get HD on cable in
> my area IMHO....Unbelievably I even saw some MPEG like artifacts,
> completely unacceptable considering they charge you more per
> month for it

I notice that on subscription TV here. Most apparent on wide clear
expanses, for example a sky, or around a light bulb. Instead of a
smooth and uniform graduation there are distinct colour or brightness
boundaries. Some scenes look awfully lo-res

2007\09\04@222836 by Herbert Graf

flavicon
face
On Wed, 2007-09-05 at 12:02 +1200, Jinx wrote:
> > As for how bad US tv is, no argument here. Cut the plug off my tv
> > some 18 years ago.  (the Mrs. put it back on!) I don't miss not
> > watching it
>
> "Real life boring for TV children"
>
> www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10461733
>
> The teenagers I know that are starting to move into the workplace
> are finding out that real life doesn't have ad breaks ;-)

Not to worry, the next round won't expect ad breaks since they'll all
have grown up with PVRs/Tivos and just skipped all the ads! :) TTYL

2007\09\04@223602 by Herbert Graf

flavicon
face
On Wed, 2007-09-05 at 12:08 +1200, Jinx wrote:
> > > And they compress the heck out of HD signals too.
> >
> > Yes, to the point where it's almost pointless to get HD on cable in
> > my area IMHO....Unbelievably I even saw some MPEG like artifacts,
> > completely unacceptable considering they charge you more per
> > month for it
>
> I notice that on subscription TV here. Most apparent on wide clear
> expanses, for example a sky, or around a light bulb. Instead of a
> smooth and uniform graduation there are distinct colour or brightness
> boundaries. Some scenes look awfully lo-res

Yes, that is the biggest "artifact" I see, also very apparent on "fade
ins and outs".

Other issues I regularly see is what I call MPEG artifacts: being able
to see the "block" boundaries. MPEG basically splits the screen into
squares and compresses each one separately. When one tries to push the
compression too far these squares or blocks become visible, far more
annoying to my eye then the discontinuous colour graduations; but what's
annoying to one may be unnoticed to the other!

Not to single out TV though, terrestrial radio (before I started
listening to satellite radio, to avoid commercials) sometimes plays
songs compressed so much they sound like they're straight from the web.
I've very sensitive to MP3 sound artifacts, and anything below 192kbps
is quite annoying to my ear (personally I encode at 320kbps). By the
sounds of it some radio stations store their songs at 128kbps, horrible.
Sat radio isn't perfect, but at least it doesn't sound "MP3ee" to me, it
just sounds "flatter", plus the no commercials raises my "put up with
it" level. TTYL

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