Cloning Remote Control Fobs

In my apartment block there’s an underground car park that’s accessed using a remote-control key fob. We have one allocated car parking spot down there, and as such the management company for the block only issued us with one key fob.

My wife uses the key fob for her car, but I also have a requirement to get in and out of the car park, because that’s where I lock up my bikes.

When we moved in around 18 months ago I approached the management company of the apartments to try and get a second remote control. And despite me explaining the situation, they refused to issue another one to me – even though I offered to pay the €70 they said it would cost.

After some discussion they reluctantly agreed to give me a key to the pedestrian gate, which I’ve been using ever since – but the inconvenience is annoying.

But then I was on the internet one day and found that you can buy cloning remote control fobs that can copy existing fobs, they’re less than a ten quid to buy, and they work perfectly!

Remote Control Cloning Key Fob
Remote Control Cloning Key Fob

I got myself one last week from an ebay seller, but they’re also available on Amazon and other places. The initial programming can be a little tricky to be begin with, but after that it works like a dream.

Obviously in order to clone a key fob you need an existing working fob for the gate/door:

  • To start the programming, press and hold the top two buttons (A and B) together for between 5-10 seconds, until the light blinks rapidly, and then release. This action puts the fob into learning mode, and also wipes any codes already stored on the fob, so if you want to program a new button you have to start again and program them all.
  • Touch the two key fobs together, and press and hold the button you want to program (say the A button) at the same time as the corresponding button on the original fob that you want to clone from. You may need to move the fobs around at different angles to pick up the signal in the cloning fob (end to side seems to work), and when you do the light will flash rapidly to say it’s finished learning. Then simply repeat the process for any other buttons you want to clone.
  • Timing can be an issue during the programming process, as the fob only stays in learning mode for so long – so you need to be fairly quick. Have everything ready to go, and have a few practice goes.
  • I actually stood next to the car park gate to do my programming, so that I could check the original fob was working (it was opening the gate correctly) during the learning process.

If you get into trouble, take a quick search on YouTube for key fob cloning tutorials.  When I first got my fob I thought it wasn’t working, but that’s because I wasn’t programming it correctly.

Moves iPhone app

For the last few days I’ve been trying the Moves app on my iPhone 4.

Moves iPhone app
Moves iPhone app

The app tracks all the walking, cycling and running you do during the day; working a bit like a mix between a pedometer and a GPS tracker, but all presented in one very slick bundle.

Other apps work on the basis that you need to start and stop them manually when you perform any activity.  Moves, on the other hand, sits quietly in the background recording all your different activity, using a combination of the accelerometer (to measure movement) and GPS (to measure distance) to work out what you’re doing, for how far, and for how long.

It then presents a daily summary back to you of your minutes, distance, and steps (walking only) for each activity. It also plots a timeline of your activity throughout the day, showing where you went, how you got there, and how long it took.  It’s very clever of course, and I’m not entirely sure I quite understand how it all works, but I don’t care. It manages, somehow, to distinguish when I’m cycling (as opposed to in a car or bus) – and that allows me to track how much I ride each day.

The only downside I can see to the app is related to the battery life of your phone. As the app runs constantly in the background, and taps into the GPS signal a lot when you’re moving, it uses a fair bit of juice. The developers say that they’ve tried to minimise the battery drain, and say you should still get a full day’s usage with an iPhone 4S or above. However, I’m noticing that iPhone 4 is running down somewhat faster than usual, such that under moderate usage I’m down to about 30% battery by mid afternoon – meaning that I need to recharge it at work to get a full day’s usage out of it.

Having said all that, I’m still a fan of the app, and it’s especially good for people who build their activity into their daily routine to be able to track what they’ve done.

Flood Cycles

Have you noticed, with all the coverage on TV and online about the flooding in the UK and Ireland, that there’s loads of pictures of people out on bicycles? It’s almost as if the media considers them the best form of transport for when a flood strikes…

Floods in UK: Travel disrupted as storms head north
Floods in UK: Travel disrupted as storms head north

Houses are 'expected to flood'
Houses are ‘expected to flood’

UK flooding - in pictures
UK flooding – in pictures

On the buses

Dublin Traffic - Cars and Buses

I’m carrying a bit of an arm injury at the moment, and can’t put any weight on it, so I haven’t been able to cycle to work for the last couple of days. Instead I’ve had to switch to the bus.

This is the first time since I’ve moved out to the ‘burbs that I’ve resorted to the bus on my commute. There are no direct routes to near my work, so I have to catch one bus into the city centre, and then transfer on to another bus to take me out to the office. Even in ideal conditions the journey takes a total of 55 minutes; roughly twice the time it takes to cycle.

Yesterday wasn’t too bad a journey. As I hadn’t ever done the journey before I left especially early at about 7.20am, and I arrived into work before 8.30am. However this morning I made the foolish decision to leave a bit later, and paid the consequences.

Leaving the house at 7.50am, I was on the first bus at 8.00am – but that bus took a full hour, crawling in traffic, to reach the city centre. The second bus took a further 20 minutes to get me to my office. And so it was almost 9.30am by the time I arrived at work – 1 hour and 40 minutes after I set off. I could have walked it quicker! I certainly could have cycled it in a fraction of the time.

I looked on enviously this morning as all the cyclists sped past the bus. On a bike the impact of traffic congestion is minimal, and it take roughly the same amount of time to do a journey, regardless of the time of day or season of the year. I guess that’s one of the reasons I love to cycle.

I just hope my injury clears up quickly, as I don’t think I can stand many more of these bus journeys!

Bike Lockers

This seems like a good deal, for those people who combine a cycle commute with either the DART or Luas. You can rent a Bike Locker for €75 a year, and have peace of mind when leaving your prized ride at the station.

Instead of jostling for a good spot to lock up at the station, and running the risk of your prized ride (or bits of it) being stolen while you’re away, you can instead lock your bike in a designated locker – and it even has room for your cycling gear.  And all for less that the cost of a year’s bike insurance!