City investigating after key fobs, garage openers not working in one North Olmsted OH neighborhood.

Thread Starter

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
This is the story. This began several days ago and has many people curious. The key fobs will work but in most cases only when placed directly on the vehicle with fresh batteries. The area is about 3 miles as a crow (or any other bird flies). The area is limited to a few square blocks so drive a few blocks and everything works fine. The problem also effects garage door openers. Maybe sweep with a spectrum analyzer and look for an unknown heck of a big signal? Cable company lines all appear normal, no leakage. So the question begs, what is the cause of these symptoms? I have not heard any mention of cellular phone problems. The symptoms seem all inclusive. Most US North American Key Fob systems operate around 315 MHz, I haven't a clue as to garage door openers. Pretty weird huh? The city is going to start going door to door asking residents to shut down all electronics in their homes for a few min. Anyone ever seen this before?

Ron
 

Thread Starter

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
Yeah and going to be interesting how this all plays out. All these symptoms have a cause and yes, you know the FCC (Friendly Cheerful Charlie) will be on this like white on rice. :)

Ron
 

Raymond Genovese

Joined Mar 5, 2016
1,658
This is the story. This began several days ago and has many people curious. The key fobs will work but in most cases only when placed directly on the vehicle with fresh batteries. The area is about 3 miles as a crow (or any other bird flies). The area is limited to a few square blocks so drive a few blocks and everything works fine. The problem also effects garage door openers. Maybe sweep with a spectrum analyzer and look for an unknown heck of a big signal? Cable company lines all appear normal, no leakage. So the question begs, what is the cause of these symptoms? I have not heard any mention of cellular phone problems. The symptoms seem all inclusive. Most US North American Key Fob systems operate around 315 MHz, I haven't a clue as to garage door openers. Pretty weird huh? The city is going to start going door to door asking residents to shut down all electronics in their homes for a few min. Anyone ever seen this before?

Ron
That is wild! It has been going on for weeks and the utility companies say their equipment is fine....

https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/cuyahoga-county/key-fobs-and-garage-openers-mysteriously-stop-working-in-north-olmsted-neighborhood/95-2f26ef13-0019-497b-b4aa-0c94209313bd

Councilman Glassburn says the next step is to go door to door this weekend to see if someone has something in their house causing the issue.
"Something in this area is jamming radio frequencies and we are still looking to figure out what it is,” he said.

So this is somebody in their basement? Hold on a minute...I don't know much about this radio frequency/jamming stuff, but to have an individual with a piece of equipment as the culprit to produce that size of area for the jamming would be pretty unlikely - no? I would look again at the Utility companies and the like.

What is so frustrating is that it seems like it would be so easy to learn and report much more, especially when it has been going on for so long,
 

Raymond Genovese

Joined Mar 5, 2016
1,658
I would set up some data loggers using 305 and 390 Mhz transmitters and receivers at the "jammable" distance and start getting minute by minute data to see how transient he jamming is - the reports are weird.

"They began noticing this just about two months ago. Car key fobs wouldn't open a trunk or a unlock a car door from just a few feet away; car doors wouldn't unlock and garage doors wouldn't open.

Residents said things were fine and then they just weren't, but if you leave the neighborhood everything works again.


https://fox8.com/2019/05/02/city-investigating-after-key-fobs-garage-openers-not-working-in-one-north-olmsted-neighborhood/
"I can go a block away or three blocks away and it will work. Then, you can go to the next street and it might not work in certain areas. It's very random where it works and where it does not work,” Allen Fisher said.


At first they thought it only affected GM cars and other American-made vehicles, but in fact just about any vehicle is affected once it comes into this three street area."


The reports on this vary somewhat (I have been reading the few local news reports written so far) but I am discouraged that there are...experts who are baffled...and...it must be something in your home.
 

Raymond Genovese

Joined Mar 5, 2016
1,658
https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/cuyahoga-county/first-energy-channel-3-test-mysterious-interference-of-key-fobs-and-garage-doors-in-north-olmsted-neighborhood/95-2b4c99c5-aad8-4757-8fde-f886fe6cc387

Channel 3 News turned to retired chief engineer Dave Kushman for perspective. Using a $15,000 spectrum analyzer, he canvassed the neighborhood to find the source of the problem. He pinpointed a pole at the center of the block where the frequency seemed to be strongest.
But he said that without going to the top, it was only a guess.

“Do I have suspicions? Yeah,” he said. “It’s very difficult to find it. You really got to get to the strongest area and hope that you’re right.”


Figures...if you want to get some answers, go to a retiree with some good toys
:)

"Residents along West 229th Street in Fairview Park are also describing similar problems."....
almost as though a utility company has some crappy equipment that they probably bought on AliBangBay :):)
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,714
The city is going to start going door to door asking residents to shut down all electronics in their homes for a few min.
How could they consider such a dumb idea? They should get someone with the equipment to monitor the frequencies involved and locate the hot spot(s) before they start guessing.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,281
My guess would be a electrically generated (arc transmitter type) wide-band noise source from transformer RFI. Most of the keyfob and garage door receivers have direct conversion front-ends with poor selectivity to tune-out nearby strong RF off the expected frequency range. This can cause the receiver desensitisation (raising the noise floor) on the expected band as intermodulation products/agc throttles down effective RF gain from the unwanted energy.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_detectable_signal
 
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Thread Starter

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
How could they consider such a dumb idea? They should get someone with the equipment to monitor the frequencies involved and locate the hot spot(s) before they start guessing.
I think part of the problem is that the door to door thinking comes from city politicians who are not quite electrical engineering types with a background in RF. :) When something like this happens people go to city hall wanting answers so true to form the city leaders, who are clueless, need to say something. The guy with the spectrum analyzer had the right idea.

