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Air Force Jams Garage Doors

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the all-your-doors-are-belong-to-us dept.

Wireless Networking 335

SonicSpike points us to a Chicago Tribune article reporting that in Colorado the Air Force is jamming garage doors. In a joint U.S.-Canadian operation, they were testing communications on a frequency that would be used by first responders in the event of a threat to homeland security. From the article: "But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the area found that theirs had suddenly stopped working... Technically, the Air Force has the right to the frequency, which it began using nearly three years ago at some bases. Signals have previously interfered with garage doors near bases in Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania."

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335 comments

Technically??? (0, Troll)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084760)

Technically, the Air Force has the right to the frequency, which it began using nearly three years ago at some bases.
what about all those people who have probably owned garage door openers for much longer than 3 years ago. Oh thats right they are just citizens and have as much right as dogs in the eyes of the government.

Re:Technically??? (3, Insightful)

jonnyelectronic (938904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084792)

What that sentence could be trying to say is that the Air Force has the rights to the frequency, but only started using it three years ago.

Re:Technically??? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084842)

No, the Air Force does not have the right to that frequency. That frequency is in use by millions of people for their garage doors.

Re:Technically??? (1, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084796)

The government retains 'right of way' access for most everything when its 'for the public good'.

Be glad they are not taking the entire house to put in a super highway and its just your door that isnt working.

Re:Technically??? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084836)

Why do you hate America?

Re:Technically??? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084846)

While I agree w/your post, "technically" is the correct word here. We need a +1 Unfortunate mod.

Re:Technically??? (5, Interesting)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084854)

the problem here is that those garage doors openers are unlicensed transmitters using a band they wouldn't be allowed to use if it wasn't for the "low power" exceptions. if they'd put their transmitters on a public band or gotten a license, they wouldn't have this problem

Re:Technically??? (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085016)

the problem here is that those garage doors openers are unlicensed transmitters using a band they wouldn't be allowed to use if it wasn't for the "low power" exceptions.
A similar example would be the iPod to FM Radio adapters & similar products.

The FCC will give you a free pass if you're below some maximum power, which brings us to this tidbit from TFA: Holly Strack, who lives near the entrance to the facility, said friends in the neighborhood all had the same problem. "I never thought my garage door was a threat to national security," she said.

Don't worry hon, your garage door opener isn't a threat, unless you're somehow violating FCC regulations.

And this genius: David McGuire, whose Overhead Door Co. received more than 400 calls for help, said ... "The military has the right to use that frequency. It is a sign of the times," he said.

If by "sign of the times" you mean "the military is getting around to testing systems that should have been up and running years ago".

Why does this article try to inject so much fear into what is a relatively straight forward issue?

Re:Technically??? (5, Insightful)

bumptehjambox (886036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085254)

Why does this article try to inject so much fear into what is a relatively straight forward issue?

For real. And judging by the 'omg teh gov't is teh evilz' posts here, it is working quite well.

I thought it was funny, but apparently it is a political issue to some, obviously the American Government are evil fascists for this human rights outrage.
For a few hours on one random day I was faced with the decision of whether to shut my garage door manually or wait until the test was completed...that's it, the terrorists have won.

Re:Technically??? (3, Funny)

Riddlefox (798679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085294)

I wholeheartedly agree with you.

BTW, I'm part of the squadron that helped get this system online for the testing.. At our unit's holiday party, they presented the squadron commander a garage door opener as his door prize.

Re:Technically??? (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084976)

Ahhhhhh puppy...

Big fucking deal. Open your door manually. Boo fucking hoo.

I have a hard time really caring about this story or the people it affects.

Tom

Re:Technically??? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085064)

If you are sick of seeing people that are lazy, here's what you can do to cure that 'sickness'.

Go find a cliff or a bridge somewhere, then take your entire fucktarded family.
Have all of them jump off to their deaths, and after that jump to yours. Your 'sickness' will be cured and we won't have to put up with fucktards like you anymore.

Re:Technically??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085146)

With most (new)door openers you can't do it manually if they're locked(some do have a key operated bypass). What you can do is cut a small hole in the top panel(most doors are paper thin) and pull the manual release cord. Then you're free to liberate any cars in the garage. Robbing people has never been easier :)

Re:Technically??? (2, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085214)

Am I the only one that thought that trapping your hand inside the top of the door (the first to be eaten into the ceiling) and pulling the MANUAL RELEASE LEVER is an extraordinarily bad idea?

