What Equipment Do You Use

OnAir

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Jun 15, 2020
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I pretty much go with Wouxun for my scanning needs. I am a licensed HAM operator, however I do believe it's possible to have these units programmed for receive only. I'm not sure where that stacks up legally - although unless there's evidence otherwise it would seem if it was programmed to receive only and then given to a non-ham operator I can't see why it wouldn't be illegal.

Not quite the band coverage as the R6, but a lot cheaper too. If I was going to go with a dedicated scanner, I'd probably look at something that supports digital as well, for CFA, etc.
 

Railscan

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Jun 10, 2020
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I pretty much go with Wouxun for my scanning needs. I am a licensed HAM operator, however I do believe it's possible to have these units programmed for receive only. I'm not sure where that stacks up legally - although unless there's evidence otherwise it would seem if it was programmed to receive only and then given to a non-ham operator I can't see why it wouldn't be illegal.

Not quite the band coverage as the R6, but a lot cheaper too. If I was going to go with a dedicated scanner, I'd probably look at something that supports digital as well, for CFA, etc.
Possession of a radio that is not type approved, or for which you do not hold a current apparatus licence or other valid licence (amateur), is a breach of the Radiocommunications Act, it is not a defence if the radio is set to receive only. It still may render you liable to prosecution and seizure of the equipment is certain.

R
 

OnAir

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Possession of a radio that is not type approved, or for which you do not hold a current apparatus licence or other valid licence (amateur), is a breach of the Radiocommunications Act, it is not a defence if the radio is set to receive only. It still may render you liable to prosecution and seizure of the equipment is certain.

R
Hi Railscan,

Thanks very much for clarification. I wasn't aware that non-transmitting radios (ie, scanners) also have to be type approved and thought that if the Wouxun was configured by the distributor to be scan only - that it would be OK for non-ham users to use it. I stand corrected - thanks for the clarification.
 

Railscan

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Jun 10, 2020
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To be perfectly honest scanners are a bit of a grey area. The act talks about receivers in general but in reality it only pertains to receivers as part of a communications system. As an example a transmitter in one location the receiver in the other. Many years ago I did some work for customs which dealt with receivers and without going into great detail a court ruled that a scanner was not a receiver as defined by the Act. That could change of course if challenged but I doubt that will happen.

The provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 are listed. For anyone using a transceiver without possession of a licence should be aware of the penalties that maybe imposed if detected. Another grey area is possession of a radio that is exclusively programmed with UHFCB and approved for same, that can be programmed with commercial frequencies, such as the Icom IC41PRO etc. The moment you enter a frequency that you are not licenced to use into that radio whether for RX only or TX, the radio ceases to be covered by the class licence. Reality is you are unlikely to be detected unless you are being silly.

Part 3.1—Unlicensed radiocommunications
Division 1—Offences

46 Unlicensed operation of radiocommunications devices
(1) Subject to section 49, a person must not operate a radiocommunications device otherwise than as authorised by:
(a) a spectrum licence; or
(b) an apparatus licence; or
(c) a class licence.

Penalty:
(a) if the radiocommunications device is a radiocommunications transmitter:
(i) if the offender is an individual—imprisonment for 2 years; or
(ii) otherwise—1,500 penalty units; or
(b) if the radiocommunications device is not a radiocommunications transmitter—20 penalty units.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the person has a reasonable excuse.
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in subsection (2) (see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code).

47 Unlawful possession of radiocommunications devices
(1) Subject to section 49, a person must not have a radiocommunications device in his or her possession for the purpose of operating the device otherwise than as authorised by:
(a) a spectrum licence; or
(b) an apparatus licence; or
(c) a class licence.
Penalty:
(a) if the radiocommunications device is a radiocommunications transmitter:
(i) if the offender is an individual—imprisonment for 2 years; or
(ii) otherwise—1,500 penalty units; or
(b) if the radiocommunications device is not a radiocommunications transmitter—20 penalty units.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the person has a reasonable excuse.
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in subsection (2) (see subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code).

48 Additional provisions about possession of radiocommunications devices
(1) Without limiting section 47, a person is taken, for the purposes of that section, to have a radiocommunications device in his or her possession for the purpose of operation if it is in his or her possession, otherwise than for the purpose of supply to another person, and can be operated merely by doing one or more of the following:
(a) connecting the device to an electric power supply by means of an electric plug or other electrical connection;
(b) connecting a microphone to the device by inserting a microphone plug into the device;
(c) switching on the device;
(d) switching on any other equipment relevant to the device’s operation;
(e) adjusting settings by manipulating the device’s external switches, dials or other controls;
(f) connecting the device to an antenna.
(2) Subsection (1) only applies in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.
(3) A reference in this Division to a person having a radiocommunications device in his or her possession includes a reference to the person having it under control in any place whatever, whether for the use or benefit of that person or another person, and although another person has the actual possession or custody of it.
 
