Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Daniel Weber holds the original prototype of his selective-sampling receiver. The device may keep troops safe from IED explosions.

An idea that occurred to a college student 23 years ago may soon save lives of servicemen and women in Iraq.

A device invented by Daniel A. Weber, Cedar City, was awarded a federal patent on Nov. 13, Patent Number 7,295,145. The title of the patent is, "Selective-sampling receiver."

The government's documentation notes that the receiver selectively samples a signal in order to suppress an interference component of the signal while recovering a desired component. "The selective sampling may be accomplished by low cost, low complex analog or digit circuitry," says the record.

The receiver listens to an initial signal that includes both the desired signal and an interference signal; another input receives only the interference. Both signals are processed by sampling circuitry, says the document. With processing, the desired signal comes through clearly.

"The application I'm hoping to focus on mainly, because it's kind of like the lowest-hanging fruit, is looking through broadband jammers that we are using in Iraq right now, to keep our guys safe from the explosions of IEDs," Weber said in a telephone interview.

Improvised explosive devices can be triggered by anything from cell phones to garage-door openers. To keep them from going off when a convoy passes nearby, soldiers have been jamming all frequencies, so that no signal, regardless of frequency, gets through to the IEDs.

However, the triggering equipment is becoming more sophisticated, forcing the Americans to "turn up the power of their broadband jammers that the guys are using in their Humvees when they go through the streets," he said.

When the troops' jammers are cranked up, radio-controlled bombs may not detonate. The drawback for the Americans is that the broadband jammers are so powerful that they "wipe out our communications as well," Weber said.

With the selective-sampling receiver, the troops can feed in the signal from their jammers as well as the signal they receive from other units or vehicles. The receiver will cut out the jamming noise and allow them to talk to each other.

Weber cited a recent USA Today news article that said the country has spent $1.4 billion for radio jammers in Iraq, and that the Pentagon published an urgent notice to industry on Jan 4, looking for a way to hear through the interference.

Not only will his selective receiver do that, but it is inexpensive and small.

The idea of the receiver came to him when he was in college in the San Francisco Bay area. The original was for a way of getting rid of "directional interference," he said, but then he realized there was a way to suppress "time-domain interference," he said.

"And then I pushed that side forward." He worked on it from time to time for 23 years, most intensively in the last 10 or 15 years.

His wife, Christy, sold some valuable possessions so he could buy the testing equipment he needed. The testing gear is expensive although the receiver's basic parts "are real inexpensive," he said.

"The device that I'm actually holding is like four inches by four inches," he said. The work is largely done through software and circuitry. "We're putting parts together in a different way ... So it's very cost-effective."

In his professional life, Weber works to maintain the Federal Aviation Administration's radar site in Cedar City. He calls himself "just a normal Joe working out of his garage."


E-mail: bau@desnews.com