RFC1149 (A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers) was the April Fool’s RFC in 1990. A co-worker who works with WiFi a great deal, and who therefore travels with various kits of WiFi diagnostic gear, has been enamored of the possibilities of this RFC for some time. Thus, as a random “break the monotony of semi lockdown” gift I had the idea of constructing a joke RFC1149 test kit, in a Pelican case, with some amusing contents. This is that kit.
The contents are:
- A small Pelican case (eBay find – I basically didn’t start putting the kit together until I came across a Pelican case of the right-ish size, and at a reasonable price; I kept adding components until the case was full).
- A copy of “Pigeon Queries” (here’s a link to a full-res scan of the booklet). This is a truly vintage item as it was originally published in 1892, and this sixth edition was printed in approximately 1901. I spent some time trawling eBay for a suitable pigeon-related book, and this was the best one I found. I believe it’s the most valuable item in the whole kit.
- A custom printed vinyl sticker from makestickers.com (and four spare stickers inside the kit, since there was a significant price break for ordering five). The sticker lists an NSN and contract number; I’m kicking myself that I forgot to include a CAGE code.
- 100 bird leg rings (eBay). Pink was our former company color, hence the selection.
- 10 small vials (Amazon) of bird seed (supermarket) in a plastic component case (Dollar Tree).
- A fake pigeon intended for use in magic tricks (Amazon).
- A pigeon-head full head mask (Amazon).
- A set of binoculars (Walmart).
- A Baofeng UV-5R VHF transceiver (wish.com).
- An SOP document (see below).
Since this kit was supposed to have a somewhat military flavor, I pored over some 1940s-era US Army memoranda and SOP documents to establish an overall styleguide and typed up a few pages of SOP on my second-favorite manual typewriter. A bit of research went into this whole activity, by the way – for example, the NSN was chosen to be in roughly the right range for this type of equipment, and the signals corps rank to which the SOP is addressed actually exists and is approximately correct for the type of work in question. Here is a scan of the typed version, and also a word-processed version with column markings in the page header, which you’ll find useful if you want to type your own. While there’s some humor throughout, the most humorous part is probably section 6 and onward. There is one typo per page, except for the last page which has none because it’s not a full page of text.
Here’s how to pack the kit. Yes, I’m wearing real US Army surplus BDU gear. I debated wearing a MOLLE vest with holster and mag pouches visible, but ultimately decided not to. More importantly, I had intended my “no step on snek” arm patch to be visible in this video but unfortunately it is only slightly visible in a flash here and there.Naturally I picked the camouflage plastic color for the UV-5R; I also chose the USB charge option rather than the mains option. This is the only semi-serious part of the kit – it’s a lot of fun to play with these little handhelds. I happen to live next to a major hospital, so I have a UV-5R on my desk tuned to the frequency used by approaching medical transport helicopters. Some interesting things come in. Of course, most traffic these days has moved to trunked and/or digital systems (I have an RTL-SDR for those, although I rarely bother to bring it out). There’s still a great deal of interesting analog VHF traffic, however.
Note: Several people have told me this ought to be a real product on, say, ThinkGeek. I personally think the joke is a bit of a niche of a niche, but hey, much sillier things do get commercialized. If I was going to mass-produce them, I think it would be more of an etsy product, and it would also have to use a much cheaper grade of case (not to mention, the >century-old pigeon booklet is not something that can be sourced in quantity).