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Old Aug 21, 2014, 02:52 PM
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About the legality of video encryption

In continuation to the previous interesting discussion in this thread http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2229887

that was abruptly closed I want to ask.

In data communications is encryption a standard "feature". It's unthinkable to send and receive data - digital video content included - without protecting it from falling in "wrong hands".

Why is it illegal to encrypt video? What does it mean encryption anyway? Is it considered encryption if I am broadcasting video were I am wearing a mask hiding my identity and-or speaking a foreign language. Or just sending messages by showing using my own secret hand gestures? Is this illegal encoding?

Encryption, encoding or scrambling of analog video transmissions in Amateur Radio is illegal for a very simple reason. Amateur radio is supposed to promote the free exchange of ideas and facilitate the communication between HAM operators. Encryption prevents this...

But when I am flying FPV I not trying to communicate with another party. In this case the sender and the receiver is the same person. Why do I have the right to encrypt video surveilance from my home and watch it over the web in another location, my Slingbox content, my Skype communications and not the video form my own R/C plane?
And bottom line, what's the practical difference for the person who uninvited or unintended is watching an encrypted video transmission of mine or he just has bad reception for some other technical reasons?

I am sure that some naysayers will answer that this is the law and we should obey it or they'll ban our hobby and so on...

/Dimitris
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 06:49 PM
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It's not illegal to encrypt video. It's illegal to encrypt any ham communications. It's a limitation of the specific licence. Other types of licences, including some part 15 equipment , allow it.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
It's not illegal to encrypt video. It's illegal to encrypt any ham communications. It's a limitation of the specific licence. Other types of licences, including some part 15 equipment , allow it.
Right, I was referring to these Ham channels as they are the best Freq's available for FPV
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 04:58 AM
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The fact you are asking this question probably means you don't have a HAM radio license, so I'll remind you that transmitting FPV video without a license is illegal, even if you stay in uncontrolled airspace and fly LoS and don't encrypt or do anything else dodgy.
Only exception is using WiFi stuff like the DJI Phantom 2 has.

You can't encrypt FPV because you are using a HAM radio license to operate the equipment. It's intended purpose is for experimentation and amateur ham radio usage. FPV transmission solely for yourself falls a bit out of that boat. So even if the transmission is only intended for you, you still can't encrypt it.

If you want you can wear a mask in front of a camera, but you cannot say anything political, the HAM radio license forbids this too, and your callsign must be identifiable somehow on the video (although I'm not 100% on that last part).

Home surveillance and internet can be encrypted because you aren't transmitting it with HAM radio equipment, but using consumer-grade approved WiFi equipment.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 06:45 AM
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The fact you are asking this question probably means you don't have a HAM radio license, so I'll remind you that transmitting FPV video without a license is illegal, even if you stay in uncontrolled airspace and fly LoS and don't encrypt or do anything else dodgy.
Only exception is using WiFi stuff like the DJI Phantom 2 has.

You can't encrypt FPV because you are using a HAM radio license to operate the equipment. It's intended purpose is for experimentation and amateur ham radio usage. FPV transmission solely for yourself falls a bit out of that boat. So even if the transmission is only intended for you, you still can't encrypt it.

If you want you can wear a mask in front of a camera, but you cannot say anything political, the HAM radio license forbids this too, and your callsign must be identifiable somehow on the video (although I'm not 100% on that last part).

Home surveillance and internet can be encrypted because you aren't transmitting it with HAM radio equipment, but using consumer-grade approved WiFi equipment.
So basically, it's the ham frequency being encrypted that's illegal and not the encryption of the video itself. As long as you're not using a ham frequency, you're free to transmit video in a way that's scrambled to everyone else?

Any wifi security camera, a Dension WiRC and a DJI lightbridge are available if you want to encrypt your video.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 07:00 AM
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So basically, it's the ham frequency being encrypted that's illegal and not the encryption of the video itself. As long as you're not using a ham frequency, you're free to transmit video in a way that's scrambled to everyone else?
Not exactly, the radio band is very regulated. You can't avoid using a HAM radio license (and its restrictions) just by using another frequency, that would be even worse and even more illegal!!!
You could be interfering with emergency services, aviation, and whatever else there might be there.

Bottomline, if you don't have any license, you can only use WiFi devices (and I mean literally WiFi devices, you aren't allowed to use radio equipment that uses the same frequencies as WiFi but aren't actually WiFi themselves)

If you have a HAM radio license you can use their assigned frequencies, but not encrypted.

EDIT: yup like you said you can use WiFi security cameras. But you are not allowed to boost their signals to get longer range.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 07:55 AM
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That actually makes me interested in lightbridge, so they're literally using factory boosted wifis to get the long ranges. I thought they're only using wifi channels to transmit data, but if you're right, they're still using wifi protocols meaning anybody with a cellphone will see the receiver on their router list as it passes over them. You don't need another expensive lightbridge groundstation if you just want to access the video.

