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Robot Manufacturer, Astronomers Battle Over Lawnmower

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rossnors
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Iron
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.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Blogger
Re: Interference with Radio Astronomy
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   4/10/2015 12:26:50 PM
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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.

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/2003-allochrt.pdf

 

Epsilonlyrae
User Rank
Iron
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.

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

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
William K.   4/10/2015 1:08:20 PM
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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".

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
bob from maine   4/16/2015 10:44:16 AM
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Given the current PC attitude pervading Washington D.C. today, I would expect the FCC response would be to politely ask the scientists if they could move the Methanol spectrum line just a bit because the Japanese or Chinese or Koreans are our favored trading partners and we wouldn't want to do anything that might hurt their feelings.

There is abolutely no reason to permit the use of devices capable of emitting a signal at this frequency. The sensitivity of the receivers used by NRAO is almost beyond comprehension and suggesting that a transmitter cited 700M from the telescope "shouldn't" pose a problem is ridiculous.

armorris
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
armorris   4/26/2015 4:07:35 PM
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My father worked at the NRAO in Green Bank, WV. He was an electronics technician on the 300ft dish that collapsed a couple years after his death. It's been replaced with a new state-of-the art dish with steerable segments, allowing for more precise focus.

The observatory is located in a bowl between three mountains to minimize interference.  There is just a low-power AM radio station in nearby Cass. There is only a very low-power cell tower in nearby Marlinton, where two of my sisters live and my mother is in a nursing home. It amazes me how people walk around downtown Marlinton with cellphones in their hands. It looks like people in the area come to Marlinton just to use their cellphones. They also seem to come to the nearby Snowshoe Ski Resort during off season to use their cellphones. When vsiting relatives last summer, we went up to Snowshoe, where my sister had worked and there were people everywhere, carrying cellphones. BTW, the cell tower on a mountain adjacent to Snowshoe has no radiators on it facing toward the observatory in the valley.

If you buy a microwave or something and it causes interference, engineers from NRAO will come by in a truck with an antenna farm on it and replace or modify your equipment.

RFI-EMI-GUY
User Rank
Silver
Re: Radio Astronomy Radio Frequency Interference
RFI-EMI-GUY   4/10/2015 1:21:07 PM
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Oh my. Don't let Phil Falcone and Lightsquared get wind of this unknown interference free frequency band. Next they will want to trade their MSS frequencies that impinge on GPS spectrum so they can deploy their toxic terrestrial service that nobody needs.

Snootyclause
User Rank
Silver
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.

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

araasch
User Rank
Silver
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.

ltron
User Rank
Gold
National Quiet Zones
ltron   4/10/2015 10:39:49 AM
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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?

Frogman842
User Rank
Silver
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

RURC
User Rank
Gold
Hello "pritected band"
RURC   4/10/2015 3:49:55 PM
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There should be no contest here. Find another band.

Zippy
User Rank
Platinum
Side note
Zippy   4/13/2015 8:59:29 AM
Taking a pause in the wonderful pursuit of product innovation, how about we just put down the TV remote, get up off the sofa, and go mow the lawn?   :)

D-Glitch
User Rank
Iron
The methane line seems to be outside the band
D-Glitch   4/13/2015 3:29:48 PM
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Am I missing something?

The methanol line at 6.6852-GHz is outside of the specified band 6650-6675.2 MHz.

Are they worried about modulation bandwidth?

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The methane line seems to be outside the band
Critic   4/13/2015 3:58:31 PM
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No, D-Glitch, you didn't miss anything, but Design News did!  The correct frequency for the methanol line is 6668.518 MHz, not 6685.2 MHz.

mtripoli3
User Rank
Gold
Does this sicken anyone else...?
mtripoli3   4/13/2015 3:54:44 PM
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How is it that we have reached a point in history that the overwhelming mode of operation is "I don't care about the rules, I don't care about the laws, I'll do what I want. If I do something "wrong" you can sue me, or, I''ll apologize". This story should have never seen the light of day; the rules for these things have been in place for hundreds and hundreds of years (hyperbole); all of a sudden a company wants to break the rules for no other reason than to suit themselves. And for what? To further humanity? No. For a lifesaving medical breakthrough? No. A F***G LAWNMOWER. Ludicrous.  

zeeglen
User Rank
Gold
They have got to be kidding!
zeeglen   4/13/2015 10:00:35 PM
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A self-driving lawnmower?  What will the moronic marketeers think of next?

I own a self-propelled lawnmower, but I have to guide it with a clutch that releases the drive if I let go of the squeeze-bar on the handle.  Maybe that is a legal safety requirement, don't know for sure, but kind of hard to argue with a safety feature that makes sense.

But how does one stop a runaway lawnmower whose guidance system fails while the owner is having a beer?

Critic
User Rank
Platinum
Re: They have got to be kidding!
Critic   4/16/2015 9:15:13 AM
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Autonomous lawnmowers are not new.  They typically have sensors that stop the mower or cause it to turn around if it senses an object (or person) in its path.  The owner/operator still has to accept some responsibility for the safe operation of the mower.  Obviously you would not use the mower if there were children or pets in the yard.

If you want your yard mowed quickly, it is best to use a conventional mower.

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