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DZERO Hates Cell Phones September 20, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, physics life.

Every DZERO shifter knows to turn off their cell phone when they are on shift. Our Control Room is 4 stories underground and no cell phone signal reaches it. I’d always thought the phone goes into search mode and wastes a lot of energy broadcasting to a cell site that can’t be reached, and thus the battery drain. Actually, I always thought that it was poor design in the cell phone to let that happen!

Then I went to the summer cottage in Ottawa. There is no cell service out there. And my current phone’s battery lasts forever. “Ah Ha!” I thought — finally a cell phone that doesn’t chew up batteries when there is no cell site around.

Wrong! During one of my eight hour shifts here at DZERO my cell phone will go from 100% charged to about 10% charged! Normally it lasts almost 2 days without a charge! There is something about this location that causes the cell phone to really waste a lot of energy. It’s a mystery to me!



1. dorigo - September 20, 2006

I also have been wondering about that kind of thing.
One explanation is that in some places there is a faint signal, insufficient for full communication but sort of continuous, luring the cell phone into a busy state in the hope of establishing a connection. Where there is no signal at all, the phone will know that it only has to check infrequently, and batteries will live.

2. gordonwatts - September 20, 2006

Yes-that is my thought too. I just don’t lemon how to test it!

3. Aaron F. - September 20, 2006

One explanation is that in some places there is a faint signal, insufficient for full communication but sort of continuous, luring the cell phone into a busy state in the hope of establishing a connection.

And that signal doesn’t necessarily have to come from a cell phone tower. In the DZERO control room, there are tons of electronics that could generate faint RF signals. The phone could even be picking up its own search signal, reflected off metal or concrete walls!

p.s. Speaking of RF noise, I’ve noticed that my computer stereo is shockingly good at picking up stray signals. When I get a phone call, my speakers often ring before my phone does! ๐Ÿ™‚

4. a cornellian - September 21, 2006

That’s better than the lab I work in at Cornell. We are on the ground floor. In my office no reception and eats batteries, 20 feet away ourside, as many bars as the phone has. Atleast you get to confort your self by the fact that you are underground…

5. gordonwatts - September 21, 2006

Cornellian: that lab sounds exactly like the place I used to live in Chicago! ๐Ÿ™‚

Aaron: I’ve noticed the same thing. You can hear the cell network telling your phone to ring before it actually starts to ring. Impress your friends: tell them you have ESP. ๐Ÿ™‚

6. Ryan - June 29, 2007

ESP? hahaha…LOL! I think it depends from every situations, especially for batters. Some batteries that are over used tends to lose energy at a faster rate while newer batteries can long for days. It also depends on the cellular phone that you own. Fro me, i chooses only the best phone and best brand as well as the information of cell phone service providers.
By the way, Nice site!

7. CellSpider - August 9, 2007

According to information I found while trying to figure out why my battery was dying all the time, doringo is right, if the cell phone is getting just a hint of a signal, it will keep searching instead of shutting down. There’s more info at wikiHow and Pruischat, that pretty much said the same thing.

Three fixes: turn it off, leave it in the car or get a signal booster.

8. gordonwatts - August 10, 2007

Yes. I turn it off. ๐Ÿ™‚

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