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Robot Manufacturer, Astronomers Battle Over Lawnmower

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Interference with Radio Astronomy
rossnors   4/10/2015 8:29:44 AM
The rules (Radio Regulations, both domestic (FCC) and international (ITU)) are the rules, and we have an orderly process for rulemaking and updating the rules. Everyone is obligated to abide by the rules, else we would have chaos. I salute ingenuity, but inventors and design engineers are constrained by rules, and there is no way around this. The high road for these design engineers would be to further innovate to avoid the use of the band designated for Radio Astronomy.

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Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
Epsilonlyrae   4/10/2015 8:48:48 AM
Wondering if they chose this frequency specifically because it is so quiet and free from interference, primarily because everyone else respects the needs of the radio astronomers.

If this is the case, FCC approval of operation in this band would be a BAD precedent.  Because if the FCC did approve this application, then the floodgates will be opened and other manufacturers will attempt to do the same thing not only in this band, but in other bands reserved for radio astronomy.

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limits on proximity
Snootyclause   4/10/2015 8:49:02 AM
Working in the RF industry it has become clear that simple calculations don't always provide a clear answer to interference and proximity issues.

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Re: Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
rossnors   4/10/2015 10:03:19 AM
very good comment

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UWB options
msinger919   4/10/2015 10:10:34 AM
I have seen UWB chip solutions ranging from 4-8GHz.  I  think these entities could coexist in close proximity.

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National Quiet Zones
ltron   4/10/2015 10:39:49 AM
It would be interesting to learn more about this. There are National Quiet Zones that have been extablished near 3 large radio telescopes. The one in Green Bank West Virginia prohibits any intentional radio transmission within the 13,000 square mile zone. That means WiFi as well as cellular etc.

It would seem to me that that no radio controlled device is allowed within the 55 mile limit. Maybe iRobot missed this part?

This would seem to beg the question; why would iRobot be any different than everyone else?

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No need to use that band for this application
Frogman842   4/10/2015 10:43:50 AM
I agree with the other posters on this. There is no technology need for iRobot to walk all over a protected band that is used for scientific research. And it is presumptuous of them to state that they have assessed the potential harm. Interference is all but impossible to predict with any precision.

How could they ensure that their customers would never park one of their systems in an area that would cause trouble and interference to this work? A warning in the instruction manual? Who gets to "police" these possible infractions? The researchers? One of those unmarked FCC vans, bristling with antennae? Yeah, right.

This is not "restriction of trade", iRobot just needs to do a bit of clever engineering work to find a band that doesn't potentially interfere with the established bands.

David, N9DY

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Re: UWB options
araasch   4/10/2015 11:12:59 AM
NRAO receiver sensitivity is extremely high to recieve the extremely low power signals from space.  Any signals in the bands they are interested in that are transmitted will likely interfere with their scientific studies.  That is why the radio quiet zone was established.

The market for iRobot mowers in this area is likely to be very small, indeed.  The people who live in this beautiful mountainous region are not too likely to desire a robot mowing thier grass in my opinion.  I have seen them use goats, however.

 Full disclosure, I have on a number of occasions used a small educational radiotelescope at the Green Bank, WV NRAO site to assist others to get hands-on experience in radioastronomy.

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Re: Interference with Radio Astronomy
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/10/2015 12:26:50 PM
When I worked as a development engineer at Motorola (for over 24 years), this chart was posted on almost everyone's cubicle wall.  It was inbred into our culture.  No one ever tried to redefine it. As you state, the rules are the rules.



William K.
User Rank
Re: Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
William K.   4/10/2015 1:08:20 PM
Given the lack of the FCC's understanding about interference it was probably an easy band for the mower people to pick, figuring that they would not need to build receivers with much selectivity. But now the FCC has a chance to do something right, which is simply to say "NO", and to suggest another frequency instead. I would suggest a frequency just below the citizens band frequencies, probably around 26.75 MHz. Nobody would find any amount of extranious signals there to be a problem. But an even better choice would be for the guide beacons to use the infrared band of wavelengths and for the emittters to be simple LED devices. It would probably be a cost savings as well, and it would avoid needing to get any kind of approvals from the FCC.

And if the mower manufacturer decides to use my suggestion I would be satisfied if they just said "thanks".

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