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HERF Gun: Make it in your basement 196

CuriousGeorge113 was the first one to write us about the homemade HERF gun an engineer unveiled at Infowarcon '99. All stuff that you can buy from a hardware store, and disable computers at varying range, depending on size. The current model does not do permanent damage, unlike EMP.
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HERF Gun: Make it in your basement

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  • How about a mobile phone acting as a HERF gun? Sure it's not going to be as powerful as the one described in the article, but the basic effect is the same. New digital phones emit high frequency bursts which can affect your computer. Just put one next to your monitor while you're calling someone and watch the screen start to bounce up and down. I can sure understand the concern of people with pacemakers when they get near a mobile phone. Imagine what would happen when someone with a pacemaker got near the thing described in this article. It could kill the person.
  • Your 'target' has an office. You are able to rent an office with a room adjoining their server room - you can make said device on the other side of the wall which probably is transparent to emf - suddenly their PC starts 'crashing' and nobody is able to fix it ("we swapped out the whole machine and it still freezes up on us!").

  • I've seen this happen, and it's easy to reproduce. When I was testing out a spark gap I made for my tesla coil, I was doing it near to my computer. Not a very smart thing to do in general, but I was listening to MP3s while I work. :) Anyway, as soon as I switched it on, my box locked up, made some fucked-up "R2-D2" noises, and crashed. I immediately turned off the TC power supply, rebooted my computer, and it locked up again. I was freaking out for a minute that I had killed my box, but luckily it worked after I shut it off for a few seconds and turned it back on. If a small spark gap can knock out a computer from 2.5 meters away, just think what a BIG one could do. :)
  • Tell me about it. I left my Nokia 6120 under my screen above the monitor stand. Normally when it rings it does nothing. I guess it had just hopped to an evil frequency this morning. It rang and my monitor went bonkers. The screen blanked and the speakers started a loud buzzing. The monitor had been acting funny before and it was only one of the two that was going bezerk so i thought it had died. I turned it off.

    When I turned it back on, I was amazed. All the problems it had been showing in the past were gone. No more high-pitched beeping in text mode; no more wavy lines and displaced scans!

    I guess it's kind of like those stories when people get hit by lightning and it cures their blindness or rheumatism. This little bitty HERF from my cell phone too close to my monitor could have destroyed it. Instead it cured all of its ailments!

  • When I would point my previous cell-phone at my laptop computer, it would make my mouse pointer move. :)

    And I'd done nothing odd to the laptop's shielding..
  • Hmmmm...
    This thing sounds like it only needs a quick pulse. What about a couple of 1-farad capacitors? I still have those laying around from my car audio days. I think that would do the trick w/o needing a automotive/marine battery. *weg*
  • The FCC may or may not be able to help with the problem. They are very busy and have plenty on their hands just trying to bust the intentional interference. The FCC should only be used as a last resort; your first try should be to ask the neighbor to help you locate the problem, as quonsar said. Your neighbor should be more than happy to help.
  • by Paul_Taylor ( 38370 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:04AM (#1691653)
    I think they forgot to mention that when the computers locked up, they were running windows. Having a HERF gun near it was entirely a coincidence.
  • Go talk to your ham radio neighbor. If he's a typical ham, he'll assist you in eliminating the interference.

    Indeed, a true HAM radio operator would be eager to take steps to ensure he wasn't causing you any interference. On the other hand, if you're dealing with a CB'er running some ungodly amount of power through an illegal amplifier, you're more likely to be told to screw off...CB and HAM radio are completely different services, with completely different philosophies, kind of like the difference between Linux/BSD/Open Source Whatever OS and MS/Proprietary whatever OS...

    Chuck Milam - KF9FR
  • Reading the headline I thought it was going to include plans :-(. Actually these things are fairly easy to make if you have some experience in the frequencies used. Of course you'll probably have people descending on you fairly quickly due to all the RF services you knocked off of the air (half :-).
  • by Pegasus ( 13291 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:10AM (#1691658) Homepage
    Finnaly someone showed this to the public. It really is an old idea, but in the world we live now, it has some interesting effects.
    I was tracing the development of such toys based on Nikola Tesla's ideas for a while now and found a lot of impresive stuff. Just do a quick search on "telsa weapon" and read some of the articles that pop up. One of the most scary is located at[2345].html (yeah thats five parts of it). Hints about causing earthquakes with similiar technology as described in the story above. Other interesting sites are Gravity gate (, Kelly BBS (, Tesla web ring and similiar. If you like to search a lot, you may even find hints about top secret super high tech weapons developed in Russia for knocking out satelites, which are also based on one of the Tesla's ideas and are powered by also originaly Tesla's work, improved by dr. H. Moray, the so called Moray generator. Basicaly you just set up an antenna and some electronic wizardry and you have electricity. Sounds too good to be true, but there's a story on the kellynet about how Tesla made an electric car powered by such a device.
    Back to the EMP stuff...does anyone have some nice information about project HAARP and similiar "experiments" all around the world? I heard somewhere that US military already developed their small EMP "bomb" for knocking out "e-criminals". I would like to take a look at one of those toys :) And the next thing would be to cover my house entirely in somekind of conductive mesh, to make more or less effective faradey cage. I feel like protecting computers and other electronic equipment will be big bussiness in the next decades.
  • Kind of like setting a Star Trek phaser on overload.

    Set it beside the target device, key in the burst sequence, and walk away.
  • The one in the book is real EMP, capable of causing permanent damage to electronics, not HERF. (But, yes both exist; although EMP devices are more expensive to build, at least I havent read about "simple" ones yet)
  • by Markee ( 72201 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:16AM (#1691661)
    There already is a mobile phone killer. It's about the size of a cell phone, although wall mounted. The company that makes them didn't plan on making them portable in 1998. What a shame! I'd love to carry one of those around and enjoy the silly faces of all the yuppies who annoy anyone in the vicinity by shouting into their phones all the time.

    You could even make the device look like a cell phone itself, so that everybody around you (on the train, for example) will think their cell phone is broken, while you, for a change, bore them out of their skulls talking into your little gadget.

    Here's the story on Electronic Telegraph: Immobilising the mobiles []

  • | And occasionally one sees a commercial
    | broadcast station with a really bad antenna
    | design that saturates the local area
    | with electromagnetic radiation. In one
    | particularly bad case, not only did *any*
    | electronic device pick up the radio station.
    | But illumination could be provided by placing
    | aluminum foil antennas around the ends of
    | fluorescent light bulbs.

    Ha! Sounds like my neighborhood. It seems to be less prevalent now, but the local AM station (1560AM, WCCP, Clemson SC, for those playing at home) would bleed into literally anything. My stereo, the phone, the answering machine. On the TV, I got patterns that changed with the announcer's voice on the station. On the answering machine, the radio station was so loud that it was impossible to hear any caller's message unless I waited until late at night when the station went off the air. I would have not been surprised if the refrigerator would have started cycling on and off with the announcer's voice.

    This seems to be the sort of thing the FCC is trained to ignore, by the way. :)

    Never did try to light a fluorescent light with the radio station, though. ;)
  • HERF bears a frightening resemblence to NERF. Conspiracy by the toy companies, conspiracy by the toy companies. See if my niece sneaks up behind me with one of THOSE again...
  • I graduated last year, but I still know quite a few people in High school. If anyone in my class had brought a "mini-HERF gun" to school, and i found out, I would have promptly smashed him in the face with my Chemistry 12 textbook. Then I'd sit on his chest and zap him in the face with a laser pointer pen for a couple hours... see how he likes it.

    Ignorant people who would actually do something like that for kicks don't deserve to breath let alone attend public school.

  • 3/class3_122898a_j.shtml []

    ...are able to put out of action contemporary guard systems, equipment, and communication networks. Such methods have already been used, for instance, to rob shops and banks.

    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?
  • Aren't mobile phones meant to be capable of doing similar damage to the insides of electronics? I suppose that's only when the shielding is off.

    The nuke described sounds just like the "Coldbringer" described in the Dark Knight Returns 10 years ago though.

    Now that P600 chips are out we're nearly into the microwave region of light - the shielding will get greater so surely this will have less of an effect?
  • Like Van-ecking? (sp is wrong). These little toys let you "tune in" the image on a monitor, or similar CRT device, all with simple tweaking to match the intended target's Hsync/Vsync, etc (think modeline in XF86Config). It's entirely possible, and I wouldn't be suprised if the NSA had used a similar rig in a van to watch the computer screens of "possible suspects."

    Anyways, I'm off to Faraday cage my room now :-)
    "How harden my eletronics? It's already called hardware!"

