[hackerspaces] Hackerspaces and HAM radio?

Christopher Pilkington cjp at 0x1.net
Mon Feb 27 23:42:21 CET 2012

On Feb 19, 2012, at 2:50 PM, Sascha Kaupp wrote:

> Of course, we will have to make sure no unlicensed hackers will use the RX/TX equipment, but are there any concerns beside that?

Regulations are something you should check with national authorities, they differ wildly.  Sometimes the bureaucrats don't know how to answer such questions, so you might want to check with the appropriate org listed http://www.iaru.org/iaru-soc.html .

Generalizations such as "it's ok for non-licensed to RX" are only valid in some places, e.g., last I checked in Russia you still required a license to use certain unrestricted radio receivers.

Regulations aside, I would echo the RFI concerns.  Typically, hackerspaces have tons of unintentional emitters of RF.  However, this may only be a concern at HF frequencies, or if doing very weak signal work at VHF and UHF.  Get your antenna up as high and as far away from RF sources as possible.  If you're hackerspace is in a 10 story building, see if you can run feed line to the roof.  If hackerspace is adjacent to a vacant lot, see if you can run feed line to lot, etc.

Another benefit of getting antenna high and far away is RF safety.  Depending on frequency and power, there is a safe distance humans should be from the point of radiation.  100W at 3MHz isn't a big deal, but at 30GHz, it's plenty to ruin your day.  Check your regulations also.

Learn about grounding, both good RF grounding and good safety grounding.  I'd recommend a hard disconnect at the feed line entrance point that shunts the feedline to ground for when the station is not in use.  Burnt feedline is much cheaper to fix than burnt hardware or burnt humans.

Good luck,
-cjp (aka N2MCS)

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