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This story was submitted by G.B., a regular reader and article contributor here. It concerns something we've talked about before, not only on this website but also in our vidchats, and that is the need for redundancy in communications systems, and particularly the internet. Yesterday, for example, I blogged about the strange case of Evergrande's "quantum economic superposition," did it default, or not? Along the way, I pointed out the inherent problems with completely digital systems (especially in finance) and the lack of transparency they inevitably engender.  The other problem is what happens when those systems for whatever reason break down. Say you hold a corporate bond and an interest payment of $10,000 is coming due. But on the due date, your region experiences internet downtime, a convenient "denial of service" attack. Neither can you redeem your bond coupon from your local bank, nor can the bank access any information on the bond on its computer, nor pay you your computer blips.  On the other hand, if you had physical possession of the bond and its coupon, you could still enter your candle-lit bank, present the coupon, your identification, and receive your money.

In other words, analogue helps, not hinders, redundancy.

So with that in mind, contemplate the following story about linking the internet and ham radio together:

Ham Radio: Helping to Build a Fast and Free Internet

Note that the redundancy problem is at the heart of this experiment:

San Francisco hackerspace, Noisebridge, is making an alternative network modeled after the Internet that would provide high-speed connectivity for a fraction of the cost of traditional internet service.

Noisebridge is working on this project using commodity Wi-Fi equipment that’s been modified to work under amateur radio frequencies. The FCC grants experimenters spectrum space to build high power, long range radio systems. Through this provision, Noisebridge has begun building the HInternet (a combination of “Ham Radio" and “Internet”).

As one enthusiast explains, “You can run any application you could run over the Internet, the difference is you don’t need any wires. Everything is done through radio links. In the event of a major disaster, you wouldn’t have to worry about downed lines or earthquake damage to underground equipment -- the network would naturally reform itself, routing around failures.”

The idea to create the HInternet was triggered by the realization that there was a lot open IP space allocated to amateur radio that was not in use.  Aside from the benefits this system could provide in natural disaster, the HInternet is driven by the belief in freedom and open access to the Internet. The United States is debating a bill to create an Internet kill switch, also known as the PCNAA bill. For true redundancy, a non-critical network such as the HInternet is being built to avoid this single point of failure.

So far so good. But now let's take a further step into the redundancy problem. Clearly, this experiment is being driven - if one takes the article at face value - because of the looming problem of internet censorship either via government or corporate action. And in a certain sense, the worldwide network of ham radio operators did function for decades as a kind of internet, an alternative source of news and verification of news. But what happens in the case of an electromagnetic pulse scenario? All electronics in a region are fried...

... except...

Radios that function on good old fashioned vacuum tubes (if you can find one, or simply, make one) are much less susceptible to pulses than are digital computer chips and integrated circuits... Not for nothing do so many dedicated ham operators buy and maintain such radios. Of course, an emp might take out your local power station, and your computer... but it might leave some home generators and batteries, and radios, operable...but only those disconnected from long wires.

All of which brings me to my high octane speculation of the day, and again, G.B. hinted at this: we're looking at a public project here, but I suspect one based on something that various governments have already implemented: analogue (in this case, radio) redundant communications systems integrated into the internet, just like navies are reportedly training their ships' crews in the all-but-forgotten art of celestial navigation once again.  (Just wait, eventually navies [just like railroads doing all those steam locomotive restorations] are going to realize that semaphors and signal flags might not be such a bad back up either.) After all, Admiral Nelson didn't chase Admiral Villeneuve all over the Atlantic relying on GPS satellites, and in the early days, railroads did not have automatically and remotely operating turnouts either. Someone had to be there to push or pull a very analogue lever according to certain pre-established schedules, and raise and lower little flags or balloons for engineers in the locomotive cabs to know track conditions ahead... After all, robots won't work in an emp either (unless they're running on vacuum tubes, and I haven't seen any designs for those lately).

Notably, this story is coming from San Franfreakshow, Nuttyfornia, which makes me think it might also be related to that internet cable attack in that city a few years ago... you know, the one where internet cables were literally sawed apart by someone with precise knowledge of where to do so...

See you on the flip side...


  1. I, too, have been looking into radio, and it has many uses. Radio is one still relatively easy to access technology in the U.S.

    A couple of issues make this scenario more difficult, however. Government licenses are required for most use of the radio spectrum (some exceptions, like Family Radio Service, or FRS – think CB). Those can be revoked at any time, and there are a slew of regulations regarding use.

    Also, radio is a broadcast wave unless one is using highly focused microwaves and antennas, and that is more highly regulated and restricted than HAM. And, in case you think you can get around the broadcast nature of radio by using codes or encryption, that is expressly illegal under federal law. Even a simple substitution code is illegal. I was researching UHF and VHF handheld radios as a substitute for cell phones, and while one can get AES encryption cards for certain models of radio, it is illegal to use them unless you belong to a government organization (i.e. police). Morse and “ten” codes are legal, as they are widely known and used – not secure.