  • Is that a HERF gun in your pocket or ....

    Surely nothing you run around with under the jacket.

  • The only demonstration of such a car killler I have seen was on discovery channel.
    The only difficulty lied in the fact that it was mounted on a sled,
    and had to launched from the police car, to slide under the car running
    away. The design of all police cars with the engine up front does not
    allow for a large parabolic antenna to direct the pulse, and the police do
    not want to take out all the cars on the road.
    The only requirement is of course that the car you want to shut down has
    electronic fuel injection, and other electronics to shut down.
  • and WHERE do i get the plans for one of these..? :)
  • In high school, I constructed a particle accelerator for a science fair project (1982) using plexiglass tubing, iodine gas (for my ions), and a high voltage power supply (200KV) whose parts and plans I purchased from Scientific Unlimited for about $100, a coil of wire and a electrostatic lens to accelerate the ions.

    The coil was used to generate a magnetic field to help direct the ions (created from a point source).

    Cool thing was I could light up a neon bulb at 50 feet (very directional) or charge up an individual in the beam (within 6 feet) so that they had four inch sparks jumping from their body when they got near a grounded object (Larger body mass...bigger the spark!).

    The whole thing was originally supposed to be an ion propulsion engine using mercury ions, but I was denied access to the local university's vacuum chamber after the prof went on sabatical. So, I made something that worked under standard atmospheric conditions. Can't exactly shoot mercury ions into the atmosphere...can we?

    As a disclaimer, No permanent harm came to any person or equipment (current far to low), but it sure did scare a few people who thought I was nuts anyway when I said I would zap them with my ray gun (even when not plugged in). It's amazing how easy it is to scare people who don't understand the basic physics behind such contraptions.

    The author of this story went on to obtain a physics degree and entered military service where he got play with things that go boom in the night. Doesn't that just make you feel just swell?

  • Anybody got anymore info on this? Specificly: What frequency does it emmit? Or does it really just emit one pulse?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Imagine someone playing with this on new years or it is the ultimate war machine....... Think about it. We live in a information age, and if the information is disabled?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This reminds me of the story of the Berkeley student who built a fully functional nuclear explosive device (minus teh nuclear material) and had it as a coffee table in his dorm rrom. When the AEC and FBI kicked the door down and demanded to know where he got the info to build this, he pointed out the window at the (open to the public) engineering library building.

    With EMP cannons, though, there's no need to acquire gov't controlled substances such as plutonium. It's all made out of common stuff that has everyday uses. What are you going to do? Require people to be licensed to buy components at Radio Shack? After all, them big capacitors can be used as a trigger in an explosive device, right?

  • With enough work (and equipment), you could actually make the antenna part quite small and still keep it powerful. Your only problem will be the power supply. Flashlight batteries just dont really cut it here. :)

    (Although you could carry around the car battery in a backpack)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and in Redmond, a Micro$oft spokesman attributed the latest delays in W2K to terrorists firing HERF guns. 'Well we were just about ready to burn the master CD when one of these babies went off and we lost 3 months worth of work. It was all working fine till then, honest.'
  • Now, the toys THIS [] cat creates is insane. I think his microwave gun is not shown right now, but this dude is mighty.

  • I've noticed my computer would crash everytime my mobile rings, if the computer has it's box open. Talking about European GSM digital mobiles, they're 2W.

  • A proper Faraday Cage will BLOCK the signal totally unless the HERF is exactly on of the outside of the cage. A fix for this maneuver is to have two cages nested like nesting dolls with a small distance apart. I would think that something suitably Tempest "hardened" would be immune to a HERF attack.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:23AM (#1691687)
    Alright, a few points to clear some things up. Most of you won't realize this from the article, but these HERF guns are very low range. The gun has to be within a very minimal amount of feet to accomplish anything. Another thing, the gun is huge. If you were to make a high powered gun, it'd be even bigger. So your thinkin', "Well, I'll just lug it around in my car." Wrong, if you do, expect nothing on your car to work when you get done firing the thing at a couple of computers. It'll fry the computer in your car as well as the "enemies" computers. If you happen to get a car thats old enough not to have a computer in it, a high powered HERF gun will even fry the actual wiring. These HERF guns are very neat, but not practical yet. I hope someday we can actually build something that has some practicallity, and do the same as this lovely tool.
  • You can perfectly shield out RF if you have an unbroken perfect conductor surrounding your device. In practice, the conductor isn't perfect, so some of the RF penetrates, but the bigger problem is breaks in the faraday cage (for cabling into the device, cracks around doors, etc) -- RF can squirt through these. I think that shielding can get much better. It wouldn't be too expensive a proposition to shield computers from such an attack, I think...
  • FOBS, an orbiting satellite-deployed nuclear weapon that would be utilized primarily for EMP-attack against the Soviet Union or continental US, was conceived of after a nuke test in the Pacific knocked out power in Hawaii. EMP as a nuclear detonation side effect wasn't even anticipated, but rapidly became a big design consideration for defense contractors constructing electronic warfare systems for the US... I doubt commercial vendors like Intel really take the possibility of nuclear attack under consideration when designing CPU's though, heh
  • AM is easy to jam simply because of the way the information is encoded...varying the amplitude of the RF signal. This makes them vulnerable to spark gaps ( a great white noise source) and such.

    But, FM, on the other hand, is a bit harder to jam as it involves the deviation of a carrier wave from its base frequency. The circuitry used to detect an FM signal is, by nature, far more immune to the occassional(or continous) burst of RF energy (like a lightning discharge). To jam FM, you pretty much need to zero in on the carrier frequency and then modulate it with white noise (or similar). But, the effect is localized to a specific frequency +/- the bandwidth.

    Spread spectrum takes FM a bit futher by encoding the digital signals over multiple carriers. Interference on one is corrected by the redundancy of the information carried by the others. Of course, total power output is distributed among all the frequencies involved, thus a significanly shorter range. This is also why wireless LANS like spread specture.

  • I've done this will a frequency counter (to pick up their cell phones xmit frequency). The counter then feeds this info into my scanner with the audio out connected to the PA in my car. When they hear themselves echoing loudly outside, they usually hang up.

    It didn't work so well at Burger King, though. The box that takes your order is usually NOT wired. It's RF! So I tried the same setup, so everyone could hear what the guy up front was ordering. Well, as soon as he spoke. A HUGE feedback loop resulted. Incessant loud squealing until I shut the PA off. Oops. :)

  • The thing about Tesla technology is that the effects diminish with the square of the distance from the discharge.

    This is quite dramatic in the case of an atomic blast...

    In the real world unless you are talking about very sensitive equipment with large antenna the range for tesla discharge is not very impressive.

    I bet there are some nasty directional narrow beam weapons that have been developed but not yet declassified out there though.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @04:16AM (#1691696)
    Agreed. (All hail Glub!)

    For those who haven't seen the Glubco microwave weapon, it's even simpler and cheaper than the HERF. It's also a hell of a lot more dangerous.

    All you do is find an old microwave oven, tear it open, and remove the magnetron and associated HV power supply circuitry. You then build a small waveguide behind it so as not to fry yourself too badly. Point and shoot.

    Now that I've said this, and the script-kiddies are off Darwinating themselves out of the gene pool, here's what happens to them:

    1. Stupidity I. The capacitors in a high voltage supply on a microwave oven might not drain themselves automatically. If that happens, and the script kiddie is using both hands to play with the supply, he could fibrillate and die on the spot.
    2. Stupidity II: If he's using one hand to play with the supply, when he gets zapped, he scrapes his hand to hell when jumping away from the shock. A Dejanews search on why you have to discharge the anode of a TV set before working on the tube will provide much amusement.
    3. Stupidity III: All the nasty 120VAC bits are exposed, and our script kiddie doesn't use an isolation transformer, or does something similarly stupid. Bzzt, game over, thanks for playing.
    As you can see, it's easy to weed out a good chunk of the script kiddie population before they even finish building the damn thing. Now, suppose they survive this long...
    1. Leakage. They get internal burns because the waveguide wasn't built well enough. Visions of fingers turned into fried chicken wings come to mind as someone makes a waveguide that's short and easily-concealable, but that accidentally gives very wide dispersion.
    2. Reflection. More of the same. Y'know how your microwave oven works? Script kiddie points magnetron at a metal wall.
    3. Fire. Ever throw a CD in a microwave and not turn the microwave off after the pretty light show? The CD starts to smoke and burn. I'd imagine it'd be very easy to get the same thing to happen with the house wiring. And downright trivial to get it to happen to the traces on any printed circuit board.
    If I had to put money on it, I'd say the RF burns would be the most horrific side-effect of a kid playing with the Glubco magnetron weapon, but that the most probably side-effect would be that he burns down his own house while beta-testing it.

