Apple Iphone and the US Government

Apple_logo_black.svgMany of you have seen the news about the Federal Government telling Apple that they must develop a back door to allow them to access the Apple iPhone of the San Bernardino Shooters. If you haven’t read about it, here is a link to the letter from Apple, link. Some will say that not complying with the court order is unpatriotic and a threat to national security. Others will say that it is a violation of privacy.

I agree with Apple on this one. If this backdoor was created, it would be used across all Apple Products (if you’re unfamiliar with back doors, click here). So, whats the big deal? The big deal is that this backdoor can be exploited by anyone, not just court ordered requests by the FBI or NSA (if they even get a warrant). This means hackers could use this backdoor to grab data, images, videos, emails and so forth from your phone.

Think I’m crazy? Of course you do. Well, let me explain some back doors that have caused issues in the past. Have you ever heard of lawful intercept? This is a program designed by telecom companies to allow government agencies to wiretap phone calls. In 2004, this was exploited by hackers (most likely US Intel agencies) to listen into Greek Government officials phone calls, link.

Also, let us not forget that some agencies are beginning to purchase devices that can copy all of your cell phone’s data in minutes. Now-a-days, cell phones are not just for phone calls. They are more complex than the computers used to send men to the moon. Smartphones allow for people to carry all of their private data with them at all times. This includes, but not limited to; pictures, bank records, emails, texts, documents, and so forth.  The 4th amendment should protect us from this as “paper” has been replaced with electronic, but this does not seem to be the case.

Before you judge me (again) as some crazy, anti-establishment person, let me tell you that I’m all for security of this great nation. I will do anything to protect my country, my fellow Americans and have sacrificed for my country and community many times over. I just agree with the words of Ben Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” It’s not that I don’t agree with helping out, I just don’t want easy technology to be exploitable by the wrong people, be it a foreign state or a hacker group, or used unlawfully in anyway. Just my two cents.

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Satellite tracking & Ham Radio

One of the things I have recently had an interest in is Ham Radio Satellites, or AMSAT. There are a bunch of small satelllites in orbit (including the International Space Station) that can be used as repeaters for ham radio.  One of the most well known and easy to use satellites is SO-50.  I’ve heard people on SO-50 that were over 1,000 miles away from me.

If you are looking at getting into satellite tracking or using them for Ham Radio, there are a few things you need to know.

  1. How to track/predict satellite passes
  2. Equipment to communicate from the ground to the satellites
  3. Frequencies of the satellites

Tracking

There are several programs available to predict satellite passes. I purchased one for my iPhone, GoSatWatch. GoSatWatch was $10 and well worth the money. It can track everything from Ham Satellites, the Internation Space Station, visible satellites, commercial and GPS satellites, and Iridium flares (looks like shooting stars). It has the option to show a world map, a sky map, and predict passes for whatever you want to track.

If you want a decent program for the computer, I recommend Gpredict. Gpredict is free and has many of the same features, but requires a computer.

Equipment

baofenguv-5rFor my setup, I run a baofeng uv5r handheld. This handheld cost around $25-30 on amazon. I use Chirp to program it (I will be doing a write up on how to use Chrip).

 

 

 

arrow_antennaSome satellites are strong enough to pick up with an extended whip style antenna. For better reception I purchased an Arrow Antenna. This antenna is great and I have been able to speak and hear with no issues. Just point the antenna towards the satellite as it passes and you will start hearing transmissions. If you are looking to do telemetry or packet radio, you’ll need equipment for this as well. I haven’t ventured into that yet, but I will be exploring that in the future.

 

Frequencies

The last thing you’ll need it a list of the frequencies for which the satellites use. I had generated a list from different locations, but I’m unable to locate the list. Some suggested sites are:

 

When I started this, I had no one to show me how to do anything, so I learned it all on my own the hard way. Some tips from me would be to:

  1. Make sure your squelch is wide open when talking
  2. There are many people attempting contacts, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t break in, just keep trying
  3.  Be patient and try to predict out the passes
  4. Focus on trying to pick up satellites before transmitting
  5. Listen to how people talk before trying transmitting
  6. Write down call signs you here and look them up for distance information
  7. Have fun

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