Re:Technically??? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085248)

Well given that essentially 99% of all cars in my neighbourhood are parked on the street (even though they have driveways the lazy bastards) I'd say this isn't really a problem.

If you're the type that owns a $50,000 sports car of some sort, you can afford to put a KEY LOCK on your garage door and MOVE ON with your life.

If you're driving the typical rusted out shitbox car that is hardly street legal (e.g. most of Ottawa) then you need not worry about it.

Tom

Re:Technically??? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085278)

Tell that to your 86 year old grandma in winter (my grandma still drives, and safely I might add). She may still drive, but she shouldn't open the door even if she might physically be able to. What about handicapped folks?

The solution here is that garage doors need to be in a licensed space (and have the government avoid that frequency for this sort of thing) and using some sort of spread spectrum frequency hopping deal that hopefully will find a working window of space.

There's just too many garage door openers out there for this to happen overnight, but make all new openers have it and eventually you'll get there (10 years or so?).

Re:Technically??? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085324)

Would it be so hard to have a button and a fucking wire? It's not like the radio signals are encrypted or anything, so the only thing it does is make your life a bit simpler... big deal.

Better yet, put a keypad and a simple 3-4 digit code. That'll keep the stupid neighbourhood kids out AND let you open the door without all the strain of "sliding a door open" [which unless you're ADA you should be able to do if you're a driver...]

Tom

Re:Technically??? (1)

myz24 (256948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085446)

I believe many of those keypads are still wireless so that doesn't necessarily work either.

Re:Technically??? (5, Funny)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085044)

Just a casual thought; But could someone on the Air Force staff flip the their garage door switch every time UCLA scores against USC so that the garage doors open up in a nation wide "wave"?

Re:Technically??? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085050)

Its not that at all. When they purchased those devices, they were licences under Part 15. Which states, A. the device must accept harmfull interferance B. the device cannot emmit any harmfull interference. They are a secondary user of those frequencies, and funciton is not garanteed on those frequencies for those devices by the FCC. Its like when my ham radio equipment interfears with the naibors baby monitor. The first problem is i'm not even using the frequency it uses, just one close to it, and the poor design and construction of the device comes into play. Second of all, I fall under part 97 rules, which allows me to generate some levels of interference, so long as it is 120db down from my primart transmitting frequency, i'm legal.

This has nothing to do with rights, there never were any rights to those frequencies for the public, they were never anything more than a secondary user.

Re:Technically??? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085112)

This has nothing to do with rights, there never were any rights to those frequencies for the public, they were never anything more than a secondary user.

Isn't that a bit backwards? I mean, it's the government serving the people, eh? The people as a whole own the airwaves and we merely allow the government to regulate them for our own good. If the method and allocations they choose are disagreeable to us we have the right to petition them to change it.

That said, there's probably a better solution in this case, like switching to other frequencies (already mentioned), using lasers instead, or building a national public transportation system so that we don't even need cars/garages.

Re:Technically??? (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085410)

This has nothing to do with rights, there never were any rights to those frequencies for the public, they were never anything more than a secondary user.


Isn't that a bit backwards? I mean, it's the government serving the people, eh? The people as a whole own the airwaves and we merely allow the government to regulate them for our own good. If the method and allocations they choose are disagreeable to us we have the right to petition them to change it.


The government was allocated that frequency band, and the USAF is using it to perform their mission, thus serving the needs of the people. Garage door opener manufacturers used part of that frequency band, even though it wasn't allocated to them. If the garage doors have problems with the USAF using part of a frequency that was allocated to the government, it is on the garage door opener manufacturers/owners to change their frequency.

This seems real similar to the arguments by folks who buy homes near airports and then complain about the jet noise.

Re:Technically??? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085094)

Normally, I like to assume good faith when commenting. I'll make an exception in your case. Shut the fuck up. Please. Owning a device which uses a certain frequency doesn't necessarily allow you the right to use that frequency.

Re:Technically??? (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085140)

Technically, the Air Force has the right to the frequency, which it began using nearly three years ago at some bases.

what about all those people who have probably owned garage door openers for much longer than 3 years ago. Oh thats right they are just citizens and have as much right as dogs in the eyes of the government.

Ah yes - the immediate assumption that the citizens are in the right, and the goverment in the wrong. Only in this case, that assumption is wrong.
 