    Moral of the story: It's a cool idea. And in a situation of civil disorder (East Timor, anyone?) might be a handy field-expedient terror weapon - plug it into a wall socket in the target building, turn it on, and get the hell out of dodge while everything burns. For anything else, it's merely a quick and easy ticket out of the gene pool. Just like the bogus recipies in the "Anarchist's Cookbook", think of it as evolution in action.

  • I have a feeling that we might as well just use pens and pencils. Let them HERF that advanced technology.
  • It's supposed to be a wake up call for better shielding. Of course in the PC market that wouldn't happen unless the government forced the issue, simply because nobody would pay the extra money for such equipment without a demonstrable threat. I know I don't want to plop down an extra $200 when I buy a PC. In the Air Force we have a certification program called TEMPEST. The computers are all shielded in solid steel cases, and that's just to reduce electronic noise to prevent eavesdropping. The shielding required for that is expensive (and heavy!) I don't want to guess how much shielding would be required to protect computers from something like a powerful HERF gun.
  • It was about 1985 or so. A woman at work had
    a lighter that generated a spark to light the gas.
    She gave it to me and I promptly took it apart.

    One day I was sitting close to my Osborne and
    playing with it, the old Os reset itself.

    I thought to myself, damn!
  • I've adopted a somewhat more low-tech approach to the driving-while-phoning problem. I put a sign in my windshield that says, in reversed print, HANG UP AND DRIVE THE CAR.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:32AM (#1691703)
    What you'll need is a makeshift parabolic reflector dish and something that works as a feed horn to source the signal. Something a little safer than this rube goldberg shown in the article (which, by the way, looks damned unsafe- gaps in the horns, etc... Easy way to get cateracts, leukemia, etc.) would be a coffee can and metal saucer sled combo for the antenna. The can makes for a sorry (and sloppy) feed horn, but it works and if you get the distance from the sled right, it works as expected and creates a decent columnated beam. Sloppy work, but it will point this mess more away from you than the other would.
  • My pet fantasy du jour: Britney Spears with laryngitis.

  • yeah, but you'd probably also shut off their car's electrical system too...

  • You'd better bet there are laws against this kind of stuff. Firstly, there's the all-encompasing law prohibiting a device to cause harmful radio interference. Additionally, there are all sorts of federal laws prohibiting tampering with or disabling any sort of communications or electrical infrastructure equipment. I'm sure there are also dozens and dozens of other more specific laws that could be applied as well. Anyone caught doing stuff like this will *certainly* be put away for a long time.
  • You don't need to root around in surplus shops for the capacitor. A piece of plate glass (a storm window will do nicely) and some aluminum foil should do the trick.

    If you could set up a pretty good reflector for the thing to direct the energy, you could probably kill somebody with a pacemaker.
  • All this guy has done is built a simple pulsed DC Tesla coil using some sort of vibrator and a huge step-up transformer. Lots of people have done that, its nothing new.

    He'd have to have at least three stages of RLC circuits to get an efficient power coupling into the antenna and then radiated off into the ether (maybe he has, it doesn't show in the photo). Yes, it can be done by winding your own coils, and buying an old 20kV capacitor from an electric company auction or scrap dealer. Then you would have a very effective disruptor of unprotected electronics (but not likely to cause permanent damage except with a proximity of a few inches). Making it highly directional is left as an exercise for the student ;-)

    Years ago I helped tune a HUGE multi-stage step up system to duplicate the experiments of Nikola Tesla (sending spark gap morse code). This guy had built it into his garage, and had collected huge old power supplies from an old AM radio station to power it. We tested it briefly for a few seconds each evening. Whenever we worked on it, one of his cooler neighbors came over to play with it as well. Seems that every time it was switched on, all radio and cable TV reception in the area was overpowered. Fluorescent lights glowed up to 30 feet away, and nearby computers would crash.

    For a few months there were cable TV trucks patrolling his neighborhood with all kinds of detecting/directional antennas looking for the source of the HERF (he kept it off most of the time), eventually they posted reward notices on phone poles in the area. He dismantled his whole setup and moved it that day (his house has never been cleaner :-). Cops came around the next day with a search warrant, didn't find anything and left. Now he only does his experiments in an old barn in the middle of nowhere, with no electical lines nearby. Any cars driving near the place stall and the CD player will skip, and he advises leaving all credit cards and watches somewhere else when visiting. I think some day he will actually discover zero-point energy or tap into the earth's natural resonance of 12Hz.

    I cringe when I think of how this idea will be mutilated by the movie industry. A HERF gun that looks like an M16 or a .45 caliber pistol and shoots star-wars-like bolts of light, or the death ray in "Revenge of the Pink Panther", or the size of a packet of cigarets with some big LED numbers counting down with an audible click.

    the AC
  • I thought it was HREF at first. I imagined the HREF gun was a kind of light-gun that you point at links on Web pages.
  • At the buhl science center (which was in the northside of pittsburgh, a residential area) they had a rather large (15', can't remember the wrap numbers offhand) tesla coil. When they used to fire it in the 60s they would blank out tvs for about 5-10 blocks. They retired it until they got a faraday cage. The cage is NOT a perfect conductor. It is essentially heavy chicken wire. The thing is, no radiation escapes it because it's cylindrical in shape with copper floor. What this means is the potential of an arc hitting a specific location is greatly reduced by the even surface. They have no problems with firing it anymore, even though there is a computer lab one floor down.
  • Think more complex. Let's not limit this to `terrorists'. Small countries with gorilla(sp) militaries could use this in conjuction with conventional military strikes to maximize their effectiveness. You could knock out security systems or create havoc before entering a site you want to caputure or destroy. As people start to use computer based tools defensivly, their will be more and more offensive tools designed to overcome them.

    Bad Mojo
  • Reading the "bskies1" story here, if something like that actually exists, it'd be my terro-weapon of choice. Get a few of these 2-3 richter babies, shoot them all along the St. Andrea's fault, and watch California go into the ocean. :)

    I don't think it would be TOO bad really. I mean, it can only increase my marketability if the state of California disappears. And realators would love access to the fresh new coastline! :P
  • I believe the US tested out their newest EMP weapon in the recent bombing campaign in Serbia. Seems like it was a small device attached to a stealth plane...
  • A ham could've done this in something the size of a suitcase. This isn't news. Heck, the 135 on the F-15 can put out an order of magnitude more than that, and it's the size of my cat's carrying crate. Granted the 135 is a couple'a mil, and it does more than spit out noise, but this is standard EW junk.
  • Just think if Chris Carter gets tired of putting up with David Duchovny ..

    The Smoking Man pulls out his HERF gun while Mulder is on his omnipresent cell-phone, and
    poof! .. end of franchise.

    Anyone wanna take bets on when (not if) this technology gets butchered to fit into an X-Files episode?

  • Not the first movie to do it but you got to love the way Golden Eye takes computer technology and misses the entire point (yer.. a physical cryptographic crystal makes a LOT of sense). I loved that nerdy guy.. super nerd.. even as I geek I wouldn't feel bad about beating that nerdy guy up and taking his lunch money.
  • Your assumption is based upon a point source of RF energy. With a little ingenuity and engineering know how, you can create a set of reflectors to redirect the energy into a fairly tight beam. The resulting beam pattern doesn't follow the inverse law in the same manner as a point source (Or does it?). Perfect example is using the Aribico (sp) Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico to send radar signals deep into space.

    I've tried to find the equations that describe the resulting beam pattern and decay of RF signals under these conditions, but to no avail.

    Now, can someone tell me how it is that a pencil thin laser beam (say HeNe) can only expand to circle of 1/4 mile by the time it gets to the moon (250K miles)? Or, what law governs the power of a coherent beam at a specific point along the axis of the beam?
  • My SUV is immune to this (pretty much) only thing electronic is the cheap radio shack am/fm/cassete, the cobra cb (antenna is dead though oops), and the cruise which doesn't work anyhow.

    Plus it can park in a compact space, and the top is removable (or was b4 it rusted solid haven't tried it)

    I speak of my 1978 IH Scout II
  • I like the idea, but is has a small bug .... those types of people _never_ look in their rearview mirrors. I consider it a good day if they even show a passing interest with the road ahead of them.
  • >>The nuke described sounds just like the "Coldbringer" described in the Dark Knight Returns 10 years ago though.

