Telefire in the Cellular Radiosphere


"The age of Aquarious [the master of attenuated substances of invisible force, the gaseous, aerthic and electrical phenomena of fixed air] is now."
- L.B. "Rhythms of Vision"


While ancient esoteric proof exists of a profound understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum, scientifically it is still a recent term used to describe the field of pulsating energies uniting all matter within our sensorium and beyond. The most common use of spectral properties is RF (radio frequency) communication design. As a form of New Media, Transmission Art merges traditional art discourse with current engineering and explores this rich new signal-to-noise environment. Moreover, this seeminlgy invisible space occurs naturally and it is our birthright, a social public space on Earth.

Nearly all use of wireless devices can be traced to the basic human need for relations yet wireless architecture is governed by a distant and inhuman corporate militarization of a naturally occuring phenomenon. While radiation affects all organic or inanimate elements, human health is the least we can consider. While cancer from cell phones is becoming dangerously cliche, it is not yet clear wether cell phones are named after their cellular areas of space they occupy or the cells in the organism which they affect. The electronic devices we use are spewing signals even when we think they are inactive. The only evidence we have that it is all harmless is no evidence at all.

The technologies devised out of the discovery of electromagnetic radiation are becoming increasingly accessible. Rhizomes of online do-it-yourself communities are gaining strength on a daily basis:


The lack of a progressive radio frequency infrastructure can be traced to technologies being devised merely out of the market competition for efficient electrical components. For this reason, it is important for non-engineers to actively engage in the design process of common wireless communication devices. Online forums are a starting point for quick learning and creative discoveries in the still promising field of RF design, an important branch of knowledge for its strong interrelation with the electromagnetic spectrum.

This whole project is a school year attempt at grasping the general depth of knowledge required to begin creatively re-engineering basic transmission devices with little or no experience in radio communications while stimulating others. For example, the current feeling "in the air" throughout open source RF hacking communities is the neccessity of devising new pirate forms of radio at the frequencies of cell phones and WiFi upon which emergent wireless networks could blanket whole cities for the same cost as a lively bunch of friend's yearly PCS video phone downloads. While a free, publically accessible cell phone frequency band would spread immediate chaos and a confusion of tongues, what in the case of a civil emergency or intentional collaboration?

The unforcasted use of transmission devices is increasingly distorting the ancient ecology of the natural electroclimate of the Earth. Our intentions began by observing the transmissions of our planet and of ourselves as radio mediums. Currently it is difficult to find electromagnetically unpolluted parts of our globe. This is easliy proven with a spectral analyser or even a basic RF detector one can find on eBay. Thus, the spectrum has become militarized for marketable applications. In rapid expansion, the airwaves are being filled with our garage openers, TVs, radios, pagers, phones and laptops.

Electromagnetic radiation is everywhere always. Most readily, it is what we hear and see. Most obviously, it is lightning, fireflies, electric eels, our nervous system, hydrogen atoms, and the stories of creation. It is the connection of everything within the Light Rhizome, as defined by the [ Connectivist Biopunk Manifesto (currently offline) ]. In a more subtle way, it is us.

Research sketch notes concerning Electromagnetic Radiation

The electromagnetic spectrum can be understood as a unifying field for all knowledge. It is a gradation into various qualities of energy which can be experienced as sights and sounds in our common perceptions. This is also present in all phenomena and is at the basis in all variations of matter, and thus cellular beings (long before cellular PCS). The spectrum holds evidence that everything is in motion, vibrating, oscillating and changing. It is the falling rain, soaring birds, growing plants and our swinging moods. The ancient saying "everything changes".

Engineers use wavelength data of a frequency to design antenna sizes: half-wave antenna means half the size of a wave or 5 - 10cm for a PCS model at roughly 2000MHz. In the same way, our eyes have resonator equivalents at the nanometer length of the visible spectrum. One might ask how this project relates to my program which is Image Arts - New Media. As can be seen from the chart above, it is cinematography at an infraoptic level: this is a construction of a radio-opaque element which blocks the "light" of the cellphone from travelling to its normal spot. As with light in cinematography, it is possible to receive (absorb), transmit (shine), transceive (bounce), detect, mix (filters, gels), survey (light and color meter) and create interference (flag, diffuse, spot) within the media of radiowaves.

