Artist and coder Allison Burtch has created a new device to save us from our cellphones and ourselves. It comes in the form of a 10-inch birch log that jams cellular radio signals, and it's called the Log Jammer. Packed with about $200 of hardware including a power source, a circuit board of her own design, voltage control components, an amplifier, and an antenna, it can produce radio noise at the 1950 megahertz frequency commonly used by cellphones. It's powerful enough to block all cellphone voice communications in a 20-foot bubble, and its log-like exterior is designed to unobtrusively create that radio-jamming zone in the great outdoors.
"If completely opting out of society isn't a viable option to give people, then I want to create technology that protects people from exploitative technology," says Burtch, who presented her work at the Open Source Hardware conference late last month. "There's this aspect of us needing a safe space from that constant need to express, to share, to tweet."
The Log Jammer is more of an artistic statement than a true shelter from the tweetstorm. Because of its limited frequency range, it doesn't block cellular data—only voice. It's also illegal in the United States, because the Federal Communications Commission prohibits any sort of cell phone jamming. To avoid criminal penalties, Burtch says she only tested her log's jamming within tiny ranges in a lab, not the full 20 feet theoretically enabled by its antenna.