    The Soviet Coldbringer was actually a multiuse weapon that affected the climate in a more devestating way than electronics. Any simple atomic device will disrupt electronics. The real scary weapons are the ones that 'dirty' up vast areas of the biosphere. (And yea, Coldbringer is just a comic invention, but the concept of weapons that cause mass devestation specifically targetted at the biosphere is hardly new.)

    What this whole post really tells me is that I have too much free time on my hands to read TDKR and The Watchmen and such...


  • ...and make that a low-level airburst nuclear detonation, too (it has to be in the atmosphere, if memory serves)...
  • In a purely directional beam (a perfect leaser) the energy doesn't diminish at all.

    The reason it goes down inverse square with a point source, is that the energy stays the same, but it's distributed on a bigger and bigger sphere. It has nothing to do with light, it has to do with the fact that you are spreading the light around in a (bigger and bigger) sphere.

    But you can spread it in most any shape you like. It's just that sphere is the easiest to do.

    You want to calculate energy per square metter. The number of square meters goes up. But the total energy is constant. You simply figure out how fast the number of square meters goes up per distance.

  • Good question.

    I don't know the answer. But, I'm pretty sure that simply reflecting RF energy would not cause a laser-like effect. It would probably be more like a flash-light. The image of the home-built system seems to be shaped this way for the effect of some directionism and focusing.

  • Back to the EMP stuff...does anyone have some nice information about project HAARP and similiar "experiments" all around the world? I heard somewhere that US military already developed their small EMP "bomb" for knocking out "e-criminals".

    Yes I do, but not with me at the moment - I've been readig a book called Major Impact (or something similar) all about asteroid impacts and PHA's (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids). Project HAARP gets several pages devoted to it. I'll see if I can dig the info out from home and follow-up in here....

  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:45AM (#1691751) Homepage Journal
    Now Microwave mind control would've been a bomb ass topic

    For hundreds of years, sci-fi writers have imagined weapons that
    might use energy waves or pulses to knock out, knock down, or
    otherwise disable enemies--without necessarily killing them. And
    for a good 40 years the U.S. military has quietly been pursuing
    weapons of this sort. Much of this work is still secret, and it
    has yet to produce a usable "nonlethal" weapon. But now that the
    cold war has ended and the United States is engaged in more
    humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, the search for weapons
    that could incapacitate people without inflicting lethal injuries
    has intensified. Police, too, are keenly interested. Scores of
    new contracts have been let, and scientists, aided by government
    research on the "bioeffects" of beamed energy, are searching the
    electromagnetic and sonic spectrums for wavelengths that can
    affect human behavior. Recent advancements in miniaturized
    electronics, power generation, and beam aiming may finally have
    put such pulse and beam weapons on the cusp of practicality, some
    experts say.

    Weapons already exist that use lasers, which can temporarily or
    permanently blind enemy soldiers. So-called acoustic or sonic
    weapons, like the ones in the aforementioned lab, can vibrate the
    insides of humans to stun them, nauseate them, or even "liquefy
    their bowels and reduce them to quivering diarrheic messes,"
    according to a Pentagon briefing. Prototypes of such weapons were
    recently considered for tryout when U.S. troops intervened in
    Somalia. Other, stranger effects also have been explored, such as
    using electromagnetic waves to put human targets to sleep or to
    heat them up, on the microwave-oven principle. Scientists are
    also trying to make a sonic cannon that throws a shock wave with
    enough force to knock down a man.

    While this and similar weapons may seem far-fetched, scientists
    say they are natural successors to projects already
    underway--beams that disable the electronic systems of aircraft,
    computers, or missiles, for instance. "Once you are into these
    antimateriel weapons, it is a short jump to antipersonnel
    weapons," says Louis Slesin, editor of the trade journal
    Microwave News. That's because the human body is essentially an
    electrochemical system, and devices that disrupt the electrical
    impulses of the nervous system can affect behavior and body
    functions. But these programs--particularly those involving
    antipersonnel research--are so well guarded that details are
    scarce. "People [in the military] go silent on this issue," says
    Slesin, "more than any other issue. People just do not want to
    talk about this."

    Projects underway. To learn what the Pentagon has been doing,
    U.S. News talked to more than 70 experts and scoured biomedical
    and engineering journals, contracts, budgets, and research
    proposals. The effort to develop exotic weapons is surprising in
    its range. Scores of projects are underway, most with funding of
    several hundred thousand dollars each. One Air Force lab plans to
    spend more than $100 million by 2003 to research the "bioeffects"
    of such weaponry.

    The benefits of bloodless battles for soldiers and law
    enforcement are obvious. But the search for new weapons--cloaked
    as they are in secrecy--faces hurdles. One is the acute
    skepticism of many conventional-weapons experts. "It is
    interesting technology but it won't end bloodshed and wars," says
    Harvey Sapolsky, director of the Security Studies Program at MIT.
    Says Charles Bernard, a former Navy weapons-research director: "I
    have yet to see one of these ray gun things that actually works."
    And if they do work, other problems arise: Some so-called
    nonlethal weapons could end up killing rather than just disabling
    victims if used at the wrong range. Others may easily be thwarted
    by shielding.

    Sterner warnings come from ethicists. Years ago the world drafted
    conventions and treaties to attempt to set rules for the use of
    bullets and bombs in war. But no treaties govern the use of
    unconventional weapons. And no one knows what will happen to
    people exposed to them over the long term.

    Moreover, medical researchers worry that their work on such
    things as the use of electromagnetic waves to stimulate hearing
    in the deaf or to halt seizures in epileptics might be used to
    develop weaponry. In fact, the military routinely has approached
    the National Institutes of Health for research information.
    "DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] has come to us
    every few years to see if there are ways to incapacitate the
    central nervous system remotely," Dr. F. Terry Hambrecht, head of
    the Neural Prosthesis Program at NIH, told U.S. News. "But
    nothing has ever come of it," he said. "That is too science
    fiction and far-fetched." Still, the Pentagon plans to conduct
    human testing with lasers and acoustics in the future, says
    Charles Swett, an assistant for Special Operations and
    Low-Intensity Conflict. Swett insists that the testing will be
    constrained and highly ethical. It may not be far off. The U.S.
    Air Force expects to have microwave weapons by the year 2015 and
    other nonlethal weaponry sooner. "When that does happen," warns
    Steven Metz, professor of national security affairs at the U.S.
    Army War College, "I think there will be a public uproar. We need
    an open debate on them now."

    Laser ethics

    What happened with U.S. forces in Somalia foreshadows the
    impending ethical dilemmas. In early 1995, some U.S. marines were
    supplied with so-called dazzling lasers. The idea was to inflict
    as little harm as possible if Somalis turned hostile. But the
    marines' commander then decided that the lasers should be
    "de-tuned" to prevent the chance of their blinding citizens. With
    their intensity thus diminished, they could be used only for
    designating or illuminating targets.

    On March 1, 1995, commandos of U.S. Navy SEAL Team 5 were
    positioned at the south end of Mogadishu airport. At 7 a.m., a
    technician from the Air Force's Phillips Laboratory, developer of
    the lasers, used one to illuminate a Somali man armed with a
    rocket-propelled grenade. A SEAL sniper shot and killed the
    Somali. There was no question the Somali was aiming at the SEALs.
    But the decision not to use the laser to dazzle or temporarily
    blind the man irks some of the nonlethal-team members. "We were
    not allowed to disable these guys because that was considered
    inhumane," said one. "Putting a bullet in their head is somehow
    more humane?"

    Despite such arguments, the International Red Cross and Human
    Rights Watch have since led a fight against antipersonnel lasers.
    In the fall of 1995, the United States signed a treaty that
    prohibits the development of lasers designed "to cause permanent
    blindness." Still, laser weapons are known to have been developed
    by the Russians, and proliferation is a big concern. Also, the
    treaty does not forbid dazzling or "glare" lasers, whose effects
    are temporary. U.S. military labs are continuing work in this
    area, and commercial contractors are marketing such lasers to

    Acoustic pain

    The next debate may well focus on acoustic or sonic weapons.
    Benign sonic effects are certainly familiar, ranging from the
    sonic boom from an airplane to the ultrasound instrument that
    "sees" a baby in the uterus. The military is looking for
    something less benign--an acoustic weapon with frequencies
    tunable all the way up to lethal. Indeed, Huntington Beach-based
    Scientific Applications & Research Associates Inc. (SARA) has
    built a device that will make internal organs resonate: The
    effects can run from discomfort to damage or death. If used to
    protect an area, its beams would make intruders increasingly
    uncomfortable the closer they get. "We have built several
    prototypes," says Parviz Parhami, SARA's CEO. Such acoustic
    fences, he says, could be deployed today. He estimates that five
    to 10 years will be needed to develop acoustic rifles and other
    more exotic weapons, but adds, "I have heard people as optimistic
    as one to two years." The military also envisions acoustic fields
    being used to control riots or to clear paths for convoys.

