Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

The Wireless World, and the Data You Leak

EE 26N

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 radio frequency (RF) signals you can detect and often decode. In this seminar we 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.

The course website,, has much more information about what we will do in our seminar.

Meet the Instructor(s)

John M. Pauly

"I love to take things apart and see how they work. One of the key components of our world is radio communications. I really enjoy exploring the RF spectrum, finding new signals, and figuring out what they do. There are lots of surprising signals out there! I am also interested in amateur radio, and contacting people all over the world using only a few watts, and radios and antennas I build myself.

"I am a professor of electrical engineering. My research focuses on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which makes beautiful pictures of the inside of human bodies. MRI is also based on RF, and uses a lot of the same ideas as communications. I teach classes on signal processing, communications, and medical imaging.

"You can find out more about me at my web site"