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Boomers! Fuck! Long time no see!

LONG-assed diary proceeds from here.

Well Update: We don't have a clue. Big secret. BOP was still on it a week ago with a little bit of oil still bubbling up outside the surface casing. That means they had problems. No big deal. It's obviously a problem well. What problems? They haven't said. They haven't said anything. They finally had a conference call with Admiral Thad's replacement, Admiral Zukunft. They said nothing about the well. The media didn't ask about the well. You know, THE WELL! The one that blew out and fucked the Gulf up. Word is that some news outlets finally asked BP about THE WELL and got cut off. BP Sharron Angled them.

Election Update: I voted. I'm a Democrat. I voted for Democrats. ONLY Democrats. I gave a little money to Act Blue and individually to Reid and Sestak and Boxer. If I had a do-over I'd have sent something to Feingold and Grayson. I feel pretty stupid not having done so. But now it's time to literally change the fucking channel.

Booming The Airwaves

I used to listen to Air America on the internet. Air America was not crappy. Air America was wonderful. Take Al Franken, for instance. Al wasn't the best radio host in America. He wasn't even the best radio host on Air America, but he's a liberal and he was on the fucking radio and that is something right there. Turns out Al might just be the best Senator in the history of Senators (who knew?). I'm serious. Al is solid as a rock. I hope he's in the Senate until he's a hundred. As wonderful as it was, I couldn't get Air America on the radio where I live. Well, I did once, for about 5 minutes. More on that later.

You folks in the Blue States and in urban areas of the Purple States have got it good. You can listen to Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow and a dozen other progressive voices during your drive time. Trip to the store? You have no problem finding a decent talk radio show to listen to. Maybe even a nice moderate like Smerconish. Well we all have drive times. In fact, out here in the vast forbidden reddish lands, our drive times might even be similar to yours. Difference is, you drive 90 minutes and travel 40 miles and I drive 90 minutes and travel 100 miles. Also, you can listen to Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow and my choices are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and The Good Racist Reverend Peters Of The Church Of The Corporate Jesus. Really! If you think I'm exaggerating, there'll be plenty of my wasteland brothers and sisters in the comments section to back me up. One early morning, due to magic once-a-century atmospheric conditions, I caught Air America, for about 5 minutes, on a progressive station out of Boulder Colorado, 400 miles away on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. I stopped the truck and went running off into the sagebrush whooping and hollering. I called four people and told them about it. They thought I was crazy.

XM Radio is an option, but not for people who can't afford it or aren't in their vehicles enough to justify it. I had it for a little while but I drive on some horrible roads and after destroying a receiver, literally shaking the screen and buttons off it, I just quit listening to radio and switched to jazz CDs. Then my CD changer fucking shook itself apart. There's 4 great jazz CDs in there I'll never see or hear again. So I started singing. I'd turn on Hannity and make up songs about him during his show. Like, "Sean Hannity The Motherfucking Fascist Pederast". During the holidays it was, "The Twelve Days Of Bill O'Reilly Whacking Off In A Loofa".

I became unbalanced. I'm not a very good singer and although I could stand to hear myself longer than you could stand to hear me, I soon had enough of that. All was not lost. The radio still worked. AM and FM. So I went to Walmart and bought one of these:

Meet the SCOSCHE FMT4RA Fm Transmitter. $12. Walmart auto section. Don't go to the electronics section because all they got is weak iPod crap. I plugged this baby into my phone's mp3 player, selected an open channel and the next thing you know, I'm listening to Miles Davis. I'm listening to Crashing Vor. Fucking w00t!

Then one day, I had it hooked to my phone, in my coat pocket, and walked about 250 feet away to check something on a jobsite. The sound from the truck still sounded good. Went out to about 350' and set it on a rock and walked back to the truck to check the signal. I'll be goddamn if it didn't still sound fine! This got me thinking (Fishgreases do that a lot). I'm an FM radio station! Me! I AM! Legal, too! The FMT4RA is an FCC registered device for unlicensed use under Part 15. I figured out that the maximum usable range for stereo music was out around 400 feet, line-of-sight, clear day. Now, just right there, you're a pretty powerful force for goodness, walking around Republicanville Utah broadcasting a Rachel Maddow podcast. I mean... that's a 400' RADIUS! But I wanted MORE! I read Part 15 over and over, and it says that the manufacturer of an FCC Part 15 device must make it so that the user cannot modify the antenna. I went and bought a couple more FMT4RAs and opened one up and sure as shit, there's no simple way to extend that antenna into a full quarter or eighth-wavelength dipole.