    SARA's acoustic devices have already been tested at the Camp
    Pendleton Marine Corps Base, near the company's Huntington Beach
    office. And they were considered for Somalia. "We asked for
    acoustics," says one nonlethal weapons expert who was there. But
    the Department of Defense said, "No," since they were still
    untested. The Pentagon feared they could have caused permanent
    injury to pregnant women, the old, or the sick. Parhami sees
    acoustics "as just one more tool" for the military and law
    enforcement. "Like any tool, I suppose this can be abused," he
    says. "But like any tool, it can be used in a humane and ethical

    Toward the end of World War II, the Germans were reported to have
    made a different type of acoustic device. It looked like a large
    cannon and sent out a sonic boomlike shock wave that in theory
    could have felled a B-17 bomber. In the mid-1940s, the U.S. Navy
    created a program called Project Squid to study the German vortex
    technology. The results are unknown. But Guy Obolensky, an
    American inventor, says he replicated the Nazi device in his
    laboratory in 1949. Against hard objects the effect was
    astounding, he says: It could snap a board like a twig. Against
    soft targets like people, it had a different effect. "I felt like
    I had been hit by a thick rubber blanket," says Obolensky, who
    once stood in its path. The idea seemed to founder for years
    until recently, when the military was intrigued by its nonlethal
    possibilities. The Army and Navy now have vortex projects
    underway. The SARA lab has tested its prototype device at Camp
    Pendleton, one source says.

    Electromagnetic heat

    The Soviets were known to have potent blinding lasers. They were
    also feared to have developed acoustic and radio-wave weapons.
    The 1987 issue of Soviet Military Power, a cold war Pentagon
    publication, warned that the Soviets might be close to "a
    prototype short-range tactical RF [radio frequency] weapon." The
    Washington Post reported that year that the Soviets had used such
    weapons to kill goats at 1 kilometer's range. The Pentagon, it
    turns out, has been pursuing similar devices since the 1960s.

    Typical of some of the more exotic proposals are those from Clay
    Easterly. Last December, Easterly--who works at the Health
    Sciences Research Division of Oak Ridge National
    Laboratory--briefed the Marine Corps on work he had conducted for
    the National Institute of Justice, which does research on crime
    control. One of the projects he suggested was an electromagnetic
    gun that would "induce epilepticlike seizures." Another was a
    "thermal gun [that] would have the operational effect of heating
    the body to 105 to 107" degrees Fahrenheit. Such effects would
    bring on discomfort, fevers, or even death.

    But, unlike the work on blinding lasers and acoustic weapons,
    progress here has been slow. The biggest problem is power.
    High-powered microwaves intended to heat someone standing 200
    yards away to 105 degrees Fahrenheit may kill someone standing 10
    yards away. On the other hand, electromagnetic fields weaken
    quickly with distance from the source. And beams of such energy
    are difficult to direct to their target. Mission Research Corp.
    of Albuquerque, N.M., has used a computer model to study the
    ability of microwaves to stimulate the body's peripheral nervous
    system. "If sufficient peripheral nerves fire, then the body
    shuts down to further stimulus, producing the so-called stun
    effect," an abstract states. But, it concludes, "the ranges at
    which this can be done are only a few meters."

    Nonetheless, government laboratories and private contractors are
    pursuing numerous similar programs. A 1996 Air Force Scientific
    Advisory Board report on future weapons, for instance, includes a
    classified section on a radio frequency or "RF Gunship." Other
    military documents confirm that radio-frequency antipersonnel
    weapons programs are underway. And the Air Force's Armstrong
    Laboratory at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas is heavily engaged
    in such research. According to budget documents, the lab intends
    to spend more than $110 million over the next six years "to
    exploit less-than-lethal biological effects of electromagnetic
    radiation for Air Force security, peacekeeping, and war-fighting

    Low-frequency sleep

    From 1980 to 1983, a man named Eldon Byrd ran the Marine Corps
    Nonlethal Electromagnetic Weapons project. He conducted most of
    his research at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute
    in Bethesda, Md. "We were looking at electrical activity in the
    brain and how to influence it," he says. Byrd, a specialist in
    medical engineering and bioeffects, funded small research
    projects, including a paper on vortex weapons by Obolensky. He
    conducted experiments on animals--and even on himself--to see if
    brain waves would move into sync with waves impinging on them
    from the outside. (He found that they would, but the effect was
    short lived.)

    By using very low frequency electromagnetic radiation--the waves
    way below radio frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum--he
    found he could induce the brain to release behavior-regulating
    chemicals. "We could put animals into a stupor," he says, by
    hitting them with these frequencies. "We got chick brains--in
    vitro--to dump 80 percent of the natural opioids in their
    brains," Byrd says. He even ran a small project that used
    magnetic fields to cause certain brain cells in rats to release
    histamine. In humans, this would cause instant flulike symptoms
    and produce nausea. "These fields were extremely weak. They were
    undetectable," says Byrd. "The effects were nonlethal and
    reversible. You could disable a person temporarily," Byrd
    hypothesizes. "It [would have been] like a stun gun."

    Byrd never tested any of his hardware in the field, and his
    program, scheduled for four years, apparently was closed down
    after two, he says. "The work was really outstanding," he
    grumbles. "We would have had a weapon in one year." Byrd says he
    was told his work would be unclassified, "unless it works."
    Because it worked, he suspects that the program "went black."
    Other scientists tell similar tales of research on
    electromagnetic radiation turning top secret once successful
    results were achieved. There are clues that such work is
    continuing. In 1995, the annual meeting of four-star U.S. Air
    Force generals--called CORONA--reviewed more than 1,000 potential
    projects. One was called "Put the Enemy to Sleep/Keep the Enemy
    From Sleeping." It called for exploring "acoustics,"
    "microwaves," and "brain-wave manipulation" to alter sleep
    patterns. It was one of only three projects approved for initial

    Direct contact

    As the military continues its search for nonlethal weapons, one
    device that works on contact has already hit the streets. It is
    called the "Pulse Wave Myotron." A sales video shows it in
    action. A big, thuggish-looking "criminal" approaches a
    well-dressed woman. As he tries to choke her, she touches him
    with a white device about the size of a pack of cigarettes. He
    falls to the floor in a fetal position, seemingly paralyzed but
    with eyes open, and he does not recover for minutes.

    "Contact with the Myotron," says the narrator, "feels like
    millions of tiny needles are sent racing through the body. This
    is a result of scrambling the signals from the motor cortex
    region of the brain," he says. "It is horrible," says William
    Gunby, CEO of the company that developed the Myotron. "It is no
    toy." The Myotron overrides voluntary--but not
    involuntary--muscle movements, so the victim's vital functions
    are maintained. Sales are targeted at women, but law enforcement
    officers and agencies--including the Arizona state police and
    bailiffs with the New York Supreme Court--have purchased the
    device, Gunby says. A special model built for law enforcement,
    called the Black Widow, is being tested by the FBI, he says. "I
    hope they don't order a lot soon," he adds. "The Russian
    government just ordered 100,000 of them, and I need to replenish
    my stock."

    The U.S. military also has shown interest in the Myotron. "About
    the time of the gulf war, I got calls from people in the
    military," recalls Gunby. "They asked me about bonding the
    Myotron's pulse wave to a laser beam so that everyone in the path
    of the laser would collapse." While it could not be done, Gunby
    says, he nonetheless was warned to keep quiet. "I was told that
    these calls were totally confidential," he says, "and that they
    would completely deny it if I ever mentioned it."

    Some say such secrecy is necessary in new-weapons development.
    But others think it is a mistake. "Because the programs are
    secret, the sponsorship is low level, and the technology is
    unconventional," says William Arkin of Human Rights Watch Arms
    Project, "the military has not done any of the things to
    determine if the money is being well spent or the programs are a
    good idea." It should not be long before the evidence is in.

    Original article written by: By Douglas Pasternak

    related topics []

  • Bill Gates single handedly brought down a computer demonstrating Win98. Besides one of the computers was running Powerpoint, maybe it just needed a reboot by then anyway... :)

    Time flies like an arrow;
  • If (this is a big if) this thing could be made small enough, and kids in school could carry one around with a battery in their backpack, would this be another reason to install metal detectors and search backpacks in public schools? I'm a senior in High School, and the rules they make are stupid. They can install metal dectors and search backpacks because they are concerned about our saftey, and they regulate computer use and have librarians watch over your shoulder when you use a computer, will some schools be so afraid of HERF that they search you before you go into school to save the computers?
  • I'm sure that we'll be seeing press releases for remote installation of windows at some point in the future.... and they'll be forced to run the story again.