Garage door openers are what are called class 'B' devices - devices that transmit using extremely low power and are unlicensed and unregulated. Because they are extremely low power, they can pretty much use any band they want. In exchange for this freedom from licensing and regulation however, theres a catch - owners of class 'B' devices may not interfere with legal and/or licensed users of the band in question, and must accept any interference from said legal and/or licensed users of the band in question. This is usually spelled out in tiny, tiny print in the users manual.
 
That being said - you'd be surprised how much class 'B' (sometimes called 'part 15') devices you have in your house. I bet if you check the manuals for your computer (or motherboard), your stereo, your TV, any radios, etc... I bet they all carry the appropriate disclaimers.

Re:Technically??? (1)

Hunter-Killer (144296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085306)

FCC Part 15 Class B covers:

-residential use
-digital devices (computing devices/"unintentional radiators")

A wireless door opener is designed for wireless transmission, and is not a computer, therefore it does not enjoy Class B protections.

Re:Technically??? (1)

galenoftheshadows (828940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085482)

"-residential use"

Garage door openers are (primarily) residential devices. As well, it's not the "protection" that is the concern here. They are class B devices, and are therefore subject to interference from the primary licensed users of the frequencies they use.

That aside, a "wireless door opener" is designed for wireless transmission, yes. This does not however preclude it from classifying as a digital device. Computing devices and "unintentional radiators" are merely examples of some class B devices.

Just because a blender isn't built specifically to shred your hand, doesn't mean it can't.

Re:Technically??? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085270)

How about looking at from a different perspective. Quit being so damned cheap!!!

Garage door openers, RFID tags, baby monitors, cordless phones, wireless microphones, wireless routers and many other devces are unlicensed devices. They are permitted to operate only when they do not cause interferance to licensed service. They are not garanteed to operate if a licensed service is operating near by.

Radio spectrum is scarce. The Air Force has had a license to those frequencies since 1934. RTFM that came with the garage door opener. The manufacturer clearly states a garage door opener is an unlicensed device and as such a licensed operator can have the unlicensed device shut down if interference occurs. Further the FCC can fine an operator of an unlicensed device $10,000 if he continue to use it to cause interfere with a licensed service. On the other hand, a licensed user has no responsibility to protect the unlicensed user from interferance.

If you want garanteed operation, purchase a device with a licensed central dispatch, obtain a license to use that frequency and pay the monthly dispatch fee for the licensed service. Otherwise, don't complain when you get something (like the use of radio spectrum) for free. Especially when someone else owns the rights to that spectrum.

Re:Technically??? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085274)

Those garage door openers are operating under Part 15 of the FCC regulations, which permit you to use a frequency normally assigned to someone else as long as you don't interfere with the assigned user. In this case, "someone else" is the Air Force.

If you have one of those gadgets, read the little booklet that came with it and you'll see this spelled out. If you interfere with the Air Force, you'll have to turn your unit off; if they interfere with you, you get sympathy. That's the deal you signed up for when you bought a low-priced piece of hardware.

Oh, by the way, your wireless router operates under Part 15 too.

rj

Re:Technically??? (3, Funny)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085346)

Maybe they were just trying to lure foreign airforces to use it in their hangars, so if^H^H when the U.S invades somewhere all the pilots are stuck behind two very, very large doors.

A cunning plan indeed

Homeland Security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084782)

It's always important in an emergency to keep all doors closed.... Hope the emergency doesn't require evacuation.....

Re:Homeland Security? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085038)

Evacuation doesn't matter if the Goa'uld or Ori invade us. The Alpha Site won't be able to hold all of humanity.

Maple Street? (5, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084790)

This happened to me on Maple Street. Caused quite a stir and a few people wound up shot in the action ... course they were commies so no harm done.

Re:Maple Street? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084974)

Rod Serling is proud.

I'm okay... (4, Funny)

jkj5301 (660159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084794)

until I go out and find an F16 in the garage.

Re:I'm okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085190)

I'd love to find an F16 in my garage; beats the hell out of the Cessna I currently fly! ;)

Re:I'm okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085202)

The day I find an F-16 in the garage, is the day I start being OK... :-)

Re:I'm okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085252)

Personally, I'd get a headache trying to figure out how to get my newly acquired F16 from the garage to a useful strip of hardened surface from which it could take off...

