Call for submissions for Disobedient Electronics


Originally published at:


This is my favorite type of electronics to make. It may be time to resurrect the pirate radio station, even though I hang out with folks who have an LPFM construction permit.


It’s a bummer the spooks can’t enter this.


I was under the impression that cell phone jamming was illegal? I suppose if you sell someone a box of parts and some instructions it’s not really a device, but still.


It makes an amazing difference in how respectful police are when they can’t call for backup.


“I’m afraid that tesla coil is not FCC compliant, son.”


What part of “disobedient” got lost in translation?

Related gripe: It’s not civil disobedience if you’re allowed to do it. Protesting is not in itself civil disobedience.


Pirate radio is one of those Raspberry Pi projects I really wanna do someday. Set it up with a library on a large usb drive and broadcast around the house and maybe the neighbors.


Yeah, but it’s a hundred times better if it has 75 volunteer on-air personalities, and if it covers your city. That’s what I did back in the nineties with Radio Limbo in Tucson. People often tell me it was the best radio station they ever listened to.


This would be so much more amusing if it called for electronics that disobey the user.

Dave: Siri, open the pod bay door please.
Siri: I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.


You aren’t from around these parts are you?


The guy behind this Disobedient Electronics idea is Garnet Hertz, a professor of Critical Making. He’s an interesting guy. I wrote about my Video Coat for a collection of booklets he published a few years back. He basically wants people to think about the ramifications of the stuff they build. But he can describe it a lot better than I can.


That’s a good sized operation. KBFR was the one in my area for awhile. There was a lot of moving the transmitter around.


Definitely gunna read those. Thanks for the link!


As a ham radio person, I’d strongly request that you don’t do this for more than a few minutes. Yeah, yeah, the point is to be disobedient, but the Raspberry Pi isn’t a proper radio transmitter and makes noise all over the spectrum, potentially messing things up for lots of people. A proper low power FM transmitter kit can be had for not much more money (<$100), and it will not only transmit much better to the people you want to reach, but not jam the signals of all the people using other types of radios. You’ll still be breaking the rules :slight_smile:


Unfortunately, that school of ‘disobedient electronics’ is the besuited, respectable, amply funded; and well represented one. And it doesn’t need a call for submissions because it’s always open.

Roughly the same level of disparity as between your local 'zine scrounging for photocopier money and Madison Avenue.


If you liked that, you would have liked this (which it seems to have been inspired by):


Limor Fried of AdaFruit wrote her Master’s thesis on the subject, including the building of a working example. It certainly violates some FCC regulation, as do all worthwhile endeavors in electronics.


Well I mean in theory it’s not horrible complicated if you are talking about jamming something in a 10-20 foot range. The legal issues I’ve read about don’t stem directly from the FCC as much as they are directed by the cell companies because they can see something is causing a blackout in an area. Granted I’ve thought about building one and I’m sure in limited use it’s not a big deal, just again pointing out that if someone did choose to purchase or build a jammer and then use it during an activity there might be legal ramifications on top of anything else they were doing.


It’s pretty open-and-shut that the jammers are illegal; but I suspect that the main concern is smacking the ones that get too blatant about it hard enough that they don’t become normalized.

It’s news to no one that a talented tinkerer(or mercenary no-name Chinese OEM) can cook up reasonably elegant jamming gear; and that Harris Corp and friends are already cooking up worse; and that a non-talented tinkerer willing to just throw enough power into a spark gap can cook up an inelegant jammer; but so far the(spotty; but occasionally very humorless) enforcement seems to have made things like ‘owners of restaurants and theaters routinely installing jammers’ something that just doesn’t happen. That is the sort of thing that would really, really cause a customer support/quality of service nightmare for Team Telco; and it mostly hasn’t happened. I’m honestly a trifle surprised at how effectively they’ve held the line, given that Customs doesn’t have a chance in hell of verifying what the zillions of pacific rim widgets crossing the border actually do.

Also somewhat surprisingly absent(but probably good for some serious sentence enhancements were it to happen) are reported cases of jammers being used to suppress 911 calls during the final approach to a victim during a robbery, mugging, etc.