Wireless and health scares are the bane of my life. Every so often, some well-meaning but fuzzy thinking pressure group gets going to ban evil radio transmitters from near kiddywinks, because "we don't know whether cellphone base stations are safe, so we'd better be careful." Nothing is better calculated to make my blood boil, so to speak. You chumps! There are a million things in this world that WILL make your kids sick, and why aren't you out there stopping them? Cigarettes have helped see infinitely more people to an early grave than cellphones ever have. And now it turns out that hundreds of coppers are ringing in sick -- hopefully not with their mobiles -- because their new Airwave radio system is 'making them ill'. What a load of Tosh Lines! You may remember the media scare over laser pointers: several plod were off work for months, it was reported, because of 'bruised eyeballs'. It doesn't matter how long you scour the medical literature for that -- nobody makes photons that heavy.
But there is one area where I counsel genuine caution. A friend reports a small advert in a Spanish electronics publication saying: "Increase the power of your 2.4GHz wireless laptop. Circuit to modify a microwave oven to act as an RF amplifier, range at least 2Km. Only 10 euros." Needless to say, he's going to send off for the details.
Of course, this is going to happen. In the old days of CB, there was no shortage of people buying 'boots', amplifiers that took the respectable four watts of radio power from the CB transmitters and boosted it to hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of watts. The worst you could get then was a nasty RF burn (well, apart from a humongous fine if you got caught). But now we're going to see keen but clueless anoraks pull their £50 microwave ovens apart for the magnetrons, in order to get their wireless LANs to work over the road to their mate's place. 800 watts of 2.4GHz -- generated by a huge voltage transformed from the mains -- is going to cause a lot of havoc to their bodily bits and, more worryingly, to those of others nearby.
Oh well. Another hazard of the modern world. On no account should you type "Microwave oven experiments" into Google: there's far too much engaging yet dangerous nonsense out there already. Grape racing sounds fun, mind.