Increase my Garage Recievers range?

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  #1  
Old 08-02-11, 07:03 AM
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Increase my Garage Recievers range?

I currently have a complex scenario where my garage motor's receiver does not work. Instead, the Chamberlain sent me a separate receiver that plugs into a power outlet and then connects to the garage opener. The small receiver also has a tiny antenna wire sticking out of it. See picture:



It works well. The only problem is the range. I had to position the wire so that I can get the maximum range out of it. My question is: Is there a way to increase the range somehow by increasing the length of the wire or making certain changes to the receiver itself? Right now, I have to be in a range of 10 ft from the garage. This is okay but I would prefer just a bit more range.

Please advise. Thanks.
 
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Old 08-02-11, 08:40 AM
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I would not lengthen the wire. Properly done the antennae length should be a function of the frequency so lengthening it might actually shorten your range.

Below are some parabolic reflectors I made for my computer's wireless router. Granted the pink construction paper was not a wise color choice but it does work very well at extending the range in the direction it's pointed. You could make something similar and run your antennae wire through the center and aim it towards your driveway.

You can download the pattern here. Just print it out to whatever size you want, paste it to a sheet of construction paper. Turn the construction paper over and glue aluminum foil to the other side. Cut it out and assemble.

 
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Old 08-02-11, 11:26 AM
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There is an antenna extender made and sold by Chamberlain. I don't think it would shorten your range. The part number is 41A3504 and it comes with instructions. I have no personal experience with it but they have been selling it for years so it must work.
 
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Old 08-02-11, 01:58 PM
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I have used the same receiver several times and all of them have had short distance.( not a very good system) You can move it to an outlet closer to the front wall near the garage door, and lengthen the red and white wires that connect to the circuit board
 
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Old 08-02-11, 03:26 PM
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Sorry I don't have anything helpful to add, but I would be very displeased with a GDO remote that only works within 10'. Is that typical for Chamberlain?
 
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Old 08-02-11, 03:37 PM
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Generally no it's not typical for chamberlian, but is for this particular receiver setup. I have never had any luck with them. Other factors could be near by interferance from anything. I have seen the small wall transformers you plug into a phone or any other electronic device block the 315Mhz signal down to within 6 inches of the antenna, unplugged the transformer and all three door openers worked as advertised.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 12:59 PM
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Can I try something silly and MacGyverish such as wrapping aluminum foil behind the wire antenna so as to create a parabolic dish?
 
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Old 08-04-11, 01:01 PM
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Sure.....mold it around a bowl or something then attach it to the ceiling temporarily....see what happens.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 01:16 PM
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Dane's suggestion was pretty much to do that.
 
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Old 08-04-11, 03:10 PM
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Bonoz is correct that a parabola is the magical shape needed. The instructions I linked are just a cheap & easy way to get something into that parabolic shape. A metal bowl will give a modest gain but the OP's range is so poor he really needs something a bit more proper like a cereal box with aluminum foil glued to it.

Here is a link to a page showing the pattern of energy (gain) created by that silly little reflector.

Make one and play with it a while. It's a stupidly simple thing that really works.

* Hold your car's key fob at the focus and aim the reflector at your car and see how far away you can unlock the doors.
* And of course it can give a real boost to the range of your home's wifi network.
 
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Old 08-08-11, 11:04 AM
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It didn't work for me. I tried to create a rectangular parabola with foil and attached it right behind the wire antenna. I first tried this:




But that did not seem to work. That means that there was not any noticeable improvement before before. In fact, it was probably worse.

Then i tried pushing the parabola back a little bit:


Now it was working just like it had been working without the parabola. When the door is open, I have a range of 50 feet. But when the door is closed, I have a range of about 20 feet. I even played around with the shape of the parabola (bending it downwards, etc.) but it didn't quite work.

Any ideas? thing works fine right now but the opener has to be right in front of the garage. You can operate it from the end of our 50ft or so driveway. Thanks.
 
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Old 08-08-11, 11:21 AM
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I am having the same problem with a Craftsman opener. The bumper of the car has to be about 2 foot from the door to open the door. If the door is open, I have a bit more range, so may have to try the parabola.

@ Bonzo: Looks to me like your motor and opener is actually blocking the signal from the remote, as the antenna is behind all of it. In your case, I would try to extend the down the 9 inches, so the antenna hangs below the motor assembly, using a short extension cord. Heck, just tape the receiver to the bottom of the motor housing and see if it works better from there, then adjust fire as needed.
 
