Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

$30 GPS Jammer Can Wreak Havok

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the explains-my-wife's-navigation-system dept.

Science 386

An anonymous reader writes "A simple $30 GPS jammer made in China can ruin your day. It doesn't just affect your car's navigation — ATM machines, cell phone towers, plane, boat, train navigation systems all depend upon GPS signals that are easily blocked. These devices fail badly — with no redundancy. These jammers can be used to defeat vehicle tracking products — but end up causing a moving cloud of chaos. The next wave of anti-GPS devices include GPS spoofers to trick or confuse nearby devices."

cancel ×

386 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

WANT! (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418156)

How do I get one?

Re:WANT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418206)

You can pick some up at DealExtreme.

Re:WANT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418236)

I just saw one of these products on Meritline's web site last week. It looks like it has been pulled already. From the google cache: link [googleusercontent.com]

Re:WANT! (1)

Halifax Samuels (1124719) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418306)

$20 for a GPS jammer? $25 for a cell phone jammer? I wish I would've caught these when they were on sale at Meritline - I would've got one of each. They're cheap enough that the range probably isn't that great (the GPS jammer claimed 10-15M and probably isn't even that) but for that price I wouldn't care.

Re:WANT! (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418628)

I don't see how GPS jammer can be positively useful, but a cell phone jammer is dream come true...

Re:WANT! (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418440)

How about this? http://www.jammer-store.com/gps-blockers-jammers.html [jammer-store.com] Don't know if these are actually available in the US. Could be they are blocked like high-power laser pointers etc.

Re:WANT! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418540)

Why would you want one other than to just be an asshole?

Re:WANT! (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418708)

Why would people talk so loudly into their phones on public transport, etc, other than just to be an asshole? It works both ways.

Re:WANT! (4, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418574)

Deal Extreme has a few.
High Power GPS Blocker with AC Adapter and Car Charger $26
Mini GPS Blocker (with AC and Car Charger) - $105 [dealextreme.com]
Super Mini Cigarette Lighter GPS Blocker - $80 [dealextreme.com]

Or check out their full line of GPS and Cellphone blocking products. [dealextreme.com]

Re:WANT! (2, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418642)

You could also build your own. The Wave Bubble [ladyada.net] is a *bit* fancier than those devices, but since it closes the loop on jamming frequency, you're almost guaranteed it'll be dead on.

Re:WANT! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418672)

aka the carjacker's toolkit

What? Oh don't give me that indignant look. Post examples of perfectly non-questionable uses for these things instead. ('research' is a given and entirely too vague)

Vulnerable (0)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418162)

GPS guided ordnance seems absurdly vulnerable to jamming and interference to me.

Re:Vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418242)

Sure... if you can get a missile into the air fast enough so that it can catch up to and closely follow the original missile, in order to jam its GPS.

No mean feat.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418304)

or just run your jammer at 100 watts

Re:Vulnerable (2)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418360)

I want the next gen jammer with built in EMP, cell phone jammer, Universal tv/stereo remote and beer opener.
Make it the Acme and not the Apple. The I-jam will have a per use fee and not work on I-phones.

Re:Vulnerable (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418538)

They jammed us!

Jam? What type?

Razzberry!

Only one man dares to give me the razzberry........ LoneSTAR!

Re:Vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418414)

or just run your jammer at 100 watts

Missile: Hey, GPS, where am I?
Jammer: You're nowhere!
Missile: Oh, then I guess I'll just aim for this big radio emitter instead.
Jammer: Oh dear, I hadn't thought of that.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418472)

Mind you, there are plenty of situations where you'd rather a missile hit your jamming tower than the intended target. Maybe that's not such a dead loss.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418566)

The trick, then, seems to be to have ... wait for it... Two missles!

Re:Vulnerable (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418478)

Then my next missile will be a 100KiloTon yield. Jam away at 1000 watts, I'll be close enough to vaporize you.

