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An intelligent discussion on drones

Discussion in 'Technical' started by gunbunny, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    I'm posting this here in this forum for a reason. I'm quite sure we've all heard the response to a drone is to "'chut um wit muh smokepole." That is not in question here.

    What I want is an intelligent disscussion about how to deal with drones. Of course, calling them drones is actually a minor faux paux, some refer to them as remote controlled craft. Clip, magazine, whatever.

    ‘Citizen Drone Warfare’: Hobbyist explores a frightening scenario - Washington Times

    Once a technology is invented, you cannot uninvent it. I'm not whining about the civilian use of drones (RCC) possibly being armed (possibly, yeah right), and I'm not trying to discuss anything about the military Predator aircraft. I'm concentrating on that which I can actually do something about.

    DIY Drones

    Here's a site that was under my personal radar until today. These guys have quite a bit of stuff going on. Autonomous drones flying by GPS for a 250 mile round robin. Gyro stabilized HD cameras. This is quite a step forward from the line of site systems I used to know about.

    When I quit flying model airplanes to learn to fly the real ones, frequency hopping radios were just starting to come about. We used to use frequency flags on our radios to eliminate confusion.

    We all know that the FAR's constitute that NO aircraft can fly within 500 feet of any person, building, or vessel unless it is to keep an emergency from happening. These aircraft are subject to those rules, so when Jim-BOB 'chuts-don one of these critters, is he legally able to do so? The hunters over in West Chester PA thought so. I applaud them, and jeer at the douchebag that was whining about them destroying his private property. He was in the wrong, but that doesn't mean much anymore.

    So, lets get our heads together and see if we can figure out some ways to thwart the people that want to pester us and our persuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
    tulianr likes this.
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    You want drone deterrents? Will, for low level recon drones (cameras) they make shotgun deployed sandbags, and nets to catch fleeing bad guys. Bounty hunters use them. Knocks them down, or tangles them up. either should allow for the recovery of the drone, more or less intact. Short range as well. There is a new shotgun fired tazer system(I can get a link for if needed) I'm pretty sure, would fry cameras or electronics if struck (without the carry of a bullet to worry about) and they even make motion activated water cannon to discourage deer and rabbits from attacking your garden or flower garden. For high flyers? Falcons with strings with break away knots. strings get tangled in the blades and break away from the bird. It would drop like a rock.
  3. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    That's the idea. If Iran can knock down one of our supersecret military drones, we could make a maser from an old microwave (not recommended) and fry a quadrotor or two?

    Any way of making a radio decector that tunes in on the same frequencies as the transmitter? Then at least you would know it was around. I understand that trying to jam it while it freq hops is futile.

    This discussion is theoretical only, please don't chime in and yell "The FCC is going to come in and get you!" If it comes to the point of someone using these drones for this reason, most likely there aren't any laws around anymore.
  4. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    "Any way of making a radio decector that tunes in on the same frequencies as the transmitter? Then at least you would know it was around. I understand that trying to jam it while it freq hops is futile. "
    Not futile. Look on the back of your garage door transmitter. There is a black and white sticker on most brands that reads " This device complies with part 15 of the FCC code Operation is subject to the following two conditions. Part A states, this device may not cause any harmful interference. Part B states, this device must accept any interference that may be received, including interference that may cause undesirable operation." That is because radio signals travel like ripples in a pond in all directions at once, and they all tend to interfere with each other to some extent. We sometimes have to go to different frequencies, around machines, or high power wires, invisible fence, some WIFI systems, and some sprinkler systems can put off enough radio interference to to completely mask your garage door operator from more than a few feet. it has to get close enough, to be strong enough, to punch through the interference. These systems are not on the same frequencies, they are simply noisy. Even coaxial shielded antennas, are not always enough to cut through it.
    So, with enough white noise, triggered after the drone is within the perimeter, It should be fairly deaf, unable to receive or send,(including commands to return) Unless they could get a second drone fitted out as a repeater, and get it close enough to punch through the interference, they stand a good chance of losing their drone as it runs out of juice.
    Now, we are assuming TSHTF, because I don't believe the FCC would like the idea of an intentional white noise generator. And how something like a perfectly good Ham radio might happen to sometime put out large amount of white noise, I have no idea, but accidental white noise, is a problem for us to work around, so I know it can isolate a system. It's like trying to have a conversation across a room, during a rock concert, very little gets through.
    gunbunny likes this.
  5. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    As if this didn't look suspicious enough:
    TARGET (368 x 276).
    tacmotusn likes this.
  6. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    I like the way you think.
  7. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Since I am one of the Bubba's you were talking about, this is why I would like a bumpfire 22lr AR clone. I can afford to expend 22lr full auto, and as an ex USN Gunnersmate I understand leading an aerial target.
    oldawg likes this.
  8. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I can't quite tell what that is. Is it one of those sentry systems that tracks and shoots?
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Well, forget the monitoring of the Wifi 2.4 Ghz ISM Band, for the following reasons.....
    1. These (Digital Model Control Systems) are ALL Spread Spectrum Digital type Emissions, so they can't de distinguished from each other just by monitoring the RF Carrier.
    2. There are MANY different types of devices that share the 2.4 Ghz ISM Band, and there is nothing that REQUIRES that they interact with any other device using the Band.
    3. Even if you have the REQUIRED Equipment, (Spectrum Analyzer) and have at least a slight "Clue" on what to look for, dealing with Spread Spectum Emissions is a whole different "Ball Game" than dealing with FM or Analog type emissions.

