Hams Help Trace “Mystery” Signal Disrupting Keyless Entry Devices in Ohio
A recent article in The New York Times reported that many garage door openers and keyless vehicle entry fobs in an Ohio town near Cleveland mysteriously stopped working. While the article invoked The X-Files and hinted initially that a NASA research center somehow could be involved, the cause was not so much mystifying as arcane.
“Garage door repair people, local ham radio enthusiasts, and other volunteer investigators descended on the neighborhood with various meters,” the May 4 article by Heather Murphy recounted. “Everyone agreed that something powerful was interfering with the radio frequency that many fobs rely on, but no one could identify the source.”
More than a dozen residents reported intermittent issues getting their key fobs and garage door openers to operate, and most lived within a few blocks of each other. At one point, the local power utility started shutting off power to areas where the strongest RF signal was detected, but the signal persisted. Dan Dalessandro, WB8ZQH, a TV repairer, was among several hams who investigated. He initially picked up “little blips” on a signal detector, but finally, on one block and at a particular house, the signal was quite loud.
“The source of the problem was a homebrew, battery-operated device designed by a local resident to alert him if someone was upstairs when he was working in his basement,” the Times reported. “It did so by turning off a light.” The individual, who, the article said, has special needs, was not identified for privacy concerns. The inventor, who had no malicious intent, had no inkling that his device was wreaking havoc on the neighborhood until a North Olmstead City Council member and a volunteer knocked on his door. The device operated on 315 MHz, the frequency many keyless-entry devices use under FCC Part 15 rules. The device’s battery was removed, the signal stopped, and all who were involved breathed sighs of relief.
Field Day (June 22and 23, 2019) is almost here and the planning is underway — for radios, tents, food, antennas—and how to keep them up! You may be lucky and have tall firs or high ridges to get your “skyhooks” in the clear but for many groups, a tower or mast is needed.
Being a veteran of many, many Field Days, I’ve seen a lot of putting-up and tearing-down—and even a falling-down or two—so here is some perspective on how to do the job safely and avoid damage to people and equipment.
Woodchuck Members, as you know our dues are now due by the end of the January meeting. We would appreciate prompt payment so we may make out our Roster for 2019.
Our Dues for the year 2019 are as follows: Full Membership $15.00, Members of the same household $7.50 Associate Membership (no voting rights) only available to those without an FCC license) $7.50
It is with great sorrow that the Woodchuck ARC has lost a Dear Member this Morning.
Bill Salem, N8MXU, was the last original founding member of the Woodchuck ARC.
Bill was recently honored by the Woodchuck's for his service to the Club and Ham Radio in general.
We will post more information as it becomes available: Obituary Info
From Dave, K8WRS:
"I am sad to report the loss of the last continuous member of the original Woodchuck Amateur Radio Club, Bill Salem who passed away on March 23, 2019. Bill Salem stayed with the club in both good and bad times over the many years and sought to make the club a better place for us all. We will miss his quite demeanor and the willingness to share his knowledge of radio with us over the years, he will be missed.
To those of us who knew him for many years he will be missed in many, many ways. I personally met him 27 years ago when I joined the Woodchuck A.R.C. and enjoyed his company at many club events when we were both a bit younger and had more energy, please read the information below concerning the visitation and funeral arrangements contained in the attachment below forwarded to me by Larry (N8OWS) who requested I forward this info to the membership."