Baby Monitor Monitors International Space Station Rather Than Baby

A new mom in Palatine, IL turned her baby monitor on and, rather than her baby, she saw two men floating in space. She was viewing images of astronauts in the international space station. She also saw mission control and a map of the station’s trajectory.

The mom called the manufacturer to ask if they knew why she was viewing the space station. They didn’t. According to the mom, the CSR at the baby monitor company told her that she “really shouldn’t be seeing anything past 150 feet.”

Creepy. Sounds like the beginning of a Steven Spielberg movie back when his movies were still good.—MEGHANN MARCO

Baby Monitor Picks Up NASA Signal of Space Station [MyFoxChicago]


Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    Maybe it’s that NASA tv station — they seem to have lots of raw footage of launches, spacewalks, and day-to-day space station activities.

  2. acambras says:

    It’d be pretty weird if some guy at NASA turned on his computer monitor and saw a crying baby who needed a diaper change.

  3. Fuzz says:

    Sounds like a space case to me. Call in the investigators!

  4. Ikki says:

    @acambras: Bah, you beat me to it.

  5. fargle says:

    They should see if they can find the local ham radio club and see if they are rebroadcasting NASA TV on their Amateur Television repeater – hams often do, and in fact got special permission to be able to broadcast music years back, because it’s illegal to broadcast music on ham bands normally, but NASA wakes the astronauts up with music.

    Anyway, they often rebroadcast it either on the 420-450 mHz UHF band, or on the 902-928 mHz band, which is more likely in this scenario.

  6. TedSez says:

    If her baby starts building wooden-block monoliths and humming “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” it’s time to start worrying.

  7. tracilyns says:

    SWEET! I totally want one.

  8. royal72 says:

    dude i want one of those!

  9. ElizabethD says:

    Did she hear HAL talking in the background?

    (Inspired by TedSez’s comment.) :-)

  10. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Weird stuff happens sometimes with electronic devices. Some guy’s large screen TV kept broadcasting an emergency locator beacon signal a couple years ago. Emergency crews kept coming to rescue him, or, his TV I guess.

    There really are reasons why you see all that language on FCC compliance in product manuals and on devices.

    Sometimes you can’t get a signal to go two feet – and sometimes signals travel hundreds or thousands of miles. Sometimes signals even go into space and come back to Earth.


  11. badgeman46 says:

    Simple explantation for this. Baby/wireless cameras typically broadcast on the same frequency as other wireless transmitters. One of her neighbors probably uses a wireless transmitter to send his cable/dish signal to another tv in the house, or even maybe to his secret workshop in the back.

  12. bossco says:

    This is the kind of hard hitting reporting that is the reason I have bookmarked the Consumerist. It could have been worse, instead of an ISS feed, it could have been porn.

  13. hemaphore says:

    @TedSez: YES!!!

  14. mrCharlie says:

    Solar flares maybe? Growing up, pre-cable, were able to (briefly) pick up watchable TV signals from Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska and Waco, Texas during a period of high solar flare activity.

    What made this impressive is that we were in Cincinnati.

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

    Well, speaking as a ham radio operator, commercial communications technician and all-around geek, it would have to be a pretty big coincidence for the baby monitor to be on the same frequency as a NASA broadcast..but, certainly not impossible. And, if the space station was directly overhead and has a high-gain antenna pointed at the earth (which I’m sure it does), it would be radiating a fairly hefty line-of-sight signal at 2.4 GHz. There’s also a lot of satellite activity in that band.

    As fargle mentioned, it’s also possible she was picking up an amateur ATV rebroacast on 420 MHz either from amateur TV repeater.

    Or, it could also be a big hoax. Wireless transmitter +VCR +prerecorded footage+ big antenna = high-tech prank. I’m not sure why anyone would go through that kind of trouble to pull a prank, but that’s also possible.