Ron
 

Thread Starter

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
My guess would be a electrically generated (arc transmitter type) wide-band noise source from transformer RFI. Most of the keyfob and garage door receivers have direct conversion front-ends with poor selectivity to tune-out nearby strong RF off the expected frequency range. This can cause the receiver desensitisation (raising the noise floor) on the expected band as intermodulation products/agc throttles down effective RF gain from the unwanted energy.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_detectable_signal
Should be interesting to see how this all plays out. The video clip reminds me of when I was a kid starting out in armature radio. Local clubs would host fox and hound hunts. It is fun to guess what the source of the problem could be.

Ron
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,281
Should be interesting to see how this all plays out. The video clip reminds me of when I was a kid starting out in armature radio. Local clubs would host fox and hound hunts. It is fun to guess what the source of the problem could be.

Ron
I've been on RFI hunts before with a simple wideband rf crystal sweep detector with analog meter. Finding wide-band sources can be maddening. This seems to be continuous so that makes it easier to locate..

You can make or buy a detector with the AD8307/8307 for under $15
https://www.analog.com/media/en/technical-documentation/data-sheets/ad8307.pdf
https://www.analog.com/media/en/technical-documentation/data-sheets/AD8317.pdf
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
Should be interesting to see how this all plays out. The video clip reminds me of when I was a kid starting out in armature radio. Local clubs would host fox and hound hunts. It is fun to guess what the source of the problem could be.

Ron
Is armature radio the RF from a sparking commutator? :)
 

drc_567

Joined Dec 29, 2008
843
... a portable AM radio, tuned between stations, could possibly home in on the problem. Something, someplace is creating a strong spark, generating a wideband disturbance.
... Had a similar problem with a 100 watt CW band transmitter that had a broken circuit trace at the output antenna connection. All nearby broadcast tv reception was blacked out every time the transmit key was pressed.
 

Thread Starter

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
Is armature radio the RF from a sparking commutator? :)
Thinking Marconi Spark Gap preceded me by a few years, not many but a few. This town is in the west Cleveland, Ohio suburbs and I am in the south east burbs so as curious as I am I am not about to go there and start sniffing around. I just hope once the source of the problem is found the news shares what the heck happened. :)

Ron
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
21,058
Why would this be such a difficult thing to figure out? Call in a HAM.
I would get a malfuctioning garage door opener and look at the demodulated signal on a scope.
Then I would use an RF spectrum analyzer and scan for the rogue interference.
With a directional antenna you can pinpoint the location of the RF source.
 
I think part of the problem is that the door to door thinking comes from city politicians who are not quite electrical engineering types with a background in RF. :) When something like this happens people go to city hall wanting answers so true to form the city leaders, who are clueless, need to say something. The guy with the spectrum analyzer had the right idea.

Ron
Well, on the one hand, I am glad that the Congressman Councilman is at least being responsive. On the other hand, from the news reports, it is not being handled rationally. Of course I don't expect the Congressman Councilman to know about RF and so on, but he SHOULD know how to ask people that do. I am also less forgiving of the role of the utility companies (again, at least insofar as the local reporting is saying). In fact, the motivation to get to the bottom of it may be the irrational fear that we are being bombarded by mysterious radio waves that are a health hazard and stop our key fobs from working.

I don't believe that I am being too harsh if this has been going on for a month.
 
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Thread Starter

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,426
I don't believe that I am being too harsh if this has been going on for a month.
I believe what happened over time was people actually began to talk to their neighbors. NE Ohio is a funny place. When spring finally offers a few warm days people who are reclusive all winter crawl outside. I believe after they began talking everything going on finally began to take shape. My keyfob won't work, that's strange neither does mine but away from my house it works. Yeah, may automatic garage door opener won't open, yeah, neither does mine. Now when enough neighbors share a common problem the next stop is city hall, starting with your ward representative. Eventually the local media gets involved.

Now personally there is little doubt in my mind. This is being caused by aliens. The monsters are due on Maple Street. This is only the beginning. Willing to bet the mother ship is north of us, out over Lake Erie, I mean think about it, a lake named erie? :)

Ron
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,281
I believe what happened over time was people actually began to talk to their neighbors. NE Ohio is a funny place. When spring finally offers a few warm days people who are reclusive all winter crawl outside. I believe after they began talking everything going on finally began to take shape. My keyfob won't work, that's strange neither does mine but away from my house it works. Yeah, may automatic garage door opener won't open, yeah, neither does mine. Now when enough neighbors share a common problem the next stop is city hall, starting with your ward representative. Eventually the local media gets involved.

Now personally there is little doubt in my mind. This is being caused by aliens. The monsters are due on Maple Street. This is only the beginning. Willing to bet the mother ship is north of us, out over Lake Erie, I mean think about it, a lake named erie? :)

Ron
Maybe it's just crickets again.
 
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