Remember the answer to a technical foe is by being crude. They have a lot of tech to make your missile miss the target, make the missile big enough to include the target even at the widest miss.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418592)

Then my next missile will be a 100KiloTon yield. Jam away at 1000 watts, I'll be close enough to vaporize you.

Remember the answer to a technical foe is by being crude. They have a lot of tech to make your missile miss the target, make the missile big enough to include the target even at the widest miss.

OR, use guidance systems that are completely self-contained (inertial dead-reckoning, computer vision, etc.) so that GPS is completely irrelevant. Cruise missiles hit targets from substantial distances without having any need for GPS input.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418554)

or just run your jammer at 100 watts

The FCC will appreciate that I'm sure.

Re:Vulnerable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418258)

Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure the military uses encrypted frequencies and whatnot, so it wouldn't be as trivial as for the civilian platform.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418374)

EMP
good at all frequencies, just not on vacuum tube technology.

Re:Vulnerable (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418324)

Military has its own encrypted channels for GPS signals. Same satellites but not the same signal as consumer devices.

However, all GPS guided ordnance will fall back to various other methods if the GPS fails (laser, optical, etc). For example, Tomahawk missiles also have an optical map following system. Most (if not all) GPS guided bombs will fall back to laser guidance if the GPS fails.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

stu72 (96650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418394)

They generally have a backup inertial navigation system to fall back on if GPS is unavailable.

Re:Vulnerable (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418572)

Plus let's forget that if you are close enough to jam it, then even a ballistic trajectory will bring it in close enough to the target on it's own.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418688)

One of the reasons for encrypting the accurate GPS and adding an error to the public version was that in order to take out a hardened silo, an offensive missile needs to strike the ground within two meters outside the hardened lid of the the silo. It then penetrates the ground and explodes alongside the body if the silo, which is softer than the lid. That accuracy might be hard to achieve purely ballistically,

Re:Vulnerable (2)

LordBmore (1794002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418406)

I was at a conference recently where Gen. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, brought up your point exactly. To combat jamming of a particular system, they are working to build redundant navigation systems into their weapons. So, for example, if GPS guidance fails maybe it switches over to laser guidance, if that fails maybe it switches over to INS.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418638)

Oh good. So the $200,000 weapon will become the $400,000 weapon. All to drop on a single idiot with an AK-47 hiding in a house.

Re:Vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418454)

Perhaps, but so what? Unless you have long-range jamming capabilities, the missile is going to hit on-target regardless of the two seconds of jamming it endures on its final approach.

If there were a simple, cheap *directional* jammer, I'd be more worried...

Re:Vulnerable (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418466)

I believe it was here on /. that is was mentioned that iRaqi insurgents are already using systems like that. Both to thwart attacks and to screw with deployments.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418546)

GPS guided ordnance seems absurdly vulnerable to jamming and interference to me.

It is. Which is why such ordnance generally doesn't depend upon GPS, if it uses it at all.

Re:Vulnerable (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418590)

I suspect that there is (in addition to any device-specific fallbacks, inertial, optical, radar, dead reckoning, whateer) one major factor that helps that be less of an issue:

Jamming/spoofing requires emitting an RF signal, typically one stronger than the legitimate one. There are weapons(such as the oh-so-cleverly named HARM [wikipedia.org] missile that are specifically designed to lock on to RF sources and follow them back to their transmitters.

A sufficiently clever opponent could(given the relative cheapness of GPS jammers) try something like spreading hundreds or thousands of low-power units(mandate their inclusion on utility poles and cell towers for activation in wartime, or produce a version consisting of the RF circuit, an antenna, and a couple of big sealed-lead-acid batteries in a cooler-sized unit that can be plunked anywhere), with each unit configured to turn itself on and off randomly and fairly rapidly, providing an overall storm of RF noise; but no terribly useful targets...

Big jammers, though, would be among the top targets for anti-radiation missiles and small ones(say vehicle mounted) would likely be too short ranged to be effective until the weapon being jammed was already too close for comfort.

