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John A. Faulkner "signalsnatcher" RSS Feed (Sydney, NSW, Australia)
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Bench-Tested Circuits For Surveillance And Countersurveillance Technicians
Bench-Tested Circuits For Surveillance And Countersurveillance Technicians
by Tom Larsen
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $2.36

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some may find this useful., October 27, 2003
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As the title suggests, this book is a collection of circuits. The circuits are all well-designed and functional although they do seem chosen at random. The technology is old (very old, I have seen versions of these from the 1940s) but it does work - mostly. This book is probably pitched at the self-taught private detective who is not too fussy about the local eavesdropping laws. This is definitely not what your country's internal securty force is using!

Despite the title there is nothing in this book that you could not find in any good text on electronics design or acoustic engineering; indeed that's what the professionals would be using. But for students who are bright but directionless "design a bug for the principal's office" is always a better motivator than "read chapter six and attempt the odd-numbered questions". For security professionals it defines the lower end of the threat spectrum - not what government agencies are using.

Circuit schematics are provided along with a theoretical description and some practical tips.

The book presents the circuits in six sections:
In the section on surveillance, the circuits include a simple subcarrier generator for an FM bug, a hookswitch bypass for older style (non-electronic) phones and some very old (but useful) techniques for hardwire and telephone taps. Some voice activation circuits and high gain amplifiers are also mentioned.
The section on remote control offers some very simple but useful techniques turning common consumer electronics into remote controlled devices.
The section of infra-red flashers provides variations on the same circuit - a blinking IRED which can be tracked at night with an infrared scope or a video camera.
The section on counter surveillance provides some well-known techniques for tracing radio bugs, phone taps and hardwire taps.
The section on receiver enhancements provides some simple techniques to receive subcarrier or carrier current transmissions on an HF communications receiver.
There is a section mostly dealing with circuits that record unauthorised entries or phone use.

Most circuits are old, but well-proven technology. A few would be dangerous enough in North America with their 110 volt mains, but they are guaranteed lethal in the remainder of the world where 220, 230 or 240 volts is more common, or where 415 volt three-phase systems are in use.

The Parts Source section is only of use to readers in North America

A word of caution here. Most governments have made illegal the construction, possession, distribution (by sale or otherwise), use or use of material obtained from eavesdropping devices except in special circumstances so you are advised to check your local laws if you want to do more than read this book.

On the other hand, successful prosecutions are rare and similar devices are openly advertised for sale. Detection of these devices is difficult. Any competent hobbyist could produce this equipment from readily available components or by disassembly of consumer items.

But before you go into business consider this advice. Whether your clients are cops, spies or gangsters, they are eavesdroppers and conspirators - they are inherently untrustworthy. They don't regard you as an electronic genius - you're just the hired help, some geek who is useful but expendable. Look after number one! The smartest player is often the one who does not join the game.


Electronic Circuits And Secrets Of An Old-Fashioned Spy
Electronic Circuits And Secrets Of An Old-Fashioned Spy
by Sheldon Charrett
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from $5.16

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eavesdropping for Drongoes, October 20, 2003
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In the introductory chapter, the author writes "This book explores some important tools for gathering firsthand information on spouses, CEOs, politicians and the girl next door." There aren't too many techniques for eavesdropping on CEOs or politicians in this book, so we assume the average reader would be concentrating on the other targets. The author describes himself as a semi-retired private investigator. Like most authors within this genre he tells a few war stories, but his clients mostly seem to be suspicious husbands or wives and a couple of insurance or workers compensation cases. So this is a book on how to eavesdrop on soft targets.

The book is not technically demanding and relies heavily on converting consumer products readily available at Radio Shack in North America but mostly unknown elsewhere. There is almost nothing here for foreign readers. He spends about six pages explaining how to convert a "Mr Microphone" toy into a room bug, and how to modify its frequency to outside the FM broadcast band, as wells as using it as a phone tap. He has a circuit diagram of a home brew bug (nothing original here). He spends thirteen pages on the design of a DTMF tone decoder, a product there is little difficulty in buying these days. He also takes ten pages to describe how to defraud North American telephone companies with a "red box" a well known circuit, but useless in the rest of the world and rapidly becoming useless in the USA.

As an investigator he relies heavily on monitoring older style analogue cordless phones and baby monitors with a scanner. There are eighteen pages describing how to eavesdrop on the North American analogue mobile phone network (the rest of the world has moved on to secure digital phones). There are also several pages on how to hack into answering machines, a topic better covered in numerous Internet sites.

The bibliography is of little practical use and seems chosen at random. The author lists two web sites (and he has a third recently set up) where you will find corrections and a bulletin board but whose main purpose seems to be to market his other books and to sell his DTMF decoder.

There is little here for the electronics professional and nothing to justify the price for a reader outside the US and Canada

A word of caution here. Most governments have made illegal the construction, possession, distribution (by sale or otherwise), use or use of material obtained from eavesdropping devices except in special circumstances so you are advised to check your local laws if you want to do more than read this book.

On the other hand, successful prosecutions are rare and similar devices are openly advertised for sale. Detection of these devices is difficult. Any competent hobbyist could produce this equipment from readily available components or by disassembly of consumer items.

But before you go into business consider This advice. Whether your clients are cops, spies or gangsters, they are eavesdroppers and conspirators - they are inherently untrustworthy. They don't regard you as an electronic genius - you're just the hired help, some geek who is useful but expendable. Look after number one! The smartest player is often the one who does not join the game.


The Home Workshop Spy: Spookware For The Serious Hobbyist
The Home Workshop Spy: Spookware For The Serious Hobbyist
by Nick Chiaroscuro
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $14.00

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The companion volume to "The Basement Buggers Bible"., October 14, 2003
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It is hard to categorise this book. On its own its 89 pages provide too few circuits to be useful (although those it provides are well developed) but if you read it after you study "The Basement Buggers Bible", it will be good value since it gives practical applications of circuit building blocks you will learn from the other book.

