How To: Hijack Fast Food Drive Thru Frequencies

Here’s a video (NSFW, language) that shows you how to modify a CB radio using parts from a toaster in order to hijack fast food drive thru frequencies. Now, we’d never suggest that you do this in the manner demonstrated by these fine gentlemen. Instead, why not improve the customer service of your local fast food establishment?

“Hi welcome to McDonald’s! Don’t buy the such-and-such it’s a waste of money. Just order the cheaper burger with lettuce and sauce.”

“Did you know that salad has more calories than a Jr. Whopper?”

The possibilities are endless.

Note: Although it is extremely interesting and funny..please, please, please don’t actually do this. Just watch the video and learn about science. People who work fast food jobs have enough to deal with. They are people, too.
(Thanks, Brad!)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    completely irresponsible to post this. deserves a “Bad journalism” tag.

  2. RIP MRHANDS says:

    file this under ‘Bad Consumer’

  3. KenSPT says:

    I just lost a lot of respect for Consumerist for posting this.

    This is a trick that should be on CollegeHumor or I-Am-Bored, not a reputable consumer oriented site such as Consumerist.

    You’re promoting irresponsible and adolescent activity.

  4. Mike_ says:

    Not cool, Meg.

    Willful and malicious interference with a licensed radio service is a crime. Penalties are severe, and include monetary forfeiture and possible imprisonment. And that’s before the restaurant runs you through the civil courts for disrupting their business. (It’s also illegal to modify a CB radio.)

    Restaurants that have been victimized by this sort of “prank” should contact the FCC and local law enforcement. Your local amateur radio club may be able to help you find the perpetrators — many hams participate in “fox hunt” exercises, and are adept at locating hidden transmitters using direction finding techniques.

    If these boneheads are hams (the Yaesu HT in the video is a ham radio), they can and should lose their licenses.

  5. consumersaur says:

    Oh waaaaahh. @Tracy Ham and Eggs:
    Imagine the horror! Scores of mis-ordered burgers and malts and confused drive-thru attendants cursing the 11 nerds who own a CB radio and will actually watched this video and broke out the soldering irons!

  6. joemono says:

    Meg, I can’t really understand why you would think this is appropriate to post on the consumerist.

    You can’t possibly expect us to believe that you aren’t suggesting people try this at home. It’s a “HOW TO” video. Why else would anyone watch it, except to learn how to do it?

    I could understand if it were meant purely for humor if it were just a compilation of people fucking with the drive-thru speaker, but even then you’d be promoting the idea that it’s cool to act like an asshole.

    Your note at the end is priceless. People are not visiting the consumerist to learn about science. And if the people working fast food have enough to deal with, why would you promote and encourage behavior that makes their jobs more difficult?

  7. Mojosan says:

    Why is this on Consumerist?

  8. consumersaur says:

    Calm down folks… this isn’t likely to cause a rash of fast food “victimization.” Lighten up!

  9. forgottenpassword says:

    lol Hilarious!

    I remember in my scanning days being able to listen in on fast food & customer convos at the drivethru.

    I’d only suggest doing this against a drivethru employee that once treated you badly or at most… the manager of said fast food place as they are often uptight jerks with serious control issues.

    I will HAVE to do this now! LOL!

    I wouldnt do it too long because they will eventually figure it out & call the cops to check the surrounding area for you & if a cop sees you sitting in your cartalking on a radio/cb…. they are going to throw the book at you.

  10. jimv2000 says:

    LOL, I had a walkie-talkie set when I was little that for some odd reason was able to transmit and receive on the same frequency a nearby Burger King used. I never did any talking because I was too scared, but it was kinda funny to listen.

  11. joemono says:

    I’m going to guess that this will receive almost unanimous thumbs-down and be removed from the site. The question is, will the consumerist issue an apology or just pretend like nothing happened (as they have done in the past).

  12. sleze69 says:

    As funny at this is, it doesn’t belong on this website. I find a lot of stuff on DoubleViking funny too. I wouldn’t post it on the consumerist, tho.