Common RF interfaces:

DETECTOR observe representations of human relations
RECEIVER to detect incoming signal at the tuned frequency
TRANSMITTER to send a signal at a given vibration / frequency
NOISE EMITTER also known as an interference jamming device
ANALYZER / SURVEYOR intercepts content for possible demodulation
EMF POWER METER observation of highest powered source
EMF COUNTER observation of the highest powered frequency
TRANSCEIVER to receive and transmit from the same module


The following is a chart of [ Radio Spectrum Allocations in Canada ]. It displays the common uses of radio bands within a portion the spectrum. Several RF design concepts were considered for this project in order to show our reliance on the electromagnetic radiation as a carrier tool for human communication.

Research was conducted based on various compilations of slowly evolving terminology such as in the following table. Connect several words for a more powerful query such as "DIY GSM surveillance".

electromagnetic spectrum
radiation, waves
RF, radio frequency
UHF, ultra high freq
MHz, mega-Hertz
GHz, giga-Hertz
cellular, mobile phone
800, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
EMF, elect.magn. field
aerial, antenna
carrier wave
analog, digital
signal, strength, power
low cost, affordable
spy device
schematic, circuit
kit, module, hack
DIY, do-it-yourself
center frequency
telemetry, remote
db uV/m, decibel
RF noise generator
tuner +VCO +gain +antenna
RF silencer
1W power +
wideband scanner
x range receiver
radiation meter
RF test equipment
spectral analyzer
RF activity analyzer
bug sniffer
frequency selective
RF property
RF shield
tint: acrylic, glass
RF conductive
RF coating
Waclaw Szpakowski


At first, detectors were found to be a feasable approach because the mere presence of signals can act as an on-off switch: if a signal is present at a chosen frequency, turn the light on. Such devices can be found on eBay. Prices depend on the depth of signal observation at a given frequency. Listed below are low-power mobile digital cellphone signal interfaces:

RFD2 1MHz - 6GHz 220 USD
MCD-22H demodulator 200 USD
CSR6105 locate, sweep, listen  
Spectran HF-2025E 700MHz - 2.5GHz unavailable 250 EUR
The following PEN can be made to do what the $600 CELLBUSTER can with $10.
RF Detector Pen 100MHz - 3GHz 20 USD
CB610 600 USD

At right is a generic detector of common RF devices found on eBay for $50. Far right is the professional A000_6103-L spectrum analyzer selling for $2000.  


The mobile telecommunications device known as the cellular phone was chosen for this project several reasons. First, its radiosphere is readily accessible and conveniently in between our optical and auditory perceptions. It is an increasingly ubiquitous product and many people in the target audience own one. The interference of a cellphone offers the richest experience of control of radiowaves due to its direct rupture of habitual reliance of the handheld communications portal.

While accessing services, the phone passively activates the blinking pen light and the counter signal strength meter at 825MHz.

Aside from their attractive commonality and lack of documented in-depth culture jamming, cellular phones were chosen in order to focus on a narrow part of the spectrum. They were soon found to operate at several standard frequencies worldwide: 800, 900, 1800, 1900 and 2200 MHz. These bands are in close proximity to one another and within an affordable range of electronic components, kits, DIY projects and online documentation. A cell phone operating in the radio band of 800MHz means that from about 800 to almost 900 are data and communication channels being used by that phone. Mobile phones are increasingly higher powered than other common RF devices and their signals are more accessible due to their detectable strength. The rising signal power output parallels higher frequencies necessitated by rich media cell phone applications. More power is needed for the signal to travel an equal distance at 1900MHz than at 800MHz. A positive element is that higher frequencies operate at shorter wavelengths and require smaller antennas which deliver ease of portability.


For the purpose of this project, the basis of jammers was found to offer greatest understandable control and effect in an experience design of demonstrating the manipulation of electromagnetic radiation. Interference with radiowaves makes an imprint on the physical realm of the cell phone and the behaviour of its user.

The material embodiement of this manifesto is the PTD (Personal Telefire Device). Its original research and development is the work of LF who published the WB as an open source project on December 25th 2006 as a present and follow-up to a Master's Electrical Engineering thesis at MIT. At the time of this writing, the assembly of the first revision is well documented and publically available along with the thesis. It was influenced by the same text currently in use as the course reader, namely "Hertzian Tales".

The image on the left shows an early prototype of the electrical component of the Personal Telefire Device, designed by Lady Ada. Anthony Dunne's "Hertzian Tales" is paraphrased extensively in this text.

