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Jan 17, 2023Liked by Steve Stroh N8GNJ

The units popping up around Salt Lake City are interesting. The construction indicates that they were intended to be in place for some time, not just a few days or weeks. I find it fascinating that being in plain view of the city (In a past work life I made a number of trips to SLC for company training and viewed those foothills from town many times, mostly looking at the radio sites) apparently no one saw the units being installed or if they did assumed nothing afoul. Given the equipment used to move the equipment down the hill it was obviously no easy task to take all that stuff up the hill plus any tools and supplies, a task that would have seemed to require multiple people.

A thread in the QRZ.com forums speculated that such units are used as part of the Helium network and/or cryptocurrency mining. It was also speculated that the units were 900 MHz LoRA. Other speculation was that units like this could be put in place by drug cartels. I've not followed up to see if there has been a news release identifying the technical aspect of the unit in the video. Perhaps the authorities are remaining tight lipped for various reasons.

I kind of get your desire to place stealthy radios but please don't go so far as doing so or promoting it. So far, I think "ham radio" (which seems to be the media catchphrase for any radio setup not operated government or commercial interests, c.f. reporting of the Jan 6, 2021 events at the US capitol in which media reports claimed "ham radio" was used when it was likely FRS or MURS equipment and even the FCC couldn't figure that one out and issued warnings specifically to amateur radio licensees) has avoided implication in this case simply because the media and authorities wouldn't associate such equipment with traditional amateur radio. Right now our service has avoided a black eye in this matter even though we could construct an operate something that would look virtually identical and be Part 97 compliant. What we don't need are hams ignoring property rights. If the property doesn't belong to the person wanting to place any amateur radio equipment, please get permission first, especially in this current age. Exceptions are operations in public access areas with temporary antenna supports, etc., such as POTA activations.

I am still fascinated by the what, who, why, and how of this story.

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Nate - The only explanation about the "mystery radios near Salt Lake City" that made sense to me was that these were units for extending a Helium network. Ah, if only that much energy could be expended into Amateur Radio...

The "stealthy radios" digression was just a thought experiment resulting from a gumbo of influences:

* The PacComm product put into a sturdy and cheap and easily overlooked PVC pipe with end caps.

* Mentions that one way to make equipment more reliable when exposed to temperature extremes (that wasn't designed for temperature extremes) was to bury it where temperature swings aren't quite so severe.

* In the early days of packet radio, I remember reading the tales of Robert Hoover KA6HZF who enjoyed hiking up to various peaks in California and using, or installing Packet Radio digipeaters. These stories appeared in (if memory serves...) Computer Trader Magazine (CTM) which is now so obscure I cannot find any online mention of it. But I have a few of those issues that are destined for Digital Library of Amateur Radio & Communications, so KA6HZF's tales will live on.

But thanks for the cautionary words - well spoken!

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