Maybe the A.F. should replace the door openers? (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084810)

You can do many nifty things with a $10,000 screwdriver.

Re:Maybe the A.F. should replace the door openers? (3, Informative)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084878)

Nah, its not $10,000, just 250 for each garage door affected.

David McGuire, whose Overhead Door Co. received more than 400 calls for help, said the Air Force may be able to slightly adjust the transmission frequency to solve the problem. If not, it will cost homeowners about $250 to have new units installed.

Re:Maybe the A.F. should replace the door openers? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085178)

I think the $10,000 referred to reports a while back that the Army was paying $10,000 for screwdrivers (and toilet seats, and...)

Re:Maybe the A.F. should replace the door openers? (1)

topham (32406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085520)

$250 for $5 in parts. Sounds pretty good for business.

Obligatory joke (-1)

Movi (1005625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084814)

I for one wish to welcome our new garage opening Overlords!

What Joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085228)

I for one wish to welcome our new garage opening Overlords!

What Joke?

Please people make an effort, this posters comment is just lame!

Mission Accomplished (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084816)

So the test was a total success. Because it proved, in undeniable public, that in the event of an emergency, the first responders around essential Air Force bases would be getting jammed by people opening their garage doors.

These tests are important. That's why I was stunned when I realized (3 years later) that on September 11, 2001, I didn't hear a single transmission of the Emergency Broadcast System. If ever there were an emergency during my lifetime that the public needed broadcasts to know what what was happening and what to do, it was multiple aerial bombings of NYC and the Pentagon. But there was nothing.

Though we'd all been taught since childhood to be always at least a little bit subconsciously afraid, but trusting the government had a system to handle even the ultimate emergency: nuclear war. And endured countless nerve-rattling drills, usually interrupting the most otherwise "relaxing" TV and radio (PBS, mostly).

I guess those weren't "tests" at all. They were the real thing: steady fear/trust propaganda. Never really expected to do anything in any kind of emergency, even survivable ones like 9/11/2001. Because they all delivered the desired result.

So maybe these Air Force tests are really failures. Because instead of keeping people irrationally afraid, yet trusting the government, they've actually woken people up.

Re:Mission Accomplished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084924)

....this is absolutely the most disjointed thing I have ever heard. You sound like a cold war relic.

Re:Mission Accomplished (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085048)

"You sound like a cold war relic."

You mean like a useless Emergency Broadcast System that never worked right, but we've been paying for (and believing in) for over a dozen years since we "won" the Cold War?

Anonymous denial Coward, get underneath your desk and kick your ass goodbye.

Re:Mission Accomplished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085220)

i thought it was profoundly illuminating and very well written

Re:Mission Accomplished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085224)

...we've been believing in the EBS? What planet do you live on?

Re:Mission Accomplished (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085176)

So the test was a total success. Because it proved, in undeniable public, that in the event of an emergency, the first responders around essential Air Force bases would be getting jammed by people opening their garage doors.

Nope. Garage door openers are Class B (or Part 15) devices - which mean they are extremely low power. The first responders would only be jammed if someone pointed a garage door opener right at them from less than 30-40 feet away.
 
 
These tests are important. That's why I was stunned when I realized (3 years later) that on September 11, 2001, I didn't hear a single transmission of the Emergency Broadcast System. If ever there were an emergency during my lifetime that the public needed broadcasts to know what what was happening and what to do, it was multiple aerial bombings of NYC and the Pentagon. But there was nothing.

Unless you lived in NYC or DC - I'm hardly surpised you didn't hear EPS broadcasts. The EPS is for local use - and thus would not have been activated unless the attacks were local to you.

Re:Mission Accomplished (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085208)

You do have a point, but I really don't see what the EBS could have done on 9/11. What message could there have been? The message would have only been relevant if you were close enough to hear the collisions/explosions, and if you could hear them, were you going to run to the closest radio/TV? By the time the incident happened, isn't it too late to send a message anyway? There was no precedent for the events, they were the first hijackings of that type before, so no warning would have really been expected.

Airports are closed perhaps? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085226)

I know of more than a few people due to fly out of JFK/EWR that weekend, who made it all the way to the toll tunnels into NYC and be returned...