The Personal Telefire Device works beyond our sensorial abilities within the spectrum. It is like a bionic extension. The active component is ultrasonic and infraoptical. The "tele" prefix means that it is remotely directed towards the object to be silenced. It serves its aim at a distance to the physical location affected. The "fire" suffix is the electromagnetic event in the target radiosphere. A phone that is unable to maintain contact with its cell tower displays a a denial of service message and is thereby disabled. The line of communication is burned with telefire. The nature of the experience of the personal telefiring device is the arousal of the ability to disrupt the self-assured confidence in the technology relied upon for communication.


The following is a brief overview of the technology behind cellular phone communication. You may also download this professional PDF describing [ cellular PCS and GSM functioning ] .

Research sketch notes concerning cell phone communication over radiowaves:

Mobile telephone communication passes wirelessly through many network nodes during every transmission. Various algorithms, protocols and processes occur throughout the cellular network every moment. Data structures are alive even when the cell phone is not in use: its output power is controlled by the cell tower, not the phone itself. Data from phones is dispersed over a wide area covered by transceivers, databses and switching centers and this is maintained as long as a cell phone is on. Further, this wireless mesh containing personal information may be tapped into at many points. The Personal Telefire Device blocks the cell phone from reaching the first point of contact, the local cell itself.

The nodal path of cell phone signals from source to destination:

By investigating the insides of phones as in the case of hacking for reverse-engineering, many components are traceable and their resultant operational frequencies measurable. Simply open a phone and look up the chip names on


The following list of air interfaces was copied from many official and unofficial sources and averaged slightly. In Canada the most common frequencies are 800 MHz (TDMA: time division multiple access, CDMA: code division multiple access) and 1900 MHz (PCS: personal communications services, GSM: global system mobile communications). GSM originated in Europe where the standards are 900 MHz and 1800 MHz for cellular frequencies.

IDEN 806 - 869 MHz
NEXTEL 806 - 869 MHz (SMR frequencies not cellular)
CDMA v1 825 - 894 MHz (800 mode)
TDMA 824 - 894 MHz
GSM v1 N.Am. 870 - 894 MHz (Downlink)
GSM v1 Euro 925 - 960 MHz (Downlink)
DCS 1805 - 1880 MHz, 1850 - 1990 MHz
GPRS 1900 MHz
PHS 1900 - 1920 Mhz
DECT 1880 - 1900 Mhz
CDMA v2 1850 - 1990 MHz (1900 mode)
GSM v2 Euro 1805 - 1880 MHz (Downlink)
GSM v2 N.Am. 1850 - 1990 MHz
GSM (PCS) 1930 - 1990 MHz (Broadband Downlink)
PCS 1850 - 1990 MHz
TDMA 1850 - 1990 MHz
PCS/TACS 1930 - 1990 Mhz
W-CDMA 1920/30 - 1980/90 Mhz
CDMA2000 2110 - 2170 MHz
AMPS is the analog technology, which came before digital and is referred to as 1G (first generation). It has inferior features and quality, but often superior coverage. It is equivalent of FM radio at higher frequencies and will become unsuported in 2008.

AMPS 800, 850 MHz
D-AMPS 824 - 894 MHz
Bluetooth 2400 - 2483 MHz headsets, small electronics
WiFi 802.11b/g 2400 - 2483 MHz
ZigBee 868 (Europe) 915 (USA) and 2400-2483 MHz
GPS 1575.42 MHz (civilian), 1227.6 MHz (military)
RFID UHF = 860 - 960 MHz, HF 13.56 MHz, LF 125-134.2 kHz

The frequencies of communication lines are noteworthy when aiming for access to the radiosphere of a particular RF device. in order to electrically design something that works at those frequencies. To begin cover the whole cell phone band in the spectrum, it is necessary to gather frequency data about many phones since the differ in design by location and features. The Personal Telefire Device handles all of the above listed frequencies.

"Tri-mode" or "Dual-band" refers to the combination of technologies and frequency bands the phone supports. As an example, a CDMA tri-mode phone may support AMPS 850, CDMA 850, and CDMA 1900. That means it can work in both frequency bands in digital, and also analog. Moreover, carriers have their own frequency bands: Sprint (AT&T) primarily 1900MHz while Verizon uses 800MHz for voice transmission.


The aim of the Personal Telefire Device is to impede on a line of communication and to show how readily such a project can be manifested due to its reliance on an accessible natural phenomenon, the electromagnetic spectrum.

