INSIDE AN UNDERCOVER FCC DIRECTION FINDING VAN

By Marvin Collins, KFI/KOST/KACE/KRTO, Los Angeles

On Friday, January 22, 1999, I had an interesting and enjoyable FCC inspection of KACE and KRTO, and took a ride in the undercover FCC four-wheel-drive van to the KRTO site. You would never guess it was an FCC van. It was two-tone in color with windows all around. It contained three monitors mounted where the driver could easily look at them and operate the touchscreen.

The top monitor was a spectrum analysis display of an Anritsu spectrum analyzer mounted in the back of the van. The second monitor was a touchscreen display controlling a computer that showed GPS data as well as directional bearings to the RF source tuned in on the Anritsu spectrum analyzer. The third and lowest display showed a Del Orme real time GPS map display. I was immediately familiar with the map display because I use the same GPS controlled map in my car when on vacation trips.

The direction finding antenna array seems to be designed for VHF and UHF because it worked very well on those ranges but did not work well on the AM broadcast band due to lack of signal strength.

There are two heavy-duty computers along with the Anritsu unit mounted in a custom frame on the floor of the van in the space behind the seats. There was also a space for a printer/plotter to be mounted in the custom frame. In addition there was a packet transmission system mounted in the frame that I was told does not get much use but can be used to send data from the van. The van also has a cell phone and VHF two-way radio.