Re:Mission Accomplished (5, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085378)

So the test was a total success. Because it proved, in undeniable public, that in the event of an emergency, the first responders around essential Air Force bases would be getting jammed by people opening their garage doors.
Yeah, a system operating out of Cheyenne mountain with an antenna on the peak and a range of miles is going to be affected by a bunch of milliwatt transmitters with an effective range of about 100 feet. Time for you to go back to Radio Theory 101.

These tests are important. That's why I was stunned when I realized (3 years later) that on September 11, 2001, I didn't hear a single transmission of the Emergency Broadcast System. If ever there were an emergency during my lifetime that the public needed broadcasts to know what what was happening and what to do, it was multiple aerial bombings of NYC and the Pentagon. But there was nothing.

Though we'd all been taught since childhood to be always at least a little bit subconsciously afraid, but trusting the government had a system to handle even the ultimate emergency: nuclear war. And endured countless nerve-rattling drills, usually interrupting the most otherwise "relaxing" TV and radio (PBS, mostly).
The Emergency Broadcast System was retired in 1994. The current system is teh Emergency Alert System. This name more accurately describes its purpose. It's not meant to be a news channel. On 9-11 we had plenty of those already. The purpose of the EBS is to inform people that they may need to take action, and take it quickly. Things like wildfires, flash floods, or tsunamis--- those are what you use the EBS for. Since the appropriate action in the aftermath of a plane hitting a building is to essentially stay calm, stay put, and let emergency crews do their job, the EBS was not needed. I've heard the EBS used for real locally. The message is usually terse, prerecorded, and informative only in a very limited way, briefly outlining the danger, its location, and what to do. You know, something along the lines of "Flash flood warning for the eastern county, stay out of the lower canyons area, highways A, B, and C are closed". This weird fantasy you have in your head where Walter Cronkite is supposed to come on the air over EBS and give us the low-down on what's up is laughable in the extreme.

I guess those weren't "tests" at all. They were the real thing: steady fear/trust propaganda.
Yeah, OK. I don't trust the government either, but I haven't let paranoia turn me into a freak about it. The EAS works fine. You just don't know what it's for. You've apparently formulated an expectation based not upon the stated purpose of the system, but upon armchair speculation after having the EAS/EBS tone interrupt your viewing of National Geographic Explorer a few too many times.

Never really expected to do anything in any kind of emergency, even survivable ones like 9/11/2001. Because they all delivered the desired result.
I'd still love to hear what you think the EAS should have broadcast on 9-11.

So maybe these Air Force tests are really failures. Because instead of keeping people irrationally afraid, yet trusting the government, they've actually woken people up.
Yeah.... sure. You know conspiracy nuts like you are all the same. You're all secretly (or not secretly!) obsessive/compulsive control freaks. You all believe there's some sort of sinister puppet master behind the scenes, twisting the government to their will. You can't bear to consider the real truth, that for the most part the bad things that happen are completely unpredictable and mostly unavoidable. Stupid things the government does or fails to do are not part of some grand plan by a criminal mastermind, but simply a byproduct of the sheer size of government. Its very size creates an incredible amount of inertia, and when it does manage to move, it's either too much or too little, and often in the wrong direction. In short nobody is in control. That's what really bothers conspiracy nuts: we're all riding in what amounts to a driverless bus with a stuck throttle. They can't stand the thought that no one is in charge, so they desperately play connect the dots with the shadows trying to outline the driver, because if there's someone causing the bad stuff, then he can be stopped!

Re:Mission Accomplished (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085382)

Uh... when I was growing up in Florida we heard the Emergency Alert System being used all the time, typically to warn us of severe thunderstorms, tornados, and such. I assure you that it isn't "fear propaganda," but actually something which is pretty useful.

Re:Mission Accomplished (0)

FunkeyMonk (1034108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085408)

While I don't really want to pull these comments off-topic, I will say how impressed I've been with the Amber Alert system here in Indiana. Highway billboards, tv channels, and radio stations all work together -- and have had several successes in recent years. But other than weather alerts and whitehouse rose garden press conferences, I've never seen any sort of real interruption of broadcasts for "important" messages.

Re:Mission Accomplished (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085438)

Garage doors can't jam the emergency frequencies. But, every fire department I've ever seen has a garage door. I don't think those doors are using some special government issue door opener. Nope, they went to Home Depot and bought a Genie, just like everybody else. The fire trucks are just going to have to crash through the doors in an emergency.

aww hell no! (3, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084818)

oh noooooooooo, now they'll have to get their fat asses out of their car and do the keypad instead! NOOOOO!!!! What is this, the middle ages?! Maybe some ppl will hire illegal immigrants to open their garages for them :P Then again, there's always the wireless, computer controller option :D Anyone got a driver for a USB 2.4 GHz garage door?