There are several types of possible cellular phone signal interventions:

The radio-opacity property of certain materials may be used to cover the walls of a space such as a theatre or even airport. This type of RF shield materials is being developed by [ Quinetiq ]. Noteably these resemble visual patterns formulated long ago by my great grandfather, an artist and mathematician [ Waclaw Szpakowski ]. "Spoofing" is a method of signal interference based on false mimicing of a base station. The cell phone then acts as if it were communicating with a cell tower when it is not. The "denial of service" technique is the blocking of transmission between cell tower and phone. The Personal Telefire Device burns the cell phone signal in the proximity of the phone, disabling its transmissive properties.

The nature of the experience of the personal telefiring device is the feeling of being able to disrupt the target's self-assured confidence in the technology they use for communication. A new responsibility of power takes shape in the user. They may chose to remain hidden. This observation from a distance offers a provocative receptivity of an unempathetic action done to the target. This is the moment most valuable to the project. The ensuing behaviour of the nodes of the narrative which has gone astray from its one-to-one origin.

When new technologies are introduced at the pace of engineering, so are new behaviours. What types of new behaviours may arise from the use of the Personal Telefire Device? It may provoke manufactures to embed telefire detectors in future wireless devices.


The personal telefiring device is commonly called a jammer but it is more than anything available on the market today because it is easily modifyable, tuneable, and open source in an affordable way. At the time of this writing there exist merely a dozen devices based on this model. All of them homebrew. The following are some low-powered cellphone jammer models which can be found online. These are advertised as essential for courtrooms, military action, police forces, places of worship, theatres, libraries, hospitals, spy agencies, anti-terrorist devices etc.

Y050A 0.6W, N.Am   150GBP
P2JBZ Common ranges 150USD
C-Guard, MDI Canada  
CPB-2000P 1W,  
RS915K All ranges 200USD
I-vision-3G N.Am systems  
HDMJ-5000/T   hyundai trade corp,  
The anti-alien abduction helmet available with documentation at

Above left is the generic CX-200 consumer jammer model which sells for under $100 USD. Above right is a homemade device [ GBBPR ] made from kitchen microwave parts . It apparently cooks any receiver from a great distance and even "feels like walking in front of a fire".


The following is an excerpt from "The use of Jammer and Disabler Devices for blocking PCS, Cellular and Related Services" prepared by the Mobile and Personal Comunications Committee of the Radio Advisory Board of Canada:

"The use of such a device is illegal as it contravenes the Radiocommunication Act. The use of such a device could cause harmful interference and have detrimental consequences in an emergency situation where telecommunications services, such as cellular, are required. The Radiocommunication Act provides for adequate protection against the use and importation, more specifically in sections 4 and 9(1)(b). Section 4 and 9 states in part:
(1) No person shall, except under and in accordance with a radio authorization, install, operate or possess radio apparatus, other than (a) radio apparatus exempted by or under regulations made under paragraph 6(1)(m); or (b) radio apparatus that is capable only of the reception of broadcasting and that is not a distribution undertaking.
(2) No person shall manufacture, import, distribute, lease, offer for sale or sell any radio apparatus, interference-causing equipment or radio-sensitive equipment for which a technical acceptance certificate is required under this Act, otherwise than in accordance with such a certificate.
(3) No person shall manufacture, import, distribute, lease, offer for sale or sell any radio apparatus, interference-causing equipment or radio-sensitive equipment for which technical standards have been established under paragraph 6(1)(a), unless the apparatus or equipment complies with those standards.
(1) (b) No person shall without lawful excuse, interfere with or obstruct any radiocommunication. Representatives of the Department also provided assurances."

Noteably, the United States law includes a penalty fine of $11,000 USD if caught with jamming devices. Learning from the government's own tactics of plausible deniability, one can gain control over the situation by replacing the word "jammer" with "RF signal generator" - a device commonly used in electronic test equipment.


As noted obove, the ownership, marketing and distribution of information pertaining to jamming devices is illegal. Activation of telefire remains an act of unlawful civil disobedience. Radiowaves enabled by the nature of the electromagnetic spectrum at a given frequency belong to those corporations of mobile telecommunications providers who have payed for their right to transmit on that band. Such man-made laws are synthetic fiction in contrast with telefiring which has a presence in what is commonly fantasized as being simply air.