  16. homerjay says:

    Imagine waking up to that in the middle of the night. The only thing worse than a dingo stealing your baby is an astronaut stealing your baby– and if recent events have taught us anything, they’re probably BOTH in diapers!

  17. Trackback says:

    When new mom Natalie Mylinger turned on her baby monitor, she was surprised to find that her little cherub had gained 40 years and the gift of levitation. It soon became clear that the device was somehow patching into live footage from the international space station. And mission control.

  18. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    It would have been cool if she overheard the astronauts saying: “Are we on the secure channel? Yes, OK, Mr. President, we have aliens the here right now…”

  19. Sockatume says:

    Meanwhile, in the womb…

    “Open the cervix, HAL.”

    “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.”

  20. gamble says:

    This can’t be the NASA channel; there’s no NASA logo in the corner.

    Oddly enough, when I used to work in Sears electronics, the only channels we got on our TVs were the preprogrammed Sears loop and the NASA channel. The only thing more boring than watching the same loop play over and over again all day, every day, was watching the NASA channel.

  21. 160medic says:

    I have seen this before.It is not a transmission from the space station. If she saw the trajectory and mission control, she is just picking a public access station that broadcasts the mission.

  22. Firstborn Dragon says:

    Try this. I used to have a pair of PC speakers.

    I was using em when I lived off campus at university. When I turned them on without any sound I could get local radio by just putting my hand on top of the one speaker.

    Not sure why it worked though.

  23. CeilingCat says:

    @Firstborn Dragon:

    Your body is a perfect natural antenna :-)

    You should see the reception some supermodels get! :-)

  24. anderswright says:

    The truth is out there.

  25. @CeilingCat: LOL

  26. ZugTheMegasaurus says:

    Those aren’t astronauts; little Timmy just had a growth spurt.

  27. tcp100 says:

    It’s probably a ham rebroadcast. These devices are unlicensed part 15 devices, and therefore secondary in the spectrum they use. Hams have primary authority in that spectrum, and to quote stickers on the back of such devices, they must “accept all interference” that may cause adverse operation.

    In other words, it’s not the company’s fault – that’s just how radio works, and the consumer is out of luck – they’re using an unlicensed, unshielded wireless device that uses plain ol’ analog transmission.

    That’s the way it is with most consumer electronic devices, and most stuff is unshielded and doesnt reject off-frequency signals well, to keep costs down.

    In other words, if a Ham operator or a TV station is broadcasting next to you, and it’s totally wiping out your brand new Plasma TV, guess what.. You can’t complain to the FCC, you can’t complain to the operator / transmitter.. It’s your problem, and your only recourse is with the manufacturer, by convincing them to produce a more robust device. That’s right, a HAM or the space station is completely within their rights, as licensed transmitters, to wipe out the reception of your consumer devices – as long as it’s not intentional. It is left up to manufacturers of unlicensed devices to prevent such interference.


    People are going to start running into this more and more with all the wireless stuff showing up out there in the consumer market.

  28. ACruzer says:


    That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all morning… Except my names not dave… Wifes been sleepin around again.

  29. Mike_ says:

    Contrary to previous opinions, it’s probably not a ham, because (1) amateur stations are required to identify once every 10 minutes, and (2) a control operator must be present when an amateur station is transmitting. If it’s on at all hours, it’s not under part 97.

    More likely, one of your neighbors has a 2.4GHz A/V extender similar to this.

    Also, if your home electronics are being disrupted by a ham, you should just talk to him. Most hams will want to help, either by eliminating their station’s spurious emissions, or helping you better shield poorly-designed equipment from the effects of RF. Don’t listen to the “hams make bad neighbors” talk!

    And finally, if you’re able to pick up your neighbor’s 2.4GHz video signal, then your neighbor is probably able to receive your baby monitor signal. Be sure to turn it off before doing anything embarrassing or illegal.


  30. QuirkyRachel says:

    That’s neat. I would totally keep the baby monitor and buy a new one that actually watches my kid. :)

  31. jeffj-nj says:

    @acambras: Ok, I admit it. I almost lost my coffee when I read that. Bravo.