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OnAir

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Thanks Railscan for that post with information.

You're right - there's a lot of confusion (and grey area indeed). I think of the little crystal radio kits we used to be able to get as kids. As the act states (as a receiver) - being a kit - it's not type approved I suppose that was a grey area too. I could be reading it wrong (I'm no lawyer ;-) ) but I suspect that it's one of those laws from ages ago (remember when Australians had to have a license to watch TV? - or am I showing my age now ;-) )

I can't help but wonder if maybe some parts of this are left over from that. I would not advocate doing anything illegal, but like as you've said - if the unit was receive only, and you weren't doing anything with it that was causing anyone else grief - I seriously doubt anyone would be worried about it.

Now, about those FM bug circuits I used to build as a kid... :sneaky:
 

Railscan

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Jun 10, 2020
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I too remember the TV licence and radio receiver licence as well. In fact the UK still has TV licences and they are very controversial. In theory those crystal sets from years ago would, under the law at the time, require a licence because it was capable of being tuned to the wavelength of a radio broadcaster and listeners paid 3 pounds 13 shillings (about $7 or $100 in today's money) to the Postal Department (PMG).

As to the FM bugs, a possible breach of the Listening Devices Act....
 

OnAir

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Jun 15, 2020
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Interesting that the UK still has them. I wonder how they're going with them. (In this day and age of online streaming, those laws would only hurt free-to-air broadcasters I would imagine)...

As to the FM bugs, a possible breach of the Listening Devices Act....
Maybe they shouldn't have been part of the school's electronics class. :D

As for the crystal sets - even if the license was paid, it still wouldn't be a class approved device, so unless the builder/operator was a licensed amateur operator - still technically illegal, which I'm sure everyone would agree is a bit on the silly side.

I fear these are examples where over regulation causes problems - because when people see laws like this that are impractical (grey area at best) - they then have to decide for themselves which laws they obey, and which ones are stupid and ignore. (Especially when schools build crystal radio sets or FM bugs in electronics classes and then find out they may have been illegal). All this does is teach people that it's up to them to decide which laws apply to them and which ones don't - and creates a bad precedent and a slippery slope from obeying the law because it's the law to one of deciding to obey it or not based on the likely-hood of getting caught out.
 

dctodaylight

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Apr 30, 2020
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Brisbane
Hi All!

I'm running a variety of different equipment depending on the purpose.

For scanning/sigint, I rely on the trusty old RTL-SDR in a variety of configurations. Most of my recievers are attached to Raspberry Pi single board computers running either RTL-TCP to either sdrsharp or GQRX where my sessions are interactive (to minimize line losses - I run ethernet to just below the antenna) or running a heavily modified version of rtl_airband which changes the FFT binning parameters and audio encoding parameters to allow for more straightforward logging and categorization of captured signals. I am also running soapysdr as a middleware between the dongle and rtl_airband/gnuradio as this allows me to change the SDR platform in the future without having to refactor the rtl_airband code, as I have invested a substantial amount of time in these modifications. rtl_airband when used in conjunction with soapysdr allows multiplexed recievers on a single SDR - this enables me to recieve multiple channels within the bandwidth of the dongle (assuming the band splits are wide enough to fit within the FFT bins) and avoids having to have multiple dongles to recieve multiple channels. This is especially handy for services such as UHF-CB (which is narrow enough to be captured on a single SDR) and marine VHF (which requires only two dongles due to the split).

I am in the process of reconfiguring one of my rtl_airband nodes to output raw PCM frames into a named pipe, so that this can then be dynamically fed into other capture applications such as multimon_ng, DSD etc - this will allow me to capture and log digital modes in addition to NFM/AM traffic.

At the moment, these devices upload logged traffic to a central repository located on a VMWare ESX environment located in a datacentre in Brisbane - the very same environment on which this forum is hosted. I am currently in the process of building a web interface on top of these reciever applications which should allow authenticated users to listen to the recieved audio.

For two-way communication, I run a Kenwood TK-8180 on UHF CB and a Uniden PC-122XL for 27Mhz. I have DP4801/DP3600 MotoTRBO handhelds and DM4600/3600 mobiles on which I am awaiting spectrum from ACMA to operate a small IP site connect network for my friends and family to stay in touch more easily. I also have a CB EID for my DP4801e so I don't get pinged by ACMA.

I also have a VHF XTS2500, but as I am not (yet) an amateur, it sits in a box ready for when I pull my finger out and actually get my call.

In my day to day work, I am a microwave system design engineer in the telecoms industry, so I work with Aviat, Siklu, Ubiquiti and Mimosa equipment from 900Mhz to 80Ghz. As part of this, I also regularly work with Cisco, Arista and Mikrotik routing/switching equipment, depending on the scenario and requirements.

tl;dr: lots of antennas, dishes, servers and software development. :)
 
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