    This is why our SECURE Phones are so SECURE. They are Spread Spectrum type Devices, and it takes a van load of very HiTech Gear to even see the RF Emissions, let alone decode it, without knowing how the device uses the Spreading Codes....
    gunbunny and tulianr like this.
  10. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    laser. I have kicked around the idea of this little jewel...
    If you can ''blind'' it...It will come down...
  11. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Those are nice lasers, and will light a match at about 5 feet, but I can't see it doing any damage to anything besides maybe the camera. Why do you think it must land if blinded? RC planes and Helos never had cameras before this and they had no problems getting home intact.
  12. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    So, I don't remotely consider myself as "knowledgeable" or an expert on these DIY drones. However, that being said I have designed and constructed 3 submersible remote operated vehicles (ROV) used for commercial inspection work and was digging into the airborne drones a year ago for a portable cross band ham repeater platform to deploy for SAR ops. So with those experiences, I'll tender a few impressions about defense from drones that are substantially less than the full blown military versions.

    Some fundamental premises are probably in order. These are based on what I have seen on various websites and/or the way I did/would do it which would be "how would a smart, poor lazy man do it?" I think most DIY drones have been created that same way.

    - It appears that most of these have substantial amount of componentry from two arenas. 1. RC model industry and 2. 801.11x wireless networking and PC based controls.
    - Having hundreds of hours piloting submerged ROVs it is hard to fly watching through a camera that is zoomed in very much. A wider angle view makes it easier to pilot. YouTube videos from pov views from on board cameras are generally fairly wide to very wide angle views suggesting my experience isn't unusual.
    - The autonomous mode and some autopilot functions all use GPS.
    - The transmission of video is generally done one of two ways: 1. Composite video transmitted usually on the ham bands, usually 70 cm. A conventional cable tv channel fits in that band so any cable ready tv and an antenna can watch the video feed. There are many tiny transmitters available for well under a hundred bucks for ATV as well. 2. A wifi type 801.11x network connection often using simple webcam type systems.
    - The smaller drones are electric powered and a bigger one may be gas with a small weed eater style engine. Honda and Ryobi also have small little 4 stroke engines used in some large RC planes.

    So, what does this suggest to me about defense? As noted in the first post, an ROV can be used two ways. 1. A surveillance platform 2. An attack platform. Lets look at an attack platform first.

    There is probably a reasonable correlation between the range at which the ROV can target effectively and the required size of it. Small light cameras and cheap webcams are wider angle. It is easier to fly (assuming the pilot doesn't have eyes on the drone) with a wider angle camera but it will need to be pretty close to you to be able to predictably target you. A shot gun with a good bird load may be enough to take it down with mitigated risk to an errant bullet.

    To have a greater stand off capability the drone will require a longer lens for the targeting camera and possibly a second camera for piloting. It will also have to be much more stable for a weapon to hit anything reliably. That suggests a gyro stabilized weapon mount plus gyro stabilized flight controls. All this increase size, battery drain, and weight. This will result in an ROV with a short loiter time or it be much bigger still for more batteries or even a gas engine. To target well while moving (not hovering) is extremely challenging from a control perspective. Probably video based stabilization or pretty complex laser ranging and stabilization, beyond all but the super nerd DIYers. Of course the Air Force has all this but a DIY or "affordable" police version would probably need to hover to target and makes it a bit easier to take down with a rifle. Until we get into the high end LE and military versions I think, maybe wrongly, if it can shoot us with much predicability, we can probably shoot it with something.