  32. jeffj-nj says:

    @QuirkyRachel: I actually thought the same thing, until I remembered that I don’t want kids. But, ya know, mostly the same idea. ;)

  33. pestie says:

    As yet another ham/NASA geek, I’ll also say that this was either a neighbor with a “video sender” who happened to be watching NASA TV (available for free on DirecTV, Dish Network, and with a “big dish”), or (more likely, IMHO) a ham on the 2.4 GHz band rebroadcasting NASA TV.

    It’s also possible, but very unlikely, that this is just a prank. dwayne_dibbly said he wasn’t sure why anyone would go to the trouble, but for someone like me, it actually wouldn’t be that much trouble. Yes, I’m the kind of geek who has NASA TV and high-gain 2.4 GHz antennas just lyin’ around the house doin’ nothing. And I like to mess with people’s heads. Back in the days when “faxmodems” were new to the market and businesses were just starting to advertise their fax numbers, I sent some late-night prank faxes intended to make a local business think they’d somehow subscribed to a weather-satellite-map-by-fax service. No such thing existed, but I had a fax modem, some weather sat maps (received via shortwave radio), and a lot of time on my hands.

  34. acambras says:

    …and a lot of time on my hands.

    If this woman is a new mom, something tells me she does NOT have a lot of time on her hands.

  35. pestie says:

    @acambras: Huh? I wasn’t thinking that the woman was the prankster. I was assuming if it were a prank, it would be someone nearby who’s a hopeless geek like me.

  36. Mike_ says:

    @pestie: If he’s operating under Part 97, he has to identify his station every ten minutes, and a control operator must be present while transmitting. I still think this is interference from another Part 15 user.

  37. acambras says:


    Oh sorry — I misunderstood. ;-)

  38. lostsync says:

    i once owned an electric guitar that would pick up AM radio from mexico (i guess…i don’t speak spanish and they didn’t speak english) when plugged into a particular amp at my drummer’s house in southeastern georgia. interestingly enough, the guitar was a fender strat made in mexico.

  39. axiomatic says:

    The signal bounced off of Mars and then redirected itself to Palatine, IL after rebounding off some swamp gas in Louisiana. -M.I.B.

  40. shdwsclan says:

    NASATV is fta… it is possible to recieve it without a satellite dish if you live on the degree line at which the satellite broadcasting it is centered…..101, 110, 119…i dont remember, you have to look it up….

    This is especially true if you have a 2.4 ghz baby monitor that was POORLY manufactured and also has autotuning…probably 2-2.4ghz…and digitally….dvb….so if the baby monitor uses digital transmissions over the 2-2.4 ghz range, then it is possible to pick up Ku band satellite signal if your in the right place, since those would come in the strongest, stronger than the other end of the baby monitor itself… the monitor would have no choice but to tune to that frequency….
    This is somewhat unlikely, but possible….you dont need a satellite dish to recieve satellite signal….all a dish does is just focus them into one point and send them into a coax end….

    It could also be somebody using that videosender….
    There was a story on fox a while back about someone doing this with the vx3 spycams…..but this was used to look into people’s houses

  41. shdwsclan says:

    ….adding to that….The reciever for the vx3 spycam [that spycam in the spam and bar ads all over the web] could pick up baby monitor signals…

  42. nffcnnr says:

    Good ole’ NASA Technology. More pervasive every day. i say hooray.

  43. nffcnnr says:

    …and was the baby in 3-D?

  44. papuska says:

    Wow, I had no idea so many other amateur radio folks are consumerist readers. Nice to read radio geek comments!

    88 es 73 de another ham

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

    @pestie: Heh..I remember when I was in high-school, um..a close friend put a transmitter on the same frequency as the local McDonald’s drive-thru window (35.020 MHz). Mwuhahahaha.

    –… …–