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How to listen to cordless telephone conversations

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)( How To Listen In On Cordless Telephone Conversations )(
)( )(
)( An Original 'Phile' By: Beowulf )(
)( )(
)( Call The Outhouse BBS 201-756-9575 )(
)( )(

Have you ever wanted to know what your brother/sister/parents/
friends/enemies were saying as they hid somewhere, cordless phone in hand?
With this phile, now you can! Just follow the simple instructions outlined
First some information about cordless telephones:

The original cordless telephones (1978-about late 1983) were made
to be used on the 1.6 to 1.8 MHz band. If you will notice, 1.6 MHz is also
the top end of the AM broadcast band. These phones operate on AM (just like
the radio stations) and use the wiring in your house for an antenna. The
power of these phones is 1/10 of a watt in most cases, or about 1/50th of the
power that your average CB radio will put out. So, not having a lot of power,
it is tough to hear these phones. You know how they say '500 foot range'?
Sure, that's the range of the handset to the base, but not of the signals
emitted by the base! Which means that on good nights you can hear them for
many miles (I live in NJ an have heard telephones VERY loudly from NY City,
35 MILES away!).
The newer phones, however, are not as easy to hear. They operate
on FM on the 49 MHz band, which is the same frequency which your little
walkie-talkies that you loved as a ten year old operate on. These phones
require a little bit more effort to be heard than do the old ones (and a
little $$$). Never fear, however, because about 1 out of 10 phones is the
old style, and they are still being made and sold today.

How To Do It:

For the old style phones, you will need to get a pocket size AM
transistor radio. The one I used was an AM/FM Realistic (bought for $9 at
Radio Shack). There should be a small plastic box inside the radio. This
little 'box' is the VFO (Variable Frequency Oscillator) which controlls the
frequency of the radio. Now of course, you aren't going to have a digital
frequency counter (they only cost $400, so everyone should have at least
two of them) so before you do anything, turn on the radio and tune to the
top of the band and find the station which is closest to the top of the
broadcast band. Write down the frequency so you have something to compare
to later.
Now, turn off the radio, get a small size screwdriver, and
adjust the small screw(s) on the back of the little plastic box. Don't turn
them more than a quarter turn at a time. Now, when you have done your first
'tweak' of the screws, turn on the radio and see where that station at the
top of the band is now on the frequency dial. When you have gotten the
station 150-200 kHz down from where it was, (like if the frequency was 1600,
get it down between 1400 and 1450), you are all set to recieve cordless
telephones at the top end of the radio! Note: this little 'trick' may not
work as well on all radios, but it is worth a try. If worse comes to worse,
you can turn them back.
The ideal distance is a close to the base as you can get, but this
sucker should pull in signals from up to 500 feet away with no problem.
Simply go near someones house with this, and then have fun!

Another way: Another way to do this, if the VFO adjustment trick
does'nt work, is to adjust the small metal boxes that have little colored
screws in them. These are the tuning coils for the reciever circuit, and they
affect the frequency also. Another possibility is a combination of turning
the VFO screws and the coils to try to get the desired effect. Good Luck!

Now for the tough ones, the new phones. The new phones work on the
49 MHz band. You are going to need one of the 'new' walkie talkies that
operate on 49 MHz ===- FM -=== (the cheap shit ones are AM). If you
decide to invest in one at Radio Shack or similar store, make damn sure you
get FM walkie talkies. If you get AM, you're screwed, unless you have a
friend who is killer into electronics or ham radio who has the knowledge to
convert AM to FM. (Yes, it can be done. I have done it with CB's, and it is
great for CB because no one can understand what you are saying unless they
have a FM-converted CB.....Hmm.....that may be my next text phile...look for
it!!) Anyway.....when you get your FM walkie talkie, you can do one of two
A) You can play the adjust the coils trick as mentioned in the last
article (there is no VFO because walkie talkies are crystal
B) You can change the crystal. Popular frequencies for cordless
phones are 49.830, 49.860 and 49.890 MHz. These crystals can
be obtained from electronic supply houses (like ones that sell
chips for your Apple) for about $2 or less each.

And that just about concludes this phile. There are two other
shortcut methods that can be used to bypass this mess and get you listening
in right away.
1) Get a general coverage receiver. They cover all frequencies
from 100 kHz to 30 MHz, and will provide you with 'armchair'
reception because you can hook up a monster antenna. (I have
a 1964 vintage model that I got for $10 sitting on my desk
with a 600 foot long piece of wire for an antenna....boy,
I know everything in my neighborhood before the ladies start

2) If you play guitar or bass, and have a 'wireless' system for
your guitar like the Nagy 49R, you can hook up a 12 volt
lantern battery and go prowling around listening for the
phones. (Bass rules!)

Method 1 only works on the old phones because of the frequency
limitations of the reciever, and method 2 is for new phones only because
the 'wireless' systems only work on 49 MHz FM.

Have phun with your new knowledge, and look for more philes
from me in the future (that CB FM is a good idea.....hmmmm...)

)( This has been on original phile by: Beowulf )(
)( Copyright June 1985 )(
)( Call The Outhouse BBS 201-756-9575 24 hours a day! )(

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