Mobile RF detector-locator system

The system identifies and triangulates the location of RF sources, such as a radar station, field radio, or mobile phone

Military Technology Sensors

A Navy engineer has developed an electromagnetic radiation detection system for locating and marking transmitting radios but it also has potential applications in the telecommunication industry, search and rescue efforts, and law enforcement. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

As one form of electromagnetic radiation, radio frequency (RF) is ubiquitous in wireless technologies — including radar, field radio, and mobile phones. RF detectors passively detect RF signal sources. For instance, RF signal hunters identify sources based on signal strength. RF interferometers are used to receive RF signals on a linear array of sensors to calculate a spatial relationship between the array sensors and the source of RF energy.

However, there is a need for an efficient, comprehensive, and dependable detection system to locate, identify, and mark an RF signal source. Uses include identifying rogue or interfering RF signal sources and tracking RF signal sources of moving targets. In the telecommunication industry, locating RF signal sources interfering with cellular phone towers would be valuable. Rescue personnel could track down a user in distress, for example, an individual involved in an automobile crash or lost in a remote area where cell towers are far between, and target signals may be weak or masked.

Navy engineer Gerald Miller developed the electromagnetic radiation source locating system comprised of two mobile components that can be handheld or mounted on ground vehicles or aircraft.

Each component consists of an electromagnetic radiation sensor with an antenna configured to detect radiant energy transmissions that are coupled with a laser rangefinder. The laser rangefinder may transmit in the infrared spectrum so that users with night vision devices can identify the RF source visually.

In the vehicle-mounted system, a rotating mast holding the sensors orients the antenna in various directions. The component’s controller is configured to determine a directional vector to a source of the radiant energy transmission in response to the orientation signal.

Both controllers possess a spatial processor to calculate the location of the radiant energy transmission source relative to the reference coordinate system based on both components’ location data as determined by a connected GPS receiver.

Optionally, an unmanned aerial vehicle may be connected to the system and directed to the RF signal source for further action.

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