My dictionary suggests that the name "Chiaroscuro" is a pseudonym, but the author can be partially identified. His writing style is very distinctive. His circuit design style is also distinctive, although less so than his writing style. Considering these things together, I believe that the author of this book also wrote "The Basement Buggers Bible". Now I believe that book to be the best of this genre available, and this book, although published in 1997, is the one you should read after you read the "Bible", published in 1999.

Every circuit in this book consists of applications of the basic building blocks covered in "The Basement Buggers Bible". Applications include: a directional corner reflector for a microphone; infrared senders and receivers; ultrasonic senders and receivers; optical fibre and hardwire senders and receivers and a variety of analogue audio preprocessors and post-processors to dig audible sound out of inaudible noise. PCB templates are supplied, circuit schematics are clearly laid out and there is a brief but comprehensive explanation of the theory behind each circuit. A newcomer to electronics, however, would need more explanation to understand the circuits.

There is one error in the book, on page 56 where the optical fibre sender has been omitted and the optical fibre receiver circuit used instead. Otherwise the book is error-free.

The Parts Source section is only of use to readers in North America but the references are well chosen for further study.

Like the earlier book, this is old technology, but still very useful. Likewise, the circuits are not for beginners. They are well-designed but if a mistake was made in construction, or operation proved faulty, a novice would find it impossible to deal with. If you are an electronics professional and sometimes have to provide advice on the subject of eavesdropping technology, this book provides a useful reference, but only as a companion volume.

A word of caution here. Most governments have made illegal the construction, possession, distribution (by sale or otherwise), use or use of material obtained from eavesdropping devices except in special circumstances so you are advised to check your local laws if you want to do more than read this book.

On the other hand, successful prosecutions are rare and similar devices are openly advertised for sale. Detection of these devices is difficult. Any competent hobbyist could produce this equipment from readily available components or by disassembly of consumer items.

But before you go into business consider this advice. Whether your clients are cops, spies or gangsters, they are eavesdroppers and conspirators - they are inherently untrustworthy. They don't regard you as an electronic genius - you're just the hired help, some geek who is useful but expendable. Look after number one! The smartest player is often the one who does not join the game.


The Basement Bugger's Bible : The Professional's Guide to
The Basement Bugger's Bible : The Professional's Guide to
by Shifty Bugman
Edition: Paperback
28 used & new from $64.61

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A text for the serious student of the art, September 30, 2003
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the best book in this genre that you will read - not that there's much competition. The title sells the book a bit short because it actually covers a wide range of eavesdropping technology, not just small radio transmitters.

Despite the title there is nothing in this book that you could not find in any good text on electronics design or acoustic engineering; indeed that's what the professionals would be using. But for students who are bright but directionless "design a bug for the principal's office" is always a better motivator than "read chapter six and attempt the odd-numbered questions". For security professionals it defines the lower end of the threat spectrum - not what government agencies are using.

This book has many strong points. The author claims to have provided equipment for numerous police forces and his experience shows in his concentration on collecting good audio, so important for courtroom use. Unlike other texts in covering this topic the author has a good grounding in basic physics (eg: circuit noise) which puts this book streets ahead of any others.

Points well covered include: microphones including placement, reflectors and resonators; EQ curves; filtering; limiting; dynamic range and analogue techniques to dig out or improve weak audio. There are more advanced techniques in amplifier design and stabilization of high gain blocks than other texts cover.

Reflecting standard professional operating procedures where audio is often sent by carrier current, ultrasonics and infrared - all of which are well treated - there is little mention of RF bugs with only a few narrow band FM circuits shown. "Shifty" also mentions repeaters (something you don't read much about) and hardwire, techniques heavily used by government agencies. Some simple but well-tried wiretapping techniques are covered. Counter bugging gets coverage with some interesting circuits, such as a time domain reflectometer. The References should be titled Further Reading.

There are some disappointments: all these techniques are old - in fact they are standard procedures from the 1930s updated with modern components. That does not mean they are bad techniques, they are well-proven, but technology has moved on. There is nothing about tapping coax, Cat5 cable or optical fibre. The RF bug section mentions sub-carriers, double sideband, wideband FM and spread spectrum but gives no circuits. There is no mention of microwaves, digital modulation or scrambling, all standard 1960s techniques. There is nothing about video. "Shifty" even dismisses as laboratory curiosities technologies in use since the 1940s. The author's writing style is too idiosyncratic by half. I had to read it twice. Not good for someone who claims to be a journalist. His war stories, though, are entertaining.

Still, if you want a Further Eavesdropping 201 textbook, this is it. This book is not for beginners, even though "Shifty" provides some good tutorials (eg: circuit board design). If you have a background in electronics and want to be able to offer professional advice on privacy and security, read this. But for stalkers and wannabe spies - this is out of your league.

A word of caution here. Most governments have made illegal the construction, possession, distribution (by sale or otherwise), use or use of material obtained from eavesdropping devices except in special circumstances so you are advised to check your local laws if you want to do more than read this book.

On the other hand, successful prosecutions are rare and similar devices are openly advertised for sale. Detection of these devices is difficult. Any competent hobbyist could produce this equipment from readily available components or by disassembly of consumer items.

But before you go into business consider Shifty's advice. Whether your clients are cops, spies or gangsters, they are eavesdroppers and conspirators - they are inherently untrustworthy. They don't regard you as an electronic genius - you're just the hired help, some geek who is useful but expendable. Look after number one! The smartest player is often the one who does not join the game.


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