    I was very disappointed when I found this out.

    Bandwidth is also an issue with radio, although microwave links can actually be faster than the internet, as Joseph has blogged about in the past (European banks setting up super fast microwave links in Europe).

    Depending on the type and strength of EMP, some types of electronics like tube circuits are less susceptible to damage, but some EMPs, say a solar CME related or cosmic ray burst, can damage even highly shielded tube designs. Some can even fry electric motors and generators that are not connected to anything.

    Still, radio is definitely worth looking into even for smaller local emergencies or localized power outages. I would encourage people to look into it.

    I am also looking at tubes as an easier way to restart electronic technology in the case of a civilization ending catastrophe. Simpler to create than transistors, although they do require some sophisticated vacuum pump technology.

  2. That’s so interesting you went there with redundancy. What I was hinting at is I’ve been one of the ones going out there hooking up the electrical or getting it ready to be partially connected to the grid. This is for the feds as far as I know I’m not under any NDA. I’m not going to give any locations. Whoever the program manager is (what his position a actually is) told me it’s for the “hinternet” didn’t really expand on that. I had never heard that term. I suspect it’s a COG thing because it’s been an ongoing project since 9-11. However it is redundant there’s a 1500 gallon propane tank along with a 24kw generator there with ATS installed. Far more power than the antenna needs. I know there will be solar with automatic tranfer switches installed in the future. The antenna itself is bonded with 4, 8ft ground rods at each corner, the generator is grounded as well with another 8ft ground rod. There’s a massive AC midnite solar (better than the emp shield gimmick 1/3 the price too) lightning arrestor system hooked to a 50amp breaker it should trip in under a picosecond or better. The generator also has a DC midnite solar arrestor. There will be another one installed with the hybrid solar inverter/charge controller too. Then they’ll be using deep cycle 6v batteries. Lithium ones go micro-nuclear if they overcharge. With all that laid out for you it would be the equivalent having been done with vacuum tubes. It’ll be resistant to an emp or near lightning strike. Granted if an emp goes off right above it or direct hit from lightning to the riser all bets are off but it should definitely withstand it. I’ve helped build basically emp proof buildings before like 4 months ago. Anyway I said all that to say you are absolutely correct on redundancy.

  3. couple tidbits from analogue type thinkers:
    Feds Seek to Block Promotion of a Nasal Spray Against COVID-19
    Personal experience with Grapefruit Seed Extract is that it works. Used it as gargle and a sipped drink. Works well on coughs and colds, especially dry painful throat. Never thought to nasal spray it. Always feels similar to how homemade quercetin feels (boiled lemon and grapefruit rinds). Perhaps combined with tobacco infusions……………

    1. As ever, Christian is on it:

      Farmers’ land across the midwest is being confiscated to make way for construction of a massive, 1300-mi long Carbon Capture & Sequestration Pipeline. Town halls in hundreds of counties are full of angry farmers, as county officials announce, “There’s not much we can do.” As the world enters a food crisis, plowing under tens of thousands of acres of the best soil in America is complete madness…or is it a flawlessly calculated attack? Christian breaks it down in this critical Ice Age Farmer broadcast.


      1. Hey, Zen. This is right on the spot, thanks for posting the article.

        I have driven through most [virtually all] of this wonderful area over the past 25 yrs. It is filled to the brim with good, honest people. So, when the riffraff buy-up the land for no ‘good purpose’, and do not want to live in the area, then it is a certain signal that nefarious intentions are afoot.

  4. A not entirely on topic post, but probably of value:

    IMO, getting “your ticket” (Ham License) is a very good thing to do. You can set up your own “Mesh Networks” fairly easy and operate independently of big tech/government using parts/components bought off of eBay, there’s plenty of how-to videos on the topic. My buddy’s wife got her license and literally studied on the drive to the testing center.

    My group and I use laptop computers running free software hooked to ham radios to transmit data back and forth, think text messaging or email over the air waves. Operating in such a way is a much more limited hangout. Meaning, Joe Blow typically doesn’t have the equipment, or skillset, to monitor our radio traffic (it sounds similar to a dial up modem to a listener), yet we can listen in to all similar or verbal traffic. In simple terms, you can send text much further on lower power than you can voice. Think of it like this: transmitting audio is a very large data package compared to text. Similarly, Morse Code can be transmitted great distances. Another benefit of running computer software is we can monitor the full frequency spectrums and see patterns in the waterfall graphs on our computer screens. This allows us to quickly and easily see which frequency a user or group is transmitting on as well as receiving. It is common to transmit (talk) on one frequency (channel), and receive (listen) on another frequency (channel) for added autonomy. We can quickly (and easily) tune into both and hear the whole conversation, if that makes sense. This is all grossly over simplified, but is actually pretty simple to do.