BUT!

What if a feller were to just dangle a quarter-wavelength piece of wire from the negative-most AAA battery connection? There's two of the four wires in the 7-inch dongle (the part that hooks to your mp3 player) that, in addition to being the send or return on the audio signal, also form the (folded) driven half of an eighth-wavelength dipole. I use 107.7 mhz, so an eighth-wavelength is about 13.75 inches. Might a 14" wire dangling from the negative-most AAA battery connection form the other half of the dipole?

Well, yes, Boomers. It does. And you're not fucking with the antenna so you're legal. Meet the Freedom Stik!

The components are taped on a 1.5" X 3/4" X 43" piece of wood, because that's what I had in the truck. And yes, my old truck is dirty. I'm a cowboy. I've got mud on my fucking mudflaps and a rifle in my fucking rifle rack. This is the basic configuration:

-mp3 player
....||...
....||...
....||...
....||...
--FMT4RA
....|....
....|....
....|....
....|....
....|....
....|....
....|....
....|....

Doesn't matter what you tape it to. You can just hang it from something. I taped a 12" spike to the bottom of the Freedom Stik and took it up and stuck it into a high hillside behind my house. Then I drove to the other side of town. Range?

1.25 MILES! I started noticing a little dynamic dropout at about a mile, but it was damned little. It was big station broadcast quality all the way out to a mile. If you're broadcasting the spoken word, which is what this diary is about anyway, just make sure all your content is centered in the soundfield with a program like REAPER, add a little compression, and I think you'll be listenable, line-of-site, out to 2 miles. Especially in automobiles, which have superb radios -- most all of them do -- because radios are fucking important with regards to automobile customer satisfaction. Now this is a weak signal. Damned weak. It doesn't do well with absorbers (trees) or reflectors (buildings). I'm developing this further and have ordered 4 other brands of cheap transmitters. I KNOW there's some radio-engineering geniuses on Daily Kos who can help us develop this fully. Email me. Help us. I've purchased a damned nice internet domain for this project, once we get the tech solid.

Why do this?

30% of the people in my town are Democrats. Probably 20% are progressives. Why should we have to pay for XM Radio so we can listen to OUR PEOPLE on the radio? But that's not the most important facet of this. My 30% number is from election results, so I know my brothers and sisters are out there. But we're underground. We don't have secret handshakes. We all feel very very alone. One of the rules is, YOU HAVE TO USE AN OPEN FREQUENCY. Most of those, even in rural environments, are below 91 mhz or above 106 mhz on the FM band. What if progressives in my town made a habit of scanning for these progressive microbroadcasts? Do you know what it would feel like to hear Keith Olbermann, or Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow on the car radio in my town? Or Salt Lake City? Or any of the thousands of small towns in this country where we literally hide? It would feel like this:

"I HAVE FRIENDS!"

We nudge the Overton Window every time we walk around town with a transmitter in our pockets. We're extending that secret handshake every time we drive, transmitting from our car. Take back the airwaves in your line-of-sight. Legally. That means no cussing, by the way. The cost:

Transmitter = $12 to $20
MP3 Player = $6 to $30
Batteries = $2

You can do this for between $20 and $50

I'm in it $20. Okay..... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.... no one go planting transmitters around downtown or near public buildings! You. Will. Get. Shot. And mind your manners. You have a right to free speech but you do not have a right to broadcast in any fashion you want. You DO have just as much a right to broadcast as the corporate mega-stations, if you follow the rules.

UNDERSTANDING THE FCC REGULATIONS FOR LOW-POWER, NON-LICENSED TRANSMITTERS (FCC PDF)

I'll do another diary in a while, once I've gotten the help of DKos legal minds and radio hobbyists and engineers.

OH! Bob Cavnar's book is out now!

Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout

Bob and I have become good friends. He knows his shit, and he's the kindest, most unpretentious human I've ever met.

Besides my Mom.

Originally posted to Fishgrease on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 10:03 PM PDT.

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