    Now a surveillance platform is a significantly greater challenge. I know there are DARPA surveillance drones that aren't much bigger than a dragonfly. You'd never know it was there. The DIY drones are going to be a bit larger. These could stand off several hundred yards, remain on the move, and still provide significant intel. Hint - could be a good tool for us.

    The first challenge will be detection. Sentries will need to maintain 540 and not just 360 watches. There won't be much noise from an electric drone and gas powered drones will probably be larger and capable of having much longer camera lenses and stand off capability which reduces their noise signature for us. Good chance we'll often not hear them. The only other detection might be to use some wifi scanners and scan the amateur TV frequencies for something new and stronger. Detection will probably be the hardest part of all this since it requires 24/7 vigilance. Our best hope would possibly be some automated scanning looking for the video feed from the on-board camera(s) back to the drone's controller. I don't know how else to effectively accomplish a good detection methodology. Maybe our resident FCC agent has some germane experiences.

    So anyway, once we detect one, now what? Lots of options but probably several to consider.

    1. Leave it alone, but feed it counter-intel via what it sees you do. Let the pilot form an impression of your numbers, defenses, stores, whatever that are misleading. Keep sensitive activities, defenses, preparations, fuel stores, etc under cover at all times. This is good OPSEC regardless of any threat from drones.

    2. Try and follow it (visually, RF direction finding, etc) and proactively deal with the adversary flying it before being on the total defense.

    3. Neutralize it. I think it may be far more difficult to take out a drone that is only being used for surveillance. As noted these could be very small, operate from a long distance and can remain on the move. If we can't shoot it down, what are other possibilities. As we noted above there are several radio frequency systems these employ. The video feed back to the pilot provides a possible detection signature.

    The control signals to the ROV provide several vulnerabilities. Now I am going to assume, maybe incorrectly, that we probably wouldn't deploy counter measures unless we know a drone is present and consequently about where it is.

    Autonomous flight and some autopilot functions rely upon GPS and This could be jammed at the drone pretty easily. Heck there are issues with GPS interference by a wireless Internet service license that the FCC tentatively approved operating not IN the GPS band but next to it. The base C/A GPS code is transmitted on 1575.42 MHz and a moderate strength level signal directed at the drone with a hand held Yagi antenna could probably disrupt the GPS signal to the drones receiver fairly easily. This might be good technology to have to aim at any seemingly coordinated attack if it didn't compromise other defense activities. The antenna can be homemade easily and probably a couple hundred bucks or less could get the rest. Understand this is illegal and I am certainly not recommending or condoning breaking the law. This just an academic discussion.

    The other signal to disrupt is at 2.4 ghz. Most RC systems now are 2.4 ghz but granted a few 72-74 MHz and ham band systems are lingering around. I'd probably only deal with the 2.4 ghz since a good jamming system would get both the RC and the 801.11xx wifi type systems and probably get 90% or better of the DIY drones out there. Now, this is were my knowledge ends and maybe BTPost can help. I know I could jam the GPS pretty easy and cheaply with a homebrew antenna and some used stuff. The 2.4 gig stuff is spreadspectrum stuff with much inherent noise immunity and while a high gain directional antenna is easy, I don't have a good feel for the difficulty on the bandwidth and modulation needed to effectively neutralize this whole band. I wouldn't be surprised if some amateur spy toys might exist and with a good little power amp this might not be too hard. Again this would be illegal and I do not endorse breaking the law.

    So we disrupt the GPS signal and the RF control signals to the drone then what? Fair chance one of two things will happen. Most RC systems take some kind of default action with loss of the RF control signal. I'd design it to follow a GPS path home and if that was not functional, then I'd go to a power setting that gently brings the drone to the ground. This means you could go get it or lay in wait for the owners to attempt recovery. The second possibility is it stays at the current power level and flight control settings until it flys into the ground somewhere or runs out of power/fuel and crashes. Again the owner may come searching and the video might be their homing signal.

    We are talking about a fair amount of electronics to mount a good detection and counter measures. A lot of the intel a surveillance drone can provide could be accomplished by stealthy eyeballs. The threat of an attack drone is the element of surprise but once we are aware of their presence there is modest probability small arms could neutralize most shy of high end LE or military drones. I suppose drone detection technology may be worth pursuing but I would very much question doing that at the expense of other preps. It would be low on my list. I think I'd consider investing in my own drone first to be able to monitor out a mile or two from my retreat for very early warning.

