Cambridgeshire villagers near Army barracks locked out of cars 'by mystery high-frequency radio waves'

By
Ted Thornhill

Last updated at 3:44 PM on 3rd February 2012

Residents living near an Army barracks say their village green became a mysterious ‘Bermuda Triangle’ after their remote-control car door locks were by jammed by radio interference.

Motorists in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, say the locks on their cars refused to work when they parked at the village green.

Modern push-button ignitions were also scuppered by the unknown, eerie interference.

Investigation: Professor Piotrowski on Waterbeach Green monitoring ultra high frequency bands

Investigation: Professor Piotrowski on Waterbeach Green monitoring ultra high frequency bands

Military theory: One scientist thinks that the source of the interference is the nearby Waterbeach barracks

Military theory: One scientist thinks that the source of the interference is the nearby Waterbeach barracks

Radio experts first noticed the problem when they met in the village pub last week and discovered they were all locked out of their vehicles.

Some members of the group had to get lifts home and return with manual overrides.

The following day the group, including professional scientists, returned with sophisticated monitoring equipment and found ‘ultra-high frequency bands’ was causing the block.

Professional scientist Wojciech Piotrowski said the mystery frequency was likely to have been caused by the military, but admitted a faulty TV or fridge could also be to blame.

He said: ‘A strong electrical interference source was radiating radio signals in one of the ultra-high frequency bands at the southern end of the Green.

‘The primary user of this band is the military. However, by Sunday, the problem seemed to have gone.

‘It was really weird but being the radio hams that we are, we sort of knew it was an interference of some kind.

Suspicions: The Waterbeach green is very close to the barracks

Suspicions: The Waterbeach green is very close to the barracks

Eerie: One of the electronic key fobs in Waterbeach that will not work

Eerie: One of the electronic key fobs in Waterbeach that will not work

THE STRANGE THEORIES BEHIND THE REAL BERMUDA TRIANGLE

‘We are entering white water, nothing seems right. We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white.’ Apparently, these were the final words of the leader of Flight 19, a formation of five U.S TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that vanished on December 5, 1945, in the Bermuda Triangle.

It was one of the earliest disappearances associated with the infamous region and is a mystery that’s never been solved, with all 14 airmen lost.

The Bermuda Triangle, sometimes called the Devil’s Triangle, covers the Straits of Florida, the Caribbean islands, the Bahamas and the Miami coast.

The first report to look into unusual disappearances of boats and planes in the area appeared in an Associated Press article in 1950, with more stories following thick and fast.

They told of compasses spinning madly around and pilots and sailors seeing strange bright white lights.

The most infamous incidents include the loss of six air crew and 25 passengers in 1948 on board the Star Tiger, flying from the Azores to Bermuda, the disappearance of the Star Ariel  carrying seven aircrew and 13 passengers in 1949 from Bermuda to Jamaica and the case of USS Proteus in 1941, which had 58 people on board when it departed St Thomas on the Virgin Islands – but was never seen again.

Strange occurrences, however, have been reported as recently as 2001, when two sailors on board a yacht called Rare Form reported seeing a single bright light around 3,000-feet up surrounded by glowing mist while en route from Florida to the Bahamas.

Theories as to the cause of the disappearances range from interference from UFOs and left-over technology from the lost city of Atlantis, to simple human error, bad weather and fountains of methane bubbling up and disrupting ships’ ability to float.

‘I’m sure it would be worrying for other people, suddenly being locked out of their cars could be scary I guess.’ The boffins managed to detect the unusual frequency with a spectrum analyser and direction-finding techniques.

The amateur radio group believe wireless devices in nearby homes, such as thermostats, remote light dimmers, switches and energy meters will have been affected.

An engineer was today investigating the interference after the group reported their findings to communications watchdog, Ofcom.

A spokesperson for the Army, which operates Waterbeach Barracks, said: ‘We are not aware of anything happening at Waterbeach that would have caused anything remotely like that.’

This is the first time an English village has experienced mysterious electronics failures.

Last month residents of Kingsclere in Hampshire, near the world-famous Watership Down Hill, were baffled when their heating, showers, doorbells and car remote locks refused to work.

They spent much of the festive season without heating and lights after the failure of household systems that rely on digital technology, specifically radio-frequency identification (RFID).

Chris Smith, whose wife’s birthday on Christmas Eve was ruined by the systems failure, spent more than £250 trying to fix the heating and shower but neither worked until late on December 27, according to the Newbury Weekly News.

He has speculated that secret experiments at the nearby Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston military base – which builds and maintains the warheads for the country’s nuclear Trident missiles – are responsible.

But a spokesman for Ofcom, which oversees radio communications, had a more mundane explanation.

He said: ‘Often these problems can be caused by a video sender – that transmits a television signal to other sets in the house. They are not the source of all the problems but in a lot of cases interference is tracked down to those devices.’

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The comments below have been moderated in advance.

” Professional scientist Wojciech Piotrowski said the mystery frequency was likely to have been caused by the military, but admitted a faulty TV or fridge could also be to blame. ” Radiating enough RF energy to black-out an area that size? As if.

in 2010 in France we turned off the motorway ,through the toll gate and decided to stop on the other side for a quick break, when we came to start up there was nothing,it turned out we had stopped next to a radio/cell phone tower that had disabled the sender units for the alarms (we were on motorbikes) we had to push them half a mile before they would start.

The ultimate in “don’t drink and drive” technology ?

Quote – ‘ This is the first time an English village has experienced mysterious electronics failure ‘ – no not so -you reported that Windermere had the same mysterious car locking problem awhile ago and that was traced to a mobile credit card reader in a local cafe……………

This problem has been around for years. The cause is often the poor design of the receiver in the vehicle. It cannot discriminate between the very small signal transmitted by the key fob and any much larger signals in the vicinity – whether they are military or otherwise. Motor manufacturers are well aware of this but unfortunately many still choose to save pennies by installing cheap receivers in their security systems (even on some top models). Also, some years ago, regulations were changed (for EU single market) to relax rules generally on radio receiver performance prior to marketing. That is not to say that there are not instances where the problem is caused by other equipment (like video senders and other apparatus) going faulty and operating on incorrect frequencies, but the vast majority of cases are down to faults in the vehicle security system receiver. That won’t please someone who has spent a lot of money on a new car, but unfortunately it is the case.

This is not uncommon. If this happens to you take a look around you for new aerials up high of different shapes.
And if someone comes to rescue you tell them to leave their car running otherwise it could happen to them.
Repeatedly press your remote button to unlock and you might get through to your car.
And remember not to park there again.

Buy a FORD you will not have this problem.

Hmm I hope the army is spending enough time protecting its own soldiers as well as toying with radio waves.

Technology gone crazy. When I want to get into my car, I have a piece of shaped metal that I put in a hole in the car door handle. it’s called a key. When I want to have a shower I put my hand on piece of plumbing and rotate it. it’s called a tap. KISS Keep It Simple. I certainly don’t want important appliances and equipment controlled by cheap consumer grade radio control circuits.

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