  13. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @consumersaur: No. I write a financial blog. A lot of people I know write sports blogs. Bloggers love to get a up in arms about a lack of respect from businesses/teams. This is why those companies dont respect blogs.

    I seem to remember a story on this site about Target refusing to talk to bloggers. Most people felt that was outrageous, but if a respected, highly visable site like this one is going to post something like this then I can see why companies have a negative opinion of new media.

  14. greenpepper says:

    Reminds me of the time we were shopping with the kids in Walmart.

    We split up, each with a walkie-talkie as we usually do in a mall. I don’t think the kids realized they were on the same frequency as the stores PA system… Do you know what it’s like when a kid broadcasts “hey ma, xxx?”

  15. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    This is pointless and random. Why is it posted here?

  16. Zagrophyte says:

    Wow, this kind of thing is just making us, “the consumerists” look bad by association.

    Aren’t we about focusing on our legal rights and the demand for fair, courteous, and ethical treatment by businesses?

    With articles like this (and ones like the article about “tricking” CSRs into consent in recordings), businesses are just going to view us as troublemakers instead of law abiding customers who deserve proper treatment.

    When someone submits a story to The Consumerist, I like to think they are intimidated by the information you provide, not by the petty pranks we might pull on them in retaliation.

  17. forgottenpassword says:

    At all you folks freaking out that this was posted here….. this site is about entertainment as well, not wholly about BORING consumer issues. IT DOESNT HURT TO THROW IN SOMETHING FUNNY EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE!

    jEEZE! lighten up!

  18. aka_bigred says:

    I agree, this SHOULD NOT BE ON CONSUMERIST!!! Although I found it hilarious, it is not something that should be shown to every idiot out there. It belongs on fark.com or hackaday.com , but has nothing to do with consumerist. Please be responsible and remove it!

  19. starrion says:

    This was about as funny as the guy walking around the tradeshow turning off video monitors during presentations.

    I guess Corporate America is now behaving itself, and that consumers have nothing to worry about.

    Here’s an idea, since the site seems to be in need of some- how about a multi-part story of the many ways timeshares screw people and the best means of getting it fixed.

  20. leprofie says:

    This has hurt Consumerist’s reputation. Please, stick with what has been working.

  21. framitz says:

    So, what the heck does this have to do with anything.

    Why the heck is this garbage posted here?

    This BS has no Business on this site at all.

  22. jiminyxmas says:

    @ just about every anal-retentive comment above:

    Slow down, take a deep breath… Go take a walk over to that window that looks up from your basement room inside your mom’s house, and calm down.

    Why are you so up-in-arms? Do you think this is going to cause an epidemic of pranksters pulling Jerky Boy jokes on your local Jack In the Box?

    Are you really going to never read Consumerist again because they posted this? If this is enough for you to leave the site forever (heaven forefend!), then your priorities are truly, truly in need of rethinking.

  23. friendlynerd says:

    I think this is funny, but no, it doesn’t belong on this site. And yes, it’s illegal.

  24. ClayS says:

    I don’t think this is such a terrible, dangerous post.

    Although this and a number of other trivial articles that regularly appear serve to dilute the purpose of the Consumerist. But it all depends on how seriously the editors want this blog to be regarded.

  25. iEddie says:

    One post short of post quota? Oh, wait, it’s not the end of the month..

  26. Chongo says:

    HERE YE HERE YE! By proclomation of the agree’d upon rules of blog commenting, we the undersigned are owed much in regards to FREE content on all matter of blogs.

    Until the editors of this blog as well as others begin to give us what is owed to us, we will be forced to continue to whine and complain about one more FREE story that takes us up to 3 minutes to read.

    Since we are FORCED to read this blog we require that ALL stories be completely serious and consumer orientated in nature. If they are not, then we will have to look elsewhere for our entertainment news with a consumer awareness twist.

  27. forgottenpassword says:

    I was just thinking…. if you wanted to be EXTRA evil, wait til a cop comes to the drive thru & then mention in the background something like… “there’s a pig in line…. spit in this”. Of course with the current state of cops overreacting & tasering people like crazy… it could end badly.