    Weapon of mass destruction for $189
    Today, a large corporation released a computer product that, when used on computers, could crash the system, killing any user logged into it. These crashes can happen at any time, turning a Minesweeper game into a blood bath. IT professionals around the globe are searching for protection against this monster, backed by the power of marketing.

    "I was playing Minesweeper... and i just crashed! *sob* All my defenseless programs..." a distraut secretary explained.

    Any terrorist from the Middle East could go to Best Buy and buy this weapon for $189 dollars. But the most destructive aspect of this weapon are the people who use it on themselves voluntarily.

    A hotdog vendor installed it on his home computer. "This bright blue screen came up right in the middle of my Minesweeper game. oh.. it was horrible. that mocking tone... and it GPF'd for no reason!"

    It is not known if this terror will ever stop, as the company is rumored to have a new version made explictly for the year 2000. There are reports that many computers will become useless around that year as well. Is this a coincidence or some marketing genius' evil plan?

    Heh, I'm not normal down on Micros~1 so much, just think this kind of journalism is funny.
    Gonzo Granzeau

  • Actually, I believe their is a car killer being researched right now, and as far as I know, it works.
  • Some... this is why the screen on the microwave lets you see your food, but still cooks it. Coaxial for a TV is another great example of this concept. As long as the frequency is low enough, the signal remains in the braid. As the frequency rises, the braid is replaced with a metalic film that wraps around the core. This prevents higher frequencies from leaving the wire, but as the frequency continues to increase, event that can't hold it back. So if this device is putting out a high enough frequency, something may not be protected in a Faraday cage, but then I'm not sure how you would direct the signals either at that frequency.


    Time flies like an arrow;
  • whoa!
    20 Megawatts from a car battery.

    P = UI.
    U = 12, so we're looking at roughly 1.8 MegaAmps.

  • Yeah its cute, but its just the equilevent of pepper spray for electronics. Where's the promises of the EMP gun I've been hearing all my life? Crashing a computer running windows is an accomplishment?!?! Redmond mastered this years ago.

    I don't just want to crash your system I want to destroy it. Oh, I'm not limiting myself to PCs, I need an EMP gun to get cell phones, cell towers, and most importantly assholes with giant subwoofers in their cars. Snoop, your days are numbered!

  • I think schools (or other places where they use metal detectors) should be more affraid of people using HERF guns to disable the detection equipment in order circumvent security.
  • Hmmm... every time I see someone driving along with a mobile phone pressed to their ear, I can't help but wonder if a device like this could find some use. If the pulse is directable, and has a limited range, it could just work.
  • BFD. The technology to bring computers to a grinding halt has been around since 1996 (it slipped back from its original release date).
  • But Schriner, who has devoted his research to small-scale electronic warfare, said the demonstration was intended as a "wake up call" to show that even low-budget saboteurs can create viable electronic weapons

    I just don't understand that sentence from the article.

    A wake up call ... to the government? I don't think that the US could stop that if it tried, without reverting to a national police state.

  • You could even make the device look like a cell phone itself, so that ....

    If you do, please do not hold it next to your head when in use. You would be emmiting a lot more energy than what is consider safe.
  • But it was considerably less powerful. It was an old car battery and the coils from an large, old TV.

    It wasnt directional, and you needed it fairly close to the device you were disrupting. I made it after a discussion about the music on the radio on out school bus. We didnt like it and the driver wouldnt turn it off, so I said to my friends 'I bet I could make something that'd stop those speakers remotely' and they didnt believe me so I made it.

    Never did try it out on the bus tho.

    I'd be interested as to the thickness of metal that this device works thru, as most equipement is shielded, and medical equipment more so. And given all this worry about cellphones causing cancer I'd be interested as to any lasting effects on anyone in the way. The operators of MRI Scanners are exposed to both strong magnetic fields and high frequency RF, and direction sense and memory are rumoured to be affected (Known as 'Mag Lag'). AFAIK theres no proven data on this.
  • Sure it would kill the mobile phone..
    And the car.
    Do you really want their car to die on the freeway while going 80mph?
    Think they can bring it safely to a stop?
    How many other cars would you hit?
  • by mcolin ( 14379 ) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @11:48PM (#1691774)
    Now I can finally shut down those Britney Spears sounds my neighbor is bombarding our street with. Aaaah, blissful silence!
  • This HERF thing sounds week compared to my neighbors ham radio, when the guy uses it, every speaker in my house blasts his talk, tvs go crazy, and lots of electronic stuff I have just shuts off. grr damn neighbors!

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;

  • For those who didn't have the chance to see this device before it was pulled a few months ago, it truly was nasty - and from the tone of the accompanying commentary, scared the living piss out of the glubco creator. While being quite candid with his/their other experiments - this one expressly stated that he would offer absolutely no advice/information/etc on how to create or use the device, other than the fact that some of the parts came from a microwave, as well as several old televisions. The included photos showed a large (non-portable) device on the floor which focused the magnetron through a length of (I believe) pvc piping. The target it was tested on appeared to be both melting and burning simultaneously, though I couldn't discern what it originally was.

    I believe the author started the article with a quote (from N.Tesla?) that went something like this: "Each night I pray that I never suffer the experience of internal burns", followed by the author's commentary along the lines of "after creating this device, I now pray the same".

    Bottom line is, this is not some mischevious dry ice bomb to fuck with on a slow afternoon.
  • I never paid attention in physics, so sorry if this is dead wrong:

    Wouldn't a Faraday cage around the targeted device protect it from the beam? It's supposed to block electromagentic interference, after all.
  • : They asked if I thought they should add HERF
    : guns to the Brady Bill," Schwartau recalls.

    Bureaucrats writing laws. [sic]

  • Criminey!

    Now that this has been publicised, every moronic script-kiddee is going to be riding around with one of these in the back of a pickup truck (an old one, without a computer controlled engine, presumably), letting the thing cut loose with a zap every couple of blocks.

    Something to be looking forward to...

  • It took alot of digging, but here's the here's the pre-Glubco-domain pages. Not much I could do to find the images anywhere - the /graphics dirs of both glubco and have been emptied. :/

    Original Magnetron page []

    Original Railgun Page []

    Original Oxygen Cannon Page []

  • Grasping here at another opportunity to be wrong, but I think a high-quality wok is pretty doggone close to a paraboloid. I think I'd still rather be several thousand yards away & pull the trigger by remote control, just the same.

  • Your computer case is already a Faraday cage. The gaps in the machine (I/O brackets and the like) are small enough to prevent the RF from getting out, and it prevents most RF from coming in.

    PCs that pass FCC A have to be able to accept bursts up to 4X the highest frequency in the device (i.e. 1-2Ghz range). Class B (residential) is harder to get, as the bursts are of more strength.

    I didn't see anything about the machines themselves. Were they plain 'ol PCs with their covers on and everything, or were they open in any way?
  • These have been around for a while. They used
    to be called "Police Radar Jammers".

    The instructions were as simple as putting a
    spark plug (source of all radio frequencies)
    into a properly tuned wave guide.

    I've not tried this, but it seems simple enough
    to put "under the hood", even in your shirt
    pocket! (Pocket sized radar detectors contain
    a small wave guide.)

    Imagine a radar detector waveguide with a small
    spark gap installed in the cavity with the
    spark gap energized by a pizo-ignition device
    from something like a camping lantern.

    The real challenge here is access to the High
    Frequency test equipment neccessary to tune
    the Wave Guide to whatever channel needs jamming.
    Test instruments like this can cost $50,000!

  • Pardon me if I find this thing laughable. It
    has to be within 20 ft of the target (although
    the inventor claims he can make one that works
    from 100 ft away for less money-which makes me
    wonder why he didn't bring that model to
    demonstrate...), and the computer is just fine
    after a reboot.

    His comments are even better-if you were in a tank
    or a hospital, you might be dead if you wait for your computer to reboot. True enough-but there
    are plenty of smaller ways to kill someone
    from a distance far greater than 20 (or even 100)

    And, of course, he's testing this under optimal
    conditions-nothing between his device and the

    For those talking about coming within 20 ft of
    a router and wiping it out, you could do the same with a bomb. Let me get within 20 ft. of a
    target with some C4, plant said C4, and get
    out, and I'll do a lot more than make you reboot
    your computer. (And if you can move this monstrosity within 20 ft. of a target without
    getting noticed, you can easily plant a bomb

    I have no doubt the technology has potential as a weapon-but for now it is all potential, and not much else. (That and an interesting plot device
    in Cyrptonomicon.)