    If you’re interested in the dark arts of radio communication, I suggest checking out they have plenty of tutorials and how-to’s, including recommended equipment. A cheap handheld ham radio is around $20. They are exactly what you pay for: cheap Chinese radios, but they work and I consider them throwaways, spares or barter items, but they are an inexpensive way to get into the game. Once you learn the skillset, then you can invest in a more quality radio.

  5. If anybody is going to come up with ways around surveillance, it’s computer and hacker types, found in abundance in San Fran (or they were years ago when I lived there… it may have become such a sewer that they’ve left the place).

    I agree completely about the importance of analog backup systems. Personally, I wouldn’t get too excited about anything that gets enthusiastic treatment in the media, like HInternet or whatever else. Does anyone really believe the government — which is who allocates the spectrum used by radio — is going to allow a surveillance-free, free-speech platform to proliferate right out there in the open?? The internet was supposed to be that. Today, blockchain technology is supposed to be that. Tomorrow, maybe HInternet will be the next big “liberator.”

    I do think people are clever enough that they will come up with real ways around the system. I don’t think those ways will get a lot of enthusiastic treatment in the press — quite the contrary, in fact. The best suggestion I’ve heard so far is still CAF’s scenario of a proliferation of different local encryption systems used by local networks. The problem would remain of how to create connections between the different local networks and how to build redundancy into those connections.

    1. There are many local and independent initiatives on any issue, from health/ alternative medecine to open source software etc.

      I wouldn’t even bother about connection and redundancy between local networks: it happens “by accident”: people have different mentalities, so here you will have that kind of organic farming or Linux hacker or DIY activists, there another type depending on your socio-cultural background. And all those folks communicate to their friends, neighbors, families and also they travel, so it’s interconnected anyway.

      As far as I am concerned, I avoid depending on technology and infrastructures as much as possible…
      There are bottlenecks however, like banking and flat.

      There is a funny irony here: in the temptation to control everything, all alternatives are oppressed, but that makes the system weaker and more fragile and closer to the point of breakage.

  6. The MIG 25 had vacuum tube electronics as against the microchip electronics of the USA the Soviets knew that the older technology could withstand and still function in a nuclear attack scenario. New is not necessarily better the old might have unseen advantages and cost less aswell.

  7. Old MacDonald had a farm, and an amateur radio, broadcasting gobble gobble, moo moo, baa baa, neigh neigh, quack quack, oink oink.

    Animal encryption is of course unbreakable.

  8. I’m not sure holding paper is much of a guarantee. I’m thinking of the Federal ReserveD bonds (as JPF has discussed elsewhere).

    And this puts some historical context into reliability issues……….. (from GOLD WARRIORS HOW AMERICA SECRETLY RECOVERED YAMASHITA’S GOLD Sterling & Peggy Seagrave 2010. FRN, FRB = Federal Reserve notes, bonds)

    ” Professor Richard Aldrich of Nottingham University, co-editor of the
    journal Intelligence and National Security, described the strategic situation in
    1948 in testimony before a British court in 2003:
    As Chairman Mao’s forces advanced through China in 1948, Dr. Aldrich said, Britain and the US dreaded the prospect that one of the world’s largest stocks of gold – worth $83-billion at current prices – would fall into communist hands. So it was decided to extract the gold reserves from China before the communists could seize them. The CIA provided the means for this bullion-rescue mission, flying in B-29 bombers disguised in the livery of its CAT, later renamed Air America. CAT flew numerous missions to bring huge shipments of gold out of Mainland China. Where did the FRNs and FRBs fit in? Professor Aldrich said they may have been used “for persuading managers of major banks in the interior of China to part with their vast stocks of gold.” Printing FRNs and FRBs with a face value much greater than that of the gold they were to replace, he said, served to encourage the banks or wealthy individuals to swap their gold for the
    bonds and notes, which would be easier to hide and later smuggle out of China to be cashed in the West. As Aldrich said, the US almost certainly had no intention of honoring them, anyway.
    Professor Aldrich explained that the CIA was only emulating Britain’s Special
    Operations Executive (SOE), which printed and circulated massive quantities of counterfeit currency and bonds during the war.
    “Foreign Office files also show that the CIA was involved in other currency
    issues, including the movement of printing plates for Chinese currency,” Aldrich testified. ”

  9. After forcing everyone to install a device in their cars that requires them to get permission to start their cars in the next four years before they can drive, the next Green movement may be tearing down all the obsolete radio towers that use too much power. Especially after tens of thousands of 6G spy net satelites are in position to monitor and control all movements and communications.