    Sorry, but the evil prankster child inside me gets a little out of control sometimes. *shrug*

  28. laserjobs says:

    I just opened my toaster and didn’t find a crystal but a bunch of AA batteries fell out.

  29. Zagrophyte says:

    @jiminyxmas:
    Who said they were “never going to read Consumerist again”?

    People are voicing their concerns about what articles like this may do to the image of the site and of consumer advocates.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    You’re the one over-reacting, here. By the way, parental-basement-dweller jokes went out of vogue in the 90s at least. Nice try at marginalizing everyone’s concerns, but it’s pretty weak.

  30. jiminyxmas says:

    And to all the johnny and jane tightwads who constantly comment with “Why is this on consumerist?”…

    Do you actually expect to get an answer? Or are you hoping that your trite, narrow-minded query will somehow, in a miracle of blogging history, become a source of change?

    Dream on, you vanguard of the ordinary… dream on.

  31. Kat@Work says:

    Holy sh*t! Doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor? Do all of you work at Taco Bell or something? I mean, honestly, I think these guys in the vid are losers (waste of time much?) but good grief, its not like Meg posted the Alchemist’s cookbook.

  32. drjayphd says:

    So where were all of yinz who are complaining about this post when Gizmodo engaged in wacky and zany hijinks at CES involving the TV-B-Gone?

  33. amoeba says:

    I don’t think that it is irresponsible to post this on Consumerist. Megan had her point here to show us the video to ” improve the customer service of your local fast food establishment” as she mentioned. But, if you are immature enough to do the same as those guys, is your problem. Anyway, somewhat the girl with the Transformer mask came to my mind when she ordered at McDonald’s some “Chalupas” that was hilarious!

  34. Skeptic says:

    by Tracy Ham and Eggs at 04:42 PM Reply
    @consumersaur: No. I write a financial blog. A lot of people I know write sports blogs. Bloggers love to get a up in arms about a lack of respect from businesses/teams. This is why those companies dont respect blogs.

    I seem to remember a story on this site about Target refusing to talk to bloggers. Most people felt that was outrageous, but if a respected, highly visable site like this one is going to post something like this then I can see why companies have a negative opinion of new media.

    What silly (aka “stupid”) comment, especially coming from blogger. A “blog” is just a format just as a “newspaper” is a format and the respectability of the content **as a whole** depend on the integrity an professionalism of the entity behind each one, not whether the articles are presented in blog or newspaper format. Each blog or newspaper has to be judged on its own merits and the inanity of any one article does not negate on the whole on balance. Saying that Target shouldn’t speak to blogs because some blogs have disagreeable articles is like saying Target shouldn’t speak to newspapers because the Weekly World News is full of crap.

    What Target meant when it told the blogger off was that they were too small of a news outlet and that Target had no easy way to vet them. Target, and other companies, use the size of a news organization and its format as a thumbnail for its reliability. However, that old-school thinking no longer holds true as small websites, including blogs, can now have inexpensive global reach and influence and some small blogs have more readership than small city newspapers.

    If, Tracy Ham and Eggs, people don’t take your blog seriously as you’d like blame yourself not anything Consumerist does. I’m pretty sure that people take Walt Mossberg’s blog seriously no mater what Gawker blogs publish. The same would go for you if are actually any good at blogging.

  35. Zagrophyte says:

    @drjayphd:
    They were there, just like they were there when Gizmodo posted Tubgirl on Kotaku’s front page.

    I still read Gizmodo every day, but the backlash they got during those incidents was deserved.

  36. TheBigLewinski says:

    THANKS MEG, I laughed my ass off, had to close my office door. The assholes complaining are probably card carrying ACLU members….

  37. Zagrophyte says:

    I think the reason so many people are upset is because The Consumerist is an excellent blog, one of the best consumer blogs out there.

    So I don’t think this is a symptom of grizzled whiners, but of dedicated fans of the site who have a certain image of what it stands for. Perhaps this needs to be a little clearer? Is it just an entertainment blog as so many of you seem to say it is?

