Terrestrial & Satellite TV Hacking

Hixxy1

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An interesting artcle about the Max Headroom incident in the 80s, where two Chicago television stations had their microwave links hijack.

Other incidents involving HBO's satellite uplink being hijacked and more recent incident are also featured in the article.

The Mystery of the Creepiest Television Hack:
http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/headroom-hacker
 

2cvbloke

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It's always interesting re-reading about the Max Headroom incident, it's just a shame nobody has come forward as the perpetrator, just to satisfy our curiosity, assuming they're still alive after all these years... :)

It is a shame that these days, we can't see things like that happen, at worst they probably could just drown out a uplink signal (be it terrestrial or satellite) and prevent transmission, rather than do what that guy and "Captain Midnight" managed to do and broadcast their own signal, I know it's a bit odd to say that, but, it'd be nice to have something new and unique on telly for once....:-rofl2
 

Channel Hopper

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The picture suddenly cut over to a shot of the man's lower torso. His buttocks were exposed, and he was holding the now-removed mask up to the camera (with the rubber extension now placed in the mouth of the mask), howling, "They're coming to get me!" An unidentified accomplice wearing a dress then said "Bend over, bitch" and spanked the man with a flyswatter. The transmission then blacked out for a few seconds before resuming to Doctor Who; the hijack lasted for about 90 seconds.

 

2cvbloke

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Certainly sounds more entertaining than Strictly..... :-rofl2
 

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Well, the people behind it remain a mystery, but, the actual transmissions are easily explained, as that wiki page describes about that particular transmitter being odd and having a separate audio feed that anyone with the right hardware could overwhelm and take over, just a shame it wasn't a more common thing... :lol:
 

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Closest I got to doing something like that was using a low power FM transmitter to try and over power the school bus's radio. The driver used to listen to Radio 1 every day (Simon Mayo/Steve Wright days) so me and my mates wanted to play our own music over the speakers but our transmitter wasn't powerful enough so it just caused a bit of interference... Of course it's pretty easy to get hold of a cheap FM transmitter now so not such a big deal but back then we were thinking it would be so cool if it worked. ;)
 

2cvbloke

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I remember reading about how to set up an FM pirate radio station, and the bit that intrigued me the most was setting up a homebrew microwave link, using of all things, a blue-cap 10GHz Amstrad LNB (no dish required, apparently!!), and presumably a suitable analogue receiver (never got that far into reading about it), this was a set up that they claimed was to stop your equipment being seized if they found your transmitter base, losing only the transmitter & the link, it's probably pretty much the same sort of thing they used to do the TV stuff with the Max Headroom thing, only not hijacking someone else's transmitters... :lol:
 

timo_w2s

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Yeah those blue caps where pretty easy to mod. Not sure what they use these days as they must be getting quite hard to get hold of. I suppose internet links are more common now.
 

Hixxy1

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They use c&k horns nicked from traffic lights or alarm sensors driven by a simple modulation circuit using just a couple of parts. They us a simple sat can on the receive end and the audio is taken from the baseband output. The bandwidth is sufficient to send multiplexed stereo and rds, eliminating the need for extra modules on the transmitter side.

The reason for using blue caps on the receive end was down to the gain and good audio quality. Certain types could be modded to transmit but it's far easier to use the modded horns. Universal lnbs are mostly use to receive as the blue ones are hard to get hold of.

Midpoints are another tower block which receives the first link and retransmits it to where the transmitter is. Some receive microwave and then rebroadcast on band 1 to the transmitter making it even more difficult to track the studio.

There's all sorts of simple but effective techniques they use like having a fm receiver with the stereo light connected to a relay which in turn switches the link tx off if the main transmitter goes off air. They can also switch the transmitter on and off remotely by send a sub audible tone through the audio feed. Pretty basic stuff when you think about it.

I can talk about pirate radio all day long :)



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2cvbloke

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I can talk about pirate radio all day long :)

Now is that through actual experience or from reading up on it? :-rofl2

It is fascinating reading about such things though, it's just sad that it's discouraged, but that said, the rubbish that the pirates broadcast is just not worth the airtime anyway, but learning about how it's all set up could be a great way to work their way into the radio business, if they didn't act like social outcasts that is... :)
 

Hixxy1

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It's from both experience and reading. The stations are slowly moving onto using the raspberry pi modules to stream audio through either 2.4ghz or 5.8ghz wifi links.

Some of the older guys from the 70s still help a bit, but they try to keep their distance as like you state, some of the stations play some noise.



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timo_w2s

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It's from both experience and reading. The stations are slowly moving onto using the raspberry pi modules to stream audio through either 2.4ghz or 5.8ghz wifi links.

Oh that's a good idea. I've been tempted in the past to try something similar using a slingbox so that I could use my parents 1.8m dish at my apartment but I don't think it's doable for the distance and terrain at my location.

By the way, some of us like the "noise" of the modern pirates... Back in the 90s I used to stock up on blank tapes so I could record the jungle/drum&bass pirates when visiting the London area and take them back to Finland with me to share with my mates. You couldn't get anything like that in Finland back then (or pretty much anywhere else for that matter).
 

Hixxy1

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Haha, you know what it's like timo. There's plenty of enthusiasm in the game but unfortunately there's also some idiots about that don't have a clue.

If you're interested there's a good forum with some very knowledgable people that like to talk about electronics :)

Radionecks.com



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