Wireless Doorbell

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My neighbor asked me to look at her wireless doorbell, which suddenly stopped working properly. The buttons still work if you move them close to the unit but they no longer work mounted on the outside of the door frame. We've replaced the 3 "D" cells in the base unit and the 12V cells in the two buttons but still no joy.
Any ideas?
-- Bobby G.
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On 1/26/12 4:02 PM, Robert Green wrote:

Has she or a neighbor added some other new wireless device that is interfering with the doorbell ?? Does the bell have any capability of using a different channel ??
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On Fri, 27 Jan 2012 11:12:43 -0500, "Robert Green"

Gioid point, and you said it already. Never mind what I said.

When my remote wouldn't work with my Powerid pyramd IR relay , it turned out the Powermid transmitter in one room, the device I was supposed to aim the remote at, was overloaded..
People told me that the CFL lamps or the incancescent lamps would do that, so I started being more careful to turn lights off in t hat room, and then on the whole floor. But I would wake up in the middle of the night, no sun outside either, to see the red indicator light that said it was receiving IR flashing on and off. I changed to another transmitter and it did the same thing. So I had to disconnect the whole thing. I'm going to try a third transmitter, but there must be some IR or maybe a harmonic of it? somewhere.
So the nexrt step is to put a swtich on the transmitter and turn it off whenever I leave the room. That will probably help me, but not you.
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Blame the current sunspot storms. Or a neighbor's giant radio transmitting rig. Or an overpowered badly designed computer peripheral. If the doorbell is important, simply get a dead reliable hard wired unit installed. End of problem.
Joe
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On 1/26/2012 3:02 PM, Robert Green wrote:

12V cells?

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http://www.atbatt.com/a23-batteries.asp
A23 or 23A (23AE) 12 volt Alkaline batteries are 1.08 inches length and .38 inches width in cylinder. These 23A 12v batteries are typically used in small RF devices such as garage door openers and keyless entry systems where only infrequent pulse current is used. Sometimes the A23 batteries are enclosed like a normal battery but sometimes a stack of eight LR932 button cells shrink wrapped together.
-- Bobby G.
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(Wow - what causes your reply to come up >> instead of >?)
I just don't see that being a problem here with new batteries that read "hot" and the old batteries that read around 1.4V. It does sound like taping a small resistor to the back of my DVM might be a good idea, though.
So far, my experience with "phantom" voltage hasn't extended to alkaline cells and I go through 100's in a year with digital cameras and pocket voice recorders. Besides, the units work consistently close up - just not at the distances they used to work. I measured the batteries after we rang the chimes dozens of times. They still read OK.
Dead batteries were my first assumption when I heard of the range reduction. I now believe it's some other issue and the next test will involve resetting the chime's operating frequency to attempt to work around any RFI issues.
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
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I think that's common, and not cheap.
I'm thinking the sets operate around 400 MHz but doubt if anywhere near wifi. I don't know if there is a frequency adjust, but I would suspect the frequency is off. They are cheap enough to replace the whole thing.
Greg
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wrote:

I spent some time today testing the various frequency setting jumpers with no joy. Put a huge metal pot over the WiFi hotspot with no joy. While the doorbell may not be in the 400MHz range, the harmonics from the hotspot could be strong enough to "step" on the doorbell signal. I've taken home a dead, water damaged button to look at the circuit board.
Occasionally a little piece of wire extending the antenna helps. The WiFi router is unfortunately set up about ten feet away from the doorbell. My neighbor did not want to turn off the router because it's twitchy to restart. In fact, I am going to donate one of my old, flea powered UPS's to her so that it doesn't get locked up when there's a power blip. I think it's the WiFi unit, but I was surprised that putting it under a big metal pot had no effect on the doorbell's range. She has some other wireless gear in the house so RF interference seems likely. I am going to try to figure out the frequency of this unit (no FCC ID that I could see) and then we'll look to buy a unit with a different frequency to see if that works any bette r. As you point out, they're cheap enough that any more hours spent debugging this one would be a waste compared to just getting a new one.
-- Bobby G.
-- Bobby G.
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On Fri, 27 Jan 2012 21:51:55 -0500, "Robert Green"

That doesn't prove much. It's just a variation on "inadequate range".
I have a radio in my shop which always worked fine. When I started trying to fix my old computer in the shop, the moitor interfered with the FM reception on the one stattion I listen to, 88.1FM (so I swticherd to internet radio, but there are still times I'd rather just turn on the radio.) Months later I went through a period where the radio worked fine even when the monitor was on. A few days. Then it went back the old way, and turning the monitor on when the computer was running ruined the radio reception. I have no idea yet why sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn/t

Doies the pot have to be grounded? I've never understood this, so I'm not saying it has to be. But there was some reason in the past I began to think that. .