    I think it stands for much more than simple entertainment.

  38. savvy9999 says:

    @Kat@Work: It’s Anarchist’s cookbook. And it’s worthless.

    I for one vote thumbs up for Meg and the post. This is awesome.

    99% of people who read this site wouldn’t know which end of a soldering iron is hot, so I wouldn’t count on a rash of drive-thru hijinks anytime soon.

  39. forgottenpassword says:

    btw… here is the origianl prank….


    + Watch video

  40. Grimspoon says:

    Consumerist readers = no sense of humor.

    Lighten the fuck up.

    This was an entertaining article and I enjoyed watching the video. Thank you Consumerist for contributing some degree of entertainment to my blog reading schedule.

  41. Kat@Work says:

    @savvy9999: LOL, shows how much I know about it. :P

  42. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @Skeptic: actually, you made half my point. People dont bother to vet bloggers because they have a view of them, like the early poster, of cellar dwelling nerds. Go read any number of stories about “journalist” slamming bloggers and you will see what I mean.

    When a site like this one, which advocates for consumers and wants to be able to achieve a level of respect from businesses post a story like this it hurts their own cause, and the cause of a lot of other sites.

    The have the right to post whatever they want here, but I have the right to feel that they cheapen what they do by posting it.

  43. Me - now with more humidity says:

    So today you’ve run stories about how to steal RFID info from unsuspecting consumers — without any prevention tips — and how to violate Federal laws to mess with minimum wage drive-thru grunts.

    What’s next? How to phish old people while they’re in the hospital? How to shoplift more effectively?

    Nick must not be paying attention these days.

  44. jk09 says:

    My opinion of Consumerist has dropped through the floor with this post. You guys have sunk to a new low.

  45. CharlieSeattle says:

    While funny, this shouldn’t be on here, and is really illegal.

  46. Kat@Work says:

    @Me: “– without any prevention tips –” Did you watch the vid? There were at least 2…

  47. Chongo says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: “When a site like this one, which advocates for consumers and wants to be able to achieve a level of respect from businesses post a story like this it hurts their own cause, and the cause of a lot of other sites.”

    Oh, you found the Consumerists mission statement? wow, I’ve been looking for it and I couldn’t find it. All I could find was the FAQ at [consumerist.com]

    This place is a BLOG and its only edited by a few people. Sometimes we get useful things, sometimes we get stupid things. In the end, if you dont like it, then go somewhere else.

    your opinion is ok to express, but unfortunately in this case, its just wrong. you are owed NOTHING!

  48. Chongo says:

    BTW Tracy Ham & Eggs = Steve Trachel, Ace

    Not trying to call you out or anything I just want to clarify it.

  49. thirdbase says:

    Way to go Meg finally something worth reading on this blog. Great video, I’m on my way to the Shack now to get a CB. I imagine I can hijack the signals from the drive-thru at the bank. Cool I’ll let you know how it works out.
    Sorry lady in the beat up car there is no money in your account. Oh man this is gonna be great!

  50. Shannon says:

    Ah, who gives a sh*t. Maybe it’ll chase those fat asses away to Subway or something. Like fat people need a burger & fries.

  51. @Chongo: thats fine… I changed it earlier and it just went through.

  52. Skeptic says:

    by Tracy Ham and Eggs at 05:13 PM Reply
    When a site like this one, which advocates for consumers and wants to be able to achieve a level of respect from businesses post a story like this it hurts their own cause, and the cause of a lot of other sites.

    Business and consumers are, to a certain degree, in opposition. Business want to make money and only grudgingly provide value in return for that money. Consumers want value and only grudgingly pay for it. (This is a generalization, of course.)

    No site that advocates for consumers will every truly be respected by businesses even if those business do occasionally “do the right thing” in the face of the widespread harsh publicity that a posting in Consumerist can bring–that isn’t respect it is grudging backtracking in the light of day. Thus your admonition that Consumerist should **only** post articles that earn the “respect” of business is antithetical to the editorial content of Consumerist. That you don’t recognize that paints you as rather myopic–but that is consistent with your other postings.

