Pump up the volume or

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?hamradio/pir.txt

        Pump up the volume (or how to make a pirate radio station)

                    By: D.J. "big Joe"

    This is patently illegal, so don't distrbute it to people you do not trust!

    What is pirate radio? Pirate radio is an illegal radio station that is run

by people who don't feel like waiting for the FCC to get around to licensing

them. From music to talk there are pirate radio stations all over the U.S. and

the world. In the U.S., stations are usually started in big cities. One great

pirate station (who is still on the loose, at last check) is Radio Free New

York, located in New York city.

    How to get started?

    First, make sure you really want to do this, if you get caught, you pay a

hefty fine, get the equipment confiscated (Big $$$), and may spend a few years

in prison. If you really want to start a pirate station, here you go.

    First, pick up the equipment. This is such stuff as mixing board, turntable,

microphone, CD players, tape decks, eight track (For the '70s disco stations),

and so on. DON'T go to expensive, if you get busted, you don't want to throw

$30,000 down the tubes on equipment alone! Most of this stuff can probably get

picked up at electronic and radio flea markets. (Check ham magazines such as QST

and 73 for info and dates on these.) The stereo equip needs not to be something

glorious. Used or from the local Salvation Army will due just fine.

    Plug a wire from the OUTPUT on the stereo equipment to the INPUT port you've

chosen for that particular piece of equipment on the mixer. Now, the output line

from the mixer, will go to the transmitter.

    First, plug the mixer output line into the input of an amplifier. Use your

mike, and practice DJing for a while and you'll hear yourself

coming over the amp speakers.

    Once you are really good at this. Build or buy a FM or AM trans-

mitter. (UNDER 100 WATTS, so you are rather quiet and local.) Trans-

mitters are most definitely the most important part of your investment

and the most expensive. In the event you think you're going to get

busted, hide the transmitter well. Tune the transmitter for the freq-

uency you want to use and hookup an antenna.

    Your antenna should NOT be obvious. A wire in the attic might

even be a bit to conspicious if the house was searched. For AM

stations a good Amateur Radio antenna tuner can work well. Use the

tuner to "tune up" the gutters, window screens, clothes lines, etc.

I will warn you, AM antennas are very large. FM antennas are smaller

to build.

    To make antennas you must know several electronic facts. The most

important one is SWR (Standing Wave Ratio). I don't understand it

exactly, but too much will screw up the finals in the transmitter.

Tune the antenna to anything less than a 2:1 ratio on an SWR meter.

(Available at Radio Shack). Secondly, to get a rough estimate on a low

SWR antenna, do this simple 5th grade math. Divide the frequency by

468. This will give you the length of the antenna in feet. Fine tune

this for the lowest possible SWR.

    To hide your antenna, read some of the articles in ham magazines

on hidden antennas. Plans for flagpole, clothesline, tree, and other

disguised antennas are in almost any good radio magazine at the 


    Once the antenna is hooked to the transmitter, you are on air.

Here are some ground rules:

    1. Do not tell people you run the radio station, keep it in a low

visibility area. (In the cellar, for example.)

    2. Be polite. Some pirate stations have become popular with local

folks. (They objected when the FCC shut them down) Be courteous and

don't pollute the airwaves with obscene music or language. If you are

offensive, people may report you. If they like you, they may not tell

the FCC about you.

    3. Always watch for suspicous people driving around and around the

neighborhood. These may be the G men looking for you. Also, watch for

people in your yard. Always check the yard, etc. Before going on air.

    4. Never talk to people about the station on the phone. Lines are

easilly bugged.

    5. Do not advertise your station openly. People will hear your

station while tuning around. Also, the FCC talks big and might adver-

tise for you.

    6. No suspicous bumper stickers, pins, etc. Keep a low profile.

    7. If you get busted, call the local chapter of the ACLU. They

may represent you.

    8. In the event it looks like the house might be searched,

disconnect the board-transmitter cable and put the output to a reel

cassette recorder, and hide the transmitter cable. This makes it look

like you have a small recording studio. This is wise to do whenever

you are off air. When you are going on vacation, or out of town, Stash the

equipment, not in your house if possible. In the event you move, stay

off the air at your new location for 6-12 months.

    9. How to handle G men and FCC informers: 1. Be polite (Rude 

people are considered "guilty".), 2. Devise a system so that you can

be off air whenever anyone comes to the door. Do NOT rig an electronic

doorbell system to be rung by a family member when cars arrive. They

are too conspicous. This idea may work:

    Have a periscope, mirror system, or video system set up to 

monitor the driveway. Whenever a vehicle drives in, shut off the

transmitter (Always, have a remote switch!), disconnect the line 

(the studio camoflougue), leave the room.

    3. Once the equipment is stashed, etc. Let the people in. If it

is a cold day, offer them coffee, etc. Do not kiss-up though, it makes

you look guilty.