    Just thinkin...

  13. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    gunbunny likes this.
  14. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    The 802.11xx Transmissions even if they are in the 5.0 Ghz Band, will be hard to disrupt with just a normal RF Generator, as one would need a very Wide Band source, that would cover the whole 2.4 or 5.0 Ghz at significant Power, and these type Sources are NOT CHEAP. This is exactly why Spread Spectrum Comms is not as vulnerable to such Jamming tactics, and why looking for the RF Transmissions is so hard to do. The RF Carrier never stays on any one Frequency for more than a few milliseconds. Even with a Spectrum Analyzer, unless you know what your looking for, these emissions look more like NOISE, or a small rise in the Noise Floor, than an intelligent Comms Channel. When they are in a RF intensity prone area, like lots of other WiFi Signals, Baby Monitors, Cordless Phones, and microwave ovens, all cycling on and off, Well you get the idea. Ok and figure that the links to and from the drone are encrypted, AND do not transmit any SSID Packets, your chance of intercepting anything usefull is about ZERO, WITH OUT A VAN FULL OF EXPENSIVE GEAR. You are much better off to go hunting the thing with a Mossberg Super Goose Gun in 12 Ga 3" magnum and 00 buck or #2Goose Shot.... I have one of these in the Weapons Locker....
    VisuTrac likes this.
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    The OP asked "I'm posting this here in this forum for a reason. I'm quite sure we've all heard the response to a drone is to "'chut um wit muh smokepole." That is not in question here.

    What I want is an intelligent disscussion about how to deal with drones. Of course, calling them drones is actually a minor faux paux, some refer to them as remote controlled craft. Clip, magazine, whatever."
    The attempt is to use something that does not require a firearm.
  16. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    I wish you luck with your project. Many of us here do not have the technical expertise to be of any help to you in your endevour. Some may be able to help and I hope they do. I remember a sci fi short story I read once where these techno warriors fought to a standstill with each using a number of advanced weapons and counter measures until they had closed with no mortal effect almost to a hand to hand distance. Neither was seriously hurt at this point but they were near exhaustion when the human pulled a circa 1873 colt peacemaker and killed his opponent. Never discount the firearm as a tool to terminate the threat. Again, I wish you success and god speed. Please share your findings. Keep in mind however for every electronic measure there is a countermeasure (even if it has not been exploited yet) (tit for tat). To ignore that fact would be a mistake. The first caveman to kill probably used bare hands, a club or a rock, or a pointed stick. Those would also be a threat not to be ignored at a very close distance.
    kellory and tulianr like this.
  17. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    BT, I probably wasn't clear, but I didn't want to extract any information from a transmission between a controller and aerial remote operated vehicle (AROV). Simply just detect if some new signal showed up locally suggesting the presence of something to go visually look for. How difficult would that be from your experience? If we could just detect the presence of the signal to alert us, it wouldn't matter if signals were encrypted etc. - fair chance I already know what my BOL looks like and the AROV would be seeing etc.

    You confirmed my own suspicions that disrupting a 2.4 gig control signal would be difficult. I have run EMI susceptibility tests with electronic diesel engine controls but digital network communication integrity is beyond my emperical data sets.

    But maybe there is still something to be gained with sending a GPS jamming signal. If the DIY AROV is not employing GPS to faciliate the flight control, that implys the owners will likely be somewhat close by and recon for them may be prudent. If they aren't close, then the AROV has a higher probability of flying autonomously via a GPS autopilot (can we call that a drone? :) or with GPS assistance and likely does provide location reporting. Therefore disrupting the GPS may be worthwhile to disable the AROV. If there are people trying to recon my BOL, disrupting their GPS (assuming GPS satellites still work in a post SHTF) might have some very minor tactical benefit.

    I still wonder if the expenditure of time and resouces on one's own AROV might be a wiser thing to do, expecially with one of the 2500 buck composite video output FLIR cameras on it. And maybe we just spend the money for a bigger pole barn to keep more things under roof.

    But I'm just thinking out loud here. I like this discussion, it has gotten some thinking going that I hadn't pondered before.

  18. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Just to add- I love shooting guns. I have ever since I was 6 years old. But, I also understand that shooting at a drone with a shotgun is probably the last line of defence, not the first.

