Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

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Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby adamsmith » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:44 pm

Last year I was hanging with a friend who said a friend of his friend was running a large, powerful cell phone jammer at Burning Man.

I noticed last year that my phone showed it had signal, but no text messages or calls were going through. This is consistent with the results of someone using a jammer to prevent others from using their cell phone. (They jam the "data" frequency but not the handshake frequency.)

To me this is very "un-burning man" because one person is preventing others from making their own personal choice about whether to use their phones. For me my girlfriend was staying at a different camp so it would have been very convenient had someone not been jamming.

Jamming is also illegal -- a felony.

There is equipment that can locate jammers. What should we do about this?

I'd appreciate any thoughts.


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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby trilobyte » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:28 pm

It's quite possible that either your friend, or their friend, was pulling your leg. Signal jamming equipment such as that is a big, felonious no-no. Since cell phones can be used to call for emergency services, any kind of blocking and jamming is considered a serious public safety issue. If you see/hear of this happening at the event, go to an Emergency Services or Black Rock Ranger station immediately to let someone know.

All that said, as I mentioned it's entirely possible that they could have been pulling your leg. Even in good weather, service in Black Rock City is notoriously bad. There are hundreds of variables that change not only from year to year, but from day to day.

Hell, speaking personally, if I'd heard someone tell me about wanting to use cell phones to call people from camp to camp (as opposed to minimal essential use), I'd have messed with them too.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby BBadger » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:44 pm

Man, my friend of a friend overheard some other friend talking about a friend who knew the friend of the mother of a friend who supposedly went to Burning Man and said he thought he heard his friend describe some sort of cell phone jamming going on too!

But really, I bet the story was an urban legend and that you simply had a poor connection. I believe there's one cell tower on some hill near Empire, in order to service Empire and Gerlach, and it barely has any reception near the playa because there's no point to providing service to the middle of a lake bed. The cell towers that dot I-80 are also too far away to make much difference.

On the other hand, perhaps someone set up a microcell in order to provide service via whatever internet connection might exist. It may be useful for emergencies or other kinds of communications. Access might be limited only to those who are intended for its use though.

Anyway, if you want to investigate further, you can bring some of that equipment you mentioned and see if you can locate a source if it exists.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:11 am

It was one of the Reggae camps.
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Re: Jammers at Burning Man

Postby H.G.Crosby » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:55 am

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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Nipple » Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:32 pm

I haven't had a good cellphone jam since I was a kid.

I like when they have the big chunks.

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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby zorro sings » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:27 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:It was one of the Reggae camps.


True! Right next to us. We can prove it.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby ACfromSAC » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:50 am

After I pass through Reno, my cell phone is on a self-imposed jam.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby trilobyte » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:17 am

Well said, ACfromSAC! I used to turn mine completely off, but these days I just switch it into 'Airplane Mode' - that turns off the radios to save battery, but still lets me use the camera and little photo apps I like to play with.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby ygmir » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:55 am

that's really something!!! I'd love to meet up with said jammers, see what sort of cool tech they have, and use, and maybe where to find them? I wonder if it's a network or just one location? That must take a lot of skill and intelligence to build. Love to know the specs as far as reach and stuff.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby TT120 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:21 am

ACfromSAC wrote:After I pass through Reno, my cell phone is on a self-imposed jam.

This....

trilobyte wrote:Well said, ACfromSAC! I used to turn mine completely off, but these days I just switch it into 'Airplane Mode' - that turns off the radios to save battery, but still lets me use the camera and little photo apps I like to play with.

And this.....

Personally, I look forward to being "off the grid" for a week. All year long I am tethered to my cell phone for work so that week is glorius for me. Like Trilo, I like to play with some of the photo apps and a couple other apps but only when I feel like it.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby MacGlenver » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:53 am

Bman 2012 we were able to get 1 text out after trying 3 phones. The text was for our late-arriving friend to get 300 feet of rope, an additional cooler, and 20 more pieces of rebar. We weren't able to get reception enough to see if he'd gotten the message, but, miraculously, he showed up 10 hours later with our supplies. I'd have been pissed if someone jammed us out of that one. Otherwise my phone is hidden away all week -- don't want a thing to do with it. If someone else wants to have a lame burn by sitting on their phone, so be it.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Nipple » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:59 am

ygmir wrote:that's really something!!! I'd love to meet up with said jammers, see what sort of cool tech they have, and use, and maybe where to find them? I wonder if it's a network or just one location? That must take a lot of skill and intelligence to build. Love to know the specs as far as reach and stuff.


I can bring my toys next year and tell you where they live!

