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THE AM BULLETIN BOARD => QSO => Topic started by: Tom WA3KLR on August 09, 2008, 10:32:31 AM

Title: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: Tom WA3KLR on August 09, 2008, 10:32:31 AM
Most everyone has heard of the Electro-magnetic pulse event or EMP by now and the ARRL has published articles on protecting radios so they are useable after the event, but think about the consequences to our infrastructure.

From Item Magazine, August 7,2008
Interference Technology

"Federal Commission Completes Report on Consequences of an EMP Attack
08/07/08 11:05 AM

The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse has issued a 208-page report detailing a grim scenario of cascading disasters as critical infrastructures fail. If terrorists were to obtain a nuclear weapon and to detonate it over the continental United States, every facet of modern life that depends on electricity would be impacted. The authors point out a successful attack would affect the electrical grid, transportation, telecommunications, banking and finance, and access to petroleum and natural gas. The collapse of systems for delivering food and purified water to the populace would eventually undermine the social fabric. The report calls for a concerted effort to plan ahead for such a disaster including a plan for the prolonged rebuilding process.

Interestingly, one of its most emphatic recommendations is to work on a plan for communications and for keeping citizens informed. Stockpiles of food, water, and medical supplies are of little value unless people know of and report to facilities offering aid. The entire report can be viewed online at the Commission’s website."

The link to the EMP Commission website is:

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: AF9J on August 09, 2008, 12:31:28 PM
I remember in the 80s, when EMP became a real concern.  It was mentioned how we laughed when we got a look at the electronics in the Mig-25 that Victor Belenko flew to Hokkaido in 1976, because it was all tube based.  "But," the point was brought up, "tubes are EMP resistant."  The US military was reminded of this during Desert Shield or Desert Storm, when electrical discharges from the frequent sand storms that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq experience, were enought to make the Harris gear used non-functional.  As a result, for a period of time, the old Collins tube gear had to be pulled out of mothballs, and put back to use.

Most of us know about the use of Faraday shielding, to protect solid state gear, but unfortunately, much of the info and research (due to its militaty nature) on its practical application is still classified to the best of my knowledge.  EMP hardened chips are available, but how many of them are used in civilian electronics is anybodys guess. 

Not a cool situation.  You know the scenario - take a 5 megaton nuke and set it off 20-60 miles above the earth's surface.   The EMP would be strong enough to knock out electronics for thousands (if not tens of thousands) of square miles below the detonation point. Supposedly, the EMP would be strong enough that if you were leaning against a chain link fence, it would electrocute you.  In the 50s, 60s & early 70s, EMP would have been a non-issue, since a large part of our electronics was still tube based .  Nowadays, calling it a huge problem is an understatement.  Throw in the fact that the average person doesn't have a clue about what to do, and it becomes worse.

Ellen - AF9J

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: Tom WA3KLR on August 09, 2008, 03:01:39 PM
Hi Ellen,

I urge everyone to download the report and save it to your hard drive for future reading/reference.  Skim through the report.

I just finished taking a quick skim though it.  The U.S. did deliberate high altitude burst testing in 1962 in an experiment called STARFISH (page 158 of the report).  The report says that 8 of the 21 satellites in orbit at the time received damage.  This does not have to be immediate damage but accumulated radiation damage from flying through the resultant temporary radiation belt in the months after the blast.

This makes you understand the concern of the U.S. and others countries over the Iranian enrichment program and the fact that the Iranians already have missiles capable of taking a payload to many of the altitudes/latitudes needed. (oops, a political remark?)

A few years ago I read in an electronics magazine of research into i.c.s that were micro-formed vacuum tubes for rad-hard satellites.   I don't know if this is still being pursued.

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: k3zrf on August 09, 2008, 03:18:49 PM
Scary stuff if you let it get to you.

I'll just keep that old R-390A and valiant around just in case.

Beware if you solid stated that power supply :o

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: Tom WA3KLR on August 09, 2008, 05:35:02 PM
There’s a 62 page 578 kb executive report also:

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: KF1Z on August 09, 2008, 06:29:12 PM
All the tube gear in the world won't help if there's no commercial power.....

Unless you have a pre-1960's generator...
Or squirrel away some spare voltage regulators for your newer genset.
Oh, and don't forget the solid state ignition for the engine too!