    This thread has exceeded my expectations exponentually! I never discounted the use of shotguns to shoot down drones, as the guys at the hunt club in West Chester, PA did. I was thinking that if it was time to shoot a drone down, it was by far too late- it had already gathered intel on you or had already shot up your group.

    My focus was to gain knowledge about drone protection, because we all know that someone will put a gun on one of these things and attempt to hunt us down with it. I'd like to be able to thwart this threat BEFORE I get shot to pieces, or at least try to stop it before it gets close enough to be in shotgun range- 150 to 200 feet.

    Thank you Airtime and BTPost for sharing your knowledge, as it has given me a direction to follow.

    Let's consolidate data here:

    It is too hard, or too expensive to try to make an RF detector in the 5.0 GHz band.
    GPS can be disrupted with specialized equipment.
    Video feeds can be monitered and can be reversely used to find the operator or drone.
    It is better to use your own drone than to mount specific countermeasures against them.
    If you are able to force it down, ambush the SOB that comes looking for it.

    I will have a discussion about drones with some of my friends that still fly RC airplanes. Maybe we can come up some more ideas about how to shift the advantage from the drone user to the people on the ground.
  19. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ok, lets get this straight...

    If you build, or possess, a GPS Jamming Device, AND get caught using it, you WILL be Arrested and Prosecuted for a Federal Felony. The US Government has made this VERY clear recently, including an 800 Phone number to Report an such disruptions in GPS Reception. Selling One, or Importing One, is also a Federal Felony, for which you can be prosecuted.

    Reception of a Video Feed, from the drone, if they are using 802.11xxx as the Transmission Link, and being encrypted, and with no SSID packets being sent, JUST IS NOT going to Happen, without a Van Load of Gear, and some very sophisticated Software. Not something that even a very Tech'd Up Dude, is going to be able to do.

    Using Spread Spectrum type Transmissions, with NO SSID Packets, being transmitted, and using an Encrypted Link, MEANS that there is no real way to know if there is a NEW Comm Link in your AoO. Spread Spectrum does NOT show up on a Spectrum Analyzer, as a Spike, or identifiable NEW Source of RF Energy, like AM, OR FM, RF Comms. Spread Spectrum Emissions look like WideBand Noise spread out over the whole Character Bandwidth used by the transmitter. Unless the Analyzer Operator knows exactly what to look for, he will NOT see anything, AT ALL, except an almost imperceptible increase of the local Noise Floor in his AoO. Adding to this FACT, is that there will be a whole slew of other Emitters, that are operating in your AoO, that will tend to MASK the New Source. (All the wireless Access Points, Wireless Routers, Wireless WebCams, Baby Monitors, Wireless Phones, Microwave Ovens, and any and all other Emitters, in your AoO, that use the 2.4 & 5.0 Ghz ISM Bands)

    So just what are you thinking of looking for, in the RF domain, that might mean there is a New source operating in your AoO, and just WHAT equipment do you think will allow you to detect such a New Emitter, if it did become operational. This is EXACTLY why
    Spread Spectrum emissions are so stealthy, and why they are used for the most SECURE RF Comm Links. If you can't detect them, and or see them in the RF Domain, then how do you know they exist. The Squad Comms Radios, that my Seal Friends use, are $50K per unit, and ARE Spread Spectrum devices. They are basically undetectable, and certainly unScannable, without that Van Load of Gear, being in Range, and when encrypted, with Strong Encryption, they are TOTALLY SECURE. Our SECURE Phones are very near the same, especially if you are using the Unit to Unit Mode, that uses an individualized to the Phone, ten Digit numerical Spreading Code to do the Spreading.

    Ok, Are we square on this, NOW?
    kellory likes this.
  20. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    If someone is attacking me with a drone platform, I'm not going to care much about FCC regulations.

    I guess the question is, is everybody using SS type devices? How inexpensive is this equipment in compairison to older model RC equipment? Not everybody can afford the latest hi-tech equipment.

    I might not know too much in this area, but I do try to keep up. Here's a snipit from wikipedia on the subject of network cloaking:
    What I'm saying is that not everyone out there will be able to own a $50,000 radio equipment. More than likely they are going to be running something cheaper.

    Other forms of detection might be worth investigating. Most of these light drones use electric motors, is there any detectable noise coming off of them that can be picked up? Gausse meters? Electromagnetic field detector? If your in the middle of the woods, how many other likely sources of EMF would you have to worry about?
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