« Topix vs. the newsroom model: enabling mass many-to-many communication | Main | Facial Action Coding System »

Boost RF range with your head

Here's a weird tip I learned way back from a hardcore Sun engineer, Ben Stoltz... You can use your head as an antenna to boost the range for little RF devices like car key fobs, garage door openers, etc. It sounds crazy and I didn't believe it until I tried it myself. Stick the device under your chin and hit the key... I can double the range on my car RF key this way. It really helps to find your car in a garage when you've forgotten where you parked. Or to hit the garage door signal when you're slightly out of range.

Of course you have to not worry about what this is doing to your head. Is it just something about the shape of your skull, or is it the quasi-electrical circuitry of your neural mass that is serving as the antenna to amplify the signal? I don't know. Jeezus. I tried to swear it off but then I was looking for my car once, and it just works so well... Don't think about it, I tell myself.

I tried to use this trick to get my blackberry to sync to the ground from the 6 hour flight I was on today, but no luck. I would get partial signal for a few seconds but then it would fade out. I guess if you're going 500 miles an hour it's not just the 35,000 feet keeping you from hitting the towers. Where's our in-air wifi?


Comments (4)



I often find my Dad with the remote under his chin so he can get the DVR to change which is in the other room. Curious as to if this could actually have an impact, my 12 year both tested it and went to the web to confirm that this is in fact a viable method. Now I know it can work for my car keys as well.

On the blackberry, I have found on the SF to NY flight, it will sync 4 times and on the SJ to Dallas flight 3 times. Of course, I am unable to confirm how and when these tests were conducted since I would never have actualy had a blackberry on without permission :)

I bet this is especially effective when you are wearing your tinfoil hat :)

Robert Koslover:

Good idea! I'm an antenna scientist, and I'll try to give you a rough idea why this can work. Most very small transmitters are built with serious compromises in their included antennas, specifically to fit the antenna into the package. When you place such a unit close to or against your head, the combination can sometimes (not always) yield a more effective antenna than with the unit alone, or in your hand. This is a bit like the effect of grabbing the rabbit ears antenna on an old TV. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't. It all depends on some rather complicated details concerning the various interactions of electromagnetic waves between your head/body, the transmitting unit, the ground, etc. But it's all physics, not magic.

Ben Stoltz:

Credit goes to Doug Forehand (a HW engineer) for teaching me this trick.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 10, 2007 1:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Topix vs. the newsroom model: enabling mass many-to-many communication.

The next post in this blog is Facial Action Coding System.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33