    As for the claims of a nuclear bomb using a
    similar effect being able to wipe out all the
    Electronics on the East Coast, that's probably
    true-but a nuke designed for that purpose is
    a big leap from this device. It doesn't even
    have much to do with this contraption, except that
    they work on similar principles, and it allowed
    the inventor to get a nice sound bite for the
    media morons to chew on.)
  • Sorry for the c&pastin but I thought it was very
    informative doc.



    Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Statement by

    Victor Sheymov
    ComShield Corporation

    before the

    Joint Economic Committee
    United States Congress

    Wednesday, May 20, 1998

    "The Low Energy Radio Frequency Weapons Threat to Critical Infrastructure"

    Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee,

    I thank you for your concern and attention to the problem of terrorism, to the potential exploit of latest technological achievements of
    this country by terrorists and other criminal groups. I also would like to thank you for this opportunity to bring attention to a potentially
    dangerous and costly impact of the possible use of radio frequency (RF) weapons by terrorists and criminals. Special uses of RF
    technology were a major part of my 27 years of involvement in intelligence, security, and technology matters, and I would like to share my
    knowledge and experience into this are which is often misunderstood and largely ignored. I have somewhat split responsibility in this open
    hearing: I want to shed some light on the problem but, at the same time, to avoid revealing crucial information to the terrorists who
    undoubtedly are tuned in.

    Within the wide ranging means of Information Warfare (IW), one of the prominent places belongs to IW attacks on computers and
    computer-based equipment. Leaving physical destruction of computers aside, the IW attacks on computers could be classified as attacks
    through legitimate gateways of the computer such as the modem and the keyboard (software attacks), and attacks through other than
    legitimate gateways (backdoor attacks). At the current technological level, backdoor attacks can be carried out mainly by utilizing radio
    frequency (RF) technology and thus can be classified as RF attacks.

    Vulnerability of computers to software attacks is widely recognized, and efforts with substantial funding are underway with the goal of
    developing protective technology to neutralize such attacks. The backdoor attacks, on the other hand, have little official recognition, and
    adequate efforts to develop adequate protective technology do not seem to have taken place.

    One premise underlies many special applications of RF technology and is based on a principal that any wire or electronic component is,
    in fact, an unintended antenna, both transmitting and receiving. Importantly, every such unintended antenna is particularly responsive to its
    specific resonance frequency, and to some extent, to several related frequencies. It is not responsive to all other frequencies under normal
    conditions. If an objective is to eavesdrop on the device, then the EM emanations coming from functioning components of the device are
    received by highly sensitive receiving equipment and processed in order to duplicate information handled by the device. If an objective is to
    influence the device's functioning, then appropriate RF signals are transmitted to the targeted device. That RF signal, being received by
    pertinent components of the device, would generate a corresponding signal within the device. Producing and transmitting a signal which
    would effectively control the targeted device through a "back door" attack is an extremely difficult task that requires technology and
    expertise available only in two or three countries is the world. At the same time, producing and transmitting a signal which would just
    disrupt the normal functioning of the target devise is a much simpler technological task. It can be classified as a jamming "back door"
    attack, or jamming RF attack. Conceivably, it can be done by a large number of parties.

    Jamming RF attacks can utilize either high energy radio frequency (HERF), or low energy radio frequency (LERF) technology. HERF is
    advanced technology, practical applications of which are still being developed. It is based on concentrating large amounts of RF EM energy
    in within a small space, narrow frequency range and a very short period of time. The result of such concentration is an overpowering RF
    EM impulse capable of causing substantial damage to electronic components. The HERF impulse is strong enough to damage electronics
    components irrespective of their specific resonance frequencies.

    LERF technology utilizes relatively low energy, which is spread over a wide frequency spectrum. It can, however, be no less effective
    in disrupting normal functioning of computers as the HERF due to high probability that its wide spectrum contains frequencies matching
    resonance frequencies of critical components. Generally, the LERF approach does not require time compression, nor does it utilize
    high-tech components. This technology is not new and well known, albeit to limited circles of experts in some exotic subjects, such as
    Tempest protection. LERF impact on computers and computer networks could be devastating. One of the dangerous aspects of a LERF
    attack on a computer is that an unprotected computer would go into a "random output mode". This simply means that it is impossible to
    predict what the computer would do. The malfunction could differ from a single easily correctable processing error to a total loss of its
    memory and operating system, to giving a destructive command given to controlled by computer equipment. Furthermore, differently from a
    simple computer failure, any level of redundancy cannot solve the problem. This point is rarely realized by computer users with the
    assumption that a back-up computer provides a comfortable level of safety. This is certainly not true in regard to a LERF attack.

    U.S. military puts high priority on minimizing collateral damage and applies high requirements to its weapons systems' accuracy. HERF
    weapons' accuracy is relatively high, but it is not yet quite up to the military requirements. But this certainly is not a deterrence for
    terrorists because collateral damage is what they are usually after in the first place. Considering known utilization of latest technology by
    terrorists and drug cartels around the world, it is likely that HERF technology can be obtained and used by these criminal enterprises in
    near time, possibly even before it finds its wide acceptance within the military.

    Differently from HERF, LERF weapons are notoriously inaccurate, virtually by definition. LERF weapons' impact on computers is
    devastating and highly indiscriminate. A very high percentage of computers within an effective range of a utilized LERF weapon will
    malfunction. This is very likely to make these weapons an attractive choice for terrorists. While HERF weapons were substantially
    covered during this Committee hearing on this subject in February of 1998, some details of LERF weapons seem to be worth discussing.

    Contrary to a popular belief, different kinds of LERF weapons have already been used over the years, primarily in Eastern Europe. For
    instance, during the Czechoslovakian invasion in 1968, the Soviet military received advanced notice that Czechoslovakian anti-Communist
    activists had been wary of relying on the telephone communications controlled by the government, and prepared to use radio transceivers to
    communicate between their groups for coordination of their resistance efforts. During the invasion Soviet military utilized RF jamming
    aircraft from the Soviet air force base in Stryi, Western Ukraine. The aircraft were flying over Czechoslovakia, jamming all the radio
    spectrum, with the exception of a few narrow pre-determined "windows" of RF spectrum utilized by the invading Soviet army. This
    measure was successful, effectively nullifying communications between the Czechoslovakian resistance groups.

    Another example of a LERF attack was the KGB's manipulation of the United States Embassy security system in Moscow in the
    mid-80s. This was done in the course of the KGB operation against the Embassy which targeted the U.S. marines there. The security
    system alarm was repeatedly falsely triggered by the KGB's induced RF interference several times during the night. This was an attempt
    to annoy and fatigue the marines and to cause the turning of the "malfunctioning" system off.

    Additional example of an RF attack was when the KGB used it to induce fire in one of the equipment rooms in the U.S. Embassy in
    Moscow in 1977. A malfunction was forced on a piece of equipment. It caught fire, which spread over a sensitive area of the Embassy. The
    KGB tried to infiltrate its bugging technicians into the sensitive area under the cover of the firefighters who arrived immediately after the
    fire started. A similar event occurred at the British embassy in Moscow several years earlier.

    These examples illustrate a much more advanced use of RF technology than a simple disruption of computers in a radius of several
    hundred yards from the unleashed "RF bomb". An example of such a device was designed and built by the KGB in late 70-s. The device
    was built for completely different purpose and was not used to disrupt computers. However, its potential as an "RF bomb" was clearly
    realized at the time. Its reference cost was within one hundred dollars, size of about a shoe box, and it could be easily assembled within
    two-three hours with general purpose tools and components readily available in an average electrical store. The only obstacle on the way
    of this technology to terrorists' arsenals is a know-how, fortunately limited to a small number of experts in a few countries. However,
    some of these experts are experiencing very difficult economic conditions in Russia. On the other hand, a sizable cash offer tempting to
    these experts could come from any of the well funded terrorist groups at any time. This situation seems to indicate that relying on these
    two potentially explosive components remaining separate from each other is less than wise.