Directional antennas might also come into play... Your basic consumer GPSes tend to have at least modestly omnidirectional antennas; because it isn't acceptable for a consumer product to require a plumb line and a knowledge of geometry just to get working and keep working. Something like a missile or drone aircraft, though, might well make use of the fact that(unless the enemy still has enough of an air force that they can afford to keep electronic warfare aircraft lofted...) GPS signals come from space, while jammers are on the ground...

And jammers are even more vulnerable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418616)

Jammers have to broadcast a relatively large amount of power in order to work. More than enough to attract passive-homing ordnance...

Ha ha! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418164)

My atlas is immune!

Re:Ha ha! (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418432)

So is Google Maps with WiFi/Cellular geolocation... GPS not working still sucks though.

And GPS isn't about maps... it's about knowing exactly where on that map you are.

Re:Ha ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418548)

Boxes of matches are even cheaper!

What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418172)

What's next? Anti-anti GPS devices?

Re:What's next? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418364)

A good question. I dread someone coming up with a reason to jam WiFi personally. If that becomes popular, there are a lot of institutions that have (unwisely IMO) elected to shave costs by allowing their wired infrastructure to crumble, and in some cases decommissioning it entirely. Not to mention the slew of applications which only WiFi and 3G are good for.

Re:What's next? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418582)

Most people I know have a +/- 1KW Wifi jammer. Since it works at about the frequency of a microwave oven you could dismantle one and not only jam a 1 to 2 km radius (guess), but also destroy them in a 200 meter radius (guess aswell).
You could even mount it on a parabolic reflector and aim it properly for more range.
Of course, you wouldn't want to be near it to switch it on. The radiation would probably mess with your cells.

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418586)

When the pre-N wifi gear first came out some of it would drown out the older A/B/G stuff.

Death by GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418176)

I guess the "Death by GPS" will be a lot more common now.

It's "havoc" you moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418182)

Slashdot "editor": no dictionary required

Re:It's "havoc" you moron (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418254)

mebbe it affects spellcheckers too.

Re:It's "havoc" you moron (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418330)

Maybe it's the X-men character...

Re:It's "havoc" you moron (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418342)

Havok is a semi acceptable spelling of the word. It is the source of the word Havoc.

That or the editor plays too many video games.

Re:It's "havoc" you moron (1)

nullifi (1085947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418532)

I'll bet on the latter. It seemed perfect normal until someone pointed it out.

OUR wmd; gifts of the gods to defeat ALL enemies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418184)

so are many of our other 'advances'? of course they are. god knows who is right, (&/or who has an overwhelmingly out of balance (math) influence......)
that doesn't play in LA the way it used to, but it was our primary (?religious?, as the worm turns?) motivation for decades.

many believe were are already witnessing a 'light show', being staged by the 'creators', that will hasten/solidify the positive (dna/consciousness) advances already taking place within us (responding to the need/evolving...rapidly), further disempowering unprecedented evile et al. see you there? it's as good a bet as any other being proffered?

Re:OUR wmd; gifts of the gods to defeat ALL enemie (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418268)

ok.... who fed the timecube site into a chatbot ?

Re:OUR wmd; gifts of the gods to defeat ALL enemie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418354)

There's frozen pizzas on sale down at the store.

Fourth (-1, Offtopic)

Speedcraver (868818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418190)

Fourth post!

Redundant (1, Funny)

nenya (557317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418220)

Such a device already exists. It's called "Indianapolis." I swear, I can never get good GPS signal in that damn town.

Re:Redundant (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418288)

At Indy, all you need to know is "Turn Left"

legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418226)

these are illegal i guess?

Re:legal? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418612)

Very, very FCC non-compliant. Possibly other crimes as well, if used with specific intents(skimming tracked goods, shutting down airports, etc.)

Because they are relatively simple to build, and pretty cheap to buy, and virtually impossible to detect unless operating, enforcement of that fact is pretty spotty...

News at eleven.. (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418230)

a device jamming technology X doesnt just disturb one type of device dependent on that technology, no, it jams ALL devices depending on X

News at eleven..

Re:News at eleven.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418362)

That's not quite fair.