Re:aww hell no! (3, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084994)

Anyone got a driver for a USB 2.4 GHz garage door?
Get the source code and compile it yourself!

Re:aww hell no! (1)

DoctorDeath (774634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085066)

OLD news! I know its a slow news day, but stories about this have been around for years. Come on guys at least don't put it on the front page, please.

It was snowing that day too... (1, Informative)

Sloan47 (977340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084824)

Yeah, I live in Colorado Springs and they started to test the system as it was snowing. What really was awful was that the lock on our screen door jammed the day previous so I was locked out of my house!

Fault lies with door manufacturers (5, Insightful)

yourpusher (161612) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084858)

They shouldn't have made their openers to operate on this frequency, in the first place. It's no secret which frequencies are allocated to the US gov't. It's laziness on the part of the company.

Re:Fault lies with door manufacturers (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084934)

I would suspect that making a device which intereferes with first responders (or any gov't) frequency would count as harmful interference and be illegal under most coutnries laws.

The questions is *when* did the US gov't acquire this frequency? If it was well after these things were sold, what on earth were they thinking, and if it was before, who let garage door manufacturers keep making these things?

Has there been a recall?

This might be a lead up to what happens with the change over to digital televions. As far as I know they've auctioned off the old frequencies but what if the old sets and equipment are still around causing intereference? Probably nothing good.

Re:Fault lies with door manufacturers (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085120)

The radio spectrum is pretty well divvied up and has been for a long time, there is some changes of course but it's usual allocated from the government's use back to the private usage. There are areas where there are some known overlap such as the military VHF FM band starts at 54.00Mhz and upwards as does civilian Television and FM radio frequencies. In such cases because the frequencies have been licensed to commercial stations, the military only uses non-interfering frequencies, however these openers are opperating on unlicensed frequencies so they would have to yield to military use if they caused any interference with the legally licensed operators of those frequencies.

Re:Fault lies with door manufacturers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085236)

I don't really see why everyone seems to assume that the door openers can interfere with the emergency system. The door openers are broadcasting with a tiny amount of power. They are being jammed by the emergency system, not the other way around. For all practical intents and purposes, attempting to jam the emergency system with a door opener is like trying to piss at a tsunami to stop it washing away your house.

Re:Fault lies with door manufacturers (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085354)

The questions is *when* did the US gov't acquire this frequency? If it was well after these things were sold, what on earth were they thinking, and if it was before, who let garage door manufacturers keep making these things?

The DOD has had these frequencies for far longer than the garage door manufactureres have been in business. The devices are specifically allowed under an FCC exemption that allows low power RF devices to operate so long as (1) they are below a certain power output (typically 10w max) and (2) that they do not interfere with whoever actually has the frequency allocated to them.

This is, among other things, how those home TV broadcast devices are allowed (the ones that let you broadcast over a TV frequencey to your TV), the FM transmitters you can buy for you MP3 player, and numerous other RF devices on the market today.

Office of Spectrum Management:
http://www.vendian.org/mncharity/dir3/frequency_al location_chart/UnstableURL/allochrt.pdf [vendian.org]
That is an old copy from 1996. It shows the frequency being "Government Exclusive" for 335.4-399.9Mhz.

Given what I know of the history of RF allocation, most likely the only people who had that frequency before the DoD was the Ham Radios and that was only up until 1960 at the latest. Prior to sometime before WWII, the Hams had all frequencies above 1500Mhz as it was believed to be useless for anything.

There really is NOT much else they can do... (4, Informative)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085498)

Unlicensed radio systems (like the garage door openers, ALL your WiFi gear, your car keyfob, etc etc, but NOT, IIRC, cell phones) operate under "FCC Part 15," widely mentioned elsewhere in this discussion. The important point in this regard is that ALL Part 15 devices operate subject to two inflexible rules: 1) you can't interfere with licensed users, and 2) it's your bad luck if licensed users interfere with you.

Unless a manufacturer of wireless gadgets wants to require every user to get a license (not an option for most gear), there is basically NO way to avoid the Part 15 restrictions; licensed users (emergency services, licensed commercial radio systems, and militery users) will always trump nonlicensed users. It won't happen often, but when it does, ya just gotta live with it.

