There are a number of truckers and motorists who illegally use GPS jammers to prevent others from monitoring where they drive, such as bosses or spouses. GPS jamming is a particular problem in the UK.
Now there is a new handheld radar device that can pinpoint which vehicles are jamming GPS signals. It is manufactured by Chronos Technology of Lydbrook, UK and called a “GPS Jammer Detector and Locator System.” It is similar to a radar gun, except that the guns can only detect the presence but not the location of a jammer.
The radar device is the size of an iPad (260 mm. x 120mm. x 26 mm.) and can find jammers in a line of traffic, in a parking garage, in portable devices being carried in drivers’ pockets.
Jammers work by emitting energy at the frequency it is trying to block in order to raise the noise floor above the signal that is intended to be received. The signal is rendered unintelligible. The quality of a GPS jammer is based on how much power it can emit and how wide a frequency it can disturb—in other words, how far it can reach.
GPS signals are weak. They are transmitted at a power equivalent to a fifty-watt light bulb. The signals have to pass through 11,500 miles of space and atmosphere to get to a receiver. Therefore they are easily jammed.
But now GPS signals can be tracked down. The jammer detection device being offered by Chronos has a liquid crystal display that indicates the direction of the jammer visually and measures audio signal strength. This enables the operator to quickly identify the jammer’s direction and location. It has a sensitivity range sufficient enough to detect even the lowest GPS jammers commercially available. It is likely that it works by triangulating signal strength to work out exactly where the 1.5 gigahertz signal used by a GPS jammer is being emitted.
The general category of signal jamming devices includes a cell phone, a GPS, and a radar jammer. Signal jamming can prevent 9-1-1 and other emergency calls from getting through, and interferes with communications networks utilized by police, fire, and emergency medical services. It has caused widespread GPS outages in the area around the London Stock Exchange. A GPS-based landing system at Newark Liberty International Airport malfunctioned twice a day in 2010, until the source was found—a driver on the nearby highway using a jammer to avoid paying tolls.
Criminals could use GPS jammers to hide the police. There is also a fear that terrorists could utilize high-powered jammers to disrupt GPS reception on an airplane or in military operations.
Because signal jamming devices pose such significant risks, signal jammers are banned in the US, Canada and the UK. It is illegal for retailers or individuals to sell, offer for sale, advertise, or import such devices. While both the US and UK prohibit consumers from operating these devices, it is not illegal in the US to buy one. Fox News was able to buy GPS jammers online for as little as $50. It is also not illegal in the UK to own one.
The penalties for using a signal jamming device in the US are severe. A single violation can result in thousands of dollars in monetary penalties and imprisonment. By the way, seizure of the device is also included.
Chronos has previously made the jammer detection devices available to law enforcement. Now one can be purchased in the UK for 1600 £.
People that use signal jammers have something new to worry about.
By: Tom Ukinski