There's a lot of uses of GPS satellites outlined in the article that many people probably don't know about.

Please, leave your ego to yourself. It's of no use to us.

Weak spot in FAA's "NextGen" system (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418244)

What's even more disturbing is that the FAA is currently looking to move away [nytimes.com] from traditional radar and even human air traffic controllers [theatlantic.com] , as part of their "NextGen" system [faa.gov] . GPS is just fine as long as there is a redundancy in the system. But the idea of abandoning radar as if GPS were a time-tested system is a little scary.

Re:Weak spot in FAA's "NextGen" system (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418620)

But the idea of abandoning radar as if GPS were a time-tested system is a little scary.

It is time tested. It works very well. It's just more vulnerable.

Re:Weak spot in FAA's "NextGen" system (2)

todrules (882424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418730)

I wonder how this would affect a plane landing if somebody set one off while flying on a plane right before touch down. Anybody know? Would the plane automatically abort? Would the pilot have enough time to manually take over? Would it crash?

Remember those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418250)

Anti-satellite lasers they have over in China? Scary. Now we need anti-proliferation treaties for laser tech too. Scary.

Multiple possible comments (2)

dtmos (447842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418256)

$30 GPS Jammer Can Wreak Havok[sic]

(Technical): ...which is why they are illegal in nearly every regulatory environment.

(Snide): Gee, I didn't realize a GPS jammer could break an Intel SDK [havok.com] ! Oh -- you meant havoc?

Re:Multiple possible comments (3, Informative)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418332)

(Technical): ...which is why they are illegal in nearly every regulatory environment.

Like drugs and guns, which we now have none of.

Re:Multiple possible comments (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418436)

unless you are the Navy in which case you can wipe out vital civilian services without a second thought, which is what the original article is actually about, not a $30 box from the evil empire.

$30 box from evil empire (5, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418494)

If you bothered to read past the first page, you would have found out that the $30 box from the evil empire was shutting down Newark Airport twice a day because a truck driver was using it to defeat the toll transponder on the NJ Turnpike next door.

No this is wrong (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418564)

it says that it was causing one particular software application to shut down, not the airport itself.

Re:$30 box from evil empire (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418650)

the $30 box from the evil empire was shutting down Newark Airport twice a day because a truck driver was using it to defeat the toll transponder on the NJ Turnpike next door.

Which, incidentally, is another reason why all of these plans to replace gasoline taxes by levying road-use taxes based on in-car GPS monitoring devices are a really bad idea. It will create a massive demand for such jammers and they will get a lot more sophisticated than the current ones - coverage will be limited to a few feet, or even inches, and be essentially undetectable without physical inspection.

ATMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418282)

Why would ATMs need GPS for accurate timing?

Re:ATMs (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418482)

Why would ATMs need GPS for accurate timing?

They don't. Article is wrong.

There is a strong trend recently to install GPS-based trackers inside the unit, and if they start moving, call the cops on the included cellphone.

Assuming you're not using the jammer to steal the unit, the only other use for jamming the GPS, is as a denial of service.

Re:ATMs (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418600)

Correct ink colors to print on the money as it's dispensed DUH!

Old news (5, Interesting)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418286)

The ability to white-noise (or pink-noise) jam GPS has been around and employed for, literally, years. And, most of the first of these I saw came from China, too. GPS is a relatively fragile system, at least n the L1-C/A world: GPS satellites have limited power budgets so signal levels are low on the ground. Receivers have high gain. Multipath in urban environments can confuse receivers. Emitting a random noise signal over the range of L1 frequencies isn't that hard, and doesn't take much power... or antenna height... to cause problems.

The article makes all of these points. Read it and take note of the fragility of the system. That's its downfall, not a $30 device.

messing with air-traffic controllers get some hard (5, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418298)

messing with air-traffic controllers can get you some hard time. I think it's federal pound you in the ass time.

Re:messing with air-traffic controllers get some h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418356)

Ya but it can also disable your "theoretical" enemy's comms long enough to get in a nasty sneak attack. (Fuzzing GPS in general not just air traffic controllers.)