And what occurs when... (2, Funny)

boule75 (649166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084884)

And what occur the garge owners use their remote-control? Does this jam the Airforce frequency??

8:30 am:
"- Chief, we have fired the missile!
"- Hum, which missile?
"- Well, The Missile, ya know!
"- Ah..... Ah? Who has given that order?
"- Well, you know, Washington signals nowadays are rather mixed but I confirm the emission was on the usual frequency and has been repeated frantically in the last minutes. According to the Terrestrial Message Bluring Scheme we have had for some years now, the Message came from many locations but with the same words in it".
"- Hum... It certainly comes from the White House then. Big affair."

Re:And what occurs when... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17084958)

Right. It doesn't work that way. The way to jam a transmitter with power 10X is by puting out a signal with power 100X. It doesn't work the other way. It might raise the noise floor, but it certainly won't jam the more powerful transmitter. That's why one of the easiest ways to cut through jamming is to just raise the transmission power of the transciever- it makes the signal easier to distinguish from the background noise.

The Garage Doors, sir...they appear to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084914)

JAMMED...

Raspberry...there's only one man who DARE give me the Raspberry

A conspiracy to keep us from Christmas Decorations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17084964)

Thats my excuse this weekend.

Well, that's (probably) the risk the mfct. took (4, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085024)

I wager these garage doors have that little notice on them, you know, the one that says "this is an FCC class B(?) device... must not interfere, must accept any such interference, blah, blah, blah...". The manufacturer can stand behind that. It's CYA compliant, probably, from a legal standpoint. It's definitely not PR compliant. I don't see this so much as a problem with the Air Force trampling on our rights, as a company that took a gamble that there would never be any powerful interference that would mess with their device. Usually there isn't.

All that aside, USAF should either stop using the frequency or offer to refund a retrofit of existing doors--whichever is cheaper. I can also foresee the mfct recalling the doors; but if they do that they probably have no recourse with the government. After all, they knew they were taking a chance by producing such a device. And then the garage door people could start using ultrasonic or infrared, with a crypto key of some kind between the receiver and transmitter to guarantee non-interference, and that would be that.

This is just another reason for me to be happy I don't have a car, nevermind a garage.

Re:Well, that's (probably) the risk the mfct. took (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085134)

All that aside, USAF should either stop using the frequency or offer to refund a retrofit of existing doors--whichever is cheaper.

Umm... Why? Garage Door companies have been using military frequencies for years? They've just been usuing it at such a low power that they get an exemption. By requirement for that exemption, and even in the regulation you reference, they must not interefere with whoever has official licensing on the band. So, why should the Air Force have to change or pay?

Re:Well, that's (probably) the risk the mfct. took (0)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085400)

So, why should the Air Force have to change or pay?

There's probably no legal reason for them to change or pay. I think it would be the moral thing to do.

Re:Well, that's (probably) the risk the mfct. took (3, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085496)

The moral thing would be for the Garage Door manufactureres to pay for it as they were the ones knowingly making a product that uses a military frequency. It's not as if the DoD was just allocated this frequency last month. They've had it for decades.

Re:Well, that's (probably) the risk the mfct. took (1)

enosys (705759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085516)

Why is should the Air Force be morally obligated to pay? If they had the spectrum for a long time as some other articles claim then I think the garage door opener companies should pay instead. They were basically betting that the government was not going to use that frequency and they lost their bet.

Common BS Urban Myth Story (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085052)

I don't know if this one is actually true, but I've seen quite a few of these stories pop up, none of which ended up being true. In fact, our town had one, but there was no military base anywhere near, but in spite of that, the Air Force still got blamed. Just change your batteries.

Re:Common BS Urban Myth Story (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085150)

but there was no military base anywhere near

Ah, but that's what the Air Force wants you to think!

Re:Common BS Urban Myth Story (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085404)

The frequencies in question are reserved for governmental use and the majority of the government user are local, and can be anyone from the city's sewer cleaning crew to the NSA.

Urban Myth? Not sure. (1)

giminy (94188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085436)

I've seen this one before [privateline.com], and before [msn.com]. I'm pretty sure the story was confirmed each time, though, but that the affected range is quite small (within a few miles of the base, depending on geography).