Yup, it could indeed be worth sticking a few items in a sheilded box in the backyard.
A ricebox (12vdc), generator parts, solar panels.....

The list goes on.... and on.... and on.................

Really not a question of IF, but WHEN we'll need the stuff.........

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: KE6DF on August 09, 2008, 06:32:00 PM
I'll take a close look at the report.

But my son is a EE with an MS in high power systems and works in power distribution for PG&E out here in California.

I've discussed this issue with him a couple times.

FWIW his is opinion is that this it is over hyped as to the effects on the power grid.

Perhaps there might be some momentary outages, but most of the grid would reset itself automatically and perhaps in a few cases repair personnel would have to go out and reset relays (circuit breakers in our terms) or at very worse replace a few components.

But he thinks the idea of destroying the power grid is not credible.

After all the system has to withstand lighning strikes on a daily (or minute by minute) basis.

One would assume that going back to the 1950's with all the above ground nuc tests, that there would be some pretty good actual data on the intensity of the pulses. But it's probably classified.

Now the impact on receiver front ends and things like the cell phone network -- that I can see being more of an issue.

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: kf6pqt on August 09, 2008, 07:13:32 PM
Terrorists, BAH!  Its time to be worried about the Russians again.

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: k4kyv on August 09, 2008, 10:33:24 PM
Yep, their avionics use vacuum tube technology.

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: John Holotko on August 09, 2008, 10:46:12 PM
So what is the critical impact o EMP ? Does it actually damage the equipment, rendering it useless, until all such equipment can be repaired or replaced ?    Or is it a temporary effect ?  In the former case how can equipment be better shielded and/or rendered EMP proof ?

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: Tom WA3KLR on August 09, 2008, 11:38:55 PM
Hi John, you've been missing-in-action for a while I think.  Yes to most of what you said.  You need to skim through the report and do your own homework. 

The test done in 1962 where the US set off a high altitude nuke over Johnson Island (for other than EMP study) damaged equipment 750 miles away in Hawaii; note 1962.

The report sites tests done where EMP is generated at up to 50,000 Volts per meter to the equipment under test.  I was surprised how well vehicles did.  I think all were able to restart.

The point here is not to go to tubes but since the US is heavily high tech with solid state probably more than any other country, there will be problems if real EMP occurs tomorrow.  The report says that we can harden to the point of low vulnerability if we put in the effort.

There will be a lot of damage and couple that with the trend of a lesser technician force in the US now.

The thing to also realize that the infrastructure could break down and there could be no electrical power, no communications, no food at the stores, upset banking system etc., since most all systems today are essentially distributed control systems which are vulnerable.  Consider preparedness for this scenario other than just “I have a rice box in a metal box in the basement”.  The level of concern is your choice of course.

The Executive report is the condensed version at 62 pages.  The full report is 208 pages.

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: W3SLK on August 10, 2008, 09:18:23 AM
A subject that I'm fairly familiar with. When I was on the USS America (ex-CV-66) Prior to returning to our home-port, we were supposed to be subjected to an EMP test to verify our electronics/avionics systems. It was going to be too bad since the ship was scheduled for a complete overhaul upon arrival in Norfolk. However, there was some fly in the ointment about trying to accomodate an aircraft carrier and the test was CANEXed.

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: ka3zlr on August 11, 2008, 05:46:25 AM
Good Report Thanks Tom,

 It reinforces what alot of us have said now for how Long, for how many years..too many. I don't think at my age now I'm going to run about and set up any preparedness..I'm much more interested in preparing my children etc. takes up all our time here.

 At the onset of whatever...possibility, i don't see EMP as the only matter, it's what follows after the initial much Time there is for what is to follow, and of course there's MAD to consider, and Now today we have the Terror Phenomena in place...

So on my end the game is preparing the children, explain everything we can and teach them how to do things.

Even something as simple as planting a garden, at the present rate of Failing Tech in this country in 20 years ... I find that more scary.

73. jack


Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: WA1GFZ on August 12, 2008, 03:32:49 PM
EMP, you should look into SEU effects on FPGAs and other LSI components.
Most good stuff has the RS105 test or the mild CS116

Title: Re: Federal Commission Issues Report on EMP
Post by: Pete, WA2CWA on August 12, 2008, 05:24:05 PM
I don't worry about things, happenings, or whatever, I can't control.
AMfone - Dedicated to Amplitude Modulation on the Amateur Radio Bands