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Old 08-08-11, 11:30 AM
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One thing that hasn't been asked or mentioned is what is your garage door made of? A double layer steel garage door with no windows will give less range than a wooden door with windows. It may also be that the old remotes/GDO used an different frequency that was able to penetrate better (though they haven't changed all that much AFAIK).

Although adding wire might indeed change the wavelength of the antenna for the signal...it sure doesn't help that the add-on receiver is located behind the GDO powerhead itself. Maybe a few inches added and held horizontally could help.

What was the range like BEFORE the change?

Just for a test....try plugging it into an extension cord temporarily and just moving it a foot left or right. DON'T leave it like that though.

My remote was stolen and the 2 replacements work fine....but in the cars slanted low front glass (vs the higher, more upright windshield of the SUV) I have to be parked right in front of the door for it to work. The SUV will function right as I turn into the (short) driveway or even when it's parked 10' left of the door.
 
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Old 08-08-11, 11:40 AM
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That piece of aluminum foil is not anything close to a parabola. It is no wonder it did not help. I hate to be a nerd here but this is science and the details matter. Some sorta' of curve is not a parabola and crinkly, wavy aluminum foil is no good as well. Your receiver has a very thin wire for an antennae. That 1/16" wide antennae wire needs to be exactly at the focus point of the parabola. Being just a fraction of an inch from that point dramatically hurts reception.

If doing a rectangular parabolic reflector it would help to put the antennae wire inside a cokctail straw to hold it straight. It's hard to focus anything onto a curvy, bent wire.
 
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Old 08-08-11, 01:23 PM
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I will definitely try using an extension cord to move the antenna forward.

And by my own admission that really wasn't a great attempt at a parabola. How could I improve it besides making sure the wire lies in the center of the parabola?
 
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Old 08-08-11, 01:39 PM
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Insure the wire is in the center and make sure the extender is actually a parabola (which is a defined shape).
 
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Old 08-08-11, 02:19 PM
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Limited range of your remote controls could be related to radio frequency interference that comes from something in your home or in the surrounding environment. Certain electrical devices can radiate interference; this could be almost anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet.

Please keep in mind that the device can be brand new, or can be an item that has been in use for quite a while. Also, the item may continue to function properly as far as you are able to tell. The only problem with the item may be that it has started to broadcast the interference, with no other symptoms noted.

Some devices are more likely to generate interference than others. This includes TV cable, cable amplifiers, surge protectors, fluorescent lights, battery charging devices (power tools, golf carts, etc.), anything that utilizes a timer (sprinkler systems, lights, alarm systems, etc.), and a myriad of others. If the problem seems sporadic, we can safely assume that the device responsible for the interference is only being operated during these times. Again, please keep in mind that the age of the device does not determine if it is capable of broadcasting unwanted interference. Any electrical device can be the source of the problem.

The first step is replacing the battery in your remote. If the range on your remote does not improve, remove the wall control wires from the overhead unit. If the range does not improve you will likely need to replace the remote control. After replacing the remote, or if you have other remotes programmed in to the opener, and the range problem still exists, please proceed to the Power Down test.

Multiple garage doors:
If you have two garage door units and one is working just fine, you will need to start by unplugging the good unit. This will help determine if the unit with no range starts to function properly. If the range comes back to the bad unit then you will need to replace the logic board on the unit that was unplugged as it is emitting an RF signal that is over powering the other garage door opener. If the range does not improve after the “good” unit has been unplugged, replace the batteries and try programming some additional remotes to determine if the existing remotes are the issue. If the extra remotes do not have any range then you would need to replace the receiver logic board in the “bad” unit.

Power Down test:
To isolate potential sources of interference, turn the circuit breaker off to the garage and plug the garage door opener into an extension cord from another room. If the range improves, then the interference is coming from a device in the garage. If no improvement is seen follow the same procedure, this time turning off the circuit breakers to your home, with the exception of the garage and test the remote controls. If improvement is noted, turn the circuit breakers back on, one by one, until the range problem resurfaces. This will allow you to narrow down what room the problem device is in. You will have to go from there to isolate it further, by unplugging and re-plugging the items in that room.

If you are unable to determine any source of interference, then the receiver logic board in the overhead unit will need to be replaced.
 
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Old 04-01-12, 09:20 PM
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A simple and very effective (cheap) DIY fix...

I know this is an old thread, but Google is still pointing people (me) to it, so I figured I'd share my resolution.