I'm still not sure whether I believe it, of course, as I'm not being affected (nor do I know anyone that is). If you've got some articles pointing out to the urban legendness of the stories, I'm all ears. Er, eyes.

That's what happens in the Garage Band. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085114)

'nuff said.

Re:GarageBand.app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085468)

Ah that explains it!

I was clicking that damn guitar icon for the last 5 minutes. I was going to give up and call Apple tech support. I'm relieved now that I know that it's the Air Force making it not work.

Canadian instance (3, Informative)

The Hobo (783784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085206)

This also happened in Ottawa in 2005. This [www.cbc.ca] story and this [www.cbc.ca] story sum up the incident. I was in Ottawa at the time, and I keenly remember the US Embassy lying to our face about using this signal. "Oddly" enough, the problem stopped once the CBC contacted the Embassy and asked them about it. Too bad those engineers didn't get to trace the signal back. What also got to me while trying to get through downtown is how the embassy is allowed to eat up [viewsof.com] a lane of traffic for their precious concrete walls, as if there was ever a real danger in Canada. I heard that those walls were tested in Canada because of the low risk, I guess it's convenient to test concrete walls and signal jamming here.

FCC isn't doing its job (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085258)

All this "unlicensed transmitter" stuff which says basically if the thing doesn't work it's not the manufacturer's fault and it's not the FCC's fault, is nonsense.

It's as if there were an "unlicensed vehicle" exception for small devices like Segways and pogo sticks, that said "you are allowed to operate this device on interstate highways, but you are required not to interfere with big trucks and you are required to accept any interference from big trucks."

The FCC's job is--or should be--to regulate spectrum usage so that garage door openers don't interfere with the Air Force, and vice versa. I think they got distracted by Janet Jackson's nipple.

Re:FCC isn't doing its job (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085504)

It isn't nonsense, it's how spectrum management has been managed for many decades. For each part of the spectrum, there is a hierarchy of users. At the top are primary licensed users, then secondary licensed users, then unlicensed users. You are not allowed to cause interference to users in a higher classification, and must accept any interference they cause. It's like building a highway system for big trucks, and saying small trucks can also use it, providing they always yield right-of-way to the big trucks. It allows for more efficient use of the resource, without compromising its original purpose.

First Meeting With The Insurance Company (1)

berenixium (920883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085316)

"Let me get this straight, ma'am... you actually drove _through_ your garage doors?"
"Well, they usually open pretty fast... when bits of the door started landing on the car roof, I started to realise that something had gone wrong. Is that ok?"

Obey. (0, Offtopic)

bumptehjambox (886036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085326)

I, for one, welcome our garage door regulating overlords.

If they could, I'd like them to make sure that the door stays closed when the local jam band tries to get a little fresh air in on the session.

a sacrifice for national security (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085374)

As the article stated, the military has a right to use the frequency, so I don't see what everyone is complaining about, especially around there. IAs far as I can tell, the county voted overwhelmingly for Bush, which seems to suggest that the county is conservative and values national security. One also assumes, that since the AFB is nearby, much of their economy depends on it, and they would be toast without it, or at least that what seems to be said everytime an base closure is suggested.

So, this is just one sacrifice that has to made in this time of war. Certainly opening up your own garage door is not too much to ask when Americans are being killed everyday overseas. It is like higher gas prices. If we are going to be at war, then everyone has to sacrifice a little.

This happened in the 1970s as well (1)

purplelocust (944662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085406)

My spouse grew up in the 70s near Laguna Beach and the El Toro Marine Air Station in SoCal and there were regular instances of people's garage doors opening and closing as various military jets flew nearby. It was just a fact of life that people got used to from living nearby, and nobody was too bothered about it.

unprecedented evile unprepared for creators' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085418)

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Frequency Usage (4, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17085422)

According to this article [profession...dealer.com], most door openers use 390 MHz, with some using 315 MHz and 372 MHz. All of these frequencies are in a band that is reserved for the federal government. For example, military aeronautical radio systems, including the backup communications system on the Space Shuttle, use the 225-400 MHz band. Any unlicensed users of this band do so at their own risk. The manufacturers of garage door openers have only themselves to blame. It's like building a house in that nice, empty artillery practice range.

Wahey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17085452)

I think it's time we blow this scene... ..get everybody and the stuff together. Okay, three, two, one... let's jam.
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