  10. Robert Barricklow

    Great idea!
    Problem one: CONTROL FREAKS!
    The HInternet is decentralized and can adjust on surprises, on-the-fly;
    an AI dream, as yet unrealized.
    Totalitarian technocracies abhors vacuums; filled by an analogue solutions.

    So “they’re” considering another kill switch, other than the literal 5G kill switch; one that kills access to counter totalitarian narratives?

    Ham radio w/analogue vacuum tubes, probably will suffer the woke community; currently after racist steam trains.

    Reminds me of those slew of fiction thrillers I read a while ago, where the heroes were using good old analogue technologies; after setting off EMPs,
    to penetrate enemy territory.

    In the end, it comes down to their tried and true rule:
    do as I say, not as I do.

  11. Well Joseph, I am now totally confused!
    I thought that analogue radio and wireless technology was very last Century, unsecure and snail paced?
    From watching Star Trek, Doctor Who and Interstellar, I understood and accepted that entangled photons technology was the path to the future.
    That is – the fact that a photon can be split and then the two photons can exist, identically, in different places, any distance apart; and simultaneously in time.
    It was interesting to note that the Arecibo Radio Telescope is no longer needed and is being demolished.
    I therefore assumed that pan-galactic instantaneous messaging, based on quantum photon communications was the future.

    1. Is Arecibo being replaced by a larger unit in China?
      Is this further evidence of the Rotterschildren siphoning resources out of their old empire (USSA) and into their new empire (CCP)?

      1. Sure, it could be replaced by the Chicoms, but who knows for sure? The Vatican has a binocular observatory near Tucson, Arizona. It ‘sees’ things in infrared spectroscopy. It was formerly nicknamed ‘LUCIFER’, then re-named ‘LUCI’. It is focused on one specific area of Space for what is coming towards Earth, and it is still operational.

  12. Cancel culture here on this site?

    I did a post on yesterday’s topic that for an unknown reason got deleted – “held for moderation”.

    Very surprising, very unwelcome.

    1. Robert Barricklow

      In these times, there are are bad actors looking to muck-up content at targeted sites. So measure are put in place to counter that certainty. Unfortunately,
      The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly are all on the same platform monopolies.
      And those platform monopolies are on the Ugly-side.

    2. If the mods have not changed much, this routine still works:

      Before every post, highlite your text and cut without a paste. Then post. If mods hold the post, hit reply to post again. In that new space, paste a third of your original post and hit post. Then do the second third and the final third. In this way, the offending entry is easier to find. I

      t’s usually an annoying preference the AI has like we can not use the word bit chute (all one word) since the AI dislikes the word bi—-tch. It’s an odd selection of target words. It’s also odd that the words can be embedded and still be flagged. Another example is the word di… or dy… Apparently the mod is woke and dislikes slang LGBQT;laksj;dlkf;lsadkf; terms.

      BTW, is it cultural appropriation to use LGB as Let’s go Brandon instead of LGBQT.k;ljaksd;flkjas;?

      Wonder if the mod will start holding posts over LGB?

    3. No no cancel culture Ragiza… I am ONE MAN, and any comment awaiting moderation is automatically flagged. I do not do it, but I DO have to go in and approve comments that get flagged as I can get to them. Please RELAX and remember I am ONE MAN trying to stay on top of content.

      1. Whoops!!! Sorry, Joseph. When I made that suggestion to re-post, I did not intend to over-ride your authority. Somehow my refresh of this topic went ‘off-kilter’.


  13. That statement
    “there was a lot open IP space allocated to amateur radio that was not in use.”
    Hmm? Didn’t Trump purchased a lot (quarter of the million or something like that) od “unused” IP addresses just before leaving the office?

    1. Quite right. Wired and wireless work together. Included with wireless are satellite up & downlinks that connect to ground-based hubs. Those hubs often have special access blade centers (server stuff) for very high-speed connectivity. Takes plenty bucks, too, and a team of electrical-software engineers to make it work together. Then there are those who want to hook-up orbital platforms and, especially, the Moon.

      Those acquired IP addresses will be needed for this new arrangement leaving a portion un-allocated. Probably up for grabs for the highest bidder and resources to pull it all together for a very private network.

      It wasn’t too long ago that there were concerns about “running out of IP address” allocation. Numerically, the old system was limited and did not anticipate the boom in popularity of internet that occurred later on with wireless, handheld devices, and other mobile units. Whether ground, sea, air, and lately, space rocketing ventures that are likely to expand if given half a chance, address assignments will be an interesting accomplishment.

      Satellite phones extend the reach of any who have them. Along with those IP addresses came an island purchase according to something of a quick blip in a news article that’s been obscured.

      1. Robert Barricklow

        At least that’s the narrative, unanticipated.
        But, w/the Breakaways and the dribble of “new” technologies[like 3-D printing]; I wonder how much was intentionally unanticipated?

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