    Being a technological leader of the world, the United States has been vulnerable to an RF attack more than any other country for some
    time. This vulnerability significantly increased during last fifteen years with wide utilization of computers in every aspect of this country's
    functioning. At this time it is very difficult to find an area which would not rely heavily on computers. In fact, this country is so dependent
    on computers that many even vital functions cannot be performed manually. At the same time, it is important to realize that all those
    computers performing important and vital services are not protected from an RF attack. Areas like air traffic control, commercial airliners,
    energy and water distribution systems, and disaster and emergency response services represent attractive targets for terrorists. At the
    same time these systems are totally open to an RF attack. By the nature of computers and computer networks, the failure of one
    sub-system would trigger a snow-balling effect with second, third, and following chain failures. The full effect of such an event is difficult
    even to predict, lest to neutralize, unless computers and computer networks are reliably protected against RF weapons. A serious RF
    attack on critical infrastructure would have an impact of national level with numerous losses of life and incalculable economic damage.
    Besides the show-balling effect of computer failures, there could be a crippling effect if RF weapons used in concert with any other type of
    terrorist attack. Most of the responses to other forms of terrorist attacks are designed with the assumption that the computers of the
    response service are working and such functions as traffic control are intact. With an additional RF attack, concerted with the primary one,
    this assumption is not valid. Communications and transportation of the response teams could be crippled with a tragic impact on rescue

    Even a single limited and attack could have serious consequences. For instance, an attack on computers of financial markets could
    have a world-wide implications with losses easily reaching multi-billion levels.

    In addition to intentional RF interference, current technological developments lead to a problem of unintentional RF interference. Indeed,
    with the speed of modern computers and their miniaturization advancing at a rapid pace, their working frequency and sensitivity to RF
    emanations is also increasing. This leads to unavoidable interference conflicts, some of which have already shown themselves and led to
    an intermediary solution of regulatory nature. For instance, even barely emanating electronic equipment such as lap-top computers and
    electronic games needs to be turned off during take-off and landing of commercial airliners.

    Another aspect of offensive RF technology is its traditional application in information intercept or eavesdropping. Traditionally, the
    Soviet Union and Russia have placed high priority on the development and use of this technology. Being one of the two "superpowers" in
    this area, Russia considers its spending on RF offensive operations a very wise and profitable investment.

    Changes of last decade in Russia impacted the KGB, which has been split into independent parts. The 8th and 16th Directorates,
    roughly representing Russian equivalent of the NSA, became an independent agency, the Federal Agency of Government Communications
    and Information (FAPSI, as a Russian acronym). FAPSI is directly subordinate to the President of Russia. In a wave of privatization,
    FAPSI was partially "privatized" as well. Some of the leading FAPSI experts left the agency and founded private security companies,
    taking best officers of all levels along. These companies cater mainly to Russian private financial institutions and provide a wide range of
    security services. They are fully capable of carrying out any defensive and offensive operations with equal level of confidence.

    The concentration of world-class experts on offensive electronic operations in these few companies by far surpasses any private entity
    in the world and exceeds capability of most governments. These experts can easily intercept and provide to their clients virtually any
    commercial information of any country. Commercially available means of electronic information security present no practical difficulties for
    them. Intercept of commercial and financial information could be extremely profitable and create the capability to manipulate international
    financial markets as well as to carry large scale international money-laundering operations with very limited operational risk.

    Financial success of these FAPSI private spin-off companies and high earnings of their employees make them very attractive "golden
    parachutes" for the remaining FAPSI officers. Combined with traditionally close ties, this leads to continuing effective technological and
    personnel cooperation between the FAPSI and these companies. At the same time, the end of the Cold War somewhat shifted goals,
    objectives, and some targets of the FAPSI toward a heavier emphasis on intercept of technological, commercial and financial information.
    In this regard, some of the targets are easier to attack from a position of a private company. This leads to a likely close operational
    cooperation between the FAPSI and its private spin-off companies. The private companies can provide the FAPSI with some of the
    products of their intercept, while FAPSI can also share some of its products, along with personnel and equipment, including its powerful
    and sophisticated facilities, such as the Lourdes in Cuba, for a very productive long-range intercept.

    This situation can easily put American private business in a highly unfavorable competitive position.

    All of the above seems to demonstrate an urgent necessity to develop technology for computer protection against both intentional and
    unintentional RF interference, as well as against illegal intercept of sensitive and proprietary information by foreign competitors. It can take
    a few days to build a LERF weapon. It takes a few weeks or a few months to establish a successful collection of information through RF
    intercept. However, it should be realized that developing adequate computer protective technology, even for limited applications, would
    take at least two years. There seems to be a certain disconnect between appropriate U.S. technical experts and political decision makers,
    who are ultimately responsible for strategic course of technological efforts of this country. This disconnect needs to be mended and
    coordinated efforts should take place for developing protection of computers against RF attacks.

    In conclusion, I would like to state that it seems that the question that we are facing is not whether we need to develop adequate RF
    protective technology or whether we can afford to protect our computers from possible RF attacks. The real question is whether we can
    afford to not protect at least critical infrastructure computers. The ultimate decision on this dilemma is a prerogative of the United States

    I would like to thank you again for your kind invitation to appear before this Committee and for this opportunity to comment on a very
    important matter.

  • Of course the uses for such a device would be both good and bad. I think I want one for all of the people who drive down my street with their radios turned all the way up.

  • by bob_jordan ( 39836 ) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @11:52PM (#1691809)
    Just think what this sort of technology would be worth to y2k consultants! There you are doing your sales pitch of why a company must hire you to fix all there computers. You set the clock of one of their computers to a few seconds before 2000 and as they are busy watching the screen, all it takes is a nonchalant wave of an arm near a window and every computer in the building chrashes. Eat your heart out Dogbert. And of course if there are any companies that don't pay up, you can pay them a visit on New Years Eve and turn the power up.


    (Who if you can't tell, is joking)
  • by emag ( 4640 ) <> on Thursday September 09, 1999 @11:54PM (#1691810) Homepage
    I've wanted to build one of these things for at least 8 years now, but have never had a) the time, b) the knowledge, c) the motivation. Especially after reading (parts of) Winn Schwarau's "Information Warfare" doorstop, I could just see the potential uses for this.

    Imagine one of these scenarios:
    • You're driving down the highway, blissfully ignorant of the speed limit. Suddenly, you see those blue and red lights flashing behind you. Panic? You? Nah. You hit that extra button below the rear defroster, and suddenly you're in the clear. Or better yet, you let yourself get pulled over, and then while waiting to ask if there's a problem, the other car starts acting funny...

    • From the book: Someone in a van drives around the computing center of a bank. Hits a button. Computers start to drool. Wait a random amount of time, do it again.

    • Your (former) employer doesn't believe that they need to worry about information warfare because "the firewall will protect us." Wait for the night before a drop, or the day of a demo, and suddenly the development machines, not to mention the firewall, are dead.

    As much as I'd love to have plans for one of these HERF guns, I think that it would probably make it too easy for "hardware script kiddies" to then go out and wreak havoc. What I'd really like is a reading list (preferably with difficulty ratings) on what to study to be able to design your own.
  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @11:55PM (#1691814) Homepage
    Actually, knowing all our script kiddie friends, they would probably be rolling along in their parents' brand-new Expedition or something and be trying this thing out. Somehow, I doubt a script kiddie would be smart enough to realize that it's going to affect their car as well.

    I can see the headlines now (and they're not getting the terminology correct)!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I heard a story back in college about a couple of geeks. Seems they lived next to this football player who liked to play his stereo a little too loud. He was less than responsive to their requests to turn down the volume. So they built a tesla coil. The tesla coil was on their side of the wall. The stereo, specifically a CD player, was on the other side of the wall. I understand the football player never did find out why his CD player used to skip so much late at night....

    Of course FM, and particularly AM broadcasts are far easier to interfere with. But usually one seeks to avoid that interference.

    And occasionally one sees a commercial broadcast station with a really bad antenna design that saturates the local area with electromagnetic radiation. In one particularly bad case, not only did *any* electronic device pick up the radio station. But illumination could be provided by placing aluminum foil antennas around the ends of fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Here's some info on the EMP gun myth.


  • Alan Cox has already started working on including anti-HERF support in the next kernel.

    Meanwhile, two high school students in Des Moines Iowa have demonstrated BeoHERF, a beowolf cluster of HERF guns.
  • by Markee ( 72201 ) on Friday September 10, 1999 @12:00AM (#1691833)
    Everyone's afraid of a new class of terrorism that seems to be emerging. Bombing and shooting people is for dumbos. These days, smart terrorists disrupt the use of technologies like phone, cell phone and computers. This is a device for them.
    Imagine this device placed near a major phone line hub... within view of a cell phone transmitter... on a highway bridge, the latest "drive-by-wire" cars passing beneath it... on an airport... at a stock exchange... Devices like this, at a handy size, could be as dangerous to economics as a gun is to an individual.
    I wonder if there is a law against things like that.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"