June 28, 2022

Popular media tends to romanticize certain aspects of technology. Movies often overplay technology like a GPS jammer in counter-espionage scenes. Sometimes it’s hard to sift through the fiction for some facts.

Considering somebody was fined $32,000 for owning one, perhaps we should learn more.

We’re going to take a look at how a GPS jammer works. What’s the tech behind it? What are its uses?

Don’t block your signal and go dark yet, because we’re just getting started!

How a GPS Jammer Works

For something that sounds so complicated, the workings of a GPS jammer aren’t all that difficult to understand.

If you have any familiarity with the way that a GPS works, you’ll know that they function off of microwave signals from satellites. Through a series of complex calculations between multiple satellites, the GPS can determine your location.

A GPS jammer undermines this by filling the area with a field of noise. That noise is multiple higher-power signals, which act as a sort of smoke-screen. Due to all the interference, the satellite can’t see the original GPS signal.

These signals are on the same frequency as the original GPS. It’s too much of a mess for the satellites to figure out the position.

All these signals being thrown around aren’t particularly powerful either. The GPS signal itself scrapes around 1.5dB. Compare that to an older TV signal which dishes out a rather unhealthy-sounding 46dB.

The Risks of a GPS Jammer

As with anything that interferes with sensitive technology, there are a lot of risks. Some of these posed risks can be completely accidental, too.

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One such device was capable of jamming GPS at an airport and rendering the landing system useless.

A common use for GPS jammers is for truckers who are a part of a tracked fleet. By jamming their GPS, they can disappear for a little while, if they want to waste a little time.

The Anti-Jam

Due to the vital importance of certain equipment, there’s an answer to the GPS jammer. That answer comes in the form of unique antennas designed to combat jamming.

The commonly used acronym for these antennas is a CRPA. That’s a controlled reception pattern antenna. You might see them fall under different names, but they all function the same.

The best part about the fix being on the antenna side? You don’t need to replace the GPS, meaning the jammer will be rendered useless. These functions rely on spatial diversity, which is too much to explain here but worth looking into.

Testing the limits and capabilities of GPS and antennas will usually involve some kind of interference modeling. These tests act as a simulation to measure the effectiveness of the GPS during interference.

Smart Technology and More

Hopefully, this article has managed to get your signal back on the map on the topic of the GPS jammer.

We cover a lot more goings-on in the technology industry here on the blog, so keep reading! There are new articles in multiple categories that are sure to keep you hooked.