I have a Genie with the standard built-in receiver. It was working great until I installed an IP camera in my garage. Even though it's not wifi, it puts off enough RF that it jams my opener from anything more than about 10'.

I read the posts here with interest, but in the end, figured I needed to RELOCATE the original antenna. The idea of lengthening the antenna seemed too dependent on the tuned frequency. So I figured having a shielded wire to run to the front of my garage might do the trick. It did. I used a standard RCA stereo cable (12').

If anyone stumbles upon this thread and wants to try my resolution, here's how... It'll take all of about an hour to do:
  1. Find the dangling wire that exits the head unit.
  2. Remove the necessary covers to determine how it is attached to the circuit board. Chances are, it's simply soldered on. If that's the case, de-solder it and set the wire aside. There ought to be a ground point somewhere very close to the antenna solder point. Identify and note it's location.
  3. Using a standard RCA cable (the kind you'd use for analog stereo/video signals) of appropriate length (however long you need it to be to get to the very front of your garage), cut off both ends.
  4. Remove just the outer (probably black or grey) insulation on the end that will be connected to the opener.
  5. Separate the inner shielded insulator (likely white), and the braided wire shield. Take care to keep the inner insulation from being damaged at the point where it goes into the shielding.
  6. Solder the center conductor to where the original dangling wire was attached on the circuit board.
  7. Solder the shielding wire to the closest ground point on the board. Obviously, make sure you don't short out anything with the bare wires. Also, make sure that as you heat the shielding wire, that it doesn't melt the center conductor insulation.
  8. On the other end of the long RCA cable, cut the wire shielding back about an inch from the end so that only the center insulation and conductor are visible.
  9. Attach the original wire to the center conductor. For neatness, put some heat shrink tubing (or electric tape) around the solder point.
  10. Mount the original wire vertically, in the space between the top of the door and the ceiling.

I did this, and can now open my door from about 300' - which is about 3x better than it was before I installed the IP camera.

I actually soldered a little pigtail with a female RCA connector to the board, and another one to the original antenna wire. That way, I could use any standard RCA cable (with male ends) without cutting the ends off. Plus, I can remove the wire if needed.

Hope this helps someone.

E.
 
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Old 05-04-12, 07:45 PM
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I hope this coax trick works as something is suddenly interfering with these at night. Thought it was maybe its my new low voltage LED lights but I turned them off and still have the problem. Certainly wierd as it is only at night......

It seems like this extender kit 41A3504 accomplishes the same thing? I like the more cost effective route of the coax even though this kit looks nicer

http://www.gatehousesupplies.com/v/v...ls/41a3504.pdf
Antenna Extender Kit 41A3504
 
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Old 05-05-12, 04:15 PM
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Tried the coax.......didn't work.

However, I figured out what the problem was. Seems as though my new exterior low voltage LED light fixture directly above garage doors interferes with the garage door openers.

I tried two different low voltage transformers, plugging into different outlets, same issue. Disconnected the LED light, everything is back to normal.

Little disappointed as I really liked using only 13 watts instead of 100 watts. Anyone know why these LEDS cause interference?
 
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Old 05-06-12, 07:30 PM
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Determined a few other things....

If I connect my 12v LED lights to my car battery, the garage door opener works....

If I connect the LED lights to a regulated 12 volt power supply, the garage door opener works.

SO I ordered a Mean Well DR-120-12 power supply for my light, I believe this will solve the problem
 
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Old 07-21-12, 06:59 PM
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Pilot dane, thank you!!!!!

To Dane and all who suggested a parabola. Suddenly today my garage door opener stopped responding to the Homelink in both cars. Don't know why - maybe the 107F heat? Yesterday it worked fine from the end of the driveway. Now nothing even with the bumper touching the door.

Since we use Homelink, we haven't put a battery in the remote since we moved in last December - and it was dead. So we had to park in the front, go in, open the garage, then go back out and drive around back. Tested and Homelink worked fine once we were inside the garage. Not happy. 107F, remember?

After a ridiculously long google search I was getting ready to either by a $100 "logic board" or maybe spend $160 on a whole new opener.

Then, purely by chance, I clicked on this link. I had seen people do the parabola for their routers, so I spent 30 minutes with a manilla folder and some scissors (with which I am not good at all), and fashioned a parabola using the template Dane linked to. A little tape to hold it to the antenna (and a lot of frustration getting the tabs to fit in the slots), and now my Homelink works from THREE HOUSES AWAY!

