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Author Topic: I'm opening my neighbor's garage door!  (Read 38024 times)
KB9BIT
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« on: August 08, 2011, 05:45:36 AM »

I got my Windom put back up yesterday and discovered that when I transmit on 40 meters my next door neighbor's garage door will open.  My own garage door will open when I transmit on 17 or 15 m but I can turn the power to it off when I'm on those bands.  I don't get into his TV, computer or phone, just his garage door opener.  This is a reputable model/make opener (Overhead Door)

Since I get along great with my neighbor I want to solve the problem and am willing to pay for any costs.  Does anyone have any experience with the snap-on chokes sold by Radio Shack in solving RF issues, or should I go with something more reliable?  I'm assuming three chokes, one for each sensor lead and one for the opener push button switch?

Any suggestions/ideas would be appreciated.

73
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AA4PB
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2011, 06:41:11 AM »

Step one would be to temporarily disconnect the manual opener switch from the opener and see if you still have the RFI issue. If that fixes it then it shows that the wire is acting as an antenna. The solution might be to place a small (0.01uF) ceramic disk capacitor from each wire to chassis ground right at the connector terminals on the opener. Additionally, you could wind perhaps 10 turns (or as many as you can get on) around one of the split ferrite cores.

If this wire is how the RF is getting into the opener, that could explain why yours opens on one band and his on another if the wire lengths are different.

Again, it helps to devolop a solution if you can determine how the RF is getting in (switch wires, sensor wires, power wires, etc). It is probably not being picked up by the control receiver as that is operating on a much higher frequency than your ham transmitter. In addition, most control receivers these days use a digital code that your transmitter will not generate.

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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
W1AEX
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2011, 07:39:00 AM »

Most manufacturers will assist with RFI issues when they show up. They may even have a kit of components that your neighbor can install to resolve the problem. Ask your neighbor to contact the manufacturer, or the installer if he/she used one, for information about RF ingress to the device. Even better, sit down with the neighbor and call the manufacturer/installer together, so you can explain to the technical department what is happening. I'd be very careful about troubleshooting a neighbor's garage door, and installing components, without any input from the support department of the company that makes the product. People have been seriously injured by malfunctioning garage doors, and your neighbor's is obviously malfunctioning (in the presence of RF). I'd hate to see you held liable for an accident that occurs at a later date.

The Radio Shack snap-on chokes are not always the proper mix for HF frequencies, so your mileage may vary with those. Typically, mix 43 or mix 31 are what you would want to prevent HF ingress.

I hope your neighbor is able to resolve their problem successfully. I've only had three RFI issues with neighbors over the past 36 years at this location. In all 3 instances (a mast-mounted TV RF preamplifier, a TV audio rectification problem, phone RFI) the manufacturer of the device or the service with the problem corrected the issue at no cost to the neighbor or myself. Be careful about assuming the expense of this project, it's really the device manufacturer's responsibility.

Good luck!

Rob W1AEX
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W3HKK
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2011, 05:14:04 PM »

Our own garage door started opening and closing  seemingly on its own.   turns out I had left the  remote control in my summer shorts.  The xyl decided to wash them.  And as it tumbled around, the falling weight of the wet clothing would  press the button from time to time. 

Amazing.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2011, 04:39:08 AM »

At least you could be sure that the signal it transmitted was 'clean'!   Grin
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W3HKK
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2011, 05:41:07 AM »

 I love it! 

To be sure we are  putting out a clean signal, run the rig through a washing machine!  Smiley
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SWMAN
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2011, 05:59:12 AM »

 After you took it out of the washing machine did you put it in the dryer ? If you did I am shure that you got "static" cling !!
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KB9BIT
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2011, 08:14:49 AM »

Thanks for the replies.  I took AA4PB's suggestion and disconnected the manual switch from my own garage door opener and added a ferrite core that I salvaged from an old computer.  It worked beautifully.  I can now transmit on 17 and 15 with no problems.

My neighbor had the installer come out yesterday to replace the wire from the switch to the opener since it was the original wire from the old opener.  I doubt it made a difference, and I have not had a chance to talk to him. 

From what he's told me it sounds like Overhead Door has no real knowledge in dealing with RFI issues.  I'll let him try a few more things before I "insist" on letting him allow me to install a choke on his switch lead.  My only other option will be to move my antenna to the farthest part of my yard away from his garage, but I don't see that making much of a difference.  If that doesn't work then I guess his door will be opening and closing all the time while I'm on 40m.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 09:53:42 AM »

it sounds like Overhead Door has no real knowledge in dealing with RFI issues.

Unfortunately that's the norm. They typically send out a guy who is great at installing openers but has no technical understanding of the circuitry inside them. He just experiments with different things, some of which make no sense technically like replacing perfectly good 2-conductor cable with more cable just like it  Huh Ultimately, when he can't fix it, he'll tell his customer that its all your fault. Then your neighbor is armed with "professional" advise that your radio is defective. That's why it usually pays to be on good terms with the neighbor so he'll be comfortable with letting you add some filtering.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
W3LK
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2011, 11:06:16 AM »


From what he's told me it sounds like Overhead Door has no real knowledge in dealing with RFI issues.  I'll let him try a few more things before I "insist" on letting him allow me to install a choke on his switch lead.  My only other option will be to move my antenna to the farthest part of my yard away from his garage, but I don't see that making much of a difference.  If that doesn't work then I guess his door will be opening and closing all the time while I'm on 40m.