(I'd also tell the FCC and the license holders for whatever frequency they're stepping on as well!)
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby ygmir » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:08 am

I'd imagine they're hobbyists/ amateur and not findable due to weak signal. Interesting idea, though. it'd be interesting to know how that works. I had thought all that stuff could not be jammed due to encryption and changing frequencies.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Nipple » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:25 am

ygmir wrote:I'd imagine they're hobbyists/ amateur and not findable due to weak signal. Interesting idea, though. it'd be interesting to know how that works. I had thought all that stuff could not be jammed due to encryption and changing frequencies.


I bluster. There's a lot of "noise" in BRC, so you'd need some really sensitive spec-ans.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby BBadger » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:29 pm

ygmir wrote:I'd imagine they're hobbyists/ amateur and not findable due to weak signal. Interesting idea, though. it'd be interesting to know how that works. I had thought all that stuff could not be jammed due to encryption and changing frequencies.


The essence of jamming is flooding the area with random signals (i.e. "noise") that overwhelms the data signals.

While there are many methods to try and reduce the effects of noise, such as spreading the signal over a wider spectrum, different encoding methods, differential signaling, keying, etc. these all rely on the fact that the detector can distinguish some signal from the surrounding noise. One simple way of increasing that signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is to just increase the power of the signal. Cell phones do this as distances to cell towers grow and the signals become weaker. Conversely, increasing the power of the noise will reduce the SNR -- ideally to the point that no useful information can be transmitted.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby mdmf007 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:08 pm

to what end? who cares if someone is on the phone? Service is sporadic already and I can guarantee that if someone was hurt and the 911 call did not go through because of a jamming device said jammer would be facing charges.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby BBadger » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:02 pm

There are a lot of burners who have this odd obsession with controlling how other people burn, rather than just enjoying their own burn.

If someone isn't wrecking the place or hurting someone, why bother wasting a moment of your week at BM worrying about what other people want to do?
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Joeln » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:05 am

BBadger wrote:If someone isn't wrecking the place or hurting someone

Good standard - I'll try to remember this.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby unjonharley » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:04 am

Theme camp idea... Cellphone Jammers..Bend over, grab your ankles end of cellphone.. Now don't that feel better?
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby sadie » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:52 am

rsz_cell_phone_jammers.jpg
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Elderberry » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:59 pm

BBadger wrote:There are a lot of burners who have this odd obsession with controlling how other people burn, rather than just enjoying their own burn.

If someone isn't wrecking the place or hurting someone, why bother wasting a moment of your week at BM worrying about what other people want to do?

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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Joeln » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:56 pm

sadie wrote:cell_phone_jammers

I liked it!
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby ZaphodBurner » Mon May 05, 2014 10:05 am

"Personally, I look forward to being "off the grid" for a week."



Me too. Our campmates--we needed them there--needed to check in with their dog's caretaker to make sure it wasn't dying, and other people want to be able to call to have later arrivals bring more supplies, or figure out if there was a problem if people didn't show up. Why bring equipment to fuck with other people's burn? What's the difference between jamming a signal between a Burner with a sick family member back in the world, and letting all the air out of somebody's tires or pouring sugar in their generator gas tank?

I don't like cell phones on the playa either, but, it's not always about what "I" want. It's not actually all about me. What kind of sanctimoneous passive-aggressive shitstain goes out of his way to fuck with people at Burning Man?
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon May 05, 2014 11:08 am

unjonharley wrote:Theme camp idea... Cellphone Jammers..Bend over, grab your ankles end of cellphone.. Now don't that feel better?

What would an ersatz cell phone jammer tower look like?
Might as well go along with the myth.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby chuckularone » Mon May 05, 2014 11:35 am

Cell phone jammers are usually pocket sized.

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jammer.jpg


Don't try ordering one if you live in the US. If it makes it to customs, odds are it won't make it through. You'll have the feds knocking on your door instead of the postman.
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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby ygmir » Mon May 05, 2014 2:32 pm

ygmir wrote:I'd imagine they're hobbyists/ amateur and not findable due to weak signal. Interesting idea, though. it'd be interesting to know how that works. I had thought all that stuff could not be jammed due to encryption and changing frequencies.


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Re: Cellphone Jammers at Burning Man

Postby some seeing eye » Mon May 05, 2014 5:28 pm

Please do not bring that to the event. If you look at the circuit, it is clear it is simply a noise generator (there is no digital baseband processor). Why does that matter? Well it wipes out the 900MHz ISM band entirely. M stands for Medical (pacemakers, insulin pumps and glucose monitors). It is also likely to block out adjacent radio uses - it's never been tested to see how it stays inside the bands phones use. Especially worrisome are the very weak satellite downlink frequencies. It might be even crappy enough to hit the 2.4GHz ISM band. The event is a very bad use case for jammers because the density of radios is so low, you are not going to see the effect, and anyone using a commercial carrier or Papa Legba's network would have a whole series of other reasons the devices might not be working: base station down, base station capacity and propagation.
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