I know the template was linked nearly a year ago so it's unlikely that Dane or anyone else still cares, but that post saved me at least $100.

So I literally joined the forum to post a thank you. Figured it was the very least I could do.
 
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Old 01-05-13, 02:30 PM
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foil is a winner

Pilot Danes miracle Tin foil project works well. Mine looks like a 3rd grader made it but it easily doubles or triples the effective range. Thanks for the help
 
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Old 01-14-13, 06:36 PM
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Question Power Down Results to Locate Interference

I have a one-year old Chamberlain exactly like what is pictured in this thread. Mechanically, it works great. The hard-wired wall transmitter works fine. But, a couple months ago I noticed the range on the remote was pretty bad,not more than 10ft (if I was lucky). It wasn't like this since day one, so first I replaced the batteries, that didn't work. Then I bought a new remote, no luck there. I decided then that a board or antenna was bad, etc. (faulty unit), so I called Chamberlain. They stated that there may be interference in this house somewhere. They suggested I power every down, and single out the room that is causing the interference. I figured Chamberlain was blowing smoke (since I was thinking their unit was junk), and was considering replacing the opener with another brand (I've also had a Genie, that motor went bad after 5 years).
Anyhow, I performed the power down test. Shut off all the circuits, and one by one I turned them back on as my 10-year daughter stood 30-40 ft away clicking the remote buttom for me. Surprisingly, I found one circuit on my breaker, once on, would stop the remote from transmitting a signal to the GDO receiver. It is my HEAT! I did this test 3X, just to be sure. It is definitely the furnace. So, now I need to know how to FIX this, since it's obvious I cannot disconnect the furnace (which ironically, did get a new control board a couple months ago, I just never connected that to the loss of range to the GDO).
Any suggestions would be appreciated...
 
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Old 01-15-13, 06:06 AM
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Did you try the reflector described in this post? Not only will it focus the transmitters power in one direction it will also shield it from interference from the other.
 
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Old 01-16-13, 11:43 AM
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can you confirm where the aluminum foil goes?

Perhaps i'm being dense or perhaps it doesn't matter, but the instructions for Dane's parabola indicate the aluminum foil goes on the 'back' of the cardstock and the link to more info indicates "Glue tin foil to the back side of the reflector surface" and the picture there shows the cardstock facing forward - with windsurfer graphic - but Dane's picture shows a shiny parabola. is the cardstock effectively invisible the waves so it doesn't matter which side the aluminum foil goes on? i'll assume that regardless, i'd want the shiny side of the foil to be facing the antenna (shiny side glued to the back of the parabola or matte side glued to the front of the parabola. or is this all an illusion on my part that the mirror-like qualities of the foil (visible spectrum) have anything to do with the reflective properties at the frequencies we're really concerned with? Am i being just way too anal retentive on this?
 
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Old 01-16-13, 12:19 PM
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You're reflecting radio waves so which side the foil is on doesn't really matter. The paper is basically invisible and is just there to hold the foil. The important part is the curve of the reflector and the focal point.
 
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Old 01-16-13, 02:47 PM
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thanks for the reply - i had a feeling i was over-thinking it. i just love the fact that 21st century technology can be enhanced with cardboard and tin foil. wild.
 
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Old 01-16-13, 07:12 PM
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Where would I deflect from?

I was wondering if that deflector would work. I'm just not sure where to put it. I have the antenna hanging down, and the furnance. I'm still not sure what part of the furnance is causing the interference. It's probably that control board, which was just installed a couple months back. This new board is inside, low to the floor, behind both a metal cover and a smaller box (both aluminum). So, if I was to guess, I would think that I should try to suspend the deflector up near the antenna/receiver. Is this correct? And try to make it large enough to block any interference from the furnance directly behind the GDO about 15 ft...
 
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Old 01-17-13, 06:40 AM
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The antenna must be located at the reflectors focal point since you are trying to focus the radio waves onto the antenna wire. The wire should be as straight as possible and parallel to the arc of the reflector (perpendicular through focal point paper). Sliding the antenna wire inside a straw can help keep it corralled where you want it. The reflector can also be scaled up in size if your antenna is long and you want better coverage.

I still can't believe it's the furnace especially since it's controls are enclosed in a metal box. You can insure that the housing of the furnace is grounded which would turn it's enclosure into a Faraday cage. Is the furnace on the same circuit as your door opener?
 