Re:messing with air-traffic controllers get some h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418446)

Basically equivalent to the thing where you shine a pointed laser in somebody's cockpit. Retards find it hilarious, and we have another hidden danger we shouldn't have to worry about.

Re:messing with air-traffic controllers get some h (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418660)

If you really want to mess with ATC, you can do it far easier than a $30.00 short range jammer.

Go to hobby shop, buy a few large model rockets. build them.

Go to grocery store, buy a roll of aluminum foil.

feed aluminum foil into a crosscut paper shredder to create "chaff". (I can tell you how to do this successfully, but wont to keep the complete idiots from trying it.)

Load the chaff into the ejection chute tube for the model rockets. (again, there is more to this, but idiots will never figure this step out as well.)

Launch. laugh with your buddies and get ready to enjoy your time being anally raped by big bad bubba in a federal prison.

This will screw with ATC in a big BIG way. they will find you, they will taze you about 900 times on the way to the jail, then they will taze you just for fun, and the judge will taze you out of spite in the courtroom, your lawyer will also probably taze you as well, before you go to a big bad prison.

the spoofers are more dangerous (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418318)

they can be used to trick china and great britain to the brink of war by fooling the royal navy into invading chinese waters. then a stealth boat can make the other side think someone is shooting missiles at them. all of course, so rupert murdoch, i mean, uh, elliot carver, can sell... newspapers!

Re:the spoofers are more dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418464)

I want to bone Michelle Yeoh [imdb.com] on the wreckage.

AHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418328)

This is being used against my Galaxy S all the time!

Re:AHA! (1)

Clay1985 (1998750) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418558)

Yes! My GPS constantly thinks I'm in South America or somewhere in Europe when I'm in the United States! Uhg! Directions: 1.) rent a canoe 2.) canoe across the pacific ocean...

Just $30! (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418372)

The article just highlights why radio/microwave interference is taken so seriously by authorities. The fact a jammer costs $30 is moot, buying a jammer is illegal and stupid.

How much gunpowder could you buy for $30 (or just raw ingredients for bombs)?

Re:Just $30! (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418542)

How can it be illegal if a single 4G WiFi device blocks GPS [slashdot.org] in a radius of several kilometers?

Whut? (-1, Flamebait)

crumbz (41803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418380)

Who the fuck wrote the blurb for this story? Did the slashdot editors read it themselves? I had to reread the blurb six times before i could figure out which of the devices "fail". What the fuck. Given the popularity of this website can't the editors at least give the impression that they give a flying fuck about writing.

The actual story (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418412)

says that the Navy did this by accident and wiped out vital systems in a whole metropolitan region. Who would have thought that armed groups with very little regulatory control would be such a risk to the civilian population? The $30 device from China story just seems to be some spin to make it sound as though hackers and criminals who buy this sort of thing, and the Chinese government, who don't regulate properly, are the real dangers. In fact it is our own armed forces.

Oh, bad form... (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418418)

I'm not surprised by how many devices would use GPS(the ability to get a fairly accurate location fix and a damn accurate timebase for peanuts and an OK view of the sky is certainly attractive...); but I am surprised, a bit, at how many "serious" systems(even ones where hostile action is to be expected, like ATMs, or where failure Just Isn't Acceptable, like air traffic control) wouldn't have some degree of redundancy, if only because of the risk of a cheap GPS module burning some sensitive RF chip because the local arc-welder user fired up again...

Your basic RTC, say, isn't as accurate as GPS time; especially in the long term, or if not temperature compensated and subject to variable conditions; but it should still deviate by less than a second over a day or two of lost GPS(never mind 10-60 minutes of jamming) and can, if needed, retain reasonably accurate time for as long as power holds out, and they don't need much power.

Similarly, today's MEMS accelerometers and on-chip magnetometers/compasses, while you might not want to dead-reckon your way around the world with them, can easily enough compensate for losses in GPS fix over the short term, and can 'sanity-check' abrupt changes in GPS readings.

