Course Information


The world is increasingly based on wireless communication. Cell phones and WiFi are the most visible examples. Others are key fobs, water meters, gas and electric meters, garage door openers, and baby monitors. The list will continue to rapidly expand with the realization of the internet of things. All of these devices produce RF signals you can detect and often decode. This seminar will explore how much information you broadcast throughout your day, and how it can easily be received and decoded using inexpensive hardware and public domain software. You will be able to explain why different information services use different frequencies, why they encode the information the way they do, and what security risks they present.

The requirements for this course are a personal computer, and some familiarity with installing public domain software. We will supply an RF receiver that works with MacOS, Windows, or Linux.

Class Time and Location

  • TTh 4:30–5:50

  • Science Teaching and Learning Center (STLC) 105


  • Weekly homework and labs (60%)

  • Class participation (20%)

  • Final Project (20%)

Assignments and Labs

There will be weekly assignments. These could be to collect and process data, or can be written responses to reading assignments.

Some of the labs will involve acquiring RF data with a USB software defined radio (SDR) that we will give to you. You will need to install some public domain software to use the SDR. We will also provide captured data if you have trouble acquiring real data.