    4. Ham operators know a lot about radio direction finding and 

electronics and they often help FCC people in looking for us. (One

reason I don't like hams.) They are considered DANGEROUS do not let

hams around the equipment. If I were you, DO NOT operate a station if

an active ham lives within 1/4 mile of the house. To find out, look

in neighbor's driveways for cars with callsign plates (such as N6ZZZ),

big antennas on house and cars, or FEMA, CD, or ham bumper stickers.

    10. DO *NOT* under any circumstances give out your location, name,

phone number, address, etc. Talk as little as possible, and when you

do talk, use a scrambler or voice destorter. It is less reliable, but

taping thick (1-2 inches) foam over the mike can work to some extent

when you also disguise your voice.

    11. If you hear locals complain about interference on radio and

t.v. and the interference seems to be your station, shut down right

away! This is probably caused by poor shielding in your antenna line,

no filters, or harmonics. If it the latter, mad hams and CBers might

be after you for messing up their bands.

    12. Always check the antenna line with a multimeter before power-

ing up. Make sure there is NO contact between the two leads. This is

to prevent someone for "pinning" your coax or antenna line. (This is

when you push a wire through the coax, and short the center to ground,

causing the transmitter to burn up)

    13. Keep the records you play on air stashed away. The records

you keep with your "studio" should be a few reel to reel tapes of

songs. Definately not the ones you use on air. To keep the records

in a distant place, try this. Keep the records at another place (When

I refer to records, I mean CDs, Tapes, Carts, etc.) and record the

songs to blank tapes. Use the re-recorded tapes then erase them

(using a bulk eraser) when done. Keep using and erasing the same 

tapes, now the FCC has no proof you own the music that was played. 

They can search your place, never to find a trace of the albums.


    Once you get a solid format going, pirate stations can have 

"request time". This is done using the telephone company's test loops.

Here's how you do it:

    Start dialing high number phone numbers in your area. (Such as

123-9998). When you get a ring and a pickup with no one speaking on

the other line, have someone else call the number above and below that

number (Such as 123-9999 and 123-9997) If you can talk to the other

person, volia! You've found a loop. Now have the upper (or lower)

number dialed up at the station, and have your callers dial the other

number. Then they can talk to you, without the Feds tracing you.

    To have "On air requests" (Which I do not really reccomend) buy

a phone patch. These can be bought cheaply from ham stores. You don't

need the 5 second delay, because you are a pirate station and illegal


    Another hint, announce your "location" about ever 1/2 hour. Make

this location about 30 or so miles from where you really are. For

example, a pirate station in New York may say he is from Long Island.

Interesting ideas:

    Not all pirate stations are from someone's basement. The British

government had ships broadcasting onto it's airways from out at sea.

The UK navy finally caught the crew. American pirate radio stations

have been tried off the coast too. Foreign shortwave pirate stations

can reach the entire globe, and probably won't be stopped. These

third world nations are broke, and usually could care less about a 

pirate station in the jungle unless it is a direct threat to the 

security of the country or in opposition to the government's beliefs.

    If you want to get out of pirate radio, do not try to sell the

transmitter legit. It looks a little funny to have an unlicenced

person selling a transmitter. I advise selling it to another pirate

(they get to know each other after a while), or slowly dismantling it

and selling it at various flea markets, junk collectors, and throwing

away some. Take about 2 or so years disposing of the transmitter. It

is the most "hot" piece equipment. The rest of the equipment can be

used or sold, it is perfectly legal. Do not sell it all at once, or

right after you've gone off-air. Never (NEVER) sell modified mikes.

    Also, never use the loop-call method again (especially the same

phone #s), and dismantle all methods of observing the driveway. 

Lastly, sell the tapes you used, or keep them hidden well for at least

2 years. Once a station has been off the air for about that long, the

G men stop looking for the station. Also, dismantle anything

associated with the station and fill in holes where wires ran, etc.

    In the event you get busted, plea bargin. Don't try to claim 

innocent if you were caught speaking into the mike, "Down with USA on

Anarchist Radio Los Angeles." In the event they found your studio set-

up, you may want to try to plead innocent. In all cases, consult a 

lawyer. The ACLU may be willing to represent you, also. Especially if

you are a leftist cause. (Anarchist, communist, socialist, etc.). 

Conservatives might not be as lucky with this group. Keep your eyes

open, if they search your house without a warrant, arrested you with-

out a warrant, forgot to read you your rights, you might be able to

get out on a technicality.

    If you are convicted, your FCC licences are finished, for good.

This includes ham, cb, commercial, and so forth. So be cautious when

getting involved with pirate radio.

    That's all folks! If you have any questions, write to the FCC,

Gettysburg Maryland. (Yeah, right.)

    If you found this article helpful, send a $5 donation to the

Easter Seals society in the name of Radio New York International (A

pirate station shut down several years ago)

                                        have fun,

                                    big Joe, Radio Free Juneau

                                    102.1 FM...coming soon to a radio

                                    near you. (If you live in Alaska)k the antenna line with a multimeter before power-

ing up. Make su