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Fob Relays

Like a cell phone GSM repeater, but for key fobs.
  [vote for,

Electronic key fobs are a great way to locate your car in a crowded parking lot. Simply press a button to sound your vehicle's horn, then follow the sound. There is, however, one major limitation: range. Mine only reaches about 50-60 feet. In a large parking lot like those at theme parks, or large garages with walls that your car may be hiding behind, it can be impossible for your fob to sound the horn.

What I suggest is relay boxes on the light posts in lots and at intersections in garages, so no matter how far you are from your car, the signal will be boosted to it and sound the horn, which can be heard from great distances (I've heard my car's horn from as far away as 1/2 a mile when my wife was trying to find my jobsite to pick me up).

21 Quest, Aug 04 2007

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       Or start your car the second you get up off your office chair, while in your office, every time.

       Good idea.
evilpenguin, Aug 06 2007

       Point the fob under your chin, straight up. My son did a science fair experiment and found a distinct correlation between range and orientation of fobs on four different cars.

       Tried it on seven different people. Generally pointing the fob up under a person's chin extended the range by about 50%, but our Subaru more than doubled on average. Interestingly, the range of the Suburban dropped by about two-thirds. Go figure.
elhigh, Aug 06 2007

       Maybe instead of the relay sounding your horn, the onboard GPS could monitor your position and relay a digital "getting warmner/colder..."
Road Show, Aug 06 2007

       [elhigh], I'd heard that the trick to that fob-under-the-chin business was simply that the fob was higher than the usual hip-level position, giving better range. But I remember that many antennas have a distinctly toroidal radiating pattern--though I have no idea what antennas are in various fobs, and at what orientation.

       I don't like the idea, as it solves a problem that can be avoided with any effort, and opens up (literally) to theft a car like mine, which doesn't have a horn-only button.
baconbrain, Aug 06 2007

       If your car doesn't have a horn-only button, then don't use it. Also, many fobs which lack a horn-only button still sound a tone when you press the lock button, thereby serving the dual purposes of ensuring that your car is locked, and letting you know where it is.

       This could be used not only to find your car on your way back to it, but to also allow you to audibly ensure your car is locked in case you have any doubts after you've gotten across the parking lot.

       The way my fob works (It came with the car, which is a Ford Escort, it can't be that unique), you press the "lock doors" button once to lock the doors with no sound. Double-tap the button and it sounds the horn once to let you know the door is securely locked, twice if the door is slightly ajar so you know you need to secure the door before locking it.
21 Quest, Aug 26 2007

       You do realize that by pushing the button to sound the car's horn, you have thereby shown your keys, and the location of your car to any potential car-jacker in the area well before you arrive at the car?

       You do also realize that the added noise is a nuisance to any non-car jackers who happen to be in the area?

       As I have spent many days eating bagged lunches while sitting in my parked car, I am against anything that would continue to infringe upon the serenity which once existed in parking lots.

       Why not work up some sort of bluetooth device that would let you scan for your car as if you were playing with a metal detector at the beach? Surely that would be more entertaining to watch, and less annoyingly loud.
ye_river_xiv, Jul 31 2008


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