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Old 01-19-13, 10:53 AM
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GDO a different circuit than furnace

Pilot Dane_No,I'm pretty sure the GDO and the furnace are on different circuits. I am able to cut the power off to the furnance, but the power to the GDO is still on.
However, I mentioned that I had a new control board recently, is it possible that something was done incorrectly (ie: not grounded, etc.)? This board is enclosed in a box, and installed deep inside the furnace, so it hard for me to believe this is the cause, but it's the only switch I have off on the circuit board. In the off position, my range is now about 75ft...
 
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Old 01-19-13, 04:45 PM
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I looked online and according to Wikipedia Chamberlain's are 300-390 Mhz. I can't think of what in the furnace control board could be interfering especially since it's buried inside the metal enclosure of the furnace. Is there anything else on the same circuit as the furnace? Especially anything wireless?
 
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Old 01-20-13, 08:11 PM
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Fixed the range using your aluminum shield trick

Name:  GDO Shield.jpg
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PilotDane_
Your shield worked. At first, I had some discrepancy with the power down test. My boyfriend came out, and I showed him how I learned it was my furnace. Naurally though, Murphy's Law, the range was fine, at first. It took me a few minutes to figure out why it was working. I realized, with the temps, that my propane heat was running, not my electric (I have dual heating system).
So, I turned the heat off, waited 5 minutes. Turned furnace back on, but set thermostat set to just 1 degree over current temp (to prevent propane from kicking on). The GDO stopped working again. So, I opened the cover to the furnace, and saw that the new control board is actually larger than it's cover. It extends beyond the cover about 1 inch to the left. There is some wire/screws, a red LED light, and some other soldered areas, and a tiny switch of some sort (I'm not a tech, so I didn't touch any of this). But, using your foil method, I covered that side with a small piece of foil. The GDO worked just with that. When we removed the foil, it stopped working. We tested it a dozen times. Covering the control board was probably enough, but I decided to create the shield mentioned in this blog for the antenna too, just to be safe. I even used the straw, which I actually used to point the antenna out towards the street. Now my range is about 3 houses up the street! So thank you, I appreciated the advice
 
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Old 03-27-13, 01:25 PM
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Me too! Kiudos to Pilot Dane

I too wish to express my gratitude to Pilot Dane for the innovation. I was about to order the "extender," but decided to try the reflector first, works like a charm. I'm in a new community with multiple, over time, nearby garage door openers, and the effectiveness of my remote openers diminished significantly over time as well. Even to the point that, even with my vehicles, I had to "lay" on the open button for many seconds before the garage door would open, if at all. After installing the reflector, I can be as much as 200' away from the garage and viola!, open "sez me."

Thanks,

Captain
 
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Old 06-22-13, 02:59 PM
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Thanks Pilot Dane

My opener would only work if I walked up to the door and pointed through the window.
I followed the instructions and now things are finally working.
I used an oatmeal box for the stiffener and a recycled aluminum pan for the reflector. I also used a straw to keep the antenna wire as straight as possible.
 
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Old 07-24-13, 08:23 AM
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Thanks Pilot Dane for the solution...But, when I click on "here" in "You can download the pattern here." I get a "404 Not Found" error, so the link seems broken...Could someone please help me out ?

Thanks, Alex
 
  #37  
Old 07-24-13, 08:31 AM
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Blow this up as needed to fit your cardboard.

 
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Old 07-24-13, 10:00 AM
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Thank you Pilot Dane...I still think I'll need some dimensions; what are the dimensions of the rectangular piece ?
Thanks again, Alex
 
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Old 07-24-13, 10:04 AM
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ohhh...just re-read the original message...

" Just print it out to whatever size you want"

Really ?? Size doesn't matter at all ? yeah...the idea is the bring the wire in the focus of the
parabola, right...so size shouldn't matter...

OK, thanks again, Alex
 
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Old 07-24-13, 11:00 AM
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It's not my image so you can probably find other's on the web. That was the first one that popped up when I searched. I usually scale it up to make one reflector out of an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of card stock.

Size does matter (snicker). For best results you'd want the height of the parabola to match your antenna so you can focus as much energy as possible on it. You can do it with one big reflector or two smaller ones with one on top of the other. One larger one will have a greater width and possibly higher gain which could give better range but make it more finicky as to aiming. But with card stock and aluminum foil I don't think it matters much either way. You won't be picking up the Voyager space probes no matter how hard you try.
 
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