For static objects(like radar towers) you can basically treat position as a constant(possibly with recalibration from time to time if there are structural shifts) and calculate dish position based on a simple rotary encoder or the like.

Obviously, for space, power, and cost reasons, Joe Consumer's $50 cellphone or $80 dash-nav isn't necessarily going to incorporate multiple layers of GPS failsafe. If the GPS stops working, Joe can just use the meat-coprocessor he stores in his skull to suck it up and figure it out until GPS comes back online.

For more important systems, though, I would honestly have hoped for better, especially in situations(like cell towers and most ATMs) where the equipment itself isn't exactly inexpensive, so $50 or $100 worth of accelerometer and RTC failsafe would be reasonable, and where they usually have a network hard-line. NTP isn't perfect; but it certainly is handy(if necessary, users of dedicated circuits, rather than those who rely on public internet, might be able to achieve even greater accuracy by comparing their GPS time with the GPS time reported by the hardware on the other end of the circuit, to determine the round-trip time fairly exactly...)

Also, the "backup" gyrocompass mentioned in TFA, that failed to act as a backup to GPS because it crashed when it lost GPS signal is just sad. Perhaps it was purchased from the same company who provides emergency generators that can only be started by mains-powered control systems?

My mailbox (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418424)

I want to just mount one of these on my mailbox so I can give my address to people using GPS to find me and say "when your GPS freaks out, you're here."

creators schedule intervention on evile et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418434)

we're guessing they probably do not have to bother with endless time stealing 'meetings', PR blitzkriegs, increasing feign of indecision crap, like we do. remember, they knew we might get stuck/end badly, like this, & they DO plan ahead...... since/until forever (by any 'calendar' we're familiar with?) there's some notion that we could delay/prevent our rescue? there are provisions?

ATM's??? (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418438)

Why would an ATM need GPS? Isn't their IP address sufficient? How idiotic to think an ATM
needs anything else other than a secure, encrypted connection.

Oh wait, there must be many ATM thieves who take the machines from their original location
  and reconnect them to the grid. LOL

Re:ATM's??? (3, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418524)

ATMs (and many other things) use GPS as a highly accurate master clock.

Re:ATM's??? (1)

codegen (103601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418552)

The GPS is used to determine the exact time of the transaction. If the time of the transaction at the ATM and the time of the transaction at the Bank differ, then the transaction is refused. I'm not exactly sure why NTP would not be enough, but ATMs using GPS don't use it to find their location.

Re:ATM's??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418712)

Or the cellular device inside it has a semi-long life battery ( upwards of two hours maybe ) that calls for an amber alert when it moves more than the tolerable error distance, assuming it does use a cellular device?

Get em while they are hot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418470)

http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=gps+jammer&catId=0

Loran (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418500)

The article mentions LORAN and eLORAN. The USG in it's infinite wisdom decommissioned the LORAN system. So that option is out.

Ruins the whole new road toll system in Finland (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418544)

Finland has had plans to introduce a road toll system based on GPS. If that happens, spoofing/jamming GPS will save you a lot of money. As a side-effect of everyone using blocking devices, nobody will be able to navigate anymore :)

worse, lightsquared.com will wipe out most of GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35418614)

yes.. those thousands of "fill in" auxiliary transmitters for broadband access in the same general band as GPS will effectively jam most consumer GPS receivers.

testing conducted by LightSquared seems not to see any problems, testing conducted by Garmin does.

THis is also a big deal for the zillions of systems using GPS for time distribution and synchronization.

Who needs jammers? We have the sun. (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418634)

People forgot about it due to the ong solar minimum, but if this many things are dependant upon GPS, they're going to want to find some contingency plans:

Lousy engineering (2)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418702)

What competent engineer would design an important system that depends on GPS, with no backup? The satellite signals are very faint, and can be disrupted for seconds or hours by lots of different causes, including entirely natural causes like solar flares.

OpenStreetMap trolls? (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35418740)

This is just what we need, a cheap way for idiots to troll OpenStreetMap surveyors...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?