Review & Teardown of a cheap GPS Jammer
Generally, “jammers” — which are also commonly called signal blockers, GPS jammers, cell phone jammers, wifi jammers, etc. are radio frequency transmitters that are designed to block, jam, or otherwise interfere with radio communications.
A jammer can block radio communications on devices that operates on a given radio frequencies within its range (i.e., within a certain distance of the jammer) by emitting a noise radio carrier. A GPS jammer generates a 1575.42 Mhz interference to prevent your GPS unit from receiving correct positioning signals. The GPS jammer is typically a small, self-contained, battery powered and transmit signal over a small radius. Though illegal to use, these low-tech devices can be bought on the internet for as little as $25. Since they can block devices that record a vehicle’s movements, they’re popular with truck drivers who don’t want an electronic spy in their cabs. They can also block GPS-based road tolls that are levied via an on-board receiver. GPS jamming technology will also disable autopilot in drones to protect individuals’ privacy.
In the US federal law prohibits the sale or use of a transmitter (e.g., a jammer) designed to block, jam, or interfere with wireless communications. For this reason some jammer retailers now label jammers as “signal generator kit” so it will just slip through customs and them is to purchaser sole responsibility for ensuring that the operation complies with the applicable laws. One of these “GPS signal generator kit” is the QH-1 Professional GPS Signal Generator Module (It seems that the QH-1 GPS jammer ran out of stock and will not be manufactured anymore, but you can still find the similar HJ-3A GPS and CDMA/GSM cell phone jammer. Do NOT buy unless you have first checked the applicable laws of your country). I’ve always wondered what’s inside these jammers, given their cost, so i purchased one “signal generator module” and put under test with RF laboratory equiment, disassembled and photographed them for all to enjoy.
The PCB is named NBC-Q101A\A101B\QH2. Interestingly some PCB components are unpopulated which means that this board is used for more than one device, possibly a combination of CDMA / GSM / GPS jammer. All components except LEDs are surface mount, with some integrated circuits used throughout the design. A pair of NE555 & NE556 generate a low frequency noise signal that is feed to a Murata MQK301-1528 voltage-controlled oscillator or VCO. These Murata VCO are normally used as 1st LO in Wireless Local Loop and has a 1466.0-1590.0 frequency range. The VCO output signal is then amplified with a unknown RF Transistor, a semiconductor device which is used in order to amplify radiowaves. The 45deg component mounting of RF Transistor and some passives is unusual perhaps this board was fabbed in low enough volume that optimizing pick & place to only do multiples of 90deg wasn’t needed.
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