Thus, to telefire in the radiosphere is to deny our conformity to the system created by a corporate driven telecommunications market. The use of this device, by means of the act of civil disobedience, socializes the one on one channels induced on us by the world of communication devices. In this way we interrupt the otherwise confined transmission processes and expand our field of telematic possibilities. The radiosphere becomes a public narrative through the tuneable environment.

The personal telefire device may be adapted to work within a greater bandwidth than merely consumer phone frequencies. Other devices include the radiospheres of pagers, remote controls (garage, car doors), wireless (WiFi) standard devices (mice, printers, projectors, pocket PCs, watches, laptops), UHF RFID tags, surveillance transmitters (audio and video baby monitors, family walkies), microwaves, CB, AM / FM, and household switches.

Since the intention of the telefire mechanism is a practical conceptual model, the device provides the user with a spatial experience in which daily electronic objects are re-evaluated based on the presence of their electromagnetic fields. The properties of such objects extend beyond their physical boundaries. This is made visible by the interaction and manipulation of those properties upon activating the Personal telefire Device in their proximity.

The void and seemingly immaterial airspaces of [ Yves Klein ] are now radiowave communication networks of our cellular phones, laptops and global positioning systems. From a holistic view on electrical pulsation, the halo-resemblance of such radio-architecture is exposed when the handheld cellphone aura is burned with telefire. The material device is disabled momentarily when it is disconnected from its space.


It is evident that we adopt behaviours imposed on us by cell phones in our daily use of them. They have an impact on how we think, feel and move. We must use our hand even if the keypad is too small. We must run to the phone even when hosting a dinner. Ringtones distract us without end. Must electronic devices be so inconsiderate? As new technologies are introduced at the pace of engineering, so are new behaviours. The latest human interface to the mobile phone by means of a standalone wireless headset has people talking to themselves in loud voices as if the appearance of a new mental health order were unquestionable.

In her published [ thesis paper ] Limor Fried described a counter-technology to this invasion of personal space. The whole of her project she made available as an open source work. This then became the basis of the electrical component behind the Personal Telefire Device and continued research into radio waves.

Research sketch notes concerning jammer components:

A typical cellphone jammer was found to have several common components to it (see red boxes in diagram). When cross-referenced with multiple jammer designs, these components were always found to be present in the design.

Manufacturers of electronic products do not focus on the planetary radiosphere in the design process of their products. The true nature of a cell phone subscription service is done through conformity to the device. The electronic product of profit-induced engineering then begins to impose sets of behaviours necessary for its functioning.


Among the aims of the Personal Telefire Device is to display the power of the online network of the Do-It-Yourself communities from an art-historical background. To show that together we have the abilities to alter technoogy to our needs even when it is inaccessible at first. Common daily technologies with a social impact need not be fixed by a distant corporate agenda.

The useful knowledge of many people united in this project. The synthesis of this work into the Personal Telefire Device involves the manipulation of conceptual models, circuitry symbols, algorythmical software, magnetised electrons, attenuated carrier waves and physical assemblies.

The Personal Telefire Device distributes power, and with it responsibility of its use, when activated. When the headset of the target cell phone is telefired, both the owner and their device become disabled, in the sense of being thrown off track.

The French artist [ Yves Klein ] dealt with the immaterial and the void in the visual realm. This work aims to re-introduce similar spatial considerations beyond our common sensorium and into the radiosphere of the electronic device. When electromagnetic radiation is accounted for in a design, conventional assumptions about everyday objects need to be re-examined.

The radiosphere makes use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Since everything is a part of this fundamental presence, we too are affected.

Telefiring promotes the awareness of chosing to shield our personal space from technologies which intrude on a level beyond our perceptions. The extensions of our bodies into fields of energies forms our spherical connectivity to the ecological rhizome of our environment. The radiosphere of cell phones exists in the same ecology which is ourselves. By paying closer attention to the electromagnetic design of cell phones, we are paying attentino to a greater understanding of our ecological selves.

It is yet to be determined how the levels of radiation affect biological tissue. The influx of common wireless products necessitates a demand for the consideration of radio frequency infrastructure in relation to the ecology of our environment, our constructions and ourselves. Transmission signals converge with organisms in the [ mixed reality field of artificial and living systems (another term project of mine, currently offline)], a New Media possibility.

[ INDEX TO THIS DOCUMENT ] - Mateusz Kuiavski 2006 / 07- [ ROOT INDEX SITE ]