With all due respect, the problem is HIS and not yours. I know you are trying to be a good neighbor, but if you insist on doing anything to his door opener, you then conceivably become responsible for any other problems with it.

Tell he what needs to be done and let HIM do it. If he decline to do so, he'll have to live with the situation.
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A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.
AA4PB
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2011, 06:07:37 AM »

"the problem is HIS and not yours"

Technically, that's true. As a practical matter the problem becomes both of yours unless you are willing to have an on-going war with your neighbor. If he's not technically inclined, all he knows is that when you transmit he has a problem and when you stay off the air the problem goes away. Common sense tells him that you are the cause of his problem and it can be easily solved by you staying off the air. That's the perception that you have to deal with so to the extent that you can be helpful and gain his confidence in your technical abilities you will be better off. Personally, I find most people to be fairly reasonable and I don't worry much about being held liable for any future problems in his house because I added a filter to his door opener, TV, telephone, etc.
 
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
W1AEX
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 11:01:35 AM »

Sadly, there is a lot of truth to your statement about having to deal with the perception that the amateur operator is at fault in these cases. I think the common sense scenario you described pretty accurately portrays how a neighbor views these things. That being said, I would never "touch their junk". I would be more than willing to sit down and listen to the issue they are having, I'd be very willing to help them communicate with the manufacturer, installer, or service provider responsible. I would be more than happy to make suggestions about grounding, shielding, filtering, or provide better ideas for the installation of the item, but I would never offer to pay for parts, provide parts, or do any modifications to anything they own.

I have always made sure that everything in my own house was RF bulletproof, and on the 3 occasions at this location where neighbors knocked on the door, I could confidently demonstrate that my own TV and telephone were completely unaffected while I operated my equipment. Nothing convinces a neighbor more than to stand in your house and see your equipment behaving normally as you transmit, while they are on the phone with someone at their house who is watching their own stuff misbehave.

It's a shame that as a result of manufacturer marketing/design/installation decisions the issue of consumer RFI still exists, but it's the world we live in. I have not had a complaint for more than 30 years at this location, mostly due to the fact that cable installations have excellent immunity from RFI when installed properly, and most people around here use cell phones rather than twisted pair phone lines. Should I get that knock on the door in the future, I would certainly be sympathetic and helpful, but if it turned nasty, I'd encourage them to contact the F.C.C. Consumer Complaint Bureau. After navigating the convoluted path at the F.C.C. they will eventually be able to speak with a human, who will clear up any mis-perceptions about the cause of these issues.

In the perception-free words of the F.C.C. Special Counsel:  "The general rule is that consumer electronics are protected only by manufacturer design from receiving any unwanted radio signals and home electronics have no priority over any radio or broadcast service."

73,

Rob W1AEX
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KB9BIT
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2011, 02:31:55 PM »

Thanks for the good discussion.  My previous comment about "insisting" that he let me install a choke on his opener lead was tongue-in-cheek, but that didn't come across well.  Sorry.  I do plan to keep my good relationship with my neighbor at all costs.  It means more to me than being able to get on 40m.

Unfortunately, the bonehead techs at Overhead Door told him that there's nothing they can do about the radio messing up his door!  But I'm sure we can work out something before it gets too out of hand.  I've already demonstrated to him that I solved my problem with my door and he seems willing to try the same solution.

I'm going to give him the parts and ask him to have the OD techs install them.  Since his door is still under warranty, they are doing all service calls for free.

I'll keep posted on this issue.

73

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K7JBQ
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2011, 04:19:26 PM »

How much power are you running?

I used to open my neighbor's garage door when I had the amplifier on. Barefoot, it stayed shut.

Fortunately I had the amplifier...I got my lawn mower back.

73,
Bill
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W1AEX
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2011, 04:25:31 PM »

It sounds like you are approaching this problem in a sensible way and the installer is stepping up and at least making an effort under the warranty to assist your neighbor. It's encouraging that you were able to correct the issue with your own garage door system and it's also a very smart move to have the service techs install the components.

Out of curiosity, I did a google search on garage door RFI and found that there is quite a bit of information out there. The article at the link below was interesting because the FCC got involved due to the fact that a military system was causing the RFI to consumer garage doors. In this case, the military communications system was impacting the range of the garage door openers:

http://www.southgatearc.org/news/jul2005/garage_doors_rfi.htm

The third paragraph pretty much sums up where the FCC places automatic garage door openers in the hierarchy of importance. "As explained in the FCC release, garage door openers operate, legally under Part 15 of the Commissions rules. This means that they are very low power and are unlicensed. As unlicensed devices, there is no right to protection from interference." I believe that an integral part of resolving interference issues is to make sure that those who complain to us (or about us) understand the rules as they are. It's very interesting that the FCC recommended that consumers who were affected should seek resolution from the manufacturers or installers of their garage door equipment.

That being said, it looks like you are on the path to a solution and I hope things at your location are resolved quickly and to everyone's satisfaction!

73,

Rob W1AEX

« Last Edit: August 12, 2011, 08:37:37 PM by W1AEX » Logged

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