  53. deleterious says:

    This works! Try it!

  54. I’m sorry but that was too funny. This video made my day.

  55. trujunglist says:

    Everyone just chill out and have this milkshake that I made for you…

    What, you wanted chocolate? Oops! Stupid radio pranksters….

  56. SaveMeJeebus says:

    I wonder if this would work on Best Buy employee headsets…

    /looks for toaster

  57. Pro-Pain says:

    +58 for this not being really funny and unacceptable for the consumerist to post.

  58. ludwigk says:

    Toaster, what? You can get a timing crystal from any electronics warehouse, like Mouser:

    [www.mouser.com]

    They cost like $.50 to $1.50.

  59. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Not only is that a good way to get a citation and a fine from the FCC (assuming they actually did anything but auction off radio spectrum for money), but it’s a waste of a perfectly good toaster and CB.

    Nor is this as simple as it sounds; taking a crystal out of a toaster and having the CB magically land on your local Taco Bell’s drive through frequency is extremely unlikely, and I’m pretty sure they left off the part about the RF test equipment you’d need to make it come out on-frequency.

    And, if you’re really unlucky, perhaps your modified CB will interfere with the control tower at your local airport and cause a plane crash.

    Yeah, because we need more of that kind of behavior.

  60. Hoss says:

    What’s funny about losers fukin with innocent people buying lunch?

  61. dotcomrade says:

    At this point, I’d be screaming “L’Eggo my Eggo” but some hooligan dismantled the friggin toaster! Can’t even order an Egg Mc Muffin because said hooligan will intercept the order! Seriously, this guy could actually have a career in training videos. While this prank may not have any major repercussions, some people go way too far, as evidenced in this prank at a McDonald’s that cost the company over $6.1 million dollars.

    Transcript: [www.wjactv.com]

  62. ironchef says:

    april foolery stories might be better when its actually run on April 1st, instead of today.

  63. pestie says:

    Good god, people… This is a joke. And I don’t mean the pranking of fast-food drive-throughs (although I do think that’s very funny). I mean the whole idea that you can modify a CB radio with a crystal and get it to transmit on fast-food frequencies is pure bullshit. I got halfway through the comments before I even saw one post where someone let on that they knew it was a joke, too. The Phone Losers guys got sick of being asked how they did this, so they made a bullshit video in the hopes that morons would believe it and try it. Ha ha! Joke’s on them! OK? So everyone un-bunch your panties and wash the sand out of your vaginas already. No fast-food restaurants will be harmed (or, uh, mildly inconvenienced) by this video.

  64. MYarms says:

    Hold up, you don’t need to go all MacGuyver to pull this off. Anyone with an amplified microphone for a CB can do this. Just sit in the parking lot and let the hilarity ensue. You don’t even have to set the CB to any particular channel. Just key in and start talking.

  65. dfg34 says:

    OMG this is awesome! Thanks for making my day!

    Everyone else lighten up! jeez!

  66. ncboxer says:

    That was a great post. Maybe all the complaining people will get fed up and leave… one could hope, right?

  67. ywgflyer says:

    Did this with an old radio transceiver a while back (an ICOM aviation txmit/receive one). Most drive-thru frequencies are in and around 30MHZ (lots of the ones in Canada are on 31.400MHz), and work off low enough power that the signal doesn’t even leave the parking lot.

    Next article needs to be about the ways that can be used to get on PA systems (Wal-Mart’s is very, very easy to get on) =)

  68. everclear75 says:

    I thought this article was quite funny. Back when I worked @ Home Depot in the early 90′s, I knew how to hijack the store’s intercom system from an outside telephone line. I only did it once, because once you know it was did the hijinks luster wore off. Anywho,
    to any who thought this was offensive, “Lighten up, FRANCIS!”

  69. soulman901 says:

    OMG This is AWESOME.
    BIG THUMBS UP!!!

