4 Failed Remotes? Coincidence? I Don’t Think So!

I wouldn’t usually bother you with the domestic trivia of failed remote controls. But this is some seriously weird shit. Thought a) you might be interested b) I want it on record.

It also occurs to me that perhaps I might not be the only one experiencing the weird shit. I can’t decide whether, if I’m not, that would make it more or less weird…

Beginning August 8, 2015 about 8 pm

The remote control on the TV stopped having any effect. In hindsight, I misinterpreted this. I’ve been having ongoing problems with the Sky HD box; having to reboot it daily, sometimes twice, because it becomes locked and entirely dysfunctional.

PIA.

So I assumed it was another case of frozen Skybox, rebooted the little expletive and got on with my life.

One darts session later, I went to catch Newsnight. See what they’re headlining at least. The system was ludicrously unresponsive. It took multiple keystrokes before anything would react. Took me 5 minutes just to get on to BBC2 and 3 more to get out of the TV guide.

And this was with two different controllers; the one supplied by Sky and the Multi-Controller I use for everything. So now I’m sure it’s the Skybox. Can’t possibly be two simultaneous failures of two entirely independent remote controls.

Bollocks. Have to call Sky tomorrow and get the box replaced. Goodbye to all that good shit I’ve got stored. Never Mind. Bollocks.

Right, let’s watch the first episode of Ripper Street which I downloaded from iPlayer a few days back. See if the series is going to be worth recording this year…

Want to watch it on the big screen. Enable it on the PC, pick up the remote control for the TV and try to switch the input from Skybox to PC. The TV Remote has no effect. Bollocks, must be batteries. Change batteries. No change.

wtf?.

I try the same thing on the Multi-Controller. I don’t usually control the TV from the MC cos it’s too many keystrokes to switch between the different devices it can control. But it’s useful to have it as a fall-back in situations like this.

It didn’t work either. WTF?

Fuck it. Watch it on my biggest monitor in HD. Up close, it’s damn near as good as the big screen.

But I still want the sound through the hifi.

Redirect the PC sound to the hifi and try to reduce the bass so I can hear the speech more clearly. I’m losing the upper ranges. Have to compensate. No biggie.

Bleedin’ amplifier has become unresponsive to its remote control. WTF? WTF? WTFFFF???

ALL FOUR OF MY REMOTE CONTROLS OR ALL THE DEVICES CONTROLLED BY THEM HAVE SIMULTANEOUSLY CEASED TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER.

What are the odds on that being a coincidence?

By coincidence I spun round in my chair and angrily pressed the relevant amplifier remote key again. But this time, the remote control was only about 25 centimetres – 12 inches in old money – from the amplifier. And this time, it worked. I was able to do whatever I wanted with the remote at this ludicrously short distance. Not so much a “Remote Control” as a “Close Control” and rather undermining the purpose of having a detached control unit at all.

Hmmm… I wonder if any of the other “Remotes” are behaving as “Closes”.

I shit you not. ALL FOUR ARE NOW FUNCTIONING ONLY WITHIN 12-15 INCHES of the devices under their control.

First thought. Solar flux? Somehow “damping down” the infra red remote control signal. Can’t see how that would work but let’s check it out.

Not today. Today’s solar flux is running just about as average as you can get – according to the data at Solarham

So now I’m stumped. I can only speculate that some other kind of radiation or electric field – and one which is not usually present – is acting as a “damping field” and massively reducing the range of my remote controls. What kind of radiation or field could that be? Or could even do that? And how can I detect or record it?

Will check periodically to see what range I’m getting. But just as an example, I frequently use the Amplifier Remote and Multi-controller from the other end of the living room which is about 15 feet from the devices. No problem at all. Usually.

I’m open to suggestions…

********************

Postscript: 1 oclock in the morning. About to retire for the night. Decide to record the phenomenon with the intention of tracking any changes. Check they’re all still limited to close range. They are. Set up the video. Start videoing. I don’t believe it! They’re all back to normal range! So, apart from the camera itself, nothing else in the environment has changed. But whatever was damping the control signals seems to have retreated. Am I allowed to get paranoid yet?

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About Harry Stottle
Refugee from the Stumbleupon Blogicide of October 2011 Here you will find my "kneejerk" responses to the world and what I happen to bump into. For my more detailed considerations and proposals, please visit my website or my previous main blogging site.

One Response to 4 Failed Remotes? Coincidence? I Don’t Think So!

  1. Reposting this from a facebook friend: Think it pointed me to the probable solution:

    “Harry assuming all your remote controls communicate with their devices via an infrared LED (most do). If there is another source of infrared signal in the room it could be drowning out the signal from your remotes. You can maybe even locate it by using the camera on a mobile phone. Point a remote control at your mobile phone camera, press a button on the remote and you’ll see the infrared LED light up on the phone’s display; phone camera CCD’s are sensitive to IR and show it as white. Anyway my point being, if somewhere in the room you have a remote control that is sitting under something that is pressing on the buttons, it will be flashing a constant IR signal to all your devices which will render them unable to decipher the signal from their own remote controls, unless you get close enough to the devices such that the signal from the remote becomes much stronger than the ‘jamming’ signal. It’s also possible one of your other remotes has malfunctioned and is constantly streaming an IR signal which is similarly jamming the signals from your other remotes. You can check this using the phone camera method. Also, consider the possibility that someone mischievous may have pranked you with something like this..”

    to which I replied:

    “Veeerrry interesting, Jason. And I think you may have hit the nail on the head. As soon as I read your hypothesis I twigged that it might have just been something as innocent as something pressing a key on one of the remotes and send out a continuous blocking signal. And I think I can even pin down the offender. Bearing in mind that the effect disappeared just after I set up the camera to capture the effect, I now remember, as I picked up the camera, there was a fifth remote immediately beneath it, which I hadn’t paid any attention to because I haven’t used it for about 5 years. Its for a VCR/DVD player which is very handy for converting between formats but its that long since I felt the urge to do so. But the camera might have been depressing one or more of its keys which would explain both the IR flooding and the sudden return to normal when I tried to video it.”

    Brilliant. I don’t feel so paranoid now! Mind you, that also makes it much less interesting. I was looking forward to donning the tinfoil hat…

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