Hacking An Apartment Garage Door With New Remotes

[Old Alaska] had a problem. He needed a second remote for his apartment garage door, but was quoted a fee in the hundreds of dollars for the trouble of sourcing and programming another unit. Realizing this was a rip-off given the cheap hardware involved, he decided to whip up his own sneaky solution instead.

It’s a simple hack, cheap and functional. An RF-activated relay with two remotes was sourced online for the princely sum of $8. [Old Alaska] then headed down to the equipment cabinet in the garage, opening the lock with the side of his own car key. He then wired the relay in parallel with the existing manual pushbutton for activating the garage door.

Sometimes, a hack doesn’t have to be complicated to be useful. Many of us might have jumped straight to trying to capture and emulate the existing remote’s radio signals. There was really no need. With physical access, [Old Alaska] was able to simply wire in his own remote entry setup himself.

We’ve seen similar hacks before, albeit achieved with SIGINT methods instead. Video after the break.

28 thoughts on “Hacking An Apartment Garage Door With New Remotes

  1. I think many people would jump right to trying to capture a signal because it doesn’t involve, you know, civil and criminal liability for breaking into a locked utility box so you can make physical modifications to provide unauthorized access to a garage you share with other people. But that’s just many of us, I guess.

  2. So I’ve asked my security camera company for a feature whereby I set of dry relay contacts can be activated remotely from my smartphone when I see my garage door is open and clear. So far no response. As for safety concerns, the door opener has all the standard features.

  3. I would bet this cheap relays do not even use a rolling code, let alone more sophisticated security, so I would be very hesitant to use one to grant access to my garage.

  4. I bought key fobs for 10$ or so, they clone many different systems. Mine is chamberlain. But applaud the effort. It’s too easy to get in. Now a 5$ microcontroller with rolling challenge codes should take a day for each end, although getting a nice case for transmitter is a pain. I don’t have a 3D printer (yet). 128 bit or more?

  5. IANAL but I imagine you’re probably opening yourself up to all sorts of liability should someone’s stuff get taken from the garage, or anything happens to go wrong with the electronics in the garage door, even if it’s not traceable back to your mods.
    If a service engineer comes to fix a fault and they notice the additional mods, you could get into a whole lot of trouble also.
    Probably give them a good excuse to boot you out of the building too!
    And if they’ve caught him on CCTV tampering with that box, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do!

      1. If he had considered those factors, he might have realized it was a bad idea to break into a box and tamper with controls for a shared garage that he doesn’t own.

    1. Thanks for the concern! However I moved out of the unit and removed the relay before I posted the video, no cctv, and you give building managers WAAAYY too much credit.

      It’s definitely more fun to look for holes in the project though! Hope you’ve had a good time and got to feel part of something by sharing!

  6. A new controller (a copy) doesn’t cost in the two digits, that’s for sure. Something is wrong with the story, maybe he just needed an excuse to tamper into the system for no reason.

  7. My car has built in garage door openers. You program it by hold a button or something then activating the “real” remote clicker a few times. Certainly some stand alone version of this exists? And not for $$$$&

    1. I have a LiftMaster opener and had the need to add a new remote. It worked like this as well. Hold down a button on the opener and then another on the remote. The drawback, with my unit, was that I needed to set up *all* the remotes again.

  8. Well, I see a huge security risk here.

    Most likely, the original controller has a rolling code solution that makes it harder to just clone an existing remote or intercept a signal.

    Cheap solution, but it works.

    If this relay don’t have the same tech and use a completely unsecure protocol without any encryption, anyone that want to break into the garage could clone the signal with something like a flipper zero.

    Solved his problem, created a new one for everybody else living there.

  9. I recently used a similar RF relay board to add a wireless remote to a Pentair Intellicenter pool controller. The OEM wireless remote kit with a fancy touchscreen costs over a thousand dollars but I really just wanted some buttons to toggle lights etc. Luckily they still have vestigial support for a wired spa-side remote which turns out to be nothing more than four pushbuttons and an LED. I just wired up the relays to short the button input terminals to ground, ignored the LED terminals, and borrowed some +12v from the pentair power supply. Works great and only took an afternoon.

  10. Geez, if you’re just going to push a physical button, why not the one on the OEM controller? Just leave it at home and have your new system fire the old one… You don’t even have to leave your apartment to “install” it, much less break into the box in the garage.

  11. Adding my 2c here….

    In my case, I had access to the control board, so I went googling for the service manual, bought a new remote from ebay, and following the manual was able to program the remote myself.

    Whilst the relay idea is sweet and all, having a new remote that follows established patterns/protocol is a good way to not break or introduce new problems into the existing system.

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