  70. kittenfoo says:

    my kids did a play a few years ago at a playhouse next to a fast food joint. somehow, the frequency of the drive-thru service got mixed in with the playhouse’s sound system, so when belle’s father was about to leave her in the beast’s castle, we got to hear someone order a burger and fries. i got a kick out of it. half the fun of community theater is seeing what actually happens vs. what’s supposed to happen.

  71. Simkins says:

    Wow, a lot of people have zero sence of humor today, oh well, I find it funny. Actually I would like to do this, it sounds almost as fun as a cell phone jammer.

  72. marsneedsrabbits says:

    My husband says this is not possible for no less than two reasons:

    1). Fast food systems broadcast in FM & CBs broadcast in AM. Just changing a chip doesn’t change AM to FM.

    2). Drive-thrus require something called PL tones, which CB’s don’t have and this wouldn’t give them.

  73. groverexploder says:

    Nice that they use a photo of the Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop… considering it’s one of the few cities in the world that has NO drive-thrus.

  74. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Kat: my bad. damned bronchitis.

  75. IrisMR says:

    Ha! This is genius!

    Good job for posting this, consumerist. It’s great.

  76. Ghede says:

    This should be on Gizmodo, not consumerist. Other than that, I was entertained.

  77. lautaylo says:

    When I was about 7 years old, I got some really shitty service at a McD’s counter. It was cheap burger night, and I wanted some more burgers! I stood in line forever, got to the front, and the cashier completely ignored me because I was a child, despite my protestations. I got fed up, told my dad, and we left. Before driving away, dad tuned his Ham radio to the drive-thru frequency and said some rude things. After feeling so embarassed and disenfranchised, that certainly cheered me up.

    Whether this particular hack works or not, the point in posting it is that consumers are pissed off. We’ve been continually trodden upon by the companies we buy from, and we are mad as hell. People let their anger get the better of them and do stupid (and/or illegal) things because they feel that they have no other options. We should use this as an opportunity to take a deep breath, count to 10 and think of more productive ways to show that we are fed up with being disregarded.

  78. SJActress says:

    Where’s the original video?

  79. Kat@Work says:

    @Me: np. Hope you feel better – bronchitis SUCKS.

  80. AD8BC says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: @Mike_: Mike and Mars, absolutely correct. In most areas of the US (all of the fast food systems that I am familiar with), a CB will not work. First of all, Mars is correct — in a more “secure” system, it requires a PL tone (a subaudible tone used to open up the squelch of a radio receiver). Second, CBs do transmit in AM and most of these systems use FM. Third, CB is at about 26 MHz (HF) and most fast-food systems use UHF or VHF (150MHz or 450MHz ranges).

    And I know someone who has done this, it was waaay back when we were in high school (we are both ham radio operators). It can be done with most VHF or UHF ham radio transcievers (most are easily modifiable for out-of-band transmit, presumably for those hams who participate in Civil Air Patrol or Military Afiliate Radio System, both use frequencies not assigned to ham radio operators.

    It should be noted that a ham radio transciever such modified is also capable on operating on some of the older (pre-trunking) police and fire radio systems and also most business band frequencies… Messing with police and fire is something that is NOT recommended.

    In fact, the crime demonstrated in this Consumerist article is a federal crime, FCC fines for unlicensed radio transmission can top $10,000. And yes, most times these people are tracked down, ham radio operators do the tracking. And fox hunting is fun!

    Look here: [www.arrl.org]

  81. kc2gvx says:

    This is very funny, very illegal, and has been done by some “unprofessional” ham radio operators I used to associate with. As a licensed amateur radio operator, even having a radio that can transmt “out of band” into these frequencies can get your license revoked. Not something I would do, but really funny when I heard my former fellow hams do it. I still laugh at how mad some people get when you really give it back to them.

  82. dragon:ONE says:

    Christ, can some commenters lighten up? It’s a funny prank, and it does make my day, but do we really have to complain over ONE goddamn post just because it’s a bad idea to try?

    Sites have the full authority on what to post and what not to post. Lighten up, damnit.