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If an added antenna wire extends the range just enough for the unit to work, that would be OK with me and my neighbor, I think. I just haven't been able to figure out where the antenna is on the doorbell button unit!

Well, at least she's got a constant problem - it doesn't work/not work. It doesn't work at all anymore at the range it used to.

To be most effective as a "Faraday cage" I assume it should be grounded, but I also think the RF output of the router would be seriously attenuated by the pot, grounded or not. With her understandable reluctance to shut down the router, it's going to be hard to "indict" it as the cause. I recommended that she relocate the chime's base unit to be much closer to the doorbell unit than it is now. Right now, we've relocated the doorbell switch to the center of the wooden front door, behind the storm door and it works from there. Still, she would rather have it along the edge of the doorframe but it doesn't work there. She may be better off with the "inside the storm door" mounting arrangement because the last switch got wet and corroded and the tiny microswitch has failed.
I told her I could fix the corroded switch by wiring it to an alarm contact so that if anyone opens the storm door, the unit will fire. She liked that idea. Attaching the doorbell switch to alarm contacts has another benefit. I can locate the "guts" of the doorbell switch inside the house and much closer to the base unit. In fact, I can take a garden variety hard-wired doorbell button and mount it outside and lead the wire inside to one of her spare RF doorbell buttons. I'd do that by unsoldering the bad/corroded tiny pushbutton switch from the circuit board and then soldering wires from the hard-wired doorbell switch outside to the spots on the board where the old switch was soldered. That would mean that the RF transmitter was now inside the house, protected from the weather and closer to the base unit.
All in all, it's probably going to be cheaper and easier just to get a better/different unit.
-- Bobby G.
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On 01/27/2012 08:51 PM, Robert Green wrote:
[snip]

There should be a way to just turn off the wireless AP. With some, you just press a button on the front. There's no need to turn off the router itself.
[snip]

--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
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Thanks for that info. Sadly, I learned a long time ago if I touch it, I will be blamed for anything that goes wrong with it or anything connected to it in the future. Forever. (-: It's the Good Samaritan law, paragraph two.
My advice was to move the chime to a place equidistant between the two bell buttons. If that's not acceptable, I think it's time to buy a new unit. This isn't the first wireless doorbell I've seen that just grew deaf over time. You just don't get a lot of milliwatts of RF out of a 12V stack of button cells.
So I'm sticking with it with that advice. The doorbell's built with surface-mount components, which I am notorious for converting into "lifted trace" circuit boards so I've bowed out of this project. I might still wire up a magnetic switch to the storm door to ring a small chime for her when someone opens up the front storm door but that's probably best to be a whole separate circuit with a different sounding chime from the doorbell.
Lots of times the UPS guy will put a package between the two doors and just rap his knuckles on the door so a door switch and chime on the storm door reduces the chances of someone "disappearing" the package before you know it's there. We had a "crew" of junior mobsters here that was following the morning Fedex truck and undelivering packages as soon as Fedex dropped them off but they got caught rather quickly.
We also had a different crew that would arrange for drug deliveries to the houses of people they didn't know (but that they knew weren't going to be home) and then pick those up after making sure the cops weren't "onto" them. A local township mayor had his two dogs killed by a drug swat team when his house was used as a drop point.
-- Bobby G.
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I wired up one on the mailbox opening for my father. I removed it when I was remodeling. I occasionally would hear the chime at odd times. I took the removed remote and looked outside while I pressed it. Neighbor across the street, two houses up comes out. I gave that neighbor some stuff before moving. Talking to them, I explained the situation. They said, for a long time, they would hear the chime and look outside. The mailman would always be driving up the street!!!
Greg
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Any Wifi wireless ethernet around? Or a wireless camera somewhere? Look in those kind of culprits. A lot of them are on the same or closeby frequency.
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WiFi could easily be the culprit. Will know more this weekend - there's been a medical emergency going on for the last couple of days with her grandchild - and of course, the doorbell goes out to add to the misery.
-- Bobby G.
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Did you just check the open-circuit voltage, or did you test them under load. I usually put a100 ohm resistor across the battery terminals when I test them, that puts a 10 - 30 ma load on the 1 - 3 V battery which usually is enough to show either good or weak.
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under load or open circuit voltage?
bad batteries connected to a digital voltmeter may test fine but still be bad
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In

Change them out agan and put the issue to bed. Not costly nor time consuming & takes out some guesswork.
HTH,
Twayne`
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