As for the wifi cameras, i was thinking more on putting a patch antenna on your groundstation.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Hajile View Post
That actually makes me interested in lightbridge, so they're literally using factory boosted wifis to get the long ranges. I thought they're only using wifi channels to transmit data, but if you're right, they're still using wifi protocols meaning anybody with a cellphone will see the receiver on their router list as it passes over them. You don't need another expensive lightbridge groundstation if you just want to access the video.

As for the wifi cameras, i was thinking more on putting a patch antenna on your groundstation.
What is your need for video encryption Hajile? Am I reading your original post correctly that you want encrypted video? The lightbridge solution does not look to be a long range one though it does encrypt the video. Lightbridge is running 100mw and they claim 1.7km coverage outdoors unobstructed which means real world use will be much less.

Cheers
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by cantremember View Post

Bottomline, if you don't have any license, you can only use WiFi devices (and I mean literally WiFi devices, you aren't allowed to use radio equipment that uses the same frequencies as WiFi but aren't actually WiFi themselves)

.

Well said cantre. I might add that you can only legally use those WiFi devices for the purposes of thier manufactured intention and related FCC approval.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by v2rocketeer View Post
What is your need for video encryption Hajile? Am I reading your original post correctly that you want encrypted video? The lightbridge solution does not look to be a long range one though it does encrypt the video. Lightbridge is running 100mw and they claim 1.7km coverage outdoors unobstructed which means real world use will be much less.

Cheers
It was actually from the original thread. The guy there seemed to want to be able to fly without having others eavesdrop on him.

That got me interested because my last out of town flight had me doing a flyaround for a casino that was under construction, and they were kinda adamant about keeping the layout secret. That was some good flights, flying through an active 10 story building construction site, complete with swinging ropes, tons of scaffolding, partly installed chandeliers, gigantic statues in the open center are. But i couldn't post it (crap!).

While it's a common thing in regards to privacy about not wanting people to see into their property, there are places where you can fly, as long as nothing gets out.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 10:14 AM
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Analog vs Digital

The world went digital 10 years ago. Why are we still using analog video? I don't recall seeing any amateur rules against digital video. That would solve some of the interference problems. It would also be a little more secure.


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Old Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM
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The world went digital 10 years ago. Why are we still using analog video? I don't recall seeing any amateur rules against digital video. That would solve some of the interference problems. It would also be a little more secure.


Digital video is more prone to interference, so you have shorter range. With analog video the image starts to degrade but you can still make out what's happening.
On digital it's an all or nothing deal. If the signal is not (near) perfect then the device can't reconstruct the digital image. If you open digital files in notepad and alter just a byte or two, chances are the application will just say "file corrupt" and you will not be able to access the entire file anymore. It's the same deal with digital TV.

Also it's much more expensive.

A little more secure, against what? It's allowed ofcourse, but you're still not allowed to scramble it.

It's a big misconception that digital is less prone to interference. If there is interference on the line, it's indeed immediately noticable on an analog video, and doesn't show on digital. But when the line degrades and packets get lost, the digital video feed completely cuts out, while on analog you still see a more faint image with static. You have MUCH further range on analog.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 10:54 AM
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Analog video encryption for FPV is the perfect solution to a problem that does not exist in the first place - at least not for me.

I started this discussion because I do not really understand what's the problem if I decide to do it with the existing - still very expensive - technology like Viewlock II , etc.

What's the difference between very bad to static due to:
-off band receiver
-set on wrong channel
-badly tuned antenna
-pointed the wrong way
-lossy cables
-noisy power supplies
etc, etc...

and a signal that does not make sense due to scrambling.

How will they know? Who is watching for scrambled signals when they don't even know I am out there flying?

/Dimitris
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 12:01 PM
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Indeed I don't think anyone is actively looking for FPV transmissions anyway. They are spread too thinly. If an FPV'er gets caught and fined it's usually because he got a complaint from displeased residents or flew where he shouldn't have.
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Old Aug 22, 2014, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Dimitris76 View Post
How will they know? Who is watching for scrambled signals when they don't even know I am out there flying?

/Dimitris
Well to start with you are announcing it here.

If you really have valid concerns over others legally "viewing" your video signal why don't you just do it legally and get your ham ticket. You can then work with standard off the shelf FPV gear and modify the gear to transmit and recieve outside of the standard "channels" used by FPV'ers but still within the legal spectrum with your ham lic. You could then eleminate almost all from monitoring your video except other hams with the means and the knowledge to try and find your signal off the standard public "channels" offered by the manufacturers.

I really don't understand the amount of effort people put into trying to figure out ways around getting a ham license. The effort people put in is far greater than just getting your license in the first place. No need for expensive specialized scrambling gear when you can just use alternate frequencies with a valid ham ticket.

As far as privacy goes once you transmit anything there are ALWAYS those with means to decode it. You just never know who is reading your posts on here.

Why not just do it right?
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Last edited by v2rocketeer; Aug 22, 2014 at 12:39 PM. Reason: trying to be nice :)
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